Category: Social Media

My Michigan Tech (Student Testimonial) Initiative

We have been busy launching a student testimonial initiative called My Michigan Tech over the past few months. This is really neat project that has allowed us to talk to a bunch of our students and learn about their Michigan Tech experiences.

Project Motivation

In August, an admissions and enrollment consultant came to campus. One great idea shared was to prioritize letting prospective students learn about Michigan Tech through storytelling by our current students. This could be accomplished through quotes and stories in text and video forms.

Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool. More importantly, though, it is a genuine way to share great information about Michigan Tech. Our students are our story, after all. Why not hear from them?

Initial Process

We put together a Google Form asking five basic questions about our students’ experiences. We then put together an email list of student ambassadors that Undergraduate Admissions works with and invited those students to tell their story. We also invited the campus community to refer students directly to our form via a Tech Today announcement.


We used a voluntary approach to collecting these initial testimonials to speed up the process. Student ambassadors are passionate about Michigan Tech making them the perfect students to talk to. Opening the invite to campus via Tech Today made sure no one was left out.

As responses came in, our editorial team started categorizing them. Some were perfect for the web and some perfect for a video testimonial. We blocked a couple dates, times, and locations with our videographer and emailed more than two dozen of the student respondents—explaining the video component of our initiative and inviting them to choose a time slot to be filmed. In total we contacted ~30 students with the goal of filling 12 video time slots.

We used a first-come, first-serve approach to scheduling video to move quickly and efficiently, knowing there was a desire to show immediate progress. We wanted to mature our concept, knowing that a successful product would lead to more interest in helping us down the road.


In total, 60 students voluntarily responded to our initial Google Form. Their stories were truly outstanding. We used those responses to identify more than 200 quotes and stories for our websites. We also created nine testimonial videos.

As of February 12, our My Michigan Tech videos have been viewed more than 2,600 times on our websites and YouTube. Additionally, we are running the videos natively on the various Michigan Tech social media accounts. And, we are using these videos in various UMC-driven digital ad campaigns.

These quotes, stories, and videos have been distributed across the program pages on the Admissions website and extra content has been shared with relevant academic CMS liaisons for use on their own sites. In particular, the School of Business and the various departments within the College of Sciences and Arts have done a great job of getting testimonial content onto the majority of their recruitment webpages.

Future Plans

For the spring semester, we are expanding our My Michigan Tech video series by scheduling seventeen additional recordings. For this round, we are working to create a more well-rounded view of our campus and the programs. We are also finishing processing some footage captured in the fall.

Campus Collaboration

The campus community is invited to share potential testimonial students with UMC by emailing We will continue this series in the summer and fall and will need additional volunteers. We can also use some backups for the spring, in the event that some previously identified students can’t participate. We are excited to work with you!

Create Your Own

You can also model your own testimonial series to match ours by following these tips:

  1. Create a digital questionnaire using Google Docs or Google Forms
  2. Send the questionnaire to your students. Student ambassador lists are a great resource as are learning center coaches, lab supervisors, and student workers.
  3. Edit the quotes and stories for your social media accounts and CMS website. Email if you would like any editing tips.
  4. We can recommend a local video vendor to assist you and can lend you our graphics package. Email for more details.

The Digital Services team is really excited about this project, the progress that we’ve made in a short time, and future stories that we will be capturing. We have such special students. It is exciting to give them an avenue to share their experiences with future Huskies and and we’re thankful for the opportunity to work with them. Feedback on this initiative is welcomed.

Joel Vertin
Director of Digital Services

Improving Our YouTube Channel

Video screenshot example.

We have been working on reorganizing our YouTube channel and reprioritizing the type of video projects that we take on. This process involved benchmarking YouTube channels from over two dozen other universities, creating and updating playlists on our channel, and reorganizing our existing videos.

Our writing team has helped us craft our video titles, descriptions, and, tags. We have started outsourcing closed captions (and open captions where needed). We have explored which videos should be public (triggers a push notification to our subscribers) versus unlisted (great when you need to embed on a website, but don’t need the video to otherwise be publicly available). And UMC’s change in focus has allowed us to pursue high-impact projects.

Through all this, our efforts have been paying off.

What Do the Stats Say?

I pulled stats from our YouTube channel for October 1, 2018-January 18, 2019 and compared to the same time frame from last year—giving an apples-to-apples comparison. Note that these stats do not include any paid ads, so they are not skewed. These stats also only represent engagement on our YouTube channel and don’t take into account our videos natively shared on other platforms, such as Facebook.

During this time, we have been empowered to plan and execute our own video projects on behalf of the University’s reputation and recruitment goals. Our stats show that our new approach and reorganized channel have been successful

Stat Summary

Over the outlined time frame:

  1. Video views and video minutes watched are up 21% and 37% respectively.
    • This is not necessarily surprising given that we also increased our video production volume during the same time frame. By choosing our own video projects, we have been able to reduce product cost and increase production.
  2. Average time watched has increased 13 seconds per video.
    • This shows that our improvements are not just purely from production volume as our quality has also improved significantly. Viewers are spending more time watching our videos now.
  3. We saw a significant increase in views from users organically searching via Google/YouTube.
    • We know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. It is important to improve our video SEO to attract more views and we have put an increased focus on strategic video titles, descriptions, closed captions, tags, and playlist organization. Our efforts are clearly working.
  4. Our net subscriber gain was 189 for the current time frame compared to 130 for the previous time frame.
    • Our content is more attractive and is driving a larger subscriber growth rate.
  5. Our video shares increased from 614 to 1,049 over this time frame compared to the last.
    • The content that we have been choosing to create is more sharable according to our subscribers.

We’re still early in our new focus for campus recruitment and reputation, but I’m thrilled with the early results. We’ll keep an eye on our channel metrics moving forward. I’m looking forward to working through the video projects we have slated for this spring semester.

Joel C. Vertin
Digital Services

Grow Your Social Media Audience

It’s seldom as simple as launching a Facebook or Twitter pageand boom—there’s your captive audience. It takes a little time and a lot of effort. Here are a few ways to gain quality Michigan Tech fans and followers:

  • Integrate social media into your larger communication plan; setting goals and tracking metrics keeps your social media targeted and strategic.
  • Add social icons and a call to action in your printed collateral and e-newsletters. Tell your audience what kinds of content they can expect and where to go (URL) to like/follow the page.
  • During events, ask folks to like and follow your pages. Leverage the opportunity to grow your social media audience when you are speaking to several hundred people—who happen to already love the University. Ask them to take our their smart phone and hit ‘like’. Seriously. Give it a try!
  • Ask the campus community to like and follow your pages in a Tech Today post. You might even consider quarterly reminders.
  • Like and follow other Michigan Tech accounts. Upon launching your accounts, this is one of the best, first steps (after you load your page with a bit of content).
  • Regularly like and follow key industry, research, or partner pages. Interact regularly to stay visible. Remember, social media is not just a megaphone to
    shout messages—it’s a real conversation.
  • Perhaps the most important way to expand your reach is through consistent, quality content. Check out our Social Media Field Guide for more best practices and ideas (2017 edition coming soon!).

What are some of your tried-and-true ways to grow your Michigan Tech social media pages? Email

Shannon Rinkinen
Brand and Social Media Manager

Creating a Social Media Content Calendar

“What should I post on social media?” It’s one of the most common questions the social media team at Michigan Technological University hears. Most folks understand a stagnant social media page isn’t favorable, so most people are anxious to regularly produce compelling content that will engage their audience. Here are some things to consider when planning content for your Michigan Tech-affiliated social media pages:

Make a Calendar

Maybe you begin by planning a week out, maybe a month or a whole year. Perhaps your content calendar is a paper or text document, or maybe it’s Excel or Airtable (that’s what we use). Planning your social media out helps you look at the big picture: what is your goal for the page (s), what do you want to communicate, and how regularly? Bonus: A social media content calendar also helps legitimize your social media efforts to your supervisor.

Start Small

Maybe you commit to posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Hold yourself accountable with an actionable goal. If you find yourself with more rich content and an engaged audience, expand to other days and times, or even multiple times per day (Michigan Tech averages about two Facebook posts per day).

Get to Know Your Audience

When you’re planning social media content, think about who your audience is and how they might consume their digital media. Share content based around what you know about them. For instance, if your target demographic is working professionals, perhaps they are more likely to read a news blog when they wake at 6 a.m. vs. 1 p.m. Recognize the times your audience is most likely online and the times they are most likely to engage, may differ.

So What Do I Post?

Think about your content as a mix. Categories might include our academics, student and faculty profiles, athletics, research, campus life, the local area (Houghton, Keweenaw), outdoor adventure, diversity, honors and rankings, weather (our alumni love hearing about this!), and outreach. Decide what categories fit your department or area’s goals and how frequently each should be highlighted.

Look for Freebie Posts

Your content calendar should be agile enough to jump on current University news and events. If the main Michigan Tech pages post a research story, consider resharing it. If the Huskies win big, reshare. It’s an easy way to curate more content. Also look for user content, that is, the stuff students and faculty share about #MichiganTech. It might be a neat photo or a blog post. (Just be sure to get permission from the owner first.)

What works for you on social media? Feel free to share:

Shannon Rinkinen
Brand and Social Media Manager

Four Steps to More Professional Facebook and Twitter Posts

Social media seems spontaneous and off-the-cuff. And for most of us, personally, it is. Professional social media pages representing brands like Michigan Technological University, however, warrant planning, editing, and attention to detail. Here’s four easy ways to make your Michigan Tech-affiliated social media posts look more professional.

Delete that Dangling URL

Did you know in Facebook posts, after you paste the long URL and an image populates, you can highlight and delete the link? The image itself becomes clickable. It creates a cleaner-looking post. Give it a try!

URL left in Facebook post
URL left in Facebook post
URL removed from Facebook post
URL removed from Facebook post

Give the Header and Sub-Head a Once Over

Let’s say you’re sharing Michigan Tech news. After you paste and delete the link, you can hover over the headline section and edit as needed. It’s a common area for errors and typos to creep in, so it’s prudent to clean it up prior to posting.

Header section, as populated See how it trails off . . . ?
Header section, as populated. See how it trails off . . . ?
Header section, edited
Header section, edited

Edit Your Post. Then Edit Again.

Even professional writers need editors and proofreaders. Inside Michigan Tech’s University Marketing and Communications, no post is published before going through at least two sets of eyes. Ask a colleague to review your social media drafts—look at spelling, grammar, brevity, accuracy, and tone.

Embrace Link Shorteners

Scope out other higher-ed social media and it’s easy to see; the best brands are using third-party link shortening services like,, or TinyURL. These platforms are very intuitive, and can be free to use. For Michigan Tech’s Twitter, you’ll see we’ve even started using a branded shortened link. Fancy!

Questions? We’re happy to help with your department or area’s social media. Please email or

Shannon Rinkinen
Brand and Social Media Manager