Featured Biz – Marquette University

Author: Jack Martin

The Featured Biz blog spotlights businesses and organizations in Milwaukee, WI and surrounding communities who do an outstanding job using social media.
Organization: Marquette University
City: Milwaukee, WI

Social Media Outlets:

Man Behind the Avatar:
Tim Cigelske
Communications Specialist, Marquette University
The Story:
After attempting to identify some of the most effective organizations that use social media to influence the Milwaukee community, it was obvious to Keystone Click that we needed to sit down with Marquette University and chat about social media.  The result was an extremely insightful discussion with Tim Cigelske; Communications Specialist in Marquette’s marketing office.

Marquette decided to begin utilizing social media in 2008, only three years ago.  In that time they have accumulated thousands of followers across multiple social media platforms.  The initiation of social media for Marquette came from the top.  The Vice President of Marketing, at the time, had proposed the idea to Cigelske when he began his role in the marketing office.
Social Media Strategy and Marquette:
Every business or organization that enters social media has a reason for doing so.  Being an academic institution, Marquette’s reasons are unique compared to most businesses we see using social media.

Cigelske described two major areas that play into the long-term social media strategy for Marquette: admissions and alumni relations.  With the younger generation being the most prominent with social media, Marquette can connect with prospective students much easier than they could before.  Throughout the high school years it provides students the opportunity to learn more about Marquette and connect with the personality that is portrayed through the social media account.  Often times, that connection can be more important than a campus visit.  Cigelske told us of one particular example that he knew of, involving a student from Sacramento who didn’t visit campus before attending her freshman year.  “She felt like she could be at home Marquette because of the sense of the place she got from Twitter, even without being able to physically visit campus. Twitter had an impact on her decision,” explained Cigelske.  With a younger demographic using Twitter and processing online media so quickly, Cigelske described that Twitter is an effective medium for engaging with current and prospective students.

Continuing with the concept of engaging with a certain demographic, Marquette has begun using Facebook as a tool to connect more with Alumni.  “We have to work hard to present continuously relevant content for our Facebook Followers,” said Cigelske.  In explaining this, Cigelske spoke about using the most popular Tweet of the day as a Facebook post.  “Twitter can be a testing ground for what content is more relevant,” he continued.

Creating unique ways to engage Alumni with the university is an important goal, regardless of social media.  The presence of interactions with alumni on social media networks can be important to future donations that allow the university to grow and add new services for current students.  Alumni also play a major role in job placement for new graduates.  The more passionate and connected the alumni are, the more benefits the university will see from that network.

Cigelske spoke further about this concept, “Facebook allows us to segment Facebook posts for different geographic areas.  For a Packers tailgate at Lambeau Field we can post in the general Wisconsin area.  It wouldn’t be relevant for Alumni in San Diego to have that information on their Facebook feed.” This ties back to the creation of relevant content for the proper audience, a difficult task for any organization when managing social media.
The Audience:
When addressing any community, it is important to understand your audience and make sure your posts are relevant to them.  Another necessary concept to consider is the dynamic of conversation between Marquette and its followers, as well as the conversations that the followers have with each other.  “You have to trust your audience,” stated Cigelske.  Although it isn’t easy to do many times, allowing your audience to engage in a thoughtful discussion concerning your organization is a necessary part of social media management.

Parent groups on Facebook were one of Cigelske’s examples.  Marquette understands that its voice is not always the one that needs to be heard.  There is as much value in another parent providing advice, as there is in Marquette responding to every question.  This also creates a sense of community around the university in the social media world.  “Know what credibility your audience has over your own voice. Be aware of it, and use it to your advantage,” Cigelske concluded.
Going Viral:
Having the help of a viral trend will never hurt an organizations success with Social Media.  For Marquette, they are lucky to have three viral trends that occur every year.  “Our social media sees a spike every March, May, and August,” explained Cigelske.  When students move in at the beginning of the year there is a large amount of activity surrounding the university on social media.  Whether it is parents commenting about dropping off students, or students connecting through Facebook groups, it is a very exciting time for everyone involved.

Each March for the past few years the Marquette Men’s Basketball team has reached the NCAA Tournament.  With some help from an active student fan base, and some of the best uniforms in college basketball, Marquette can count on a spike in their followers during that time.  This past year, Marquette made it to the Sweet Sixteen and began “throwing up” their “Three Goggles”.  The hashtags bloomed faster than any flowers last spring, creating a large fan base for the university in the social media realm.

Graduation is always another large viral moment each year.  With everyone saying goodbye to their college years and several congratulations being sent, it is a great opportunity for the university to expand their followers and connect with new people.