Page Manager Q&A: Tim Cigelske, Marquette University

 It's that time again on the blog where I feature what other people are doing with social media in higher ed. (I hesitate to call them my peers, because... well... when I compare what I do to what they do, it's sort of like calling the 10-11 year old Little Leaguers I used to coach peers of the New York Yankees). And believe me, Tim Cigelske of Marquette is indeed out of my league. Which is why I asked him a bunch of questions! 

Before we dive into that, though, be sure to check out Marquette's social media hub, which will direct you to all things social at Marquette. Since I started this blog in March and began really paying attention to what other schools out there are doing, Marquette consistently blows me away with all of the great content they produce and how fun and new ideas never stop coming. Their posts always make me mutter to myself something along the lines of "Gosh, I really should be doing stuff like that."

I especially loved what they did during their basketball team's run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Baksetball tournament in March, from highlighting behind-the-scenes content on Instagram (one of THE best things to do on Instagram - take advantage of access!) to leveraging fan photos on Facebook. A huge, somewhat unexpected event like a deep run in the tournament is a special time at a university, and a time when we social media managers NEED to be nimble and step up. Look over all of Marquette's stuff across all its platforms during this time for a mastercourse on taking advantage of all the extra eyeballs, attention, and excitement during times like that.

I've also written on this blog before about Marquette's great use of Tumblr, but that just scratches at the surface. If there's another school out there doing more on Tumblr and doing a better job of it, I haven't seen it yet. I'm really, really inspired by what they are doing in that area. Do yourself a favor and spend some time exploring all the content they are creating there.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I think I'll had the reins over to Tim at this point. Many thanks to Tim for taking the time to do this, and I will absolutely be "borrowing" plenty of ideas from Marquette over the coming school year. Thanks for helping make me look good at my job, Tim!

1) I’ve been really impressed how Marquette uses Tumblr. What led to your decision to create a variety of different blogs rather than just one “official” one? (MarquetteU, You Are Marquette, Becoming the Difference, MUExpolore, Dear Marquette, Thank You Marquette, etc.)? Can you talk a bit about how you manage all that and where all the content comes from?

It wasn't a single decision to start a bunch of Tumblr blogs. Rather, as various campaign ideas came up, Tumblr seemed like the best place to host many of them. Tumblr became a quick, visual and easy solution. For example, started as an admissions campaign, and the idea was to share tweets from current students with incoming freshmen. It has the best parts of a microsite (focused on a single topic, anyone can view it) with the benefits of social media (you can follow it,  street cred to appeal to the target demographic). As time has gone on we've seen other ways to use Tumblr (Marquette History, showcasing Milwaukee, etc).  

2) I love the videos on your YouTube page (like this and this) that promote your social media efforts. What led you to make them? Are these promoted just through your social media, or are they also sent in emails to prospective students/alumni/etc? Do you ever show them in person (e.g. large events like orientation)?

I sort of stumbled upon creating videos that feature our social media audience nearly four years ago, and we've been doing them ever since with the help of our marketing team. They are always popular in social media (everyone likes to see themselves and their friends featured), so we kept doing them. As you can see, they've become a bit more polished over the years. Some we use exclusively for social media, some center around larger multi-channel campaigns like email or TV commercials (admissions or advancement) and many of them we do show in person at conferences, events, etc. 

3) The ThankYouMarquette Tumblr blog is really neat (I have a giant stack of thank you letters from UP’s “Tuition Freedom Day” that have been gathering dust on my desk for more than a year now… what a cool way to make use of them!). How did you direct donors to see that site? What is your stance on/experience with using social media for fundraising/stewardship efforts?

Exactly. An advancement officer sends me quotes from young alumni about why they donate to Marquette, and then I get a photo of them to post on Facebook and Twitter with a  link to the blog. Then every time you hit refresh, you see another person/reason to be thankful for a Marquette education. It puts those reasons in the context of real students and alumni. 

4) Time to brag: What are a few examples of social media work at Marquette that have been particularly successful?

We were a pretty early adopter at visual mediums, including Pinterest and Instagram. I think it's also important that we don't silo social media, and integrate it in other areas of marketing as much as possible, like including tweets in the print alumni magazine and include social media on our website. It's a team effort.  

5) Time to spread some love: What are some other colleges you enjoy following and draw inspiration from?

Yale and Northwestern have fantastic Tumblr accounts, Loyola Maryland is great at Instagram, the University of Portland has a great blog about higher ed social media (suck up), and our blood rivalry with UW-Madison completes us.

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