Reed Reclaims Facebook Page in Social Media Push
With almost 5,000 likes, the Reed College Facebook page has blossomed in recent weeks, courtesy of the work being done by the Public Affairs Office. As unlikely as it sounds, only recently have Reed-affiliated groups regained control of Reed’s online media presence from non-Reed groups. Before, when someone searched Twitter, YouTube, or Facebook for a Reed College account, a page was already registered.
“In all cases, there was no activity, or the activity was very old,” Stacey Kim, Managing Editor for Reed’s Public Affairs said.
“We view the Facebook account primarily as a way to communicate with perspective students,” she said, adding that Public Affairs uses the page to project a positive image of the college to the outside world. From Cooley events to pictures of canyon creatures and Paradox Coffee, the page is intended to showcase a more intimate side of Reed, in Kim’s words, “What’s really happening here, what students are really doing.”
The process of taking back Reed’s social media presence began only a few years ago.
“We didn’t get to incorporating social media into our larger strategy about how we wanted to talk about Reed until late in the game,” Kim said. “We didn’t have any specific social media strategy.”
When they would search for Reed-related Twitter handles and Facebook pages, the accounts that turned up were neglected and administered by un-affiliated groups. Kim suspects that at some point in time, a student or faculty member “grabbed up” the Twitter handles and page names. In any case, it was clear that the accounts weren’t being used and it was suggested that the original moderators had no interest in maintaining them.
Public Affairs quickly found out that the process of actually regaining control of a foreign account is far more complex than it seems. Because of privacy laws, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube couldn’t disclose the identities of the account administrators, making the transition difficult.
Starting early 2012, Web Designer Raymond Rodriguez worked for months to regain control of the accounts, but it was clear he couldn’t do it on his own. In October, Public Affairs called on Reed’s attorneys to help. After months of travail, they regained control of the Facebook page in January of this year. Since then, Kim and the other moderators have been posting events information and pictures regularly on both the Reed College and the Reed College Public Events page.
The fight to increase Reed’s social media presence is still continuing.
“We’re in the process of regaining control of our YouTube account,” Kim said. She assured me that as soon as the “non-hostile” takeover was completed, the account would be populated with new Reed-related videos. Instead of going through the process of regaining control of the Reed Twitter handles, Public Affairs decided to register more specific handles like @reed_events for public events and @Reed_College_ for Reed-specific news.
There are several administrators of the Reed College Facebook page, but no one person is tasked with maintaining Reed’s online image. In fact, Reed’s online media presence is completely decentralized. The Alumni Office, Career Services, Student Activities, Public Affairs, and CIS all have their own online presence.
“We just have a lot of offices just doing what they think best fits the mission of their office…” Kim said. She called the Public Affairs Office “the keepers of the Reed brand”, acknowledging that in some cases, although not this particular one, the word “brand” has negative connotations. In addition to Reed’s Facebook and Twitter account, Public Affairs produces marketing materials for admission, prepares press releases, and controls the administrative portion of Reed’s website.
In the future, Kim wants the disparate groups that maintain Reed’s image to look at the “broad picture” and form a more cohesive vision for future goals and implementation of Reed’s new social media presence. She wants us “to be a little more mindful of the fact that there are so many of us on social media” and to use social media in communicating with not only current students but also those interested in attending Reed.
“We’re missing people if we don’t use it,” she said. When asked about interesting aspects of the social media overhaul, Kim simply said, “I think that the craziest thing is that we didn’t do it sooner.”