Raise your hand if you are on your phone right now! In fact, raise your hand if you are reading this post on your phone right now. WAIT…raise your hand if you found this post via social media…Facebook perhaps? Maybe even an Instagram post.
Student engagement is and should be one of the key priorities any student affairs office has. I strongly believe that how student affairs professionals choose to engage will ultimately make or break success. My undergraduate degree in Communications; a punching bag for most, has proven very successful in helping me as an SAPro navigate connecting with students. I took a very simple lesson when it came to advertising or relating to an audience: be creative, be innovative and be where the audience is. In this day and age, the “where” is social media.
I currently serve as the Student Government Organization Manager & Advisor at New Jersey City University (for a few more days) and then will be moving onto my next adventure as Associate Director of Student Life at the Columbia University Business School. Before my life in student affairs, I spent five years in Admissions at LIU Brooklyn. The common thread was being able to successfully engage with students. Over the past few years the Student Government at NJCU has made major gains in that department. The reason behind those gains you ask? We’ve embraced technology to create a defining brand.
When I became SGO Manager, the Student Government was having an identity crisis. It was also having issues attracting people to their meetings and programs. I decided to take a hands-on approach and assist the SGO with creating a brand that would represent who the organization was and who they wanted to be. The hashtag #WEARENJCUSGO was born. It set the tone for a welcoming student government that all students could take their part in. It also served as a unified slogan for all of SGO’s flyers, social media and any other types of promotion. The use of a hashtag was a true integrated marketing campaign that has been tremendous. Because of technology, that hashtag can be clicked across the social medium and students can see what life is like at NJCU and how great it is to be a member of SGO!
The hashtag has been key in developing a brand for SGO and something that its clubs and other students can buy into. Because of the hashtag, students now get a sense of what it’s like to be a part of SGO in all capacities- student leaders or just event participants. Everything is also inter-connected, so people recognize SGO at events and this encourages students to come up to us. Students also use the hashtag at events as well on their own posts- so it all leads back to SGO. Basically, the organization is in position to be the “heart” of the student experience at NJCU.
Our Club Days have been amazing since the organization has grown. A more welcoming SGO has led to new clubs being developed from all different angles like academic, cultural and interest based. These clubs bring different people into the fold and it’s awesome to see the dynamic!
There you have it. It is integral that we keep up with the times and ensure that we stay ahead of the curve when it comes to student engagement. We like to have data in front of us sometimes, and as a field it is becoming more and more reliant on such. But, as you’ve noticed,this post is void of such numbers. It’s a reminder to us that sometimes we just need to take a step back and observe what is in front of us.