Common Connections UNL
“When I first came to college I was 100 percent out of my element. Transitioning from a small town where I was born and raised, to a school of 25,000 was overwhelming to say the least. I decided to not rush and to separate myself from my high school friends, therefore I had few connections, and few friends. As a current sophomore I look back at my freshman year with regret, wishing I wouldn’t have gone a year not having the connections I have now. I wish someone would have connected me with my people sooner.” -Jenna Qualsett, group member.
One of the University of Nebraska’s most unattractive qualities is its enormous size, and the fear of feeling like you are just a number. That’s where Common Connections at UNL comes into play. Our Instagram page, @commonconnections_unl, helps invite students who are looking for new clubs, trying to make new friends, or who are uninvolved, to get involved with clubs and different organizations throughout the university. This can ease some of the burden of joining clubs or having to figure out which clubs to join.
The page works in a very simple way. There is a picture with someone involved in a certain club. The pictures are of an individual smiling at the camera or in action with the club. The pictures grab the attention of the viewer, and lead them to a description explaining who is pictured and what club/organization they are apart of. The description continues and explains the club in order to pique the interest of the person examining the post. After the description, the Common Connections at UNL contact information is provided so viewers can inquire more about a specific club. Once a student contacts us, a survey will automatically be sent out asking students a series of questions pertaining to their career and leisure interests. This email will serve as a connection between students and club officers.
Our initial problem at the start of this campaign was gathering followers, and that is still an issue. Building followers on social media such as Instagram or Twitter can be quite difficult to do. The account’s target audience is composed of current and prospective students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. An advantage is that there are many students at the university, which means the following can grow immensely, but ‘how’ is the hard part. A possibility is to use another page that already has a large following i.e., the official UNL Instagram page, to give the Common Connections at UNL page a shout out. This page currently follows the Common Connections at UNL page, so using that to advertise is necessary.
As a guerrilla marketing deliverable, we created a UNL Common Connection poster to display around campus. The poster highlights students featured on the Instagram page, and includes our main goal (to connect students with the organizations of their interests, therefore connecting students with other students) and contact information.
After setting up an Instagram and Gmail account, we contacted various clubs at UNL to set up our initial advertising. Once we had the interest of some clubs, we set up times to meet with some of their members so we could see how the meeting was run as well as interview and photograph members. From there, we used their image and the information from their interviews to formulate a post. In the descriptions, we mentioned the year and length of membership of the various members. We also included quotes about what each member gained from the club or why they enjoy being in it. After that, we posted the picture with the description in hope of gaining student interest and followers.
Currently, we have posted six pictures and have eight followers (three more than we’re following). Besides the clubs we’ve posted about, not many people are aware of this page. If we were able to get unlincoln, an Instagram page with 20.3 thousand followers, to post about us, we may get traffic and increase our audience size. The page created can be found at this link: https://www.instagram.com/commonconnections_unl/
We decided that Instagram would be the best platform for our campaign since it pairs written information with a captivating picture. We also recognized that it is a familiar site that many students participate on. Through the use of our page, students are able to reach out and make real-life connections along with social media connections. It also provides an easy and efficient way to take a step in getting involved at UNL without leaving your place of comfort. The pictures and descriptions present a sample of what one could look forward to if they wanted to investigate the club or organization. The pictures also give a more reliable way to receive information about clubs rather than by word of mouth or searching for a way to join an email list. In all, our posts are designed to provide information that will captivate students’ attention and encourage them to get involved in the featured clubs and organizations.
As far as what went well, the fact that we have a major Instagram page following us is a major success. It’s also good that, so far, six clubs are aware of the page and are able to utilize it to join other clubs. The unlincoln Instagram page only followed us recently. If we had more time, we could have reached out to them to gain more traction among the students of UNL. Along with this, we could have utilized the audiences of other larger pages that could have followed us. We also could have contacted more clubs and had more interviews, which would have resulted in more posts.
The sequence of events that took place in order for our campaign to get started was fairly simple. The four of us made a timeline in our proposal in order to facilitate what exactly we planned on doing. First, we started by creating our Instagram page and a few posters to hang up around campus. We also created an email address in order to get in contact with organizations on campus. Then, we had each group member come up with a list of organizations and clubs that we wanted to interview. As a group, we were able to reduce the list to six clubs that we found the most interesting and thought weren’t very well known on campus but could relate to a broad audience. Emails were sent out to club members in the hope that our group could attend their next meetings. Some of us reached out to people we knew in clubs to ask if we could meet with them or attend their next meeting as well. Then, we split up into groups of two and met with club members. While we were at the meetings, we took pictures of members and asked them questions about their organization and why they had decided to join. Once we had met with all six organizations, we created posts on the Instagram page to complete our campaign.
This campaign may have just started as a class project, but we, as a group, believe that we can take this project beyond the limits of a rubric. The exigency that we set out to erase is still a haze on paper, and that is why the Common Connections UNL Instagram page must continue and grow followers. Luckily, most of the group members will still be around for the upcoming years at UNL. To keep this page going and to make it flourish, more posts need to happen. We will include more groups and grow this page so that it is easily known by UNL students, and can even be mentioned as a tool for new and “out-of-the-loop” students to make friends and enjoy their time more at college. All in all, it is not about how many followers the page ends up receiving, but rather the quality of affecting students in their quest for higher education in an environment that they enjoy. Common Connections UNL is only starting, and has some great days ahead of it.
Some examples of posts on Common Connections UNL