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56 BizEd JULY | AUGUST 2015 ideas in action ILLUSTRATION BY MARK ALLEN MILLER Social Studies STUDENT-LED PROJECT CONNECTS TO #TIGERTOWNBOUND ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE STILL STRUGGLING to develop eective social me- dia strategies might want to pay attention to an undergraduate research project at Clemson University's College of Business & Behavioral Science in South Carolina. Three years ago, a group of students launched a project as part of the university's Creative Inquiry course, a cross-disciplinary independent study program in which the class chooses research topics to explore. Because these students were especially interested in the impact of social media, they decided to develop a social media strategy to help Clemson's admissions o•ce reach out to incoming freshmen. With the support of the school's Social Analytics Institute (SAI), Clemson students now have tracked more than 30,000 social media posts that have been shared on Twitter, Facebook, and other networks by newly accepted students. Clemson has created a full-time team to post o•cial respons- es to individuals whenever appropriate. The team uses SalesForce's Radian6 platform to analyze social media feeds to ensure they don't miss relevant posts, create clouds of the most popular search terms on each feed, and learn what hashtags people are using most. By monitoring Twitter, for example, the research team can find tweets from high school seniors who post pictures of themselves with their Clemson accep- tance letters. The team forwards those tweets to Clemson's admissions sta, who tweet back messages of congratula- tions and welcome. The goal of this project was to gener- ate excitement around the fact that these students were now o•cial "Tigers," the school's mascot, and a part of the school's family, says Gaines Warner. Warner was a communications major who participat- ed in the student-led study; he has since graduated, and now serves as a project coordinator for SAI. "We started this project because we knew that high school seniors who receive acceptance letters have a lot of questions," he explains. He points to a rumor among incom- ing freshmen that the dorms wouldn't have enough room for all of them. "We thought the best way to address that problem was to use social media aggre- gations to collect data from Facebook, Twitter, and any platform where these rumors were circulating. That way, we could reach out to students and say, 'Here's the best dorm for you, and here's how you can find a roommate.'" When icy weather once slowed down mail delivery, the team discovered that applicants were upset that they hadn't received their decision letters, when some of their friends had. The school tweeted each person who posted on the topic, explaining the delay and assuring them that the letters were on their way.

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