#NYITDidThat: How Social Media Helped Grow NYIT School Pride
June 24, 2016
Wearing blue on Thursdays and tagging social media posts with #NYITDidThat have quickly become NYIT traditions. Here, Assistant Dean of Campus Life Mehtap Donuk explains the origins of the campaigns and gives advice for how to boost school spirit with a little help from new technology.
“There is no school spirit.”
“We do not have enough traditions.”
“I do not know how to show off my NYIT pride.”
“I wish more people knew about the great things we do on campus.”
These quotes are just a sampling of the feedback I kept hearing as I approached my fourth year as a professional staff member at New York Institute of Technology. Staff members and students have tried many times to battle these concerns by holding various on-campus events. Although event and program engagement had increased, ongoing NYIT pride and storytelling was not embedded enough in our culture, and we knew we needed to fix it.
I decided to use my “innovation hour,” implemented by Vice President of Student Affairs Patrick Love, Ph.D., to address this consistent concern at NYIT. I realized that we were making the situation more complicated than it needed to be. The community was looking for something simple, easy, and accessible. I pitched the “This Is My Thursday Shirt” blue shirt campaign.
We ordered 250 blue shirts with white lettering across the front. We then distributed the shirts to our staff and asked each person to wear their shirt every Thursday. We didn’t stop there, though; we then asked all the staff to upload a photo of themselves wearing their shirt to social media and use the hashtags #NYITDidThat and #bluethursday. From there, our school pride social media campaign was born, and now students are also wearing blue on Thursdays!
Since we launched our social media campaign in the summer of 2013, numerous higher education professionals have asked me how it worked. Here are some of the most common questions I get asked:
- How do you promote “Blue Thursdays” to students, staff, and faculty?
Each week, we announce on social media that we are giving away FREE SHIRTS in the Campus Life office. The community response is positive and members who have never been to our office always seem to show up. When they pick up their shirts, we take their picture in the blue shirt, and then share it on social media with their permission.
We introduce the “Blue Thursday” concept at every student orientation and give out a free blue shirt. We ask students to use the hashtags #bluethursday, #blueselfie, or #NYITDidThat to promote the campaign.
Offices and student organizations also run campaigns on Thursdays to give out gift cards or social media “shout outs” to the best school pride picture of the week.
- Any strategies you would or would not recommend?
Don’t force or mandate the implementation. It’s better to have a campaign like this develop organically. We started out with Student Affairs staff members modeling Blue Thursday shirts in the summer, which created buzz for fall when the students returned to campus.
Make sure that your campaign is simple and accessible to all campus community members, on and off campus.
Keep your campaign consistent; don’t use too many hashtags. We use #NYITDidThat for all NYIT social media stories that we’d like to share.
- To what extent do students, staff, and faculty actively participate?
Staff members in admissions, the Enrollment Services Center, academic affairs, and student affairs participate regularly. Blue Thursday is now a part of the NYIT culture. The hashtag has also been officially adopted and implemented by NYIT’s Office of Communication and Marketing.
Now, three years after the campaign was first launched, it has been implemented on our global campuses in China, Canada, and Abu Dhabi. We’ve also had national speakers, associations, and other universities mention our campaign and use our hashtag to share our story. As of this post writing, we currently have just over 15,000 mentions of the #NYITDidThat hashtag. It’s safe to say that the ideas we came up with in our innovation hour turned into a long-term campus tradition, a way to build school pride, and a nationally recognized social media campaign.
A version of this story originally appeared on studentaffairscollective.org in June.