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Getting socialized @EmersonCollege

by Beth Treffeisen / Correspondent • October 4, 2011

, Beacon Correspondent/strong

“There was NO FIRE in the Little Bldg,” tweeted @EmersonCollege, informing students that they weren’t actually in any danger on Sept. 1 when the fire alarm went off.  Students and teachers then relayed the message further through a series of re-tweets.

“At Emerson there’s a lot of people who have a good sense of humor so you got to keep on your toes,” Rhea Becker, senior editor in the communication and marketing, department said. Becker runs the Emerson Twitter account.

Becker monitors the college’s various websites and social media spheres and tunes in to what the students say.  For example, last year many students were complaining about ECmobile via tweets and Facebook posts.  The college paid close attention, and over the summer re-did the system to try to enhance it.

This year, Emerson College placed 11th on a list of the top 100 social media colleges, according to studentadvisor.com. The rise of social media can’t be denied — students, faculty, and alumni use multiple mediums for communication and instantaneous news.

In the past year, the Emerson College website has been re-vamped to include an entire directory dedicated to anyone who wants to get connected via social media.

“The news cycle is right now.  In the next 30 seconds something happens — you’ve got to be ready to respond to that,” said Andrew Tiedemann, vice president of public affairs in the communication and marketing department.

In the age of Facebook status updates, re-blogging news items, and tweeting about almost everything, online marketing seems to be taking over Emerson — in a good way.

“Television didn’t kill radio, social media didn’t kill print — it’s just reducing its role,” Tiedemann said.

Megan Mitchell, a sophomore broadcast journalism major has a Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and purchased a web domain to post various events and videos for self-promotion. Mitchell achieved YouTube recognition as the wide-eyed prospective student in the Evvy Awards’ Lady Gaga lipdub video last fall.

“It’s one thing to do all the activities, but it’s another thing to be involved socially,” Mitchell said.

The collegiate online lifestyle magazine Her Campus ranked Emerson #2 in a listing of Social Media Savvy schools, citing the video and Emerson’s social media class as impressive feats.

Mitchell is so connected that she couldn’t live without Twitter after deleting it for a week.

“I was freaking.  I need to be on Twitter,” she said.

Although some people can’t live without Twitter, others believe that it’s not worth their time.

“I don’t like how people feel the need to post their every move. It’s irritating,” said Madison Lipman, a freshman journalism major.

Even though some people use Twitter to notify their followers of their daily mood, others post and update information from specific sties they find important or want others to notice, all while providing insight into their interests and personalities.

“Kids in our generation more than any other rely on the Internet to show a representation of themselves more than just the way they dress or who they hang out with,” Melanie Trikett, a sophomore visual and media arts major said.

As much as people like to promote themselves, some students are using their skills to market certain products. David Gerzof teaches social media and marketing, more commonly known as Emerson Social Media, a popular class in the marketing communication department.

Students are encouraged to Tweet with the hashtag #ESM, receive extra credit if they check into class using FourSquare, and write weekly posts to the class’s Tumblr.

These blog posts must combine something the student is passionate about with social media. Annalisa Divito, a junior marketing communication major, is an avid baker and self-described foodie who posted about cupcake bakeries in Boston.

In addition to encouraging students to promote themselves online, the Emerson Social Media class teaches students to use social media as a tool to market businesses’ commodities.

Gerzof brings in small companies looking for help in social media and lets his students operate the social marketing of the companies under his guidance. Gerzof wants students to contribute to the advertising conversation in the most up-to-date way.

“The pool for journalism is shrinking, but the pool of organizations needing content is expanding,” Gerzof said.

This project allows students to gain real-life experience while helping companies that are behind in social media get feedback on what’s current, what conversations are happening about their products, what’s wrong, and what needs to be fixed quickly.

Companies get the opportunity to build a presence on social media outlets — adding followers on Twitter, likes on Facebook, and general Internet buzz.

DiVito was assigned Fitted Fashion, a company that custom fits clothes to clients. Both student and business gain something from the partnership offered in ESM. The goal is for companies to build their media presence to the point where they will no longer need the assistance of students, while the students get a chance to help build up that social media from the start.

“Hopefully I’ll get an A and maybe some free jeans,” DiVito said.

emStephanie Thomas, Beacon Staff, contributing reporting./em

emTreffeisen can be reached at/em

em beth_treffeisen@emerson.edu./em