What was the reaction when #wm2018 students learned they’d been accepted into their dream school?
I GOT INTO WILLIAM AND MARY!!!!! SO EXCITED I ACTUALLY SCREAMED AND I CANT STOP SMILING!!!! 😄😄😄😄 #wm2018— Bezi Y (@YoBezwell) December 7, 2013
Tears of joy. Endless screams of excitement. Hugs from parents, friends and siblings. A special, intimate moment filled with raw emotion that once would have been observed by only a few select individuals. Not anymore. Not for this generation of soon-to-be college students.
A newly created multi-channel social media campaign has given high school students the chance to capture their experience – the very moment they learn they’ve been accepted to William & Mary – and to share their reactions.
The initiative launched last Friday as part of early decision admission notifications, said Associate Dean of Admission Wendy Livingston. Students were informed of their acceptance to W&M by posted mail and electronically through email.
In the email, students were introduced to the #wm2018 hashtag and a special W&M website where they were encouraged to post their acceptance moment on social media. They could then see the reactions of their new classmates directly by following the hashtag or on the website which uses Tagboard. Tagboard is a web tool that collects and displays social media posts from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other sites in real time. Photos, videos and status updates are arranged on the webpage like a visual mosaic.
“Tagboard provides a neat, visceral excitement to students that one can feel from the webpage,” said Livingston. “Students have a visual reinforcement of who’s in their class, what they’re saying, and the excitement of becoming a part of the W&M community.”
The university’s Undergraduate Admission and Creative Services offices joined forces to revamp their approach and explore how web, print and social media would be used to communicate early admission notification. Tiffany Broadbent Beker, social media coordinator for W&M, first came across Tagboard over the summer and heard how other institutions were utilizing the tool in their admissions efforts.
“For these types of landmark moments in their lives, students want to make sure everyone hears the news, and that they hear it instantaneously,” said Beker.
Jesse Windley, web communications manager, worked closely on the launch and implementation of the project.
“I thought, ‘This would be a perfect tool for us to use when admission notifications go out,’” said Windley. “Social media is where students are, and our goal is to build a community and engage with them wherever they are.
“Anytime students and parents can connect with the university on a more conversational or personal level, it helps us strengthen that sense of community that makes William & Mary so special,” she added.
The #wm2018 campaign has drawn reaction from grandparents and parents who chimed in to send congratulatory messages and photos. It even caught the eye of alumni who joined the conversation to post welcome messages to the newest members of the Tribe. Among those most pleased by the experience were Livingston, Beker and Windley – all W&M alumni – who admit that, having once anxiously awaited their own acceptance letters, they received great joy watching the reactions of the successful applicants.
Congrats #wm2018! I got my early admission letter 18 yrs ago but still remember the excitement. Welcome to the Tribe family!— Andrea McKellar (@AMcKellar17) December 7, 2013
Livingston said the admission office plans to continue the campaign in March when regular admission notifications are sent.
“I think more and more students exist in this 140-character world,” she said. “And as long as students continue to use hashtags, the Admission Office will be searching for various tools and platforms to engage with them."