Today’s Virginia Tech shootings proved what we already knew

First, like everyone else, my heart goes out to everyone at Virginia Tech, especially the victims of the tragedy and their families.

I was kind of late picking up on the story, so most local websites covering the event had already crashed. I started following the Collegiate Times, Tech’s student newspaper, at around 2:30 pm EST, when people were tweeting that it was a good way to receive breaking news. Then, it had about 12,000 followers.

At 4:44 EST, it had 20,993 followers.

It’s a tragic way to gain that many followers, but congratulations to that group of students for excellent and responsible reporting throughout the situation. I believe it played a valuable role not only in informing the public about the event, but also informing students about what to do and where to go in order to stay safe.

This jump in followers again proves how important social media is to how we receive information nowadays. That reporting kept me glued to my phone during the office Christmas party.

I will be interested to see how many folks stay following the account now that the situation seems to be resolved.

Again, my hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.

Hokies.

Helping the community: The college basketball rivalry edition

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that basketball is a game.

That’s especially true when alma mater is involved. To keep perspective on a heated rivalry and give back to the community, the Lexington-area alumni clubs of UNC and UK have agreed to a fun bet on Saturday’s game.

The stakes: community service. The winning team’s alumni club gets to pick an organization/event for which members of both alumni clubs will volunteer together.

Rivalry aside, two of the greatest college basketball traditions in the country face off on Saturday. As far as we’re concerened, the community will be the ultimate winner.

We’re all proud alumni and we wish both of our teams luck on Saturday. But since this is my blog, GO HEELS!

Personality in social media: The college basketball rivalry version

In honor of Saturday’s game between the noble Tar Heels and the evil Wildcats of Kentucky, I would like to comment on something at which the University of Kentucky is really schooling UNC.

A little more than a year ago I wrote a post about a journalist named Lucy Kellaway and her opinion that the somewhat recent trend of personalizing organizations was making it easier for stakeholders to hate corporations when they made mistakes. A really smart social media guy named Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer) put up a post not long ago disagreeing, pointing to a study that says, “being human sets thought leaders apart.”

I’m with Mark.

Look, people don’t relate to lawn mowers and they don’t relate to news aggregators; they relate to people. As painful as it is to admit it, the University of Kentucky (@universityofky) has totally figured that out. UNC (@Carolina_News) has not.

Did you take a campus tour at UK? Wondering about the status of your admissions application? Thinking about becoming an organ donor? Tweet about it. UK responds to this kind of stuff every day. Even when I wrote a somewhat antagonizing post about UK last year, @universityofky responded (antagonizingly).

For the university community, in which institutions are competing for the love of 18-year-old applicants and 30-year-old alumni alike, the UK Twitter account is a cool, responsive friend (or rival) with lots of info behind it.

Now look at UNC’s Twitter. First off, good luck finding a link to it on the UNC homepage. The account is a great aggregator of news about the school, but there’s no personality. It’ll tell you UNC men’s soccer made the Elite 8 (congrats) or the results of a new campus study, but there aren’t RT’s from applicants or fans. There’s no playful banter about athletics or food. Even the name is a drawback; it’s not the university itself, it’s news about the university. If you toured the campus, would you feel comfortable tweeting “I toured @Carolina_News today!”? Of course not. It sounds dumb.

More proof? Look at the followers. The schools’ websites show UNC and UK have similar enrollment numbers (UNC-29,000; UK-28,000) but UK’s account has almost twice as many followers (12,235 to UNC’s 6,708 as of Dec. 1).

Perhaps the most damning proof: me (sorry). My UK alumni friends would be glad to tell you I’m one of the biggest haters out there. I’m not a UK fan, I’m not a Calipari fan, but I do follow @universityofky. It’s entertaining. Sure, you may argue that I’m following UK because I live near it, but I live closer to Eastern Kentucky University and Berea College and I’m not following them.

People appreciate the fun that comes with following an account like @universityofky and I think other schools, including UNC (of which I am an alumnus), could learn something from the way UK rolls on Twitter.

Now, let’s just hope UNC rolls over UK in basketball on Saturday. Go Heels!