Social Wall Connecting Alumni and Students Staying at Home During Lockdown

“ Helped Us Establish a Live Message Board With Words of Encouragement for Our Students.”

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Over-the shoulder shot of a person sitting comfortably on a sofa and holding a tablet. On the tablet, the Georgia Tech website is opened and showing the Aerospace Engineering programme.

Many companies were suddenly faced with having to figure out crisis communication because of the COVID-19 outbreak. We’re there to make it easier for them to communicate around this subject matter and we’ve had quite a few organisations setting up information hubs right after the outbreak.

Supporting students even from a distance

One of them, Georgia Tech Alumni Association set up a social media wall and embedded it prominently on the website to provide a central hub for information around COVID-19. The primary goal of the hub is to make sure students are aware that they’re not alone in all this.

The page also includes a video in which alumni declare their support for students and a button that allows people to donate to student relief.

The Georgia Tech Alumni Association pulled their support hub together in merely a week, showing how a social wall can make it easy to assemble information quickly.

We checked in with Nicole Ikeda Whatley, the organisation’s marketing manager for events and social media, to learn more.

RNicole Ikeda Whatley

Nicole Ikeda Whatley

Marketing Manager for Events and Social Media, Georgia Tech Alumni Association

What are the social media challenges for you during the coronavirus crisis, and how is helping you deal with them? 

Our challenge and focus (though not directly related to social media) was concern for our student community and the decision for them not to return to campus for the rest of the semester.

This posed unforeseen financial, housing, and social burdens on the students. We want to show them that they have the support of their alumni, and helped us establish a live message board with these words of encouragement.

What hashtags are you using and why? 

Our hashtag is #SwarmStrenGTh. “Swarm Together” is a tagline Georgia Institute of Technology uses often since our mascot is a Yellow Jacket. The Institute decided on the hashtag and we, as the alumni association, followed their example to keep communications aligned.

You also decided to feature the social wall prominently right on your homepage. What led to that decision?

We wanted this to be our main focus for the next few weeks until it is appropriate to move back to our regular promotions of events and programming. 

You set all this up incredibly quickly. How did you pull it off?

The backend is pretty intuitive. I took care of the social side and gave a member of our web team admin access to complete the embed portion.

How are you publicising your hashtag campaign?

We created a video (embedded on the homepage) with the call to action to post a message using the hashtag. We pushed this video out in an email, on our social media channels, and in text messaging.

How have your alumni reacted to the campaign so far?

So far, we have had a great response, and it is still going. Twitter is where we are seeing a lot of postings. It is difficult to find direct engagement from Facebook since you can’t really search for a hashtag.

Providing emotional and financial support

In a time where many of us feel helpless and don’t really know what we can do, the folks at the Georgia Tech Alumni Association found a way to support their students from afar and very quickly set up a way to aggregate support messages.

They created an outlet for the outpouring of emotional support people were clearly more than ready to give. Even better, they also combined it with a fundraising effort through a “donate to student relief” button on the website, which has been placed right under the motivational video.

Screenshot of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association website, featuring the hashtag, a short explanation of the campaign, the motivational video made by alumni and the embedded social wall. The social wall is adapted to perfectly fit the gold-and-black branding of Georgia Tech.
A screenshot of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association’s website, featuring the video and the social wall.

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