WKU finding new ways to interact with students

Lindsay Kriz

As social networking gained popularity among WKU students and beyond, one staff member decided that it was time to bring the Hill into the cyber world of Twitter.

Corie Martin, manager of creative web services and content web master of public affairs, is the face behind the @WKU Twitter account, which is a more personalized account than the @WKUNEWS account.

“It was my idea to do it,” Martin said. “I did the WKU admissions account for a few years, and I talked to students there. I wanted to be social.”

Martin said she wants to use the account as a media tool in a social way, like public relations.

“It’s kind of fun,” she said.

Martin said that she will look through hashtags and mentions that the @WKU account gets, reply to any questions, or say congratulations to any students who get their acceptance letter to the university.

The account has been in existence for six months after Martin had to contact Twitter because a German company that never tweeted was already using the @WKU name.

“The best way to get Twitter’s attention is to say that someone is infringing on your trademark,” she said.

Martin said she didn’t need special permission to open the page, and that President Gary Ransdell knows all about it.

“He uses (@WKU symbol) sometimes,” she said. “He thinks it’s cool. We are so fortunate that we have support.”

One of the funny parts about using the account, Martin said, is that oftentimes students will mention or hashtag about WKU in a negative way, and they think that the page owner doesn’t see it.

But Martin said that’s just not true, and that often times she’ll reply, asking what the student needs, or she will refer them to someone who can help.

“We have personal contact with the students – direct communication,” she said. “Some need help in class, and I very frequently help students who need it.”

Martin said one day that she saw someone tweet about tripping over a loose brick that was by Guthrie Tower.

She then contacted university maintenance and the issue was fixed in a few hours.

“It’s a well-connected campus,” she said. “Students know that we’re listening.”

Partners of the university are listening to @WKU as well.

Jeremy Rex, or @J_rex on Twitter, is the regional director of Omni Update, which is the web content management system that WKU’s websites uses. Rex said he sees the account on his Twitter feed every once in a while, and he likes what he sees.

“They’re trying to get more engaged with potential students,” he said. “And they’re trying to show what the students are doing. It’s not just an account that says, ‘Come check this out.’ They’re actually writing back and forth with students.”

One of those students, Hopkinsville junior Luke Jean, said he gets responses from the Twitter account every so often.

“It’s definitely a fast way to share different views about campus,” he said. “It helps me stay in tune (with WKU).”

Jean said he gets a lot of his information about the Student Government Association from the @WKU account, and said he wouldn’t know about a potential Downing University Center name change if he hadn’t been following the account.

Stacey Biggs, who is the chief marketing officer of public affairs at WKU, works with Martin.

She said they’re seeing more and more people begin to use Twitter around campus, including the WKU Study Abroad program.

“I think this year more than ever before, people are trying Twitter,” Biggs said. “Students’ engagement is higher than ever before.”