Graduate students build Kent State’s social media presence in China

Kelsey Husnick

It’s a “summer of content” for three School of Journalism and Mass Communication graduate students working on building Kent State’s social media presence in China.

Le Kang, Sijie Liu and Gina Conley are taking information and content from current Kent State websites, Facebook pages and their own research and interviews and translating it into Chinese to be rereleased on the Chinese social media platform Renren, an equivalent to Facebook.

Kang developed the idea for her project while working as a representative for the university, fielding questions from Chinese families of students. She said she realized it is difficult for people in China to get all of the information they need about Kent State.

“A lot of social media is banned in China,” Kang said. “Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not allowed to be viewed. If we want to reach more Chinese students, we need to build a Chinese social media presence in China so that their students can see it easier.”

Sites like Renren allow for peer-to-peer conversations about what is going on in the university between current, prospective and even former Chinese students, said Gene Sasso, professor and adviser to the project.

This not only helps prospective and current Chinese students get the information they need, it also puts Kent State higher on the international radar.

The students are working closely with the online public relations master’s program and keeping the project contained within the JMC department over the summer.

Their Renren site should be up and running soon for students in the U.S. and China to view. The three have been working since May 4, conducting interviews with Chinese students and families, changing university logos to add Chinese symbols, translating and adding subtitles to videos and changing text to Chinese.

Liu said that a typical five-minute video takes up to four or five hours to translate and edit.

“I don’t think this is something that you can really finish, it’s something that is ongoing,” Kang said.

As more content is added to regular university sites as things happen on campus, more work will need to be done to get that information on Renren.

“[Kang’s] plan is for the whole university,” Conley said.

The goal is for the Office of Global Education to step in and help take over the project, adding Renren pages for every college at Kent State.

“This is just the beginning,” Sasso said, “but we’re going to have enough wind [in] our wings to be able to show that this is a good investment and this is something that we must continue to support and keep ongoing.”

Contact Kelsey Husnick at [email protected].