Stark campus expands on Flash Alerts

Kyle Nelson

Twitter and Facebook

useful to reach students

Social networking at Kent State University Stark campus has a goal: keeping students abreast of campus events, announcements and, sometimes most importantly, class cancellations.

Stark campus has both a Facebook page and a Twitter account to communicate with its students. Web Coordinator Julie Spotts said the Twitter page is primarily used for class cancellations, while the Facebook page has been more about announcing events, scholarship opportunities and events going on around campus.

Recent samplings of posts from the Facebook page include Earth Day announcements, winners of a photography contest on campus and a professor speaking about the Iceland volcano, Eyjafjallajokull.

“My goal is to get a couple of things out per day and not bore people to tears because we’re constantly throwing things at them,” Spotts said. “The idea is to use it more effectively with more important information rather than a random thought.”

With Twitter, Spotts (and anyone else at the Stark campus) can run a search for any permutation of Stark to see what students and others are saying about the campus.

“It’s interesting when you hear about things,” Spotts said. “Those are being picked up by several different media and it regenerates. Through the re-tweeting, there’s a lot more information going out there.”

The Facebook page gives students more of a chance to sound off about concerns or problems they might have as it has a public wall for comments.

“When it’s a snowy day, our Facebook page pretty much gets populated with a lot of grumblings about having to go to class or sidewalks not being clear,” Spotts said. “It’s also one of the quickest ways we can notify students when we do cancel classes. A lot of them do look toward Facebook and Twitter before even checking the main site.”

Students are not the only ones doing the grumbling, however. Public Relations Coordinator Cynthia Williams sees it elsewhere.

“We don’t just get grumbling from students,” Williams said, “but parents as well.”

The Facebook and Twitter pages are also utilized in tandem with the university’s Flash Alerts system, creating a three-pronged system for students who might prefer one medium to another.

“We primarily use (Twitter) to get out class cancellations as soon as we hear about them,” Spotts said. “If an individual professor cancels classes, I’ll update the Twitter as soon as we know about it.

“In also being part of marketing and the PR department, I want to make sure that every little thing that’s going on around campus gets reported,” she added.

The Flash Alerts system has its problems, however.

“I think Flash Alerts are more or less a quick notification that something is going on around campus, whether it’s a weather or campus emergency,” Williams said. “Flash Alerts are only so many characters so the Facebook page and the main site are more detailed.

“People pay to come here, so we definitely want them to get their money’s worth, but we don’t want to jeopardize their health in the process. We are affecting people’s lives, but we ask people to use their best judgment when leaving for class. Getting the word out as promptly as possible is one of the big things that social networking does.”

Contact regional campus

reporter Kyle Nelson

at [email protected].