ASU’s School of Public Affairs Facebook page holds many informative links and posts, like an article about the possible immorality of unpaid internships, a link to a new way to garden in Phoenix, an article about the future of the Urban Grocery space or a photo of a pug in a tiny polo. This page is the creation of Margaret Kilman, a master of public administration student.
Kilman was originally hired by the school as a peer adviser, she said. She interacted with students daily and offered help with scheduling, looking at major maps and navigating Blackboard.
Kilman was already managing the social media sites during her position as a peer adviser, but when the Fall semester ended, the school asked if she wanted to continue working for them with social media, she said.
School of Public Affairs Senior Specialist Chris Hiryak said Kilman was interested in social media and had the capacity to handle it.
“It seemed like something it would be good for her to try and she proved to be very successful,” Hiryak said.
Now Kilman manages the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for the School of Public Affairs. She maintains the sites and posts relevant material. She said she never posts anything on LinkedIn but ensures that the people who have requested to join the group are approved.
Kilman said she tries to make the posts funny and informative for the entire audience in the school.
“I feel like we have such a broad range of people that would be looking at the page,” Kilman said. “I try and think about all those different groups while posting. I try to make it just fun and silly sometimes because that’s what I think Facebook sort of is.”
Kilman said she has been trying to broaden the scope of what the school’s social media covers.
“I have looked at a couple other similar programs’ Facebook pages,” Kilman said. “I sort of felt like they were really boring. They were only talking about things that were happening on their campus or in their program. They weren’t talking about current events. Just the few that I looked at were school-centric and program-centric. I feel like we’re really broadening it.”
Hiryak said he’s just happy the school has a presence on social media sites.
“I’m happy with the fact that she goes out and searches for pertinent and applicable posts,” Hiryak said. “I think she does a fantastic job of getting stories out there that are entertaining.”
Kilman said she hopes she is relating to the students better than a faculty member might be able to because they’re all in the same program and are interested in similar subjects, even though there isn’t very much student interaction on the Facebook page.
“We don’t get a ton of student engagement,” Kilman said. “We don’t get many comments. We get likes, but I can’t say we’re getting a ton of feedback. We’ve had some feedback saying to the administration that they really like what’s happening to the page.”
Another Facebook page, the ASU Memes, created by Ryan Kaupe, has garnered involvement from the ASU community since its creation early February using satirical pictures.
Kaupe, a double major in criminal justice and film studies, got the idea from a friend at Stanford University, whose school already had a memes page on Facebook. Kaupe decided to provide the same humor for ASU, starting on February 8 and working into the early morning hours the next day to get the page going.
The page features numerous photos with blunt, humorous captions such as the one above, some specifically harping on Downtown Campus issues. For example, a photo of the Taylor Place towers wearing backward baseball caps has a caption that reads, “Hot water. What’s that?” referring to the multiple instances during the 2011-12 school year when the dorms’ hot water has been shut off.
“When I started just pumping out the memes and stuff on there at first they weren’t really funny, but I got the hang of it and started making really funny ones and it kind of just blew up,” Kaupe said. Other universities have caught on to the trend since, including University of Arizona.
Kaupe said he didn’t just create the page for kicks, he anticipated from the beginning the page would be a success. Earlier this year, he sold ASU Memes to Adolfo Salazar, owner of the advertising company Direct Inbound, who now uses the page to promote his work as a DJ, said Kaupe.
Kaupe said he feels the page’s strong appeal to ASU students is due to its relevance to student life on campus, and its use as an outlet for students to vent.
Kaupe said he thinks that the memes aren’t just for fun and can serve to highlight student discontent with various issues at ASU. For instance, one of several popular memes is about the frequent outages of the ASU Blackboard system.
“When administrators go on there and see some of the negative aspects that ASU has, maybe they can actually fix them,” Kaupe said.
Hiryak said Kilman’s student perception of things is probably helpful while managing the social media of the school of public affairs.
“I don’t think it would be nearly as successful if I was doing it because she can bring things students and other community members might find interesting that I might not be able to,” Hiryak said.
School of public administration alumna Eva Stern said even though a student is in charge of the social media, she thinks it is professional and relatable.
“As long as the material is relevant, I’m not sure that it matters to me (who’s posting),” Stern said.
Kilman’s only prior experience has come from her own internet use, but said that she thinks her posts are still professional.
“We’re having some fun with it. I don’t necessarily think that’s unprofessional,” Kilman said.
Hiryak said he agrees that the humorous posts are not unprofessional.
“The whole idea behind social media is to connect with all types of people and provide a little bit of entertainment,” Hiryak said. “If you were looking for strictly a scholarly publication, there are other avenues for that.”
Hiryak said because students use social media so much, the school should have a presence in social media as well. But communicating via technology will never be able to completely replace in person communication. Hiryak said by utilizing as many resources as they can, they’ll reach as many students as possible.
Hiryak said he thinks that some departments may pick up on the idea and hire a student to handle social media, but it will depend on their resources.
“If they had the resources, they might be hesitant to put a student in that role,” Hiryak said. “But they are probably still interested to hear students’ opinions. Other departments will determine what’s most appropriate for them. Margaret’s example shows it can be done and it can be done well.”
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