HashtagNYU aims to connect students to NYU and one another. Innovative and integrated, HashtagNYU brings together a slew of social media platforms and a team of socially savvy interns to create a digital and global community through shareable, relatable, and engaging content. To do so, about a dozen student interns — in New York and around the world — create and curate online content that deeply resonates with the NYU student experience. As an integrated campaign, HashtagNYU is deeply rooted in unprecedented student engagement and dedicated to broadcasting a unique student story across nine social media platforms, making it a key ingredient in our administration's marketing mix.
As a brand, HashtagNYU has been embraced by the campus community because of its relatability, tone, and playfulness. As a recent alumnus, and former intern, noted: "HashtagNYU is the most fun official NYU web presence because it not only informs students about important things going on at the University, but also entertains and delights them." Another recent NYU alum affirmed: "[HashtagNYU] is kind of like a banner example for how to prove NYU has student life and a culture. Without it, those that say NYU promotes isolation or separation from fellow students would have a better argument. HashtagNYU not only releases content, but they interact with students. They make the University present and seem like it cares, reminding you that your school is not just a place to sit while you get a degree."
There exists a sentiment that NYU lacks any real sense of student community. This claim stems from NYU's non-traditional campus climate: we don't have fences, we lack a football team, and we have no physical quad. With 50,000+ students, 19,000+ employees, and study abroad programs in more than 25 countries spanning six continents, NYU is the world's largest private university. That being said, it has, in fact, an abundance of community, but it's certainly not traditional, and often hard to find — particularly for our newest students.
This fueled HashtagNYU's two key goals: to connect students to the university and one another. Realizing that one of the unifying factors among our students is their use of digital technology, we have been able to provide a common space — a "digital quad" of sorts — where students can learn about events, stay in touch with their campus, connect with other students, and revel in the excitement of life at NYU. This campaign creates a "through line" at a global university that connects students in various campuses across the world, and from hugely diverse backgrounds, with content including "15 Ways Dating at NYU is like The Hunger Games" and "10 Amazing New Start-Ups by NYU Students & Alumni."
Currently, HashtagNYU spans nine social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare, Spotify, YouTube, and Google+). By hiring around a dozen student interns every semester, we maintain the sustainability of HashtagNYU and are truly bottom up, not top down. All of HashtagNYU's content is created or curated by students, for students, which fundamentally shifts how university communications are handled. By integrating students into HashtagNYU's workflow and projects, we implore students to guide our communication methods, as well as our content, presence, tone, and brevity.
2014 was a special year for HashtagNYU in that we more fully optimized and integrated original content, in the form of photosets, videos, articles, and lists, into our overall strategy. Content ranged from an article defining all of the major NYU acronyms, to a simple photo capturing the view from NYU's student center, to a refreshingly honest video series about adjusting to college life (and specifically to NYU). Overall, in 2014, the number of fans, subscribers, and followers on HashtagNYU's nine social media platforms grew by 126%. HashtagNYU's Tumblr account alone — which serves as a flagship for all of this content — grew by nearly 1100% in 2014.
Quantitative data helps us optimize our strategy, but we consider qualitative data to be the most important metric, as it best reflects our impact on the culture at, and perception of, NYU. As one recent alumnus testified, "HashtagNYU has definitely impacted University life. For one, before HashtagNYU I would have gone to the grave saying there was no community at NYU. Now I see how wrong I was. HashtagNYU reminds us that we are all one university and tells us how to get out there and experience the community that exists."
From one-time projects to daily content throughout the academic year, HashtagNYU has weaved its way into the fabric of the University by helping students discover community and resources that might otherwise remain unearthed in the vastness of NYU. It tackles the perceived issue of community head-on by providing a digital space for students to connect and discuss issues, broadcast events, share stories, and feel a sense of pride for their University.