'Hurst utilizes social media outreach

Mercyhurst’s Social Media campaign is continuing its effort to become an increasingly integral part of the university’s marketing strategy.

On Friday, Oct. 3, the hashtag #HURSTisHOME rang in Homecoming.

The hashtag is part of an aggressive social media campaign on behalf of the university to connect with Lakers past, present and prospective.

“We want to showcase the positive experiences here on campus. To show people that Mercyhurst really is a family community,” says Mercyhurst University’s Social Media Director, Christopher Norris. He encourages members of the Mercyhurst community to document their love of Mercyhurst online with pictures, videos and status updates.

During Norris’ two and a half year term as the director, Mercyhurst social media has bloomed into a major marketing tool for the school.

While Mercyhurst’s public relations campaigns heavily in the Erie, Upper Ohio, and Pennsylvania regions, the social media marketing the school uses has a more global reach.
“We’ve had students hear about Mercyhurst through social media from as far away from California to Asia,” Norris said.

Norris’ job entails translating information that people should know about Mercyhurst into tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos.

Norris believes social media allows communication across multiple boundaries.

“I like to use Facebook when reaching out to parents and alumni,” says Norris. “It’s great to hear from parents about their confidence in Mercyhurst. That’s the best sort of advertising we could hope for.”

By using social media, Norris hopes that he can bring attention to Mercyhurst through personal testimonials. He is a firm believer in the power of word of mouth.

Norris’ job requires him to be constantly alert about trends on campus. He does not do it alone, however.

Norris utilizes the thousands people who make up Mercyhurst’s extended community to retweet, reblog and repost information.

“Seventy-five percent of what I post has already been posted by a student or someone else,” says Norris. “Our students are our greatest advocates.”

Under his leadership, Mercyhurst started a social media ambassadors program. The program encourages dialogue between current Mercyhurst students and prospective ones.

“The greatest purpose of our social media campaign is to encourage conversation,” Norris said.

Norris encourages students who currently attend Mercyhurst and have a large twitter presence to contact him about the program. He believes that this personal view of “’Hurst life” will provide prospective students the most realistic Mercyhurst experience.

All dialogue, even the negative is encouraged according to Norris. He urges students to follow Mercyhurst on social media. “Even if a student complains through social media, it’s a good thing. It lets the university know what it needs to improve on,” Norris said.

He claims that Mercyhurst’s social media monitors make an effort to respond to most questions posted on official Mercyhurst pages.

“We watch and we listen,” says Norris. He hopes this academic year will be able to reach new heights of expansion as students take more pictures, send more tweets and share more #lakerpride.