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@DrakeUniversity Twitter is more than social media

In a world immersed in — and (borderline) obsessed with -— social media, newsletters and email, even websites aren’t quick enough for our fast fingers. Want to know what time Hubbell opens on Sunday? Or what’s happening on campus this week? Or brush up on some fun Drake history? Luckily, you can tweet with Drake. And you’ll get a quick reply from a member the digital media team.

“We use Twitter to engage with students, alumni, prospective students, fans and the community at large,” said Aaron Jaco, Drake digital media specialist. “We like our social media outreach to be a conversation, not a one-way flow of information, and we try to keep it fun.”

Students have noticed the increasing popularity. Instead of the usual room and phone numbers, campus organizations and colleges will often provide a Twitter handle as a means for communication.

“Drake seems to love Twitter,” said junior Megan Stein. “When I came back from being abroad, I was surprised at how important Twitter had become to the Drake community.”

Drake’s active presence on Twitter is largely due to the journalism school.

“The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is a shining example of how Twitter can build relationships and take learning outside of the classroom,” Jaco said. “Students and their professors are talking to each other all hours of the day and on weekends. Sometimes they discuss course assignments, but often they’re talking about an interesting news story or the Saturday football game – proof that students see their professors not only as teachers and mentors, but also as friends. We know from experience that these relationships can, and do, last well beyond graduation.”

While many journalism students have accounts they use regularly, many professors also require students to have and use Twitter for class. Jill Van Wyke, a professor in the journalism school, uses it because she sees social media as a critical skill for journalism students to have before they graduate.

“Students who embrace it while in college land the best jobs soonest out of college,” Van Wyke said.

Stein created @DrakeGirlProblems as part of a blogging assignment for her journalism class.

“I’m excited that people seem to be enjoying it, but I think a lot of the credit goes to Drake’s avid Twitter users,” she said.  “Sometimes I get annoyed having to tweet so often, but I know it’s for my benefit. I think the Journalism school has really useful tweets because it is relevant information for us.”

It can also spark better classroom discussions and is an easy way to get a hold of students.

“I used to think of my classroom as four walls,” Van Wyke said. “With social media, those walls are gone.”

Other colleges use Twitter as well. Drake Fine Arts tweets updates on the arts at Drake and in the Des Moines Area. Spike keeps sports fans informed about games and Drake players. The Drake Alumni Center keeps in contact with Drake graduates and tweets what cool things they’re doing.

“The thing I like about the Drake alumni account is getting to listen to and see the day-to-day activities of our alumni,” said Drake alum Holly Worthy, who manages the alumni Twitter account. “Stories can be hard to share in 140 characters, but it’s a great way to start relationships that the alumni office can then develop later at our events or with personal contact.”

As for whether Drake is ahead of other schools when it comes to social media use, Jaco prefers not to compare.

“As they’d say on Twitter,” he said. “We don’t think in terms of who’s #winning.”

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