An Interview with Peter Johnson, University of North Dakota

Members of the CASE social media task force are interviewing colleagues at institutions they think are using social media effectively. Peter Johnson is the executive associate vice president for university relations at the University of North Dakota. He was interviewed by Don Koijch, associate vice president for marketing and communications at the University of Illinois Foundation.

DK: What social media programs is the University of North Dakota currently engaged in?

PJ: We have several units on campus that are helping build a community on Facebook. We also have a presence on Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and iTunes U.

DK: Which do you think are the most effective?

PJ: Facebook is great because it provides a pathway to connect and communicate. It’s engaging and immediate.

DK: What have you tried that you think hasn’t worked?

PJ: We haven’t yet made YouTube a top priority, and we’ve only dabbled with iTunes University, so we haven’t seen a lot of return in those channels.

DK: What new social media tools are you considering or exploring?

PJ: We recently hired a full-time social media coordinator for the office, so our latest initiative has been committing more staff time and energy for these tools.

DK: Are social media initiatives integrated into your strategic communications plan?

PJ: I’ll give a “soft yes” to that. We’ve been including it in our plans, especially as we’re looking at social media as part of a new campus web redesign.

DK: How are your social media initiatives organized and resourced?

PJ: Many departments on campus have created social media opportunities within their various sites. And we’re making university relations a centralized unit by hiring a full-time social media coordinator.

DK: Where does the buck stop when it comes to social media decisions?

PJ: Right here, at the campus Office of University Relations.

DK: What do you wish you knew when you were first exploring social media initiatives that you know now?

PJ: I wish I knew how important social media has become to the generation of students now in high school and college. It’s tough to know what’s a fad and what is here to stay.

DK: Has the University of North Dakota established any type of social media policies?

PJ:  We have — as complete a set of social media policies as seem logical at this time.  Under Heather Bushaw’s leadership, we did some research and “CASEd” — or “borrowed” from, if you prefer — the best policies we found, adapting what we needed to for the environment at The University of North Dakota.  You can find the policy at

DK: What advice you would give to someone planning to launch any type of social media initiative today?

PJ: Find out what’s cutting edge and stay with it. Find out who does it well and learn from them. And hire somebody whose job it is to think about social media 24/7. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s