Virtual Housing for Your Online Communities

Jen Doak is the online communications specialist at CASE.

Sometimes chiclets—those ubiquitous, rounded-square buttons showing off Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and blogs—just don’t cut it. You want to integrate your institution’s social media efforts in a central place, one that’s easy to use and easy on the eyes. You want to show the world that you value your community, both online and off.

Fortunately, you’re not the first institution to think this, so you have some examples from which to draw inspiration: Institutions of all sizes have found creative ways to put their social media accounts under one virtual roof.

Custom social media hubs are the most common way to house many institutional accounts:

Tumblr, a social media and web content sharing site, is another option. Northwestern University’s Tumblr site, Bleed Purple, serves as a repository for its Twitter content, photos and video—everything from archived black-and-white photos to videos of campus theater productions. Marquette University uses Tumblr as a digest of social media and news highlights.

Other schools have thought beyond just creating hubs for their accounts—they center certain social media sites around a theme or experience.

  • Penn State uses Storify, a social media site used to “create stories,” to share what beloved football coach Joe Paterno means to the school.
  • Colby College’s InsideColby goes beyond social media integration with student bloggers and photo essays.
  • Northfield Mount Hermon School has an award-winning site called NMHBook that gracefully integrates photo, video, blog and social networking streams (we interviewed its communications and marketing director, Heather Sullivan, in a previous post).

This is just a start; there are dozens more social media integration sites. Have you seen any other particularly good examples?

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