GW embraces digital era with Pinterest & Tumblr

Gelman Library, with its rows of bookshelves and academic journals, has now filled its lexicon with words like pinning, tweeting and tumbling.

The library launched a Pinterest account early this summer.

On a campus where students and administrators commonly use Twitter to communicate, this type of outreach hardly seems out of place.

But what could a college library possibly pin? Inspirational quotes about the joys of knowledge, or maybe scanned photographs of the library’s namesakes, Melvin and Estelle, each enjoying a cup of tea and indulging in Walt Whitman’s earlier works?

The library’s profile includes informative material – flyers for upcoming events, an illustration of renovations to the library’s entrance and research opportunities for graduate students. Though Gelman’s Pinterest account boasts only seven followers, its 54 pins indicate a step toward a more widespread social media presence for the University.

GW’s efforts are a natural marketing strategy in today’s Internet-focused society, Thunder SEO’s Director of Content Marketing Monique Pouget said. Thunder is a California-based search engine optimization service that specializes in social media use. Pouget said a university is a brand just like any other corporation, and added that a brand should be publicized where its audience will see it.

“People are expecting everyone to have a social media presence, so to not invest in one now, I think, is a huge mistake,” Pouget said.

It appears as though GW is catching on to that perspective. The Gelman Pinterest account is accompanied by an increasingly active Twitter account, a Facebook page and a Tumblr blog. The University has also launched similar accounts for Eckles Library and the Virginia Science and Technology Campus Library.

The University has a widespread presence on Twitter as well. In addition to many administrators’ personal Twitter accounts, facilities’ and departments’ accounts include @GWAlert, which posts information on emergencies and crimes; @GWtweets, an account that provides more general information and announcements; an athletics-focused page called @GW_Sports along with different Twitter handles for schools across the University.

The Office of Admissions also created an Instagram account featuring photographs related to campus life.

But the point is not just to make the library accessible – it’s about making the University accessible.

Anne Ward, the director of communications for GW libraries, said Gelman’s Pinterest account is a work in progress that she hopes will grow to be just as popular as the University’s presence on other social media outlets.

“I think the University strives to tell their story, and the Gelman Library is a part of that story,” Ward, who runs the account, said in an email. “Pinterest is interesting because it is so visual. It allows us to show – not just tell.”

The University hit a similar social media stride with Lisner Auditorium, which launched a Tumblr blog promoting the upcoming Sept. 20 discussion between PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown and Scott Simon, the host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday” and PBS’s “Need to Know.”

Maryann Lombardi, who works in Lisner Auditorium’s office of business development for external relations, said the Tumblr account is an alternate route to inform students and faculty about events.

“The hope is to increase interest in the event, attract more audience, and develop a conduit between audience and event,” Lombardi said in an email.

Lombardi said GW has a commitment to creating a strong presence in social media, and the blog’s creators hope to become more active participants in that initiative.

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