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UI going a Twitter

BY EMILY MELVOLD | FEBRUARY 24, 2009 7:29 AM

On Jan. 16, the Iowa Hawkeyes joined. On Jan. 21, the Pomerantz Career Center joined. And on Feb. 3, the IMU joined.

What are all these UI groups connecting to? Twitter — a growing online social network that allows people to send and read each other’s updates, or “tweets.” The name Twitter comes from an acronym originated by a founder of the site, Josh Marino: Typing What I’m Thinking To Everyone Reading.

But these UI organizations don’t intend to utilize the micro-blogging network to share their thoughts — they want to take advantage of the marketing potential of the site.

“We’re looking to use all channels possible, including Twitter, to get information about the IMU out to all populations,” said Dan Sweeney, an IMU marketing design artist.

He walks around the union and updates the Twitter account for the IMU, titled “imubuddy,” from his iPhone once or twice each day. Sweeney’s “tweets” include events occurring in the building.

Another UI student on the IMU marketing team, Kelly Canfield, said she hopes the Twitter profile accumulates many followers and, in turn, attracts them back into the building after use dropped when the facility reopened, compared with pre-flood operation.

“Now that the building is getting back into the swing of things, we are trying to get students back in here, too, and re-accustom them to the building,” she said.

With 72 followers right now, the IMU is considering plans to hold contests and give away prizes to people who become new followers.

Even though Sweeney and Canfield are expecting a good following because of the new form of advertising, they don’t plan to decrease alternate forms of IMU publicity. They contend people use all sorts of media sources.

“Different people use different channels, so we’re just trying to cover all of them,” Sweeney said.
Similar to the “imubuddy” page, the Iowa Hawkeyes and Pomerantz Center profiles feature promotional information rather than personal updates, such as a private user might post.

With a Hawkeye football picture as the background, the Hawkeyes sports page updates with headlines of the latest articles and a link to the Iowa Hawkeyes’ official website for users to read the full sports stories. It is usually updated five to 10 times per day. The Pomerantz Center highlights helpful information for UI students in the process of job hunting.

Seth Jacobs, an Information Technology Services help-desk consultant, said he doesn’t think Twitter is catered to the college demographic in the way Facebook is. He has his own account but admits he doesn’t update it very often.

He acknowledged it could be very useful for publicizing events on campus, though.

“I think it is useful when one person who needs to talk to a lot of people or when you have a lot of people that need to talk to one person,” Jacobs said. “And in that respect, Twitter could be pretty useful for the university.”


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