The Scroll – A Strategic Social Media + Brand Move


Our social media baby has finally arrived: Hamilton College’s ‘The Scroll’ is a platform born of love, research, cold sweats and lots and lots of discussion. Still in beta testing, we’re adding in the last bits of functionality but released this on campus, to alums and the broader social media community today.

Not only a fun, interactive way to find a variety of conversations at once, The Scroll was the answer to our top five questions about social media use and authentic branding of our institution:

1. Many in our audience do not use Social Media/Twitter/Facebook/Etc. Or do they?

Perhaps the issue is that our audience never really knew how to build a website? The Scroll aims to be a solution: pull together all of the valuable conversations about our institution  from a variety of platforms and audiences and allow them to be shared back out via the platform of the user’s choice. Even if you are not a social media user, like some of our older alumni, now, you can see the conversations as they happen and choose to participate or spectate as you so desire. Instead of creating a one time campaign, The Scroll can be used over and over again, highlighting daily and trending content, and adding in new accounts as they become available. It is platform agnostic, although primarily fed via Twitter (as we work out the inevitable, and ubiquitous Facebook and Tumblr kinks).

2. Departmental and community accounts fade/die.

While it may be easy to set up a Facebook or Twitter account, we all know that the difficulty lies in upkeep and maintaining your relevancy. Now, in order to be highlighted on The Scroll, accounts need to stay on top of their game to produce relevant and timely content. Competition among groups and accounts will hopefully sustain the content influx, along with targeted social media campaigns, especially those from events. Organic content trumps all, and the main content goal of The Scroll is authentic,transparent content, live from our students, alumni and community.

3. Our audience, if it does use social, doesn’t connect with us this way. Do they?

Beyond creation of accounts, we need to market them. We recently launched a companion campaign ‘Share & Engage’ to fully flesh out the reasoning behind projects like The Scroll: we invite our audience to share their thoughts, engage in a dialog with us and to push around and create content that is relevant to their individual Hamilton experience. By piecing these together, we create the real and total Hamiltonian experience  Other projects in this include our social media directory, adding comment and sharing functionality to our news stories, a newly updated and social media inclusive alumni directory and an interactive map project.

4. There isn’t that much content being shared about us. Is there?

By creating a fire-hose of social media content, funneled from campus and alumni community accounts and tags, we’re able to unearth conversations that may have previously fallen through the cracks. By showcasing this content to our communities, we allow them greater opportunities to engage in discussions, reconnect with friends & faculty  or just share funny ideas and memes. This will need to be maintained, but we’re already creating creative content campaigns where ever and whenever we can, built with alumni and student feedback. By giving ownership to our audience in many ways, we’re hoping to make this truly their platform.

5. It’s difficult to follow a conversation with multiple people, on multiple platforms in social media. 

The hope is that The Scroll brings together all of the content that we may have not seen previously. Conversations on similar topics in a variety of places can now live together and a broader picture painted. We also allow for a variety of viewpoints so that the true nature of life at Hamilton can come through. As we began to see our reliance on a platform like Storify grow, we decided to try our hand at taking on something similar in-house.

It remains to be seen how The Scroll will be accepted and used, but ultimately it was a fun, calculated risk to take. We’re hoping conversations grow because of it and that our audience feels more in touch with the place that they call, have called or will call, home.


2 thoughts on “The Scroll – A Strategic Social Media + Brand Move

  1. Jessica, it’s nice to see another university (social media prof) pursuing a community-based collection of campus social media. I just wrote about the value in transparency and user-generated content on LINK ( Social media is special because every voice is a valuable voice; therefore, we also launched a similar platform last month:

    “Perhaps the issue is that our audience never really knew they could engage with us in this way?” This question is exactly what inspired us as well. Even if our audience knew about our profiles, they did not expect us to respond and contribute to the conversation. I think introducing sites like this and addressing our users frequently will help higher education maintain relevancy.

    “It remains to be seen how The Scroll will be accepted and used…” Your site is well-designed and I enjoy the tile layout! To me, tiles represent “stories.” In an over-programmed world, users judge books by their covers and the same goes for us. Bravo on the site!

  2. Thanks, Sheri! I love, love, love the Chapman site and had never seen it before! I agree: for me, the main win with this is that our community gets to be at the forefront rather than our ‘scrubbed’ brand accounts.

    We do post our own institutional accounts but, primarily, we’re pulling from conversations our students and alumni are having independent of us. We’re trying to feed organic content from ‘real’ people the most.

    I look forward to watching how we both use tools like this to better speak with and connect our audiences! Congrats to you as well!

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