Brittany Ballantyne

Equinox Staff


It’s how someone finds out her favorite celebrity is down the street; it’s how another sets up a meeting; it’s how someone else operates his office; and it is all called social media. All different types of social media for different purposes exist, not only on the World Wide Web, but in the Keene State College community as well.

Provost Emile Netzhammer said he uses social media for a number of reasons, including posting articles and helpful links, addressing issues that people have or questions students ask.

“It allows me to stay connected with all kinds of people – students, colleagues, other people in my discipline – in the job in very immediate and creative ways,” Netzhammer said.

Director of Student Involvement Jennifer Ferrell uses Facebook and Twitter for two different purposes.

“Facebook for me is a really great way for me to stay in contact with people who are all over the country, you know, all over the place, to keep up with what’s going on with important things in their lives and to keep up with what’s going on with our students,” she said.

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Ferrell said she uses Facebook as a way to do this as well as see invitations for events going on. She also uses it to help the Social Activities Council with its usage of Facebook by making suggestions. Twitter, Ferrell said, is more personal for her and includes the sharing of research and articles she finds.

Residential Director Rian Rabideau said, “I think as my work as an RD, we basically use it as a supplementary tool to get announcements out about programs or things going on in the halls.”

Rabideau said RAs also use social media frequently to get information to their floor residents. Being an RD, Rabideau is required to have a Facebook. He said he feels Facebook has helped aid communication because “students are pretty much on that several times a day.”

“In my world we always talk about better ways to communicate with students. It’s important we stay current with technology and if [students are] using Facebook, we need to be using Facebook,” Rabideau said.

Rabideau spoke of the success he has seen from using social media for the Community Kitchen in Keene and gathering volunteers for the organization. He said he gets dozens of e-mails from people looking to volunteer. “It’s worked nicely for us,” Rabideau said.

Sasha Watt, assistant director of admissions, said that her use of social media in the admissions office is strictly Twitter and Facebook. The office makes each class year a Facebook page where students can talk and discuss things going on, classes, clubs and organizations, and ask for advice. Watt said the incoming class groups are “widely successful” and said she believes this is where she sees most of the communication going on for the social media the admissions office uses.

While she does not think students looking for colleges go onto the Facebook and Twitter area while researching schools, she said the number of admitted students who are on their class webpage is “absolutely crazy.”

“In my opinion, it makes it feel like a community because they feel like they know everyone one there,” Watt said, explaining how incoming students communicate with others via their “Class Of” page.

Watt also spoke of the other means of communication the office uses, including e-mails to prospective students and personalized, handwritten notes.

“We go back to old-school,” Watt said. “No one gets mail anymore, that’s why we do it. Think about the last time you got a card in the mail.”

Sophomore Hannah Gawrys says she uses social media to get a hold of classmates and for Owl Nation, ONBU Hall Council, and Social Activities Council. Gawrys said she posts flyers and posters around dorms to spread word of events as well since not everyone reads what she posts on Facebook. She also posts details of events and uses Twitter to “spread word about what’s going on in events.”

“It’s a good tool and if you want to get involved definitely do some research and check it out because stuff’s going on all the time if you look for it,” Gawrys said. She also said she felt the best way of spreading news is through word of mouth.

Jennifer Darrow, director of the academic technology at the Center for Engagement, Learning, and Teaching, said she mostly uses Twitter.

“I follow a lot of people that do similar kind of work that we do,” she said. “It’s really evolved to become a really integral part of my work and I think everyone in the hall uses Twitter to communicate with each other and with others in our network.”

Darrow spoke of the group’s academic technology blog that they use to “introduce faculty to new strategies with new technologies.” She said they post new content about every two weeks, which she said demonstrates how tweeting can bring people together.

“I think that’s really the power behind the social media, is the connection that you make with each other and the give and take between colleagues,” Darrow said.

When questioned about how she felt about her amount of followers on Twitter, Darrow said, “What I care about is the quality of the information that I put out and that I receive, I don’t care about the number of followers.”

Media Specialist of CELT Matthew Ragan said Twitter is “not only for tweeting, but shared experiences.”

Junior Leann Lam uses social media to connect with and organize the women’s rugby team as well. She said, “It’s easier to see everyone on one page,” and pointed out a few things that have worked for her.

Lam said she creates events, and those who plan on attending “like” the post. Over the summer, Lam was “able to organize a whole team order of jerseys through Facebook. We’re all in different states but because of Facebook and the group, everyone was able to get information to me and I was able to get information to them. People really take to it and use it.”

“It pretty much makes things instantaneous, rather than waiting. People are impatient nowadays,” Lam added.

Rabideau says one thing he would change about social media is the way it is focused on residential life.

“I wish the social media for res life would be more centralized. I almost wish we had a person dedicated to technical stuff,” Rabideau said.

Rabideau said having someone who constantly maintained and updated the page with worthwhile posts would be a huge step forward.

Netzhammer said managing use of social media is important.

“One of the things about social media is it sort of blends the personal and professional,” he said.

“I think a lot of people talk about how impersonal social media are because it eliminates that face-to-face component,” Netzhammer said.

He added, “It has allowed me to connect with people in very interesting and exciting ways with people I never otherwise would have connected to.”

While he pointed out facial expressions and the chance to interrupt someone are lost in using social media, he also said, “It’s not a replacement for face-to-face communication but it does some things very well and I don’t think it’s impersonal at all, I think of it as a very personal kind of exchange that it enables.”

Ragan said, “So much of what we consume is based through the web so if you ignore the web you’re missing a large demographic.”

“I think some of the resistance that I’ve heard or experienced has been less about willingness to connect with people and more about a concern of privacy and separation of professional life from personal life,” he said, saying that some of what is missing is navigation.

Darrow said, “You really have to understand what your filter is” while posting and tweeting.

Academic Technology Specialist for CELT Judy Brophy said, “The way some people deal with it is they are different people in different social media.”

Brophy said her Twitter personality is professional and her Facebook is only shared with relatives.

“If something’s digital it could go out anywhere anytime, I mean that’s just the truth,” Brophy said.

Ragan said, “It becomes this complicated web where it’s like, who do I want to share this with?”

Ragan explained how quickly a video he posted showing the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in Brattleborro, Vt., went from a couple views to 15,000 hits. This video ended up being the second referenced video when one searched about the aftermath in this area.

Ferrell described social media and news events, saying, “The fact that something happened just two minutes ago, I know about it, in a totally other part of the country and I know about it is pretty incredible.”

She also spoke of how crucial it is to represent yourself well in the media.

“Your individual online persona may be all people know of you, so how are you presenting yourself?” Ferrell questioned.

Ferrell questioned relevance and appropriateness in posts.

“I don’t want to know that you had oatmeal for breakfast,” she used as an example.

She said, “I think that there are groups not using at all and are missing and squandering a huge opportunity.”

Ferrell also said when planning on starting a post type of site, “You have to keep up with it. If you’re going to keep up with it and you’re going to do it, if you’re going to make a page or you’re going to create an account, you can’t create it and let it go stagnant, and that sometimes happens, especially in student organizations, where there are turnovers from year to year.”

She explained that if you neglect your site “it number one, doesn’t look like you’re doing anything else, but it also makes it seem like you’re not on top of your game.”

When asked what, if anything, she would change about social media, Ferrell said, “I don’t know if I would change anything about social media, but people’s perceptions maybe,” and added that “you can make it be what you want it to be.”

”I think it’s just something that is only going to continue to progress, and so those who are not willing to connect that way are going to get further and further behind, especially as our students who are coming in now have always had these things,” Ferrell said.

“What’s going to happen is more and more people are not going to know a world without this stuff, and so the people who are not willing to meet students where they are is going to create a massive gap,” she said.

Brophy spoke of a call group she taught where senior citizens were “anxious to learn” how to better communicate with their children using the web.

“They knew what they were missing. They’re missing the latest news from their family,” she said.

Brophy also spoke of her concerns that “when you choose who to follow, you can choose your own reality. You don’t have to follow anybody that you don’t agree with, so you may never hear another idea.”

Ragan said, “We live in this almost tedious kind of digital age where we haven’t really figured out what the right sharing tool is and instead we kind of have this smorgasbord and sometimes a single tool might be the best way to do that, but it’s hard for you to know which one.”

Netzhammer spoke of the organizational issues when it comes to social media.

“There’s a consequence that there’s so much coming forward that often it’s hard to pull out the important things that you need,” he said, adding that “while organizing tools have become better and better tools over time, there’s still this tendency to have so much in front of you that it becomes overwhelming.”

What Netzhammer said was one of the most important and exciting things about social media is the connections it has fused with KSC students.

Rabideau said, “I feel like I’ve had to become better at because this is what this generation of students is using. It’s important to meet them where they’re at and be open to change, especially if students are flocking to it, and I think Facebook and Twitter are the things to get stuff out.”

“It’s something that’s ever-growing, so it’s interesting to see this shift of how we gather information and how we share information. I’m just curious to see how we’ll balance that kind of signal-to-noise ratio,” Ragan said.


Brittany Ballantyne can be contacted at

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