September 9, 2014

The Division of Student Life wanted to figure out a way to reach the incoming freshman class and get them familiar with our communications channels before they arrived on campus. So, we took the idea that we had for our #goodbyeMIT project (leading up to Commencement 2014), which involved following one senior via social media through her last weeks on campus. For #helloMIT, we decided that instead of following one person’s social posts, we’d try to follow multiple freshmen to get their different perspectives and stories from shared experiences.

We reached out to students via email, Twitter, and Instagram asking if anyone would be interested in helping us with a summer social media project and to email me for more information. We ended up with quite a few responses, all of whom said they saw the posting on Twitter or Instagram (side note: no one responded to the email).

We ended up picking four students and gave them the hashtag to use and very few ground rules. The ground rules were: try not to swear when using the hashtag, use the hashtag as much or as little as you want, and start as early as you want, since this project goes through the first day of classes. 

Several weeks into the campaign, around the time of dorm selections, we started to notice that more than our original four students were using the hashtag. A number of other people from the Class of 2018 picked up on it and started using it as well. This increase in use of #helloMIT was mostly based on our students’ social media posts, because outside of a few retweets we didn’t use it much on the Division of Student Life accounts. Upon seeing this, we decided to expand our effort, and we started following all students that used the hashtag.

At project’s end, we amassed over 217 posts and 1.7 million unique views of the tweets and Instagram images. Outside of measurable analytics, it gave different departments the opportunity to answer any student concerns that they noticed. For example, SHASS replied to a freshman's tweet with kindness.