President Bruno adds social media to his repertoire

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President Joseph W. Bruno has been a reluctant social media participant, but Marietta College’s 18th leader understands its power.

“Social media provides me an opportunity to communicate with and connect to a wide range of audiences instantaneously,” says Bruno, who opened a Twitter account in August. “Here at Marietta, we have made a commitment to embrace social media as a way to not only drive conversation, but participate in it as well.”

Bruno’s Twitter account had more than 70 followers before he even made his first tweet. The President Bruno Facebook fan page went live Aug. 22 and he also has an Instagram account.

“I still have a lot to learn, but I wanted to have a social media presence so I can interact with our students, but also with prospective students and their families,” Bruno says. “I want them to see how proud I am of this campus and everything our students are doing, so my followers better get used to me bragging about those accomplishments. But I also want to engage in a dialogue about higher education and liberal arts. I want to listen to what’s being said out there as well, so I can add my voice to the conversation.”

Marietta College has been an active social media participant with about 5,200 likes on Facebook, more than 1,800 members on LinkedIn, more than 1,500 followers on Twitter and more than 100 followers on Instagram.

The College’s approach to social media in higher education is focused on engaging students whether they are current, former or prospective students.

For example, the College has organized a few social media campaigns that resulted in a lot of fun as students, alumni and friends shared through social media their excitement as the Pioneers made a run to the Ohio Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament championship last season.

After the weekend, the Office of College Relations compiled all of the Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, etc. and put out an engaging storyline of the events that unfolded on Fenton Court.

Chris Law, Director of Web Services, says he hopes to work with other colleagues across campus to “ratchet up the College’s social media presence.”

“Social media allows us to work with students informally and on their terms, which gives us another avenue to open lines of communication,” he says. “We can already see the long-term potential, ranging from the recruitment of students to engaging alumni and donors.”

For now, though, President Bruno is hoping to move from novice to social media savvy.

“(My wife) Diane and I spent part of our first year interacting with students, employees and alumni on a more face-to-face level,” he says. “Now we understand the value of having a consistent and still somewhat personal connection with them via Facebook and Twitter. We hope they will follow us and engage in the conversation.”

TOM PERRY