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MIT Connect: explore the world of MIT through social media

Want to know what’s up at MIT? Check out MIT Connect, an innovative social media portal recently launched by MIT’s Communication Production Services in collaboration with the News Office.
A screenshot from MIT Connect
A screenshot from MIT Connect

Want to know what's up at MIT? Check out MIT Connect, an innovative social media portal recently launched by MIT's Communication Production Services (CPS) in collaboration with the News Office. The site provides insights about what's happening at MIT while serving as a hub for making more connections.

Stephanie Hatch, MIT's social media and email marketing specialist, has relied mainly on social media marketing to get the word out about MIT Connect, "a social tool shared socially." She uses WordPress as the publishing platform for the site.

When you land on MIT Connect, you'll see several boxes front and center, each with its own item of interest. Content includes three recent tweets, usually from @MIT_alumni, @MITnews and @MITstudents, along with a pair of MIT photos hosted on Instagram, and a featured item from MIT Video.

Scrolling down brings you to MIT Connect's Discover section. This highlights several departments, labs, centers, student groups and administrative units that have an active social media presence and broad appeal, from Admissions to the MIT Museum to the Trust Center for Entrepreneurship.

When you select the "Go to Profile" button for one of these departments, MIT Connect serves up a profile page with links to the department's website and blog, as well as a list of "follow" options that includes whatever social media channels that department actively uses.

If you like a profile, you can share it with others through an AddThis plug-in. Several profiles also include a "Related on MIT Connect" section that lets you explore other MIT groups with similar profiles. Yet another benefit of profile pages: If departments link to their MIT Connect profile in their email signature or on their website, they don't have to provide individual links for each of their social media channels.

Next comes the "Search the Directory" section, which, Hatch notes, "is sortable, browsable, searchable and filterable." You can:
  • View the list in alphabetical order (and reverse alphabetical order);
  • Browse popular categories (e.g., Research, Education);
  • Search by keyword (based on tags provided by the departments);
  • Filter by type of social media channel (e.g., all groups that have YouTube accounts).
As Hatch points out, the directory is more than a table. If you're interested in energy issues, you can enter "energy" as a keyword and quickly get a list of MIT departments that discuss energy, along with the social media channels they use.

MIT Connect blog
One other key section of MIT Connect is its blog for social media communicators at MIT — a great resource for anyone interested in social media. It too is searchable, with more than a dozen categories ranging from "bird's eye view" to "tips and tactics."

Hatch, who writes the blog, uses it not only to talk about social media, but as an example of how to integrate social media platforms with one another. In her blog post "Social Media on a Shoestring," for example, she uses a WordPress plug-in to embed SoundCloud files of presentations about — you guessed it — social media. So, straight from her blog, you can listen to those presentations as if you were at the workshop.

Only connect
When MIT Connect was being developed, Hatch and colleague Patrick Gillooly, the Manager of Web Strategy in the News Office, worked with the offices or groups that manage a lot of MIT's social media accounts and see the Institute from different points of view: Admissions, the Alumni Association, Student Life and Learning, and the schools. Representatives from these areas provided data, advice and perspective, helping to ensure that MIT Connect reflects the many facets of MIT.

For Hatch, it's all about the connections. "The great thing about social media is that there's always a connection that leads you to another connection. This site is meant to reflect that psychology, where you make one connection and end up discovering others. If I can paraphrase the Alumni Association, the connections are… infinite!" Hatch finds a lot of purpose — and poetry — in that notion.

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