UIL Dives into Social Media
By Jeanne Acton, Journalism Director | Monday, August 27, 2012 5:24 PM
This is not your parent’s organization.
Over the past five years, UIL has moved quickly and thoughtfully into the technology age.
The printed Leaguer is gone. Athletic manuals are posted online. The UIL even has a Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Heading up social media initiatives is Public Affairs Representative Chris Schmidt who hopes to expand the League’s social media presence.
“I want to create an atmosphere where we can share the UIL experience with more people and build up enough of a following that when we have an emergency or need to get information out to the public, we can utilize our social media channels to reach more people than we previously could,” he said.
Schmidt said social media is a great tool for interacting with people who have a connection to the League.
“With UIL events just getting underway for the new school year, we are using Twitter and Facebook to get the word out about the many valuable resources that are available on the UIL website as well as posting interesting facts and trivia that may give people an insight into the history of the UIL,” he said.
During the London Olympics this summer, Schmidt posted facts about former UIL state champions who were participating in the Olympics.
“It's easy to forget that these athletes didn't just one day decide they wanted to be in the Olympics,” he said. “They've been working for it their whole lives and part of that was competing in high school. I think many people found it interesting how many former UIL competitors we had at the games.”
TILF (Texas Interscholastic League Foundation) scholarship coordinator Trudy Richards also jumped into the social media world this summer.
“Creating a Facebook page for TILF was our first foray into using social media,” she said. “So far, we've posted reminders about scholarship application deadlines and general information. We also encourage interaction by posting weekly trivia questions. We hope to begin monthly contests for our fans this academic year.”
The TILF Facebook page currently has 81 likes and the highest weekly reach so far was 2,290 people.
“Our short term goal is to increase knowledge of the TILF program,” Richards said. “Eventually, we'd like to use social media not only as a way to connect with students and school personnel, but also as a fundraising tool. If we can increase the number of students applying for scholarships, that also increases our ability to bring in new donors.”
Richards also hopes the Facebook page increases awareness and ultimately increases the number of students applying for scholarships.
“Facebook is also an easy way for us to connect with our recipients and keep them informed about updates and deadlines,” she said.
Texas theatre teachers even started a UIL One-Act Play Facebook page last year. While Theatre Director Luis Muñoz did not create the page, he quickly became a member. The page has 600 members and numerous posts and comments each day.
“Facebook has become a powerful tool for sharing information. In two months a site for UIL One-Act Play directors increased from 39 to 600,” Muñoz said. “All of these teachers are getting near instantaneous responses to their concerns and questions and they are sharing classroom strategies, props and scenery and curricula through it.
Another Texas High School Theatre site on Facebook is Texas Theatre Exchange.
“The state is shrinking and the center is no longer a geographic site like Austin but a digital landmark where we are all next door neighbors,” Muñoz said.
Schmidt agreed saying more and more social media is becoming a tool for media consumption.
“Social media is important in today's society because we can interact with people hundreds of miles away with the click of a mouse,” he said. “People are getting breaking news alerts through Twitter or watching their local news broadcasts on YouTube. There is a level of connection that people feel when interacting with social media that you just don't get from other forms of media.”
Links: http://www.facebook.com/txuil (UIL Facebook page)
http://www.facebook.com/groups/43518988612/ (OAP Facebook page)
http://www.facebook.com/TILFoundation (TILF Facebook page)
http://twitter.com/uiltexas (UIL Twitter account)