Freshman’s blog part helps enhance social media efforts

IMG_4023Over the last few years, Marquette strengthened its social media efforts significantly, and this year the university is trying something new with one student blogging about her college experience before it even began.

This July, Natalie Russell, a freshman in the College of Communication, began chronicling her entire college life through a Tumblr blog following discussions with Brynne Ramella, a multimedia intern in the Office of Marketing and Communication and a senior in the College of Communication, and Tim Cigelske, the university’s director of social media.

Ramella met Russell while working at the social media table at a preview session in June, and after bringing the idea to Cigelske, Russell was asked to maintain a Marquette-themed blog.

“I was just so very impressed with (Russell’s) creativity, her wit and her talent for writing,” Ramella said. “A blog detailing her freshman year experience just seemed like the right direction to go.”

Russell accepted the offer and opened her blog,, which now has more than one hundred followers. She writes diary-esque text posts, shares pictures of her friends and the campus, and answers questions that followers submit to her.

“I really like being someone that people come to,” Russell said. “I like being a leader. I’m glad that I’ve become that person that (students) can approach if they have questions.”

In addition to Tumblr, Marquette is present on eight other major social media websites, including Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

The surge in the university’s social media activity can also be attributed to the addition of social media interns, a group made up of four students this summer.

“I’d say the biggest change in the last year has been direct involvement of more student interns,” Cigelske said. “It’s really a team effort and a huge testament to our students’ talents.”

Russell said she hopes that the blog will allow her to reach out to prospective college students around the globe. The Nashville, Tenn., native said the South could be better represented at Marquette.

“A lot of colleges limit themselves to Facebook, maybe Twitter and their website,” Russell said. “But students are using other networking sites. (Marquette is) making (itself) widely available. They’re making themselves relatable.”

The goal behind this social media expansion is simple and vital, according to Cigelske.

“I view our social media as simply an outgrowth and extension of the community we’ve always had,” Cigelske said. “Whatever we try to accomplish offline — teach, learn, connect, listen to feedback, provide answers, build community, help others — we also hope to support and complement through social media.”

Russell said she enjoys managing her blog and that several Marquette seniors and alumni are giving her work positive feedback. She’s also been recognized by Marquette students during welcome week activities.

“This is such an honor, and it’s allowing me to do something that I love for something I love,” Russell said. “It’s like being offered a million dollars.”