LOCK HAVEN — When Kerri Hoover, senior communications officer at Commonwealth University-Lock Haven, was offered a student position to create a social media presence for the university’s health sciences department, it sparked a fascination with social media management, strategy and content creation that she followed for the rest his undergraduate career.
“I quickly fell in love with designing eye-catching graphics for students,” said Hoover. “My passion for content creation only grew stronger during my studies as I got even more opportunities to manage my various social media accounts.”
During her four years at Lock Haven, Hoover, Bellefonte, she managed social media accounts for the health sciences department, Center for Career and Professional Development, communications department, Eagle Eye student newspaper, and media and journalism department.
Taking a social media marketing class in his second year only fueled Hoover’s fascination with the field. However, there were no extra classes in this subject, or so she initially thought.
“In the spring semester of my freshman year, my professor, Dr. (Conne) Reece, offered me the opportunity to complete an independent social media management course, and I took it immediately,” she said.
The classes had the character of a research and implementation course. Hoover was tasked with reviewing Lock Haven’s communications research, social media content on her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as creating, implementing and evaluating her own 10-week campaign for the department.
“The most difficult aspect of the project was getting all of my research together into a written document and plan,” said Hoover. Her final research and plan were compiled into a 34-page article.
Hoover’s hard work on her research has finally paid off as she will be able to present her award-winning research at the Lambda Pi Eta (LPH) Colloquium at Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg in late April. “Our Lock Haven LPH branch does not have the ability to host or attend major events like this, so I greatly appreciate that the Bloomsburg LPH branch is opening this opportunity to all three Commonwealth campuses,” said Hoover. “For me, this win is special because I get to represent the Lock Haven campus and our LPH chapter—because I am the only LHU student to apply and take a seat—at the Bloomsburg Colloquium.”
Hoover’s research focused on her assessment of social media communication research from January to May 2022. “I noticed that there were frequent photo and video posts, at least once a week,” she said. “However, there was considerable room for improvement.”
After content analysis, the main goal of Hoover’s plan was to increase diversity in the department’s social media and focus on improving the brand and reputation of the organizational communication path.
“Most of the posts featured the same students over and over again, which made us look really small. It was discouraging because our department has so much student engagement,” said Hoover. “Clubs and classes weren’t shown evenly either. Our video production and radio clubs in Havenscope received more coverage compared to the student newspaper. For classes, photos were constantly posted from the same course instead of showing all the different activities offered during the semester.”
Overall, Hoover found the whole project very informative about the realities of working with social media. “Implementing the full plan on top of all the other class tasks was extremely difficult,” she said. “Not to mention that I balanced five classes, three extracurricular activities, and on-campus work in the same semester. I improved my time management skills and learned to work effectively under pressure.”
Hoover says the project helped her learn how much work it takes to implement a successful social media campaign. “People think social media is easy and glamorous work, but it’s not easy at all,” said Hoover. “Creating eye-catching content is great fun, and it’s even better to see followers grow and engage, but it requires a lot more thought that most people don’t take into account. It’s all blatant strategy and audience analysis.”
As he prepares to graduate, Hoover feels excited and anxious about the future. “Over the past 17 years, I’ve been involved not only in academics, but also in extracurricular activities, volunteering and employment opportunities,” said Hoover. “I feel like a part of me will be gone when I graduate, but I also know that it’s just one chapter of my life that ends and another begins.”
After graduation, Hoover wants to continue her passion for media and use the skills she has acquired over the past four years. Her ultimate goal is to return to The Haven one day and work for her alma mater.