“MyWebsterU” is a new way for students to share their lives at Webster University with the world. A different student manages the university’s Instagram account each week, which gives them the opportunity to showcase what they are passionate about as students through pictures.
Senior Michael Grosch was the first student to manage the social media account in January. He is studying abroad this term in Leiden, Netherlands. He said he thought the idea was awesome and gladly agreed to be the first student to run the account.
“I didn’t want to give it a false feeling. I tried to post pictures and videos that you would find on any other Webster student’s Instagram feed,” Grosch said. “I didn’t want it to feel like some administrator was posing as a student or that administrators were micromanaging all the postings.”
Grosch said he posted eight pictures and one video, and he received feedback from a variety of people. He posted a picture of the view outside his dorm room window and the next thing he knew, he was having a conversation with alumni who had lived in the same dorms when they studied abroad.
“It was a really unique experience,” Grosch said. “It was really awesome seeing them talk about their international adventure and getting to connect in such a way with random alumni that I had never even met.”
Webster Media Relations Officer Jennifer Starkey said she first heard about the idea at a social media web conference. The Instagram platform seemed like a good fit for Webster and also allowed for the incorporation of the global campuses as well.
“It’s always been a challenge that we can’t be as many places as we’d love to be,” Starkey said. “There are so many different activities that happen on campus and so many student groups that we can only cover a few of them at a time.”
Starkey said the new platform gives students a chance to tell their own story. It also helps prospective students view what life at Webster would be like. Currently, the program is designed to allow students to share what is going on in their lives.
Starkey explained a student selection process will be put into place as more students gain interest in participating. At present, they are relying on staff nominations for student participation.
“I’m excited to see the mix of students we’ve got. Not just on the (St. Louis campus), but also the European campuses. It’s a chance to highlight areas that we don’t usually get to see. Backstage behind a Conservatory show, or a debate tournament or even what our athletic teams deal with on a week-to-week basis,” Starkey said.
Starkey said students must agree to follow Instagram’s terms-of-use policies, such as keeping the post “clean” and not using someone else’s photos or artwork as their own. The photos posted to the Instagram account also appear on Webster’s main website.
Emily Fry, a junior public relations major, was the second student asked to manage the account.
“I run my own Instagram account, and, in the field of public relations, social media is really cool. I’m just like every other millennial — I can’t stay away from my phone,” Fry said. “I thought it was just a really neat opportunity to be able to show what I do at Webster.”
She recognizes the Instagram account can help show some of the smaller clubs and organizations at Webster, which tend to get less visibility than larger ones. She works for the speech and debate office, and she said the team has 15 people at any given time.
Fry said she had a lot of fun with the Instagram account. She said she had to think about what was important and what she wanted to tell people.
“I did not want to spam everybody and post 50 things in a day,” Fry said. “It’s thinking, ‘Okay, today is Tuesday, what are the one or two most important things that I’m going to do today that I think other people will like to see.”