Deborah Kennamore is just one of many people who follow Kansas University on Facebook.
KU maintains the university page with the most online “fans,” according to insidefacebook.com; Kennamore is just one of more than 41,000 people who are staying connected with the university through the social media Web site.
The Facebook site offers stories generated by KU’s University Relations staff and links to outside media reports, along with photos and videos of the university.
When interviewed this week, Kennamore didn’t know that KU had been ranked as the top university site on Facebook, but it didn’t surprise her.
She’s a 55-year-old director of the county historical museum in Burlington, and she loves keeping up with KU on Facebook. She didn’t even go to KU, though she has a son who attends.
“If you have a son, you realize they’re very noncommunicative” about goings-on at their university, she said.
She attended Texas A&M; University, and though that university also has a Facebook site, she said she much prefers KU’s, with higher-quality photos and more relevant information.
In recent months, KU has begun to take advantage of many different social media platforms. It’s maintained a YouTube video sharing site since last August and branched out to Facebook in February, said Jack Martin, a KU spokesman who helps operate the university’s social media outlets.
In addition, several people and entities at KU maintain a university Twitter account, including, as of commencement day, outgoing Chancellor Robert Hemenway.
Martin said that while Hemenway doesn’t use the site directly — he has help from university communications employees — he is involved in everything that goes out under his user name.
Martin said that, looking at the demographics of the people who follow KU news and other information on Facebook, the majority of people are age 25 and older.
KU has experimented with what kind of content to place on its feed of news stories, he said, and it turns out people seem to like rankings, knowing how well KU is doing in some particular area of athletics or academics. Most information is also geared toward alumni, given the demographics of its users, he said.
It can get a little overwhelming if used too often, Martin said, so KU tries to limit new items to one or two per day.
“They don’t need KU right there on their desktop every day,” he said.
The university has moved in recent years to the social media outlets as a form of connecting with people directly and being able to tell its own story, Martin said.
“We made the decision to get on YouTube and Facebook and the other social networking sites because that’s where the people are,” he said.
Beyond that, it’s a way for the university to keep itself in the minds of alumni and even some prospective students, Martin said.
“It’s a way for us to connect with Jayhawks,” he said. “And it’s a way for them to connect with each other.”
Wendy Grosser, an alumna living in Springfield, Mo., said she follows KU, though she doesn’t always read every update. She’s keeping up not just for her own interest, but also for her family’s.
“It’s just good to keep up with the university and support the Jayhawks,” she said. “I’ve got a high-school-age daughter who’s 15, and at some point we’ll be looking at schools.”
There’s still some experimenting going on with how KU is using all these media forms. When Hemenway gave his final commencement speech last week, he asked students to take out their cell phones and take pictures of themselves and e-mail them to KU, which then placed them on its Facebook page.
The mailbox was overloaded with more than 500 photos, Martin said.
“By having a venue for direct communication, that makes people feel better about their alma mater,” Martin said.