Kentucky uses sports success to engage students in social media


The “see blue” message leveraged our strong athletic brand, and we owned the color “blue” in our out-of-state markets. UK’s signature color was unique to the red, maroon, black, scarlet, and orange of our competition within a five-hour drive from Lexington. And its call to action gave us a chance to explain what “seeing blue” was all about.

DT: Do you think it’s important for college admissions to have a theme, and how do you support that theme in social media?

WH: We absolutely believe that it is important for college admissions to have a theme – this has been evident in the success of our “see blue.” campaign. Originally created as a student recruiting campaign, the success of “see blue” has quickly spread throughout campus and the Commonwealth.

Former University President Lee T. Todd Jr. adopted the “see blue” theme on his statewide bus tour as the way to show how UK positively impacts the Commonwealth and President Eli Capilouto, in his very first message to campus declared “see blue!”  Dr. Capilouto has recommitted to the next phase of “see blue” – a campaign that is evolving every year. Various colleges on campus built “see blue” themes into the visual presentation of their school to current students and outside visitors as well. But beyond the numbers, there were numerous other accomplishments.

For the first time in the university’s history, three distinct business units—Enrollment Management, UKPR & Marketing, and the UK Alumni Association—worked closely to impact recruiting efforts in out-of-state markets. For the first time, we invited all UK College of Education grads in our four “feeder” markets to show their affinity for UK by exposing their alma mater to many students and families.

And lastly, for the first time, we sent more than a form letter to key gatekeepers (guidance counselors) to raise their awareness and acceptance of UK as a viable alternative for their students. A university has a broad base of internal and external constituencies. The “see blue” campaign was one of those rare unifiers where all parties understood the mission and cooperated closely to increase our chances of success. Anyone who has worked with an educational institution will tell you this is very, very difficult to achieve.

The Office of Undergraduate Admission uses #seeblue as its official hashtag on social media, using it both on Facebook and Twitter.

We’ve seen #seeblue not only as a reflection of pride from our current students and a note of enthusiasm from prospective students, it has crossed over into our world-class athletics program. Fans of the Kentucky Wildcats use #seeblue to share their love of the Cats.

The easiest way we’ve integrated the “see blue” campaign into our social media outlets is visually. Images, avatars and timeline photos all reflect the visual attributes of  “see blue.”

DT: Is there anything we missed that you think is important to UK’s social media community?

WH: I think the most significant word in your question is the word community. We like to show through our social media accounts that the university is making an impact not only in Lexington and Kentucky, but also worldwide. To emphasize that point we love to give a platform to all of the Big Blue Nation both here and abroad. Social media gives us an amazing platform to share those stories and interact with our community.