In an age where influencers have erupted across social media, Fort Lewis College has decided to start hiring its own FLC influencers within the campus community.
Ashley Muckway, social media coordinator and designer at FLC, is the creator of the new FLC influencers program that the campus has seen this semester.
After checking with the human resource and the admissions department at FLC to see if this new implementation of this program would be possible, Muckway and her team used the FLC main Instagram page to comb through hundreds of social media profiles looking for students who fit their bill, she said.
“We knew that Fort Lewis needed to get a bigger presence on social media without it just being the main Fort Lewis accounts,” Muckway said. “The main objective of the program is to get the Fort Lewis name out there through students' eyes.”
The program currently has 11 influencers, but Muckway intends for the program to grow and expand in future years at FLC, she said.
“The FLC Instagram page contacted me, told me about the program they were running, and asked about setting up a meeting to talk more about being an influencer,” Sydney Summers, FLC student and influencer, said.
Muckway and her team were looking for students who would represent the college well, who post a lot and who don’t post inappropriate content, such as partying during a pandemic without a mask on, she said.
The influencers that have been selected are first-year students, because the ideal audience that the marketing team at FLC is targeting is high school juniors and seniors who are still figuring out where they are going to attend college, Muckway said.
First-year students are generally followed on social media accounts by juniors and seniors in high school, but as they grow older so do the ages of those following them, Muckway said.
This year’s student influencers are also all from Colorado because, based on the marketing strategies for admissions, that was the desired demographic, Muckway said.
Muckway and her team were specifically looking for social media accounts that had 1,500 to 2,000 or more followers, but exceptions were made for this semester's program, she said.
“We made exceptions to diversify and we will continue to do that because we realize diversity is an incredibly important piece,” Muckway explained.
However, attempting to represent a whole college is difficult, Muckway said.
According to the FLC website, the school currently has 3,229 students enrolled.
It is statistically impossible to represent that many students with just 11 influencers, Muckway explained.
“There are definitely more females than males in the program,” Summers said. “There are some males, but the influencers are definitely female dominated.”
The program has begun to reach out to more males, Autumn DeHart, a social media intern at FLC said, but the program can’t force people to be influencers.
The interest level changes between the gender demographic, DeHart explained.
At the end of the day, the team is looking for students who are excited to be a part of the program and bring a constant energy, Muckway said.
“The program itself is self-driven, and the people in charge made it clear they didn’t want to tell us what to post,” Jasmine Soza, FLC student and influencer, said. “The only thing that the influencers are required to put on our posts are #sponsored and #ad.”
The social media team at FLC has collected only one month of data so far on the program, but it is excited about what is has seen, Muckway said.
There have been over 13,000 impressions across all social media platforms and 4,000 engagements with content posted, Muckway said.
“While these numbers are less than the number of impressions the main FLC accounts get, that’s 13,000 different people, which is way impressive to me,” Muckway said.
Navigating how to pay the influencers was something that was very difficult for Muckway and her team, Muckway said.
“Social media is very new, there are not very many rules and regulations around social media users and how to pay them in the higher education industry,” Muckway said.
The influencers are not FLC employees, Muchway said. When it comes to paying them, they are paid on a compensation basis.
Payment is based on the amount of people that are reached, Soza explained. The influencers are paid for the amount of views they get on a story, likes on a post, and comments.
This new influencer program is going on Handshake as an application based program for the fall 2021 semester, Muckway said.
According to Handshake’s website, Handshake is a job posting and career network website for students and recent graduates.
This means that any first year students can apply next year which will hopefully bring a larger group of students into the program, DeHart said.
Muckway hopes that the use of Handshake and more public knowledge of the program will expand the program’s potential influencers to students from all parts of the country, she said.