• Emily Nafziger with award
  • Tamanna Tasmin and Ed Campbell posed with award
  • Redbird Esports posed with award
  • Sadie Dunnett posed with award
  • Leia Atas posed with award
  • Sara Engstrom posed with award

Communicators across campus were recognized at the seventh annual #RedbirdProud Social Media Awards and Workshop.

Illinois State University Marketing and Communications (UMC) held the event April 15 live via Zoom to honor the great work of campus social media managers.

The awards recognize the best uses of social media at Illinois State in four categories. This year’s winners are below. To follow these units, visit Illinois State’s Social Media Directory.

#RedbirdProud Social Media Awards

Best Overall Use of Social Media

Winner: Center for Civic Engagement

The Center for Civic Engagement is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They created a successful emoji-based social campaign for this year’s record-breaking Birds Give Back giving day, ending in the top 10 of total gifts. They also created engaging content that helped get more students to the polls during last November’s general election. These social media campaigns were a part of the efforts that made Illinois State a Voter Friendly Campus.

Best New/Most Improved Social Media

Winner: Redbird Esports

Redbird Esports has broken onto the scene with a strong social media presence. They broadcast most of their competitions on Twitch, using a team of students to create engaging esports content. Additionally, they have leveraged Discord, an instant messaging platform, to build community and keep in touch with current and prospective students. Even though Redbird Esports are physically distanced, they are able to use Discord to meet, practice, and make new friends.

Most Innovative Use of Social Media

Winner: University Housing Services

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic made it nearly impossible to do traditional tours of residence halls. Housing made the most of the situation by creating virtual tour videos that they published to their YouTube page. Not only are the videos a great solution to a pressing problem, but they are content that will serve them well over the next couple of years.

Outstanding Student Social Media Manager

Winner: Sadie Dunnett

Dunnett is primarily responsible for the flagship Redbird Athletics social media channels. Dunnett has handled this massive responsibility with both creativity and a careful editorial eye during times of crisis. She has also been a strong campus partner, communicating to stakeholders around campus about notable events in athletics and providing them with good content to share on their own pages when applicable.

Honorable Mention: Leia Atas

Atas is responsible for running the social media pages managed by Alumni Engagement, including the various alumni network pages from across the country. Atas also assists with creating the social media content calendar for major alumni events, including Homecoming. Atas has also written a number of excellent alumni profiles over the years, effectively telling the Illinois State story through the experiences of our alums.

Honorable Mention: Sara Engstrom

Engstrom runs the @ISURedbirdsShop Instagram and TikTok pages. Both accounts feature strong engagement and a distinct, beautiful visual aesthetic. Engstrom has also created the Redbird Rep program, where she recruits students to model Illinois State branded gear, participate in giveaways, and assist in creating video content.

Social Media Workshop

The social media workshop followed the awards ceremony. The keynote was presented by Dr. Byron Craig, assistant professor in the School of Communication and assistant to the interim assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. His talk, “Marketing, Representation, and Social Media in an Age of Equity and Reckoning: Show Us Correctly,” focused on the need for accurate portrayals of underrepresented groups in social media.

He was followed by Emily McMahon, MBA ’20, director for marketing and recruitment in the Mennonite College of Nursing. Her presentation focused on how campus communicators can leverage technology and data to efficiently reach prospective student populations.

Grace Pellock and Leah Murfin, interns with the Office of Admissions and University Marketing and Communications, respectively, gave a talk introducing the campus community to the ins and outs of TikTok. They also spoke about the recently launched Illinois State TikTok page that they are collaborating on and their goals for that platform.

Kevin Bersett, MBA ’17, assistant director for online communication in University Marketing and Communications, closed the day with “Tips for Handling Social Media Comments, Messages, and Posts During a Crisis.” Bersett spoke about how the flagship social media accounts evaluate crises and make decisions on how to respond to them.

Missed this year’s awards or want to review one of the presentations? Watch this year’s #RedbirdProud Social Media Awards below.

For more information about the #RedbirdProud Social Media Awards and Workshop, contact Tyler Emken, social media coordinator, at tkemken@IllinoisState.edu.