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

Illinois State University Marketing and Communications (UMC) held the event April 21 in the Bone Student Center’s Old Main Room and via a YouTube livestream 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.

  • Three people standing together holding a plaque award at a ceremony.
  • A person smiling holding a plaque award.
  • Two people posing together while holding a plaque at a ceremony.
  • A person posing with an award plaque.
  • Three people posing together while holding a plaque.
  • Person posing while holding a plaque at an award ceremony.
  • Two people posing together while holding a plaque at a ceremony.

#RedbirdProud Social Media Awards

Best Overall Use of Social Media

Winner: School of Communication

The School of Communication (SoC) won the top social media award for its all-around excellence on several platforms. “SoC has put together a consistent, engaging plan that highlights, students, alumni, faculty, advisors, and interns. There are multiple campaigns such as Feature Friday, Intern Spotlight, Major spotlights, throwback Thursdays, etc. that all have similar visual branding but distinct enough features to keep followers interested in learning more about the school and why they are #BestintheMidwest,” the nomination states. “… This spring, we’ve seen steady growth—building a solid presence across all platforms. That work contributed to the success of #BirdsGiveBack. Our strategic plan and external engagement saw recording-breaking results.”

Best New/Most Improved Social Media

Winner: Multicultural Center

The Multicultural Center was recognized for its work on Instagram. “Out of their social accounts, it feels MCC uses Instagram the best and has improved it with more use of video and takeovers on stories,” the nomination states. “After they officially opened, they started showcasing staff in video biographies with most videos having views from 150-600.”

Honorable Mention: Graduate School

The Graduate School was highlighted for its improvement across all of its channels. “The Graduate School has increased followers/likes on all platforms and their content has grown and adapted to their changing audience,” the nomination states. “We have a large range of people who we could attract, such as recent college grads, working professionals, people with kids, and even international students. The content that is promoted on all platforms tries to somehow hit one if not multiple of these audiences. It is important that while we do this we also make sure to support and represent Illinois State’s reputation.”

Honorable Mention: Gymnastics

The Illinois State Gymnastics team was honored for its Instagram feed as well. “The coaching staff manages this account and has gone ALL IN on Instagram and taken feedback from Athletics staff to invest their time and energy in Reels,” the nomination states. “This calendar year their account has grown immensely thanks to a handful of Reels that have topped more than 1 million views. Their following is now larger than the Athletics Flagship Instagram page thanks in large part to these viral videos.”

Most Innovative Use of Social Media

Winner: School of Theatre and Dance

The School of Theatre and Dance (SoTD) was highlighted for its Instagram and TikTok feeds. “Connie Blick, with the assistance of student social media workers, has turned up the heat on all our social media accounts,” one nominator stated. “The TikTok account and Instagram Reels are so popular, and the creative content is engaging current students as well as prospective students.”

Outstanding Student Social Media Manager

Winner: Jatzari Abonce

Graduate student Jatzari Abonce was honored for her role in managing the Office of Admissions‘ social media channels. “I believe Jatzari Abonce should win the #RedbirdProud award for outstanding student social media manager because of her creativity, passion, and collaborative spirit. Jatzari is the type of student who you can hand over the reins to your accounts after very little onboarding,” one nominator stated. “She is self-sufficient and consistently comes up with dynamic ways to feature Admissions events, points of pride about the University, and process-oriented topics (which are not always attention-grabbing/glamorous).”

Winner: Noah Schlosser

Graduate student Noah Schlosser manages the Mennonite College of Nursing’s social media channels. “He is in charge of content creation from end to end-from brainstorming, to content planning, to image procurement and caption writing,” a nomination states. “He keeps us ahead of schedule by planning out a calendar of posts for us in advance. He creates themed content, such as Motivational Mondays, Throwback Thursdays, and more, alongside other posts related to MCN news. Most impressive, Noah has expanded our social content by creating an original podcast, MCN on Air. This series highlights student and faculty voices, telling their stories and offering a way for audiences to get to know MCN in a whole new way.”

Social Media Workshop

The social media workshop followed the awards ceremony. The keynote speaker was David Kirk, program director of Redbird Esports, who presented “Lessons from esports: Keys to building an engaging online social community.”

Kirk was followed by UMC graphic Designer Lawrence Lair, who presented “Designing images with intentionality,” and UMC social media coordinator Julie Mana-ay Perez, who presented “Best Instagram practices to improve your reels and stories.”

The workshop concluded with a panel discussion facilitated by UMC senior social media coordinator Tyler Emken and featuring Tamanna Tasmin, graduate assistant of marketing and assessment in University Housing Services; Grace Pellock, social media intern in the Office of Admissions; and Ellianna Kerkove, social media intern in UMC.

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