How I discovered a new talent through social distancing
I remember 10 years ago, when I had just started as dean, gathering a group of communications experts and IT specialists in my office to strategize about social media. I wanted to get connected and stay engaged with alumni, faculty, staff and students, and social media seemed like a great tool to do so.
I started my twitter account, @DeanOnCampus in July 2010, and have been tweeting somewhat regularly ever since. I got the occasional spike in interest, but nothing to write home about.
So who would have imagined that of all the messages I sent out over a decade, that by far and away the most popular tweet would be an attempt to add a little humour to a time of unprecedented seriousness and fundamental change to all of our lives.
The tweet in question - that received 80,000 impressions and more than 18,000 engagements – is about me dyeing my wife Cheryl’s hair.
Last week Cheryl reached out to our favourite hair stylist, Fletcher Nelson of Chic Kingston (if you are a dedicated reader, you have heard me rave about him before). Practicing appropriate social distancing, Fletcher left a package for Cheryl on the doorstep. In it was her colour mixture, an application comb, an instruction sheet and a plastic smock.
With all the supplies in hand, Cheryl then needed someone to apply it. Of course, you know who she asked. The procedure, which I took very seriously, went smoothly. My son who was in the house at the time, documented the event by taking a photo. I decided why the heck not, and tweeted it out.
To my surprise – because I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter, let alone obsess about it – my notifications started lighting up. Opening up the app, I saw that the likes, retweets and replies were accumulating quickly. And almost all of it was in good fun:
I’m flabbergasted that in ten years of tweeting, this by far and away got the most attention. But I think in some way, the tweet struck a chord.
Our circumstances are deeply unusual given the COVID-19 crisis. I think the tweet reflected a combination of the adjustment to our new reality and the desperation for a laugh during a time when things are so serious, and the challenges seemingly insurmountable.
As we persevere through these unprecedented times, I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share them by commenting on the blog, or better yet, let’s set up a Zoom call….my virtual door is always open.