Upping our Instagram Game

One of the most common questions I hear from our social media managers across campus is, “Should our department have an Instagram account?” My usual response is that it depends on how much time you have to devote to Instagram, and how much visual content you have to share. In other words, you will need a lot of time and effort. Simply having an account and casually sharing your favorite photos is not enough these days. You have to be active, intentional and innovative to catch the attention of today and tomorrow’s students. 

In Public Affairs and Marketing, we’ve spent the past year focused on improving the Hope College Instagram account with more Stories, more and better multimedia content, and enhancing awareness for Hope’s academic excellence and vibrant campus life. Over the 12 months, with roughly the same number of posts, our effort has translated to more than 2,000 new followers and 22,000 more likes and comments than in the previous year.

A recent national survey of high school students reports as many as 85% of high school juniors use Instagram daily.

Here’s what we’ve been doing to make our Instagram account more Admissions-focused, while not forgetting the on-campus community that brings our Instagram to life:

More story-telling for prospective students

Profile page of Instagram Stories

A recent national survey of high school students reports as many as 85% of high school juniors use Instagram daily. These students are in the thick of their college search process, which means Instagram can be a powerful tool to reach and attract prospective students to Hope.

It’s no secret Instagram is great for sharing campus photography and video, but sometimes one or even ten photos can’t convey the mood or an idea the way a story can. Our social team began using Instagram Stories back in 2018 to showcase some of our most requested information such as “What’s involved in a campus tour?” and “What do the res halls look like?” Stories allow us to piece together photos and videos into a sequence that tells a larger story. And, we’re involving our current students in the process. They’ve taken our followers on virtual campus tours, shared what their rooms look like, what their clubs are up to, and more! We even save the best Stories as videos and post them to the Hope College YouTube account so they can be shared again.

Student takeovers

Social media takeovers have been a thing at Hope since 2016 when we launched our Snapchat account, but we’re doing this more frequently and strategically in 2019 by engaging with students to serve as ambassadors. These ambassadors, who represent departments, clubs and groups across campus, take over our Instagram for a day to highlight a special event, activity or theme. That’s right — we give students full access the college’s Story for up to 24 hours. But that’s so risky allowing students to have access to the college’s Instagram… you say. Yes, it is risky. But there’s also great reward in having authentic content for students, by students. According to the 2019 E-expectations Trend Report, 45% of high school students find student social media takeovers the most interesting content we can deliver.

10,000+ followers!

In August, we finally reached 10,000 followers on Instagram. This was a big deal for us because this magic number unlocked the “swipe up” feature in our account. This means we can now embed a website link within our story to share additional information about Hope such as a link to the Common Application, details about Hope’s residential and student life, our faith community, financial aid information, and more! 

Custom landing page 

One of the appeals of Instagram is that it has maintained a mostly visual focus without the information clutter of other platforms like Twitter and Facebook. But sometimes, the very thing that keeps Instagram clutter-free — the lack of external information —  limits our ability to share important details with our followers and people who are just learning about Hope.

For example, when we post a photo from one of our Anchor Days, wouldn’t it be great to also share a link to sign up for our next one? That’s where our landing page comes in! We’re using the URL in our profile to send users to a landing page that offers only links to some of our most-requested Admissions information such as how to apply, how to request more information and visit campus.


Instagram highlights

Instagram highlights are curated groupings of content from our Stories that our users can check out anytime, unlike Stories which are only available for 24 hours. And, because of their prime location right under our bio and above our photos, it’s an easy place to direct prospective students and parents to groupings of some of our most requested information.

New bling for stories

H gif

Another exciting advancement for the Hope Instagram account is the addition of Hope-branded Giphy stickers for Stories. These fun animated graphics are publicly searchable on Instagram, so anyone can use them to show their support and pride for Hope College. Speaking of Giphy, we also now have a Hope College brand channel that we’ll be adding fun Hope College GIFs to this year. 

Looking forward

As we kick off another academic year at Hope, I’m excited to watch our Instagram account serve as a highlight reel for our amazing campus community, and I can’t wait to see how this will translate into increased interest for Hope from prospective students and families.

To learn more about Hope’s social media strategy or how to use social media to increase awareness for your department, contact Elizabeth Council.

Web Accessibility Resources and Reminders

As we prepare for a new academic year, it’s a good time to take a moment and brush up on best practices for web accessibility.

Last year, we held an extensive web accessibility training session. Here are links to the video and materials from that session:

If you’d like a little refresher, here are some helpful tips!

  • Insert Edit Image dialog box showing where to enter alt text in OU CampusDo your images have high-quality alt-text?
    • Alt-text provides context to images. To insert alt-text on an image in OU Campus, enter content in the “Description” field
    • Good alt-text:
      • is concise and descriptive
      • conveys the meaning of the image
      • describes the subject of the image
      • describes action and/or emotion of the image
      • doesn’t start with “Image of…”
  • Is your content clear, concise, and well-structured?
    • Create structure with headings, lists, text, and media
    • Avoid able-assumptive language like describing something by the way that it looks (“the green button”) or verbs that assume ability (“click the button”).
  • Do you have high-quality link text?
    • Make the destination/action clear on links, don’t use “read more” or “click here”
  • Did you use the built-in tools to format your content?
    • Choose which list type (numbered or bulleted) to use based on the need, not the visuals (bulleted when order is not essential, numbered when the list has a sequence).
    • Nest headings by their rank (or level). The most important heading has the rank 1 (<h1>), the least important heading rank 6 (<h6>). Headings with an equal or higher rank start a new section, headings with a lower rank start new subsections that are part of the higher ranked section. Skipping heading ranks can be confusing and should be avoided: Make sure that a <h2> is not followed directly by an <h4>, for example.
  • Do videos have captions?
    • All videos that go on the Hope YouTube channel and/or are embedded on hope.edu are required to be captioned. Contact us with questions.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at web@hope.edu with any questions you have about website accessibility!

New WordPress Blog Theme Coming Soon

This summer we’ve been working on preparing the Hope Blog Network for a brand new WordPress Theme (Twenty Nineteen). The new theme which will also feature Hope branding will go live soon. We think you’ll love the simplicity, ample white space and overall modern look.

At the same time, we’ll be upgrading all Hope blogs to the new WordPress editor (called Gutenberg). The new editor features a simplified and improved editing experience and uses “blocks” to insert, rearrange and style content on your blog  — without technical knowledge. Here are instructions for blog admins.

Let us know what you think of the new Blog Theme!

Happy blogging!

National Victory! The 200th Rivalry Program Earns Top CoSIDA Award

It may not be college basketball season, but here in the Division of Public Affairs and Marketing, we are celebrating a special kind of hoops-related victory. 

“The Rivalry” — the highly anticipated showdown on the court between Hope College and Calvin College (now Calvin University) — has been called one of the best in the country by ESPN. And last month, a special game-day program for the 200th Rivalry earned an especially fitting honor: Best in the Nation

In June, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) awarded Hope College first place for “Special Event Program – College Division” as part of its 2018-19 Publications & Design Contests. CoSIDA’s “College Division” includes all non-NCAA Division I schools, including NCAA Division III, NCAA Division II, NAIA and National Junior College Athletic Association.

It all started last year, when members of the Public Affairs and Marketing team pitched an idea: to create a unique piece commemorating the milestone match-up between the Hope and Calvin men’s basketball teams, taking place Feb. 2, 2019 at Hope’s DeVos Fieldhouse. The idea turned into a reality, resulting in a sharp 24-page piece that perfectly captured the high caliber of the competition. 

Kudos to the following members of the Hope College Public Affairs and Marketing team, whose collaboration yielded the award-winning program:

  • Eva Dean Folkert, director of communication services, served as the managing editor and writer. 
  • Alan Babbitt, sports information director, was a contributing writer and photographer.
  • Paul Willard, graphic designer, designed the program layout and provided illustrations.

Other contributors to the program were: Rebecca Robrahn, director of creative services, who oversaw the design process to completion; writer and photographer Tom Renner, retired associate vice president for public and community relations at Hope College; writer Jeff Febus, Calvin’s sports information coordinator; writers Dr. Chad Carlson, associate professor of kinesiology at Hope, and Dr. Brian Bolt, professor of kinesiology at Calvin; and freelance photographers Steven Herppich, Jon Lundstrom, Rob Kurtycz and Dan Vos.

I am so proud to work with such a creative, talented colleagues. Congratulations to everyone who helped earn this well-deserved victory!   Hope and Calvin have been playing each other in men’s basketball since 1920. After 201 games, the two teams are separated by just five wins and 98 points. Check out the 2019-20 Rivalry schedule!

Using Featured Person Components in OU Campus

Assets and snippets are two types of reusable content we use on our websites. If you already find the difference confusing, hang tight because we’re making a third type of reusable content available to everyone. We really do think you’ll like it because it will truly make your work easier.

Components will allow you to generate specific types of content using a form entry field instead of building the content on the page.

Craig has been hard at work building a selection of components for you to use, but I’m going to focus here on the Featured Person component (formerly the Featured Person snippet) — not only because it will show you how to use that particular component but because it should give you a good idea on how to use the other components, too.

As a reminder, this is what the Featured Person content block looks like:

We initially created this to mimic a faculty/staff listing, but people have been repurposing it for other types of content, and the results have been mixed. Additionally, behind the scenes is a clumsy table transformation that requires users to use some basic html. It looks like this:

It’s not the most complicated thing ever, but it’s also something of a pain. Which is where components come in.

Here’s the new process for adding a featured person content block:

In the Main Content region of your page, put the cursor where you want the component to appear, then hit the Component button in your WYSIWYG toolbar. It’s next to the snippet and asset buttons, and it looks like this:

Then, select Featured Person from the list of available components and hit Insert:

A form will appear, so you can fill out each field with the name, title, link, etc. Notice that there are some new options, including a choice of photo layout and an optional button. If you want to replicate the original featured person card, just select the first photo option: “Full Height + Left”. Here’s what my component form looks like:

And you don’t need to know any html because it has a handy text editor built right into the component:

When you’re done, hit save! Your new component will look like this in the editable region:

To edit your component, just click anywhere in the blue pill, select the pencil icon, and make the changes you need:

Here’s what the finished product looks like with no button and with the photo set to “Full Height + Left”:

You’ll notice that it looks almost exactly like the previous way of building it as a snippet. The only difference is that it’s a whole lot easier to use!

Finally, here’s what it looks like with the button and the photo set to “Full Height + Right”:

Note that we only recommend the Inset photo option for relatively long content — longer, at least, than these faculty or staff listings. That format will work best for lengthy paragraph-style content.

There you have it! Feel free to play around with the other components. As usual, if you have any questions or run into trouble as you try the components, just let me know!

OU Campus and HTTPS

Today we made a change to the account settings of OU Campus, our site-wide CMS, which will always serve up pages in our OU Campus account over HTTPS. What that means for our OU Campus web content editors is they will notice a fully secure url and browser experience when they login to OU Campus from now on. This is a CMS setting and does not affect our live website.

The entire hope.edu website (and all of our web properties) already are served over HTTPS via SSL and have been since CIT made several upgrades and implemented a new web server in 2017.

Weather-Related Announcements (Or, Where To Find Information When You’re Hoping For A Snow Day)

Well, winter weather is upon us — and whether you’re elated or heartbroken by today’s snowflakes, it’s a good time to review Hope’s process for making weather-related decisions and announcements.

A decision to close campus offices and cancel classes is typically announced prior to 6:30 a.m. In the *rare* event that offices are closed and classes are cancelled, you can find the announcement in the following places:

  • Hope website: The announcement will be posted on hope.edu/alert and InHope.
  • Media: The announcement will be shared with local media, including WTHS radio and WOOD, WZZM and WWMT television stations.
  • Text alert: The announcement will be issued via the HOPE ALERT emergency text messaging system. Please take a few minutes to verify that your emergency contact information is current by doing the following:
    > Go to hope.edu.
    > Select “Personal Information.”
    > Select “Update Emergency Contacts.” Your name (Relationship: Self) and cell phone number 
entered as an Emergency Contact will register you to receive HOPE ALERT messages.

When weather-related closures/cancellations occur, essential personnel (Campus Safety staff, plow drivers, etc.) are expected to report if at all possible. If unsure whether you are expected to report, please contact your supervisor directly.

For those crews that report to work between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., please use good judgment in determining whether it is safe for you to travel in for work. Notify your supervisor of your situation and stay alert for later announcements.

Bundle up, stay warm and enjoy the Michigan winter!


Update on the Hope Blog Network

We’re excited to share a few things in the works for Hope blogs. As we continue our work with compliance and web accessibility, we’ll soon introduce a revised design and other enhancements to the entire Hope College Blog Network. Although this is not a full redesign, it will include a new color palette and other style elements that emphasize better contrast and legibility.

We’ve also added a new custom byline for posts that include the author and date and appears between the post title and body. To customize the name of the author, use the custom field “custom_byline.”

The design improvements will be rolled out this week, so let us know if you notice anything that doesn’t seem quite right, and we’ll look into it right away. You can report problems to the Web Communications team at web@hope.edu.

Additionally, the update will include a brand-new blogs.hope.edu homepage, which will feature highlighted blog posts and an easier way to navigate the blog directory.

Finally for our blog admins, in either mid-December 2018 or early January 2019, we plan to host a lunch-and-learn about the Hope blog network. We’ll discuss these new changes, provide insights about WordPress features and engaging blog page design, and just give admins an opportunity to share ideas with each other and us. We’ve not done this in a while so it will be a great time to come together as blog administrators.

Let us know what you think of the updated theme!

A mock-up of the updated Hope College Blog Network theme
A mock-up of the updated Hope College Blog Network theme

Tips for Campus-Wide Communication

As the semester is underway, we thought we would share some helpful information and suggestions about campus-wide communication. Let us know if you have questions or if we can be helpful in any way!



  • Campusmail is the Hope College moderated system for sending email messages to large sections of the campus community (e.g., all faculty, all employees, all students).
  • If you have an event or information that is useful to the greater Hope community, you may send a Campusmail. The message must be Hope-related and originate from a faculty or staff Hope email address.
  • Campusmails are distributed three times per weekday by Public Affairs and Marketing.


  • From your faculty or staff Hope email account, send your message to campusmail@hope.edu.
  • Include a helpful subject line and your intended recipients (e.g., all employees, only faculty, etc.). Also include a CAMPUSMAIL DISTRIBUTION header.

To:  campusmail@hope.edu
Subject: Join us for Special Event on 10/1

(Send to all Faculty)


You are invited to a Special Event on 10/1….


  • Attachments and images are not permitted due to technical limitations with Campusmail. Instead, add your information to Google Drive and include a link in your email.
  • Using an email platform like MailChimp or Constant Contact to draft your email and then sending a single message to Campusmail for distribution violates those companies’ terms of service.
  • Regular messages to students or specific targeted groups of students (e.g., all Philosophy majors) are handled through the Studentmail system (studentmail@hope.edu), coordinated by the Office of the Registrar.


  • inHope is Hope College’s intranet and is only accessible to individuals who have a hope.edu email address.
  • inHope includes campus announcements, news, events, employee and student directories, Marketplace and links to common campus resources and services.
  • To submit an inHope announcement, complete the announcement form and determine how long you want your announcement to stay active.


  • The Hope College Calendar is a publicly accessible master list of events. Events on the calendar also appear on inHope, department websites, and digital signage.
  • To post your event on the calendar:
    • Make your campus room reservation through EMS.
    • Select ‘Yes’ to display this event on the Hope College public calendar.
    • Include descriptive text in the “Event Details” section of the room reservation.
    • Approved events typically appear on the campus calendar in 1–2 business days.
  • List all of your department events on the calendar, even if attendance is not open to the public. If your event is invite-only, do not post your event.
  • Promote your event by emailing more information and/or a custom photo to calendar@hope.edu.
  • For assistance with room reservations, contact the Events and Conferences Office (events@hope.edu, 616.395.7222).

Please send any questions about Campusmail, inHope and the Calendar to Public Affairs and Marketing (marketing@hope.edu, 616.395.7860).

Web Accessibility Training video and presentation materials

Thank you to those of you who were able to join us for our Web Accessibility Training session in August! For those of you who were unable to attend or would like a refresher, below are links to a video of the presentation as well as the presentation materials.

Thank you for your support in making the Hope College website accessible to all of our visitors! Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions.