Building a Transmedia Community for 1 st Year Post-Secondary Students with Social Anxiety
What is Social Anxiety? - The Facts Fear of negative evaluation Anxious when perceiving self as centre of attention Difficulty speaking in public, attending social events, and dealing with authority figures Studies show that many 1 st year students who withdraw from university list lack of social support as one of the main reasons (Wilcox, Winn, & Phyvie-Gauld, 2005). Young people aged 15-24 are likely to have current social anxiety disorder (Statistics Canada, 2003). Over 70% of people with social anxiety disorder never seek treatment because of fear (Statistics Canada, 2003). Change is one of the triggers for social anxiety, and beginning post-secondary eucation is a major life change (CalmClinic, 2013).
1 st Year Student Anxiety Can Lead To… Difficulty in participating in class discussion. Worry over upcoming events is especially problematic for exams, presentations, and classroom work Heightened anxiety in new classrooms surrounded by strangers and fear of being the centre of attention can be especially terrifying Hyper-sensitivity to criticism and peer and teacher evaluation becomes interpreted in a negatively skewed way Isolation occurs as a result of social anxiety fears of meeting new people in new environment
Building a Supportive Transmedia Community Through… Tumblr Facebook Campaign profiles will be set-up with all 4 platforms. The name of the campaign and logo must be uniform. Each account will be linked for ease of dissemination. Tumblr will serve as the portal for text-based information that automatically posts to Facebook & Twitter. For image-based information, Instagram serves as an automatic portal for all other platforms. Single access portals allow for ease of information dissemination to maximum audiences. Managers only need post information at one site. Twitter Instagram
Tumblr is currently the fastest growing and largest multi- level live blogging platform in the world. It is a community that allows as much anonymity as the user chooses and does not require an account to view its blogs. This helps provide a sense of safety and control for those with social anxiety. Information, links, pictures, and even Q&As between the audience and blog manager can easily be accessed on a Tumblr blog. Unlike with Facebook & Twitter, a student may follow the blog as a completely anonymous identity. Even submitting questions may be anonymous – something that Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram cannot do. Through Tumblrs reblogging & tagging system, users may also tumble across and follow similar blogs or users that face the same difficulties and still remain as anonymous as they choose. Tumblr would allow campaign managers to upload multiple posts in advance and schedule the release dates and times for each post. This is a valuable time-management tool.
Having both a public page (to Like) and a closed group that users may join at their own discretion really enhances the community feel. The closed group allows users to join, post, and read within that community. This fosters a sense of comradeship and allows sufferers of social anxiety to get acquainted with each other in the comfort of their own safe environment behind a screen, which helps reduce social anxiety. The public page posts updates with information, links, pictures, or inspirational quotes that show in the users newsfeed. Facebook is still one of the most utilized social media networking sites that allows for content to be easily seen by a wide audience. Both the public and closed group will utilize appropriate tags for maximum search capability.
The majority of campus services are now active on Twitter. The campaign Twitter account will need to follow these university and campaign related accounts. Utilizing user names and hashtags in tweets will maximize search capability and audience. Users are able to follow, retweet, favorite, and tweet at these accounts as well as view other users who have done the same. Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows for an openness to share and view short, spontaneous, and straight-to-the-point thoughts of those who may be going through similar anxiety issues. Posting tips to over come or facts regarding social anxiety in 140 characters or less makes for effective support for the busy student. Because Twitter is less intimate than Facebook, users can freely follow and unfollow accounts that are helpful to them with less worry about negative feedback from their peers.
Instagram has really grown since its launch in 2010. As a picture sharing medium, it is now also being used by businesses and organizations. It is an alternative to students who may not have the time or desire to read through long articles or websites. Instagram offers an easy means to share powerful images with or without limited text to reach a visually oriented audience. Subtle visual imagery to process the metaphor represented in the pictures appeals to viewers, especially young people who are accustomed to images as a medium for messages (McQuarrie & Phillips, 2005). The platform itself is extremely similar to Twitter; however, there can be a slightly higher level of anonymity, depending on an individuals user setting.
Most importantly… Tumbr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all allow for integration with each other. This transmedia system eases the process of sharing content through one portal. Users who are more comfortable sharing and voicing their experiences may do so on their platform of choice. Those who are hesitant to join the interactions may observe, while still becoming aware of an abundant community that surrounds the issue. This may either inspire them to seek help or emerge from the shadows and become part of the online interactions.
The Importance of Tagging Keywords and phrases as well as locations and other user names will be included with each post. Examples of these types of tags might include: #anxiety, #socialanxiety, #stress, #1styearstudents, #university (university name eg. #uWindsor), #college (college name), #testanxiety, #counselling, etc. The use of @ symbols to direct messages on Facebook & Twitter should also be done for maximum effect. Tagging keywords allows for posts to be retrieved from online searches.
What Campaign Profiles Must Include Contact Information Links to the other platforms Tips, resources, workshops, positive reminders Campaign Managers will research their university and community mental health & student services and have these resource listings available on each platform Frequently Asked Questions Prompts encouraging user interactions Prompts for suggestions Physical postcards with the 4 web addresses, contact, and info will be distributed at open houses, orientations, residences, student services, student unions, LGBTIQ services, womens services, etc.
Transmedia Samples We founded in April 2012 and continue to manage the Sociology & Criminology Student Society (SCSS). We use transmedia platforms to reach out to students. In the image below, by tracking the #uWindsor tag on Tumblr, we were able to respond to a 1 st year student who has social anxiety and wanted to be able to make friends. Since this contact, she has made friends and has transferred into our program.
After recent tragic losses at our university, we wanted to ensure that students were aware of available counseling services. We had a large reach of 488 views just on our public Facebook page, 200+ on the closed group, and retweets on Twitter.
References CalmClinic. (2013). Anxiety Disorder Causes - Myths, & Reality. Retrieved from http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/causes http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/causes McQuarrie, E. F., & Phillips, B. J. (2005). Indirect persuasion in advertising: How consumers process metaphors presented in pictures and words. Journal of Advertising, 34(2), 7- 20. Statistics Canada. (2003). 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental health and well being, 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). Wilcox, P., Winn, S., & Pyvie-Gauld, M. (2005). It was nothing to do with the university, it was just the people: the role of social support in the first-year experience of higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 30(6), 707-722.