YouTube, Instagram Offer Students a Different Kind of Job

YouTube, Instagram Offer Students a Different Kind of Job

College creators turn social media usage into revenue streams

By Hanna Ellington
The Razorback Reporter

With 90% of 18-29 year olds using at least one social media platform, according to the Pew Research Center, some UA students are taking advantage of that usage to make money.

Sophomore Becca Moss began creating videos in high school. In the summer before coming to the UofA, Moss began uploading her videos displaying on YouTube her life at the UofA, she said.

“I really love watching YouTube and I really love making videos, so why don’t I just upload them there,” Moss said. “I started making vlogs because I thought it would be fun to document my life and look back on it.”

Moss has nearly 10,000 subscribers for whom she creates lifestyle, vlogs and college advice videos. That helps her connect with her audience of college-aged women. Quality videos require time and effort, which has resulted in a paycheck of up to $1,000 a month, depending on the number of views, Moss said.

Similar YouTubers include UGA student Danielle Carolan and Elon graduate Katy Bellotte, who together have over a million subscribers. Estimated paychecks for Carolan range up to nearly $50,000 a year, according to SocialBlade, a website that tracks YouTube statistics.

“[YouTube] makes it easy to be monetized and to get paid for your content, which I really appreciate, just because you do put a lot of work into it,” Moss said. “Being a college student, I pay for a lot of things myself, and I don’t have time to waste time on a hobby like that.”

Income for videos fluctuates, based on advertisements and views, Moss said. To earn money from advertisers, creators must be a part of the YouTube Partner Program, which provides creators with community resources.
Creators must have more than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 public watch hours over the last 12 months to be eligible, according to YouTube policies, and may then make money from their videos.
Students whose profiles are raised significantly by their athletic skills have yet to be allowed to join the online payday.

That, however, could soon change. The NCAA Board of Governors announced Oct. 29 that student-athletes will be allowed to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.
“I think it’s a huge step in the right direction,” said Isaiah Campbell, former UA pitcher. “College athletes are putting all this work on and off the field and aren’t getting anything shown for it, like the professional athletes do by making money. I think this also should have happened many years ago, but the NCAA is trying to keep the athletes under tap as much as possible.”
That NCAA ruling could open a new way for athletes to profit off themselves, said Campbell, who recently signed with the American League Seattle Mariners.
“For other sports, like basketball and football, where jerseys are sold and video games were made off these players, it would benefit them in a huge way for paying them for people buying stuff that is theirs,” Campbell said.
Current student-athletes were instructed not to comment on any matter relating to the recent NCAA ruling.
Another platform to potentially profit from is Instagram, where users can create and post sponsored content for companies.
“On Instagram, I like to say that very pretty pictures, that’s the currency, meaning that the prettier your pictures, the further you’re going to go, the bigger impact you’re going to have, that kind of thing,” said Ramona Collins, the UA social media manager.
Visual content can be aspirational for users, Collins said, adding that people return to see more of the same content.
“With a photo, you can capture people’s imagination. They can imagine themselves being in that photo, eating the food that you share, at the concert that you’re at,” Collins said. “I think that’s what keeps people coming back; they want to see what people are doing in their images and videos.”
Engagement rate and follower count are aspects of Instagram “influencers,” who can be sponsored to post about products and brands, writer Paige Cooper said in a blog post for Hootsuite.
For some U.S. Instagram users, the “likes” feature could become private in the near future, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri announced Nov. 8.
“The likes are what we call ‘social proof.’ The more likes you have, the more probability that people are going to see the photo,” Collins said. “That number proves that people like that content.”
Removing “likes” from Instagram could have an impact on the way brands and influencers work together.

Sophomore Holly Simpson is an ambassador for GreekBox, a subscription service that includes sorority merchandise. She doesn’t make money, but she does receive a discount on her subscription and additional items, such as gifts for her birthday, she said.

She promotes the company through Instagram, where she shares her promotional code. This code provides users with a discount and allows the company to track the engagement of her followers, she said.

“When I became an ambassador, I made my Instagram public instead of private to try to reach more people,” Simpson said. “I got way more people to use my code than I thought I would.”
Some companies base their sponsorships on the number of “likes,” or engagement, but Simpson doesn’t think that should be a factor, she said.
For Simpson, being an ambassador is a stepping stone to a career that involves social media.
“It’s really cool when you’re just scrolling through Instagram and an ad pops up with your face in it,” Simpson said. “In the future, I want to be a news anchor or actress, and I think this is a cool way to get my foot in the door social media wise.”

College Students Stay Logged Into Facebook…For Now

College Students Stay Logged Into Facebook…For Now

Some students are transforming their use of Facebook by promoting their business ventures instead of life updates.

By Hanna Ellington
The Razorback Reporter

Fifteen years after its creation, Facebook has been transformed, along with a new generation of college students. Instead of being used as an online hangout, the platform has shifted to a professional and personal advertising platform, a UA professor said.

Facebook logo
A new generation of college students is transforming social media. Photo from Pixabay

‘The facebook’ went online in 2004, with original users needing a university e-mail address to log on. Once it opened its arms to non-students, original Facebook users were faced with an intrusion of their exclusive community, said Ron Warren, a communication professor.

“I think one reason that young people moved, that some young people moved away from Facebook is because their parents went on it in droves,” Warren said. In 2005, a year after Facebook’s founding, a reported 85% of college students used the platform, according to TechCrunch. In 2018, 80% of 18-24 year olds reportedly were using Facebook, according the Pew Research Center, a decrease of only 5% in college-aged users over 15 years.

“Lots of college students still have Facebook accounts, they just use them for other purposes now,” Warren said.

Among the original Facebook users, adults now aged 30-49, 78% were using Facebook in 2018, according to the Pew Research Center. While the younger generation uses other platforms, the original Facebook users have a lower percentage of users on other platforms with only 40% using Instagram and 27% using Twitter in 2018, according to the Pew Research Center.

Because fewer adults use other social media platforms, students have been adapting to using Facebook as their way to communicate with older adults. Instead of evolving as a social platform, it became an advertising platform, Warren said.

“If you’re using it for access to your social network, Facebook’s become an advertising platform,” Warren said. “I think college students use it for that. If they want to interact with an organization, they’ll go to their Facebook page. If they want to go interact over political issues, they’ll go to a Facebook page. If they want to communicate with old people, they’ll go to a Facebook page.”

Screenshot of a video featuring Oelke about digital creation tools that was shared on Facebook
Jake Oelke promotes his business’ content on his personal account.

Some students use Facebook to promote their own brand and companies. For Jake Oelke, a UA sophomore and owner of One Shot Media LLC, Facebook can be useful for advertising toward an older generation.

“It is a great tool for engaging people with my business who aren’t my age, because there’s not a lot of business owners who are my age,” Oelke said. “So, a lot of the, I want to say older people, like 30s through 60s, 65, they’re all on Facebook, so that’s why I post stuff to Facebook, just to reach them.”

Advertising is a useful tool for those looking to expand their reach on the platform, said Raymond Ruiz, a Facebook Journalism Project representative. Facebook uses algorithms to decide the order of users’ newsfeeds, Ruiz said. Paying into advertising can pay off in the long run, Oelke said.

“Over the summer, I spent a lot of money on Facebook advertising,” Oelke said. “I set targets, like target markets, so if I had an ad talking about not fully understanding technology, I’d market that toward 50- to 65-year-olds, and I think those conversion rates were really high because I’d make a ton of impressions.”

Screenshot of a video featuring Oelke about digital creation tools that was shared on Facebook
Some One Shot Media content gets posted directly to Oelke’s personal account.

LinkedIn, a business-oriented networking platform, and Facebook audiences overlap, with 90% of LinkedIn users also using Facebook, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. For Oelke, using LinkedIn for advertising could be more beneficial than using Facebook.

“If [Facebook] doesn’t innovate, it’s gonna die. So, I think my use of Facebook will go more heavy toward LinkedIn,” Oelke said. “I’m doing a lot of the same kind of posts on LinkedIn right now because of the organic reach. LinkedIn will show people your post for not even having to pay them, and LinkedIn’s a lot more professional.”

Facebook usage isn’t expected to decrease anytime soon, but other social platforms gaining users may begin to threaten Facebook usage.

“It’s hard to see it go away,” Warren said. “My guess is, if it starts to decline, they’ll morph to hedge against that sort of thing. And if there’s a platform that’s drawing the audience they want, then like every other media conglomerate, they will go buy it, which is why they own Instagram.”

Relocation of Student E-mails Set for Winter Break

Relocation of Student E-mails Set for Winter Break

Over winter break, students will join faculty in using Microsoft 365 Office, replacing Google as the student e-mail provider.

By Hanna Ellington
The Razorback Reporter

Faculty and students will use the same e-mail provider for the first time in a decade, reducing complications in campus communication, the IT Services spokesman said in an interview.

Student e-mails are set to migrate from Gmail to Microsoft 365 Office during Winter Break. 

Since 2012, faculty have been using Exchange, a Microsoft product, and students have been using Gmail, said Erin Griffin, an IT specialist. Students and faculty had used a university-hosted e-mail service, Griffin said.

Graphic depicting email
Students will soon switch e-mail platforms. Photo from Flickr

Google does not charge for licensing, but could not be used by faculty because of data mining concerns. The UofA instead paid for licenses for faculty and staff to use Microsoft, which does not mine data, said Chris Butler, the communications director for IT Services. Students had to be put on another platform, and they preferred Gmail, Griffin said.

“I know the reason that faculty were put on [Microsoft] was because Google servers, one, they data mine parts of Gmail, that’s why the product is free,” Butler said. “So for certain restrictions on research being done on this campus, we had to use a Microsoft product, more secure e-mail for those, and so that’s why faculty was never put there.”

Since 2012, faculty have been using Exchange, a Microsoft product, and students have been using Gmail, said Erin Griffin, an IT specialist. Students and faculty had used a university-hosted e-mail service, Griffin said.

The Computing Advisory Committee decided last year to move student e-mails to Microsoft. Microsoft licensing has changed since 2012, allowing the U of A to provide the system to all users, Griffin said. While student representatives urged the committee that students want to keep Gmail and its features, the faculty did not want to lose their access to Microsoft, according to committee minutes from October of last year.

The overarching reason for the shift is to lessen the communication barrier between students and faculty, who up to this point haven’t been able to use the same calendar tools to ease scheduling, Butler said.

“There was a lot of barriers between faculty and students being able to schedule office hour meetings because they were on different calendaring platforms, and that really created some barriers,” Butler said.

Looking to the future, students could be better off by switching to Microsoft in college. More than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have at least one Microsoft service, according to Microsoft’s website.  

“When students graduate, they’re most likely going to use a Microsoft product. If you look at Fortune 500 companies, I mean, chances are you will use Outlook and Office 365,” Butler said.

The move is set to occur over sometime between Dec. 19 and Jan. 13 because students will be out of classes, Butler said.

“Because we issue e-mails with rolling admissions, summer is actually not a great time to do it,” Butler said. “New applicants for Fall 2020 are already on Outlook, so we have kind of started that, and there’s really no great time to move current students. So, it was just decided that at a new year, when they were gone for several weeks, that we would do it during the holidays and then port their messages over.”

Students are apprehensive about the switch as they are unsure about what will be at stake with the new platform.

“I don’t know what I will lose or gain by switching to Office,” said Aidan McGinn, a UA junior.

Messages and calendar events will migrate automatically to the new platform, and e-mail addresses will remain the same, according to the IT website. Students will gain access to the full UA directory, Bulter said. 

Students will continue to have access to Google Suites, which includes resources like Drive and Documents, Butler said. The larger files take more time to attend to, so a different decision will come down the road, Butler said.

“I’m still going to use it because it’s the best, and it automatically saves it for you,” said Kaci Elrod, a UA sophomore. 

Although the benefits out Outlook seem to outweigh the costs, students are still worried about losing Gmail as their e-mail provider.

“I’m a big Gmail person, so everything I use is Gmail,” Elrod said. “I have a personal e-mail that’s Gmail and I have a Mac, so I feel that works better with my computer. So, going to Outlook is going to be hard, but, I guess it’s going to be okay.”

While e-mails have switched in the past, Microsoft is set to be the common platform for students and faculty. 

“We are a Microsoft campus for the foreseeable future,” Butler said.

UA Libraries Adapt to Digital Resources

UA Libraries Adapt to Digital Resources

As more resources move online, Mullins Library is adapting its spaces for usage in the digital age. While many universities hop on this trend, the U of A is taking a new approach to accessing online resources.

Empty section in Mullins Library
After books were moved from Mullins Library to the off-campus Annex, the 4th floor of Mullins has opened up for more student usage. Photo by Hanna Ellington

By Hanna Ellington
The Razorback Reporter

In the digital age, Mullins Library is joining other institutions in increasing accessibility to online resources, while also maintaining print assets and physical spaces, librarians said.

More than 1.3 million volumes were removed from Mullins Library in July 2018 into an off-campus annex storage system, said Kelsey Lovewell, director of public relations.

“Moving items to the annex did not increase our need for virtual resources. We’ve been continuously adding to our physical and digital holdings for many years now,” she said.

Books housed in the annex must be requested online and delivered to either Mullins or one of four campus branches.

That system has frustrated some students.

“Honestly, I think the old-school system of just having books in the library that you can go and check out is probably for the best. I feel that because they’re not readily available, people are less likely to use those resources if they know it has to be ordered and delivered,” junior Ethan Barton said.

Mullins Library still houses 200,000 books, Lovewell said, adding that the books were selected to remain based on past usage and relevance to students.

“The books that were selected [for the annex] had not been checked out, I want to say, twice in the past 10 years,” Lovewell said. “We asked for faculty input across campus, we looked at usage statistics, and one important statistic we looked at what books were used in the library but not necessarily checked out.”

Using an off-campus storage space is common for universities, said Dennis Clark, Dean of Libraries. The high-density Library Annex is beneficial for the preservation of the books, with cooler temperatures and lower humidity rates for storage, Clark said.

“There’s not a research university library in this country that doesn’t have off-site storage,” Clark said. “Every significant institution is storing parts of their collection away from their central campus. It’s been the standard for three decades.”

Browsing the off-campus annex is reflective of online shopping, Lovewell said, with books being displayed on online shelves for an experience similar to searching for books in a physical library.

“In today’s day and age, I feel like we’re all very accustomed to online shopping, you know, watching Netflix, browsing for different shows we want to watch. What’s really seamlessly integrated with that is our virtual browsing tool,” Lovewell said. “Our virtual browsing tool puts them on a shelf with other books in the same category so that you can see as though it were in person and open stacks.”

Communication with librarians also has expanded, with lines of communication being available in text messages, phone calls and e-mail form, said Beth Juhl, the Web Services Librarian. Accessibility reaches worldwide as librarians from around the world work in a cooperative group to assist students online.

“We have a cooperative with librarians all over the world. When we’re asleep, the librarians in Australia pick up our questions, and when they’re asleep, we pick up their questions,” Juhl said. “That is a cooperative so students can come into a chat service and ask a question of a librarian anytime, 24/7.”

The shift toward online integration may seem like a loss of libraries, but that’s not the case to Clark, Juhl or Lovewell.

Book shelves sit empty in the library on the 4th floor of Mullins Library. Photo by Hanna Ellington

“If you look at the trend across research libraries and research universities now, the idea that libraries are somehow losing use or losing relevance because of the access to digital resources is widely off,” Clark said. “Every other institution I’ve been in, as we’ve increased the amount of digital resources and as we’ve moved books away from the center part of campus, we’ve seen more use of space.

“Sure, we’ve got books, but we also have spaces that are more engaging,” he said.

As more resources become available online, libraries are using the opportunity to renovate the existing space for improved resources for students.

“We have plans that we will be able to talk about in more depth very soon for a two-phase renovation that will renovate all floors of Mullins in the next five to six years,” Clark said. “So I think what we’ll see is kind of a redefinition of the spaces.”

“Yes, we’ll have a significant print collection in Mullins,” Clark said, “but we’ll also have spaces that are actually made for today’s level of teaching and learning, and spaces that are agile enough for them to evolve in the future.”
Moving forward, Mullins Library is set to transform with the trends of the digital age, Juhl said, but that doesn’t mean libraries will cease to exist.
“I think that they think that a library is just a warehouse of books, which is not what we are. We are services, and we are connections to recorded knowledge,” Juhl said. “That’s never going to go out of style.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article reported that moving items to the Library Annex increased the need for virtual resources. This is a clarification.

Library, Global Campus Working to Reduce Textbook Costs

Library, Global Campus Working to Reduce Textbook Costs

With college textbook costs on the rise, a UA program is promoting digital materials in place of physical textbooks in order to reduce costs for students.

The cost of a used finance textbook totals over $150 in the UA Bookstore
Textbooks in the UA Bookstore range in cost, but this book for Personal Finance Management would cost students anywhere from $150-$200, depending on the condition purchased. Photo by Hanna Ellington

The Library and Global Campus are working together to reduce textbook costs by giving students access to digital materials that are adopted, adapted or created by faculty.  

The materials, known as Open Educational Resources, or OERs, are openly licensed educational materials, according to the library’s website. Students get access at a free or minimal cost to online materials, like books or articles.

“What’s great about open educational resources is that you can create a textbook and license it under a creative commons license and anyone can use it for free, or for a small fee,” said Kelsey Lovewell, public relations director. “So, we have a program that incentivizes faculty across campus to adopt, adapt, or create their own open educational resources, and the goal for that is that their students won’t have to pay for textbooks, or if they do, the cost will be nominal.”

A Massachusetts community college uses open-access books in three of the six required general education courses. Students spent as little as $31 for three courses, as opposed to the national average of $153 per course, according to CBS Moneywatch. 

Students on average spend $1,200 annually on books and supplies, according to The College Board.

“I’ve always been frustrated with the texts that I use in my class, much less the texts that are available out there in the world, mostly because of their cost,” said Russell L. Sharman, an Assistant Professor of Communication, who is creating his own OER. “I have 200 students per section in that class, and I teach two sections a semester, so I have 400 students paying up to $100 each, which often means they don’t buy the book at all and hope they can just skate by. That completely disrupts my approach to the course.”

The opportunity to save money is a driving force behind OERs. In the 2018-2019 school year, OERs saved students an estimated $162,000, up from just $11,900 saved the year prior, according to the Mullins Library Open Educational Resources Savings Report.

Textbook costs rose 88 percent in 10 years, according to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Students must decide on whether to buy a textbook they might never use or save the money, said Jared Pinkerton, Associated Student Government President. 

“[Students] hurt themselves because they can’t afford to buy a textbook that costs as much as a gold bar,” Pinkerton said. “Education needs to be equitable, and open education resources is a push for equity in textbooks, and that’s important.”

Multiple books on the shelves in the UA Bookstore
Some books in the UA Bookstore can be rented, giving some students the option to spend less on a textbook they may not use again. Photo by Hanna Ellington.

The concept of reduced-cost textbooks has benefited both students and the UofA, Pinkerton said. While students also pay less for their textbooks, a proposed $10 fee for using open educational resources would support grants and fund the department that is using the OERs.

“That way, every dollar of these OERs is literally being put to benefit the students,” Pinkerton said.

“There’s some stigma around free, right, that free is lesser for some reason, in [faculty] eyes. It comes to talking them into it and showing them how much of an impact it can have on students.”

Most OERs are digital textbooks that can be downloaded and printed, increasing accessibility to the material, said Elaine Thornton, the Open Education and Distance Learning Librarian. Material access will not end with the end of term, Thornton said, allowing students to continue to learn past their enrollment in the class.

“If a class adopts an OER, everyone gets it automatically online, for free, [and] always will be free. The faculty can use it, they can change it,” Thornton said.

In some cases, a physical textbook hinders students’ learning, Sharman said. Sharman is creating a digital textbook for introduction to film lecture courses to increase students’ accessibility and interaction with the material, Sharman said.

“It became pretty obvious to me, not only that this made sense for this course because it would be free, but the course content is rooted in motion pictures, which a two-dimensional text or book can’t really approximate,” Sharman said. “So being able to have integrated video, links to videos, you know, actual content that is connected to the course, is pretty exciting.”

The program has been in effect for two years. It compensates professors, dependent on whether they adopt an open educational resource, adapt materials from existing resources, or create and license a new open educational resource, Thornton said.

The compensation is used to supplement faculty for their efforts, Thornton said. University Libraries and Global Campus pay faculty from $3,000 to $7,500, in multiple phases for implementation.

“The library sees value in it in that we’re helping faculty create resources, which then go into our institutional repository, so it’s kind of a digital publishing arm of it, which is another aspect of OER,” Thornton said.

“We are providing compensation and assistance to faculty who reduce the costs of textbooks for their students by making these materials open for use by everyone,” Lovewell said.