The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Behind the posts of @northern_iowa

Liv Wendt graduated this winter with a degree in Communications. Her concerted efforts in University Relations can be found on the @nothern_iowa Instagram page with relatable and funny content for students.

With a following of 21.5k, UNI’s official Instagram account has been keeping staff, alumni, parents, students, and prospective students up-to-date on everything that goes on at UNI. Although sharing UNI culture has always been the Instagram page’s goal, it’s been noted that recently @northern_iowa has been stepping up their game by intertwining campus culture with current trends and memes. 

One of the great minds who has greatly influenced social media content is Liv Wendt, a December 2023 alum who previously worked as a UR intern. 

“We have hired, when I say we as the Department hired, a digital media specialist,” Wendt said. “So we have another person on the team that is editing videos and doing more things. So she’s kind of slowly trickling in, but pretty much it’s just Andy and I.”

Wendt began her journey in the Department of Admissions when she transferred to UNI in January 2021. While in that role, she worked with other staff and interns on UNI’s Tik Tok page. Over time, the university realized  the importance that social media has on this and future generations of students. 

“I worked here over the summer; I was a social media intern,” Wendt said. “… I still worked in admissions. I did transcripts and all of that. And then they kind of realized that the position needed to be bigger than it was, so another intern and I got moved to the University Relations office. That’s how that started in August of ‘22.”

Although the location is unknown to many students, the Office of University Relations is based in Bartlett and oversees everything that represents UNI, such as branding and Inside UNI.

“It’s just a great team. They’re a wonderful group of people. We have graphic designers, we have writers. And we have, you know, the marketing specialists for the school,” Wendt said. “Pretty much anything I put out about UNI is seen or done by university relations. And so I want to say there’s probably like maybe 15 people that work in the department. So it’s not the biggest, but I’ve always loved it.”

During her time as a UR intern, Wendt delved into the researching aspect of her job that helps determine what to post and how other universities are showcasing their school pride.
“Part of my job is when I go, like when I look at what to post, I’m looking at tons of different universities and colleges throughout the United States,” Wendt explained. “I’m looking at schools that are similar in size to us, have about the same alumni support, that even have the colors purple and yellow, how they implement that, or schools that are completely different from us.”

Big reputation! Liv spent her time as a UR intern with her fingers on the pulse of social trends, including the Eras trend, taking the internet by storm due to Taylor Swift’s stardom. (COURTESY/LIV WENDT)

Although formatting, colors, and fonts are usually not huge factors when it comes to one’s personal Instagram account, they’re essential components when running a university Instagram account.

“I really looked at building an aesthetic,” Wendt said. “And I was like, okay, I want it to be really purple, yellow, black and white. So that is something that we had to strategically learn to do.”

While researching, Wendt noticed a lack of student-focused posts and shared her desire to focus even more on what it’s like to be a UNI panther. 

“I started planning like student photoshoot,” Wendt explained. “So I’ve done I think two or three now where I just reach out to random people I know on campus. And, you know, I’m like, Oh, wear your favorite UNI outfit,”

Wendt continued, “Andy and I will walk around campus and just kind of get more content for that, and so that is one thing that I’ve really wanted to implement is just seeing more students on it. So they feel like oh my gosh, like I made it, Instagram and you know, their friends are sharing it, they can send it to their loved ones.”

Along with showcasing UNI students, Wendt was also passionate about bringing some Swifty energy to the UNI Instagram page. 

“So normally, Andy and I are in our office, I’m either playing Taylor Swift or divorced dad music,” Wendt said. “And normally, I will be working on something, either coming up with captions or something, and I will randomly get the spark of energy. And I will have like, insane ideas for like three minutes where I just go, go, go, go go.”

Wendt continued, “And so one day, I was like, okay, so Instagram carousel, there’s 10 posts that you can do. There’s 10 Taylor Swift albums. And so sitting there, and I was like, What can I do with this? And so I went through the UNI archives like in the library and found the old photos, and I corresponded the photos to different songs from her era.”

The Eras Tour (Uni’s Version) Instagram post made its debut on May 5, 2023. The post was highly enjoyed by the public, and many students commented about how they love the Taylor Swift representation and how the post shows that they picked the correct university to attend. For each Taylor Swift album, Wendt chose a UNI archive picture that gave homage to a song on that album or the album title itself. One of Wendt’s favorite finds was a picture of a girl doing archery, which hints at Taylor Swift’s song ‘The Archer.’

Another pop culture reference was posted on June 26, 2023. This post utilized Instagram’s 10-post carousel feature and had the meme of Kourtney Kardashian Barker holding up a sign that was addressed to Travis Barker announcing she was pregnant. On the UNI’s Instagram page, the sign’s content is replaced with sayings like “Travis, wanna go to ROD?” and “Travis, do the interlude!”

“I looked at Andy, and I was like, I have an idea,” Wendt said. “I was like, You’re not a Kardashian fan. But I am … this is a pop culture reference we’re doing.” 

Wendt continued, “So I like to keep like pop culture references also, but then also bring kind of like the old archive photos or at least try to get a good mix.”

Wendt’s plans for the future include pursuing social media as a career, and she shares her appreciation toward her campus jobs that have helped her grow over the years. 

“I really want to preface like I would definitely get involved with students like an on campus job or an internship,” Wendt said. “I mean, the opportunities I’ve had are like something that I’ll never forget.”

Wendt continued, “I love it. It’s really helped me just kind of build a foundation and just meet so many people here at UNI. And it’s really what I needed, but I didn’t know I needed that kind of thing.”

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About the Contributor
Olivia is a sophomore English major minoring in music, English/Spanish translation and journalism. Olivia loves to cover in-depth stories about various issues and events on campus. She values quality writing and uses her mad writing skills to advocate for the campus community. Olivia is involved in Panther Marching Band as a clarinet, Chi Alpha Campus Ministries and the Northern Iowan.

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