Manufacturing a tweet: Whirlpool takes over MSU engineering’s Twitter account

Michigan State University alumni, now working for Whirlpool Corp., take over the MSU engineering Twitter handle for the day Tuesday at Whirlpool Corp.’s Riverview Campus. (Don Campbell | HP staff)

Michigan State University alumni, now working for Whirlpool Corp., take over the MSU engineering Twitter handle for the day Tuesday at Whirlpool Corp.’s Riverview Campus. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON HARBOR — A group of Whirlpool Corp. employees spent their Tuesday lunch hour reaching out to college students through social media.

Inside a second-floor conference room at Whirlpool’s Riverview Campus – often referred to as “The Fishbowl” – five Michigan State University alumni took over one of their alma mater’s Twitter handles.

Whirlpool’s takeover of the MSU engineering department’s Twitter account lasted 12 hours, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Kathleen Wolf, senior manager of corporate reputation and interactive media, said she has done a Twitter chat through Whirlpool’s account before, but never something like this.

Wolf said the benefit of doing this “Twitter takeover” was letting others know what it’s like to work at the Benton Harbor company.

“If we are going to recruit, people want to know who they are going to work with and they want to know what it’s like to work here,” she said. “What better way to do that than to tell it through our people?”

Inside the conference room, Wolf had a flat-screen television showing all tweets mentioning Whirlpool worldwide. This allowed the handful of engineers to respond using the @MSUEngineer account.

The five MSU alumni represented different rotational leadership development programs within the home appliance company. They have worked for Whirlpool between two and five years since graduating from MSU.

Chelsea Davis, a sourcing specialist, said she used to follow the @MSUEngineer account when she was a Spartan and on the job hunt.

“A lot of times they would post job openings or career events they were having on campus,” Davis said. “I used that to know what was going in with the college of engineering.”

J.T. Whitman, right, a project engineer at Whirlpool Corp., joins Whirlpool engineers as they take over the MSU engineering Twitter handle Tuesday at the company’s Riverview Campus. Whitman is also an MSU alum. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

J.T. Whitman, right, a project engineer at Whirlpool Corp., joins Whirlpool engineers as they take over the MSU engineering Twitter handle Tuesday at the company’s Riverview Campus. Whitman is also an MSU alum. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

Megan Schuchardt, a project engineer, said MSU is one of Whirlpool’s partner schools when it began recruiting for engineering jobs. Other schools that Whirlpool recruits from includes University of Michigan, Michigan Tech, Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Schuchardt said the idea to take over MSU’s account occurred when they traveled to East Lansing’s campus during the fall semester.

“We were looking for ways to get them engaged and talking during the spring semester,” she said. “One of the people working at The Center mentioned this as an idea, and we thought it would be interesting. We started thinking about all the content we could tweet.”

Scheduled tweets with videos and small facts about Whirlpool were sent throughout the 12-hour takeover as well.

Wolf spent the interactive lunch hour asking the five participants about their Whirlpool experience, before tweeting out a 140-character synopsis of the conversation.

Nick Righetti, a project engineer, said it was important to engage with the younger work force. He recognized how social media has become a big platform for communication.

“It’s always a nice thing to do things with your alma mater,” he said. “I was in their shoes at one point, looking for a job. It gives them a chance to shop around a little bit.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 23, 2016)

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