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The Voices Behind BC Social Media

Salim Hasbini (left) and Anita Bulan manage Brooklyn College’s social media accounts, while Buster the Bulldog (featured here in a pink wig) serves as their therapy dog. PHOTO/ Zainab Iqbal
Salim Hasbini (left) and Anita Bulan manage Brooklyn College’s social media accounts, while Buster the Bulldog (featured here in a pink wig) serves as their therapy dog. PHOTO/ Zainab Iqbal

By Zainab Iqbal

Published: November 8th, 2017

Brooklyn College has close to 7,000 followers on Twitter, 2,500 on Instagram, and over 33,000 likes on Facebook; but students only find the content worth it if it features the infamous clock tower gazing upon the sunset.

Meet Anita Bulan (Associate Director, Communications and Marketing) and Salim Hasbini (Marketing Coordinator), the two voices behind Brooklyn College’s social media accounts. They begin their days early every morning, sometimes even before they enter campus.

Bulan, who’s been in the U.S. for the past 12 years and still has her Australian accent slipping through her tongue, wasn’t always into communications and marketing. In fact, she studied journalism in college. For 15 years, she worked with media production. Before joining BC two and a half years ago, she worked in the marketing department at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Bulan, who dislikes Halloween and has just recently started watching Game of Thrones, has two phones, one for her personal life and the other for work. Every morning before leaving for her long commute to campus from Sunset Park, she does the “social checks,” as she calls it.

“I see what’s happening on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook,” Bulan said. “I check to see what the professors and faculty have been tweeting about. That’s often an indicator of what’s coming up that day.”

Hasbini’s morning routine isn’t any different. He arrives to campus by 8:30 a.m. each morning, makes coffee, and checks what the #BCFamily is up to.

#BCFamily is a hashtag that was created in the spur of the moment. It holds some significant value as well.

“It reminds us that we all study different things, we’re all different ages and from every part of the world,” Hasbini said. “And the hope is that by using a hashtag like that, it reminds people that we’re all a family. We all do different kinds of things, but are all under the BC umbrella.”

In May of 2011, Hasbini graduated from the very college he now works in. He got a degree in TV and Radio and absolutely loves doing anything regarding film. Right after graduation, he interned for a documentary company for a year-and-a-half. There, he worked on film editing with directors and producers. Unfortunately, the company let him go due to budget problems, and so he began the job application process over again.

“I said okay, what else did my degree get me?” Hasbini said. “I remembered I had taken some marketing and advertising classes, because it’s part of the TV and Radio major.”

Luckily for him, he began interning at a start-up toy company, and then “bounced up the ladder of different marketing and social media internships,” he said. Right before coming back to BC, he worked at GfK, a German marketing research company. It was that very job that he believes prepared him the most for what he now does at BC.

“I was doing social media. I was also doing some film and photography because they would want a lot of corporate headshots,” Hasbini said. “I eventually became in charge of filming and editing those.”

After a couple of years as an intern, he again had to look for another job. This time, it led him back home to Brooklyn College in July of 2016. Here, he met Bulan, a woman with high wedged heels in her office even though she doesn’t wear them.

Hasbini gets assigned the work, but it is Bulan who people come to. For example, someone from the Magner Career Center will come to Bulan about a future event. Bulan would work with Hasbini and the rest of the 20-person crew to decide the best way to cover it. Though they both work related to photography, marketing, and engagement, Hasbini is the “kick-ass film editor” of the duo, according to Bulan.

“We all get in and dirty,” Bulan said. “So we’re all carrying gear everywhere. It’s not like I sit on a heap and look down on everyone barking orders, that doesn’t happen.”

Currently, the marketing and communications team is working on a series about the Vietnam War veterans. In September, Ken Burns, an American filmmaker, released a series of episodes on PBS documenting the Vietnam War. Associate professor of history Philip Napoli, who primarily studies the Vietnam War and works with veterans, was upset after watching it. According to Hasbini, the series didn’t include the voices of veterans who were females and those of color.

“We’re working on a rebuttal video interviewing female Vietnam veterans. We’re shedding light on what the Ken Burns documentary didn’t shed enough light on,” Hasbini said. “This is easily the most ambitious video by far. Though I know it’s going to lose to a shot of the clock tower.”

Managing BC’s social media accounts also plays into both Hasbini and Bulan’s workdays, and they’re looking into future projects with that as well.

“My next big project is to work with the other departments,” she said. “We can share ideas among us to have a more consistent higher level of social presence across the board. “If a department wants to run their Facebook page, I can be there to help so they are not struggling, and don’t give up.”

According to Bulan, there’s a running joke among the staff that if a social media post doesn’t feature the clock tower, it is destined to fail.

“Sometimes we work really hard on a post, and think it’s worthy and has value,” Bulan said. “If it doesn’t have the sunset or the clock tower in it, it often falls flat. Like come on guys, this is important stuff.”

Both Bulan and Hasbini enjoy using social media to connect with the #BCFamily, though if Bulan didn’t “think about it when [she gets] home, that would be nice,” she said. They both believe having a strong social media presence is important to the students and the college as a whole, even if they sometimes have people trolling their pages.

“It’s a can of worms that social media in general opened up,” Hasbini said about the mean comments. “Sometimes we’ll get ‘Brooklyn College sucks, it’s the worst place. I’ve been to prisons that are nicer.’ Alright, that’s fine. Thank you for voicing that.”

At the end of the day, “half of what we do is for the community,” Hasbini said. “We’re all here because students pay to go here. So, if we’re not in touch with what they’re doing, then what are we doing?”

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