You’re cruising through the campus economy parking lots 15 minutes before class, but no luck.

What are you gonna do? Try Twitter for the real-time lowdown on where spaces are available, along with information on Metro bus passes, updates on flooding around campus—that came in handy this spring and summer—plans for a new parking garage and more.

The University’s main social media platforms tell the campus story—events, awards, research, student activities. But the colleges and divisions, along with research labs and academic programs, also use various platforms to keep their audiences up to date.

“NCALM Data at Work,” one post begins on the Facebook page for the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping, a national research center located in the Cullen College of Engineering. Just click to read about the use of airborne LiDAR—light detection and ranging—mapping of the area around a California highway closed by landslides.

Colleges post vintage photos for Throwback Thursday, announce application deadlines for scholarships and showcase faculty featured in the news media.

Social media is one of the best ways to communicate with students, said Marilyn Jones, manager of Marketing and Communications for the College of Technology, which has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. “We get a lot of student interaction when we post.”

Students are more likely to see—and respond to—information on social media than when it’s only available on the college website, she said.

The strategies are all part of what Leighanne Dean, who handles social media for Parking and Transportation Services, describes as having “a voice in the conversation.” The division is active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

“Students are already talking about parking on campus,” Dean said. “So are visitors, faculty and staff. We want to have a bigger role in that conversation.”

The division has ramped up its social media presence lately, offering a mix of fun posts and serious announcements.

“It’s brought visibility to the department,” Dean said. “People are better able to engage with us when they see the data.”