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#WarwickLoveInterview1: An exclusive interview with the students behind Warwick Love

Sitting in the very place the team set up the iconic ‘Warwick Love’, I had a conversation with the faces behind Warwick’s most trend-setting and culture-moving Facebook page.

On the ground floor of the Oculus, where four months previously the boys had sat down with a couple of pizzas and watched the page grow in a matter of minutes, I was told about the daily challenge of managing a page with anywhere between 200 and 250 submissions a day, and over 6,500 followers and 5,000 likes.

What was once just a spur of the moment idea influenced by other universities’ pages has now become a very well-known platform on campus for students to find love, laughs and a longed for distraction from studying and exam stress, and it was interesting to see how they’d handled the page’s success.

Whilst The Boar has been asked by the boys not to reveal their identities, we have used their initials in the spirit of Warwick Love. We can, however, reveal what the experience has been like for our secret cupids and their plans for the future… including a potential merchandise launch.

Katie Tarrant (The Boar): So, how’s it feel to have developed such a successful social media page?

PH: It’s funny because in the beginning I personally didn’t think it was going to work, but it was his idea. I remember you [the other admin] said how other universities have it, so why wouldn’t it work for us? But at first I did think it was a stupid idea.

OH: I really felt like Warwick had a great atmosphere for it, with the campus uni lifestyle here where you go to POP!, Smack, Neon, but at the end of the day you have so much free time, and I think when you’re sitting around in your kitchen or whatever, maybe just before you’re about to eat dinner, it’s a good topic of conversation. So the day we started we said we’d go to the Oculus, plan it all out, and I said to him let’s start it right now and he was like oh no.

PH: I was concerned that we wouldn’t have enough reach and it wouldn’t work.

OH: But I was like trust me, this will work at Warwick and people will pick it up. So we ordered some pizzas and, by the time we’d finished eating our Domino’s, we had 100 likes on the page.

PH: And even though we only started it back in February, I think it’s embedded in the culture now.

OH: Like it’s just so crazy when I walk past someone and I see they’ve got Warwick Love open on their phone.

PH: A couple of weeks ago actually I was sitting in the library and this one guy had just told his friend that he had made a Warwick Love, and I was sitting with my friends at the time the notification popped up on my phone and he’s telling his friend and I’m literally reading it out word for word at the same time as him.

OH: And it’s just also great to see when I’m sitting in the library and I look up and it’s on multiple screens and people are sitting there going through the posts, it makes me so happy that people are using it.

We get easily between 200 and 250 post submissions a day, but the 2am-5am slot on a Wednesday after POP! is always when we receive a heavy flow of submissions

KT: How did you come up with the name?

OH: Honestly, we saw UCLove (UCL’s version of the page) and we wanted to make something catchy with ‘Warwick’ in it. We thought of a couple of names but we wanted the direct approach, making it obvious what the page is about. We did initially consider ‘WarLove’, but we thought it didn’t really make sense.

KT: How time-consuming is it managing the page?

PH: Very time-consuming! We had to ask a friend to help us out after a while as it is very time-consuming. I remember in the beginning I used to have notification alerts on my phone, and I was seeing a girl at the time. We’d be watching a movie or whatever and so often I would just hear this ‘ping’ and I would check my phone. She actually had to sit me down and say ‘this has got to stop, you need to turn those notifications off’. It had got addictive after a while.

KT: But it must be so interesting; I know I wouldn’t be able to stop myself checking every time one came in. How’s it been trying to keep the balance between studying and Warwick Love?

OH: I would definitely say I’ve decided to post Warwick Love submissions more than I’ve chosen to study. I was like, you know what, what’s more important to me, and we get so many posts through to the extent that if it’s not PH posting them and our friend can’t help us out, it’s got to be me. People are always asking when their submission is going to be posted, they always message the page to ask why it hasn’t been posted yet, even if it’s only been an hour, but I’m like right okay, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.

We have plans to develop some merch, like a Warwick Love hoodie with the person’s initials on the back

KT: So, are either of you interested in a career in social media?

PH: We’ve been thinking we could definitely use our experience for an internship or something.

OH: Yeah, and you see when we first started we actually thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was, it’s a lot harder than most people think. Most people seem to think that you just press a submit button, but actually to make and maintain the page is a lot more difficult. And we really want to make sure that what we set out to do stays the way it is.

PH: We’ve got into the groove of it now but it hasn’t been easy, like we’ve got a lot of submissions where people suggest we should post more about this or that, and sometimes it’s hard to make the decision about whether we should post more of different stuff.

KT: Would you say you have a mission statement or a set direction for the page?

OH: Just generally love and positivity really. We just want it to be something happy, like there’s a lot of negativity on other universities’ versions of our page and we think its just nice to have a positive vibe and community.

KT: How many post requests do you think on average you get each day?

PH: Easily between 200 and 250, although, in all fairness, it did go down during exam season.

OH: But then there was a spike during exams because people seemed to start seeing people that they fancied at the library, and that’s where the whole floor five thing came up. It felt like Warwick Love kind of encouraged people to go to floor five as, based on submissions, people seemed to prefer going there. If you wanted to see someone that you fancied, then you’d hope to see them on floor five.

PH: It’s so funny though, the 2am-5am slot on a Wednesday after POP! is always when we receive a heavy flow of submissions. And our sleep schedules are so crazy, like there’s always one of us awake near enough at all times, because sometimes we get submissions at like 3am on a normal night.

It’s interesting I think to compare the culture in different universities. Like I think Warwick is a very positive place. I would say its very sexually driven

KT: Do you have any plans to develop the page further?

OH: Hopefully, merch. We’re not thinking in a stereotypical way of like random things that say ‘Warwick Love’ on them, but instead something more defining of the individual. So for example a hoodie that on the front said something like ‘Make a Warwick Love about me?’, and they can have their initials on the back so its easier for the submissions to be directed towards the person. It would be so much easier to identify the person, and we think it could really take off.

PH: On top of that we started a couple of other pages as other unis have done, and it’s interesting I think to compare the culture in different places. Like I think Warwick is a very positive place. I would say its very sexually driven, like if you saw all the submissions honestly, you’d understand. But say for example you take LSE Love, it’s so negative in comparison to our page; they always seem to be complaining about the university.

KT: Sometimes we do see quite dark and depressing submissions on the page, how do you handle those?

PH: I’d rather not comment. But we do manage WarwickFessions too, and the current social welfare officer at SU helps us out. With these kinds of post I just think maybe they can’t talk to friends or family, but the post is anonymous so I think it’s much better for them. But we do get paragraphs about how people are struggling.

KT: Do you guys have a favourite or most memorable post?

PH: I remember when we first started out there was this one post about a Korean guy in the library, I can’t remember the exact details but it was a big paragraph, and I remember it because at the time it was one of our first posts that got more than two likes. We actually started the page back in February of this year here in the Oculus, on the day before the Super Bowl, and back then we’d get so excited if a post got over 10 likes.

KT: So what’s the average number of likes a post will get now?

OH: If we get over 300 we will class it as a good post. Sometimes we make posts ourselves because we know what the culture at Warwick is like, so we’ll make something that’s relatable to everyone and we know that that will do well. But that’s a rare occurrence, I’d say out of the like 10,000 posts we have we’ve done that about 15 times. On average, I’d say we get about 200 likes but sometimes we can get up to 500, but comments are important as well.

KT: Where do you draw the line with the submissions you get?

OH: Anything negative really, we just really want to stay away from that and Facebook has community guidelines anyway, where certain words trigger algorithms. I’ve actually been blocked about 15 times, because sometimes you post things that you don’t even think is bad or going to be blocked, but because Facebook is so much stricter nowadays I’ve had up to like 30 day bans in the past. Even though I post it through the page, because I’m the admin it still blocks my personal Facebook. Half the time, I can’t even describe it and I’m so confused as to why I’ve been blocked but there’s just been one word that the algorithms have picked up and blocked, it won’t even be that someone has reported it and you can’t appeal it. So over time we’ve had to be more and more careful, and that’s why when some people ask us why we didn’t post something we just have to say, although we can’t explain it, we know what to look out for now, after 10,000 posts, and we just know that the post will be blocked.

We just want it to be something happy, and we hope it adds a nice positive vibe to the university

KT: How do you decide what to post in terms of things that don’t concern love?

OH: Initially we wanted to keep Warwick Love just love-based, and we’ve had a couple of disputes over submissions, because if you look at other pages like UC Love for example, they’ve chosen to change it and stray from just love into politics as well, or any controversial stuff that’s happening at the time.

PH: We had this one post that caused a dispute very early on.

OH: I said keep it just love submissions.

PH: I said we should have other things, like when people want to complain about Circuit laundry for example.

OH: And I think on that level it’s fine, but when it comes to stuff like the group chat incident, for example, people can get upset about it, not everyone sees eye to eye, it creates arguments and we just don’t want that. You can see that there was a lot of negativity towards them and there was a lot of support too, but I guess there are other places for people to talk about that kind of thing.

We are happy with the page so far and I think we’ve got things to look forward to

KT: So what do you guys think of other versions of Warwick Love? Do you think you’re the best?

OH: So when we first started I had a look and I said to him, there were two main ones at the time – UCL and Oxford. Let’s look at what they’re doing and see if we can make it work for Warwick. We didn’t know at the time but we realised that each university has their own culture, and then even though we thought that’s where we want to be one day, we realised later that actually they were copying some of our posts too. At one point we actually had some conflict with UEA where they tried to go against us for no reason, saying that our version of the page wasn’t good and that our name wasn’t creative.

PH: Yeah and then they posted a picture of a battle from 1410 to kind of end the argument, and there was like a big army versus a small man, and they captioned the small man Warwick Love and they were the big army. But actually the history of the picture was that the little man won the battle against the big army, which they hadn’t realised because they’d clearly just typed something.

KT: What’s your favourite type of post to create?

PH: Definitely the ranking ones, they’re always funny. And it’s usually us who post them, but after we do we do get people submitting their own versions and it’s nice to see that we can set the trend. It’s also a way of testing the platform to see what will work and what won’t work.

KT: Do you think there’s anything other than rankings that you’d quite like to try?

PH: We’re not sure yet, because as of now our submission system can only do things like images and text, but if we can make it so people can submit gifs and things too I think that’d be pretty cool.

OH: The reason we set up these other pages too, despite how time consuming they may be, is that we do have an end goal, we do have a lot of plans for things over summer, and we’re hoping we can do something with the reach that we have. And there’s some stuff we think that the Facebook guidelines may think aren’t acceptable, but we think we can work around it. We’re thinking as well about a more responsive reply feature, something different to messages we get sometimes saying “thank you” or “it worked for me, I found the person”. Oh yeah another funny thing is where we get stuff through the Facebook page itself so then we know who they are, which can sometimes be quite embarrassing for them.

PH: Other pages have actually done stuff like dating events at their universities, like Durham for example.

KT: Well you maybe you two could be Warwick’s next matchmakers and turn Warwick Love into a proper dating event. Any last comments?

OH: It’s like you said, it just feels like it’s been around for ages and it’s hard to remember everything that’s happened over these past few months. But we are happy with the page so far and I think we’ve got things to look forward to.

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