Social Media Consortium vs. Manager at Drexel University

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Joseph Master, Assistant Vice President, Marketing & Digital Strategy at Drexel University, joins the podcast to discuss the pros and cons of a shared services approach to social media management and why social media manager is the most misunderstood role in higher ed marcom.

I think, Mr Olson, that social media manager may very well be the most misunderstood, under resource, reductive, entirely miss named, tactically mismanaged title in Higher Ed. Marcom you're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education, and we're here today with Joseph Master, Assistant Vice President of marketing and digital strategy at Drexel University.

Joe, welcome to the show. Thank you very much for having me. Are Really excited to talk to you today about the pros and cons of a shared services approach to social media. But before we dig in, can you give the listeners a little background on both Drexel University and your rule there? Oh, absolutely so. My Name's Joe Master, AVP Marketing Digital Strategy for Drexel. In my role for the central communications team, I over see a team that manages the brand for Drexel. So we oversee front and web development in social media management, governance all paid media initiatives, the governance of those initiatives, brand elevation campaign called ambition. Can't wait. A few other things I'm probably forgetting. The DUXEL's are very, very different kind of university. We run on the quarter system and we have a cooperative education program which is our, I guess, unique selling point in a very crowded market. Love it. Appreciate the background, Joe, to kick us off today.

Talk about losing your social media strata just in the middle of the pandemic, the non ideal timing of that loss and the the larger question it forced you with. Okay, so let's see. Let's see. Where do I start into this story? So nothing about this pandemic has been ideal or even, I guess, marginally, tolerable for so many people were probably going to be listening to this. It was crisis comes all the time, which at some point means it's not crisis anymore, it's just this is comms now, right. Yeah, so our social media strategists going into the pandemic was actually a really phenomenal graduate student and she graduated. Shout out to Dana Glaze, by the way. I'm she's crushing it right now. We had never actually had a social media position on this central team and it always has been duties not otherwise assigned, which again is not ideal. And coming into the role I'm in now, which has been around four years. In this role, I...

...spent a lot of time advocating for social in general and FTEE in particular. This is at a time when Drexel, like most university, was releasing more official statements from the president in one week then we would usually over an entire term. Not only were we dealing with Covid we were dealing with the racial injustice protests on the streets of Philadelphia, the city we call home, calls to defund the police, and just general anger so many people felt, and social was the front line and we were getting absolutely crushed and people were very unhappy. In talking about this, I kind of liken it to when someone's flight gets delayed like five times and they just slept on the floor and the terminal and like they woke up at their mouth stuck to the rug and they just waited in the longest line ever to finally get on the plane and they think the stewardess just gave them a dirty look or said something sarcastic and they...

...flip out. It wasn't about the stewardess, it was about the situation. Yeah, and on social as any social media manager can tell you, we've all been the stewardess. We had already established this method of disseminating presidential messages for each social channel, with instagram stories being like the biggest, most visible bowl, one that required the most work, and I made a point to dissect each message for each channel and I told my staff I never asked them to do that, that I personally do it. But when we lost our social media strategists, you know, this was not some active genius Eric. This was, you know, keep the lights on tactic. At first it was okay, who from the team wants to step in? So our digital content designer Lauren, our SEO analyst Nigel and online content writer George stepped in. It was supposed to be a stock gap, but it became a bridge kind of that we're still using today. Yeah, let's talk about that, because now, whether it was it was an accident or your brilliant for sight.

Talk about this social media consortium that you established semi organically and how you run social today at Drexel. Okay, so the idea originally was to get together and to say, okay, we're down somebody. We need to have a smart way that we don't just manage social but deal with this massive information dissemination operation that our university and all others had become. I mean, I can't state this enough. It was nearly every day where, I think across the country, universities were all coming to grips with what do we need to comment on at this moment? And there was a lot to comment on. So it was very tactical at first. It is okay, who wants to manage each channel? Okay, in the time that we need to get these messages out, who's going to design it? We had templates for instagram stories, for instance, and then I would chop up the words always, and...

I had told the team at the time I'm going to do this, I'm not ever going to ask you to take these official statements and chop them up, but I even got into, I guess, unhealthy spot with chopping the language up because I wasn't asking the team for their input or their feedback. I was just saying, Hey, everyone, here's what to post on each channel and we would use slack to disseminate this. And like one day I actually ask what do you think? And like they disagreed with me and they were absolutely right. So, you know, maybe I had a bad case of founder Itis, but you know, it was very liberating. It's like, Oh, thank God, I don't want to do the same more so. And so from then on I stopped asking and then the problem solved. So I mean that was we're talking more in a year ago at this point, right. But what ended up happening is that now, when we do have a full time employee with social media in the title and plays and this consource from still in place, there's a weekly standing check in meeting. We...

...even have the individual who runs social for admissions accounts who joins our weekly stand up meeting and it's great. It's great to see so many different new buckets of content coming out from this collective team. So I think it's so helping to understand how you've valued the couldn't souria model from a talent standpoint in a world where we're asking one person to run social for our university. What are all of those talents, tax those unicornesque specialties that were really asking them to be great at all? Right, so you can't see it, but I just took out my soapbox and I'm going to just swing the position on the soapbox so ID for you. I think, Mr Olson, that social media manager may very well be the most misunderstood, under resourced, reductive, entirely miss named, tactically mismanaged title and Higher Ed Marco on to manage social for...

...our institutions. Someone, let's see if I get the list right, has to do PR digital marketing, crisis COMS, executive COMMS, community building, community outreach, institutional research, to some measure, events, photography, video design. And that's just by Monday afternoon. I'm probably missing things too. I could add in GDP are expert at this point. Right. These roles have been so reduced since they first came around, and I know this because I was the first wave of social media managers, you know, in high red more than a decade ago. It's not us that their true scope is expansive, whilst their titles and job descriptions are typical, Higher Ed, siloed and minimizing. It's that we haven't even begun to tap or social media professionals for the painfully of what they can actually bring to the table in terms of digital marking, PR social listening, community building. And that's the why they're...

...it's simple. It's because we're all in separate silos. We already have folks doing media relations, we already have entire titles to do with digital marketing. I'm one of them, designers, videographers. So like social media lives as this horizontal that cuts through these verticals and we tend to build towers and higher ed rather than the bridges right. Recently I was really jazz. I saw Kate Ledger, who's an AVP over at a university of Pittsburgh, my Alma Mater. She posted a social media position with executive director and the title, and we need more of that and I almost don't like the words social media at this point. These are websites on the Internet and these are sites that we don't own but that we pay for with our data. And you know, facebook is in the congressional hot seat this week when our schools had to go remote during covid our students and parents and alumni. They were letting US...

...know via social media if they thought we handled it right or wrong. The facebook changes this month alone in terms of targeting, requires someone to be a social media researcher on the daily. It's too much. So Dec I see to be taken very seriously. All right, soapbox dismount. I love it. You can get back on there anytime. I'm silently cheering you. So, Joe, after living in this world for a while now, nearly a year, give us the pros and cons of this shared services approach to social media moving forward. All right, so first two heads are really better than one, and not because, you know, they're infallible, to quote C S Lewis, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. Now this is really important because when I was a social media manager, I didn't have to face what we're facing now. Like there's a lot going on, I you know. I just soap boxed it for you. Being...

...able to vet ideas through the lens of Multiple Smart People on a team who are coming to social from completely different mindsets is you know, that's the tide that rises all boats, and we need that for social. We have it with our other verticals. We have a team, a digital marketers are all talking about what should we do with the media mix this year? We have a team, we have SEO people, and by we I mean the collective way. I think that it's really important for social to have as many eyes and ears, all the senses on it, because you know they're reach you know, I'll raise your email delivery and open rates by the million of impressions we would get in a month on instagram stories for covid content. That's insane. So I'm having a hard time coming up with cons Er. Yeah, I think that the the implicit con here would just be that, as I said, this was not some act of Brilliance, this was an act of...

...necessity. I think the CON is that if we had, you know, the collective we again the budgets, resources and understanding to fully stack out social teams, we wouldn't have to do things like built consortiums to do it right. Joe, really great stuff. Finally, any next steps? Advice Prince Ductions who might be dealing with the same issue where they have grand teams helping to do this or even leading it, thinking about how to staff their social media responsibilities for their long term. How should they think about that? All right, so, while the consortium approach works really well and you know, as we continue to scale up social I don't think we'll ever turn back from having people who might not have it as their number one platform that they're responsible for owning, but as people on a team of peers and respected colleagues who are helping each other for the common good. I just think that that's a great model. While that does work well, you still need at least that...

...one role dedicated to social media. You need someone to drive it and own it. So I guess my first piece of advice is to advocate for the full time staff for social and and to do so in a way I guess that speaks to the value of social for the entire organization rather than just Markom because if the goals are just your team's marketing or communications goals, a lot of times that's not going to be enough of an incentive to get the buy in that you need. You have to kind of reframe how you make that pitch. Would you have a publication without a single person as editor? Would you bucket media relations under duties, not otherwise assigned. How about analytics? Is that a job you can spring on the lay person? You know, I could just go down and add analogy. So I think it takes. You know, it takes making a case. You know, I'm a big fan of the memo. I don't know if they still exist and other organizations,...

...but I happen to benefit from having a pretty great boss and I have sat down and put pen to paper and, you know, said here's what I'm thinking. What do you think? And you know, in my experience, if you can use the data to back it up, contextualize it for the organization rather than your tower within the organization, it's got, I guess, some longer legs. Also, I'd recommend reading as much about there and a plug for lives gross in campus sonar. But yeah, I'd read up on all of as much as you can because it's important. Joe, thanks so much for your time today and yes, Liz gross in the team of campus sonar are amazing and friends of the show. Joe. What's the best place for listeners to reach out if they have any follow up questions? You can check me out on twitter at Joseph J master. My Name Awesome Joe, thanks so much for joining us today. Oh, absolutely. Thanks so much for having me, Eric. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting...

...new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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