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, thatsocial media manager may very well be the most misunderstood, under resource, reductive, entirely miss named, tactically mismanaged title in Higher Ed. Marcom you're listeningto enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for highereducation leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're lookingfor fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come tothe right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network. I'm Eric Olsenwith Helix Education, and we're here today with Joseph Master, Assistant Vice Presidentof 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 youtoday 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 backgroundon both Drexel University and your rule there? Oh, absolutely so. My Name'sJoe Master, AVP Marketing Digital Strategy for Drexel. In my role forthe central communications team, I over see a team that manages the brand forDrexel. So we oversee front and web development in social media management, governanceall paid media initiatives, the governance of those initiatives, brand elevation campaign calledambition. Can't wait. A few other things I'm probably forgetting. The DUXEL'sare very, very different kind of university. We run on the quarter system andwe have a cooperative education program which is our, I guess, uniqueselling point in a very crowded market. Love it. Appreciate the background,Joe, to kick us off today.

Talk about losing your social media stratajust in the middle of the pandemic, the non ideal timing of that lossand 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 aboutthis pandemic has been ideal or even, I guess, marginally, tolerable forso many people were probably going to be listening to this. It was crisiscomes 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 strategistsgoing 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 itright now. We had never actually had a social media position on this centralteam and it always has been duties not otherwise assigned, which again is notideal. And coming into the role I'm in now, which has been aroundfour years. In this role, I...

...spent a lot of time advocating forsocial 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 oneweek then we would usually over an entire term. Not only were we dealingwith 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 justgeneral anger so many people felt, and social was the front line and wewere 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 andthey just slept on the floor and the terminal and like they woke up attheir mouth stuck to the rug and they just waited in the longest line everto finally get on the plane and they think the stewardess just gave them adirty look or said something sarcastic and they...

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

Talk about this social media consortium thatyou 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 justmanage social but deal with this massive information dissemination operation that our university and allothers had become. I mean, I can't state this enough. It wasnearly every day where, I think across the country, universities were all comingto grips with what do we need to comment on at this moment? Andthere was a lot to comment on. So it was very tactical at first. It is okay, who wants to manage each channel? Okay, inthe time that we need to get these messages out, who's going to designit? We had templates for instagram stories, for instance, and then I wouldchop up the words always, and...

I had told the team at thetime I'm going to do this, I'm not ever going to ask you totake these official statements and chop them up, but I even got into, Iguess, unhealthy spot with chopping the language up because I wasn't asking theteam 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 todisseminate this. And like one day I actually ask what do you think?And like they disagreed with me and they were absolutely right. So, youknow, maybe I had a bad case of founder Itis, but you know, it was very liberating. It's like, Oh, thank God, I don'twant to do the same more so. And so from then on I stoppedasking and then the problem solved. So I mean that was we're talkingmore in a year ago at this point, right. But what ended up happeningis that now, when we do have a full time employee with socialmedia in the title and plays and this consource from still in place, there'sa weekly standing check in meeting. We...

...even have the individual who runs socialfor admissions accounts who joins our weekly stand up meeting and it's great. It'sgreat to see so many different new buckets of content coming out from this collectiveteam. So I think it's so helping to understand how you've valued the couldn'tsouria model from a talent standpoint in a world where we're asking one person torun social for our university. What are all of those talents, tax thoseunicornesque 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'mgoing to just swing the position on the soapbox so ID for you. Ithink, Mr Olson, that social media manager may very well be the mostmisunderstood, under resourced, reductive, entirely miss named, tactically mismanaged title andHigher Ed Marco on to manage social for...

...our institutions. Someone, let's seeif I get the list right, has to do PR digital marketing, crisisCOMS, executive COMMS, community building, community outreach, institutional research, tosome measure, events, photography, video design. And that's just by Mondayafternoon. I'm probably missing things too. I could add in GDP are expertat this point. Right. These roles have been so reduced since they firstcame around, and I know this because I was the first wave of socialmedia 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 jobdescriptions are typical, Higher Ed, siloed and minimizing. It's that we haven'teven begun to tap or social media professionals for the painfully of what they canactually 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 allin separate silos. We already have folks doing media relations, we already haveentire 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 verticalsand 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 overat a university of Pittsburgh, my Alma Mater. She posted a social mediaposition with executive director and the title, and we need more of that andI almost don't like the words social media at this point. These are websiteson the Internet and these are sites that we don't own but that we payfor with our data. And you know, facebook is in the congressional hot seatthis week when our schools had to go remote during covid our students andparents and alumni. They were letting US...

...know via social media if they thoughtwe handled it right or wrong. The facebook changes this month alone in termsof 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. Allright, soapbox dismount. I love it. You can get back on there anytime. I'm silently cheering you. So, Joe, after living in this worldfor a while now, nearly a year, give us the pros andcons of this shared services approach to social media moving forward. All right,so first two heads are really better than one, and not because, youknow, they're infallible, to quote C S Lewis, but because they areunlikely to go wrong in the same direction. Now this is really important because whenI was a social media manager, I didn't have to face what we'refacing now. Like there's a lot going on, I you know. Ijust soap boxed it for you. Being...

...able to vet ideas through the lensof Multiple Smart People on a team who are coming to social from completely differentmindsets is you know, that's the tide that rises all boats, and weneed that for social. We have it with our other verticals. We havea team, a digital marketers are all talking about what should we do withthe 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 reallyimportant for social to have as many eyes and ears, all the senses onit, because you know they're reach you know, I'll raise your email deliveryand open rates by the million of impressions we would get in a month oninstagram stories for covid content. That's insane. So I'm having a hard time comingup with cons Er. Yeah, I think that the the implicit conhere would just be that, as I said, this was not some actof Brilliance, this was an act of...

...necessity. I think the CON isthat 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 dothings like built consortiums to do it right. Joe, really great stuff. Finally, any next steps? Advice Prince Ductions who might be dealing with thesame 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 consortiumapproach works really well and you know, as we continue to scale up socialI don't think we'll ever turn back from having people who might not have itas their number one platform that they're responsible for owning, but as people ona team of peers and respected colleagues who are helping each other for the commongood. I just think that that's a great model. While that does workwell, 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 firstpiece of advice is to advocate for the full time staff for social and andto do so in a way I guess that speaks to the value of socialfor the entire organization rather than just Markom because if the goals are just yourteam's marketing or communications goals, a lot of times that's not going to beenough of an incentive to get the buy in that you need. You haveto kind of reframe how you make that pitch. Would you have a publicationwithout a single person as editor? Would you bucket media relations under duties,not otherwise assigned. How about analytics? Is that a job you can springon the lay person? You know, I could just go down and addanalogy. So I think it takes. You know, it takes making acase. You know, I'm a big fan of the memo. I don'tknow if they still exist and other organizations,...

...but I happen to benefit from havinga pretty great boss and I have sat down and put pen to paperand, 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 toback it up, contextualize it for the organization rather than your tower withinthe organization, it's got, I guess, some longer legs. Also, I'drecommend reading as much about there and a plug for lives gross in campussonar. But yeah, I'd read up on all of as much as youcan because it's important. Joe, thanks so much for your time today andyes, Liz gross in the team of campus sonar are amazing and friends ofthe show. Joe. What's the best place for listeners to reach out ifthey have any follow up questions? You can check me out on twitter atJoseph 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 datadriven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrivein this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition oftheir enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solvetoday'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 ensurethat you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favoritepodcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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