There are many demands on your time and focus when you are in charge of social media for your school.
Social media is 24/7.
Social never stops.
It’s demanding. It’s difficult.
That’s why it’s so important to develop practical strategies to manage this part of any social media job unless you want to turn into a zombie.
The 12 higher ed presenters of the 5th Higher Ed Social Media Conference have agreed to share with us their own practical strategies.
Check these 12 takes on how to manage social media in higher ed while keeping your sanity – all approaches tested by your higher ed colleagues.
Unplug from social media – Erin Supinka, Assistant Director of Digital Engagement at Dartmouth College
I find it absolutely necessary to unplug.
Whether it’s an hour a day, a block of time once a week, or an entire day a few times a month, it’s important to disconnect and unwind.
Set up someone to monitor the channels or skip posting that day (oh no!) to limit the number of times you check in. It’s so easy to get burnt out, especially following times of high tension (politics, crises, etc.).
Finally, I set aside blocks of times and boundaries for myself. I block off the first two hours of my day to prep content for the day or reward myself with thirty minutes of a task I really love working on in between the ones I don’t like as much. It works for me, so give it a try!
Develop good habits & set boundaries – Rebecca Stapley, Assistant Director, Multimedia & PR at Nazareth College
The struggle is certainly real for me in this area, but I try to lean on my habits, organizational systems and boundaries. Several things work for me:
- Batch processing email and smaller tasks at specific times of the day.
- Knowing when I do my best thinking/productive work and then blocking that time out on my calendar, shutting my door, closing out unneeded tabs/distractions, so I can get to it. I also make an intentional effort to single task, rather than multi-task and to break things down into really small doable chunks when needed.
- Another practice I have adopted this year is blocking off Friday’s for “non-essential” meeting requests that come outside of our MarComm dept. I also think that understanding big picture priorities and giving myself permission to re-arrange accordingly has been huge in creating the space I need to be creative and thrive in my job. I’m a huge believer in planning time to be “offline.” It is so refreshing and essential to get away in the mountains with no cell service on the occasional weekend – with plenty of advance notice and a backup, of course.
- The way I start my day has a huge impact on my well being and energy. Each morning I rise early and spend some time without my phone to enjoy my coffee, silence, and the company of my ginger cat before diving into the digital flow. My morning rituals help ground me, and I definitely don’t feel as flexible and focused without them!
Schedule focused “work time” – Jessica Stutt , Integrated Marketing Manager at the University of New Brunswick
I absolutely recognize the challenge of fitting social media measurement and analysis into our day, particularly making time to analyze results and optimize based on those findings and also taking the time to update your skill set and stay on top of trends.
Both of these are incredibly important but easily dropped when things get busy. I’ve written a blog post on how to integrate measurement and reporting in a busy schedule.
I’ve also started to schedule “work time” into my week to make sure my schedule doesn’t end up booked up with meetings. This helps me ensure I keep some on my focus on those longer-term projects, including staying updated on best practices, moving forward!
Rely on your team – Nikki Sunstrum, Director of Social Media at the University of Michigan
We have a saying at Michigan: The Team, The Team, The Team.
I am very grateful to have the honor of working with and leading some brilliant social communications professionals.
The phenomenal content and strategy U-M implements each day is a direct reflection of our collective talent and dedication to collaboration.
Stay flexible & trust your team – Jacob Schupbach, Social Media Specialist at the University at Buffalo
My team of interns can tell you that I run on two things: a very carefully curated Google calendar and Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
I would say that the ability to remain flexible and adaptable under any circumstance is also very useful. At any time, you need to be able to pivot from customer service, to graphic design, to photography, to copywriting, and so on and so forth. It’s certainly no easy task, but it’s the name of the game in social.
I place complete trust in my team and they never cease to amaze me with what they can do. I manage a team of six assisting with content creation and analytics. Starting on day one, each student has full access to all of our social channels. This trust gives them the confidence that they can help manage our channels effectively and efficiently. Social media shouldn’t be a solo job. Our diverse and creative team elevates our content day in and day out.
Define a content strategy – Angi Roberts, Information Services Manager at the University of Guelph
Developing an overall digital strategy and shaping the role for social media is essential. Developing a content strategy as a foundation for social media communications is key.
By having these as a solid framework, my team is able to keep coming back to it to ensure we’re on the right track. A content strategy acts as a guide. We also have to remain flexible; sometimes our content has to shift based on what’s happening on campus or in the world. But having a plan and using Hootsuite Professional helps keep us on the right track and not overwhelmed.
Collaborate with the help of calendars – Dr Corie Martin, Digital Marketing Director at Western Kentucky University
This year I have relied heavily on two key elements to help me manage my time and focus: content calendars and strategy meetings with our internal news and marketing team as well as the group we call our “Marketing Super Users,” all key influencers across campus. Calendaring has been crucial to helping us stay on task with our monthly thematic content and communication workflow.
Each week our internal team meets to look for coverage opportunities across campus. Monthly we meet with our Super Users to share ideas, go over upcoming events and to plan how we can crosspost or promote our collective outreach efforts. It truly takes a village.
Collaborate with meetings & tools – Holly Hill, Director of Web and New Media Services at Flagler College
Your audience will let you know when you’ve gotten off track, so it’s imperative that you stay focused with social media.
As a digital team, we have weekly creative meetings to discuss what we want to cover in relation to the College’s goals as well as any trends that we may be able to capitalize on. We also use products such as DivvyHQ to document what will be covered on which channels and at which time, as well as Google Drive to create a shared space for ideas and reporting.
On top of the challenges managing multiple digital channels, I’m a professional procrastinator (the joys of being an ENFP personality), so I have certain tricks to keep me on task: traditional “to-do” desktop notebooks, Outlook reminders, and Slack to name a few. I also have two incredibly talented teammates and together we keep each other on track.
Use your calendar strategically – AJ Lopez III, Social Media Coordinator at Midwestern State University
Between semesters our social media office creates a calendar that encompasses all of the major events we will promote or create content for the upcoming semester. Each semester is about four months long, so we have to meet with administration and student leaders to know what we should expect during this period of time. This creates what we call a social media bible that we may refer back to when we are flooded by requests to cover events. It helps us stay on message with our university brand.
We also plan in some small breaks in between the calendar to keep us fresh throughout the long semester. Half a day of unplugging does wonders for you mentally.
Repurpose and amplify content – Dominique Benjamin, Communications Coordinator at Texas A&M University
Being in admissions communications, my work is very much results-oriented.
With that in mind, I prioritize projects where our resources are best spent: keeping an eye out for user-generated content that can be repurposed, engaging with admitted students, and creating excitement for the incoming freshman class.
Through it all, it helps to collaborate with campus partners.
Plan weekly content & use smartphones – Andrew Twist, Digital Content Producer at The University of Sheffield
Social media managers are faced with the challenge of managing more platforms than ever for their organisation and so managing time and focus is increasingly important. Our approach at the University of Sheffield starts with the fundamentals of planning and communication.
We use Trello to create our weekly content plan – this breaks down our key stories, who is responsible for them and which platforms we will be using. We also have planning meetings twice a week with other sections of the Department of Corporate Communications to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of priorities and focus.
Increasingly we are also using technology to make our social media content production more efficient. For instance, we now regularly use smartphones and gimbals to speed up video production and quickly create content that can work across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Finally, we are also using insights and analytics as often as possible to better understand our audience and the impact of our content to improve our ability to effectively get the right messages, to the right people via the right channels.
Use tools to review & schedule – Holly Sherburne, Director of Digital and Social Media at Bowdoin College
At Bowdoin, I’m fortunate to have a person whose role is primarily dedicated to social media, so I’m not as deeply involved in the day-to-day as I used to be.
However, we both use tools – such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck for Twitter – that make it easy to review what’s happening on the various platforms. I also use a social listening tool to monitor sentiment and look for trends.
I have the software configured to alert me if there’s a significant change in sentiment or if key terms or important people (such as our president) are mentioned on social media or in various feeds and networks.
In a very practical way, I also turn off email and schedule meeting-free blocks on my calendar.
A conference focusing on higher ed social media?
The Higher Ed Social Media Conference is a must-attend event for higher ed social media professionals and teams looking for new ideas and best practices.
Watch below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the past editions of the Higher Ed Social Media Conference say about their experience.