by Sarah McMaster
Mount Wachusett Community College
As marketing and communications professionals, we all wear many hats. These days one of those might be as a social media administrator for your college. Wear it with pride! Whether social media was dropped in your lap or has always been among your primary responsibilities, time management is key for both effectiveness and sanity in the 24/7/365 world of online content.
As the director of new media for my college, community management is one of my primary duties, and I take it pretty seriously. Not only am I a front-line responder to Facebook comments, funny tweets, and shared YouTube videos, but I am also tasked with developing and implementing high-level strategic initiatives that move my college forward in the Web 2.0 ecosystem. All these things take time, so I have developed, crash tested, and (hopefully) honed effective time-management tips that help me accomplish what my office-mates often attribute to a small army of elves I keep hidden in my office. My elves have dutifully agreed that I can share these tips with you, my NCMPR colleagues:
1. It’s OK to schedule content, but always leave room for spontaneity.
Tools like HootSuite, Tweetdeck, and Facebook’s built-in scheduling feature are really helpful, but if this is your primary, or even sole, means to post content, you’re missing the boat. Savvy audience members know the difference between manually entered posts and those that are scheduled, possibly giving the impression that your college lacks authenticity. Allow time in your day to be spontaneous. You never know when hilarious news, an important campus happening, or a crisis are around the corner and will require time dedicated to your social media channels.
2. Take the time to prepare an editorial calendar of sorts.
Amid all your spontaneity, have a plan! While a social media version of an editorial calendar is a horse of a very different color, it’s still a good idea to have a basic framework in place. Mine includes reminders for obscure holidays, my ongoing “Friday Fill in the Blank” series, dates from our academic calendar and the student success events that mesh with those dates, social media blasts that coordinate with my division’s multi-channel marketing and enrollment campaigns, and pertinent contextual data such as intended audience, channel (Facebook v. Twitter) and any keywords or URL tag information. Having this calendar balances the time I have to spend being spontaneous with the time I can allot to more methodical and strategic communications. It also allows me to condense preparation into one block of up-front work.
3. Delegate and decentralize where and when appropriate.
At Mount Wachusett Community College, we practice a hub-and-spoke model for our social media administration. We have quarterly social media administrator meetings, and all social media activities articulate with our Marketing and Communications Division, though we are not the primary manager for many pages and accounts. We practice a “three administrator’s” rule, where two admins must reside in the functional area for any given social media channel and one sits in marketing. That means that although I have access to activity across more than 20 social media channels, our admissions folks answer admissions questions and our fitness center staff answers questions about the pool hours. Share the wealth! Having functional areas involved in the process gives our community the most relevant and authentic content possible, and it builds engagement and cultivates buy-in for social media with our internal staff.
These tips are my top three, but there are certainly many more. Use the comment section; I’d love to hear tips you’ve had success with as well as those that failed the crash test!
Sarah McMaster is director of new media at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts.