Managing your social campaign strategy usingFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube &Pinterest: An interview with Dana Howard,social media marketing manager
Dana Howard a, W. Glynn Mangold b,*, Tim Johnston b
aMurray State University, Murray, KY 42071, U.S.A.bArthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business & Public Affairs, Murray State University, Murray, KY 42071,U.S.A.
Business Horizons (2014) 57, 657665
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
ScienceDirectwww.elsevier.com/locate/bushor* Corresponding authorE-mail addresses: email@example.com (D. Howard),
firstname.lastname@example.org (W.G. Mangold),email@example.com (T. Johnston)
0007-6813/$ see front matter # 2014 Kelley School of Business, Ihttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2014.05.001In this Executive Focus we interview Dana Howard,social media marketing manager of Murray StateUniversity. Under Danas direction, using the guidanceof a strategic management system and plan, MurrayState has successfully incorporated social media intothe universitys marketing and communication ef-forts. Dana supports the universitys strategic goalsby furthering public awareness and recognition ofMurray State as one of the nations best public univer-sities via messages that are consistent with the uni-versitys overall strategy and tailored to theuniversitys specific target audiences. Danas job ne-cessitatesthatshemonitor communicationsoccurringacross multiple social media platforms, engage andinteract with students and other constituents, createand encourage social media content, and analyze andreport outcomes. In addition, she is responsible forusing social media to respond on the universitysbehalf during crisis situations. Dana researches trendsin social media, helps establish policies pertaining tothe universitys social media governance, and assistsin managing its many social media outlets.
Dana is an alumna of Murray State University witha B.S. in Public Relations and an M.S. in Telecom-munications Systems Management. Murray StateUniversity in Kentucky enrolls almost 11,000 stu-dents annually and is consistently rated one of thendiana University. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
658 EXECUTIVE FOCUSbest regional public universities in the nation. Mur-ray State is perhaps best known for its perenniallycompetitive NCAA Division 1 basketball program.Follow Dana and Murray State (@murraystateuniv)on Twitter.
W. Glynn Mangold and Tim Johnston for BusinessHorizons: Welcome Dana, and thank you for sharingyour insights with our readers. To begin, could youplease explain your role as social media marketingmanager at Murray State University?
Dana Howard: Thank you for inviting me. MurrayState University has four managers in its Commu-nications Department: manager of publications andprinting; web manager (who coordinates the univer-sity website); manager of digital services (who co-ordinates the creation of video content); and socialmedia marketing manager. These managers reportto the head of the Communications Department.The structure of the organization is important be-cause the managers make sure that each area isrepresented in marketing and public relations de-cisions. All areas have a piece of the pie in terms ofMurray States communications activities.
One conception of social media is that it is free anduser generated. If so, then why does an organizationneed a social media marketing manager?
I can think of several reasons based on my experi-ence: among other things, to focus social mediaefforts toward supporting the organizations strate-gic goals; to respond when positiveand negativecontent appears; to support people who representthe organization via social media platforms and, toan extent, manage what they say; and to encouragesuccesses and mitigate potential disasters.
Do you as social media marketing manager have astrategy, or do you primarily support the universitysstrategy?
I am part of the university communications team,which supports the goal of the Institutional Ad-vancement office: to further public awareness andrecognition of Murray State as one of the nationsbest public universities. That goal supports a lot ofactivities, such as developing financial, political,and community support and recruiting students.We have also developed a purpose statement toserve as a guide to our specific activities.
Who are the constituents with an interest in MurrayState that you reach through social media?
MSU has many constituents. They include prospec-tive students, parents, current students, alumni,donors, faculty and staff, community members,Kentucky state legislators, MSU sports fans. . .thelist goes on and on.
Does Murray State have a particular target market?
If I had to pick one primary target market, it would becollege-bound high school students in the south-cen-tral region who seek a 4-year college degree. Theregion includes western Kentucky and parts of neigh-boring states: Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, and Indi-ana. But there are many other important markets,including non-traditional students, transfer students,prospective graduate students, international stu-dents, and the constituents that I mentioned earlier.
How does your role in social media marketing com-pare to your previous experience in traditionalmarketing?
One big difference is that traditional marketinginvolves creating a one-way message, crafted bythe marketer. You should look at social media ashaving a two-way conversation with your constitu-ents. Engagement is the key to social media. This iswhy strategy is so important. In addition to provid-ing information, effective social media entailsbuilding a platform for your target markets to com-municate with you and maintaining those relation-ships. Another huge difference between socialmedia and traditional marketing is that you are ableto see the effects of your messagein most cases,by looking at analytics. In traditional marketing,tactics are usually not as measurable.
Are people curious about your role, social mediamarketing manager, within that bigger picture?
Definitely. I speak to many groups and organizationsand talk with local business people who are curious
EXECUTIVE FOCUS 659about marketing plans and social media. Everybodyhas questions about social media: Why is it impor-tant? Why should it be used for marketing? Is iteffective and does it take a lot of time? Even thoughsocial media in general is not that new, there arestill a lot of questions out there about how it can beused in marketing and public relations.
Can you tell us about your life as a social mediamarketing manager; namely, what you do and whatyou plan for?
Much of what I do involves working directly on ouractive social media platforms, so I will start there.The Murray State Facebook page is one of the mostengaging social media platforms we maintain. Withover 23,000 followers, I have a lot of people to talkto and engage with. The followers include a diverseset of audiences encompassing alumni, current stu-dents, prospective students, prospective families,community members, and supporters of the Racers.So, I have multiple areas to cover, think through, andrespond to.
What other platforms are important to MurrayState for communicating with constituents?
Twitter is one of our most engaging platforms andcommands about 90% of my time. It is something Imust monitor consistently because I have to respondquickly; people expect quick responses and imme-diate information on most social media, but this iseven more true with Twitter than anything else. Iwatch our analytics to look at response rates, or howfast I am responding to people. The results aresometimes good, sometimes not as good; it justdepends on the activity in any week and month.
I try to plan our social media activities a semesterat a time. In a university setting, there are several keyevents or themes that I already know I will be buildingstrategies around every year. For example, amongother things, the fall semester always includes move-in weekend, homecoming, and December com-mencement. I start my calendar with those and workin various promotions and important information as Ifeel necessary. I have done this long enough now that Ihave learned when certain types of promotions,contests, or other fillers work in between larger socialmedia plans like homecoming. I also have a fairlyconcrete format for each of the bigger social mediastrategy plans. My written-out plan would include asection for pre-event promos one month out and theweek of. The next section would include the day-ofpromos and content. Then, a third section wouldinclude post- and wrap-up content.
Some examples of this might include starting ahashtag tracking program by creating a hashtag andthen developing pre-event promotions to familiar-ize people with the hashtag. Any promotion pieces Icould go ahead and develop that might be usedthroughout the social media plan would also becreated at this time: images, print, signs, et cetera.
I schedule our posts ahead of time when I can, butalso do a lot of daily posting to keep the messagefresh. When I am not planning or creating content,the rest of my time is spent monitoring platformsand responding to people across them.
I understand that you use a lot of pictures to relayyour message. Can you tell us about that?
Flickr is another platform we use at Murray State.We use Flickr to market not only externally, but alsointernally. Flickr serves as a landing page for ourmultiple photographers to post photos of campusevents, portfolio shots, and other on-campus re-quests. We provide this resource for people acrossthe university to use these photos for their ownmarketing. They are encouraged to incorporatethem into their own units social media platforms.
Instagram is a tool that we started using 2 yearsago. Our audience has grown tremendously, withwell over 3,000 followers. Even though Instagram isnot Murray States most engaging platform, it takestime and planning to manage. The user base ofInstagram continues to grow, and with its integra-tion into platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Insta-gram has become a large part of our overall strategy.
Just recently, I used a 30-day countdown onInstagram as a promotion to capitalize on the ex-citement our incoming freshmen were already ex-pressing online regarding move-in weekend. Ipushed daily pictures of the Murray State campusfrom Instagram to all our social media platforms inorder to heighten that excitement and engage ouraudiences in anticipation of a new academic year.
We also added Pinterest about 2 years ago. I wentback and forth regarding Pinterest, trying to decide ifit was worth our time or not. I saw a lot of my peers atother universities doing some interesting work withit, so I decided to move in that direction. The chal-lenge with Pinterest is that there is little to noanalytics to tell you who your active users are. So,its kind of a guessing game with the overall strategy.
To begin the Pinterest initiative, I observed a lotof other universities accounts, mostly the ones at
660 EXECUTIVE FOCUSwhich I have peers. I made a list of all the audiences Iwanted to reach via this platform. Obviously, MurrayState has alumni. They love memories; they lovetalking about their days at Murray State. And thenthere are the current students, who want to seethings like our All Campus Sing musical productionand traditions like the shoe treewhere coupleswho meet and become engaged at Murray Stateplace their shoes on the tree. Unique campus tra-ditions are an easy visual that is usually popularamong all of our different constituent groups.
Then, I made a big list of everyone to whom wewere talking, since I wasnt sure which audiencewould be the most prevalent on this platform. Fromthat list I created Pinterest boards for each of theconstituent groups. So, we have a mix of boards thatspan a very broad group of people. And its still aguessing game in many ways; its still about learningwhat people are looking for, what they get attachedto, and what catches their eyes and creates a desireto make an actiona view, a click, or a share. This isno different from any other form of marketing: Weare creating a call to action.
What about blogs?
We do use some blogging. If you could see the backend of the murraystate.edu website, you would findthat some of the pages are actually WordPress tem-plates. You wont necessarily notice it as a userbecause the templates are branded to look likethe rest of the website, but they are blog pages.Its an easy platform to use and its pretty cheap forusand its free to individual users.
Murray State uses blogging for different reasonsthan you might expect. A special promotion like theWhere Do You Blue And Gold? photo contest, which wehave held for 5 years now, is hosted on a bloggingplatform. People take pictures of themselves wearingtheir Murray State colors as they travel throughoutthe country and around the world. The bloggingplatform makes it really easy from an administrativestandpoint because each weeks winner is announcedas a new blog post that I can then push out through allsocial channels with a click. In addition, it archivesitself every year and users can easily search or sharecontent to their own social channels.
Is YouTube an important platform?
We feature a variety of material on YouTube,ranging from the university presidents messagesto informational pieces about specific programson campus and important announcements like ourrecent capital campaign total. We wanted Rainey T.Wells, Murray States first president, to announcethe campaign total, so we brought him back from1922 with the help of actor and faculty member BobValentine.
Other types of YouTube content include MurrayState holiday greetings and viral video campaigns.For example, we published a dance we call theMurray State Racer Shuffle, which was built arounda rap songthe Racer Anthemwritten by studentsas a tribute to our basketball team. The video wentviral nationally.
Are there any new additions to the group of socialmedia platforms that you use?
Storify is a relatively new platform that was interest-ing to me for a couple of reasons. First, Storify bringstogether content from multiple social media plat-forms. When we manage a promotional campaign,such as for homecoming, we use all of our platformsto share content. Second, from weeks before home-coming to weeks afterward, people are talking aboutthe events: theyre chattering, sending pictures,sending videos, and creating a lot of great content.Somehow, we have to capture that.
Storify is a platform with which you create astory, and in that story you can collect all thechatter from every platform: Instagram, Facebook,Twitter, YouTube, everything. It lets you literallyclick and drag things into your story, so its a greatway for us to showcase whats going on at theuniversity. Weve done a lot of these lately. Forinstance, when Spike Lee was here, we collecteda lot of chatter related to his appearance. We alsopost pictures from Great Beginnings at the beginningof the school year, Parents Weekendall of thebigger picture events at Murray State.
It sounds like Storify plays an important role atMurray State.
Yes, Storify is one of the platforms that has beenreally important to me lately. One thing that is veryuseful about Storify is that we have archives ofeverything thats happened at the university. About5 years ago someone on campus asked me: How amI supposed to collect all the stuff that goes ononline? With social media there are all these pic-tures, all these things were not collecting. We dont
EXECUTIVE FOCUS 661do yearbooks anymore. So, how do you find all thestuff, and put it together, in the Murray State ar-chives?
When Storify came along, I knew it was theanswer! Now for every story that I make throughStorify, I send a .pdf to the archivist in Pogue library;there, they are available in digital and print for-mats. Consequently, via social media, people mayhave content that is a part of recorded history andnot even know it: something they tweeted, a picturethey sent, or a videowhatever it may be.
What are your goals in using the platforms wevediscussed? What do you accomplish?
I would identify my responsibilities in seven maincategories: monitoring all platforms, engaging andinteracting, creating and gathering content, analyz-ing and reporting outcomes, governance, research,and crisis management.
Lets start with monitoring. I monitor all theplatforms that we just talked about. I have to bewatching; I have to be listening; I have to knowwhats being talked about. I also have to knowwhats not being talked about that we want outthere. If homecoming is 3 days away and nobodyonline is talking about it, weve failed as marketersbecause we havent helped to put that messageout there and create a buzz around itfoster thespiritand thats what Murray States homecomingis all about. I have to listen a lot and watch theconversations, and I have to notice the tone thatpeople are using.
There have been times that we didnt realize a bitof a public relations storm was brewingnot nec-essarily in the media, but just among people talkingabout the university. And sometimes I have theresponsibility of saying: Hey, a lot of folks arereally mad about this. Can we do something aboutit? So I monitor social media, I make sure wereconsistent with our branding, and I make sure that Iknow whats being talked aboutgood and badonall of our networks.
In addition to monitoring the platforms, I have toengage and interact. To engage, I must be involvedin the conversation. I have to know what people aresaying about Murray State before I can respond,which I try to do in almost every casewhetherthe original comment is positive or negative.
I try to answer questions that people ask aboutMurray State. Or if someone posts, Hey, I gotaccepted into Murray State today, I give them awoot, woot! and Welcome to the family! I lovewhen a prospective student responds back to tell mehow that tweet from Murray State made their day! Ijust interact with the people out there, with all thedifferent audiences we have across our social mediaplatforms.
The next responsibility is to create and gathercontent. We must have a plan and a strategy tocreate content. Sometimes crowdsourcing is an op-tion for gathering content. Campaigns like #Racer-Homecoming generated a lot of content throughcrowdsourcingas I talked about with Storifybecause people were at the game, or were gatheredat Tent City before the game, and they took photosand videos. The crowd was already doing the contentwork for me, which is always helpful and engaging.
A lot of times, though, I have to create thatcontent myself. I have to decide whats going tobe engaging and whats going to work with thespecific audience: whats going to catch their eye,what doesnt matter to them, and what does mat-ter. So, its really important that I plan and strate-gize about the content we create.
And then, of course, I have to analyze and reportoutcomes. It is a misconception that social mediamarketers do things on the fly and dont have goals. Iactually have measureable goals for everything I do,so I work with a lot of numbers. I was never anumbers person in schoolI hated math, I hatedaccounting; I didnt want anything to do with it. Nowthat Ive gotten into the social media world, I enjoylooking at the numbers. It takes a lot of time everymonth to sit down and go over the analytics for eachplatform, but it is time well spent. I use a companycalled SproutSocial to help me build reports; itgenerates all the charts and graphs and everythingfor me, which is amazing. Before SproutSocial, itwas 100 times more work because I performed allthe functions manually.
I compare current results with those of previousmonths and previous years. Then, I report to mysuperiors and fellow managers where we are from amonth ago, a year ago. Each report shows theanalytics and my take on the good and the badfor that period of time, which goals we reached,which we didnt, and why.
Once we had a huge snowstorm and the universitydid not cancel classes. There were crazy commentson Facebook; it was out of control because studentsand parents were mad. Our social media blew up.Looking at the numbers, though, it was great for ourengagement. I had to report: Our engagementwent up a lot, but it was primarily negative feed-back. And I have to ask myself: Did we respond tothat well? Did we take the time to understand whatwas really going on?
Or, I may report: It was homecoming and oursocial media engagement was high, and this is why.
662 EXECUTIVE FOCUSSo, I compare the numbers a lot to know how we cancontinue to grow the campaign. For example, in arecent month, there were 337,000 impressions onour Facebook page. Therefore, I have to keep upwith those numbers and make sure that next monthwere getting 400,000 impressions. Those are somebig numbers to play with for a university of our sizeand I enjoy the challenge of creating growth overtime.
In listing your core responsibilities, you mentionedgovernance. Could you explain that?
Governance is a big part of my joba part I wasntaware of when I took this position. This is not the funaspect of social media. Its enjoyable in a certainway for me to bring it all together, but its not theside of social media management that most peopleare interested in. Governance has a lot to do withhow we are administering the rest of the socialmedia on campus; specifically, the pages I dontdirectly manage.
I am the only person in social media in theUniversity Communications department, so I man-age the Murray State accounts, the RoundaboutU accounts for our TV show, and the Alumni Affairsaccounts. The colleges and departments, and clubsand organizations have separate social media ac-counts, so I dont maintain those; that responsibilityis assigned to people in those areas. I help, but Idont maintain them.
At one point in time, some Twitter accounts thatwere using the Murray State name but were notsanctioned by the university were giving out falseinformation or representing the university in a waywe didnt want to be represented. For that reason, Ihelped develop a social media policy to deal withthose issues.
We now have a policy in place so that everyadministrator on campus knows how to maintainhis or her account without a centralized persontelling him/her what to do, as well as understandthe regulations he/she falls under. The policy helpsMurray State ensure messages are consistent acrossall channels, people are using the same branding,people are employing the same kind of voice, andaccurate information about the university is beingpresented. The social media policy encompasses allof us: everyone who works on the campus and usesthe Murray State name on a public Facebook, Twit-ter, Instagram, YouTube, or other social media ac-count.
Implementing our social media policy led to con-siderably more work for me. I had to ask everyperson on campus who is an administrator of anypublic Murray State account on any platform toregister through our office using an online form.Were up to about 200 accounts now; in other words,there are 200 social media accounts on campus inaddition to those I administer. With this, we nowknow what accounts are publicly representing theuniversity, who the administrators are for eachaccount, and the kind of information the accountsare supposed to have on them. We can identify theauthors of old information, for example, and get itupdated. Its a lot of work. It takes a lot of time tofigure out whos doing what.
Does the social media policy specify what happenswhen someone misuses a university account?
The social media policy works alongside other poli-cies. For example, there is a Board of Regentsconduct policy that applies to students, faculty,and staff. There are human resources policies thatapply to employees. Depending on which policyapplies, if there is misconduct, we can say whathappens from that point.
What if an unofficial social media account is puttingMurray State University in a negative light?
There have been Twitter accounts and Facebookpages that represented Murray State in ways thatdid not reflect well on the university. One day, amother called my office; she did not understand thatthe university did not administer an account onwhich her son was being disparaged. Unfortunately,the message had Murray State in the title. I had a45-minute conversation with her, trying to explain:Maam that is not an official Murray State ac-count. But, it says Murray State in it. Right,but it is not a Murray State account. So, we areunable to take the inappropriate comments downtoday. Those are the kinds of problems that wedeal with.
Any account thats not registered, anything thatis not an official Murray State account, we try to shutdown. If an account has Murray State in the name, ifit has Racers in the name. . .anything that seems torepresent us or use our trademarks, we now reportit. Also, if an account has been inactive and the logininformation is unknown, we will report it as well. Atthis point we have successfully shut down two Face-book pages, six Twitter accounts, and an Instagramaccount. Its a start, and well continue to do that as
EXECUTIVE FOCUS 663time goes on. We need to know who is officiallyrepresenting us and how they are representing theuniversity.
You mentioned that research is part of the socialmedia marketing managers job. . .
Yes, research is a big part. I have to know whats onthe cutting edge and whats coming next, so I haveto look at blogs, I have to read articles, and I have toknow what tools people are using and what theyrenot using. I must be attuned to the latest technologyand the newest media out there. I cant assume thateverything I hear about social media platforms iscorrect, such as the rumor that started a few yearsago about teens leaving Facebook. I have to re-search those things and have the facts to back itup before I change my focus. You should never jumpon new tools just because they are out there; rather,you should research, benchmark other organizationsthat are using the tools, and stay in touch with thenews about those platforms. Its all a part of stayinginformed through research.
How important is crisis management in socialmedia?
Crisis management is a responsibility that you prob-ably wouldnt think of as part of a social mediamanagers job; I didnt think of it when I took thisjob. I didnt realize crisis management was a criticalcomponent until after wed had a crisis.
Ill give you a very short but very sad story abouthow we learnedthe hard waythe necessity ofcrisis management. At a time when the Murray Statebasketball team was about to play in the NCAAtournament, there was a very public suicide oncampus. Most of us who had anything to do withcrisis response at the university were attending thegame 225 miles away in Louisville, Kentucky. Wewere all in an arena with very little cell service andno Wi-Fi when I suddenly started seeing tweets goingacross my phone that seemed odd, such as Prayersfor Murray State and similar vague comments. Thefirst thought that ran through my head was: Is therea shooter on campus?
I realized that if I didnt get some informationquickly, I wouldnt know how to respond. Parentswere saying: Whats going on? Wheres my kid?Whats happened? I hear someones dead on cam-pus. All this was happening but nobody in thearena had any real information. In a crisis, wetheuniversity officialsneed to be responsive and toinform people. But I hadnt been told what hap-pened, so I couldnt confirm or deny an isolatedcrisis.
That was when I felt this huge burden of respon-sibility on my shoulders for the first time. This was1 year after I had accepted the job. We hadnt eventhought about crisis management. Nobody knew itwas going to be part of the job. Thats when werealized how important social media is to crisismanagement because people try to fill in informa-tion about whats going on as things unfold. This istrue no matter what the subject. Whether its atornado or a snow day, whatever the case may be, itcould represent a public relations crisis. We cantknow in advance, so we had to come up with a planfor any situation. I had to know how to respond, andrespond quickly. That required a crisis managementplan.
What else have you learned while on the job?
Strategy! When social media started becoming apart of day-to-day communications, marketers said:You know, weve got to get in on this game, too.First of all, its free. It takes a small budget. Its easyto perform. How do we reach people through socialmedia networks? I think a lot of people took forgranted that you have to plan and form strategies insocial media just like in any other kind of marketing;as a result, they were simply throwing stuff outthere, doing things just to do them. For example,they wanted to get on Facebook because every-bodys there. Thats the kind of planning we oftensaw.
With social media, you must have a plan, goals,initiatives, and a mission. If you dont know whatyour mission is, theres no reason to use social mediatools. Most of my focus is based on a 1-month timehorizon, although there are a few things I can planfor in a macro sense, such as homecoming. Eventhough I try to plan out a semester at a time, I focusmonth by month.
Ive also learned the importance of flexibility. Agood example involves renowned sportscaster Dick-ie V, Dick Vitale, who came to campus as a com-mentator for a basketball game. We werentactually planning on that. It was a big deal to us;we definitely wanted him to visit. So when we gotword that Dickie V was interested in coming toMurray State, we kicked things into high gear. Wehad to figure out how to get students in on this sothey could encourage him to come. We also won-dered how we could involve alumni. It wasnt just
664 EXECUTIVE FOCUSabout Dickie V; it was about bringing the whole ESPNnetwork. It was about having the TVexposure that wecannot pay for because we do not have the budget forit at Murray State. We wanted to have him here andwelcome him, along with ESPN, with open arms. As aresult, working with athletics, we put together thisreally quick campaign, collaborated with students,and did a #BringDickieVtoMurray hashtag campaignon Twitter and Facebook. It obviously went wellbecause he ended up coming here. So, sometimes,we have to be flexible and willing to move quickly.
What else can you tell us about your approach to thejob?
Make campaigns, not posts. Campaigns work betterthan one-hit wonders. Occasionally, Ill post some-thing important that will last only one day and maybe on a single platform. But most of the time, mybigger stuff is in campaigns. By this, I mean that Ihave a written plan with a variety of posts andpromotions surrounding that theme that will lasta longer amount of time. For example, it may haveelements like its own hashtag, a photo contest inwhich people send us content, or other marketingmaterials that align with the campaign.
An example of a bigger campaign is All CampusSing. With that, we did signs and chatter for over amonth. I put a lot of thought into this. We wentaround and we actually physically tagged people atAll Campus Sing with stickers: Heres our hashtag,share your pictures and tweets with us. It was allpart of getting that chatter and keeping the spiritgoing. We stream All Campus Sing online, so we hada huge undertaking: doing the stream, putting thehashtag on the stream, and getting the widgets towork so people could talk about it on the websitewhile they were watching the stream. There are alot of little pieces that have to go together to makeall that happen successfully.
When we did the Murray State Anthem rap, therewas a whole lot to it besides just filming the video.Every scene had some kind of strategy to it: whatwas in the background, who was in the picture, whatyou can see, and things going on. You may not pickthem out specifically, but in your mind there are stillthings happening that you are seeing and interactingwith. We did a lot of different kinds of marketingaround the Murray State Anthem. All the t-shirts andbanners and everything from that whole semestercentered on the Anthem theme.
Are you able to get downtime in this job?I try to shut off by 6 p.m. every evening, even thoughI continue monitoring feeds periodically through thenight. Its difficult. I constantly check my notifica-tions to make sure nothing crazy is coming across thescreen. If I come in the next day and somebody says,Did you see so and so? and I say No, I feel like Ihavent done my job. How did I not see that? Im thesocial media marketing manager. Im supposed tosee everything. So, I really feel like I have to stay ontop of things. My husband says Ive got an iPad inone hand and an iPhone in the other, or I am in frontof my laptop, because I feel the need to be con-nected. Ive tried to pull back a little bit lately, butits hard.
On what social media platform do you spend most ofyour time?
Id say Twitter. I keep a running list of search key-words and key hashtagsall the stuff that MurrayState people use: Murray State, Murray State Univer-sity, Murray State Racers, #Racers, #MurrayState,#WeAreRacers, #RacerNation. I monitor those hash-tags and then respond to the people who are talkingabout us. A big part of my job is simply taking part inthe online conversations going on out there, whetherpeople know Murray State is listening or not.
Recruitment is important for all of us who work atthe university, and we use Twitter in the recruitmentprocess. Id say at least five times a day, I stop andrespond to tweets that include pictures of peoplewho have been accepted into Murray State, whohave received their scholarship information, or whoare at some point in the application process. Thatsa huge part of what I do now. Im not in the recruit-ment office, but we all work together toward thatend.
Are you able to show that more students come toMurray State because of your tweets and othersocial media activities?
It is hard to quantify that and say: Because I tweet,we will have 50 more students in the fall. There aretimes Ive been asked to prove what my return oninvestment is, and thats a hard thing to do, even if Imeet my goals. Can I really say that we had a largerfall class because of what I do? Its impossible for meto connect the dots there. But, I can say: Fiftypercent of my time this year was spent on talking toprospective students. Or I can look at the analyticsto see where traffic is coming from and going to on
EXECUTIVE FOCUS 665the website. If traffic is going to undergraduateinformation or application information, then onecan connect the dots to recruitment in that way.
Is it hard to pursue a career in social media?
Its not necessarily hard, but most universities donot offer a degree in social media marketing. Thepositive is that you can approach the career from alot of different angles: you can have a marketingdegree, you can have a PR degree, you can have ageneral business degree. Individuals from variousbackgrounds can get to that point. I know I did, andso did many of my peers at other universities.
Not all companies necessarily know what theywant, either, and that makes it somewhat difficultfor students who look for social media jobs. Thecompanies dont know what to ask for or what to putin the job description. They just know that youngpeople know how to use social media, and they knowthey need to be involved in social media. So, formany companies it is a guessing game.
If I were trying to land a social media job with acompany, I would bring a set of recommendations tothe table: this is a strategy for you, heres an areawhere you can increase sales or increase your expo-sure, and here are some tactics to go along withthat.
Dana, thank you for your time and for sharing yourexperiences working in the emerging field of socialmedia marketing. Thanks especially for discussinghow organizations can manage their activities onsocial media platforms and the importance offocusing their efforts to achieve goals.
Managing your social campaign strategy using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube & Pinterest: An interview with Dana Howard, social media marketing manager