5 Things Supervisors Should Know About Being a Higher Ed Social Media Manager

Posted By Sirley Carballo on Feb 29, 2024 8:30:00 AM

Read Time: 6 Minutes

In the latest episode of Confessions of a Higher Ed Social Media Manager, host Jenny had the pleasure of chatting with John Stephen Stansel, a seasoned freelance social media strategist, speaker, and consultant.

This conversation delves deep into the unique challenges and perspectives that come with managing social media within the higher education sector. Jon-Stephen shares invaluable insights from his extensive experience, emphasizing the nuances and pressures that define this role.

The Multifaceted Role of Social Media Managers

Understanding the Complexity: Jon-Stephen sheds light on the complexity of managing social media for universities, likening it to running social for an entire city. This role encompasses a broad range of responsibilities, from crisis management to engaging diverse campus communities. It's a high-pressure job that demands creativity, strategic thinking, and the ability to manage multiple priorities simultaneously.

The Importance of Support and Resources: One of the key points Jon-Stephen makes is the need for higher education institutions to provide adequate support and resources to their social media managers. This includes fair compensation, access to professional development opportunities, and the necessary tools and equipment to execute their role effectively.

Empowerment and Recognition: Empowering social media managers to make strategic decisions, including the power to say no when necessary, is crucial. This autonomy ensures that social media strategies are aligned with the institution's goals and audience needs. Recognition of their expertise and contributions is also vital in retaining talent and fostering a culture of trust and respect.

5 Things Supervisor Should Know About Being a Higher Ed Social Media Manager

1. Acknowledge the Complexity of Social Media Management in Higher Ed

Understanding the Role: Social media management within the context of higher education is an incredibly multifaceted role. Managers must navigate the complexities of engaging a diverse audience, including current and prospective students, alumni, faculty, and staff. This role involves more than just posting updates; it includes crisis communication, event promotion, community building, and much more.

Strategic Approach Needed: Recognizing the strategic nature of this role is crucial. Leadership should understand that social media efforts contribute significantly to the university's image, student engagement, and even crisis management. It's not merely a channel for announcements but a platform for meaningful engagement and community support.

Support and Resources: Institutions must ensure that social media managers have access to the tools, information, and personnel they need to manage these complexities effectively. This includes software for scheduling and analytics, creative resources, and a direct line to decision-makers for timely information dissemination.

2. Provide Adequate Support and Resources

Fair Compensation: Reflecting on Jon-Stephen's point about the low pay in higher education social media roles, it's imperative for institutions to reassess compensation structures. Competitive salaries not only attract but also retain talent, reducing turnover and maintaining the continuity of the university's social media voice and strategy.

Professional Development: Investing in continuous learning and professional development for social media managers is non-negotiable. The digital landscape evolves rapidly, and staying abreast of the latest trends, algorithms, and platforms is essential for success. Budgets should accommodate conferences, workshops, and online courses.

Access to Tools: Equipping social media managers with the right tools—from content creation software to analytics platforms—is vital for efficient and effective management of social media channels. This also includes allocating budget for paid advertising, which is increasingly necessary to achieve significant reach on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

3. Empower Decision-Making

Authority to Say No: Empowering social media managers to make strategic decisions, including the ability to decline requests that don't align with the overall strategy, is critical. This empowerment helps maintain a coherent and effective online presence, avoiding dilution of messaging or brand confusion.

Strategic Input: Encourage and value the strategic input of social media managers in broader marketing and communication planning. Their insights into audience engagement, content performance, and platform trends can inform more effective strategies across the institution.

Support and Trust: Leadership must visibly support their social media managers, especially in times of crisis or when decisions are challenged. This backing not only bolsters the confidence of the social media team but also reinforces their authority and expertise within the institution.

4. Offer Competitive Compensation

Reassess and Adjust Pay Scales: Institutions should regularly review and adjust the compensation packages for social media roles to reflect the demands and skills required. Competitive pay helps attract skilled professionals who can bring innovation and strategic acumen to the role.

Recognition and Growth Opportunities: Beyond monetary compensation, creating clear pathways for career growth and recognizing the contributions of social media managers can significantly enhance job satisfaction and retention.

5. Foster a Culture of Trust

Open Communication: Establishing open lines of communication between social media managers and leadership fosters a culture of trust. Managers should feel comfortable sharing insights, challenges, and recommendations without fear of dismissal or retribution.

Acknowledge Impact: Leadership should regularly acknowledge the impact of social media efforts on the institution's goals, such as increased engagement, improved reputation, or crisis mitigation. Recognition of these achievements reinforces the value of the social media manager's work.

Collaborative Environment: Encouraging collaboration between the social media team and other departments ensures that social media strategies are integrated with the institution's overall goals and messages, enhancing coherence and impact across all communication channels.

For those intrigued by the insights and experiences shared by Jon-Stephen Stansel, listening to the full episode, "5 Things Your Supervisor Should Know About Being a Higher Ed Social Media Manager," is a must.

This conversation not only highlights the critical role of social media managers in higher education but also offers a treasure trove of advice for both current and aspiring professionals in the field. Tune in to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and best practices in higher education social media management.

And let us know in the comments: what do you wish your supervisor knew about being a social media manager?

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