Managing your social campaign strategy using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube & Pinterest: An interview with Dana Howard, social media marketing manager

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  • EXECUTIVE FOCUS

    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: dhoward@murraystate.edu (D. Howard),

    wmangold@murraystate.edu (W.G. Mangold),tjohnston@murraystate.edu (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.

    http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1016/j.bushor.2014.05.001&domain=pdfhttp://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.1016/j.bushor.2014.05.001&domain=pdfhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2014.05.001http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00076813mailto:dhoward@murraystate.edumailto:wmangold@murraystate.edumailto:tjohnston@murraystate.eduhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2014.05.001

  • 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 tha...

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