Friday Five: Q&A with Liz Gross, author of ‘How to Manage Social Media in Higher Education’

ManageSocialMedia_PromoImg_1200x1200Fellow higher ed marketer Liz Gross (@lizgross144 on Twitter and blogger at Gross, Point-Blank) has put together a nifty ebook — her first ever — about managing social media. It’s called How to Manage Social Media in Higher Education: A Guide for Campus Administrators.

I downloaded it earlier this week and have managed to only skim the contents to this date. But I like what I see. Right off the bat, Liz emphasizes the need to connect your social media work with your institution’s brand identity. She’s singing my song right there. The book is well-organized and easily readable — one you can peruse and reuse as a manual. I would recommend this ebook for anyone involved in higher ed social media — whether you’re involved in the day-to-day management of university social accounts or managing those who are.

For today’s Friday Five feature, I’ve asked Liz to talk about the book and why she decided to write it.

1. Why did you decide to write this book?

Liz Gross
Liz Gross

I was actually asked to write about this topic as part of a chapter in a book about social media and higher education. The author and editor of the book decided, after a draft had been completed, that it was no longer a fit for the theme of the book, which focused more on student development and social media. I had put a lot of time and effort into the research and writing, so I modified the chapter to appeal to the audience I identified with most: higher education professionals that want to use social media as part of their communication strategy. With this sort of laser-focus, it seemed appropriate to offer it as a short eBook.

2. What is the main thing you would like readers to take away from this book?

Creating and executing a successful social media program in higher education isn’t rocket science. As long as you know where to start (and I think this book provides that foundation), social media can be integrated into an existing marketing and communication strategy without an enormous investment of money or resources. While it’s not free, it’s also not something that can’t be learned by almost any motivated individual.

3. What have you learned about social media as a result of writing this book?

Although the tools of the trade change all the time, the theoretical underpinnings of social media as part of an integrated marketing and communications strategy have not changed that much over the last few years. The majority of the text in this book was written in Fall 2013, and after reviewing it a year later not much had to be changed.

4. What would you like to see higher education do differently in the way we approach social media?

I allude to this towards the end of the book when I talk about ROI (return on investment). I’d love to see more higher education social media programs with clearly articulated goals that align with institutional/department objectives, and a defined measurement plan that allows manager to clearly report on the performance of the program. I believe this is possible for most any institution if they frame the purpose of their social media program correctly.

I hope to have a part in shaping this future by teaching practitioners in a newly-launched class I’m teaching through Higher Ed Experts – Social Media Measurement in Higher Ed.

5. How do you see the role of social media manager changing in the next few years?

With the exception of schools that have extremely large, engaged communities (hundreds of individual conversations per day), I believe that a staff member specializing in social media will cease to exist. And, I say this as someone who was most recently hired as a social media specialist. It will take a few years, but much like email, display advertising, and other electronic communication, social media will be integrated into a multi-channel marketing strategy. Smart marketers will have a baseline understanding of the medium and its associated tools, and that understanding will allow them to execute their communication strategy in social media and many other online (and offline) venues.

What I’ve written about in this book will still be important, but I hope that every department that communicates with students and other stakeholders on a regular basis will understand its importance, not just the “social media person.”

That being said, I think the social media manager that understands how his/her work fits into the bigger picture — through aligned goals, strategy, measurement, and multi-channel marketing — will prove his/her value to an organization for years to come.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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