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Andrew Twist
Andrew Twist, Digital Content Producer at The University of Sheffield, is one of the 12 presenters of the 5th Higher Ed Social Media Conference.

In this 4-question interview, Andrew tells us about managing social media demands, a learning outcome, the role of video in social media strategy and chimes in on Snapchat.

1) How do you manage the demands on your time and focus inherent to social?

Social media managers are faced with the challenge of managing more platforms than ever for their organisation and so managing time and focus is increasingly important. Our approach at the University of Sheffield starts with the fundamentals of planning and communication.

We use Trello to create our weekly content plan – this breaks down our key stories, who is responsible for them and which platforms we will be using. We also have planning meetings twice a week with other sections of the Department of Corporate Communications to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of priorities and focus.

Increasingly we are also using technology to make our social media content production more efficient. For instance, we now regularly use smartphones and gimbals to speed up video production and quickly create content that can work across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Finally, we are also using insights and analytics as often as possible to better understand our audience and the impact of our content to improve our ability to effectively get the right messages, to the right people via the right channels.

2) What is the most useful thing for your social media work you’ve learned over the past 12 months?

The most useful thing I’ve learned over the last 12 months is that I can pretty much do my entire job with just a smartphone.

In the past I would do community management of our social accounts from my laptop, edit photos and graphics on an iMac and shoot videos on DSLRs – now I can do all of that with just my smartphone.

The keys to being an effective social media manager in 2017 can basically all be found in the AppStore. Social platforms are increasingly focused on the smartphone user experience and with tools like FilmicPro, Rode Rec, LumaFusion and DJI Go making high-quality content production possible, it is now possible to be completely unshackled from their desks. This is hugely advantageous in a university as we want to be out there capturing the experience of our students and staff as much as possible on our social channels.

3) What role does video play in the social media strategy of your school?

Video is obviously a key part of our social media strategy but we’re increasingly trying to be far more specific than to just talk about ‘video’ as a catch-all concept. We’re trying to make snaps, Instagram stories, vlogs, explainers etc all uniquely defined aspects of our social media strategy. It’s not enough to produce a single video and share it to all your social media platforms anymore. We want each video to be in tune with the idiosyncrasies of the platform it has been designed for.

Our most popular video of all time is actually an explainer we made with LIGO scientist Dr Ed Daw about the discovery of Gravitational Waves in 2016. I think the reason this video had so many views was that we took a global science story and provided value for people by helping them understand what it meant and why it was so important. People love educational and useful video content.

4) Snapchat is still somehow controversial in higher ed. Do you think schools should invest time and resources on this platform?

As a university social media manager I find Snapchat’s University and Place stories to be a fascinating insight into how our students communicate with each other and what they like to do. We’ve had a university account for just over a year and we use Mish Guru to help us manage our content and work efficiently as a team. During this time we’ve seen a pretty strong uptake in audience size amongst our student community and strong engagement around sports and graduation events.

With that in mind I think Snapchat is definitely a platform that universities should invest some time in as part of communication with students and prospects. However, there’s a potential caveat: I’m not sure how much our students want us (or any brand) as part of their Snapchat experience. Snapchat’s initial popularity stemmed from it being a less public social network where friends could talk without their messages being stored forever online and without the experience being full of brands, ads and news.

My suspicion is that the more Snapchat starts to look like other mainstream social networks (full of paid-for content, audience data used for targeting, bloated with advertising and brands) the less fun and cool it will be – and if that happens, people will probably move their conversations somewhere else.

A day in the life of a higher ed social media pro: Andrew Twist

Are you a fan of social media takeovers by students or alums?

Andrew Twist took over Higher Ed Experts’ Instagram account for a day on October 25, 2017 as part of the Higher Ed Social Media Conference Speakers Takeovers where your higher ed social media colleagues share a day in their life.

A conference focusing on higher ed social media?

The Higher Ed Social Media Conference is a must-attend event for higher ed social media professionals and teams looking for new ideas and best practices.

Read below what a few of your higher ed colleagues who attended the past editions of the Higher Ed Social Media Conference say about the experience.

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