Karine Joly 2 Comments

Stephanie Hatch LeishmanStephanie Hatch Leishman, Social Media Strategist at MIT, is one of the 15 higher ed professionals who presented at the 2nd Higher Ed Social Media Conference (now available on-demand).

Stephanie develops social media strategy for university initiatives, advises departments on social, digital strategy, develops resources and guidelines for social media, and trains staff members.

In this 3-question interview, Stephanie tells us about her most successful initiative with social media, her biggest challenge and shares some advice on how to cope with the 24/7 world of social media in higher education. Oh – and she also granted my request for a selfie!

1) What is the most successful social media initiative you’ve run over the past year?

This year we launched the new MIT Connect.

We first launched the site in the fall of 2012 and announced the new site in September 2014. MIT Connect allows users from across the globe to explore the world of MIT through social media and now with the social stream and features like the video header, the site makes you feel like you’re right there on campus.

The site gives departments and programs one link to connect their audience to all they have to offer on social media. With a custom header and live social feed, a department’s profile is a window into what makes research, academics and life in that department so unique.

Internally, social media creators around campus are able to see what each other’s programs are doing on social and learn from each other. The MIT Connect blog adds to the opportunity to learn more about managing social media by featuring posts from MIT communications staff who are rocking it on social for their departments.

2) What is the biggest challenge you face in your social media work? How do you cope with it?

What is NOT challenging about working with social media at a university is that there is an unlimited amount of great content that can be produced and a lively audience to engage with. What IS the biggest challenge is the fact that I often have to get out of my comfort zone to make content and engage with key audiences. This means that the biggest challenge in my job is a good challenge. It stretches me.

I have stood in a line with hundreds of students a decade younger than me in order to document a Logarhythms concert. I’ve waited under the sun because I wanted to get to the Baker House Piano Drop early enough to get a good angle. When I get in the social content mindset, I realize that I’m stretching myself to do strange things, like lie down in the middle of the Infinite Corridor to get a good angle for the Quarter Mile, stand in bushes to get a good view of a class contest, or climb into the construction area of a wooden frame of a roller coaster to interview two students in hard hats. I even made my own giant Pi symbol, carried it around campus, and took photos of it – all by myself – in order to adequately celebrate Pi Day.

I guess the best way to cope with the challenge of getting outside my comfort zone has been to embrace it.

3) Social media work never stops. How do you maintain balance in your life & work given this constraint? Any tips, techniques or tools?

Automate what can and should be automated, so you can spend your valuable time on the engagement that can only be done by a human.

Although analysis, assessment, and defining metrics will be thoughtful and manual, find ways to automate the actual reports. For example, set up hashtag archiving through tools like HootSuite or Hashtracking so you don’t have to go back and create a history manually.

Also, social media teams of more than one person should be using a project management system (even a free one), not email. Managing your time means knowing what can be delegated to tools and what you should do yourself.

Higher Ed Social Media Conference


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