Karine Joly No Comments

tracy_playleTracy Payle, Director & Content Strategist at Pickle Jar Communications Ltd, is one of the 12 presenters of the 3rd Higher Ed Social Media Conference.

In this 3-question interview, Tracy tells us how she manages social media, shares a surprising social media outcome and tackles the tough ROI question.

1) How do you manage your activity on social media?

This is going to sound terrible, but I could not get by these days without having an incredible team to work with on everything. Because I’m no longer in-house, I have to work with multiple clients and run the business too, and I travel a lot for my work, so trying to keep on top of all social media now is troublesome without the help of a team.

I have a few tools and tricks that make life easier though:

– An obvious one is my iPhone. I have just the right amount of notifications set up (mostly through Facebook pages app and Twitter) to manage through that. I dearly wish that it was easier to manage multiple Instagram accounts on a single device though, so that remains a frustration.
– I’m a big fan of Tweetdeck still to help make Twitter manageable. I have multiple columns set up with some terms and hashtags and search terms that I know deliver really useful content to me (#highedweb #confab #confabedu, “’social media’ + ‘higher ed’ amongst others).
– I like Scoop.it too as a curation tool, and have feeds set up there that also deliver useful content from a range of trusted and credible sources.
– Within my team, we use Podio to communicate and collaborate internally, so we also use that a lot to share trends, news, interesting things that we’ve seen. We’ve also built our own content planner in there, so we use that to keep on top of content for our own social feeds and the blog. Everyone in the company has a role to play in contributing to our blog, so that means we now have a good team to draw regular content from, and we also now invest in guest posts from people within the sector who we know and respect. Our audience loves that content, and it helps us to keep the blog fresh and introduce new voices. We also write the first draft of the posts in Podio too so that everyone else can comment and add to them too if they want to. It makes content creation much more collaborative for us (and fun) and that keeps it manageable.
– My partner (who also works for my company) used to be a technology journalist too, so he’s a rather handy source of knowledge on the latest news and updates about tech products and launches.

2) What’s the most surprising social media outcome you’ve experienced this year? What did you learn?

We were commissioned just recently to fill a resource gap for a client. Their social media officer had left, and it would be about 6 weeks before the new one would arrive. So, we took over some really basic community management for them as interim cover. During this period they had a visit day on their campus and so we were on hand (but working remotely) to do the social community management for that. The biggest shock to me was how little social interaction there was. Literally through the whole day, only a handful of people were sharing their experience online.

We’d managed social media for university visit days for other clients before, and had only ever experienced a really buzzing stream of content. But the difference here is that we hadn’t been asked by the client to put a plan in place for making the most of social media through the day or to help them drive it. It just reminded me that even in 2015 you have to really go for it and really put a lot of effort into maximising social media during live events, even with a young and socially very active audience. Being involved in community management without a plan underpinning it to drive engagement really reminded me of the value of investing in that planning time up front and coming up with those big ideas for social engagement and creating sharable content experiences at live events. You really can’t rest on your laurels with social media. It doesn’t “just happen”. This isn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know, but it was certainly reminding me of how much work it still is even in 2015.

3) How do you approach the question of return on investment (ROI) when it comes to social media?

I’m so pleased that you asked this as it’s such an important question. As an agency, I think we can sometimes be held more to account for this than we would be if we were an in-house team. People quite literally want to know what the return on investment is from working with us and paying for our time, so we’re forced to think about this a lot.

When it comes to social media, my biggest piece of advice is to really think about user journeys and how different tools, technologies and platforms play different roles over time as an audience develops their relationship with you and moves towards doing whatever it is that you need them to do (submit an application, make a financial gift, attend a visit day, etc). If people are clear about the objective that social media needs to deliver against for them and their organisation, then it becomes a lot easier to really measure that piece of the puzzle and the role it played in the whole decision making journey. Without breaking that down, then you’re never able to really measure it properly. Advertising value equivalents are the work of the devil, and completely meaningless, so any digital equivalent of that we would immediately want to pick holes in, or dismiss as unreliable data.

ROI is actually really simple – all you need to actually know is what resource you put into it, and what return you got. ROI with complex journeys and multiple platforms is less simple. One technique that can help (though it still has flaws) is to assign a % value of a particular action against the overall return. So, let’s say it’s here in the UK and you know that for a new student coming to your organisation, you will gain £27,000 in tuition fees. You may decide that someone visiting your website for the first time is worth 5% of that value, and someone attending your visit day is worth 30% of that value, and someone submitting an application form is worth 40% of that value. So, within that you may then say that someone asking you a question on Snapchat about the admissions process is worth 3% of the overall value, and so on. You’d need to adjust the per cent value according to the activity and your own organisation (which must be informed by some pretty robust audience research up front) and be able to defend your metrics, but it is one way of thinking through the question of ROI.

Higher Ed Social Media Conference

Tags: ,