If you’re a social media manager, try this experiment. Individually send an email to everyone in your university’s leadership asking what they think is the primary goal for your university’s social media channels. To avoid overly diplomatic answers that basically say everything is a priority, you can also ask them to rank what they consider the top three goals.
I promise that you will not get two identical answers.
A university’s social media channels frequently get pulled into university politics. Social media managers frequently hear complaints like, “Why aren’t you posting more about student services?” or “We had a major fundraising event last week and it wasn’t even mentioned on the primary handles!” or “You posted five times last month about admissions, but not once about our department!”
Just because a post doesn’t explicitly say “apply now” or “click here to donate” doesn’t mean it’s not working towards those goals.
Without clearly defined goals that are set and agreed upon by all those at the highest levels of leadership, social media managers will continue to face these criticisms and be working in the dark, struggling to create a consistent strategy without a clear indication of what institutional goals they are working towards. Your university’s social media strategy will become dictated by whatever VP has recently complained the loudest.
Additionally, university leadership needs to understand that a university’s channels can serve a multitude of audiences and goals, but that may not alway look like what they expect. I often say that every post is an admissions post. Every post is an advancement post. Every post is an alumni post, etc. The post about campus safety may have come at the request of the student services office, but it also helps admissions as it might make a parent feel better about sending their child to your university. A post about a faculty member’s research might be the key to convince a potential donor to make a large donation.
Just because a post doesn’t explicitly say “apply now” or “click here to donate” doesn’t mean it’s not working towards those goals in some way. But the goals need to be set ahead of time and the social media manager needs to know what the priorities are in order to achieve them.
Send that email to your leadership asking what they think your social channels’ goals should be. Then present those answers to leadership. It should be eye-opening to them that you’ve received so many different responses. Use that as a starting point to decide what the top goals are and have leadership agree to those goals. Because without clear goals, there’s really no point in having social channels at all.