Getting out of your social media rut

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As the guy who essentially runs all of the content for my institution’s social media, I come across this hole… this abyss… this cavernous breach that I want to call the capital-O Office. It’s the physical form: your actual office space where you sit on your computer looking for content. But it’s also the theoretical form: meetings, division politics, planning, etc.

When you’re in higher-ed, it is so easy to lose sight of the fact that you work at a school where students live and breathe. And it’s not your fault, because getting caught up in the behind-the-scenes of your job is very easy to fall into, especially in the social media field, where lots of planning and boss meetings happen. But you need to be in front of the scene, alongside your audience.

So when you’re feeling like content isn’t coming to you as easily, or you’re not feeling at one with the spirit of your audience, I try to do these things. Some are simple, some require lots of strategy/planning (and as resources, they might not be easily attainable yet).

1. Work remotely from somewhere else on campus

The beauty of social media is that it can done from wherever, as long as there is wi-fi. And if you’re on campus, you’ll most likely find wi-fi anywhere. Find a seat at your campus coffee shop and work from there the whole day. Or set up shop at a table in the student union. A lot of times working from where all the action happens inspires new ideas and possibilities for content. Depending how large the university/college is, there’s probably be so much untapped content that you can fill up an entire content calendar for the month with. Try doing this 2-3 times a week.

2. Walk around campus

This is closely tied to working remotely, but spending 30 minutes of your day walking around campus might yield some really interesting results. It’ll get you out of the office darkness (I have no windows in mine) and get you in the mix of campus life. Maybe there’s a student-run farmer’s market happening and you didn’t even know about it. Or carry your phone with you and take photos of peculiar parts of campus.

3. Student Interns

This is a do-able feat, but it does require some legroom, and enough reasons needed to present to higher-ups. The benefit of having student interns is that they’re your audience, and they’re on the ground. They’re living campus life, so having one or two interns who attend events, and are savvy about social media, will definitely benefit you content-wise. You might not be able to pay them with money, but maybe reward them in other ways. Read Rob Engelsman’s post on creating a student social media army for Ithaca college, where he rewards students with pizza. Who doesn’t want pizza?

4. Student Affairs liaison

This can be a tricky position as far as where it falls, HR-wise. This person can either be working in Student Affairs already, and is almost like an informant for you on all-things students. Whether it’s events, initiatives, etc. Problem with this model is that since they don’t technically work in your division, communication with you is second priority next to their work queue. The other model has a PR/Marketing manager handling all Student Affairs-related initiatives under your division. This requires lots of flex and convincing with higher-ups on whether they think it’s a good investment, resource-wise. Strike a close relationship with them so you’re on top of everything student-related.

5. Go to an event

Don’t get caught up in 9-5 work life. Being a social media manager isn’t that. It’s usually a 24/7 job, so with that said, attend sports games, pep rallies, orientation. These are huge student spirit events that will get you in the thick of student life. Talk to students, introduce yourself… you might end up finding a possible intern.

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