As we all know, social media doesn’t take days off. So when a number of professional opportunities recently left our team understaffed for a month, I decided to cover day-to-day management of our social content and engagement.
Some people laughed when I told them. Others gasped. And they all asked – how I would do this in addition to my own full-time job?
I’ll admit I was concerned. Although I had been part of the social media team since 2016, I had only occasionally actually pushed the buttons to control our accounts, and certainly not for an extended period of time.
But as is common with professional “opportunities,” this was a valuable learning experience for me, and a chance to realize just how many life lessons also apply to running social media, for example:
Mistakes are inevitable. Own them, learn from them and move on.
“It’s a rite of passage,” my colleague said when I texted her in a panic one evening, after a Twitter follower pointed out that I had linked to the wrong story from a tweet. The follower’s #loveduke response to my correction was a welcome affirmation of the community we engage with on our social channels. I made other mistakes after that, but never again failed to double check my links.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
We generally post to our Instagram feed and story once a day during the week, and I was fortunate that colleagues from our digital team – skilled photographers, videographers and designers – were happy to plan and create our content for the month. They recommended photos for the feed and pulled together slides for our daily stories for me to post.
When I realized my Insta caption skills weren’t really going to cut it, and that I risked spending many long hours agonizing over captions, our student social media team jumped in and suggested captions that resonated with our followers. (Pro tip: this caption business is way harder than it looks.)
Quality output requires real investment.
We can – and should – find ways to be efficient in our work, but there are no shortcuts to quality.
Last year we adjusted our strategy for the @DukeU Twitter feed, vastly reducing our retweets of other Duke accounts and increasing the volume of original tweets. While that’s helping us support important institutional goals, it has also added a solid two hours to our daily workload.
Managing all of our channels, monitoring and responding to hundreds of mentions and messages a day, and trying to get my other work done meant that I had to reduce the volume of our tweets in order to get it all done. As a result, our posting volume and engagement measures were significantly down for the month I was trying to do it all.
We have a small but mighty social media team, and although it was a good test to see what we could get done with fewer human resources, it was also a clear demonstration of the resources our team needs to deliver the best results for the university.
We’re back to full staff now, and I’m happy to have real pros managing our channels again. I’m also grateful I had this opportunity and glad I took the leap to do it, even if my Instagram captions still need some help.