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Just give social to the youngest member of your team. They know all about that Instasnapbook thing. And if they don’t know, they’ll figure it out.

You’ve probably heard, maybe even received, advice like this.

Creating a silo with one of your most important marketing tools and channels is counter-productive to building an effective integrated marketing culture. Why should colleges give total control and autonomy of this tool to one person on their team?

The key to resourcing your institutional social media effort is to lean hard towards integration. Just like with any other significant marketing effort, you need to have a team that develops social media strategy, executes that strategy, and measures the impact. Last year, Gettysburg College’s social media reach was 6.4 million, up from 2.5 million just two years ago. At a school our size, there are simply too many moving parts for one person to be able to do them all well.

I believe there are three ways that communications and marketing leaders can begin to think about and approach integration.

1. Make social media everyone’s responsibility

Integrate social media into everyone’s job descriptions, including your own. As the leader in the organization, you need to set the strategic direction for your social efforts. How do they connect to your key messages, your strategic plan, and institutional enrollment and development goals? Your team needs to be thinking about social every day. Someone needs to create an editorial calendar, execute, monitor, and assess. This doesn’t have to be done by one person only, but it does need to have a consistent standard. Just because a different person is posting the content, it still needs to use your institutional voice.

2. Integrate into your business processes

How does an idea, a story, a photo, a graphic, or a video become a social post at your institution? How do decisions get made about what goes on Instagram and what goes on Facebook and when they get posted? How do you ensure that you are engaged in social listening so you can take advantage of the many opportunities that pop up through the semester? Can you report key metrics to the senior team and the board to help support why there is a return on your efforts? Integrating social media into the daily business process of your team can help you turn these questions into answers. Good business process doesn't cost a lot of money and can help streamline a complex set of questions — especially for a smaller team with fewer resources. 

3. Think about social with everything that you produce

Finally, integrate social into everything you produce. For instance, at Gettysburg when we produce a story for our homepage, we plan for social media, too. The writer submits language for the social posts since they know the story best. This language is reviewed and posted by our social media coordinator, since they can make any needed tweaks considering social media best practices.  In our College Magazine, we don’t just publish letters to the editor, but we also provide screenshots of social media postings. When our office produces a video, we export a YouTube version and a Facebook version. The takeaway is that you need to produce content with social as the end-goal in mind.


Doing social media well is not easy. But too many institutions are making it harder on themselves by not integrating their efforts across the team. By adding social media to everyone’s job responsibilities, integrating social into your business process, and thinking about social with everything that your team produces, you can effectively increase your social media resources without adding a position or paying for additional consultants. But the priority needs to come from the leader—and it’s critical that he or she believes in the marketing power social media can bring to the table.

Paul Redfern leads the communications and marketing team at Gettysburg College and is a frequent presenter on marketing and brand topics at national conferences. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the College and University Public Relations and Associated Professionals (CUPRAP).

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