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As simple as it sounds, being a sports fan has allowed me to create a voice that I hope resonates with our followers. I hope that they see the platform as a friend rather than a brand.

Jen Galas

Director of Social Media Strategy & Digital Identity

University of Georgia

× The interview with Jen Galas was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

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1Tell us about your role as Director of Social Media Strategy & Digital Identity for the University of Georgia. What does a typical day look like for you?

In my role as the Director of Social Media Strategy and Digital Identity, I serve as the lead voice for all departmental (@UGAAthletics on Twitter and IG, @GeorgiaBulldogs on FB) social accounts.

I also develop our visual identity on digital platforms (social, email, web) and work with our sales staff to create content that can be sponsorable.

My typical day consists of planning a schedule that promotes our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and departmental initiatives through a variety of digital platforms. I also work to educate staff, student-athletes, and coaches on best practices for social.

A big part of my job is to come up with ideas to create content that fans want to see and interact with. Our job, especially now, is to deliver information in a creative way to our fans to give them a unique and interactive experience.

I also work hand-in-hand with our sales and sponsorship staff to develop content plans that can be offered to sponsors in an effort to generate additional revenue.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Ha! Far from it.

I went to school at the University of South Carolina as a PR major thinking that I was going to be the next Sam Seaborn or CJ Cregg (from The West Wing).

After a year, I realized that that probably wasn’t the best path for me. After my junior year, I realized that my scholarship ended after four years, so I needed to take some summer classes/internships in an effort to stay on a four-year plan.

I was living in Columbia, so I needed an internship locally.

I had always been interested in sports as a fan (I’m super uncoordinated and didn’t play any in high school), so when I saw an internship with the athletic department, I applied.

I completed my internship and stayed on through my junior and senior years as a student assistant. I enjoyed the fast-paced lifestyle and decided that going into sports full-time would be a good option.

At the time I worked in the sports communications office, so I set out to get a postgrad internship or job as a SID. I landed at the College of Charleston as an intern, then got a job at Elon. I made my way to Georgia when my husband got a job here.

I got out of sports for a year and hated every second of it.

I came on as a GA in the sports comm office at UGA and worked there for about 4.5 years before I moved into social full time.

I enjoyed being a SID but realized that I didn’t love it as much as I used to.

I made the promise to myself that when I stopped loving it, that I would move aside to give someone else an opportunity.

Around that same time, I was doing more and more in the social and digital space and realized that I enjoyed it so I shifted gears and moved into this role.

3As Director of Social Media Strategy & Digital Identity, you essentially speak on behalf of the University of Georgia. Through your career with UGA, how have you gone about determining and establishing the look and voice of the brand?

Establishing the look and voice for Georgia took a long time, and honestly, is constantly evolving.

Georgia is a place that is steeped in tradition, so I knew that we couldn’t go crazy.

When I hit reset on the accounts, I started as a more informative, news-like baseline.

Over the years, it has changed, and we have added more of a personality to it.

I like to say that we loosened the collar, but have undone the tie.

When deciding what to say or what something should look like, I have a unique chance to be a sports fan.

A lot of the times, I put myself in the shoes of a fan and ask, “what would I like to see?” or “what would my friend/husband/dad/mom care about?”

As simple as it sounds, being a sports fan has allowed me to create a voice that I hope resonates with our followers. I hope that they see the platform as a friend rather than a brand.

4Social and digital media can often be seen as spontaneous, but there is much more strategy and planning that goes into it! How much time do you spend planning vs. in the moment reacting? Additionally, how do you measure the success of an effort to know if you are hitting the target?

I do my best to plan for a ton of different things, but also leave room to be flexible.

For instance, I don’t want to miss out on a chance to do something spontaneous because I have something else planned. It can be difficult to build in flexibility, but it’s important to have that leeway.

I have a basic guide to what my month/week will look like, but often to schedule posts until the day of to make room for breaking news, etc.

In-game, we have a set list of things that have to get done, but a lot of the reactions are done in the moment.

5In the sports media industry, there has recently been a greater emphasis on data-driven decision making – In terms of data and research, how much goes into the planning and development process of digital and social media strategies for UGA?

We have invested over the last few years in deep social analytics that help us drive what we post.

I look at what works, what doesn’t, what changed, our audience, etc., in an effort to create an account that our fans actually pay attention to rather than just follow.

I look at week-to-week and month-to-month numbers to see what our fans reacted to or what fell flat.

For the things that fell flat, I adjust in an effort to make them more engaging.

For the things that worked well, I take a look at why or the trends behind it. Was it an artsy shot? Was it stat driven? Who was in the photo? What was the caption? Were there emojis? I look at all of those things to find trends.

Over time, you start to see what people like and why.

For example, good action photos with a clever caption about the player or the play work better for us than an artsy shot of a helmet.

6How do you incorporate digital identity into aspects of your role such as social media campaigns, marketing initiatives and digital sponsorship activations? Why is digital identity important within the sports industry?

It’s mostly just keeping a consistent look and feel. Through colors, marks, logos, typefaces, presets, etc.

We often work on a template-based system for a lot of the day-to-day stuff.

I don’t have a huge department with a ton of people, so it was important to create a system that could be updated with ease.

Creating that identity allows for uniformity through all of the different sports/groups under the umbrella of the athletic association.

Having a digital identity is becoming more and more important. My goal is to make sure that fans know it’s Georgia without having to see a logo.

We aren’t competing for fandom, we are competing for attention. That attention isn’t just specific to sports. We are competing with every person, brand, team, celebrity, etc., that a person follows for a small percentage of their attention.

My goal is to have someone know it is UGA before they see the handle or a logo. It creates an affinity.

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In her role as Director of Social Media Strategy & Digital Identity for the University of Georgia, Jen Galas is the lead voice for all departmental social accounts. Jen established the look and voice for these platforms which continues to constantly evolve. As an avid sports fan herself, Jen tends to look at UGA's social platforms through the lens of a fan. What would they want to see from the brand? What will keep them engaged and retain their attention? In addition, Jen hopes that followers of UGA see such social platforms as a friend rather than a brand. Not only does Jen strive to create a voice that resonates with fans but, she personifies the entire experience. The strategy behind social media for UGA is fan-oriented and Jen is doing a fantastic job in executing what that looks like. 

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