1Tell us about your role as Assistant Director of Social & Digital Strategy for the University of Texas at Austin. What does a typical day look like for you?
My role as the Assistant Director of Social & Digital Strategy is ever-changing but incredibly rewarding. At its core, my role is to manage the social strategy for our department as well as lead in managing the @TexasLonghorns Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok channels.
No two days are the same for me, as I assist with events, lead our student-athlete LEVERAGE program, contribute to our Creative Development brainstorms and marketing meetings, take photos, cover events with social, work with our partners at Longhorn Sports Properties (our partners with Learfield/IMG College), edit photos, the list goes on and on.
My career goals are to lead and innovate in anything that I do. If I can make something better, I am always going to strive to do it.
Our Creative Development team at Texas is a group of incredible individuals focused on making our content and brand better each day. We challenge each other and we are always looking for new and creative ways to engage our audience. No day is typical, and that is why I enjoy social and digital.
2Social media is often viewed as an in the moment, fun and spontaneous way of being creative. Although social media does present opportunities such as the ones listed above to be creative, how much strategizing, tracking and data collection is involved in your role? Why are they significant in a digital strategy role?
At Texas, we strive to find purpose behind everything we post and want our content to fit into the big picture of our strategy and brand goals.
That being said, strategizing, tracking and data are huge components of my role. We decide which analytics or key performance indicators measure success for certain content and make sure that we respect what success means for that post, tweet, video, etc.
If it isn’t engaging or doesn’t serve a business objective, we take a hard look at how we can either make it better or move on to a new idea.
This is significant in a digital strategy role because it allows us to evolve with our audience and respect their interests while also steering our content toward interaction.
Our sponsors also want their content to be successful, so it is my job to have a general understanding of what will perform, and what won’t.
I’m not perfect by any means, but my ability to empathize with our audience and to be able to market to that same audience through engaging social and digital content means I am doing my job and effectively.
3How did you learn the analytical side of social and digital channels? Is the data side just as interesting to you as the creative side?
I started my career in sports information/media relations because I was able to be both creative and analytical. It’s cliché to say, but I could use both sides of my brain. I could calculate hitting percentage and ERA in the same day that I design a graphic or take a photo. I find that the balance between the two is what has made me successful in a social media role.
Learning the analytical side was easy for me because I have always been interested in statistics and how they are measured. In the social and digital world, I can also affect them through strategy, something I was never able to do when using statcrew as a sports information contact.
4As a brand, the University of Texas at Austin has utilized a digital strategy that focuses on growth and engagement. In order to achieve such, how do you know where to invest your time and what will be worth it according to your audience?
Our goal as the Creative Development team is to lead and innovate, when it comes to the @TexasLonghorns accounts, we focused on breaking the mold of the traditional channel where sponsorship would check a box. Our strategy was to build a channel that focused on our student-athletes and brand, but through the lens of the fan. We wanted our audience to be excited and to feel part of our team.
In the early parts of our new strategy implementation, our focus was to change the way that our current audience viewed the account, while also attracting new fans to invest their time in our content.
Texas has always had amazing photography, so we looked at ways that we could showcase that strength in our new voice and tone. We established a ratio of sponsored-to-not-sponsored content, we took a hard look at a lot of the content that we normally would put on social and asked “does this belong here?”, if the answer was no, we either abandoned it or innovated how we presented it.
Ultimately, we knew that if we built our audience the right way, it would pay off in sponsorship and our partnership with Learfield/IMG College couldn’t be stronger as we all focus our efforts on making social media content as engaging as possible. As with all innovation, not everything is a winner, but we take chances and our team is focused on interaction and growth.
5Content ideation, creation and evaluation isn’t easy! What are some of the big creative challenges you face throughout the content creation process? What about smaller ones?
The creative process can be challenging and intimidating, but when you frame it as problem solving, it can become more manageable.
If you look at a big creative challenge as a singular problem, asking “what is the goal?”, “what are we looking to accomplish?” and “what can our brand do to make this unique?” we are generally able to reverse engineer a concept, then the team can work together to come to a solution to that problem.
By focusing on purpose and goal, content ideation can be simplified when it is a bigger challenge. For smaller challenges, we like to ask questions like “what haven’t we done before?” or “what is something you would like to try?”
The Creative Development team is constantly looking at the vast creativity on social media, gleaning pieces of ideas or concepts and expanding on them to fit Texas.
6Social media is a changing landscape. Ideas, apps and trends come and go – so, from your perspective, where do you see the future of social and digital going? What is coming down the pipeline that may have a chance to last?
I think what is so great about social media is we all get to advance along with it.
I love the future of name, image and likeness for student-athletes and being able to leverage their personal brands.
TikTok has also been my guilty pleasure, I see everything from photography tips to new recipes and cute dog videos.
I think TikTok is an industry disruptor with a lot of advertising potential for our sponsors. It’s so innovative in its content sharing that I think a lot of brands will use this to reach consumers in the near future.