How do you manage social media for a niche audience with limited content, resources and support?
In April 2022, I was thrown into the world of social media management. I was named the social media coordinator for the Division I Manhattan College Jasper Dancers. Going into my third year as a team member, I was excited to be a part of sharing the talent, strength and determination of our team for the next season. However, I quickly learned that the role was not just pretty pictures and cute captions.
When I first began running the team’s social media during the summer, I had little to no content to work with. Our first team photoshoot wouldn’t be until September, the new team wouldn’t even be officially announced until August. I spent the majority of my summer on Canva making graphics from old team pictures and begging my teammates for blurbs on what they were excited for in the upcoming season or what words of wisdom they would give to new students. I was frustrated by the lack of engagement and more frustrated by the feeling that there was nothing I could do about it.
When school began, my hopes began to rise. I jumped right into planning our first team media shoot with my co-coordinator. Dance isn’t regarded as a sport at Manhattan College, our team is technically a club, falling under Student Engagement. This unfortunately means we have a much tighter budget and have to fight to be treated with the same respect as other teams at our school. I had to jump through hoop after hoop to book a space on campus for us to take pictures in. I would go back and forth with representatives from Athletics, Events, Student Engagement and more just to get solidified plans for my team.
Apart from taking pictures, the posting, scheduling, graphics and engagement on our Instagram and Facebook accounts, are all done by me. This is quite the workload for a student also balancing classes, clubs and team practices. As we are reaching the end of our season, I have learned a lot during my time in the position.
This may go without saying; however, even though I pride myself on having great organizational skills, social media management is a whole different ball game. I found that having a posting schedule was the best way to keep myself organized. Being able to see your full schedule laid out in front of you not only helps you plan future posts but can keep you consistent on your posting times.
Individuals who had my position previously had relentlessly told me it was impossible to get certain spaces booked or that certain departments were difficult to collaborate with. Initially, I blindly believed them. But as I began asking for space and working with different departments, I was able to develop relationships and collaborations with many departments and clubs on campus. If you lead with respect and confidence in your organization, people are willing to help.
There were many times when ideas of mine were shut down. It was frustrating to feel like I was receiving constant criticism. Constructive criticism is important and should be acknowledged but having confidence in your creativity is also essential when it comes to social media. Early in the year, I planned an artistic contemporary photoshoot for our team. This was very different from shoots we had done in the past. I was met with a lot of skepticism and hesitation by my teammates. But my coaches believed in my idea and the photos ended up being some of the most popular posts on our page in 2022.
Going hand in hand with #3, know that engagement is fluid. You could get a massive amount of likes on one post and the next day receive a fraction of the engagement. It’s important to not let this discourage you, but instead help influence your future planning. Whether that be posting times or content types, learning from your past engagement is the best way to plan for increased engagement in the future.
There is obviously still so much to learn. With social media becoming such an essential part of public relations and marketing, it is crucial for up-and-coming PR students to understand the ins and outs of such platforms. In March, our team’s Instagram account saw an almost 15% increase in engagement. Managing social media for a niche interest organization with few resources is difficult, but it’s very possible to find success if you stay committed.
Brylee Watkins is a rising Senior at Manhattan College studying communication, with a dual concentration in public relations and media production and a minor in film studies. She joined PRSSA in 2021, during her sophomore year. From 2022-2023, she served as her Chapter’s publicity and recruitment coordinator and will serve as Chapter president during her senior year. Brylee has been a member of the Manhattan College Jasper Dancers for three years. During the 2022-2023 season, she managed the team’s social media. She has also managed social media for various clubs, a small business and a nonprofit.