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This post is written by Breanna Jacobs, at Social Media Strategies Summit.

Recently, the SMSsummit team chatted with Jemalyn Griffin, Assistant Director of Content and Program Marketing at Harvard University.

In her role, Jemalyn is in charge of content marketing in the division of Continuing Education which has four different brands within: Harvard Summer School, Harvard Professional Development Program, Harvard Learning and Retirement Program, and Harvard Extension School — the cornerstone brand.

In our conversation, we discuss how her team develops content to reach such a wide range of current and prospective students (most of whom work full-time), and how the team determines what content marketing and social media success looks like.

Check out the highlights of the conversation or listen to the full interview on the Social Media Strategies Summit podcast.


#SMSSummit: How do you evaluate your target audience for these specific programs, and how you approach the strategy to actually reach those folks?

JG: I oversee the program and content teams, which encompasses the strategic mindset of how we approach content marketing — including social media.

The key thing is understanding our audiences and developing personas for each brand. Once we’ve identified personas through research, focus groups and surveys, we then develop personalized messages.

An example of one of our personas is a full-time worker who hasn’t been back to school in a while, but is looking to get a promotion at their job. To connect with them, we tap into specific social and content pieces that speak to that person’s pain points. How can we help them when they’re ready to go back to school or while they’re filling out their application? At a strategy level, these pain points are the focal point of our messages. At a tactical level, we try to keep messages fun, to-the-point and creative.


#SMSSummit: What types of content do you focus on?

JG: We focus a lot on rich content like video and infographics. Each brand also has a blog that we publish to regularly. Some popular formats are question and answer sessions with a faculty member, student spotlights or guest posts. Social media continues to be one of the best ways to distribute our content to the masses.


#SMSSummit: Do you incorporate paid advertising in your social strategy? Do you boost your content, or do you rely mostly on organic traffic?

JG: We still rely heavily on organic traffic, but we do have paid advertising efforts through display and social ads. We boost posts occasionally, but any spend has to tie back to a specific goal that we are trying to accomplish.


#SMSSummit: How do you determine your KPIs and what defines success?

JG: We determine our KPIs based on 3 main objectives: Raising brand awareness, changing brand perception, or trying to change a behavior. Changing behavior could be registering for a class or filling out an RFI (request for information form).

KPIs include actions like: did they share, comment or like a post on social media? If they did leave a comment: is it positive or is it negative? We tie these metrics back to the bigger question: Of those who interact with our content, how many of them are converting to a student?

For us, a conversion means someone fills out an RFI, then registers for a course or applies to a program.


#SMSSummit: How do you track conversions and the touch points that lead to a conversion?

JG: We use Salesforce. We create touch points throughout the entire student journey — meaning once they indicate specific interests, they are automatically put into a campaign that delivers tailored content to encourage them to engage with us through our social media platforms.


#SMSSummit: Can you preview your upcoming presentation for the Higher Education Social Media Strategies Summit in Boston, entitled “Social Media: Content Generation and Monitoring Tools To Help Streamline Your Marketing Program”?

JG: I am presenting with Matt Hintsa, the social media manager for our team.

We’ll discuss monitoring and social listening, including some tools that we leverage at Harvard and how those tools help us gauge what people are saying about our brands and what content they are actually engaging with or sharing.

We’ll also talk about lifecycle engagement. A prospective student looking to learn more about attending, current students sharing their university experience, and an alumnus sharing their experience with a faculty member all have drastically different touchpoints. We’ll share what those touchpoints look like on social media.

Lastly, we’ll share how we work as an organization and how we track our content on social media, including the tools that have helped us with reporting, and how we share relevant results with senior leadership.



Check out the conference website if you’re interested in seeing Jemalyn’s presentation in person, or just learning more about the Social Media Strategies Summit – Higher Education event in Boston coming up November 2-3.



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Higher Ed Live

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