Behind the screen: DMACC’s social media team

Tucked away down the sidewalk from Trail Point sits Building 21; most students may have walked by without even noticing. This is where DMACC’s Marketing and Public Relations Office is housed, including the three-person team that runs the school’s social media.

First, there is Lisa Schmitz of West Des Moines. She is a Public Relations and Social Media Specialist for DMACC. Her time working as a news reporting intern at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, and as a reporter for the Lawrence Journal-World, helped develop skills used for public relations.

She focuses on working with local media members, covering events, writing press materials and content for the DMACC Daily,  as well as updating DMACC’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Second is Noah O’Toole of Des Moines. After working at a non-profit, he came to DMACC to get a degree in web development and a certificate in digital marketing.

After working part time at DMACC for two years, he became DMACC’s full-time digital marketing specialist. His focus tends to be on DMACC’s Instagram and Snapchat channels.

Last but not least is Vicki Voogt of Ankeny. She is DMACC’s digital marketing lead, and has a lot of experience with all kinds of social media, especially when it comes to  managing DMACC’s LinkedIn and the DMACC website.

Students may think that social media accounts, even for larger organizations, are run by a single person, but that isn’t the case, explained Schmitz. “You’ll find that with our group, we tend to have areas [of focus] because it is such a big job,” Schmitz said. “You could call us a team for sure.”

There are many different social media platforms, and O’Toole thinks it is important to keep up on all of them. “Each platform is sort of tailored to a different audience,” O’Toole said. “Facebook and Twitter are very news- and fact-orientated and your Instagram and Snapchat are obviously very visually-driven.”

Schmitz said, “there is something to be said about those visual channels [Snapchat and Instagram].” They can draw people in ways that words and headlines may not, and, much like the different forms of learning, there are many different ways in which people prefer to engage with social media.

DMACC has almost 19,000 followers on Facebook, and about 6,500 on Twitter. Although they don’t have as many followers on Instagram and Snapchat, this is where a lot of the students choose to engage with DMACC.

However, their social media efforts are seen by more than just students. Schmitz said, “we do find that [Facebook] tends to be a bit of an older crowd,” and is where a lot of parents follow DMACC.

Twitter is important to DMACC in a way in which students probably wouldn’t expect. In addition to students, Schmitz said, “A lot of media members follow our Twitter, as well as business members and community partners.”

For example, Schmitz said local media members often reach out after reading a tweet from DMACC about an upcoming event or story on campus, and want to do a story of their own. DMACC partners such as Amazon, which has partnered with the College to offer Amazon Web Services (AWS) training, follow along and engage as well.

The staff takes great consideration when determining what is worth posting. One way in which DMACC determines what is newsworthy is with social media monitoring software that flags when DMACC is mentioned in the news. However, the most important factor to consider is whether the content that is being posted is relatable to students.

In regards to sharing a story about student loan debt in the U.S. that the team had spotted online, O’Toole said, “we talked and thought the tone of that particular article wasn’t helpful because it didn’t offer any potential solutions or advice for students.” Helpfulness and relatability is key when deciding what to share.

DMACC is an inclusive institution, and the school’s social media keeps that in mind. Schmitz said, “We want to have a conversation with people that they want to have … DMACC is for everyone and we want our social media to reflect that.”

This attitude carries over to moderating student responses to posts as well. For example, when it comes to posts about political candidates coming to DMACC, a student may post a negative comment about them that will need to be addressed. “We are careful to never delete things [on Facebook],” O’Toole said. “If something is really unfortunate -and that is pretty rare- we’ll go in and hide it so the person who posts it isn’t offended that we removed it.”

If it isn’t allowed on campus, it isn’t allowed on the campus’s social media either. It doesn’t happen often, which shows how considerate DMACC students are of each other, and of viewpoints that may disagree with their own.

Another reason why content may be excluded is due to sheer volume. Voogt said, “We seem to have a lot of content … we have to edit ourselves so we’re not constantly flooding our stream.” Too much content could bury the pieces that are important for students to see, or students would likely unfollow altogether, Voogt said.

During slower times of the year, such as the summer semester, DMACC has what is called “evergreen” content which helps keep the feeds fresh and energetic. These are the posts that can be used anytime of the year at anytime of the day, and would still feel applicable. “Sometimes it’s just getting the information out,” Voogt said regarding the potential usefulness of evergreen content as reminders for students.

One thing that the DMACC social media department would like students to know is they are always open to suggestions and new ideas on how to make the social media experience even better. A great way to reach out to them is through direct messages on their various different channels. They also like to see school pride and posts involving students engaging with the DMACC experience.

Facebook: DMACCBears

Twitter: @DMACCNews

LinkedIn: Des Moines Area Community College

YouTube: DMACCVideos

Instagram: @dmaccpix

Snapchat: dmaccnews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *