I joined #CSUSocial in the fall of 2014 and for the past four and a half years, I’ve had the honor of representing Colorado State University on social media.
Managing social media for a large brand like Colorado State University has been – in a word – EPIC. I guess you could say this job has given me all the feels. It’s been a fun, hard, interesting, challenging, frustrating, fulfilling, and rewarding chapter in my life book. This job has put me in the middle of some really fun, exciting, and special moments here at Colorado State. My team and I won Webby and Shorty Awards, we presented to hundreds of people at various conferences, I’ve stood on the 20-yard line of our football stadium in the middle of smoke and flames and cannons while football players sprinted past. I’ve worked with Temple Grandin. I’ve held CAM the Ram’s baby sheep. I’ve photographed more puppies on campus than I ever thought imaginable. But as the saying goes, “the only thing that stays the same, is change,” and now, it’s time. Change is upon me.
Before I was introduced to the world of social media management, I’ve spent my career as a graphic designer. So, when I recently had the opportunity to get back into a role that focused more design and strategy, I decided to take a leap of faith and accepted a new position. Starting July 1, I will begin my next chapter as I join The CSU System in Denver as their Associate Creative Director. The CSU System is the overarching brand of CSU’s three campuses; Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CSU Pueblo and CSU Global.
As my final days on campus dwindle, I’ve reflected a lot on my time here in Fort Collins. I’m thankful for so many moments, lessons and experiences. And, of course, I’m thankful I had the opportunity to learn a new trade, expanding my social media skill set. I’ve been asked several times, “What is your advice to new social media managers?” I do have some advice that I’d like to share. Not only to my fellow #hesm family but to my team, Team Social:
1. Stay Hungry
Remember your first day? You probably had a million amazing ideas running through your creative head. If you were like me, you probably wanted to do all the things, cover all the things, photograph all the things, etc. It’s easy to lose focus sometimes, especially when annual projects come around again and you think to yourself, “How in the world will I create another engaging Founder’s Day video?” Dig in. Stay motivated and hungry. After all, you have a highly sought after, awesomely fun job.
2. You Will Fail
Without the rain, there wouldn’t be rainbows, and if you never felt the bitter taste of failure, you’d never appreciate the sweet taste of success. Understand that failure is part of the process, especially in an industry where changes and updates are happening every day. Social media is the only job I’ve ever had where success or failure is measured instantly. Your audience either “likes” it or they don’t. And that can be a bit of an ego bruiser. So when your next big social media idea bombs, and it most likely will at some point, have grit, be persistent, learn from your mistakes, and always find a takeaway. But most of all, hang in there. Don’t doubt your creative talent and don’t be afraid to try ideas that are out-of-the-box.
3. Stay Inspired
Some succeed because they are destined to do so. Most succeed because they are determined to do so. Staying inspired takes discipline and determination. It means making time to keep yourself informed. Watch a tutorial video. Learn a new software program. Keep yourself relevant. In all honesty, this isn’t always as easy as it seems. At times, I’ve even fallen victim to the uninspired doldrums of work. But don’t fall into this trap. Stay on top of trends. Carve out space in your day to become a student.
4. Be a Helper
Social media is more than a place to connect with friends and family, it’s where customers to reach out to brands when they need help or advice. So help them. Stay on top of your inboxes. Answer all the questions. Engage with fans in your newsfeed. Let them know you’re listening. Schedule 15 minutes into your day to answer questions and engage. And don’t just be a helper to your audience, be a helper to your team. Be a helper to others in different departments. Be a helper to other industry professionals. Just be helpful.
5. Don’t Take Your Job For Granted
I’ve told people that choosing to leave my job with #CSUSocial feels like I’m jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. We have SUCH a good thing going here at Colorado State. Even Higher Ed Experts is questioning my decision to leave 😂👇
Congratulations, Jen on the new job!
We will miss you at our #hesm conferences.@jensmith7 you're leaving a strong #CSUSocial team. https://t.co/jiwV5fI8JD
— higheredexperts (@higheredexperts) June 3, 2019
This last tip isn’t just for people who are lucky enough to get paid to manage social media, this final piece of advice is for my team. So to my #CSUSocial family, you are so talented. You are so lucky. You get to wake up, drive to a beautiful campus, work in an iconic building on the Oval, and tell CSU’s story to the world. You have the gear, equipment, and the freedom to create whatever you want. You have a boss and a support system that will go to bat for you and help you grow. You have a new, hopeful, inspiring president to guide you. All you have to do is stay motivated. Stay hungry. Stay inspired. Get back up when you fail. Help each other. It’s been a pleasure to work with you, to learn from you, and to stand with you. Now go out there, get those ideas flowing, and win another damn Webby Award!
Want to stay in touch? Follow my new adventures with the CSU System on Twitter @jensmith7.
Thanks for everything. Peace out ✌️👉