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Platform Problems

Platform Problems Podcast Episode

Welcome back to our 6th season of Josie and the Podcast! I am so glad to have you back and excited to dig into this new season, which is all about change. Changes in life, careers, transitions, and how we can prioritize time management during these crazy periods. 

Have you heard of the “pandemic skip?” Whether it was your relationship with your family, your career, traveling, or any other part of life, the pandemic uprooted all of us and stole a few years from us! This season, we’re going to talk about it, and I’ll be asking my guests for lessons, things that they’re still grappling with, and how we can all continue to move on after those rough and isolating years.

In this first kick-off episode, I’ll update you on what’s been going on in my life since last year’s mental health season. And then we were getting into platform problems. (And yes, if you’re humming Champagne Problems right now, you’ve got the right idea.) 

We’re diving into the struggle-bus of Twitter/X, how I feel about Threads, the accessibility of all these different platforms, TikTok trends, how social media is the loneliest job on campus, and a few AI resources to take with you towards the end of the show.

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Josie and the Podcast is produced in partnership with University FM, a podcast agency dedicated to higher education. University FM works with leading colleges and universities to tell stories on campus that build branding, drive engagement, and connect communities. Reach out to team@university.fm to connect on podcast strategy, production, and growth. We look forward to talking with you!

Element451 is a proud sponsor of Josie and the Podcast. Element451 is an AI-powered, all-in-one student engagement platform, helping institutions create meaningful, personalized, and engaging interactions with students. Our platform harnesses the power of Artificial Intelligence to seamlessly tailor content for each individual, bridging the gap between broad outreach and personal touchpoints. Fueled by intelligent automation and deep data insights, teams are free to focus on what matters most — building real connections with students. Learn more at Element451.com. 

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[00:00:00] Josie and the Podcast is produced by the lovely team over at University FM. They are the higher ed podcast agency and help communicators build community, share research, and inspire thoughtful discussions with podcasts that resonate. Strategy, production, audience growth — they can help you do it all. Go to university.fm or click the link in the show notes to get started today.

I am thrilled to share that Element451 is a sponsor for season six. What if your team of two could do the work of 20? This sounds good to me. Element451, the all-in-one intelligent student engagement platform, combines AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants, workflow automation, and modern marketing tools to hyper-personalize student communication and boost team productivity.

The easy-to-use platform can help you optimize the entire student journey, from application to graduation and beyond, ensuring that every exchange between your institution and its students is meaningful, personalized, and engaging. Y’all can tell why I was so excited to have them be a partner for this podcast, because you see, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to craft personalized content at scale was once unimaginable. But not today. Visit element451.com for a demo and join the future of student engagement.

[00:02:11] Hello, and welcome to Josie and the Podcast. I’m Josie, and I’m so happy to have you with me today. What does it mean to lead in the digital space with heart and humanity? On this podcast, I spend time answering this question with heart, soul, and lots of substance. My goal is to share conversations that encourage you, empower you, and even entertain you to rethink digital strategy for yourself and the organizations you support.

Welcome to season six of Josie and the Podcast. I cannot believe we are here today. We have been on a little summer break, a siesta, not a long one, like, some seasons pass. But if you are brand new to the podcast, welcome! I’m so excited that you’ve chosen to even listen to this one or maybe actually hit subscribe or follow.

My name’s Josie, and I have been exploring digital communications, social media, into what my research discusses on digital leadership, digital community building, and engagement for student success using social media tools.

And this podcast tries to intersect all of those goodies with meaningful conversations, with timely information, and, you know, hopefully, some silliness in there, too, because I think we could use some levity right now.

[00:04:05] Today, I am recording this on November 1st, which I feel like, podcasts, we can get out fairly quick, compared to some modalities. But especially, the topics I’m talking about today, stuff could change in the next 15 days. And that’s really related to the topics we’re talking about today, is about time, change. We’re going to talk about platforms, their problems, as well as their possibilities. And I’ll, kind of, give you a lowdown about what I’ve been up to, what I’m going to be up to, and lots of other goodness all in between.

This season is going to look pretty similar to last season, as far as having a mix of both guests and episodes where it’s just me. And those are called shorties, because, well, I’m, I’m short. And so, that’s where that name comes from. And we’re kicking off in November, and we’ll be going through the spring.

Last season’s focus was on mental health and wellness. I especially was on my own journey. I’ve always been really good about, you know, going to the gym, exercising, doing the woo-woo stuff in LA, and doing therapy. But I finally got to a point, and it was actually Halloween last year, was, it was, kind of, like, an interesting reflection point because it was last year on Halloween that I would not at all call it rock bottom, but it was a wakeup call that I needed to put even more tools in my toolkit for my mental health.

And you can check out the season five kickoff episode, “Hey, Higher Ed, Are You Okay?” where I talk about my own okayness or not okayness. And the status update a year later is I have never felt more okay. I definitely have some higher anxiety days than others that I would like. Some of that is due to, well, how good the business is doing, that I have birthed over these last 10 years. And just, I think, my DNA of who I am.

But this podcast is also trying to bring down the walls of our own humanity and imperfections. So, anyone listening can feel like they, especially in an industry like higher ed, when we feel like we have to perform and be so perfect, if you think that is who I am, I want to take down those misperceptions, not in a way that is hopefully not going to make you think less of me, but we can connect more on a human level.

So, I thought a lot about, what do I want the topic this year to be? Should I just keep talking about mental health and wellness? Because I think we all still need it, but it was actually interesting. I posted, like, a poll on LinkedIn. And it was nearly immediately people could rank the different topics, that one of them that I listed, kind of, on the fly, about transitions, specifically, life and career, quickly gained steam of that being the top topic.

So, that’s going to be our theme. And it’s going to be also situated in a more broader topic of change that I think is grounded in all the work that I do, too, is so much of technology, social media, and leadership, and higher ed is going through so much change, and that can do a variety of things to us and the way that we approach different things.

[00:08:00] I also want to give one last reflection on season five is I’ve dedicated the season to my good colleague, friend, and mentor, Adam Peck, who passed last September. And I am so excited to share that he’s being honored as a NASPA Foundation Pillar of the Profession. And so, in the show notes, I’ll include a link to give in his name. And I’ll be in Seattle at the NASPA conference to also celebrate his life and legacy.

[00:08:37] As we think about life and transitions, I came across this article that literally had me stop my scrolls, in my tracks, this concept of the pandemic skip. Now, before that LinkedIn poll, I thought I was going to maybe make the theme of the podcast season about just this concept of time, because I have been grappling it with myself. I went into the pandemic turning 39. And now I’m blowing through 42. And my closet is confused, my mind and body, you know, I’m not going to make this about, you know, like, women’s health, but I feel like I am catching up to where I am. And this phenomenon is actually being discussed way more. And so, I also just, kind of, want to put that out as we think about life transitions and time. I’m going to link a couple articles.

This one from The Cut said that COVID warped our perception of time, that, you know, it tended to be so well-established, but now it feels quite unclear when we were home for months on end. It felt both fast and slow. And there’s more discoveries of how, for example, high schoolers who never went to middle school in person now going into high school classrooms and their behaviors being maybe more representative of what would be seen in middle school.

On TikTok, women, especially, have been talking about the concept of time in this pandemic skip, especially, and at least, so far, women who started the pandemic in their 20s and now are in their 30s. So, I’m like the big sister auntie to them now in my 40s. As we think about different life experiences and mile markers, psychologist Nova Cobban describes a pandemic skip as a sense that we have missed out a chunk of time, growth, and opportunity as a result of our lives going on pause during the pandemic. And they’re calling it a once-in-a-generation black hole.

And the same psychologist, always in this podcast, I don’t want to just talk about, like, “Oh, this, this is the reality. Let’s just sit with that.” I also want to give you possibilities. Hence, the approach to this episode. And so, this psychologist gives us some ways that we can do for our brains and our bodies to feel more aligned.

So, the first one is to remap your time over the pandemic. So, it literally could be a visual timeline if you… either you’re writing it, maybe you’re drawing it out. And so, we can have those mile markers, those accomplishments, those things that happen, no matter if you were just doing them in your home.

Number two is accept what has happened. I think that’s also a big part of change management, is acceptance, that the emotional toll is the push against the change or the facts. The psychologist says acknowledge the way you feel, that things feel out of sync, that you missed out, maybe, on some key experiences, and look what was gained, too.

And then, the final advice they have is reset your goals and ambitions, what you wanted to maybe accomplish by certain points of your life to recalibrate, and then purposely realign on what you really care about. And I find that is applicable, no matter if we’re talking about career, life, fitness, social media strategy, everything else in between.

[00:12:40] So, I want to know, maybe if you’re going through your own pandemic skip experience and what that maybe pocket is, was it your relationship with your family, your career, traveling, any other parts of life? This season, we’re going to talk about it. And especially, the guests that I bring on, I’m going to ask them for lessons, and maybe even, honestly, things that they’re still grappling with. Because, while I do find it’s helpful to have case studies where it’s all figured out, again, the goal of this podcast is about heart and humanity. And so, sometimes just sitting with the stickiness of current situations, I think, can be really grounding. And to feel like you’re… you feel seen.

So, some status updates about me before we dig into the topic today about platform problems, because there’s a lot of them, is some fun stuff, okay? Even now, we’re not, you know, we’re not in lockdowns. We’re living our lives. But I am still watching all of the things, especially reality TV. This is my escape. I left the bachelor franchise for a long time ago, but they got me back, y’all. And I am watching The Golden Bachelor, just they have got. I am sunk. I’m in it. I don’t know if by the time this comes out the show will be wrapped. It’s still going. And/or go back and binge it. It’s how I want to be at that age. I mean, I hope my partner and I are still alive and together, but these women are so great to each other. And The Bachelor is actually really tender and caring. It’s just everything that I need.

Another reality show that I’m not sure is probably the opposite of that is Sister Wives. I have been watching Sister Wives since it came out. And now, especially for those of you that are, like, on Max, previously known as HBO, it’s on there now. And it’s just drama, drama, drama. I probably shouldn’t. There’s a lot of problems on there, let’s just say.

What I tend to go to watching at lunchtime is Below Deck. I actually have a friend that is a producer on that show. And I’ve actually never been on a boat that you could sleep on, you know, like, been out on little day cruises or whatever. So, maybe, that could be an interesting goal in the next 10 years, not to actually be on that show. They spend beaucoup bucks to even step foot on those.

And then, not a reality show and actually a movie. Of course, I went to the Barbie movie, went with a friend. It was just everything my heart needed and more. And so… and of course, there’s so much we could unpack about marketing about that movie.

I also, as a podcast creator, I consume a ton of podcasts. One that I discovered this summer that I am just enjoying so very much, it’s called, It’s Going To Be Okay. And the great thing also is it’s short, it’s story-based, and like this episode, typically, someone is writing in with a challenge they overcame or a difficult story. But the other side of that, that it’s going to be okay, that even in our biggest challenges in life, that we can see pockets of hope. And I love listening to those short episodes that they give me, even in challenges, that little sparkle of hope.

We also know there’s so much going on in our world. And for my own mental health, I have had to unsubscribe from some podcasts or news feeds. And we’ll talk about Twitter and X in a little bit. But it is important for me to stay informed. I felt, growing up, often, I felt like there was information in a small town of Newcastle, Wyoming that I just couldn’t get to, or even our local… you know, we didn’t have the internet back then. But I did go overboard in previous years about wanting to consume everything. But the podcast, Pantsuit Politics, two women. Originally, one was Republican, one was Democrat. And they both have moved a bit more onto the, the left side. But I would still say a little in the middle, I find that their reporting and just storytelling is so helpful. And also, just a shameless plug for them. They have a Patreon, so you can learn from them in community. But also, you can bring them to your college campus.

And I think they’re doing some really good work, because they’ve written a book that I’ll link to to basically how do we have difficult conversations with people that we don’t agree with, from our parents, our partners, our coworkers, and the list goes on.

[00:18:03] The next one that is a little bit more lighter is Flightless Bird. It’s part of the Armchair Expert, you know, like, suite. And it’s a documentarian that got stuck in America during the pandemic and now has, kind of, turned in a whole show about it. I think he’s from New Zealand. And he just does things that are like, “Oh, yeah, in America we do this. Over there, they don’t do this.” And the latest one was about, like, you know, like, scary… what are the, what are the things I never go to? Scary house. What are, what are these things called? Like, Universal Studios makes the whole place scary. I can’t think of it because I literally am protecting my own mental health by not going to those places, because I’m a scaredy cat.

The last one I would recommend, if you are looking for a story, you don’t want to totally get into the whole crime podcast genre, but you do like a little drama and, like, storytelling, is a series called Scamanda. It’s about a woman who faked having cancer and had this whole ring of fundraising and faked it. And it’s just one, you know, like, series. So, it was start to finish. That might be a great one to “binge,” if you’re doing some traveling or you’re going to clean your house or something. But that one, oh, my goodness.

And then, higher ed podcasts. Ed Surge had a podcast episode all about admissions use and understanding for social listening. For example, they talked about Reddit and TikTok and where potential students are reall listening and learning about, possibly, where to go to college. I will link to that one. I think it would be so very helpful.

Trusted Voices is back with just a slight shift up in their formatting. So, we get to hear from Teresa and Erin even more, which I love.

SA NOW, Student Affairs Now, is on fire. Like, I can’t believe every time I see their stats, people are tuning in. And it is such a great need.

Related to student affairs, NASPA Voices with Jill Creighton. Their series this season is also about career transitions. And so, I’m really enjoying hearing people’s stories in their paths.

[00:20:31] As I think about other parts of my life and it being, so November 1st, so it’s officially the holidays… happy holidays, happy new year, all of the things. I think about how I’m being influenced online. And I’m embarrassed that I’m not embarrassed about it. Maybe closer to the actual, you know, like, Christmas time, I’ll talk about this. But I did do an influencer episode, the very last episode of season five, which has gotten quite a good amount of reach. So, I think people are into that concept of influencer marketing in higher ed. But I think it’s the more time I spend on TikTok, the more I’m getting influence.

And the friction is being decreased constantly, like, TikTok, all you have to do is click a button. Amazon. So, I got to watch myself, honestly.

So, here’s some things that I’ve boughten recently, fully from being influenced. I’m putting snail mucin on my face. I don’t know if I should be embarrassed, but it’s working. I bought a charger station that you fold up, and it becomes itty-bitty. It’s all for the magnetic, like, Apple stuff. I absolutely love that.

Claire V is a fashion designer. Well, they started out here in LA, but they’re everywhere now. They took my money. I have a bag from them now. And no surprise, with the end of the year coming and thinking about goal setting and planners, I already got influenced about a new planner. I’m going to try out Plum Planners. Let me know if anyone has a Plum Planner out there. You can customize it, and I almost out of hand. But thankfully, they have a max amount of pages. So, you can choose your layouts. You can choose what you want and where. And I just love stuff like that. You can actually make it yours because there’s not a perfect planner out there, but I’m sure going to try it.

Another update on my end, and I’m almost a little embarrassed to share this, but I joined Equinox. It’s a gym. I still love Pelaton. I just was needing to get out of my house. Now that I can get out of my house, I wasn’t feeling as inspired and I also wasn’t feeling workout. I wasn’t getting worked out as well. I think I also was starting to get some injuries due to too much cycling. And I absolutely love Equinox. I know it’s a splurge. It’s silly to have to. I’m still using it, and I still love my higher ed Pelaton community, but I’ve opened myself. I’m in an open relationship with fitness.

[00:23:17] Another pretty significant shift is, in our RV, we have not sold it but we’re just not using it as much. My work is really heated up, and so has Lloyd’s. So, we didn’t get out on the road this summer. So, we’re actually going to be renting it out. And we still get to use it when we want, so we’re just going to try that out and see how it goes. I’ll give you an update on it, probably, more toward the end of the season. Fingers crossed. No one, like, drives it off the road. That would just… Oh, Lady Hawk, you can’t fly. You’re, like, I don’t know, three tons. Like, this thing… So silly, but that’s the update on her.

Work updates! Since we have talked, I have a new service. I have a new thing that, once I got this idea, it lit me up. I knew immediately that this was a need. It was something I was excited about. If you are connected to me in any other way, you’re probably tired of me talking about it because you’ve seen it everywhere. It is the Student Social Media Academy. This is a self-paced online training experience for students, undergrads, grads, and doc students who have been in any role assigned to social media representing your campus. We’ve got interns, we’ve got ambassador teams, we’ve got graduate assistants, we’ve got club leaders and Greek life, social marketing people from almost every state, three different countries. We are almost at 200 students.

And just recently, we finished a supervisor guide. If you purchase even just one spot for a student, you as the purchaser supervisor will get your own guide. It’s like a really meaty workbook. So, you can see what your students are learning. You’ll get prompts. And let’s be honest. Sometimes, supervising students, in general, but also who run social media, can be challenging. So, there’s tips in there from me and the coaching team.

And so, I have five coaches that were the heartbeat of the curriculum that teaches everything of what social media looks like, specifically, in higher ed, how to understand the brand and the voice of your institution, from your brand guidelines, to policies, and then bringing that to life, and much, much more.

I will oodle more about the academy throughout this season, but I am, I’m just so excited about it. And shoutout to, again, the coaches who have just absolutely brought the materials to life, who are all very experienced social media managers in higher ed.

I mentioned earlier that I was a fan of the Barbie movie. Well, it is also influencing a conference that I’m going to in a couple weeks, AMA’s Higher Ed Symposium. By the time this comes out, this will be the last day of the conference. So, I’ll have to give you an update later. A colleague and I are doing a Barbie meetup and we’re going to have Taylor Swift-inspired bracelets. There’s going to be boas. There’s going to be glitter bombs and drinks. It’s just going to… and so, it’s obviously, like, an all-women’s empowerment mentorship kind of feel. And I’m just so very excited for, for that meetup.

I’m also doing a pre-con at that conference that’s very much inspired by the Student Academy about how to empower and educate students as content creators.

Right before that conference, I’m headed to NASPA’s Western Regional Conference, which is really where it all started. It was my very first student affairs conference, was at a NASPA conference. And I’m presenting a number of times as a speaker at the community colleges, pre-con, talking about digital leadership. But I also have a session… I have two sessions, but one I’m quite excited about is about if student affairs is ready for influencer marketing. And I’d also just got word that I’m doing that session at the NASPA annual conference in the spring in Seattle.

I mentioned my business is growing, consulting. I am getting to the point where I can’t accept more work right now and/or I’m looking to place institutions, organizations, and executives for the spring. So, that is nuts and exciting. It also means that I have needed to bring on more support to my team. So, I am thrilled that Kati Hartwig, in a part-time capacity, is my new marketing manager. And Katy Spencer Johnson is coming on for a number of months full-time as my very first full-time person as a digital strategist. So, please, welcome them to Team Josie community.

I’m also very, very excited about where the podcast is going. And whenever I work with a “sponsor,” I really call it a partnership, because anyone that I’ve worked with on this podcast or in other places in a sponsorship, I want it to be more of a relationship, not just a transaction.

So, season five would not have happened. I don’t think I would even be here today recording season six if I would not have found University FM. And it’s not because they’re just paying me to say this, like, they are literally running the show behind the screen. And I am so, so very thankful for them.

Element 451 is a brand-new partner to the podcast. And I am so excited about all the work they’re doing, not only for institutions, but having very innovative conversations around AI, which I’ll chat about later. And so, I’m so excited to welcome them to Josie and the Podcast family.

[00:30:35] A few things that are coming up is Renew is coming back for the third time. We’ll be offering those retreats in January. So, stay tuned for that registration information. And the Cohort is coming back in February. This will be, I think, the fifth cohort? Fourth or fifth. Registration’s going live in December. And that is going to be absolutely fantastic.

[00:31:01] Okay, so the topic for today, I have talked already ad nauseam. I swear, not every shorty episode is going to be like a status update of my life and all the things. But they’re always in a shorty be, like, a core topic that you’re going to take away some tangibles. And this is also why I love podcasts, have show notes, because I’m going to link to everything that I talk about.

We’ve got some platform problems. And of course, the minute that that phrase came to mind, I was thinking about Taylor Swift and her song, Champagne Problems. And in one of her songs, she said… Champagne Problems, she says, one for the money, two for the show. I never was ready, so I watch you go.

And I have watched our problems with Twitter, now known as X, go through our own challenges, our own needs to let this platform go. Because my X era is over. And there is almost a grieving process. Because Twitter, for me, I’ve shared this story in the past, was the reason why my business even came to be. I was able to have access and community around the world in real time, whether if it was a researcher, a president, a future colleague, or even people I call my friends. We found each other. And we’re not finding that same community anymore. And it’s like when your favorite restaurant or coffee shop or just anything that you really had lots of warm and fuzzy feelings for goes away, there’s like… it’s a bummer, right? And Twitter too had its grips in our usage. You may always had Twitter open or you were just automatically going to it on your phone. And you may still find yourself going to the tool. So, you’re literally breaking a habit if that platform isn’t really calling to you anymore.

And there’s a variety of reasons why people are having problems with X and moving on from it. I don’t need to list them all here. But it is now having a daily loss over the last year. It’s dropped by 16% just over the last 11 months. And most likely, it’s going to continue to drop from there. So, in case you haven’t been paying attention, Elon Musk acquired the site. A lot less accessibility and safety and many other issues that are happening around this platform. There are rumors that we may, even to use it, may have to pay for it.

I find something like this is just a good opportunity to always ground us back into purpose and reevaluating all the platforms we’re on and what value they are or are not bringing ourselves to. I especially find those that have used Twitter as a tool for advertising, marketing, communications. There are more, it sounds like, advertising tools, because they’re trying to bring advertisers back, that you might find some improvement in reach. At the end of the day, as a person, you get to make that choice, whether your time, which is very valuable, if your people are still on this platform. And I’ll give you a framework at the end, after I go through a few more platforms.

Personally, I am still on X. I am not quite as interacting as often. And I’m just slowly, kind of, coming to terms about what it is and what it isn’t anymore.

[00:35:32] One tool that has been Twitter adjacent, very reminiscent, is Threads. Threads technically wasn’t supposed to come out for a couple more weeks, but because of the rapid decline of Twitter, Meta release Threads early. And there could be some possibilities here.

You cannot yet schedule through external sources. So, it is a little bit of a sore in social media managers’ sides. But at the beginning, we saw a ton of adoption, a lot of interaction and excitement, which is pretty common for new platforms.

The one reason why I really want you to keep an eye on Threads, and it’s almost the possibility and the problem, is that it is stable in the Meta network, and that, at least, Mark Zuckerberg is communicating how they are putting more resources and improvements to the platform or some others that have trickled out since Twitter may not have as many of those resources.

Why we also want to pay attention is we actually find quite a bit of growth happening on Threads. Growth is different than activity and usage, but that is one number we can pay attention to. They have introduced an Edit button. And they are continually adding additional elements. For example, at first, there was no alt text or accessibility, and now there is. For that reason, the podcast now has a Threads account, so you can find us there.

The main challenge and question that I’m getting from leaders who are a bit stumped about what to do with Twitter, now X, is where else to go to find your people. So, again, we’re finding lots of different apps are coming and going. Last season, we talked a lot about Mastodon, other ones, like the previous Twitter creator, CEO, created Bluesky. There’s also Post, BeReal, Daily is another one. If you are curious like me and you enjoy it, keep an eye on those. Heck, for Bluesky, you actually have to wait and post. You have to wait to get accepted, to get an account. So, it doesn’t hurt to, you know, press submit there.

But do know a common challenge with a lot of these new applications is accessibility. At the end of the day, your people may actually not be there. But for example, on Bluesky, I am finding more higher ed pros. And so, it’s almost like a micro mini community. Almost what we loved about Twitter at the start, where we could easily find each other. I would say the same thing with something like Bluesky, is that I’m finding those connections and in smaller places, versus what we were actually getting quite overwhelmed with on a Twitter was there was just so much information all the time.

Some of these platforms, like Bluesky, are also trying to be a, what they call a marketplace of algorithms where users can switch back and forth with different feeds and maybe even take your connections and your previous posts with you. So, I think that’s interesting.

TikTok will continue to be talked about both in problems and possibilities. I shared earlier that TikTok might become a problem for my wallet with the TikTok shop. But there’s also concerns about national security, addiction behavior. But also, especially for those in higher ed, know very intimately that if your state bans this platform, that’s going to impact your strategy there and, obviously, your, your phone usage. And we’ve seen some creative workarounds there that maybe we can talk about in another episode.

Some recent research from Pew Research, kind of, affirmed why some states are moving in this direction and why I think any platform, we keep both of our eyes open with all tools. So, this survey found 6 in 10 Americans see TikTok as a major or minor threat on national security. This in practice versus, you know, fear. There’s always something in between, but always knowing that this platform does have ties to China. But we’ve also heard, and we will hear later this season, about lots of things that they are doing actually way more aggressive than other platforms to protect data. And so, I think that that’ll be interesting to dig into.

[00:40:44] As we move away from just platforms, there was a recent article about social media managers and the reason why I always do Renew Retreats every year and have the Digital Community Building Cohort, because the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s article, titled, “This is one of the loneliest jobs on campus,” I’m not an empath, okay? I can’t, like, mind-read. But I feel things, when I read a title like that, that the loneliest job on campus, social media managers, who often work in high stress and little guidance. And I’m just going to highlight a few things from this article. If you are a leader, that I want you to have more empathy. If you’re a social media manager, I want you to feel seen. That these pros take the heat, even though they are not making the decisions. They are your, many times, your frontline of defense in the Instagram feed, on X, in the Facebook comments.

Callie Goodwin, she worked with a college previously that was first women-owned to co-ed. And the community did not take it well. And having to respond to heated criticisms with questions she couldn’t answer, with a national controversy, and this is just one. I am sure there are hundreds of stories out there, because this is the world of higher ed, too. We have crises that are not even announcements that large, but please have and consider your social media managers when you’re needing to make big announcements or announcements that you think will have quite the impact in the online conversation.

Ali was someone else, Director of Social Media at UNC Charlotte. She also was quoted in the article. She said, “When you read comments on social media enough times that you say you, it’s human nature to start reading them as me. Because social media never turns off, neither does a social media manager’s need to stay connected.”

And I just, like, want to shake off, like my dog, Parker, does, like, a million times a day. He just… because they literally do that. Did you know that? For, like, their mental health, that they, like, it’s a reset. Social media managers need that, too.

And this is a newer profession, but we’re getting more and more research about what it means to be a social media manager, no matter the industry. And there was a research study from Hootsuite, totally makes sense, about social media as a career. And there was a number of insights that both showed possibilities, but also where we need to go from here as this industry, which I also think is very true about marketing in general.

So, the average social media marketer is a millennial — 29 to 43. Interesting, when you think about, are you actually marketing to much younger demographics than that? Also, unfortunately, a lot of work needs to be done in this area within DEI. It’s mostly women who are White. And the education piece was fascinating. They are college-educated, but have, on average, are not receiving any formal education in social media, which tells me two things. You can teach this on the fly, but also how much more impact we could see if there was more specialized education in social media.

Pretty low salaries, but what was even more telling, even with benefits, the average was three weeks paid vacation, but only 54% used two weeks or more of their vacation in the last year. Why is this? Well, they actually report they love their jobs, creativity, change, they get to be fun, silly. But social media doesn’t sleep. They might feel that they have to always be on.

And what I also appreciate about this research is they gave a recipe for happiness in social media marketing. So, again, leaders, supervisors, if you’re listening, here’s some tips. You should try to do social media marketing full-time and/or don’t just give social to someone as an add-on. This is a full-time thing. They actually wouldn’t mind for them to be in the office or to have more interaction. Being part larger organization or being part of a team is very fulfilling. A lot of social media managers are social.

And then, of course, they want to get paid fairly. This is not an intern’s job, even though if you have interns involved. And even when you have interns involved, pay them fairly.

[00:45:53] As I start to close this out, I want to give you two tools, as we think about problem solving, no matter the platform, and maybe even without platforms. I’m going to give you a few questions that you can noodle on as you’re driving, as you’re shopping, as you’re working away, is always go back to, what are your goals? From your job’s goals, your life goals, your university’s goals, have goals for social media. Who are your people? And what platforms are they actually on? And who you want to connect with you on?

What are your realistic resources? For you, individually, this might mean time. For you as a department, this might go back to a people question. And what’s a sustainable strategy? Sustainable is in both energy, that might go back to resources, too. How do you feel when you go onto X versus Instagram versus Bluesky?

Where are you finding your people and are they responding to you in those different places? Properly resourcing social media for you as a leader, as well as the organization, is a big question and discernment to start with more than just what platform I should be on.

I also want to give a shoutout to Jenny Li Fowler, previous guest on the podcast and a faculty mentor for the Digital Community Building Cohort. And she teaches in the cohort the six Ms in social strategy. Another great framework to have in your toolkit. The first M is mission. What’s your goal? Who are your people? Medium is number two. What are your primary platforms? Number three, M, message. What are the messages you’re building strategy on?

Number four is management. What are your structures, processes, and procedures? Five is metrics. What are you tracking back to your KPIs and goals? And then, the sixth M is monitoring. Listening and engagement with your audience. Answering those questions on a macro level, I do think we’ll start to give clarity to platform problems. We’re seeing a lot of departments, divisions, entire institutions moving away from X or doubling down with Instagram or re-pivoting on LinkedIn. When you clearly know who your audience is there, the data you’re going to track to know you’re actually making movement and not just saying that you’re on Threads and that’s the goal. What is the action and what’s the impact that you’re going to have?

I was going to talk about AI today, but this has already turned into quite an episode. And so, this is going to be the cliffhanger. I’m going to give you some resources in the show notes. I wanted to talk about AI because I’m just so excited about what Element451 is doing. Know they have a ton of resources for you. And we are going to talk about AI in a future episode, because it honestly probably deserves its own episode. It’s got its own possibilities and problems.

[00:49:32] As we close out, talking about platform problems, it all goes back to people and it all goes back to Taylor Swift. And she’s quoted as saying, no matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind. And that really encompasses digital leadership and engagement, is that these tools are going to shift and change, but us as humans, we can have an impact using a variety of different tools on campus, online, and everything else in between. The legacy that you’re going to leave behind is a great approach, as you think about these platform problems.

So, I want to hear about how you’re navigating platforms, both the problems and the possibilities. Let me know. If you didn’t know on Spotify, you can actually add comments in the episode when you click on it. You could answer any of the questions or just say hi. That’d be amazing, too, just to know people are out there listening and you’re real.

But thank you so much for checking out this kickoff episode of season six. It is going to be a great, great season ahead. Thank you for joining me in the shorty episode of Josie and the Podcast. Join the conversation online. You can find me on most platforms @josieahlquist. The podcast is on Threads, Instagram, and X, Josie and the Podcast.

Remember, the show notes can be found at josieahlquist.com/podcast. Make sure you’re subscribed, share it, like it, love it. All of the things you do with podcasts, and I would be so darn appreciative if you would write a review that would just make my 2023. If you’re interested in learning more about the Student Academy, the Cohort, Renew, or any of my work, including my book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, check me out at josieahlquist.com.

Thank you so much to our season six podcast sponsors, University FM, who’s the producers of this show, Element451. I’m sending digital hugs, loves, and waves to whatever corner of the world you’re listening in from. This has been Josie and the podcast.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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