Why RMIT's social marketing team is so focused on employees

Managing internal stakeholders is as important as the social media content, says RMIT University


Social media managers spend a lot of time worrying about the expectations of their external audiences. But they’d also do well to worry about their internal audiences.

As the associate director for digital communications at RMIT University, Corinna Maloney manages a team that creates and distributes digital content across a range of channels, including social media. Speaking at Hootsuite’s Future of Customer Engagement conference in Melbourne, she described how RMIT University uses these to reach more than 10,000 staff and 85,000 students, along with a larger community of industry partners, alumni and the general public.

Those numbers also encompass a broad range of internal stakeholders, many of whom are keen to push their message to the outside world.

“One thing we forget sometimes is that social is all about being social,” Maloney says. “While we do have a channel to be able to share our messages, it is not just about spruiking messages out to the audiences, it is about engaging them and giving them something back.

“Not one day passes where I don’t get at least 10 requests for content to go up on our social accounts or even on our website or any other channel that we possibly have. In order for us to cut through all of that content and figure out what content is best, we have to know our audience.”

For Maloney, the desire to not be flooding audiences with irrelevant messages can lead to some difficult conversations, especially when faced with a stakeholder who is determined to promote their event or idea.

“The challenge that we all have in the university, and my team specifically, is saying ‘no, but’,” Maloney says. “And a lot of people find this really, really difficult because they think they are being unhelpful when they are saying no. But the thing I always tell my team is it is not ‘no’. You are actually saying ‘no but’ and educating them along the way.

“There a lot of messages that come out way that people would like to pop on social or our channels that may only be relevant for 1000 people. So the way in which we can target them is of course being able to track the particular audience, but also by choosing the right channel. Because it is not always social that is going to be the right channel.”

Maloney says the process usually starts with a series of questions to get to the heart of what the proposed communication is, to determine which channel is most suitable.

“You are going to have to dig deep and figure out who they are and what is it that they want to achieve, and figure out what exactly their audience is before you actually provide a solution,” Maloney says. “I never actually say no until I ask all of those questions.”

In some instances, that might see the communication go out as an EDM to a select list or be published on an events page in the relevant section of the university’s website. In other instances she will encourage the stakeholder to undertake a much more ambitious campaign.

“They get really excited because you have taken it to the next level, because you can see the opportunity that potentially they can’t,” she says.

One issue that does emerge when advising on social channels stems from their familiarity, and the belief of some stakeholders that they have a better understanding of how these channels work.

“Because we do a lot of testing and a lot of case studies that means that we actually have a lot of data behind the decisions that we make,” Maloney says. “So I can confidently go to someone and say we have tried ‘that’ kind of content before and it doesn’t work well in ‘this’ situation, but how about we try it in ‘this’ situation or do it in a different way.”

Read more about RMIT University's digital marketing initiatives:

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