When it comes to Wharton’s social media strategy, what may seem like a one-man show is in fact a large operation.
Stefan Frank is the director of new media communications at the Wharton School, namely the director of the school’s social media. He oversees the team of people creating the posts seen by social media users, from future Whartonites to proud parents to others across the globe.
Every day, the social media team meets to review analytics, dedicating one day a week for each channel — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, YouTube and LinkedIn. At the beginning of each week, Frank also sits down with the social media, media relations and content production teams to have a content strategy meeting. The staff discuss the events taking place and upcoming milestones and create assignments for each member.
Beginning this past fall, the team has involved three students known as “storytelling interns” — one undergraduate student and two graduate students who are sent to take photos of Wharton events and other relevant material.
“We tackle a lot of ground week-to-week,” Frank said. “We don’t [make posts] on a whim and not without peer review.”
In terms of the target audience, Frank said it is broad-reaching.
“We must make sure that our content is of interest at any time,” he said. “We speak to a wide range of audiences from prospective students in undergrad to the most senior alumni, as well as industry leaders and faculty members.”
Frank said that his team does its “homework” to see what demographics are following the school on each platform and to make sure the content is relevant and effective. His team uses a mix of web analytical tools and survey results to complete this research.
“There is a rationale for every channel,” Frank said. “It comes down to the strategy: If the goal is to disseminate news, Twitter is where we would turn. If we are building affinity with or speaking to the current population, we turn to Instagram.”
But across all platforms, Frank emphasized that his team must “be smart and ahead of the curve.”
Wharton has not always placed such an emphasis on social media.
“I was hired [in fall 2013] to take our social strategy from the 2005-2006 era and bring it up to date,” Frank said.
Since Frank took on the position, Wharton’s online following has dramatically increased. During 2014, likes on the official Wharton School Facebook page increased by 43 percent, and followers on the official Twitter account increased by 50 percent.
“It’s getting better in filtering and focus,” marketing professor David Bell said of the changes made in the past year and a half. “It looks more professional, more fluid, more regular; there is more consistency.”
Still, some students say Wharton’s social media is not directly on their radar.
“I hadn’t taken the initiative to look at [the pages],” Wharton freshman Chen-hui Bergl said. “Maybe they should try to increase awareness of the accounts.”
Fellow Wharton freshman Ekaterina Dyakova said she follows the Wharton Undergraduate Cohort System and Wharton Council Facebook pages, which are directed at current students, but not the Wharton School page, which she feels has a more general audience.
“If prospective students look at the page, it is a great way for Wharton to market itself,” Dyakova said. “Wharton has a lot of pictures that show its facilities, but maybe they can engage current students more by having more photos of student life.”
Frank noted that the Wharton social media accounts are not competing directly with Penn’s other schools and emphasized the importance of Wharton social media to current students.
“Our students go to one school,” Frank said. “When we want a message to go through, we are competing with other brands that students see [in their feeds]” — not necessarily other schools.
“I won’t lie and say we won’t look to see what other schools are doing,” Frank added. “I communicate directly with a lot of peer schools. I believe in the value proposition for each school. The things that differentiate us are pretty unique. So we are open-minded with sharing tactics.”
As for the effectiveness of Wharton social media, “It’s hard to know,” Bell said. “Who knows what it’s doing, but it’s probably not hurting. For sure we can look at more followers, mentions, retweets — it just depends what we are measuring, what the metrics are.”
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