Drew Sykes is the Interim Director of the Social Media Strategy Hub at North Carolina State University. He’s a writer at heart and took his love of storytelling with him when he began his career in digital marketing at Ignite Social Media, the “original social media agency.” There, he managed the content and communities for the social media presence of global clients like Radisson Hotels and Club Carlson and developed thought leadership stories for the agency blog.
He returned to his alma mater in 2014 when he became NC State’s first-ever social media specialist. Since then, he’s helped grow his position into a team effort that has become the Social Media Strategy Hub.
Drew has a master’s degree in interactive media from Elon University and loves the process of developing ideas and strategies into stories that make people smile. His number one goal in social media marketing is to create content that gets people to say, “Wow. A university did that?”
Talk to Drew for five minutes and you’ll learn that he believes emotional connection is key to any great campaign. He loves his Wolfpack, and he’ll tell you that there’s a John Mayer song for every occasion. When he’s not cheering on the Pack or following Mayer on tour, he’s hanging out with his wife, Amanda, their dog, Allie, and their new son, Jamie. He calls himself “Clark Kent nice with a Superman heart,” and hopes that being an NC State sports fan is much easier for his son than it has been for him. Go Pack!
What you’ll learn about in this episode:
- How Drew unexpectedly found himself working in social media, and how he came to work at NC State University as their first full-time social media specialist
- Why Drew loves working in higher education and having the opportunity to sell an experience rather than a product
- Why demonstrating authenticity is sometimes challenging, and why the key is focusing on the student audience and bringing representatives of the audience onto the team
- Why the audience on each social media platform varies, and why messaging on each platform needs to be tailored to the audience and its tastes
- How Drew and his team build their content calendars based on the academic year and major upcoming events
- How Drew’s “social media hub” is structured, with members from various departments across campus
- How Drew’s team consider themselves to be an “agency,” with the departments of the campus as their “clients”
- What advice Drew would offer to any higher education marketing professional whose team doesn’t have significant manpower
- How Drew and his team handle difficult social media interactions dealing with social issues, hate speech and other problematic engagements
- How the university created a Bias Impact Response Team (BIRT) to handle escalating issues such as hate speech
- How Drew and his team look to other brands and influencers to get ideas for ways to create an emotional engagement in their campaigns
- How Drew and the team created a content series called “Wearing The Red Robes,” inspired by a Dove skincare ad campaign series