Interview with Danielle Devota

Communications Coordinator for Michigan State University
Former Marketing Associate and Social Media Manager for Tri-Star Trust Bank

While studying for my bachelor’s degree at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), I met Danielle Devota. We were in the same Professional & Technical Writing (PTW) program, though I only shared a few classes with her and spoke with her a few times in passing before this. She graduated a year before I did from SVSU in 2012, and stopped back in to speak to the PTW students later after she had begun working at Tri-Star Trust Bank in a marketing position.

When it came time to choose someone to interview, I thought of her as a possibility and looked her up on facebook. After seeing that she had recently become the Communications Coordinator and Michigan State University, I knew she was a near perfect fit for this interview.

This interview was conducted via email in a Q&A format.

Can you tell me a little about your current position at Michigan State University, as well as your previous position at Tri-Star Trust Bank? What are/were your job roles, and how do you/did you fit into the larger context of each organization?

I am currently the Communications Coordinator for Michigan State University Human Resources. My role entails providing communications and marketing support for our department as we serve all faculty and staff employees and students. This includes everything from special project communication, publication design and editing, website content creation and design, and social media management among other tasks.

Previously, I served as the Marketing Associate and Social Media Manager for Tri-Star Trust Bank. I was responsible for all marketing and communication both internally and externally for the bank. This included coming up with campaigns to market our services to prospective clients and show our community involvement. Among these duties included serving as Social Media Manager which included creating and implementing our strategy in four different markets, as well as overseeing our social media policy.

What are some of the ways you used social media as part of each of those positions? Which social media platforms were utilized?

At Tri-Star, I used social media to promote the services of the bank to appeal to prospective clients in four different markets, but also to show the company’s community involvement. We used Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest for a time. Prior to leaving, I recommended the removal of Pinterest and implementation of Twitter.

At MSU, we use social media to promote different events and information regarding Human Resources but also that of our sister units on campus that cross into the HR sphere. We also use it to cross promote different publications that we produce. We utilize Facebook and Twitter as well as a WordPress blog.

When you reached out to people via social media on behalf of your organizations, how did you change your approach based on which group you were reaching out to? Are there particular groups you tend to reach out to more via social media (by age or by another social category)?

Neither organization employed targeted advertising to certain groups given the uses of their social media outlets. However, depending on the content of the different messages we would gear them more towards certain audiences. For example, MSU HR promotes different events or promotions that are specifically for faculty and staff only, and we need to make sure we communicate this accurately. Tri-Star reached out to retirement age individuals most as this was a target demographic.

In each organization, would you say that other members of the organizations had the correct understanding of what you did in your job position when it came to the social media aspect? Were there any misconceptions people had based on your job title?

At MSU, there is definitely an appreciation for the role of social media. When we meet with different departments to help them shape a strategy for a particular campaign or communication, social media is always a part of that strategy.

At Tri-Star however, social media was something I helped implement into the company as it was something they did not utilize before. It was a constant battle to get upper management to buy in and understand why it was important and how much effort was really behind it. Most people had little to no understanding of the strategy necessary to develop a social media marketing plan. As a huge part of the business was sales, our sales team members didn’t know how they themselves could utilize social media in helping develop their own brand as part of the company and use it to grow their sales. It was a very old school organization that believe in face-to-face interactions. Right before I left the company I was developing the next phase of their social media strategy and planned to integrate internal workshops to educate the staff on how they could use this as part of their sales strategy and develop a template and key recommendations to help them craft their profiles. I know the company is still utilizing some of my social media strategies through their new Social Media Manager.

Based on your experiences, what advice might you give to someone new to the field on how to make the case for social media to upper management? How might they advocate for that and their role without stepping on too many toes?

Going in with statistics for the industry is a very important piece. I would advise coupling this with research on what social media outlets peers or competitors for that industry are using to emphasize how the company is already behind the ball by not even having it. It’s also important to go in with a one and three year strategic plan on what goals the company should have for its social media strategy and how to accomplish this. I also advise putting together a snapshot week to give management an idea of what a typical week on social media will entail.