Post image for Association Social Media: American Society of Civil Engineers

Association Social Media: American Society of Civil Engineers

In this series of interviews of Association Social Media Managers, you’ll be able to compare notes on what all of these fab organizations are doing with their social media management – from how they organize the roles and responsibilities, to how they manage content flow through the organization and out to social, to what campaigns they tried, to how they see the future of association social media.  


 bookhultz-headshotWelcome to Elizabeth Bookhultz, Social Media Specialist, American Society of Civil Engineers!

1) First things first –  in what department in your organization does your role sit?  Who do you report to? 

Since social media is a form of digital communication, I work on the web team here at ASCE, and report to the Director, Web Operations & Strategy!

2) Describe your social/digital “ecosystem” – what social media sites do you (or the org as a whole) manage? Are they interlinked in specific ways? How do you decide what content to post where? Do they have different audiences?

I’m a big evangelist of content recycling. We might have one piece of content – a blog post, a magazine article, or a video – that can be rehashed across a variety of different social spaces. I try to consider the audience in each space, and tailor the message used to promote that blog post or video for each platform and audience.

Which brings me to my next point: yes, our audiences are divergent across each platform. In the next year, I’d like to work more to give each of those audiences the kind of information they’re after. While most all of our followers are civil engineers, we’ve found that engineers who study or work abroad use Facebook to connect with ASCE and stay updated with the latest industry news. On the other hand, Twitter is where we find a lot of academics and engineering firms. LinkedIn is a community where we see a lot of entry and mid-career engineers going to seek advice and share information with colleagues.


3) Can you describe the internal collaboration workflow with other areas of the association (e.g. are you part of a team that meets on a regular basis)? How do you manage content flow? How do you manage monitoring and responding across the organization?

Social media doesn’t operate in a silo! Though I’m the sole social media person on staff, I work with others across the organization to communicate ASCE news, programs, and promotions.

Each week, I attend a “leverage meeting” with others who oversee or edit various communications channels (think blogs, email newsletters, and the like). We talk about what needs to be promoted and develop strategies for effectively doing so. Ideally, social media works in an integrated manner with our other marketing and communications efforts, becoming a part of a larger campaign.

4) Describe a typical day for you – and any favorite tools you use regularly for anything related to social media.

After pouring an obligatory cup of just-in-the-office coffee, I sign into all of ASCE’s social accounts and monitor mentions, reply to comments and questions, and delete any spam.  After that, it’s to work curating content. Feedly gets opened in a new tab, and I scan and read any relevant articles that might be of interest to our audience. Scheduling gets underway, and by 10:30, the first posts go out.

At lunch, I catch up on my favorite social media and content marketing blogs, like Social Media Examiner, and check out what the big-wig social media personalities – people like Mari Smith and Jon Loomer— are talking about on Facebook and Twitter.

The rest of the afternoon is usually spent working on content and promotional plans with internal departments around the organization. It takes a lot of collaboration to repackage content in a social media friendly way – from wrangling images to writing succinct calls to action – there’s a lot involved! Anything else I might have to work on, whether it be updating a policy, putting together an analytics report, or otherwise, also gets tackled in the afternoon.

5) Is community management (group moderation) part of your responsibilities? Please describe those activities.

ASCE has a LinkedIn group comprised of over 150,000 people. Fortunately, we have an amazing volunteer group manager who dedicates his time to approving requests to join and ensuring that members abide by group rules, which are pretty basic and help keep things orderly: craft an appropriate title, check for spelling and grammar errors, don’t use obscenities, and the like.

That said, I’m currently working to identify discussions happening within the group where staff can either participate themselves, or help mobilize members to chime in. For instance, someone recently created a discussion about a recent study that examines why women leave engineering. ASCE had interviewed the researchers behind the study, so I made sure to point to the video interview, and worked with our diversity staff member to reach out to some members we thought might be interested in offering their experiences in the discussion. Though the discussion was started nearly a month ago, it’s still going strong with 55 comments, and more people weighing in on it daily.


6) Have you done any social media campaigns?  Can you share any success stories (or lessons learned)?

The ASCE Bridges Photo Contest is an ongoing social media and marketing campaign aimed at celebrating inspiring structures and raising sales of our annual Bridges calendar. This year, we received over 900 submissions, 14 of which were selected to appear in the calendar. Though you’ll have to catch me in 2015 to ask how many calendars we sold, I can say that engagement metrics reveal that the contest and marketing surrounding it is popular content for our followers. From sharing quotes by engineers about why bridges inspire them, to explaining technical elements about a bridge pictured in a winning photo, the contest is ripe with opportunity to publish photos and stories that our followers love to like and share – further spreading the word about the contest and the calendar itself.

In general, I believe that anything marketed on social media should be treated as a campaign, rather than a one-off post. Think about it: will one tweet really help you to sell more webinars? Maybe, but it’s not going to be a lot, and it’s not very measurable. Our best success comes when we take the time to outline goals and develop content and marketing tactics to help meet those goals via social media.

7) What’s the hardest part of your job?

Irony of ironies, being social is the hardest part of being a social media specialist, for me. That’s not to say that I don’t love interacting with people online, because I do, but it’s a lot to wear the hat of a customer service expert, a cheerleader for our fans and members, a resource for technical advice, and the voice of our brand. Phew! See, I need a second cup of coffee just thinking about it.

Prioritizing content also involves tough decision-making. We have innumerable products, services, events, and more to offer our members. We can’t give equal weight to everything, and we have to think critically about what lends itself to promotion on social media and what is better suited for another outlet. Since a huge part of social media is building trust and loyalty, I work hard to make sure everything that gets published on these platforms is thoughtfully selected – and fits with what our followers actually want to hear about!

8) Give us a glimpse into the future. If budget and resources were no object, what would you love to see in terms of your association’s social media presence in 3 years?

In my idealized future, ASCE will be a lean, mean, content machine. By that I mean that we’ll have fully embraced content marketing, using social media as a channel through which to disseminate valuable content – articles, blog posts, videos, infographics – that our members and followers are just itching to consume. We’ll spend time analyzing and measuring the success of what we market, adjust our approaches accordingly, and abide the mantra, “give the people what they want.”

Elizabeth would love to geek out over social media content with you. Get in touch on Twitter @SocialMedia_ite or by email at



(photo credit)


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