Association Social Media: American Anthropological Association

social fish
social fish

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.  


Welcome Joslyn Osten, Marketing and Communications Manager at the American Anthropological Association!

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

As the Marketing  and Communications Manager at the American Anthropological Association, my role resides with the Department of Public Affairs.

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?

When I arrived at my position three years ago, the organization had a blog, a twitter account and a facebook page. Since then, the social media landscape has evolved into one of the organization’s main tools of communications with members and the general public. Today the organization has three twitter accounts, two Facebook pages, a LinkedIn company page and group, a WordPress blog, a You Tube pageand a Google+ page. Many of the pages are interconnected with the commonality of the Association; however, many serve individual purposes. For example, one of the Twitter accounts serves as the mouthpiece of our Association newsletter. One of our Facebook pages has an audience of students and recent grads focusing on career development.


The audiences of each social outlet are distinct. The LinkedIn group has acquired an eclectic group of expats and international scholars, for example. Other outlets like Twitter and Facebook are what I call the Association’s evergreen outlets. Being the longest standing, I’ve had the opportunity to cultivate an interactive community. In fact, on both accounts we have more than twice as many followers as we do members! The Twitter community, true to its short and sweet nature, is hungry for job and grant opportunities, trends in the discipline and variety articles related to the discipline. The Facebook community also enjoys such information, but thanks to the visual draw of posts, the Association’s newsletter and journal article teasers are a huge ingredient to the page activity.



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?

As one of two people within my department, I am the voice, curator and monitor of the majority of the organization’s social media. The organization is comprised of more than 35 sections, each section is responsible for their own social accounts, if they choose to engage. Our publication’s department is responsible for their own Twitter account, which is pushed through the posting system on the newsletter website through WordPress. The organization’s professional fellow is responsible for the career development Facebook group. Anybody within the organization is welcome to post, particularly with the blog. Unless there is a timely factor to the content, my strategy is to space the content evenly to maintain a regular presence on the outlets in which I can schedule the postings.

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

I am really excited for a new tool that the organization is subscribing to through a new content marketing toolbox offered through Real Magnet. Once integrated with our member database system, I will be able to schedule my posts directly through their system and centrally collect data on the post activity. I’m a data nerd, so what I am most excited about is that the system will be able to identify if the active user is an organizational member. This tailored approach should be able to provide a better handle on the return on investment of our social activity, which is obviously an important asset.

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

Is community management a part of my job responsibility? Absolutely; however, most likely one of the more challenging aspects of managing social media. I have particularly found this most difficult in LinkedIn as people can get very passionate about the topic at hand and sometimes downright nasty to their fellow group members. A gentle reminder or a comment to steer the conversation back on track usually does the trick. Other times, folks take it as a personal attack and then a conversation offline is needed. Those conversations usually end with a rhetorical question to myself along the lines of why can’t we all just be respectful to one another?!

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

Social media campaigns have been a successful way to engage community members on a focused project. I’ve run a myriad of campaigns from small giveaways to a national public education initiative. I have found that the most successful campaigns incorporate a diverse usage of social outlets and creative visual components. A modest pay-per-click ad budget also helps draw in the folks just outside the organization’s typical sphere of influence.



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

The hardest part of my job is finding balance between the many hats I wear within the organization. There are so many projects that I would like to do better, expand and/or investigate further. There’s just not enough time in the day to bring the organization everywhere the social outlets have to offer. Instead I focus on the top performing outlets and modestly contribute to the select others the organization is a part of.

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?

If I had a magic ball that could bring us three years into the future, I would like to see the organization invest in two aspects to enhance the organization’s presence in the social sphere. One would be to build a stronger branded voice and member experience. My colleagues and I are currently working on this; however, we’re working from the ground up and it takes a lot of time and money. The second investment would be to build visual story telling support for the organization through video clips, infographics, images and the like. In a discipline like Anthropology, there are a lot of fantastic stories that deserve to be told.


A huge thanks to Maddie for the opportunity to share my social experience!

No thank YOU for sharing your story!

Got a question for Joslyn? Reach her at @joslynosten.

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