Social Media Strategist
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Social Media marketing, strategy and professional development blog for Jon-Stephen Stansel, a social media strategist living in Austin, Texas.

#HESM Pros: Jackie Vetrano

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As the founder of the ConnectEDU Network and co-host of the Higher Ed Social Podcast, Jackie Vetrano has established herself as the go-to expert when it comes to podcasting in higher ed. As the Online Marketing and Social Media Manager at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jackie spends her time taking deep dives into what she refers to as “lots of charts, graphs, and data-driven decision making.” She is set to graduate from Georgetown University’s Integrated Marketing Communications Master’s of Professional Studies program this summer. We recently asked Jackie about her typical daily workflow.

Name: Jackie Vetrano   

Twitter Handle: @jackievetrano

School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Job Title: Online Marketing and Social Media Manager

Department Housed: University Communications

Current mobile device: iPhone X

Current computer: MacBook Pro

In 280 characters or less, describe your social media marketing philosophy.

GOALS 👏 BEFORE 👏 TOOLS 👏

Before asking “how” you’ll get the project done, ask “why” you’re doing it at all. A goal is not “because everyone else is,” or “because we think we should.”

What’s your social media pet peeve?

It bugs me the most when accounts share their own content, or tag themselves on Twitter. I’m not sure what webinar was broadcast that said this was a good idea, but it’s not – and it’s a waste of characters! I also can’t stand when brands try to jump in on internet trends such as The Dress or Yanni/Laurel.

Other than your phone or laptop, what’s the one tool you can’t possibly live without?

You know how women get teased for having lip balm for their purse, jacket, car, office, bedroom, bathroom, and everywhere else they go? Headphones are my lip balm. As I type this I can see three different pair. As a podcast producer and host, I always need to have them on, plus I share an office space and don’t want to bother my office mate if I suddenly have an urge to listen to EDM to regain my focus. Of course, those headphones stay at the office.

I’m always listening to podcasts before work and on my walk to the office from my car using a different set of headphones, and then use wireless headphones for my frequent outdoor runs or trips to the gym. When Apple decided to do away with the headphone jack, it was a bad day for me.

What’s your favorite social network and why?

I find myself on Twitter the most because I value the instant and chronological timeline. Instagram was great, up until they decided to go all algorithm-y! I follow friends, marketers, and a lot of puppets from Sesame Street, so there’s always something worthwhile on my timeline!

What tools do you rely on as a podcaster?

For my personal podcast, Higher Ed Social, I use a bright orange Blue Snowball microphone and a pair of headphones I got with one of my first iPods – nothing fancy at all. At UNC, I record in a small studio in the School of Media and Journalism. Sure the tech looks a little nicer, but I think it all sounds the same! I edit UNC’s Well Said using Adobe Audition, and find great music on AudioBlocks and Free Music Archive. I also would be nowhere without SmarterQueue, which I use both personally and for Higher Ed Social to help with the heavy lifting on social media promotion!

What podcasts do you listen to without fail on their release date?

Is “none of them” an answer? 😬 I am never up to date on podcasts; I subscribe to WAY too many, but usually jump on My Brother, My Brother, and Me and Here to Make Friends within a day or so of their release. The McElroys hooked me on their antics in The Adventure Zone, and give me a weekly pickup with MBMBaM. Here to Make Friends is a snarky-recap podcast of The Bachelor franchise, and releases their shows the day after each episode. If I’m not up to speed on what happened in the TV episode, I don’t want to be spoiled by the podcast.

What brands/organizations do you think are doing well on social media or who do you follow for social media inspiration?

I actually love seeing content from zoos and aquariums, especially the Georgia Aquarium and Buffalo Zoo. They have awesome, engaging content all the time (lucky) but don’t always lean on it as a crutch. They also have a true human voice on Twitter, which I think is rare for large organizations to master on a consistent basis. For many of us in Higher Ed, we think about how important is is to have a human voice, but it’s usually captured only in responses to users or a one-off snarky gif. When we use social media to highlight stories on campus, many of us fall back into that robotic, institutional tone. It’s a serious challenge, but one we can overcome.

What does your workspace look like?

I work in a building that used to be a residence hall, and there’s definitely some remnants of that time! My office used to be the RA Suite, so I get a bathroom! I feel pretty special. My physical desk always falls between organized and organized chaos. I am NOT a digital person in most situations, so I always have my paper planner, as well as several printouts of podcast transcripts on my desk. I have a bulletin board across from my desk that is filled with badges from conferences, pins, stickers, and letters that make me happy, and on my walls and shelves are fun things that represent my personality.

Jackie has a massive collection of conference badges from her many speaking engagements.

Jackie has a massive collection of conference badges from her many speaking engagements.

What’s on your phone’s homescreen? Any method of organization?

Much like my desk, my phone goes from organized to organized chaos. The first screen is pretty neat and tidy, and organized into folders, but as you scroll through the screens, it becomes more and more of a mess. I’ve developed muscle memory enough to remember where the apps I use most often are located, and that’s good enough for me!

Jackie’s well-organized homescreen is primed for productivity.

Jackie’s well-organized homescreen is primed for productivity.


What’s in your everyday carry? What items do you keep in your bag at times that you just can’t live without?

I used to take the bus to work, so I carried everything in my backpack. I drive now, but haven’t dropped the habit. Normally my backpack has my kindle, headphones, purse, and my packed lunch. I’ve had this backpack since college, and it definitely shows.

What are you reading and/or listening to? Do you have any book or podcast recommendations for other social media professionals?

I hardly have time to read, but I am making my way through To the Bridge by Nancy Rommelman right now – between readings assigned for graduate school. I am listening to a lot of different podcasts on a regular basis, but some highlights are Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!, The Mortified Podcast, Reply All, The Good Place Podcast, and My Dad Wrote a Porno (NSFW, but absolutely hilarious). If I had to recommend a podcast for social media or marketing professionals, I would point to Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad by AdWeek, or #HigherEd and Enrollment University for those working in higher ed.


Do you have any higher ed social media professionals that you would like to see interviewed here? Let us know! Please leave a comment or send an email to jsstansel@gmail.com