Drew Mandinach, Social Content Manager, UCLA Anderson School of Management

Drew Mandinach is the Social Content Manager at UCLA Anderson School of Management, and was formerly the Video Production Manager at Balboa Park Online Collaborative, where he produced collaborative video content and helped manage social media engagement. Throughout our conversation, Drew stressed the power of collaboration and the importance of leveraging social media platforms to foster meaningful conversations.

At Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC), working together within the organization and with others in the field was integral to his work. He was part of the team working on Lost in Balboa Park, a project with the goal of bridging more than 15 organizations to help visitors explore the park. Working with many organizations presented its own challenges, but was ultimately rewarding, and Drew pointed to collaboration as a strength of BPOC. As a tech leader, BPOC was positioned to involve other organizations in a discussion about the strengths and challenges of social media. He founded a group to discuss social media trends, where colleagues could support each other and share ideas.

During his time as the Video Production Manager, he also helped manage the park’s social media. When users began asking questions as he captured and shared images in the park, one of his posts on Snapchat became a live back-and-forth. Engagement revolves around the audience – understanding who they are, how they use social media platforms, and their current conversation surrounding the museum. This informs which platforms organizations use and how they use them. Embracing a relatively new platform by testing it and being flexible with the outcome allowed Drew to connect with his audience in real time, talking directly with them where they already happened to be using the platform. Some other successful social media initiatives he discussed embraced challenging topics and current pop culture “moments” by relating them back to museum content.

Looking to the future of an ever-changing landscape of new technologies, Drew points to the importance of keeping an organization’s mission at the forefront. While embracing anything new, he recommends asking what it adds and how it can further the mission. Not every platform is necessary, and museums can do exciting, engaging work without the use of new technology. It’s all about knowing where the audience is and what they’re doing.


  1. Jennifer Hall says:

    Good convo! His discussion of being the “young guy around the office” getting him into his role is interesting. I suspect many first generation social media managers got into it this way, so it would be interesting to hear how next-gen social media managers’ experiences are different. His emphasis on consulting higher-ups and making sure goals are clarified I think is especially apt given what a free-for-all social media once was. It’s one thing I’ve really begun to appreciate in this class: defining expectations from every stakeholder in an almost absurdly clear and simple matter is the ONLY way to truly understand and meet those expectations.

    Your question about attracting new audiences without alienating current ones is really apt. I found his advice to show your demographic examples of their peers enjoying your content as a motivator to be really valuable. In response to your discussion about disaster preparedness, I just took a disaster preparedness workshop! Most of what we discussed was saving/repairing collections from floods, fire, chemical leaching, etc. (as opposed to active shooters and other horrific things). We learned how critically important but overlooked preparedness is. When a disaster strikes, there is 911 for the human element, but when it comes to the collections, you’re it! They had us run through some scenarios, and it became immediately clear how much just doing that one activity would be beneficial if anything terrible happens in the future.

    1. Elizabeth G. says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      Disaster preparedness is vital in a museum setting and is an afterthought at times. Our university library lost an extension collection of priceless maps, documents and other archival items from a flood that ravaged the basement level. It is easy to assume that all measures have been taken to prevent this – but it is best to have a solid plan of action in place.

      1. Elizabeth G. says:

        Just for clarification purposes, the university I am referring to is the University of Hawaii at Manoa (Hamilton Library).

    2. Jennifer,

      I thought it was interesting to hear about the evolution of a social media position too, and wonder what a younger generation who have grown up with social media will bring to the job. The idea of showing vs. telling seemed to weave throughout his responses. It was interesting to hear Erin Blasco talk about modelling user behavior to encourage engagement, since Drew sort of touched on that idea with his discussion of using social media to show a target audience that this place is for them too.

  2. Jenna Stepp says:

    There are some really strong insights and recommendations for social media management in this talk! I appreciated the point that it’s not just about getting people to talk about what you’re posting as an institution, but it’s also about recognizing when people are talking about you and joining the conversation organically, I think this resonates well with the role of social media in being about conversations and dialogue, and as Jordan put it ‘not just shouting’ out into the internet.

    The caution about metrics is also helpful; data and performance analytics are incredibly important, but only if you know what they mean and have an already established framework for goals and what success looks like. Accessible dashboards move in the right direction, but can your management team interpret them? How do you ensure insights are raised from results, and that all teams know how to evaluate the numbers?

    Also love that this closes out with the invitation for anyone to pick up the conversation on social media, very appropriate! Link to his twitter account?

    1. Elizabeth G. says:

      Hi Jenna,

      You bring up such an important point! If a museum is going to engage audiences on social media, then they must also be actively involved in conversations “about” their organizations. I often see conversations between users on a site, and the sound of crickets coming from the museum. People who leave comments and participate in a dialogue on social media are valuable and love to contribute; it is crucial for social media content managers to seize the opportunity to interact with them!

      1. Jenna Stepp says:

        Exactly, it’s a great opportunity to interact and build relationships! You hit on the perfect point – it’s a dialogue, so SMM’s should jump in and engage directly.

        1. Definitely! Reaching visitors where they’re already talking about your org and having a conversation is a great opportunity to connect with them – putting the social in social media!

          Jenna – Karen beat me to it, but Drew’s can be found here on Twitter: @MNDNCH

    2. Robin Reif says:

      Jenna you bring up a very valid point about knowing when people are talking about you and being able to join a conversation. This kind of interaction shows there is a human connection instead of it seeming robotic automated like approach.

  3. Elizabeth G. says:

    Drew had a keen observation about how to attract the audience you seek, which is to represent them (demographically) in public posts – I would have never thought of that but I suppose it is exactly what marketing companies do when they are selling a product. If people can identify with the organization and they feel as though they are being represented, would they be more inclined to support it?

    1. I’m with you on that. I personally feel more inclined to support an organization if I feel connected to what they’re about and what they’re doing. I think there are a lot of factors that go into that connection, but seeing my demographic represented is definitely a start!

  4. Zoey Washington says:

    Great interview! I usually don’t think of an editorial team as being part of the support system of a school of business, but he is right in that it is an imperative part of the marketing and messaging process in order to attract anything from community engagement to potential students. The difference between this approach and more informal platforms, as he mentioned, is really interesting. He mentioned that he is still getting used to the structure and point of view, even though the market and the content is already there. It might be more about the sheer amount of content and how to properly disseminate information, again as he pointed out.

  5. Mary Mathias says:

    This was a very interesting conversation! I like Drew’s comments about collaboration. As he describes, having a network of social media managers who can discuss topics in the field, share tips, and work together on larger projects can be very beneficial for the individuals and institutions involved. I particularly liked what he said about this network allowing him to be supported and challenged by his peers. That kind of peer-to-peer feedback can help move social media in museums forward in exciting new directions.

  6. kpolesky says:

    I did my on-site seminar in San Diego almost a year ago in January 2017 at the Museum of Man in Balboa Park. We met with Nik Honeysett a few times and visited almost all of the museums in the park, along with the San Diego Zoo. So, I totally understand when he is talking about working with what, 15 organizations? And they are all so totally different in their focus and visions. But, it’s a great facility and really wish I could work there. Drew just started at UCLA Anderson in Sept so it will be interesting to see how his work evolves there. And he is very much involved with MCN, also. A pleasure to listen to. Thanks.

    His twitter account is: @MNDNCH

    1. Karen,

      Thanks! I agree – collaborating with so many organizations across several social media platforms sounds challenging, especially when they’re so different. Thanks for sharing Drew’s twitter account! Some of his talks at MCN conferences are posted on their YouTube channel as well, for anyone who’s interested: https://www.youtube.com/user/museumcn/featured

  7. Christopher Martinez says:

    Nice interview. I liked how Drew was explaining developments of his social media experience as they occurred. It’s interesting to see comparatively too the difference in outlook between Balboa Park and UCLA Anderson and how they approached evaluating social media, which ultimately informed how they used their accounts

  8. Kelly McKenna says:

    Hi Jordan,

    I really appreciated Drew’s advice about setting goals and expectations for social media early on. As he says, having an initial conversation with your boss and asking them explain what they’re looking can help you meet their expectations. Having clear and agreed upon goals can prevent you from going in the wrong direction or making any missteps.

    I also thought it was interesting when Drew mentioned how a “step child” account can be more exploratory than the main account. I would love to learn more about this, and I wonder how common step child accounts are?

  9. Andrea A. says:

    This was such a great conversation! Seeing what someone can bring to the table after having to grown up in the “social media age” is really impressive and makes a lot of sense. The younger generations, like Drew, have grown up using social media and technology from a very young age. They understand the ins and outs. What works and what doesn’t. I have seen when someone outside this generation attempts to use social media (a personally struggle I face at LIM when our PR staff don’t fully get Instagram/Twitter) who doesn’t have such an intense knowledge of it. Even recently, I was working with college students on developing social media posts based on their research and they had such amazing insight on how to reach out target audience. It wouldn’t hurt to enlist a focus group to help with digital endeavors.

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