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HERstory: Maya Wesby

Social Media Manager @ Harvard
Profile photo of social media manager Maya Wesby

In our latest conversation, we had the pleasure of delving into the dynamic career journey of Maya Wesby. Maya has navigated various industries, from blockchain and consumer tech to now higher education, all through the lens of social media.

Maya’s journey through different social roles shows her skill in tailoring strategies to various audiences and sectors. She started with internships at BP and Burson-Marsteller, moved to strategic roles at Wachsman and Edelman, and is now at Harvard. Her experiences prove that truly understanding each social media platform and authentically engaging with audiences are crucial for effective social media management.

We’ll explore how she crafts engaging campaigns, translates complex ideas into digestible content, and fosters a sense of community in every role she’s held.

You’ve had internships at BP and Burson-Marsteller, and roles at Wachsman and Edelman before moving into higher education social media management. How did these diverse experiences prepare you for your current role at Harvard?

I’ve always been drawn to the power of social media and how it can be used from a brand perspective. Even in those internal comms internships, I wanted to get involved in how a brand lived on social. I wanted to learn about best practices, how to monitor trends, and connect with audiences across channels.

My early-career experiences—regardless if it was in blockchain, consumer tech, health & beauty, and now higher education—all have a social-first approach in common. I’ve enjoyed taking stories from those different sectors and translating them to social.

At Wachsman, you helped develop a global social media strategy for strategic realignment of company messaging. Could you share a bit about this process? How did you ensure a consistent message across various channels and markets?

I had the opportunity to lead the company’s corporate Twitter channel in addition to having a PR-focused role. I raised my hand to help grow the company’s social presence, an opportunity to share the many media placements coming from our office and to highlight our client work in a digestible way.

At the time, blockchain and cryptocurrencies were top of mind, so I wanted to use social media to translate the lofty terms and complex landscape into real-world applications for a wider audience to understand.

While at Edelman, you worked with a variety of clients across consumer tech, CPGs, and other consumer brands. What were some of the key differences in strategizing and implementing social media campaigns for these diverse sectors?

In almost every team, we did a meaningful exercise of creating brand archetypes. It helped lay the groundwork for the types of campaigns we created, our tone of voice, plus how/where we published content.

It also helped break down how we wanted people to remember our brand. For example, in the consumer tech space we focused on use cases to promote new products and updates so our audience associated us with their day-to-day life and having the latest.

But the other sectors I touched were focused on their brand mission. Those sectors went beyond the product—we wanted our audience to join us in various social issues and feel-good campaigns. I’m thankful for the dynamic experience I had across these sectors with Edelman.

In your current role, you manage social media for a prestigious higher education institution, Harvard. How do you think social media strategy for higher education differs from those in other sectors you’ve worked in like consumer tech and CPGs?

Working at the Harvard Graduate School of Education is such a unique experience, it’s my first role within higher education and for an institution that addresses issues within education. With any new role, there will be a learning curve to explore the field you’re in. But I think the core values are still true for a social role: authenticity, connection, and relevance.

I think what’s special for higher education is that you have an overflow of content to work with. What are your students up to? Where are your alumni in their professional journeys? How are your faculty making innovations in the field? It’s almost like having built-in content creators, and then I get to translate their work in a social-first way.

Because of the strong campus community, it rarely feels like I’m talking at our audience, but rather with them and alongside them. And that connection is part of what keeps me motivated every day.

In your opinion, what sets successful social media campaigns apart from those that fall short?

It’s about that point of view I alluded to above: Is your brand talking at your audience, or with them? Successful campaigns understand the wants and needs of their audience based on social listening and real-world applications. If your audience can’t apply your brand to their everyday life, or if there isn’t a convenient way to do so, it’s time to reevaluate.

Any parting wisdom for future social media managers?

Believe it or not, social is still an unrecognizable monolith to many people. In other words, many see social media platforms having the same function, or view platforms as too foreign to understand. Part of a social media manager’s job is to help others navigate this tricky world that can change daily and break down interwoven strategies and best practices into simple dialogue. It’s the best way to make sure your team, your company, and your clients are aligned and helps build trust in you as a professional.

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