Social media has radically changed how businesses and community organizations reach out to the people they serve. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram enable them to create communities, offer immediate feedback or assistance, and promote their products and services.
While learning about business applications of social media, students in the Rutgers University–Camden Business Leader Development Program (BLDP) seminar “Marketing in the Social Media Age” had the opportunity to advise leaders of Camden nonprofit organizations on how to enhance their social media presence.
The BLDP offers Rutgers School of Business–Camden undergraduate students enhanced leadership training and helps students develop networking and mentoring skills in their seminars with faculty members and local business leaders. In this class, students heard from guest lecturers including social media and public relations experts for organizations such as Ronald McDonald House in Camden, Tropicana Casino, and Severino Pasta.
Through the Office of Civic Engagement, students in Carol Kaufman-Scarborough’s class connected with five nonprofit organizations in Camden: Fellowship House, Joseph’s House, the Neighborhood Center, Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council, and Respond, Inc. Boosting the social media presence of the nonprofit organizations could help to attract potential donors and volunteers, reach out to community members and solidify a professional brand image.
Comprised of four students, each of the five groups in the class applied what they learned to create a social media plan for the organizations. After analyzing their organization’s social media efforts, they created an operations manual with templates, tools and websites where the organization could find additional information to manage their social media accounts in the future.
The students made suggestions on how, what, and how often to post on social media accounts.
“It was really interesting setting up a Facebook account from scratch for them and giving them good advice as to how to maintain it,” says Brittany Striewski, a management major from Lindenwold, whose group worked with Respond, Inc., which provides services including job training, child care, and assistance for the homeless.
Striewski’s group created a calendar of items events and programs that the organization could post on its Facebook account so they’ll have content consistently.
“We never had anyone who did social media,” says Patrick Moore, Respond, Inc.’s automotive instructor and operations manager. “No one knew the techniques of handling social media. Now, we will be able to interact with the community on different levels. This will give us more exposure and showcase what we do. We can get feedback from people and it can help us build a better program.”
Vince Testa and his group worked with Fellowship House, which would sometimes post on its social media accounts just once or twice a week. Thanks to Testa’s group, the organization now has a roadmap for posting daily to remain engaged with their followers. “Pictures and videos engage with followers much more than just text,” adds the senior from Mullica Hill majoring in management and marketing.
“A real-world project such as this demonstrates actual learning and use of social media skills,” says Kaufman-Scarborough, a professor of marketing and director of the Business Leader Development Program. “Companies want to hire students with actual experience in social media since it is a growing form of media communications.”
“I’m getting first-hand experience of what it takes to run a campaign like this or to be a consultant for an organization,” says Joe Amoriello, a marketing and management major from Mount Laurel, and a member of the group working with The Neighborhood Center. “This class teaches you to be a leader.”
It’s also an opportunity to use their skills to make a difference in the community.
“It feels good to help out,” says Testa. “We can share what we learn with them to help them further their organizations.”