Students in my SPAN 232 course, "Spanish & Entrepreneurship: Languages, Cultures & Communities," have to do a team project in addition to their 28 hours of community service learning work. These are the results of one of the teams from Spring 2014. The intent is to have them go through the entrepreneurial process on a small scale, create something of true value, and develop their teamwork skills. --Ann Abbott
by César, Skye and Kim
Our group project was to act as the “web masters” for the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center (ECIRMAC) Facebook page. The women from the ECIRMAC office made clear they wanted us to post information relevant to the mission and work of the Refugee Center every weekday (Monday through Friday) to maintain the interest of followers and clients. Our posts varied depending on the amount of news coming from the office. Some of our posts consisted of updates around the office and information about upcoming events so that clients and volunteers were able to easily obtain this information via Facebook. If we did not have enough posts for the week with just office information, then we would post about articles, pictures or motivational quotes that we felt would increase the interest of the Facebook followers. The main purpose of our project was to increase awareness about the Refugee Center through social media (Facebook) and to keep these followers informed about our work. The Refugee Center aims to provide necessary services to the immigrant and refugee populations in the area and this page helps these populations more easily find how our organization can help them. Our goal for the semester was to augment the amount of followers to 350 people (or 350 Facebook “likes”).
During our group project, making our posts relevant to our viewers was crucial, as the likes and comments we receive are able to promote the page and thus enable us to achieve our end-of-semester goal, which was to get the page to 350 likes by the end of the semester. Our posts on the page included things such as motivational quotes, current news, and even the promotion of ECIRMAC’s annual Fundraiser Banquet, which is crucial for the maintenance of ECIRMAC. Setting such goals for ourselves was very helpful because it allowed us to see our progress throughout the semester. This self-evaluation allowed us to assess how to change what we posted in order to gain “likes” throughout the semester. For example, we were able to see that pictures of people that work in the office and our clients received the most “likes” on the page because people like seeing people they know on social media websites; therefore, we would continue to post pictures of ‘real’ people. Additionally, we were able to announce days when the Refugee Center was closed due to bad weather so that the volunteers and clients did not waste their time travelling to the center. The posts that may have been the most helpful were those that made the public aware of events with Mayte and other employees that took place out of the office. We are confident that our continual posts during the semester have helped ECIRMAC because we can see the feedback via Facebook “likes” and comments from community members. If anything, this semester long project has taught us the importance of social media and what we can achieve through it.
The ECIRMAC page needs to continue growing both in likes and in reach, which can only be done with consistent posting. I will be staying on as the Social Media Manager and creating relevant and engaging content for the page. Creating a database of possible posts, images, videos and articles will ensure that posts are useful and will assist in weekly planning. While I am away or unable to post daily, posts can be scheduled ahead of time so that the page does not suffer. We successfully reached our goal of 350 likes by the end of the semester; we believe setting goals like this are important to maintain motivation and measure success. So, another goal should be set for the future. The ladies of the center should be educated on the management of the page in the event that a Social Media Manager is not available to run the page for a period of time. More detailed analysis of the Facebook insights would also assist the page in the future as they would provide information as the what type of content is successful and what time of day is optimal.
This assignment taught us a lot about being a team, and about social media management. Through this project we learned the importance of an online presence for an organization like ECIRMAC. This experience has also allowed all of us to have a different perspective of social media; we can now see it as a dynamic working platform and not just a personal outlet. Overall, we are very proud and honored to have been able to assist ECIRMAC in their online growth and reach their goals.