by Allison Diaz, Elizabeth Chan, Rodrigo Avila
For our semester project, our team, including Rodrigo Avila, Elizabeth Chan, and Allison Diaz, was tasked with planning and implementing the social media strategy for the ECIRMAC Refugee Center. After conducting an interview with the women of ECIRMAC, we understood their goals, audience, and tips for success for the Facebook page. One of our biggest priorities was to share what ECIRMAC is all about. It is sometimes difficult to explain the importance of the daily work that ECIRMAC does for the community because to quote Deb, “We do it all.” Each day is different; the women of the refugee center help immigrants and refugees deal with difficult tasks from just about anything from signing up for Obamacare to completing confusing paperwork. The Facebook audience is not composed of clients to the refugee center, but the volunteers, prospective volunteers, and other people in the community. We noted that Facebook insights informed us that76% of fans are women, and 90% speak English, and the majority of fans are from Chicago and the Urbana-Champaign area. With our posts, we aimed to inform people about the kind of work that ECIRMAC does to help their clients. Additionally, we wanted to spread information about current issues facing immigrants and refugees, promotions about upcoming events, and information about other organizations in the community connected to immigration rights like La Línea and CU Immigration Forum. In our posts, we posted in both English and Spanish as much as possible. Once our team was able to access and post through the Facebook page, we made sure to create meaningful content on a consistent basis. By looking at Facebook insights, we saw that average post reach increased from an average of 20 people reached prior to our project to an average of 150 people reached. This was most likely because of consistent, meaningful, and engaging posts. Although ECIRMAC does not have any additional money to put towards promotion and advertising on Facebook, we relied on other resources to spread the word such as sharing posts on our personal Facebook pages. Throughout the course of the semester, the ECIRMAC grew 20 likes and is now at 401 likes. We plan on keeping up with ECIRMAC through engaging with posts of future Span 332 students who will manage their Facebook page.
As a community, the services provided by various organizations such as ECIRMAC and La Línea are not very well known by the community. There seems to be a barrier between the students that attend at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the rest of the community since organizations such as these are unknown by the students. The issues addressed are not well known by immigrants and as part of our project to help the refugee center we decided to inform our community about the various opportunities that are provided by organizations such as ECIRMAC. Through the course of the project our group benefited as well as the rest of the community in Urbana-Champaign. Our goal was not only to improve the activity within ECIRMAC’s Facebook page but also to inform the community about all the opportunities that several groups have to offer such as workshops involving free health services or assistance with immigrant services. Not only did it help us inform our community but it also gave us ideas towards what we could do as a community to help others. Posting about the association with other organizations such as La Linea and the C-U Immigration Forum also informed our community about the many opportunities that are provided to refugees. In the end, having the ability to improve the social marketing of ECIRMAC proves to be a benefit not only to the Refugee Center itself, but it also helps the community to get involved with the different types of services that are provided to them as well as the issues that are addressed.
Now that the semester has ended, we learned how to implement a social media strategy. We implemented a social media strategy for ECIRMAC. Once we got permission to post on the ECIRMAC’s Facebook, we decided to post on their page every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We posted things related to their programs but also outside sources related to them. Although we thought implementing a social media strategy would be easy since we are on social media majority of the time we are in school, we learned that it wasn’t. We had to obtain permission to post on their Facebook page which was tricky because we couldn’t find the contact of the person in charge of their social media. After countless attempts of contacting the person, Professor Abbott helped us and we got permission to post on their page. Figuring out things to post on their Facebook page was a bit tricky as well. There were many programs that we could post about but we had to find the one that suited ECIRMAC the best. We decided to each post something on a day we were assigned so that there aren’t any repeat of posts. Only Allison had permission to post so we all picked our days to post something and emailed it to her so she could post it on the Facebook. It was better that Allison posted on behalf of us because it prevented repeated posts on the Facebook page. Having repeated posts would make ECIRMAC look unprofessional so having one person post our posts allows us to look professional. It also allows us to double check the posts before posting to prevent repeated posts. Looking back, finding things to post was hard. We had to make sure what we were posting was aimed for the audience we were aiming at. We realized we had to come together and collaborated on things to post and how we should post things to the Facebook page. Although it took some time to figure things out, we learned that teamwork gets things done. Additionally, the purpose of this Facebook group was to get people to know what ECIRMAC was all about. We hope that our three times a week posts got the message out and that the next group to take this on would do the same thing. Getting word out on ECIRMAC will definitely help them out with business and could help out the Hispanics/Latinos in the CU community know that there are resources out there for them to utilize. We hope that ECIRMAC can continue to post resources or events three times a week to notify residents about these events or programs which can benefit their lives.