Blog 6: Expanding, Engaging and Personalizing

In Kanter and Fine’s chapters on creating a social culture and using it to engage with others, they emphasize that companies shouldn’t be afraid of letting individuals’ personalities show through tweets, posts and comments. Instead of only trying to gain participation and money through their posts, companies should try to connect with people and build personal relationships with their followers online.

This idea of a “personal” side to a business really intrigued me. In my own professional social media work, I often find myself centering posts and tweets around a final goal of getting people to sign up for the programs the company I work for offers. Instead, according to Kanter and Fine, I should be using Facebook and Twitter to show the beliefs of the company and form connections with people who will then want to sign up for the programs willingly.

I think these ideas are also very applicable to Savor South Madison’s goal, especially when it comes to engaging with the student body. In order to get participation in the Taste Race, we will have to connect with people in an area in which we are comfortable communicating with them. Because our target audience is college students, I think there are a couple of unique social media platforms besides Twitter and Facebook where we could both show our personality and encourage people to participate in the Taste Race.

The first is Pinterest. While we have had a Pinterest for a couple of semesters now, it goes mostly unused. The links and pictures we have pinned are completely of food, separated onto different boards based on what kind of food it is. While food is always a good thing to gain repins on Pinterest, I think we are limiting ourselves by stopping there. In order to really use the medium, we should create boards that explain a little bit more about what Savor South Madison is and who the people running it are. We could make boards that show the events we are holding, experiences we’re having together and parts of the learning process. Taking advice from Kanter and Fine, I think one of these should be a “meet the students” or “Savor South Madison today” board that shows specifically what we as students are doing, both in South Madison and in the classroom.

To create synergy between our platforms, I think we should also be utilizing Pinterest to show off our website. We can pin items from the website to drive traffic there. All of these ventures will help our followers discover more about South Madison and more about us, creating bonds between all parties and encouraging them to participate in activities such as the Taste Race, or maybe just head down to South Madison to see what all these college kids are posting about.

Another social media technology that I think businesses often overlook is FourSquare. Although people are a little checked out of checking in, I think it would specifically be a great way for us to show where we are going and expand our brand. During the Culinary Crawl, we could check in on Four Square and all other social media platforms. If a restaurant doesn’t have a spot, we could make one for them so people can check in there in the future. This would help people know where we are and have a quick link to find out the exact location. I also this this would have been a really cool way to track where we went on the bus tour.

There are a lot of ways Savor South Madison could improve on social media. Form the Kanter and Fine reading, I specifically took away the idea that we need to make our posts more personal and engaging by expanding our current social media use and which platforms we use.


Going that Extra Mile: Taking the Next Step with Savor South Madison

It is important to realize our progress and placement within social media.  Yes, we have created our profiles, we have found influencers and we have produced quality content.  However, there must be more.  Much, much more.

Mansfield and Kantor & Kind give a surface approach to social media in the nonprofit field, however, as stated previously, we have already skimmed the surface: we must dive into the deep end and learn to tread water the hard way.   What this means is we must become more strategic in our attempts to utilize the new media techniques and become more willing to take risks.  Thus, the simple #SavorSouthMad does not suffice, because frankly, no one will be searching that.  We need to not only interact more but to also engage more.  With a not-so-great ratio of followers to following, we must boost that.  This means not only using the techniques discussed in both works – like retweeting others and using multiple hashtags – but also digging down deeper past the foundation.  This deeper-level means retweeting those who can join our followers team.  This can be achieved by retweeting and engaging with users who are connected to our organization, both wholeheartedly and by thin threads.  With a simple retweet, other users find out more about us.  What about other universities?  What about other service organizations.  We must not skim the surface but completely jump in.  Branching out will allow us to grow more fluidly and rapidly.  This is a must.

The next idea that the authors discuss is the idea of listening.  I find this to be misleading.  We cannot just listen and do the latter of responding – there must be more interaction.  We must find creative and innovative ways to find users and find followers.  With a ghostly presence, we cannot grow.  With new techniques, this will attract those who are “scared” of social media or are “not using it.”  This enticing aspect will draw users in more readily and easily because of the unique aspect.  This means not only offline attraction but further strategic planning.  Use trending hashtags.  Use interesting ideas and content.  We must gain a following in order to achieve greatness.  By attempting new campaigns that weave other users into our media networks, we can grow our presence.  The Red Cross in Kantor & Kind’s example listen and engage.  We, as a much MUCH MUCH smaller entity, must do much MUCH MUCH more.

Be smart.  Be unique.  Be Savor South Madison.  Showing the social media networks that we are a driving force in the nonprofit sphere will exalt us into the place we want to be.


Blog #5 – Fear of the Unknown (web)World

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” – Plato

I don’t know if internet is necessarily “the light” but its apparent that even ancient philosophers were tuned into human motivations and fear of the unknown. This applies to the most pertinent aspects of our lives like making decisions when we cannot predict the outcomes and also less significant occurrences like learning something new and changing habits. In Natalie Stroud’s article, “Selective exposure in theory and practice” she mentions that cognitive dissonance leads to selective exposure preventing people to seek information contradictory to what they already know and believe. After observing the South Madison Community and learning the community’s technological aptitude and Internet use, I predict motivating to adopting new communication technologies will be a challenge. Moreover, South Madison’s predisposed disadvantage with Internet skill, access and knowledge may also pose challenges when utilizing new media to build a stronger community within the community.

In “Digital Natives: Variation in Internet Skill and Uses Among Members of the ‘Net Generation’” Hargittai says it is assumed that issues of inequality are not prevalent once people go online because it is a level social platform; all information is available to everyone. Hargittai disagrees and argues that even when people are online differences remain in how they incorporate the Internet into their lives. These differences specifically in Internet skill and aptitude can be attributed to race, age, gender, parental education, socio-economic status, etc. “While the Internet certainly has the potential to level the playing field by offering numerous opportunities to its diverse users…the more privileged stand to benefit from it more than those in less advantageous positions”(Hargittai, 110).

From knowing that South Madison is of a lower socio-economic status, it can be assumed that community members are not as familiar with the internet, its capacities and new technologies due to lack of access. Furthermore, on the October 5th Bus Tour, this distance from “new media” was confirmed after I interviewed a few community members at the South Madison Library. From these brief interactions, I sensed fear and confusion surrounding social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Without accessibility, frequency of use decreases and with that, the likelihood of internet “know-how.” Working with a foundation of less online skill poses a challenge when introducing new online communication platforms. Additionally, we want to make sure that after providing the skills and knowledge to these new technologies, the community will be able to access them. With this knowledge, we may want to approach Savor South Madison promotions from a traditional angle and point people in the direction of the new media platforms; we distribute some paper fliers in the public spaces that direct people to our website and social media accounts.

I also propose social media and Internet use seminars. Though this undertaking may not be feasible during this semester, I think the South Madison community could benefit from Internet guidance. Based on what I learned about the community library, members take advantage of opportunities to learn and engage in community activities at the Library. Savor South Madison could leverage this Community hot spot to introduce new communication technologies at a location where they would be used.


Millenializing Gen-X, Gen-Y and those Gosh-Darn Baby Boomers: Achieving New Media Access for Older Generations

The important aspect to understand about new media techniques is that we as pre-millennials do not realize the extent those who do not use social media.  Because of our deep – and boy do I mean deep – immersion into the vast waters of social media, we forget that not everyone is as savvy as we are.  We, then, must strive to give said strangers an equal opportunity for friendship with this important lifestyle.

To achieve this, we must understand that many people do not have the skills.  Some may be scared of the unknown, some may use it for personal gain but find no other need.  We need to curb these philosophies and create a new schema.  Thus, by using more offline techniques intertwined with new media techniques, we can help create better associations and understandings.  This will then allow for those to ease into their feared abyss.  Offline technology is comfortable for those who do not have the skills.  Online is not.  By merging the two mentalities, we can create a new comfort level for these individuals.  Although it is tougher to reach this market, we must increase our coalition connections because this is their specialty.  Older generations are a part of groups and other face-to-face programs.  By connecting with these groups – even if loosely associated with our own – will allow for others to know more and attempt to join the new fields.

This is not easy.  Thus, we must teach and show and foster growth.  This then can be utilized to help gain an audience that does not only have the skills, but also those who do not have the access.  By using the offline media techniques, we can teach and show those who THINK they do not have access actually do have access – and a lot of it.  It is this unknown that stops these users.  Thus, similar to those who do not have the skills, we must teach and show and foster growth by attempting to showcase the possibilities that exist in different communities.  Whether it is by hosting learning groups or just showcasing the access hotspots, it is possible that these who have no access will find access.

In this time, the skills and access for new media is everywhere.  We are swimming in an ocean of media, however, we must take the time to empathize and forget that we are not the only ones treading water: that there are many drowning in that ocean.  We must throw out our lifesaver and teach these novices the skills, knowledge and information that we possess.  Only by doing that can we grow as an organization.


Late Tech Adapters Might Actually Get a Better Deal

Higgatai mentions that “[college] students of lower socioeconomic status, women, students of Hispanic origin, and African Americans exhibit lower levels of Web know-how than others.” The statement is important because as we are thinking about how to best serve the South Madison community and business sector, we must not forget that many of those individuals living and working within that community are directly labeled as at least one of the aforementioned groups.

Once one realizes that the participation of an audience, or lack thereof, stems from an inability to participate, whether caused by lack of resources or education, it is easier to find a solution.

While the gap in accessibility (internet access) and equipment (smartphone/tablet/PC) is a bit harder to overcome, by introducing individuals to the World Wide Web and giving them the tools to interact within it, we might be able to grow the overall participation of the community. The fact that some things might be relatively new to many of the individuals who we would want to engage might even work to our advantage because it allows us to bring newcomers into platforms that are basically fully developed (Facebook and Twitter for example will probably not be changing their basic function anytime soon) and thus one is able to not only interact with the already large user base, but they also avoid any “growing pains” that some early adapters must deal with during the early development pages of any given site.

I believe that this is a large advantage because we would be able to show both how a social media site works and give proof of the positives effects that they have already had on countless other individuals/organizations. This might make it easier to convince newcomers to experimenting with the medium.

Late adapters often have more choices and more established systems.

Late adapters often have more choices and more established systems.

This leads to how we might motivate users. I believe that if we can effectively convey the distinct advantages of social media, for example, while also providing the necessary tools to utilize the technology in their setting we can convince them to make technology a growing part of their lives/business while continuing to use it to connect themselves with those outside of their immediate community.

We’ve discussed how college students at the University of Madison and their reluctance to visit the South Madison area serve a crucial role in the current status quo. Yet, these are the same students that often throw caution to the wind as they walk home alone at 2am after a party. To me that’s indicative of a willingness to try things they might enjoy, even if there is a possibility of danger. While I’ve come to learn that the South Madison community actually doesn’t really deserve the stereotype for being a “dangerous part of town”, I think that sentiment is still held by many. Yet, it is obviously one that can be overcome and I think that by more closely engaging the student community through technology and social media sites, we might be able to at least reduce the amount of people staying away from the neighborhood simply because they think it might be dangerous.

One way to do this is to showcase the unique people and places in South Madison through images and videos (produced by/for South Madison community members) so that students see and feel how safe and welcoming the community actually is.

It seems difficult to try and enter a foreign community with ideas that one might think would solve their problems without first trying to live in their shoes. Yet, by showing them not only why, but how new communication technologies could personally help their goals I think we can more effectively teach and motivate South Madison community members.


Blog Post #5 – Access, Skills and Motivations

Now that I have learned a little more about South Madison, I can see obvious places where human motivations, skills and knowledge may pose challenges for us as we try to adopt new communication technologies in the area. As Stroud (2011) points out in the second chapter of his book Politics in News Choice, people are less likely to embrace mass communication media if the people around them aren’t using it. I think this idea is very telling when it comes to thinking through the technological limitations in knowledge, skills and motivations in South Madison.

Many people in South Madison don’t have knowledge of new technologies (such as social media) and therefore would never see advertisements for events such as our scavenger hunt on any of these platforms. Without the knowledge of these platforms as a base, they won’t be able to build the skills needed to maintain their own websites. I see this as being a major hurdle for many business owners. I find out about a lot of restaurant deals on Facebook and Twitter. Being in a college town and not having a presence on these two handles in particular would be very detrimental to sales. Finally, I see this lack of knowledge and skills as a direct link to having no motivation. In application of Stroud’s idea, if most people in the South Madison area aren’t interested in social media and other new technologies, there is no motivation for residents (such as these restaurant owners) to invest their time and energy in learning the skills to use the media.

Although I’m not sure how much direct improvement we can achieve in the areas of knowledge and skill, I think we could be incredibly influential on the motivation of the South Madison residents to use new technologies. College students love connecting to people online. If we can drive enough college students into these restaurants, it may motivate the restaurant owners to get involved with social media so they can interact with this group of customers. While we work with South Madison business owners, I think it will be important to talk to them about social media and even show them some of the work we are doing to promote ourselves and their businesses on our website and social media handles. While this may not be enough to give them new technology skills, it will at least give them some knowledge about the platforms and hopefully make them a little less intimidating.

In his 2010 study Digital Na(t)ives? Variation in Internet Skills and Uses among Members of the “Net Generation” Higgatai discovered that “Students of lower socioeconomic status, women, students of Hispanic origin, and African Americans exhibit lower levels of Web know-how than others.” Although his study was specifically on college students, these demographics fit many South Madison residents of all ages. While we encourage the residents to use social media, I think it will be important to advertise our events and ourselves in non-technological ways as well. If we are able to get their attention through posters and personal conversations, we may be able to use these methods of promotion to drive them to our site, therefore reaching all South Madison residents, including those who are less tech-savvy.


Blog Post 3: Technology for Community

After spending simply one day in South Madison at the Celebrate South Madison festival, I had so many thoughts and ideas running through my head. I plan on spending more time in that area to help spark ideas about what we can do in the future to form a bridging connection in that area.

At this festival, there were not many food vendors, and especially not the ethnic food vendors we plan on working with throughout this course. The food vendors included Pizza Hut, JD’s, Famous Dave’s, and one stand from the South Madison farmers market. I was pretty disappointed by this turnout, and hopefully we will be able to get in touch with the ethnic food vendors for future events. Our class needs to start going out to these restaurants and form relationships with the owners and customers to get them more involved in the community. Also, if we promote the restaurants and give directions on our website, it will be more accessible to get to. We need to emphasize that these restaurants are not expensive, which will definitely give people more of an initiative to try them out.

Many of the residents I spoke with made it very clear that they did not have high enough incomes to go out to eat, but if we explained that these restaurants are not expensive maybe they will give them a try. The people I spoke to about their lack of food and wealth also said they were not active on social media. They explained that they either don’t have access to these technologies or they do not know how to use them. We can post on social media daily, but if the residents do not know how to use social media it defeats our purposes. If we established a workshop to help these people understand how to use social media and also notify them of the public resources that are available, that would be one of the first steps to get people involved. Since many of these people do not know how to use social media and are not following our website because of this disadvantage, we should directly and physically go to them to assist them, because if we simply advertise our events and activities on social media many people will not be notified. Many of the residents in South Madison are economically underdeveloped and ethnically diverse. We need to continue brainstorming to help get these people into a bridging community, and part of this can be by establishing them on social media.

I think it is great that there are many organizations and groups trying to assist in the forming of a community in South Madison. Our class should definitely speak with the different groups and see how we all can work together to create an event or workshop for the residents of South Madison. If we can work together with other organizations, it can prove to the people of South Madison that they can bridge together, too. As Miller explains in Chapter One of The nonprofit marketing guide, nobody wants to feel like someone, especially a charity or group of people, is trying to trick or cheat them. There have been so many initiatives to try and “help” the people in South Madison, and I hope they do not feel like guinea pigs part of a new experiment. We need to offer opportunities and have constant back-and-forth dialogues with residents over time. Miller also explains that non-profits fail when the audience is poorly defined because of a generic message. We need to figure out exactly what our main goal is and how we want our efforts to be shown by the end of this course. If we combine our efforts with other organizations, it might not seem like we are all trying to “help” the people in this area. It will seem like we are all combining our efforts to form and bridge a better community.

Our guest speaker from the South Metropolitan Planning Council, Sheri, seems passionate and knowledgeable about the efforts to bring together this community. She talked about how they have been partnering up with other organizations, such as the Wisconsin Women Business Initiative Corporation to help encourage women to open up their own businesses. She explained how the SMPC really takes the community members’ ideas into consideration, which I really appreciate. It shows how they are truly striving to better the community. She also mentioned that they are trying to form a presence on social media and have been developing their Facebook page. With the use of Facebook comes the need for media literate community members. We should help with these. With the use of Facebook comes the need for media literate community members. We should help with these media literacy opportunities in the South Madison area by helping to create a social media workshop that targets community organizers. After these people are comfortable using social media, they will hopefully allow children to use social media. If we continue using social media in a positive way and show the positive outcomes of social media techniques, the community will be able to increase their knowledge. Rather than having children become introduced to negative and dangerous forms of media on their own, we can show them the positive ways to use social media. At the festival I noticed that the people were very family-oriented and many people talked to me about their children. It is important that we incorporate the safety of their children using social media into any workshop. On our website we should continually post events, articles, and many pictures of food. Our website should serve as a gathering place to bring people to South Madison and start a bridging community.

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