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.
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.
“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.