by Jordan Ewbank
You have a small project and want to help get the word out about it. So, why bother with social media? Connecting with people in the days of utter interconnectivity that we are living in is the first and arguably fasted way to get your name out into the world. By connecting with peers and people with similar interests, you are able to gauge everything from the desirability of your program to seeking help for funding through programs like Kickstarter. Social media can help gather attention for your events and fundraisers, and helps to secure loyalty for your project. Ultimately, social media is a form of advertising, but unlike traditional billboards and newspapers it allows you to build your own community and connect with it more effectively.
While many in the current generation of students consider social media a necessity for personal interactions, professional social media is often overlooked as a part of corporate culture and advertising. While this is not necessarily true across the board, what is frequently overlooked is the ability for social media to create a strong online presence for small projects that may not otherwise have large funding. This is particularly true for sustainability projects that tend to form tight-knit followings of people who are willing to help spread the word about the projects. In the case of Microcosm, the documentary film project by Roosevelt SUST adjunct professor Michele Hoffman Trotter, one well-connected person inviting her friends on Facebook to like our page has turned into a 50% increase in the number of likes in less than two weeks.
Social media is not at odds with small projects, as shown by the CTA Jackson stop Red/Blue line performers, Mark and Adrian Duet, who have garnered over 1,300 likes by simply putting out a sign with their Facebook handle when they play. Their example shows that while no money is necessary to gain popularity via social media, it pays to have a plan in place even when this plan is as simple as a handwritten sign. Using social media to market yourself allows you to inform your readers of the big things like events and shows, all the way down to little things like new or exciting things happening in the office.
The key to social media is persistence. It can be a frustrating experience where you seem to be only throwing your words at a wall to see what sticks. At the same time, it can be an exciting thing to wake up one morning and discovered you have doubled your followers overnight. Be it text-based like Twitter and Facebook, image-focused like Instagram or Tumblr, or video-centric like Youtube and Vine, the important thing is finding something that works for you and sticking with it. It’s no fun for you or your followers if you are making tweets and hate the restriction of the characters or to try and make a Youtube channel if you’re uncomfortable in front of a camera.
Lastly, it never hurts to experiment and play. Writing and reading the same format over and over is boring for everyone. The most successful social media plans involve some form of spontaneity and entertainment value for your followers. By trying new styles and new formats, you find out what better fits you and your peers. After all, you never know what will capture someone’s attention until you try it out. So, what are you waiting for? Go explore, and most importantly have fun with what you do!
Jordan Ewbank is currently an undergraduate majoring in Sustainability Studies at Roosevelt University and the social media manager for the forthcoming film documentary on marine biodiversity and conservation, Microcosm.