The Lawrence University Volunteer and Community Service Center held a panel entitled Social Media for Good On April 26. The panel took place in the Warch Campus Center Hurvis room, and was well attended by Lawrence students, staff and Appleton community members.
The event was formatted as an interactive question and answer discussion session, where panelists addressed concerns from the VCSC’s Service-Learning CoordinatorCharles Demler and members of the audience. Panelists included Rachel Crowl, Lawrence’s new media and website coordinator, president of the Weidert Group Greg Linnemanstons ’80 and Lee Snodgrass, director of marketing and Brand at the Girls Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes.
Each member of the social media panel shared ways in which they have strategically used social media as a tool for advancing their causes. They furthermore introduced social media strategies for being most effective on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Crowl, who updates Lawrence’s social media outlets, maintains the webpage, and creates a diverse range of This is Lawrence YouTube videos, discussed the importance of understanding the different networks that are being used. While she described twitter as more fast paced, Crowl claimed that Facebook would be a more effective medium to use if a nonprofit is looking to post something that they would like more people to view for a longer period of time.
Crowl furthermore stressed the value of creating content that people will link to and actively engage with. Messages spread across networks when people click the share or retweet buttons. As social media continues to evolve with each passing day, Crowl said “You don’t have to understand it [right way], you [just] have to ride it. And ride it with your brain more than your heart.”
The panelists all agreed that it is crucial to have a solid purpose behind social media initiatives. “Social media is a tool. You have to have a plan,” Linnemanstons shared, “If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, you won’t succeed”.
Said Snodgrass, “The great thing about all these things is that they are free. But they along cannot be your marketing plan. They are instruments and ways to reach vast audiences.”
Snodgrass, who is the director of marketing and Brand at the Girls Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes, emphasized that her online marketing strategies need to always be dynamic and creative. Snodgrass spoke about being genuine to the social cause of your organization, and shared the importance of having a unified single voice for the different Girl Scout branches in the Northwestern Great Lakes region.
Linnemanstons stated that although an organization may have multiple social media outlets, they should somehow direct potential volunteers or supporters to the organization’s website. He furthermore claimed that the Facebook and Twitter pages for these organizations and social causes need to demonstrate personality or else they will appear too mechanic and bland.
Crowl shared with attendants that the great thing about social media is the fact that users can keep trying new things. She emphasized the importance of constantly posting and not being afraid to make mistakes along the way.