Class Gets Nonprofits Clicking With Social Media
Marketing Students Help Draft Awareness Strategies for Fund Drive
Sep. 15, 2011
Before this summer, the Friends of the University Park Public Library were not tweeting, posting or YouTubing. Thanks to three UT Dallas marketing students, however, the library volunteers are now better able to connect with library patrons.
The students were part of UT Dallas School of Management Undergraduate Marketing Program Director Julie Haworth’s Marketing Strategy class who undertook a social media project. Working with the Communities Foundation of Texas, nine small teams of students created social media channels for Dallas-area nonprofit organizations supported by the foundation from scratch or advanced what already existed.
One of the goals of the project was to help nonprofits promote their programs as well as to build awareness for an annual effort known as Get Up and Give North Texas Giving Day, which is Thursday, Sept. 15. Donations of $25 or more to any school, unit or center made through donorbridgetx.org between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on that date are eligible for matching funds.
“As a nonprofit supporting nonprofits, we are always on the hunt for creative ways to build and promote our programs with little budget,” said Carol Goglia, director of communications for the Communities Foundation. “As an online portal, DonorBridge’s main awareness tool is via social mediums. Our goal for 2011 was to increase the viral awareness for DonorBridge and our main event, North Texas Giving Day. The way to do this was via the nonprofits that Giving Day benefits.”
After deciding which nonprofit they would work with, Haworth said, the students met with their organizations to determine what specific social networking tools would best meet their needs.
Aaron Willmon, a senior marketing and business administration student, said the University Park Library volunteers had a pretty basic need: Establish an Internet presence.
“They didn’t want to overextend themselves in the beginning, and since they didn’t have anything social media-wise, our group agreed Facebook was the best solution for them. Setting up a Facebook page for a business is pretty straightforward. We did, however, need to get 25 ‘likes’ in order for us to own the URL. … We were able to accomplish this within the first day,” Willmon said.
Library volunteers have continued to update their page nearly every day. “It’s a good platform for them to get their library events as well as the library donation day out to the customers who don’t visit the library everyday but get on Facebook often,” he said.
The group also created a HootSuite account, which allows staff to plan Facebook updates well in advance, and a video that promotes Giving Day.
“The most satisfying part of the whole project was how happy the librarians were to finally be involved with updating library visitors and members through social media. They were so thrilled to be on Facebook and have an opportunity to share information and photos with people and get instant reactions and comments from visitors,” Willmon said.
Other nonprofits the students worked with include such organizations as the Arts and Music Guild of Collin County, Oakhill Academy and the Legal Hospice of Texas.
“The students were especially creative and thoughtful in how they looked at the mission of each organization they were advising and took their brand voice into account while creating social media channels for them. This allowed the nonprofit to be presented in an authentic voice while also leveraging new media,” said Goglia.
Last year, around 7,900 donors gave more than $5 million to support more than 450 nonprofits, according to Goglia. Donors may give on Sept. 15 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
|The Facebook page built for the University Park Public Library was a project for undergraduates in Marketing Program Director Julie Haworth’s class.|