10. The End of a Beautiful Journey… Or the Beginning of Another?

This weekend, I had the pleasure and honor of representing She’s the First*{Michigan} at the Clinton Global Initiative University. I, along with another member of our chapter, got to travel to St. Louis to meet up with two other campus representatives (from UNC Asheville and Nova Southeastern University) and the national Director of International Operations for She’s the First, Christen Brandt.

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She’s the First CGIU Student Representatives

ImageThe weekend started with a little sight-seeing, of course, and then we made our way to the opening plenary session which was held in the fieldhouse of Washington University. President Clinton addressed 1,000 students in the room (representing all 50 states and hundreds of different countries) by claiming that the goal of the weekend was to channel the energy and innovation that college students can bring to the table when dealing with large-scale global issues in the areas of education, health, sanitation, transportation, sex-trafficking, etc.

ImageImageHis main point, in my own words, was that he believes in the power of youth, and especially college students, in changing the world through innovation and creativity.

You all often have the ideas, but few resources. I’m here to share what I’ve been blessed with on the international stage to convince you to follow your dreams and change the world. And to give you the funding and attention you deserve to have an impact.

All weekend, I attended sessions based on how to spread a message through social media (relevant to our course!), how education and digital technology interact in the new media environment, and why women are often overlooked as a promising solution to some of our largest world problems.

ImageI met hundreds of inspirational and truly bright students who care about more than their own future or college experience. Every student who attended was dedicated to making the world a better place to live, whether that be through opening schools in developing nations, coming up with solutions to lack of clean drinking water, or calling attention to the importance of sustainable living and transportation for the health of everyone on this planet.

ImageI left feeling moved and inspired. You wouldn’t believe how many college students have founded their own non-profits, social ventures, and public enterprises — most of them not even college seniors! I was so lucky to have this opportunity to spread the message of She’s the First to every corner of the country as well as across oceans. Our team was even lucky enough to snag a few seconds with a prominent conference leader and champion of girls’ and womens’ rights around the world — Chelsea Clinton!

ImageImageIt’s hard to believe that this might be one of my last experiences with She’s the First as a college student… although I’m sure I won’t stray too far as a chapter alumna 🙂

Have any questions or an interest in attending the conference next year? Connect with me in the “Comments” section!

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9. Prepping to Meet Chelsea Clinton & NEW Website Launch

In my last post, I mentioned the launch of my new social initiative, Beading Barriers, an arts empowerment program & sustainable scholarship program for girls’ education. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been prepping my project website to use it as part of my presentation for the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) next week! She’s the First was chosen out of hundreds of organizations and commitments to present our idea on stage, in a session moderated by Chelsea Clinton herself!

ImageToday I’m really excited to announce the LAUNCH of my website and to guide you through some of its interactive features. I will present this website as my final class project. It includes a variety of media, two original videos, and an instructional series — all surrounding the topic of magazine bead jewelry and my journey to CGIU next week.

Visit the website here!

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On the HOME page, web users can see photos and read a brief description of the project. They can also follow the page to our Etsy shop (COMING SOON) where they will be able to purchase the magazine bead jewelry once it is completed.

On the ABOUT page, users can find background information about CGIU. This is also where I will post updates throughout and after the conference.

After visiting the HOW-TO page, web users can watch an instructional video which tells them how to make the magazine beads. They can also read the instructions below, should they not want to watch the video.

Watch the instructional video:

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The MEDIA page introduces our project with an announcement video as well as a slideshow of photos from our first workshop held a few weeks ago with Girls Group – Ann Arbor.

Watch the announcement video:

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Finally, the CONTACT page gives a brief bio of myself as the project’s founder as well as provides contact information for individuals who’d like to get involved.

I’ll most likely be adding more information before I turn the project in, so any feedback is welcome! Do you feel like the website is missing crucial information? If so, what?

8. Beading Barriers: Educating & Empowering Girls, One Bead at a Time

Yesterday afternoon, I had the great pleasure of launching my new social initiative in partnership with She’s the First, She’s the First*{Michigan}, and Girls Group-Ann Arbor. This was the first activity in a small series of events that I will end up using to build my final class project.

ImageMy new social initiative, “Beading Barriers,” is an arts-empowerment and sustainable scholarship program for girls’ education. By crafting & selling beaded jewelery made from recycled magazine paper, the organization raises money to sponsor a year of school for a female student at the Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda. Magazines and supplies have been donated by volunteers and a local partner, Recycle Ann Arbor.

Visit and “like” us on Facebook, here!

ImageThe reason I have chosen to focus on magazine beads is that they have already played a important role for women in Uganda in helping them beat poverty and earn money to support their families. Several other organizations (such as Bead for Life) target older women in Uganda by providing them with resources to make their own beads, while my organization is different in that it encourages young women from the local Ann Arbor community (many of whom will be the first in their families to graduate from college) to make the beads and fundraise for girls similar to them in Uganda at the Arlington Academy of Hope.

ImageThe most powerful part of the day was definitely watching the girls interact with each other and be inspired by photos of the girls we sponsor in Uganda. They had so many questions for me about my project and about college in general, and really seemed to look up to me as an older mentor. (Oh, and the most entertaining part of the afternoon was definitely during our “beading break” when a spontaneous BeyoncĂ© dance session broke out in the middle of the room).

ImageWhile I am currently still building a separate blog for the project, feel free to track my progress here and on Facebook as I get ready to present this idea to hundreds of college students at the Clinton Global Initiative University in a few weeks!

7. Campaign Case Study: #STFCupcakes Across YouTube, Flickr, and Pinterest

This past fall, campus chapters and individuals from all over the country competed in the She’s the First 2nd-Annual Tie-Dye Cupcake Bake-Off (using the hashtag, #STFCupcakes). In this post, I am going to briefly analyze the way in which She’s the First utilized YouTube, Flickr and Pinterest to promote the campaign in various, but also complementary, ways.

1) YouTube

In the weeks leading up to the Cupcake Bake-Off, She’s the First posted this call-to-action video that explains the campaign itself, it’s history and what the motivation behind the campaign is. The video was an attempt to get Bake-Off teams to sign-up and register on the STF website.

Overall, I think the video is effective in that it elicits positive emotion and inspiration in the viewer and appropriately targets the youth audience. With a few powerful quotes and introductions from the founder as well as a prominent college student and spokesperson (who later went on to win the Seventeen magazine “Pretty Amazing” cover contest), this video encapsulates the excitement and builds on momentum already established by the visual power of the tie-dye cupcake itself.

2) Flickr

This specific photo “set” from the She’s the First Flickr profile (which hosts over 3,000 photos overall!), is meant to streamline the best campaign photos from all across the country and put them all in one place (submitted by 160 Bake-Off teams from 42 states). Overall, the photo set is effective in combining the photos posted by campus chapters around the country, and is a great place to refer back to for visual “proof” of the event and its success.

Image3) Pinterest

While it is kind of a challenge to think about how this campaign can be most effectively demonstrated on Pinterest, She’s the First used the platform primarily for posting the campus chapter awards for certain chapters that exceeded expectation in some category (i.e. most money raised, best social media, creative advertising, etc.). They also used the platform as a way to post recaps of the week-long campaign and to showcase the beautiful tie-dye cupcakes created by individuals across the country.

ImageThe main difference in how each social media platform was utilized during the campaign dealt with whether the purpose was to build excitement leading up to the campaign, document the success of the individual baking teams or bring photos from all across the country together. Overall, I think She’s the First used each social media platform in a way that complemented its best capabilities, however, it would also be interesting to study how they promoted each of these social media platforms during the campaign itself—or whether they relied on their followers’ natural inclination to look them up to discover the content.

6. The New Media “Hangout”

This past week, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in a She’s the First-sponsored Google Hangout, titled “The New College Experience: Social Media’s Surprising Effects.” The hangout was scheduled as part of NYC Social Media Week 2013, “a worldwide event exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media” (http://socialmediaweek.org/). Over the next few weeks, Social Media Week will act as a global movement to explore the impact of social media through in-person conferences and speaking engagements as well as online Google Hangouts and live broadcasts.

ImageAccording to the website, this year’s global theme has to do with “exploring openness in a connected and collaborative world.”

“Change is happening everywhere. Startups are disrupting entire industries and scaling their businesses globally.  Tyranny, injustice and unethical behavior are being exposed around the world. Groups are self organizing to take positive action. Transparency, accountability, information sharing, and collaboration are accelerating progress to levels never before seen.”

This Hangout, hosted by She’s the First’s Director of International Operations—Christen Brandt—invited two She’s the First campus chapter presidents (from Ithaca College and the University of Michigan) to speak with two college students in Bangalore, India who were the first in their families to make it through primary school with She’s the First-sponsored scholarships. In our hangout we discussed popular uses of social media and how it relates to our “college experience” as a whole. We talked about how some professors are using Facebook as a discussion tool, so students can learn from and interact with one another outside the classroom. We also discussed how some students are even turning in their homework assignments through Facebook or a related blogging platform. Lastly, we talked about utilizing social media for career and networking opportunities.

One of the most valuable aspects of the Hangout was actually getting to interact with the students in India, and learning that they too are just starting to uncover the power and potential of new media in an academic environment. The ability to host these “get togethers” online opens up a wealth of opportunity for global conversations and learning that I believe will have beneficial and far-reaching effects in the years to come.

A few questions to consider: Do you think social media has the potential to change the way we think about education? Do you think that it can offer something beyond the “distraction” that many people claim to be its primary usage? What are the most redeeming qualities of social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) that may potentially be harnessed for use in an educational environment?

If you’re interested in watching the hangout, you can view it captured on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RPU1gwzMfXY

5. Exploring Charity Miles, A New & Innovative Mobile Fundraising Tool

On their website, She’s the First recently announced it’s newest campaign to raise money for girls’ education! The campaign is called “Run the World with She’s the First” and asks that supporters grab their neon workout clothes (since we’re widely recognized for our love of tie-dye) and commit to run a race this spring as a way to get sponsored donations from friends and family. According to the organization, this is their “most energized, active campaign to sponsor girls’ education yet!” I couldn’t agree more—what a perfect way to engage their followers, encouraging them not only to be healthy, but also to think creatively about how to fundraise.

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While researching the campaign, I came across a Facebook post from someone involved in the organization mentioning that they had just finished running 8.044 “Charity Miles,” and that each mile contributed to feeding a child through The World Food Programme.

Realizing that Charity Miles could be a great potential partner for She’s the First’s national Run the World campaign, I wanted to do a bit more research. Charity Miles is a smartphone application that allows users to sign up and get moving… while also raising money for one of their chosen partner charities.

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A more thorough description from the application’s website says, “Ready to become a sponsored athlete? Simply turn on the app, choose a charity, and press start. As you exercise, we’ll track your distance and the money earned. When you’re finished, accept your sponsorship, spread the word, and we’ll send you a note confirming your good work.” Bikers currently earn 10 cents a mile and runners/walkers earn 25 cents.

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Kind of genius, right? Get people to raise money doing the things they already love… or motivate those of us who need a little help getting out of bed for our morning workout. Who can say no to your tennis shoes knowing that you could feed a child by 10 am?!

I was so excited about the possibility of raising money (and living a more active lifestyle), that I immediately signed up to start logging my own miles to raise money for the (RED) movement (fighting for an AIDS free generation).

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What intrigued me so much about the application was how much it relied on mobile smartphone technology to empower individuals to make donations, without requiring them to do much more than just a normal workout. This speaks to several of the readings we have done that call attention to the importance of investing in mobile technology as a way to fundraise and solicit donations. All users have to do is share their success with Facebook and Twitter followers, telling their networks about their impact through a simple smartphone app.

I sincerely hope that She’s the First can partner with Charity Miles in the future. With the strength and power of it’s energetic and passionate social media followers, She’s the First could help spread the message and reach of Charity Miles to a younger generation—college students who are already signing up to train for races this spring! Seems like the perfect match, right?

Bravo to Charity Miles for building such an incredible application and for the innovation it presents in mobile fundraising! I can’t wait to take my first long jog for (RED) later this week!

4. First Impressions of shesthefirst.org

I thought it might be interesting to begin this post by listing some of my first impressions of the She’s the First landing page. I’ve included a screenshot below (zoomed out) so that you can put my observations in context, but if you’d like to visit the website yourself, click here.

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When I first open the website, I think visual and fun. To begin, the user is met immediately with a sequence of photos that are both colorful and personal, highlighting both their college student volunteers as well as the students they sponsor in developing countries. The photos are linked to recent content, announcements and ways to sign up to volunteer/donate. Meant to “invoke an emotional response,” the photos enable the visitor to feel as though “real” people are involved and also show a wide array of diversity so as not to discriminate and to make all feel welcome (Redish, 305).

I also think the tabs at the top of the page make the site organized, although the font type (She’s the First signature decorative font) suggests an air of youth. Aimed to target student volunteers, the website does do a good job of addressing its audience by including color and a unique layout.

I was really impressed with the custom buttons on this page, as we have read repeatedly about using colors and images to create a brand appearance on a web page. It is obvious that the organization’s color scheme is magenta and teal, and the social media icons reflect this look as well.

ImageI appreciate that the newsletter sign-up is at the forefront of the home page, as it makes it easy for people to know immediately how they can stay connected, and they don’t have to hunt for it somewhere on the page.

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This question, part of She’s the First’s immediate branding, offers site visitors the chance to interact with the brand on Twitter right away on a personal level. It also shows that “other people are talking about it,” which may make one more likely to explore even further.

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These buttons are my favorite, as they are both visually attractive and balanced textually with the structure of the words and the “action” that each implies. These buttons suggest multiple ways the user can support the cause without simply having to “donate now.”

ImageAs the “Latest News” suggests further down the page, the site is updated continuously and is fresh with new content every few weeks (the last update was January 28th!). Most of the update posts deal directly with the girls sponsored abroad, which is great for the individual who may not know much about exactly where their donation is going to.

The multimedia is another highlight of this page, as users are invited to enjoy a short 2-minute video that explains the organization more thoroughly as well to to click on a link to more photos (there are thousands!) via Flickr photo albums. Accompanying this is a section with recent Twitter updates, which is important for the page since their Twitter presence is almost entirely responsible for the organization’s overwhelming growth.

Overall, this is a website that is effective in reaching its target of young people who enjoy photos, a splash of color, multimedia and social media integration. Over the next few weeks, I’ll (hopefully) be building a website for our local chapter of She’s the First and will be using aspects of this web page as my inspiration.

Which aspects of the web page stick out to to? Impress you? What might you change?

3. Valentine’s Cupcakes and the Importance of the e-Newsletter

In keeping with our Mansfield reading (Social Media for Social Good) which touched on the importance of e-newsletters, I decided to make a February newsletter for She’s the First*{Michigan}. Below are screenshots of the e-newsletter, along with a step-by-step explanation of why certain elements appear as they do. This e-newsletter was created with MailChimp, a free online software which allows you to “design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results” (MailChimp).

Enjoy!

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Image1. The header image of the e-newsletter is something that I thought about for a while. This photo is a group of girls at the school we sponsor in Guatemala, Starfish One by One. I think it’s a good way to open the newsletter because it draws the reader in and encourages them to read on.

2. I wanted to keep the introduction short, just highlighting some of our important events and listing meeting dates so they are easy to find for future reference

 

3. Knowing that readers love graphics, I wanted to keep the use of graphics consistent throughout. The prominence of these graphics is visually appealing and also communicates info about our events in a useful way.

4. All of the most important details are either bold or larger in font, so that members are attracted immediately to those details when they read. Writing is kept to a minimum.

 

5. Mansfield also mentions that videos are appealing. I couldn’t decide where to place this video, although it seemed to fit at the bottom since I wanted to keep the events in order and following the introduction.

6. I think the “call to action,” Take 2 Minutes… Be Inspired is an effective way to get readers to actually watch the video, since they know it’ll be brief, but also inspirational.

 

I’m so excited to get all of the statistics on open, interaction and click-through rates!

What do you think? Do you have any feedback I may want to consider for next month’s issue?

2. A Cause Worth Tweeting About

“It is a Brand New Web, and it’s time to muster the courage to take the leap” (Mansfield, 2012).

March of 2012, a young woman marched into North Quad and told me (and around 50 other Michigan students) that social media was the reason that her organization, She’s the First, had grown so quickly.

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Tammy Tibbetts, Founder & President of She’s the First, speaks to U of M students

I was thrilled. This was something I definitely knew how to do, felt comfortable at and truly enjoyed. As she pulled up the organization’s Facebook page, I watched her present our group with a challenge: to design a social media marketing plan that would take She’s the First beyond Web 1.0 capability (which Mansfield explains as the process by which one single message is broadcast to many) and into a world of global interaction, engaging community and an ever-increasing group of active followers.

Little did I know, I would end up spending a large portion of my summer volunteering at the She’s the First headquarters in NYC, pinning hundreds of new photos to the organization’s Pinterest page. By doing so, I acquired an even deeper understanding of who the organization is and what they’re trying to accomplish.

From the She’s the First Mission Page:

“She’s the First is a not-for-profit that sponsors girls’ education in the developing world, helping them be the first in their families to graduate. In the process, She’s the First fosters leadership and global awareness in young Americans, by inspiring them to lead creative fundraisers and correspond with sponsored students. Our efforts shape a rising generation of well-educated global leaders, future philanthropists, and cross-cultural communicators.”

The following picture was taken by photographer Kate Lord during a trip to a She’s the First partner school in Guatemala, Starfish One by One—the same school our University of Michigan chapter of She’s the First has chosen to sponsor!

ImageOne of the primary reasons I was so drawn to She’s the First as an organization was that they seemed to know Facebook and Twitter like the back of their hand. Unlike most non-profits I had been familiar with, their audience and donor base tapped into an extremely “unlikely” market: teenagers and college students in the United States. I don’t know about you… but college students are probably the last people I would ask to donate money.

So how do they do it?

They tweet.

And RT.

And get their followers to RT.

And post on Facebook.

And get their followers to post on Facebook.

In sum, they’re up on the social media technology that their followers enjoy and are talented in using. Not only that, but they’ve also cultivated their own, unique voice online that speaks for the importance of girls’ education around the world… and they won’t stop tweeting until the whole world hears.

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing my experience as a social media editor for our campus chapter of She’s the First as well as shedding light on what She’s the First does as a national organization that sets it apart from many other organizations. I’ll also be sharing updates to a very exciting project that I’ll be completing for She’s the First this Spring—more details to come!

Thanks for embarking on this journey with me, I’m sure it’ll be worth tweeting about!

Resources: Mansfield, H. (2012). Social Media for Social Good. The McGraw-Hill Companies.

She’s the First. (2011). Our mission. Retrieved from http://www.shesthefirst.org/about/our-mission/

1. Introduction: The Suburban Girl With Big City Dreams

ImageHello! My name is Meaghan Taylor O’Connor, and I am a current senior at the University of Michigan. When I graduate in May of 2013, I will hold a bachelor’s degree with a major in Communication Studies and a concentration in English.

During my time as a U of M student, I was Editor-In-Chief of The Forum, a Greek-affiliated newspaper, led my Greek chapter as the VP Chapter Relations and Standards, volunteered with a high school ministry outreach organization called YoungLife, and co-started my very own campus chapter of the national non-profit, She’s the First (more details to come).

545435_1743502308076_2005956170_nAlthough I grew up in Ada, Michigan—a conservative suburb near Grand Rapids—my dream after graduation is to begin a career on the business side of magazine publication in the heart of New York City. I’ve spent the past two summers as both an editorial intern for Women’s Lifestyle Magazine in Grand Rapids, and also as a marketing intern for Food Network Magazine in NYC.

In my free time, I enjoy practicing yoga, volunteering with high school/middle school kids, reading romance novels, and baking. My friends and family might tell you that I make one of the most spectacular tie-dye cupcakes you will ever taste. (You’ll hear more about what makes these cupcakes so special when I introduce the non-profit that I548708_1787530248747_252084630_n have chosen to work with for the semester). Although I enjoy being on campus as a student, in an ideal world I would spend as much time as possible with family, friends and my Maltese puppy.

Perhaps similar to my fascination with magazines, I also have a passion for studying Pinterest and how various magazines and non-profits have utilized the technology to promote their brands. I also love the fact that you can spend hours drooling over delicious recipes, gorgeous wedding gowns, and fun arts n’ crafts… because, well, what twenty-year-old girl doesn’t?

Over the next few months, I can’t wait to share my passion for social media and non-profit organizations that raise funds and awareness about girls’ education worldwide. I hope you’ll join me as I begin developing my own campus non-profit while studying the success (and weakness) of those already in existence.

Shall we get started?