Jackson State University’s social media team – an extension of the department of University Communications – presented at the “Engaging Supporters through Social Media” seminar hosted by the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits on May 9.
Coordinator for the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits development, communications and training, Jeffrey Duplessis, says: “I was looking for people in the Jackson area who had some knowledge and expertise in using social media.”
Explaining that his search turned up mostly museums, colleges and hospitals, he then decided to reach out to three local schools: Jackson State, Belhaven University and Milsaps College.
“JSU was available for that day, so that’s how it came about. I am so very happy it worked out great for us and the nonprofit leaders in attendance,” he discloses.
The Center represents similar organizations throughout the state, and one of the many services rendered is helping organizations build their capacity to meet the needs of stakeholders and constituents.
“So we offer a calendar of workshops, webinars and forums in all regions of our state and it just happens that we had scheduled the workshop: “Engaging Supporters through Social Media” today, May 9, many months ago,” he states.
Spencer McClenty, director of JSU social media, and Kentrice Rush, social media associate, addressed participants regarding how JSU uses social media, best practices and strategies for nonprofits, platform content, engagement and strategizing, among a multitude of other tools and tips.
“I think any business that operates in the United States should use social media. The reason why is because odds are, nine times out of ten, their customers, their supporters and the people they target for support is on social media at some point or another,” Mclenty expresses.
The director goes on to say that if Facebook were a continent, it would be the second largest continent in the world. He adds, “The number of people that use Facebook, the number of people that use Twitter and Instagram justify any business using social media to engage their customers.”
Rush reports that members were curious to know the size of Jackson State University’s social media following which averages from 20,000 on Instagram to 70,000 on Facebook.
“It was also important for them to know that Jackson State didn’t just hop up one day and have a huge following on social media. And we wanted them to know that a nonprofit organization just starting out may have a small following.” She says, “Hopefully that was encouraging to them so they can keep pushing forward and reach the large following that we have.”
McClenty also shared with listeners that when he began working for JSU department of communications in 2007, “The main method of communicating with students was email, but students didn’t read email, so the information that was being sent out wasn’t reaching them,” he says.
According to McClenty, the primary reason JSU needed a social media team was to effectively reach the Jackson State community. Hence, a JSU Facebook page was created; however, there was a student, at that time, who had also created a Facebook page for the school.
“So, we had a page, and he had a page. We contacted him and decided to merge the two pages together to create one Jackson State page, and from there we expanded into the other social media networks, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,” McClenty reveals.
Pleased with the overall presentation and the insight that McClenty and Rush offered, Duplessis mentions that he learned a lot including how to better make use of video for storytelling purposes and keeping narratives short and concise to maintain people’s interest.
“But, more importantly, the participants in attendance who represented organizations from across Mississippi gained a lot of knowledge that they will be able to bring back to their respective organizations to use and help them better serve their constituents.”