Case Study: Social Media Campaign for Women of Colors
2019, Evelyn McGovern, who has held the roles of president and cofounder of Women of Colors for decades, became inspired to seek out a social media campaign for this nonprofit organization, which serves communities in and around Saginaw. “When you’re responsible for an organization and you have the passion I have, you do whatever you can to make it thrive,” she says.
Over the 28-year period that Women of Colors has been in existence with uninterrupted service to the community, they have sponsored mentorship programs for youth, marches against crime, community forums, STEM-based initiatives, and yoga classes for women who can’t afford to go to a fitness center. They also give away hundreds of coats to children in need each year and run a substance abuse prevention program in schools and the juvenile center.
McGovern saw other social media campaigns going on around her and wanted to create campaigns for Women of Colors, but she didn’t have the time to do it herself. When someone in her network told her about Cardinal Solutions, she decided to contact the program and explore her options, as she loves working with students.
Women of Colors already maintained an active website and Facebook account. By partnering with the program, and by collaborating with Saginaw Valley State University students, they hoped to rebrand their Facebook page and expand to other social media platforms. “We chose Cardinal Solutions to help us do a better job of reaching out to other communities,” McGovern says. “I want to target a diverse group of people. I want to attract the younger generation.”
When McGovern met with Professor Blake Johnson, the director of Cardinal Solutions, she remembers feeling heard. “He really listened and tried to figure out what we needed,” McGovern says. “He gave us a detailed report about these suggested services that could be provided, then gave us time to review and analyze what we needed and wanted.”
In the 2019–2020 academic year, Cardinal Solutions helped Women of Colors write a grant so that they could receive additional funding for the project from the Saginaw Community Foundation and tasked students with preparing branding recommendations and a preliminary social media plan. In Fall 2020, Joanna Nauman, a Graphic Design major, and Allison Stein, a Professional and Technical Writing major, worked with Women of Colors and the faculty advisors at Cardinal Solutions to put the plan into action.
Stein was responsible for expanding the previous team’s social media plan and writing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram content to accompany Nauman’s graphics. She also handled the majority of communication between Cardinal Solutions and Women of Colors. “Fall 2020 was my last semester, so I was looking for a program to help me bridge the gap between the classroom and the ‘real world,’” Stein explains. She found her semester rewarding: “I’ve never worked with a graphic designer before, and that was a really fun experience. I also valued the opportunity to serve as a primary contact between my team and the client. It makes me feel more confident now when I’m reaching out to clients. I have a better idea of what and how to communicate.”
Nauman was responsible for applying the client’s brand and color palette to a series of graphics across the three social media platforms. She also played an important role in helping Stein revise and revamp her text for the final formatted designs. “In our team, we collaborated closely,” she says. “It wasn’t just step 1, step 2. It was step 1, step 2, step 1a. Sometimes we re-evaluated. We wanted to get the project exactly right for our client.” Nauman had limited prior experience working on a team in that aspect, and she believes it will benefit her when she graduates.
Nauman and Stein were well-supported by their faculty advisors, Professor Blake Johnson and Dr. Bradley Herzog. Stein celebrates the happy medium between learning in a classroom and working independently: “Joanna and I had the opportunity to take the lead on a project, but we also had access to really supportive faculty advisors so that we could get feedback on our work. We weren’t immediately pushed into a work setting even though we had more control than we would in a classroom. The Cardinal Solutions program is a good fit for someone in my position who is transitioning from college to a post-graduation environment. It’s a good middle ground.”
McGovern says she is very satisfied with her experience as a client for Cardinal Solutions. She likes the fact that the team kept her informed and engaged in the process. “I could tell that Allison and Joanna really took it to heart what they were doing because of the questions they were asking,” she says. “I appreciated the students’ attentiveness to what we needed. It wasn’t just like a project. They wanted to make sure that we were represented properly.”
Nauman believes she became so personally and professionally invested in the project in part because her work took on a value beyond the classroom. “As a student, I know the qualifications to earn a particular grade, and I feel satisfied with my work when I meet those qualifications,” Nauman says. “But Cardinal Solutions is a different type of experience. I want to give the client something that they’re happy with and that I’m also proud of, instead of just something that I’m turning in so that I can get a grade. I put a lot more thought and effort into this than I would in just a simple class project.”
By the end of the term, the Cardinal Solutions team completed nine social media campaigns. Each campaign included approximately five social media posts per platform. Cardinal Solutions highlighted three programs, four forums, and two initiatives sponsored by Women of Colors.
Of all the posts, McGovern says she is most surprised by the leader profile Cardinal Solutions created to highlight her story and accomplishments. McGovern is used to promoting the organization, not herself. In the process of building the campaigns, Cardinal Solutions reached out to a handful of people who had contributed to or benefitted from the services Women of Colors provides in and around Saginaw. “We were really happy that we could feature Evelyn McGovern and other leaders of Women of Colors in the social media campaigns because it helps humanize the organization,” Stein says.
At the end of the term, Cardinal Solutions loaded a year of content into the social media scheduling platform Hootsuite, which will save Women of Colors from allocating as much staff time for manual posting. “I didn’t know that you could create a calendar and have all of these different promotions or campaigns on different media platforms, at the same time—and for a whole year,” says McGovern. “That is amazing to me. I don’t have to do anything.”
Women of Colors has already received a donation from a member of the community who interacted with their social media content. McGovern says that she noticed an increase in social media likes and activity from week one and that she has been tracking her social media engagement in her Hootsuite dashboard for more detailed analytics. “Since January, we have had over 3,000 views,” she says. “That’s awesome. Our engagement is over 500, so it’s definitely improved. And the campaigns have only been running for a little over a month. I’m very pleased.”
Nauman and Stein have reaped the benefits of participating in an experiential learning program and say they enjoy seeing the posts they created appear on their own social media feeds. In addition to a great resume builder and career preparation tool, both students found the experience a lot of fun. “Cardinal Solutions is good for work experience, a really cool interdisciplinary experience, and friendship,” Nauman says. Both students have remained involved with Cardinal Solutions, where they continue to build social media projects as a team.