As part of our Social Media and Informatics Course at the University of Alabama, my group created a social media strategy for a small business in Alabama. We were all very excited to be working for a real entrepreneur whose service we found to be interesting and a positive addition to the community. Dog-N-It is a company devoted to “pawsitive,” one-on-one dog training, including preparation for therapy dogs, and its owner wanted specific recommendations for her business as she contemplates the possibilities of a blog, a website, and various social media presences she could work to establish.
My group was excellent. I expected no less, frankly, as I knew three of the members from my graduate school cohort and had seen them in action. They are brilliant, professional women. As soon as we knew we were a group, we began sending out Doodle polls to assess the best meeting times for every member so that we could brainstorm, strategize and plan live in Blackboard. As is appropriate to a course like this, we also used the social media tools within Blackboard (discussion boards, email messaging tools, note files) as well as the more traditional emails and, a couple of times when answers weren’t coming fast enough to meet a deadline, a rare message sent via Facebook. One group member was unknown to us, and we were having some trouble communicating with her, which did make me worry, but in the end we were able to coordinate to create our finished report, which you can read here.
As the client contact, I plan to email the report to the owner of Dog-N-It very soon (as soon as I finish the drive home to Mississippi!), along with a thank you note for the privilege of doing an analysis for her business. We all very much appreciated the fact that this was a real project that would help a real person. It was a motivating factor for all of us — one I personally find much more compelling than just working for a grade and the value of learning, itself. Although I am a big believer in the value of learning for learning’s sake, an abstract notion is sometimes just not very motivational. Helping another person achieve success, helping her business flourish — knowing that business helps dogs and their people thrive and have more fulfilling, happy lives together — well, you cannot beat that!
Every person in our group contributed to this project (me, Kristina, Kate, Julia, and Darcy). Nonetheless, I would like to single out a few group members for special recognition.
First, I’d mention Darcy, for reviewing all our citations — a singular service to me since I have never used APA style before and worried constantly that I was mangling everything. Darcy did that for me after I’d completed my portion ahead of schedule (in advance of going out of town for a professional development conference), and I so much appreciated that I could leave this time-consuming task in her capable hands and relax.
Kate, in my opinion, deserves a couple of special mentions in this post, as well, first for coming up with a clever idea and format that would allow us to work as a group in such a short time and yet create a true group analysis, and then for pulling that shared document together into a cohesive, readable whole, editing it, and making it work as a usable report. If I were the business owner, I would get a lot more out of that report after Kate was finished with it. Bravo, Kate!
Lastly, I’d like to thank Julia for acting as an excellent host for our finished project over on her electronic portfolio and for communicating with our professor and keeping us all on track for our final deadlines. I know from experience that taking care of these administrative details is a priceless service, especially on a tight schedule like Summer 1 required of us.