Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. – When Hannah Brewster stepped into her social media class this semester, she had no idea what to do or where to begin.

Hannah Brewster & The Burlington ScoopHannah Brewster & The Burlington Scoop

"I didn't even have a Twitter account or know what to do with it," said Brewster, a junior majoring in communications.

Already, she's survived half the semester and her social media efforts have proved successful.

Brewster is taking the skills she's learning in the classroom and applying it to the work she's doing with her client, The Burlington Scoop. She's developed a Facebook page and Twitter and Pinterest accounts to help The Scoop connect with the community, their customers, and promote their products.

"I love being able to help them, while learning something new," she said. "Everyone is on social media, they see the power it can have for business. They are ready to dive in."

When she graduates, Brewster would like to be an event planner and knows this experience is actively preparing her for that career.

"Whether I'm working with clients or not, having an understanding of what you can do for different clients through social media is important," Brewster said.

However, Brewster claims it's no walk in the park. Her classmates agree.

Krystyn Bell says it's difficult to stay consistent and that it takes a lot of time to manage accounts effectively. At the beginning, they spent weeks trying to understand the client's audience and determine what kind of information they want to see.

"Trying to engage people and interact with them is the biggest challenge," Bell said.

"We thought it would be easier because most of us have personal Facebook pages or Twitter accounts – but it isn't," Brewster added.

To overcome these initial challenges, Brewster, Bell, and their classmates decided to have some fun. They worked on making posts specific to their clients' audiences, and make it fun and personal by adding photos and fun facts.

Bell's client is Body in Balance, a therapeutic massage and bodywork salon located in Peru, Ind. For the month of February, she focused less on promoting deals, specials, and services at the salon, and more on creating heart health awareness.

"Body in Balance is a big advocate for health and wellness, and massages can help with overall physical and mental wellness," Bell said. "It doesn't matter how many deals I throw you; it's the connection that you make with the business."

Like Brewster, Bell is a junior majoring in communications, but would like to work in public relations after graduating. Through public relations courses, Bell understands more of social media's role and the connection it has to her future career.

Ultimately, the students are happy to help these local businesses because they don't have time to do it themselves.

When Crave Crepes, located in Greentown, expressed interest to Stephen Green about assisting them with social media, he jumped on the opportunity. Green was looking for a business to connect with and receive some real-world experience.

"I spent a lot of time finding my footing and building a relationship with the owners," said Green, a junior majoring in new media communications. "Crave Crepes had a lot of awesome ideas for how to build their social media; they simply needed help implementing them."

Green has helped the business with social media contests and other tips and tricks to connect them with the Greentown community.

All three can agree that they have made mistakes with social media, but it's helped them learn what not to do. They don't claim to be experts, but the knowledge they've gained throughout the semester has been extremely value to them.

Raul Mosley, assistant professor of communication arts, is focused on equipping his students with the skill set to succeed in their future careers. It is key for his students to learn from each other, and instead of creating a class; he hopes to create a community of learners.

"The content they learn this semester could easily become outdated in the fast-paced social media world," Mosley said. "Our world is changing, our skills need to change, and this course has changed each time I have taught it."

It's important to contribute to the success of the community, while learning a new skill set. Mosley hopes that his students become aggressive learners and continue to keep up on new trends with all forms of social media.

Bell, Brewster, and Green are only a few students getting their hands dirty this semester. Other students are taking the initiative to promote their own photography and graphic design businesses, art, and music.

N351 – Cyberculture and Community is offered in the spring semesters, and is open to any student who wishes to learn more about social media. For any questions or more information about the course, contact Raul Mosley at ramosley@iuk.edu.

To learn more about the businesses featured, search for them on these social media platforms:

Facebook – The Burlington Scoop, Body in Balance, Crave Crepes

Twitter - @B_icecream, @Bodyin_Balance, @Crave_Crepes

Instagram - @bodyinbalanceperu or @cravecrepes

Pinterest.com /bodybalanceperu or /burscoop

Story by Mary Olk. Mary is a student writer in the Office of Media & Marketing.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.