#bsocials17 semester-long project team assignment

Assignment Overview

This multi-part semester-long assignment is going to provide you with the opportunity to begin to learn what it is like to work for an organization that helps non-profits while working with a non-profit organization as they seek to improve their online communications. That is, your project team will exist as subsection of the larger Beautiful Social enterprise, in which you will create social structure that allows for open, honest communication and feedback. Throughout the semester your team will revisit it’s goals and values so they are evolving as your project and team evolve. The assignment will challenge you to improve your knowledge, skills, and comfort levels in each of the five course objectives: collaboration, effective communication, engaged citizenship, reflection, and risk-taking.

While working as part of your subsection — or team — you will complete various readings and projects that will lead you up to the final deliverable for your client and, importantly, help you better understand the work that goes into being part of an organization that values collaboration, online engagement, open access to information, and education. That is, an organization like Beautiful Social.

The following sections may be completed concurrently, depending on the due date. The concurrence is designed to simulate real-world projects, which more often than not overlap. The sections are:

Developing an Identity

The first step is for your project team to develop an identity that will guide you through the work you complete over the course of the semester. To develop your identity, complete the following:

  • Create a team-specific hashtag to be used across social media spaces.
  • Articulate the why? for each member of your project team and how that why connects to this class and your project.
  • Compose a Project Team Promise that will guide your team collaborations this semester, which includes each of the following collaboratively composed parts:
    • Vision: collaboratively written statements about what your team will be doing and creating (don’t just write, “We will make videos; rather write what you hope those videos will achieve and how you want them to look, etc.)
      • Your vision statements should embody, in part, the 5 Course Objectives: Collaboration; Effective Communication; Engaged Citizenship; Reflection; and Rick-taking
    • Goals: a collaboratively written statement which outlines the steps needed to ensure the Vision is achieved (don’t just detail the assignment due dates; also think about what must happen in your group in order to make the vision a reality)
    • Declaration: A series of individual statements composed by each team member that describes skills and roles that team member will bring to the project to ensure the vision becomes a reality)
  • Using the Team Contract as a guide, create a Backcasting Schedule of Important Dates and Benchmarks that includes as much detail as possible; include in the Backcasting project deadlines and other course deadlines, such as when the Identity is due, and so on.

By establishing the above, my hope is your team will have a cohesive identity which will afford the collaboration and reflection necessary to succeed during the semester.

Post all of the above to a shared GoogleDoc. Share the GoogleDoc with Bill, as well.

Due date
Friday, 2/3 by 11:00pm on the shared GoogleDoc

Documenting Your Project Team’s Story

This part of the assignment is essentially the Social Media Documentary Assignment, but there is a section for it here, as well, so you are certain to connect it to your team project.

Each of your team members should make part of your declaration to be a Team Documentarian. In that role, each team member should document your team’s in and out of class activities via photo and video on Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks, if you so wish. Be sure to use the #bsocials17 hashtag.

The more you document, the more reflective and creative your group will be throughout the process, and the more creative your final Documentary video will be.

Due date
Start now and end the last day of the semester.

Background Research & Social Media Analysis

This part of the assignment will challenge your team to research your client so you have a thorough understanding of their mission and goals, as well as others in the field who are dong similar kinds of work. When considering similar organizations, you may not find organizations that do the exact same thing. That is fine. Look to other organizations that are working in similar ways or with similar goals.

There are three parts to the assignment. Part 1 is to be completed before your first client visit. Part 2 is to be completed during and written up after the visit. Part 3 is to be completed a few weeks later.

Part 1: About Your Client

Review client’s mission statement, website, and social media platforms (if they have them).

  1. What is your organization’s mission statement? How are they bringing their mission to life?
  2. What social media are they using and why? When thinking about social media, include video and audio. Since they are most likely posting to a social media space, like YouTube, video is a form of social media. So, too, are blogs and web sites. Indeed, most public media coming from organizations are social in nature (including email, newsletters, flyers, etc.)
  3. Who is the target audience for each social media platform? Do the people who follow them align with their target audience?
  4. How did you come to your conclusions? You might consider creating a flow chart that goes from the mission to the audience. Or the social media to the audience. There can be multiple routes to similar audiences.

Industry Standards and Best Practices

  1. Investigate the industry standards for best practices for the kind of work you are doing. By industry, I don’t mean non-profit. Rather, I mean people who doing web design or social media strategy or video production as their jobs. So, what are best practices in web design (such as, usability, accessibility, flexible design, mobile-first design, etc.), video storytelling, social media content, etc.—whichever area your team will be covering.
  2. Investigate what other non-profits doing with similar kinds of work by considering:
    1. Who are the top 3 organizations most similar to your client/organization that are using social media most effectively? Why? How did you determine the top organizations? Based on what evidence/data?
    2. What are the top 3 organizations doing? How are they doing it?
    3. Why do you (or others) think it is effective? (Evidence. Evidence. Evidence.)
    4. Include screenshots, images, etc. to show best practices.

Part 1 Due Date
Due in a detailed and aesthetically pleasing Background Research GoogleDoc at least 5 hours before your first client meeting. Share the GoogleDoc with Bill, as well.

Part 2. What Does Your Client Think?

During the Client Visit
As a way to help you with your first client visit, I’d like you to engage them in a discussion that covers the following:

  1. Thinking about Sinek’s Golden Circle, ask your client what they believe their why is. That is, what do they believe at their core that then leads to their how and what? Try to come to definitive answers to the why, the how, and the what.
  2. Who is their target audience for each of their social media platforms: web site, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. How well do they think they are doing in reaching their target audience? Don’t be critical and don’t offer suggestions now; this is an info gathering exercise. If they don’t have social media platforms, talk with them about who they’d like to reach if they could.
  3. Discuss the project specifics. Come with a list of 5 – 7 questions you have based on your Part 1 background research or about the project itself.
  4. If there is time, ask the people with whom you are meeting to share why they are involved with the organization.

The day after your client visit compose a professional thank you note that your Fellow will send to the client that includes a short summary of the work you’ll be doing for them this semester. Also confirm any future event or visit dates.

Writing it All Up
Write up your client visit experiences, including answers to each of the 4 questions above. Is there are direct connection between their why, how, and what, and their mission statement and practices? Note any possible disconnects between what the client might perceive about their social media use and the realities of that use. Come up with 5 questions you still have moving forward.

Part 2 Due Date
Due 2/17 by 11:00pm in a continuation of your Background Research GoogleDoc.

Part 3: Social Media Analysis

Part 3 will build on the social media background research you conducted in Parts 1 and 2 and help you learn how to present that work in an official report based on an official Style Guide. This portion of the assignment will help you learn how to interpret social media data and transform those interpretations into actionable suggestions.

Each team will provide a detailed analysis of ONE social media platform used by your client (Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook). The analysis will be presented as a formal report following the Beautiful Social Social Media Use template (to be added):

The report will triangulate the chosen social media platform by analyzing the connections between their Golden Circle Why?, their Mission, and their desired social media audience(s):

Social Media TriangulationThe assignment will be informed by the Background Research you complete, with additional work that takes into consideration our readings on social media strategy (Aaker & Smith and Vaynerchuck), nonprofit storytelling (Vaynerchuck and others), and spreading messages (Hlinko). We will discuss approaches to the assignment in class.

On Twitter

If you analyze Twitter use, there is an excellent free analysis tool you can use, Followerwonk, which allows you analyze any Twitter account to compare what’s tweeted, when it is tweeted, when followers are online, etc. If your client doesn’t use Twitter, you can analyze a similar account (like the ones you unearthed in your background research) as a way of showing what works and what doesn’t. For example, consider the following graphs:

follower activity and tweet history graphs

These graphs show that B:Social is reaching it’s target audience at 1:00pm (13 hour), but is missing many opportunities to reach them at 10:00 and 11:00am and 10:00 and 11:00pm. Followerwonk also has excellent breakdowns of follower and following demographics.

Twitter also has excellent analytics, but you need access to their account. For example,

Twitter analytics

Here, we see that B:Social has a very inconsistent Twitter account, with widely varying engagement percentages. But, the overall 3.5% engagement is more than the average 0.5%-1.5%, though much less than it certainly could be.

On Instagram

If you choose Instagram, you can use the free analysis tool by Simply Measured, which allows you to analyze any social media account as long as you verify that you have one. They will email you the analysis within 30 minutes, it seems. The results are presented in table form and can then be exported to Excel or PowerPoint. For example, consider B:Social’s Instagram Engagement activity:

Engagement Activity

Here we see which posts received the most engagements. With 26 likes, the top photo had a 14.6% engagement rate, which is 2.1 times the brand average (which is around 6.5%). So, that’s not bad. A good engagement rate on Instagram is between 3% and 6%.

Instagram also has it’s own analytics, which you can access if you have a Facebook account (I don’t have a FB accounts, so I can’t here).

On Facebook

I don’t have a Facebook account, so I don’t have samples, but Simply Measured has a few free Facebook analysis tools that I suspect will provide excellent info. You may need access to their account.

Report Specifics

Your report should include the following section and headings:

  • Summary of the Client Mission (150 words): In this section, discuss the client’s mission (according to their mission statement and what they told you when you met) and their Golden Circle Why?
  • Summary of Social Media Messaging, Storytelling, and Spreading Messages (300 words): In this section, discuss the theories we have read, citing the authors throughout. Write this for an audience that is intelligent but has not read the readings.
  • Summary of Client Social Media Use (200 words): In this section, discuss the various social media spaces the client uses and why they seem to be using them.
  • Analysis of One Social Media Space (600 – 750 words, plus screenshots): In this section, I’d like you to analyze their social media use in THREE areas:
    • Social Media Strategy: What does their strategy seem to be based on what their account looks like—that is, not what they told you about it. Does there seem to be a strategy at all? How well do their posts align with their mission and Why? How well do their posts align with the best times to post—or, for Twitter, when their followers are online? Align with the key elements in Aaker & Smith and Vaynerchuck.
    • Storytelling: How well are they telling stories? What kinds of stories are they telling? What media are they using? Images? Video? Both? Are they just tweeting stuff from Instagram? Do the stories have emotional content? Align with discussions from Vaynerchuck and Walter on emotion.
    • Spreading Messages: How well are their messages being spread? Go through their last 100 tweets, 50 Instagram posts, or 6 months of Facebook posts. How often are they being retweeted, fav’d, or liked? If you can gain access to their account, look at their Twitter analytics and see what is happening.
  • Conclusions and Suggestions (200 – 300 words): What things are they doing well and what can be improved upon? Be specific in your suggestions. Provide an example for each suggestion you make.
  • Works Cited List. Please cite all work you have cited using MLA, APA, or Chicago style. Don’t just make up a citation style. Use parenthetical citations in the text. (I use a modified APA style on the Readings page of the course web site.)

Due Dates
Rough Draft Due: Monday, 3/10 by 11:00pm
Final Draft Due: Friday, 3/31 by 11:00pm

Blogging for the Beautiful Social Web Site

Each project team will be responsible for composing ONE creative, engaging, thoughtful, and reflective blog posts for the Beautiful Social web site. Your blog posts should reflect on your activities as a team, showcase something your organizations successes in social media, or discuss an important issue facing nonprofit organizations similar to your organization.

Your posts should include a mix or alphabetic text, still image, and video, and contain links when links are appropriate. Do not just create a bunch lists. The posts should be written in such a way that celebrates Beautiful Social activities and ideas. Remember, you are not just students completing assignments; you are representatives of B:Social. Take pride in what you are writing. They should be between 500 and 700 words with significant multimedia. (If you prefer, you can make a video that we can upload to the B:Social YouTube page instead of writing.) Please see these B:Social blog posts composed by students as exemplars:

IMPORTANT: Decide as a team which members will be responsible for writing and posting the blog so there is no confusion over who will be doing the work. You might assign a few to do this post and few to be responsible for the Client Case Study, which is due later in the semester.

Due dates: TBA after client meetings are scheduled.

(updated 3/27/17)

Now that most, if not all, client meetings have been scheduled, the blog due dates can be scheduled, as well. Here they are:

All blog post drafts are due by class time, Wednesday, April 5. The drafts should be in a GoogleDoc shared to the Beautiful Social Gmail.

Your fellow will comment on the blog post by class time Monday, April 10.

Final draft is due by class time Wednesday, April 19. In additional to your shared draft, email ORIGINAL images to the Beautiful Social Gmail.

Client Case Studies

I’d like you to make a Client Case Study, which will be featured on the Our Work page of the Beautiful Social web site:


Your case study should be modeled on the ones already posted on the Our Work page and include a mixture of alphabetic text and visuals. It should have the following section headings:

  • CLIENT, where you discuss the organization and who the organization serves (75 words)
  • CHALLENGE, where you discuss what needed to be created (100 words)
  • STRATEGIC THINKING, where you discuss how you approached the work and what social media and/or non-proft (or other, like design) theories you looked to when creating your content (150 words)
  • RESULT, where you discuss and showcase the results of your work (125 words)

Your case study should include high resolution images of you interacting with your client (if you had the opportunity) or of your team working on the project.

Steps to Complete the Work

  1. Create a folder in a shared team GoogleDrive space and compose the written part of the case study. Do not rush this part of the work. Since the length of each section is no more than 150 words, it is more than usually important to pay extra attention to each word chosen and each sentence composed.
  2. Paste into the document URLs for any videos you would like included.
  3. Upload to the folder all images you would like included. You should have one very large image that will serve as the header to the case study (as on the Our Work page) and other smaller images
  4. Share the whole folder with beautifulsocial@gmail.com by the due date below.
  5. Your project team fellow will upload everything to the Beautiful Social web site.

Due Date

  • Monday, 5/1 by 11:00pm

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