#bsocialf17 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, integrity, curiosity, experimentation, 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)
    • Integrity: Using the reading by Christensen as a guide, I would like each team member to compose a statement in which they describe how they will ensure they are “being a person of integrity” (p. 16) in all work they complete and activities they perform for their group. I’d also like each team member to compose a statement that describes how they would like their colleagues to address them if they are not living up to their Declaration or Integrity statements.
  • Using the Calendar your fellow set up, add all due dates and in the description, list some specifics about the assignment and the URL where the assignment can be found. All deadlines can be found in summary on the Major Assignments page.
    • Be sure to continue to add to your Calendar as team-imposed deadlines emerge and site visits are scheduled. The more organized you are, the more successful your team will be.

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 beautifulsocial [at] gmail [dot] com, as well.

Due date
Friday, 9/15 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 #bsocialf17 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 doing 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 concern or problem is your organization designed to help solve (such as, homelessness, violence against a particular group, animal abuse, etc.)? Do some research online (you might need to use the library databases) and find 3 articles that discuss the concern on a local level—that is, confined to Philadelphia. The articles can be scholarly or news-related. Write a 100-word summary of what you have learned, including statistics that help illuminate your point.
  3. 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.)
  4. Who is the target audience for each social media platform? Do the people who follow them align with their target audience?
  5. 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. Please read the following articles on best practices for online content and describe the best practices for online video and motion graphics. Do not just create a list based on the lists in the articles. Create meaningful summaries that you can keep in mind when you are talking about the kinds of videos/content you will be making for your client.
    1. How to create video that captivates on Twitter
    2. How to Figure Out The Right Length For Your Motion Graphics
  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 beautifulsocial [at] gmail [dot] com, 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. 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.
  3. 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.
  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 9/29 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 or Instagram). Your Fellow will ask your client which social media platform they would like you to analyze and will get you access to the account so you can analyze it for effectively. The analysis will be presented as a formal report following the Beautiful Social Social Media Use template:

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 have completed, with additional work that takes into consideration our readings on social media strategy (Aaker & Smith, Vaynerchuck, and Shea), nonprofit storytelling (Vaynerchuck, Lambert, 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).

Report Specifics

Your report should include the following section and headings, including screenshots that help support your claims:

  • Summary of the Client Mission, Why, How, and What (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, How, and What? Do not merely quote their mission. Explain it it their words and connect it directly to their Golden Circle.
  • Summary of Social Media Messaging, Storytelling, and Spreading Messages (350 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. The purpose of this section is to educate the client, so they have an understanding of the best practices associated with social media storytelling.
  • Summary of Client Social Media Use (200 words): In this section, discuss the how the client using Twitter or Instagram. Do not do any analysis or critique here. You goal is merely to present to the client what you see them doing. Present the following quantitative data: number of posts, followers, and following; their engagement averages; their top engagement; the times they post, and so on. (Note that in past classes teams have had to discuss each of their client’s social media spaces so this section will appear different in the samples you look at).
  • 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 (do not offer solutions; just analysis):
    • Social Media Strategy: This section will take an overview look at your client’s social media feed. Based on what you are seeing, does the feed live up to Aaker & Smith’s Characteristics of Highly Engaging Campaigns? How or how not? Be specific and provide evidence. How well do their posts align with their mission and Why? How well do their posts align with the best times to post or when their followers are online? Align with
    • 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, Lambert, and Shea. Bring in Jenkins, Shea, and others as examples, as appropriate. Make sure to highlight the importance of the interplay between image and alphabetic content.
    • Spreading Messages: How well are their messages being spread? Go through their last 100 tweets or 50 Instagram posts. How often are they being retweeted, fav’d, or liked? Look at their Twitter or Instagram analytics and see what is happening. Cite from the Followerwonk and Simply Measured Reports, as well. Look to the industry averages based on the TrackMaven report we read.
  • Conclusions and Suggestions (300 – 400 words): Based on your analysis, 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.)

Suggestions for Writing This Report

Often students write this report by assigning a section to each team member and then each team member writes their section without knowing what the others are doing. That approach doesn’t work because the report winds up being completely disconnected.

Writing this report works best when it is written in the order the sections are listed. So, while I strongly suggest each team member is assigned a section or sections, I strongly suggest it be written in order. That is, the student assigned the Summary of Client Mission writes their section. Then the student assigned the Summary of Social Media Use READS, EDITS, AND UNDERSTANDS the prior section before writing their own. The next student READS, EDITS, AND UNDERSTANDS the prior sections before writing the Analysis. And so on. Doing so will help create a consistent narrative that does not contradict itself throughout.

Due Dates
GoogleDoc Rough Draft Due: 10/16 (share with beautifulsocial [at] gmail [dot] com)
PDF Rough Draft Due: 11/3 (share with beautifulsocial [at] gmail [dot] com)
PDF Final Draft Due: 11/10 (share with beautifulsocial [at] gmail [dot] com)

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 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: 

All blog posts are due on Mondays. Your Fellow will comment on the blog post by the immediate Wednesday. All changes must be made by the immediate Friday. Your Fellow will schedule the post to appear the immediate Monday at 11AM, which is the optimal time for blog posts to appear.

  • 9/25: Lansdowne
  • 10/2: Swarthmore Farmer’s Market
  • 10/16: Roots2Rise
  • 10/30: Ubuntu
  • 10/30: PEC

Social Media Takeover

Karen and Lizzy

Over the course of 5 weeks in October and November, each team will take over the Beautiful Social Instagram feed to highlight the work they are doing with and for their client. The content can be photo or video, but it must be consistent with the Beautiful Social aesthetic: Inkwell filter, with added or reduced Vignette, Shadows, Highlights, and Brightness, as appropriate.

The goals are to reveal what happens behind the scenes of Beautiful Social, contribute to the feed’s feel-good vibe, and help our clients see how Instagram can be used well and creatively.

Some specifics:

  • Each team should post at least 1 – 2 times per day for the week they are posting, with only 1 the last day in the morning in which you sign off in some fun sort of way.
  • Latergrams are perfectly fine, so be sure to document what you are doing throughout the semester that way you have a host of material when your week arrives to combine with immediate photos
  • At least 4 posts should tell a compelling story, as those by Jedidiah JenkinsRuddy Roye, and others we have read about
    • each group member should create 1 of the 4 posts
  • Post portraits and profiles of each team member; telling a compelling story about that member that includes at the very least, their Why? Imagine these to be part of a Humans of B:Social series. Add the #humansofbsocial hashtag
  • Add your team hashtag, #bsocialf17, a new team takover hashtag, and any other hashtag you think important
  • Tag and @mention people and organizations, as appropriate

Takeover Weeks

  1. Roots2Rise: Saturday, October 14 – Friday, October 20
  2. PEC: Friday, October 20 – Thursday, October 26
  3. Swarthmore: Thursday, October 26 – Wednesday, November 1
  4. Lansdowne: Wednesday, November 1 – Tuesday, November 7
  5. Ubuntu: Tuesday, November 7 –  Monday, November 13

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

  • 12/8 by 11:00pm

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