The Department of Communication's course “Social Media for Business” has partnered with Sheboygan’s New Life Coffeehouse for the Spring 2018 semester to create a social media marketing plan for its service learning project.
Professor Tim Macafee contacted the Sheboygan’s Chamber of Commerce for a list of small businesses and found New Life. He then emailed owner Kim Boettcher to see whether the business needed help.
Boettcher did need assistance. She knew social media was important for the business but several issues prevented her from using it.
“I was born in a different era where social media was not around. I did not grow up in it, and I’m busy overseeing the coffeehouse, the health food store, my farm, and my personal life. I find I just don’t have time to learn it. The things you don’t understand you seem to stay away from,” Boettcher said. “I have advanced in the last year and have been getting better and want to learn more. It is how to communicate to get information out to a lot of people quickly. I feel I can save my business a lot of money in advertising.”
Social media in practice
Cue the digital natives. The service project included a comprehensive social media plan:
- Research New Life’s current social media marketing and audience
- Think of a strategic plan for the social media marketing
- Produce sample social media content
- Provide ways to evaluate the plan’s success
This service learning project is the fourth time the course has partnered with a small business. Previous partnerships included businesses in the Milwaukee and surrounding suburbs.
The project adds a unique and important aspect to the course. Student Anne Karsten believes connecting classroom to practice matters.
“The service learning aspect of our Social Media for Business course adds a great element of practical action to our coursework. In our studies at Concordia, we learn a lot of excellent business theory and practice, within the classroom,” she said. “It’s important that we get out and execute this theory that we’ve learned, and partnering with New Life is a perfect chance for us to do just that. Putting our knowledge to work for this small business also fulfills our important objective to perform ‘service to the world,’ given to us by the university’s mission statement.”
In addition to applying classroom teachings practically, providing service fulfills CUW’s mission. New Life is a meeting place for the community, is owned locally, and the coffeehouse also includes a Christian bookstore.
The first step of the service project was meeting with the owner to understand the store’s history and its current social media needs. When arriving at the store, students were pleasantly surprised with the atmosphere. Student John Winter enjoyed the out of classroom experience.
“It was a fantastic to get to meet Kim in person and truly see her passion for her small business. After visiting, I was really excited to work with her company and help grow her business on social media. Of course it was nice to get out of the classroom for a few hours, and get a free cup of coffee compliments of Professor Macafee. It’s rewarding to work on a class project where we can go out and actually put what we are learning in class into practice, while putting Concordia’s mission into action,” he said.
Professor Macafee is grateful for the opportunity to partner with a small business providing an important service to their community. He understands the importance of connecting the university’s mission to its surrounding community.
Boettcher’s faith is important for the way she runs the business and her life.
“Growing up on the Wisconsin dairy farm nearby you get in touch with life and sometimes death. Sometimes we don’t understand why the bad things happen, or it just seems like there are a lot of road blocks out there. I believe in the Trinity, the father the son and the Holy Spirit. There usually is a still small voice speaking to me about things and trying to get my attention to guide me,” she said.
The course concludes with the students presenting the plan to the small business. New Life then uses the plan for their business marketing.
The department will offer the course again during the spring 2019 semester. Students interested in learning more about the course or businesses looking for social media marketing help should contact Professor Macafee at 262-243-2098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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