AFS-USA Social Media Strategy Proposal


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Final project for Social Media Marketing and Communication at Clark University: a proposed social media strategy for the AFS-USA Returnee Initiative

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AFS-USA Social Media Strategy Proposal

  1. 1. AFS-USA Returnee Initiative Social Media Strategy<br />By Alexa Lightner<br />RI Communications Task Force Intern<br />
  2. 2. Background of the Returnee Initiative<br />Mission<br />“The AFS-USA Returnee Initiative engages Returnees throughout the Returnee Life Cycle by providing resources, support and opportunities for their growth, development and connections thus encouraging a life-time of participation within the AFS community.”<br />(AFS-USA, Inc., 2011)<br />Formed in 2009<br />
  3. 3. The Returnee Initiative Communications Task Force aims to create a social media strategy to help the Returnee Initiative accomplish its mission<br />
  4. 4. Best Practices for Building Online Communities<br /><ul><li>Create content that creates a conversation
  5. 5. Listen to the community, act on feedback, and be flexible: “Building a strong community means paying attention to what that community thinks and does.” It also means keeping the community in the loop and maintaining a dialogue with it at all times. (Betancourt, 2010)
  6. 6. Assign community leaders for each social media platform. “The best communities tend to cohere around leaders (i.e. community managers) … the best leaders inspire leadership in others.” - Matt Thompson, interim online community manager for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation(Betancourt, 2010)</li></li></ul><li>Best Practices for Building Online Communities<br />Don’t try to be everywhere – “[Make sure] you’re not diluting a community presence by having several outposts, but no nerve center” - Seamus Condron, community manager at, 2010)<br />Be consistent with your brand on all related social media platforms <br />Don’t dictate - Support and advocate for the community managers don’t dictate to them or try to set the tone of conversation.<br />Be relevant – “Avoid frequent posts that would not pertain to your base at large. Otherwise fans will lose interest, and worse, begin to consider your status updates as spam. That's a sure way to lose your audience, no matter how great your offerings.” (Topper, 2009)<br />Give people a reason to come together. “Consider why and how your customers use social media, and align your goals for your efforts accordingly.” (Collier, 2009)<br />
  7. 7. Using Online University Alumni Networks as a Case Study<br />Returnees are to AFS as alumni are to universities, so researching best practices for alumni engagement in social media can provide valuable insight!<br />
  8. 8. 9 Ways Universities are Engaging Alumni<br />Using a LinkedIn group sponsored by the university to help alumni find jobs<br />Connecting current students with alumni to help them transition by:<br />Sponsoring Wikis for alumni and students to collaborate on shared topics<br />Allowing students to join the LinkedIn group before graduating<br />Making fundraising personal with Tweets and Facebook pages<br />Tweeting to alumni about donating<br />Creating pages with live updates about $$ raised and donors to post about donating in their FB statuses<br />Teaching older alumni how to use social media with training sessions incorporated into alumni events<br />Going where the alumni already are<br />Some schools have created their own social networking sites, but many have joined the social networks where alumni are already active<br />Creating widgets about the school that alumni can post on their own sites<br />Allowing alumni-generated content, such as photo contests on Flickr<br />Promoting the official group (as opposed to the alumni-generated groups) on the school’s alumni website and with targeted campaigns<br />Collaborating with Google Maps to allow alumni to map their locations<br />(Lavrusik, 2009)<br />
  9. 9. Overview of the Returnee Initiative Strategy:“AFS-USA Returnee Reconnect”<br />Overall Objective<br />Utilize social networking as a primary tool for engaging Returnees, both online and in-person, to create sustainable connections with AFS-USA:  <br /><ul><li>Aggregate and disseminate Returnee-related information and opportunities on a local and national level
  10. 10. Provide a venue for Returnees to conduct personal and professional networking
  11. 11. Raise awareness about the Returnee movement using overlapping, consistently-brandedsocial media platforms that suit different Returnee demographics and preferences</li></li></ul><li>Overview of the Returnee Initiative Strategy:“AFS-USA Returnee Reconnect”<br />
  12. 12. National Facebook Page<br />
  13. 13. RI National Facebook Page Strategy<br />Objective<br />To  build a large, strong, and personal Returnee network by creating a forum and hub for the Returnee movement to reconnect and collaborate. <br />Aggregate regional events<br />Encourage conversation <br />Post LinkedIn job opportunities and national AFS volunteer/job opportunities<br />Provide a venue for delivering information to Returnee Coordinators<br />Serve as a bridge to more information about getting involved with the Returnee Initiative<br />
  14. 14. RI National Facebook Page Strategy<br />Examples of Content<br />Discussion forums<br />Map of regional Facebook pages (like the one pictured by the Bare Escentuals Facebook Page)<br />Status updates (linked to the Twitter) with:<br />National volunteer opportunities/opportunities to get involved with the Returnee Initiative<br />Returnee-related news articles <br />Links to opportunities on LinkedIn<br />Polls to get feedback and generate discussion<br />​Posting of local/regional events from the regional Facebook pages<br />
  15. 15. RI National Facebook Page Strategy<br />Apps & Other Things to Consider<br />Facebook Places<br />Use Facebook Notes as a Returnee-related blog<br />CausesApp: Fundraising for AFS-USA, Inc.<br />Creating a Vanity URL: <br /> ex.<br /><ul><li>Travel Map App with a joint map where returnees can mark where they have traveled
  16. 16. Blockwild Map App for mapping regional Facebook events
  17. 17. Friends Map App to map where the page’s fans have checked in to Facebook places across the country
  18. 18. Customizable tabs using the Static FBML App for:
  19. 19. Information on getting involved with the Returnee Initiative</li></li></ul><li>Regional Facebook Pages<br />
  20. 20. RI Regional Facebook Page Strategy<br />Objective <br />To create a local AFS Returnee social media presence by creating new or adding to existing locally-oriented Facebook pages, which:<br />Grow and adapt organically to local Returnee needs<br />Allow for local/regional Returnee networking<br />Sponsor and promote local/regional Returnee-related events and opportunities<br />Pass on information and updates from the national Returnee Facebook page<br />Consolidate existing local returnee pages (if any)<br />
  21. 21. RI Regional Facebook Page Strategy<br />Suggestions/Examples of Content<br />Posting of local Returnee meet-up events<br />Posted local volunteer opportunities<br />Regionally-specific discussion forums<br />
  22. 22. National LinkedIn Group<br />
  23. 23. The Current AFS Returnee LinkedIn Presence<br />Searching for AFS on LinkedIn yields the following groups that could incorporate <br />AFS-USA Returnees:<br />467 Members<br />2,363 Members<br />201 Members<br />152 Members<br />106 Members<br />43 Members<br />31 Members<br />11 Members<br />
  24. 24. Because it was the largest Returnee-specific group, I asked the AFS Intercultural Program Returnees group what it wanted…<br />
  25. 25. ... and it wanted consolidation!<br />
  26. 26. From the Founder of “AFS Intercultural Program Returnees”<br />LinkedIn<br />Maya Broadfoot has sent you a message.<br />Date: 4/11/2011<br />Subject: RE: AFS Returnee Group<br />Hi Alexa- I think the vision for the group is pretty simple, just connecting AFS returnees and providing a forum for questions, networking, job searches, etc. I think this group is not terribly active, I have posed some questions before and other members have as well, but it isn't very interactive at this point. Likely because, I haven't had time to really work at it. If someone within the AFS organization is interested in leading the discussion, I would gladly cede ownership! I think consolidating groups would be a great idea. Maya <br />
  27. 27. RI LinkedIn Group Strategy<br />Objective<br />To provide Returnees with a professional networking tool that:<br /><ul><li>Serves as a resource for hiring, job searching, and professional advising
  28. 28. Accesses an older, more professionally-oriented demographic than Facebook and Twitter
  29. 29. Bridges the age gap between younger and older Returnees
  30. 30. Consolidates existing AFS-USA-related returnee LinkedIn groups</li></li></ul><li>RI LinkedIn Group Strategy<br />Suggestions/Examples of Content<br />Job/internship posts by older Returnees seeking help<br />Job/internship/volunteer opportunity posts by AFS-USA<br />Posts by younger Returnees seeking professional advice<br />Automated messages to new members directing them to the national “Returnee Reconnect” Facebook page and Twitter<br />Announcements to the group up to once a week with Returnee-specific information<br />Posts linking to news/announcements disseminated first by the national Facebook page that are relevant to professional networking and/or older returnees<br />Use of keywords repeated throughout the group, such as “Returnee,” and “AFS,” to optimize search and promote consolidation<br />(Howes, 2011)<br />
  31. 31. National Twitter Page<br />
  32. 32. RI National Twitter Strategy<br />Objective <br />To correspond with and enhance the national Facebook page’s objectives by:<br />Reposting updates and opportunities from the national Facebook page<br />Reaching a slightly different social media user demographic than Facebook<br />Suggestions/Examples of Content<br /><ul><li>News articles relevant to Returnees
  33. 33. Topics could include: Returnees in the news, the job market, AFS news, diplomacy, study abroad opportunities in college, etc.
  34. 34. Re-posts from the national Facebook page
  35. 35. @Mentions to Returnee followers</li></li></ul><li>Regional Twitter Page<br />
  36. 36. RI Regional Twitter Strategy<br />Objective<br />To correspond with and enhance the regional Facebook pages’ objectives by:<br />Reposting updates and opportunities from the corresponding regional Facebook page<br />Reaching a slightly different social media user demographic than Facebook<br />Suggestions/Examples of Content<br />Notifications of Returnee events organized through the corresponding regional Facebook page<br />Posts of geographically-relevant information<br />Re-posts from the corresponding regional Facebook page<br />@Mentions to local returnees<br />
  37. 37. Works Cited<br />AFS-USA, Inc. (2011). Returnee Initiative. Afs wiki. Retrieved April 11, 2011, from<br />Betancourt, L. (2010). 8 things to avoid when building a community. Mashable, Retrieved from<br />Collier, M. (2009, February 01). Why your community-building and social media efforts aren't working. The Viral Garden: Blurring the Line Between Company and Customer, Retrieved from<br />Howes, L. (2011). 7 ways to maximize linkedin for business. Webinar,<br />Lavrusik, V. (2009, July 23). 10 ways universities are engaging alumni using social media. Mashable, Retrieved from<br />Topper, H. (2009, December 1). How to build a social media campaign. Businessweek, Retrieved from<br />For links to all the above articles and as well as other helpful and related articles, visit my saved websites on -<br />