#ThreeSixtySMS: Volunteering with ThreeSixty Journalism’s Youth Social Media Summit

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It’s no secret that Bellmont Partners loves ThreeSixty Journalism. Our president, Brian Bellmont, is on the board, and most of our office has volunteered with ThreeSixty in some way, shape or form. So when Bao Vang of ThreeSixty asked us if we were interested in helping with a new youth social media event, we couldn’t say no. I believe my exact words were, “It sounds like a great opportunity, and there’s nothing I love more than responsible social media usage.”

From October through February, fellow Bellmont team member Erin Lilliencrantz and I had the honor of attending ThreeSixty Youth Social Media Summit planning sessions and got to know these incredibly smart students. And when I say “smart,” I mean BRILLIANT. Trust us, the future of communications is in good hands. The students decided to plan three sessions:

  • Slacktivism vs. Activism
  • Building a brand and connecting
  • Social media responsibility: What goes into building a social media PR campaign?

The Slacktivism vs. Activism session focused on how social media is used for social change or good. The students discussed ways in which social media can be used to mobilize people for a good cause and actually encourage them to get out and lobby, protest or engage with issues they care about (activism). With the help of Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal digital editor Jim Hammerand and me, the group also talked about how hashtags can oftentimes foster a culture of slacktivism or “actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement.” We concluded, though, that slacktivism can be helpful because it creates awareness, even if no action.

In “Building a brand and connecting,” students learned the importance of self-branding to create an authentic connection in both their personal and professional lives. Erin, ThreeSixty executive director Chad Caruthers and the ThreeSixty social media leaders led a discussion about how social media posts contribute to personal brand. The group used the online polling program Kahoot.it to show how selected tweets – some controversial, some funny and some thought provoking – can evoke different reactions and that it matters how someone engages with the posts. It is up to the individual on how to engage while thinking about how it affects his or her own brand.

Students learned about social media responsibility while learning the process of building a social media PR campaign in the third session. Pros Erica Dao of Weber Shandwick and David Jungers of Sprinklr led students through various social campaigns and had students determine which elements worked well and which didn’t. Students were able to discuss how to use posts on various social media to highlight different types of content.

Between the sessions and an inspiring keynote from Puke Rainbows Creative owner Erica Hanna about overcoming the odds to become a social media business owner, the day was incredible. Seeing the students grow in their social media knowledge, presentation skills and confidence was worth every second we spent preparing for the summit. Another fellow Bellmont team member, Johanna Holub, joined us for the day to help take photos and post on ThreeSixty’s social media accounts. She also wrote this fabulous blog post about the event.

A huge thanks to ThreeSixty Journalism for letting us take part in the first ever Youth Social Media Summit. We’ll be back!

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