Lending a hand through social media

By: Kristina Kenney

A new era has begun for ways in which social media is used for mass communication.

The days of using social networking sites like Facebook for the sole purpose of catching up with friends are gone. Today, many organizations are finding new ways of using social media for the betterment of their communities.
On Tuesday, Texas State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication hosted “Social Media for Social Good,” as part of the university’s annual Mass Communication Week.
The communications experts who spoke at the event included Kerri Qunell of Capital Area Food Bank, Jordan Viator of Convio, and David Neff of the American Cancer Society.
Qunell, vice president of communications at Capital Area Food Bank and Texas State journalism graduate, explained the importance of using social media to draw more attention to non-profit organizations.
“When I started out in non-profit marketing, there was no social media,” said Qunell. “We have been able to reach a whole new audience through networking sites.”
The panelists spoke about innovative ways to use sites like Twitter and Facebook to help build meaningful relationships with the public in order to promote an important cause.


Neff, director of web, film and interactive strategy at the American Cancer Society, agrees that forming relationships and creating a dialogue online is key.

“I think it’s very effective,” said Neff. “There are a ton of people out there listening to us, and the conversations you have with them lead to other things, such as volunteer work.”
Viator is the interactive communications manager at Austin-based Convio and is also a graduate of Texas State. Convio is a company dedicated to the publicity and advocacy of non-profit organizations.
“We started a blog that allowed experts in our company to blog about anything they wanted,” said Viator. “A blog to spread awareness and education.”
While the speakers agreed that social networking sites have not become the basis for advocating non-profits in the area, they have become an “integrated marketing” strategy that companies now view as extremely important.
“For these non-profit organizations, [young adults] are the next generation of donors, and social media makes it more accessible for those organizations to reach them,” said Viator.
The panelists also offered some job-seeking advice to post-graduates in the field. For any major in mass communication, the importance of one skill was re-iterated.
“Know how to write,” said Qunell. “Grammar, spelling and punctuation are so important.”
Photos by Kristina Kenney

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