Update on Project Activities
We had our weekly conference call with Diane where we updated her on our progress. We wrote up survey and interview questions for students and teachers as well as a blurb for the Challenge’s newsletter. We sent our questions to Diane so she could look over them and give us feedback. She thought the questions were great overall and gave us a few corrections to make as well. The team has been in contact with Ms. Thwaite from La Entrada Middle School for our teacher interview, and we are very close to locking a date for our meeting. Contacting Mr. Powell from Menlo Atherton High School has been a challenge, but we hope he’ll respond to us soon.
What We Observed and Learned
This week, we began to research social media strategies related to Instagram in hopes of revitalizing the Menlo Spark Instagram page.
Creating and maintaining a recognizable color theme is important to drive traffic onto an Instagram account. Brands with a huge follower base tend to cultivate some sort of color scheme with their posts to create a mood and/or a sense of visual cohesiveness. For the Menlo Spark page, since the organization is concerned with the environment and sustainability, maybe using colors commonly associated with those topics, such as green (“going green”) and blue, could act as a starting point.
When using hashtags, it is recommended to use a mixture of popular and non-popular hashtags; a single post will get lost very quickly on a popular hashtag page, whereas a post will get no exposure with a non-popular hashtag because few individuals will actually be checking the page itself.
Additionally, researching banned hashtags is extremely important to prevent one’s account from being accidentally banned or marked as a spam account. Some common hashtags, including #tgif, and other random ones, such as #brain and #publicrelations, have been banned due to the nature of content posted on these hashtag pages (usually inappropriate or flagged). If an account accidentally uses a banned hashtag in conjunction with other hashtags, their post will not appear on any of the other hashtag pages, which drastically reduces engagement.
When creating hashtag clusters for posting, changing up the hashtags used between each post is key to distinguish yourself from a potential bot or spam account. The first posts could use about 10-15 hashtags, for example, and in the future be increased to about 20-25 (never going over 30, which is the maximum allowed). It is also useful to post hashtags in your caption rather than in a separate comment, which can be perceived as bot-like behavior.
The teacher interview questions are focused on how the teacher felt running the Challenge in their classes, how to increase student engagement in sustainable behavior, finding what motivates students to participate, and what areas of the Challenge need improvement. Diane felt that asking teachers to see if they could get us in contact with a family for our success story would be asking them to overstep their boundaries. Therefore, we won’t ask Ms. Thwaite or Mr. Powell to do that.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Moving forward into next week, we plan on having at least one teacher interview. We are planning on meeting Ms. Thwaite on Monday afternoon, and we’ll know if the meeting time and date are definitive once she gets back to us on her availability. We also hope to hear back from Mr. Powell. By now, we’ve sent three emails asking to see if he’ll meet us, but we have received no response from him yet. During our conference call on Wednesday, Diane said she could help in arranging that meeting.
We also plan on using the what we have learned from literature on fostering sustainable behavior when we go out on the field in the coming weeks to survey students and families in Menlo Park.