Students Solved Social Media Problems with Design Thinking

Social Media Problem

Design Thinking gained its popularity due to the special attention to the target audience. At the same time, following this template might seem a burden to those who are not used to the elaborate algorithms. For example, community college students

“At some point, it was hard to encourage them to work on anything relevant to the disciple of marketing,” sighs Mrs. Wells. “Yet, step by step, they have completely gone through Design Thinking not even knowing what methodology they used.”

This story will be a great example of how to operate sophisticated project management tools when having a diverse group of marketing amateurs.

Where did the idea come from?

Mrs. Wells has been teaching marketing for years. Usually, there was no need to go deeper into the subject, as most of her students wanted to obtain a degree without any interest in further development of marketing career. However, the class of 2020 was not an ordinary one. The students always questioned the chapters of a marketing book and initiated discussions. One day, they started talking about the use of social media in the context of SMM. None of the students could remember any non-commercial projects carried with the help of social media.

Comment from the instructor.  “They came to a conclusion that social media is used for the financial purposes even though having a strong social potential”, Mrs. Wells mentions. “I asked them to think about what local social issues could be solved by social media, and 10-12 kids said they would like to help elderly”.

Later, one of the group leaders mentioned that she couldn’t stand the line social media draws between generations. “We can totally come up with the solution and take the benefit from the way social media works for both youth and elderly.”

Design Thinking

How was the Design Thinking Concept Applied?

The class was divided into three groups:

Group #1 was asked to follow their “marketing instincts” and exploit the frameworks they knew from the class and personal experience.

Group #2 was given a crash course on Design Thinking and asked to use its principles only.

Group #3 was in charge of monitoring and coming up with suitable ways of evaluating the project.

Comment from the instructor. “It was interesting to observe their working process. Group #1 had an elaborate plan, which covered three months of their regular work, whereas Group #2 made a two-week schedule, which reminded me of Agile framework”, the teacher says. Mrs. Wells took the role of the consultant by denoting the necessary sources.

Both groups wanted to test the use of social media to activate the social segment of senior people collaborating with elderly houses’ residents. Whereas Group#1 decided to teach them the basics of computer science, Group #2 had a different approach.

They asked permission to talk to the residents and then approached their relatives by sending them a short survey using a preferred social media channel. The stage of gathering information and learning the insights about the audience is called Empathizing. Due to collecting data, Group #2 could define the problems local elderly faces and start their brainstorm on how to solve those by using social media.

It came up to their attention that most of the senior people are not aware of the events that take place in their town. What is more, these events lacked public awareness in general. This is how the ideating stage brought an idea of writing a Twitter and Telegram bot, which would elaborate on the local networking.

In their report, Group #2 noted: “When people hear the word “bot,” they instantly associate it with the fake news, data leaks, spam, and fraud. We tried to discover its positive aspects and apply those for solving the problem of elderly inactivity.”

By holding a 24-hour hackathon, the group prototyped several scripts and chose the one, which got to be on the local news for weeks.

What are the Final Results?

In Design Thinking, the Testing stage is the most dynamic one. It shows the accuracy of the previous steps taken and demonstrates both weak and strong spots of the idea. After a 3-week trial, the final set presented was:

1. Sending the messages about the local events to the county residents and elderly houses administrations;

2. Advertising these events to the previously set target audience;

3. Sending notifications about the schedule, participants, possible fees;

4. Gathering feedback by collecting comments under the posts with the respective hashtags;

5. Sending brief evaluations to the participants of the event and its staff.

Today, the script is still being reviewed and modified by the specialists. “Something big is about to happen. I can’t wait to see how it works,” the group leader says.

Comments from parents and instructor. “My generation likes complaining,” Mr. Wilson admits. “When facing a community issue, our thinking process stops at the point of Ideating. These kids took a solution-based approach and presented a complete guide on involving the elderly to the community life.”

Mrs. Wells is proud to find a way to make her class interested in the learning process. “It’s not about the grades or degrees. It’s about their empathy and social responsibility, which now will also help to find a decent job.”

In the world of hashtags, bots, and video messages, students prefer not to keep up with the traditional scholar sources. For this reason, most of the marketing chapters involve real-life cases. By practicing these methodologies, one may fully dive into the world of project management and find their personal niche on the labor market.

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