Getting Into the Headspace of a Social Media Marketing Specialist: Alejandra Gonzalez

Alejandra Gonzalez ’23 (PWR)

Becoming the Marketing and Communication intern for the Center for Access and Success’s First-Generation Student Services has been an eye-opening experience about the digital media world. I heard about the internship from Oscar Miranda, the center’s Assistant Director, when I would enter the office for small check-up chats or for resources that I needed as a first-generation student. I remember wanting to sign up after hearing him speak about the plans and ideas for the internship, but I did not think I was ready yet since I was a first-year at the time. After taking a few PWR classes where I learned the principles of design and marketing strategies, I felt more confident to sign up and step into the role. 

I expected the internship to involve the promotion of events and resources by reposting school events or creating posts for upcoming events. I knew I needed to use my creativity to engage our students and to promote resources provided by offices around campus, but I expected it to be simple solo work. Thankfully, that was not the case. During my first meeting with Oscar, I realized there were fine details about the job that most do not consider at first. I learned that my role would include more than simply creating promotional content. I would be responsible for finding first-generation student accomplishments to highlight, reaching out to students for engagement, creating informational posts, and researching my audience’s expectations. Seeing the list of responsibilities for this semester made me think about the even bigger responsibilities that people who hold social media positions have. I thought about the content they created, the strategies they carried out, and the intricate schedules they stuck to. 

Before I began creating or trying to post anything on the social media pages, I decided to do research on the audience we were trying to reach. This audience analysis ensured that I knew the values and expectations that our audience would be inclined to respond to online. Oscar properly introduced me to the small, yet strongly diverse, first-generation community at Elon. We knew of about 500 young students on-campus and current followers on social media. In order to devise a social media plan, I investigated what social media platform they interacted with the most, which was Instagram. The posts that they interacted with the most were ones that included familiar faces and questions they could answer. However, during the internship, I saw that the page also engaged with other first-generation dedicated pages. This caused me to change a few of the features in the content I was creating. I wasn’t just making posts for our students on-campus but other first-generation organizations too. I added college resources that were universally obtainable along with resources available at Elon, including the library, academic advising, and more. Once I had a better understanding of who to connect with, my journey to step into the shoes of the people who work within the field of marketing and communications began.

Once again, my main role was to boost student engagement, create informational posts, and research my audience’s expectations. To reach out to students, I decided to create a weekly Instagram Live that allowed me to interview several students and highlight their successes. I created a light and inviting promotional post that detailed the person and when the interview was going to take place. My informational posts were based on what I saw the audience wanted to see such as upcoming events. I thank my previous PWR courses that allowed me to have practice and develop the skills necessary to create content. I revisited the principles of design and other pre-existing material to create new content for the feed. For example, to create the “S’mores Social” flyer I went through the CRAP principles as a type of checklist. I chose colors that contrasted with each in order to make the information stand out. Since the sky was navy blue, I decided yellow would be more visible and can connect with the color of the stars. I added the star icons because the main background did not emphasize them a lot and added an outline of a s’more to highlight what the event was dedicated to. For captions, I maintained a tone that was encouraging and tried to ask questions for engagement. I created a schedule that allowed me to post my campaigns on specific days. For example, True/False posts on Tuesdays or the First-Gen Lives on Friday.

This internship also developed my interpersonal skills as I interviewed students and created connections with faculty and staff. It expanded my knowledge about marketing and social engagement. It allowed me to expand my understanding of the importance of both textual and visual rhetoric in connecting with an audience. After finishing this internship, I feel prepared to become a social media specialist if I choose to pursue a career in that field. It exposed me to the possibility of creating promotional posters for other people online. I also feel encouraged to begin exploring opportunities for graphic work in other departments on campus.

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