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10 Questions With Social Media Master Jasmine Star

People

Social media doesn't make a business, but, rather, makes a business better. The most successful businesses are leveraging social media and it's helped even the playing field for smaller and/or newer businesses. Social media is the quickest way for entrepreneurs to create a buzz and Jasmine Star is here to show you how.


1. What’s the biggest difference between personal and professional social media?

The key to keep in mind as you use social media for your business is that it's not about you. It's about the value your business provides for your followers. Your endeavors should be focused entirely as a division of your brand and a way for customers to develop an allegiance to your product or service. Those wild nights in Vegas captured in dimly lit photos? That messy (but cute) photo of your son eating Cheerios in high chair? Those types of photos belong on your personal account. What you share on Instagram or Facebook in relation to your business should give customers into what you can do for them.

2. OK so you launch a social media page for your company. You have zero followers, where do you start?

You must start engaging. In this day and age, it's not enough to simply use social media...you must be strategic and develop patterns of interaction. You should leave comments on other pages, like photos on other accounts, respond to questions, and find ways to connect with prospective followers. Basically, you need to let people know your account is there as a benefit for them if they know they should follow you after your initial point of contact.

3. Name a few companies you think do a great job on social and why.

INSTAGRAM: @ShopBando does an amazing job curating a fun and quirky feed, all while promoting their products, as used by their customers. They know who they're speaking to, the brand message, and curates a feed that attracts their dream customers.

SNAPCHAT: @Everlane is an apparel company that's--hands down--used Snapchat in the most effective and creative ways. Each day is carefully planned so their followers know what to expect and it feels like a series of 10-second artsy commercials for their viewers. SO smart.

FACEBOOK: @ToneItUp does a fantastic job incorporating personal elements into their fitness brand. Yes, Katrina and Karena post personal photos, they're still related to their brand and business. They're regularly active and create a tribe of loyal followers by sharing curated aspects of their personal lives.

4. What trends are you noticing in terms of social media? Preferred channels? Preferred content?

Video streaming is a major shift in social media. Viewers want real-time, raw access to your business, so Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and Periscope are amazing ways to give sneak peeks into your business and connect with followers in a deep way in a short amount of time.

5. How big of an audience do you need before you are considered an “influencer”? How engaged should they be?

Everyone has different categorizations of "influencer" status, but the main thing to remember is that while numbers are impressive, not all followers are the same. I've seen Instagrammers with considerably smaller followings outperform mega Instagrammers, so this begs the question WHY? There are social media accounts that consistently engage, interact, and create value for its followers. These accounts are less about being impressive, and more focused on creating a tribe of like-minded people. As a result, when a company requests a call-to-action, its followers respond en masse. It's incredible to see!

6. How frequently should a brand be posting to keep the community engaged? Is there such a thing as too much?

Yes, there is a thing as too much, but each business has its own cadence. It's important to post at least once a day, but beyond that, the pattern of engagement should be assessed according to how often people want to hear from the business.

7. What is one social media app you couldn't live without?

I'm currently obsessed with Instagram. The updates have been incredible and the possibilities of getting discovered, searched for, and found are unparalleled. The average Instagram user is in the app 21 minutes per day, and has the highest engagement of any social platform. From a strategic standpoint, it makes the most sense to build a presence on the fastest growing social media platform...and I'm happy to do so.

8. Can you speak briefly about paid followers vs. organic. Is there a trade off?

I highly discourage entrepreneurs from investing in paid followers. The largest social platforms (like Facebook and Instagram) use algorithms to determine what viewers will see first. The algorithm content that account followers have interacted and engaged with. If your account has a lot of paid followers (who are usually unresponsive, unengaged, and fake), they won't leave likes or comments. As a result, the algorithm deems your content as irrelevant and doesn't show it more leveraging organic reach. Paid followers hurt your relevance, so I suggest staying far away from it!

9. What is the biggest mistake brands and businesses make with their social accounts?

So many companies use their social media platforms as commercials for their business. And this is the worst way to grow social platforms. If you want more followers, your content must create value. Your endeavors should position your business as a helpful authority in the field, and produce fun, engaging, and visually compelling content. Your social media endeavors should be all about your customers.

10. Which analytics tools do you recommend to gather and analyze data? What should we be looking for when studying these numbers?

Facebook has a great built-in analytics tool (let's be honest, they want businesses to know their reach and impressions to better understand how to create advertisements).

On that note, I've created Instagram ads on the Facebook ads platform to better understand my data. Even if you aren't paying for ads, understanding reach, click-throughs, and likes/comments is beneficial to knowing what type of content resonates most with your customers.

4 Min Read
Culture

We Must Protect Black Students

A Black, 14-year old, female, middle school student is tackled to the ground and handcuffed by a resource officer because she wanted to go to the school's health office.

A white teacher assigns a slave trade enactment as a class project, assigning Black students to the role of being slaves.

A teacher insults Black students and their parents in front of the entire class, causing Black students to tell their parents to not come to the school.

These instances of antiblack racism are happening in schools across America today. Over the summer, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey, and others have shined a light on longstanding antiblack racism in the US and, more specifically, in education.

Although there have been significant gains in improving Black students' education, there are still persistent opportunity gaps for Black youth. For instance, the rate of graduation for Black students has risen to 92%; however, Black students significantly lack access to honors, advanced placement, and/or gifted and talented courses (United Negro College Fund).

Does the classroom/school library include Black authors? Do the posters and bulletin boards reflect students' culture and lived experiences?

Also, while there has been an increase in Black college-going, most of this increase has been in under-resourced institutions, which creates student loan burdens for many Black college-educated adults. And, in light of recent over-policing, it's important to note that Black students are punished more harshly for the same behavior as white students, often for nonviolent offenses. The punitive nature of schooling for many Black students further isolates them from schools, resulting in higher dropout rates and higher risk for incarceration and other risky behaviors.

So how do we save Black students in schools that have a long history of antiblack sentiments and racially unjust policies and structures?

First, educators need to take an antiracist approach, which is actively eliminating racism through the acts of challenging and changing systems, organizational structures, policies, and practices that perpetuate systemic racism and racialized education outcomes. As part of this approach, educators must acknowledge that even well-intentioned teachers may be practicing racism without being aware of it. All educators are victims of being miseducated about issues of race and racism and now, they must be re-educated.

Celebrating the contributions of African Americans to US history enhances self-pride and models resilience for Black students.

The Center for American Progress delineated three ways in which educators can fight systemic racism in education: advocate for equitable funding, advocate for less policing and surveillance of students, and advocate to end de-facto segregation through school and district boundaries. Essentially, antiracist educators must be aware of and challenge policies that can potentially "push out" Black students. Examples of push-out policies include zero-tolerance discipline policies, special education identification policies, grading policies, standardized test policies, and attendance policies.

Second, educators need to become more knowledgeable of the history of racism and antiblack sentiments in the US. Professional development for educators should include content from African American and/or Black studies (including Critical Race Theory), sociological theory, and other literature relating to the experiences of Black people in the Diaspora from slavery to the present.

The 1619 Project, an ongoing project directed by Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Times Magazine, is a wonderful source for educators who want to become knowledgeable about slavery. Educators must examine how racism was the outcome and the ideological support for slavery rather than the cause of slavery. Just as important for educators to examine are the many contributions of Black people to US history—from Robert Smalls to Angela Davis to President Barack Obama. Celebrating the contributions of African Americans to US history enhances self-pride and models resilience for Black students.

As part of this approach, educators must acknowledge that even well-intentioned teachers may be practicing racism without being aware of it.

Third, for Black students to thrive, it's important for educators to fully embrace culturally responsive strategies in the classroom. According to Ladson Billings (1994), culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of learning. CRT requires that teachers encourage students to draw on their prior knowledge, to make learning meaningful and timely, and to ensure that the classroom reflects students' culture/race.

Does the classroom/school library include Black authors? Do the posters and bulletin boards reflect students' culture and lived experiences? Recently, a group of teachers in Massachusetts formed a Book Club to learn more about culturally responsive teaching, decolonizing curricula, and Abolitionist Teaching. The free, online "Abolitionist Teaching Book Club 2020" grew from a 30-teacher webinar book club chat into a 10,000-attendee five-day teacher conference in a matter of weeks.

And last, it's most important for educators of Black students to build meaningful relationships with their students to ensure they feel respected, valued, seen, and loved. In Dr. Bettina Love's book We Want To Do More Than Survive, she emphasizes the need for Black/Brown students to matter. She defines mattering as "building a community where people love, protect, and understand Black and Brown children."

Recognizing the humanity of teaching is the foundation of Love's concept of Abolitionist Teaching—which promotes teachers' utilizing protest, boycotting, and calling out racist, homophobic, etc. ideas and practices as a major component of their role as teachers.

All in all, it's essential that we ensure Black students have access to antiracist, respectful, historically-informed, engaging, loving teachers to thrive. However, this task is too important to be relegated to some educators. If all educators don't ascribe to this antiracist approach, we will continue to perpetuate the problem. We can no longer passively accept racism in classrooms and schools—Black students deserve more.