Engaging Networks Through Social Media Content

November 30, 2016

An Interview with Amber Coleman-Mortley, iCivics Digital Media Manager


In the ever-changing world of technology, it’s hard to find ways to interact with your target audience that does not involve social media platforms. Amber serves the iCivics community as the Digital Media Manager, where she supports the educator community through digital communication, social media, support, and community management.  I asked Amber about the strategies she uses to create meaningful content to make a positive impact in the edspace.

EV: Content curation? What’s all that about?
ACM: Content curation is similar to fishing or crabbing. You cast your net and you’re pulling in the information that is relevant to your community. You search through a wide range of interesting articles, shares, and insights and then categorize them to benefit the community that you serve.

EV: How does curating educational content for social media build value?

ACM: Content curation positions you as a thought leader amongst your peers. One thing that sets iCivics apart from other civic education resources is that we facilitate a discussion around civic education. We not only share our own stuff but we’re also sharing thoughtful ideas and arguments of interest. Anytime you provide thought-provoking information and content along with innovative ideas, you are adding value to the community you serve.

EV: Is the world of social media is affecting education?
ACM: The education sphere has caught on to the idea that the world is now more accessible and equitable when educators interact on social platforms. Google and Skype classroom “virtual visits” have happened all because two teachers met on Twitter chat. Now their students have benefitted because of that social media exchange. Social media shrunk the world but expanded the possibilities, revolutionizing normative classroom learning.  
The world of social media has pushed teachers out of their comfort zone. I remember teaching in the mid-2000s when Facebook was a controversial issue at our school. As an early millennial, I didn’t view Facebook the same way as some of my older colleagues viewed it. Fast forward a decade and the beauty of today, is that millennials are now heavily influencing the workforce. They believe that not only friendships but professional development and so many wonderful opportunities can be developed by engaging with others on a variety of social media channels.
EV: What tactics can organizations take to create educational content on social media? Go!
ACM: Here are my 6 tactics...
  1. Regularity- Post every single day… This is the number one thing.
  2. Familiarity- Remind your audience that you’re there. Post more than once a day.
  3. Community- Get involved in Twitter chats and Twitter Parties. Have a conversation online, on a hashtag, around a topic.  Immersing yourself in the conversation is critical to success.
  4. Creativity- Blog and share your ideas! Writing your opinion and sharing it out there creates more educational content.
  5. Solidarity- Create partnerships within your spheres. Share each other’s educational content.
  6. Methodology- Cross promote on all of your other social channels. 


EV: Some may view social media as an unhealthy addiction. How can people transform this view to help people realize the value that social media brings to the educational sphere?

ACM: If you’re sharing positive information, then you’ll be viewed positively. Stay on top of current events and relate it to the good things your organization is doing. I’d also say that if you encourage camaraderie and community, it truly goes a long way.


EV: What’s your thought process when sharing content on social media?

ACM: I start internally and then move externally. First, I think about any current campaigns or promotions and the topics they cover.  I ask myself, ‘What’s the general message for the week or the month?’. Then, I check any obligations I have to any partnerships. Have we fulfilled our obligations to them?  After that, I’ll look to Google news or a hashtag search. This helps me find content that is relevant to our organization, goals, mission, and work. After all that, it’s scheduling and posting time.


EV: There are differing opinions on the term “Slacktivism.” What’s your take on it?

ACM:  "Slactivism" is the idea that an individual can use a hashtag to participate in a social campaign and then the work is done. Hashtag campaigns are a great start and can be used as an opportunity to raise awareness. But it shouldn't stop there. The creator of the activist hashtag needs to have a very focused strategy in mind for their offline goals. Once you've raised awareness, you need to think:

  • Do I want to raise money?

  • Do I want people to take political action?

  • Do I want people going into their own communities as change agents?  

Having a very clear CTA (call to action) from the start eliminates a lot of the excitement and energy that dissipates once someone RTs.


EV: Any final words?

ACM: Social media is a lot of fun! I think we’ve only gotten to the second layer of this massive iceberg of possibilities. A good community manager or social media team will engage their networks and make them feel they are part of the organization. At iCivics, we want teachers to know that we have their best interests at heart and we try as an organization to show that. And that’s it.



About Emily Viteri

(iCivics UF-Graham Center Virtual Intern 2016)

Emily is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Public Relations, minoring in Nonprofit Organizational Leadership at the University of Florida. She is part of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity, and serves as a fellowship co-chair fostering friendship within the fraternity through fun events. As a public relations major, Emily wants to help non-profit organizations express their impact to people in a new way, using narrative techniques to generate greater personal interest, thereby generating publicity throughout the community. She enjoys networking with several non-profit organizations to help broaden the scope each organization has on the community while building a larger, stronger and closely united foundation for change.