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Dance Marathon ups social media

BY BENJAMIN MARKS | JANUARY 21, 2015 5:00 AM

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In April, Dance Marathon had 500 Instagram followers. This year, however, that number has more than doubled.

“Last year one of the biggest thing we were focused on was just really growth in the following we have on our social-media platforms, and this year we’re interested in continuing that growth,” said Drake Wilbur, Dance Marathon’s marketing director.

Last year, Dance Marathon’s social-media presence consisted mainly of Facebook and Twitter, Wilbur said, and while the event also had a Snapchat and Instagram, neither one was very popular.

“If I sent a Snapchat last June, I’d have about 40 to 60 people viewing it, and that would be mostly leadership,” said Dance Marathon Snapchat manager Evan Furlong. “Now it’s around 200.”

While all four of Dance Marathon’s social-media platforms have seen growth, it’s really been in Snapchat and Instagram that have experienced the largest increase, Wilbur said.

“I think it’s gone up this year just because we’re growing,” said Rachel Spector, Dance Marathon’s social-media head. “But I like to think that the social media have created a sense of fun that the organization has throughout the year, that Dance Marathon is more than just those 24 hours.”

Creating the idea that Dance Marathon is more is a large part of social media’s job, Wilbur said.

“[It’s] because of the kind of organization we have,” he said. “The amount of interaction definitely fluctuates between the school year and breaks, and so one of the challenges is making sure we post consistently.”

In addition to consistent posting, Spector and her team also keep up interest by promoting social-media events that can be participated in throughout the year, such as Pets of University of Iowa Dance Marathon, a new event Spector said has become very popular. It consists of encouraging people to post photos of their pets supporting Dance Marathon. 

Spector said another even, For the Kids Around the World, which has been around for at least a year, was not very big last year, but has really taken off this year because of social media.

She said another challenge of managing Dance Marathon’s social media is knowing who is on what platform.

“Facebook is very family-oriented,” Spector said. “A lot of alumni and families that like us on Facebook, so that’s usually very professional and informational. But with Twitter and Instagram we can have a little more fun and do things that appeal to college students.”

Snapchat is one of those platforms that can be a lot of fun, Furlong said. He said he snapped a picture of Ben Wyatt, a calzone-loving character from the popular show “Parks & Recreation” to promote Dance Marathon’s D.P Dough fundraiser.

“If you want to make a post, be creative with it,” he said. “Make it something people will remember.”


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