FIU Advertising Students Jumpstart Pathways’ Social Media Future

Positive Pathways has teamed up with students at Florida International University (FIU), one of its partner institutions, to help the Network discover a new path to the public eye using social media.

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“At this point, even senior citizens are using Facebook to stalk their grandchildren so it’s the perfect time for social media outreach,” said Dr. Steve Rios, senior director of Positive Pathways.

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During the spring 2018 semester, the FIU students designed a Facebook page, conceptualized and created several posters, developed a new brochure and outlined an entire campaign related to the content and artwork.

In past semesters, the students developed a brochure, the foundation for what can become a smartphone app, and the logo that Positive Pathways has used extensively over the past year.

“A program like Positive Pathways can utilize social media for maximum impact,” said Margo Berman, the FIU Professor of Communications who has partnered with Positive Pathways for the past two years, and with Rios’ foster care work for the past 20 years.

One suggested post highlights the network’s monthly calls. The post includes the call-in number and when the call occurs, so Network members can be part of the action no matter where they are -- even in their cars.

Another post shows a “liaison” and a student fist bumping. The caption encourages students to contact their school’s foster care liaison and provides the Positive Pathways website, www.PositivePathwaysFlorida.org.

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“These posts can quickly capture the interest of students and mentors who can learn about the cause and reach out to someone on campus who can help,” said Jasmine Moore, the Educate Tomorrow @ Florida Atlantic University coach, who has begun using the media posts through her program’s Instagram feed. “Nowadays students hardly answer calls but they are always checking out our latest posts.”

The Positive Pathways Network exists to help liaisons, like Jasmine, improve the effectiveness of their outreach to students. Many of the liaisons themselves are in their 20s or early 30s and have used social media since they were teens and can be reached through social media, just like the students, Rios said.

“We can’t wait to start using social media to deliver the Positive Pathways message far beyond our current 100 or so members,” Rios said. “A post is worth a hundred calls nowadays.”

“The Pathways Network is unique in the country and we want many people to learn about it,” said Brandie McCabe, the Department of Children and Families Independent Living Coordinator who oversees the Pathways Network. “We also want as many young students as possible to know what the network is about and that we are here to help them reach their education dreams.”

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The FIU students involved in the project were inspired by the Pathways cause, said Jay Esquivel, one of the FIU students who worked on the social media campaign last semester. “It’s like Doctors without Borders who save lives in more than 60 countries use social media to help people realize what is happening outside our Western Hemisphere bubble.”

“My classmates and I wanted to give the Pathways group a jumpstart into social media because the liaisons and students they want to reach don’t even really use Facebook anymore, they Tweet.”

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 "I look forward to talking about the work that Jay and his peers have done for us in Professor Berman’s class,” Rios said. “I am sure the members will have many ideas about how we can build on this work to reach out to students and influencers from all over Florida -- and beyond.”
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