Downtown Hartsville became the site of a potent collaboration of some of the community’s greatest resources in the past few months, as local businesses and students from the S.C. Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) came together to learn more about how to build social media presence for businesses by working with the real thing.
The project, called #ConnectHartsville, is an effort of Main Street Hartsville, GSSM and the Duke Energy Center for Innovation to facilitate stronger social media usage and understanding among businesses, improving exposure and brand awareness, even while serving as a real-life educational opportunity for GSSM students.
#ConnectHartsville took the form of a GSSM community engagement opportunity, helping businesses establish their presence or further developing existing presence with social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, TripAdvisor and even management systems for multiple social media platforms, such as Hootsuite. Participating businesses included Bizzell’s Food & Spirits, Burry Bookstore, Coldwell Banker Deborah Gandy & Associates, Lulu’s Clothing Boutique (now Brandi’s on College), MBW Accounting, Minnie’s Giftique, Rambos Shoes, The Clothesline Consignment Boutique, Sophia’s Pizzeria and #Connecthartsville itself. Working with the business owners, the students created accounts and filled them with content including profile information, photos and ongoing promotions, while tracking activity and engagement from target audiences.
GSSM student Zach Wyman worked with Bizzell’s Food & Spirits, whose social media advertises dinner specials and events.
“Not only do we get to help local businesses prosper, but we also get to help connect the Governor's School student body with the community, something that I think can benefit everyone,” he said.
Crystel Sylvester, meanwhile, worked with Sophia’s Pizzeria, which opened in March. She said she had enjoyed working closely with the restaurant in a type of job she would like to do in her professional career as well.
“We just do whatever the business needs in terms of web presence,” she said. “Sophia's needs a website, so I'm building them one. They also needed to be more active on other social media networks, so I set up Twitter and Instagram profiles. It's been a true learning experience and I've picked up a few new skills, such as how social media works from a business perspective. I'm glad that I am able to work on this project.”
Main Street Hartsville Executive Director Suzy Moyd described the project as a valuable opportunity for all of its participants in the rapidly changing world of online brand building.
“Social media has become a crucial aspect of the image which businesses, retail and otherwise, present to their customers, but it’s always evolving and demanding that content creators keep up,” she said. “ConnectHartsville has assisted many of the downtown businesses we are always working to promote, but it has also given these students a chance to experience the process of communicating and advertising for actual local businesses, and letting them apply a wide range of skills that they are learning in the classroom.”
Photo: S.C. Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics students who partipated in #ConnectHartsville include, front row, from left: Crystel Sylvester, Julia Daniels, Aida El Kouri, Zach Wyman and Carla-Jane Pax. Back row, from left, are Tiger Mou, Ryan Moughan and Jay Sridharan. Not pictured: Alex Sizemore and Elizabeth Mugo.