Students Craft Social Media Plan for Denali

A national environmental sustainability company headquartered in Russellville has a new plan for its social media communications due to the efforts of six Arkansas Tech University students.

Denali Water Solutions tasked the students with developing goals, researching the company’s current and potential social media audience, establishing metrics for success, analyzing competitors’ social media presences and curating engaging content for Denali social media presences.

On Thursday, April 25, ATU seniors Shelby Baugh and Drew Curtis of Harrison along with seniors Josie Dixon and Victoria Teague of Russellville and sophomores Austin Espejo of Springdale and Peyton Golden of Russellville presented their ideas.

The audience in Rothwell Hall included Andy McNeill, president and chief executive officer of Denali Water Solutions, and Teresa Gallegos, project manager for Denali.

The students were selected to work on the problem through their participation in an Independent Project Based Learning (IPBL) course taught by Dr. Julie Mikles-Schluterman, associate professor of sociology and director of the ATU Center for Community Engagement and Academic Outreach.

“These students were so motivated and so passionate about this project,” said Mikles-Schluterman. “I just sat back and guided them through the process. They are exceptional students and I am very proud of what they achieved this semester.”

Accomplishments by the students included creation of strategic content calendars for Denali social media postings, development of content for the company’s social media accounts and a 35 percent increase in the number of people following the Denali Facebook page.

The ATU students also reported that indirect referrals, sales retention and enhancing a positive public image are among the anticipated outcomes of Denali maintaining a vibrant social media presence.

“Our first class was so awkward,” said Baugh. “Then Dr. Mikles asked us to talk about our strengths and weaknesses, and we grew to become friends because we are so different. We could not have done this on our own. The mentorship that we received was so important. Dr. Mikles was always there for us. She was the heart of our project.”

The IPBL class also received consultations from ATU faculty members Dr. John Narcum, assistant professor of marketing, and John Riggins, visiting instructor of management and marketing as well as entrepreneur in residence in the ATU College of Business.

Students in the interdisciplinary class came from majors as diverse as accounting (Golden), cultural and geospatial studies (Teague), digital marketing (Dixon), electrical engineering (Espejo), political science (Curtis) and psychology (Baugh).

“I see a lot of the same faces in my major, and I love my fellow cultural and geospatial studies majors, but working with this group was a great experience,” said Teague. “We worked very well together, and I gained accounting knowledge from Peyton and digital marketing knowledge from Josie that I can apply in the future.”

Visit www.atu.edu/ipbl to learn more about Interdisciplinary Project Based Learning at ATU.

Photographed (back row, left-to-right): John Riggins, visiting instructor of management and marketing/entrepreneur in residence in the ATU College of Business; Andy McNeill, president and chief executive officer of Denali Water Solutions; and Dr. Julie Mikles-Schluterman, associate professor of sociology and director of the ATU Center for Community Engagement and Academic Outreach; (front row, left-to-right) ATU students Shelby Baugh, Victoria Teague, Drew Curtis, Peyton Golden, Austin Espejo and Josie Dixon.

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