#bettermakeroom

First lady Michelle Obama has launched a social media site that aggregates posts from America’s youth highlighting their aspirations through academic success. The initiative is a derivative of the first lady’s Reach Higher program which caters directly to the President’s proposed goal of having the US lead the world in students who go on to college. The social media site is dubbed Better Make Room and has a US alexa rank of 128,482. I think the initiative cleverly injects positivity within a relatable context. Users can post from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram through #BetterMakeRoom. michelle-obama-cover-ftrThe site is also used for posting but posts are subjected to an editorial process. There are a few criticisms that I have about the site, the favicon is a Drupal logo, it should be changed to the Better Make Room logo. Secondly, the site conveys an impression that it is a social media feed/waterfall which it might just be, but I’m not entirely sure. I researched the better-make-room hashtag on Twitter and stumbled upon a mountain of posts that correlated in regards to content but were no where to be found on the Better Make Room website. There aren’t any dates associated with the posts so there isn’t a way to gauge relevancy. Which brings me to my next question; does knowing the dates on the posts even matter? Does having a somewhat editorially curated home page hinder the site’s credibility and as a whole the entire initiative, which is being backed up by a multitude of sponsors?BMR_PartnerGraphic_Share_Saying_2 When I put myself in the user’s position I can’t help but want to see my post right after I posted it, exactly like the way the Twitter hashtag feed works. I tweet with a hashtag and then I immediately go to that hashtag’s feed live preview and soon enough, my post appears. I feel validated, refreshed, as though I did my part in contributing to the conversation at hand. Better Make Room doesn’t provide this type of instant gratification. Would I as a student spend the time to make a profile through the site’s ‘Phonebooth’ tab? I’m not sure I would; why would I take an extra step to create an account so that I can post content that initially needs to go through an edit check. The better-make-room-hashtag serves the need for immediate legitimacy, however the content could range and there is always a risk of inappropriate material. The way I see it, is that the better-make-room website is simply a staging ground for the movement itself. I don’t see many users relying on the website as a consistent messaging tool. The site serves as a curated hashtag that spins itself to extend the brand through the promotional use of more widely used social media platforms. The initiative exists as sort of a trans-media universe with multiple channels giving rise to other channels. better-make-room-campaignWithout a doubt the initiative does accentuate a positive public consciousness around the benefits of education. If the central idea is merely to publicize the movement in a way that is relatable to the youth yet safe for them to consume, then, how do you control the content under the better-make-room-hashtag on Twitter? Is the Twitter feed being regulated along with posts made on Facebook? The only control in place seems to exist on the Better Make Room website. I believe it is admirable to create awareness around a positive message. I believe social media will continue to inspire leaders to create important campaigns. Better Make Room as a campaign could continue to develop into a more socially interactive experience. I say this because Better Make Room doesn’t seem to provide an opportunity for engagement or conversation, as the slogan alludes; “saying things out load makes them happen”. A stage for conversation might help in building a less ephemeral community that exercises real conversation and in turn creating shared experience, in turn, adding another dimension to this very important initiative.

6 comments

  1. This is the first I have heard about the campaign so I have not looked to deeply into it like you have. You make very valid points and I agree with all of them. I think that Michelle is very smart to use social media platforms in order to attain her goals for the campaign and I can definitely see it gaining popularity and success in the future. People of our generation may understand the idea that not everything we post will be seen, however younger generations do not know that. I’m sure little kids may find this really cool. Kids take pride in their career aspirations and I think this is a great way to promote that pride. Great post!

  2. Like @mroecker I have not heard of this specific campaign, although I am aware that Michelle Obama has been quite activity in leading campaigns that relates to the youth. You raised a great point about “instant validation” Although this campaign is quite young and its further development is remained to be seen, I wonder if they have specific strategy on how to make it relatable / attractive to their specific target group beyond just using a website or hashtag (which, is not just a youth thing anymore).

  3. Thanks, @brandnewtutelage. I wasn’t aware of this but as @jenniekang pointed out, it fits Michelle’s agenda. Glad to see you noted the generic favicon, that is an easily missed customization feature. And with regards to the platform I agree with you in that a stream of tweets (with no context) is not enough to keep users coming back. The site would need a greater sense of utility or reason for people to engage in these important conversations. Well done!

  4. You raise a good point about editing/ curating the content on the Better Make Room, but I can see why er campaign might do so. For example, this seems like a good method to protect against inappropriate or inflammatory messages, especially considering the target audience. Young teens aspiring for college could easily be privy to the darker side of the Internet. However, I do see the drawbacks of not allowing for real-time feedback- it does feel like a limitation of social media freedom.

    Additionally, I am glad for you for pointing out the potential of such a project, and how social media can be used as a platform for encouraging students to attend college. I’m also interested in learning more about how hashtag aggregators that integrate multiple channels (FB, Twitter, Instagram) function.

  5. I, much like you, enjoy seeing the direct effects of my contribution to online discussions, so I agree with your concern over the content editing portion of this campaign. Having never heard of the campaign before, it provided an interesting contrast to the so free and open ideas of social media. I’m left wondering how much of the content must be altered to tailor the posts to the campaign? Thanks for posting!

  6. For a second I’ll try to put myself in the shoes of freshman or sophomores in high school who the Better Make Room/Higher Initiative campaign is speaking to. I would tweet my goals. But then what? I could sign up for text message reminders from https://www.whatsupnext.us/.

    I also have concerns about this site. I wish more teachers and mentors could be mobilized to help students through the difficult process of figuring out ever difficult process of applying to school and paying for it.

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