In a world where technology is becoming more prevalent in classrooms and the education system, I would like to focus today on a social networking platform that I recently stumbled upon. Figment.com is an online community focused on the creation, discovery, and sharing of works of writing. It is a superb example of how the power of social media can affect change and inspiration.
In December 2010, co-founders Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear launched Figment expecting the site to be like a Facebook for teenagers interested in young-adult fiction. Shortly after, they observed the traditional social media mindset of ‘liking’ and gathering friends was not what the users were interested in. Instead of simply sharing or rating books and documents, users themselves wanted to be the writers, thus opening up a new way for teens to write content, explore peers’ work, and provide and receive feedback.
The company’s tagline, “Write Youself In,” challenges users to write. Yes, to simply write about anything and everything they can imagine. As long as you are over the age of 13, you can sign up for a free account and start writing and connecting. Figment also provides free publications by professional authors and has a library of more than 350,000 pieces. While this could eventually lead to authors using the popular online community for marketing advantages, publishing is not the main point of the site.
One of the biggest advantages of the site is how educators can use it as a teaching tool; teachers can create a private group and include their students. This allows for collaboration and review by the teacher and other students as well as the ability to monitor students’ writing. After their assignments are complete they can make their works public where all users—as well as published authors—can comment, which can challenge the writer to expand the content or take the ideas to the next level. “Figs,” as users like to be called, are not just data-dumping on the site, but are a highly engaged audience.
While the marketing potential is certainly there, it is more important to focus on how this is transforming the idea of social media as well as providing a new way to interact with schoolwork and education. Instead of merely sharing ideas that are already out there with people you already know, this community is creating a huge collection of original content with the entire user base. It allows students to feel empowered because their teachers are viewing and commenting on their writing in addition to their peers and even professionals. Figment gives them a safe environment to express themselves, the exhilaration of knowing their voices and ideas are not going unheard, and the motivation to keep writing themselves in.
Check out Fathom’s 30-pg. Ultimate Guide to Marketing an Educational Institution with Social Media. It’s full of insightful interviews and illustrative case studies on using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for marketing a school.