Update 2020-05-01: Links to Shape Detroit websites have been removed, since they are no longer operational.

This summer, while taking Calc III and Physics II at Wayne State, I was also working for SHAPE Detroit, a part of Adult Well-Being Services.

SHAPE works with women within the city of Detroit to educate them about various health issues. One thing that SHAPE does for the community is put on weekly workshops to educate women about HIV/AIDS. Their problem was that after these workshops, they had no way of remaining in contact with these women and keeping them up to date with the latest news or health risks.

In order to rectify this problem, they hired me as their Social Media Manager under a grant that they received to kickstart a social media campaign. At the beginning of the summer, a consultant and I worked with the director of the SHAPE office in order to determine their social media plan. Once the plan was formulated, it was left up to me to put everything into place, and train the necessary people on how to use/maintain it once I left.

In addition to the obvious social media platforms (facebook, twitter, and blog), SHAPE wanted a sacred place that they could interact with past workshop participants (and past participants could interact with each-other) in order to further discuss HIV/AIDS in a private, anonymous forum.

The first month and a half, I set these things up, ensuring that they had a consistent theme and branding across sites. Additionally, I configured it so that whenever they post to their blog, posts automatically go out to their twitter and facebook pages, eliminating the need for them to post the same content in three different locations.

Check them out here: Twitterfacebook


Because SHAPE serves English, Spanish, and Arabic speaking women, they wanted the blog to be able to reach people of all three languages. This is something that they did not realize until half-way through the summer, but I was able to accommodate their needs. The SHAPE Detroit blog supports multiple languages in two ways:

  1. Authors at SHAPE can post to the blog in any of the three languages. There are separate RSS feeds for each language, and links to view only posts in a particular language.
  2. There is a translate button on each post. Clicking this button allows the user to select any of the three languages, and using Google's translate API, translates them into the desired language. This way all of the site's content is accessible to everybody.*

*This was the case up until May of 2011, when Google discontinued their free Google translate API, in favor of a paid service. This broke this feature, and a few months later, SHAPE temporarily hired me to make some enhancements to the site, and they opted not to move to a paid translate service, so this feature has been discontinued.


Once these sites were created, it was my job to ensure that all of SHAPE's authors knew how to post to the blog, and moderate the forum. Additionally, since SHAPE's employees were new to the platform, we decided that I would train the first couple groups of women on using the forum and accessing the blog in order to help things get off the ground. To that end, I created workshops, videos, and documents for both parties.

Assessing success

Since this grant was an experimental venture for organizations like AWBS or SHAPE, it was important to be able to assess the overall success of the efforts in order to determine if it is worth continuing to invest the necessary time and effort. For this, I recommended Google analytics, which I configured for the blog, and they are still using to monitor their success.

Putting it all together

I was responsible for presenting the social media plan. At the end of the summer, I presented the social media plan we developed and implemented to a group of AWBS partners in order to share insights from what we learned/were learning.