In October 2017, SPN profiled Class Intercom, a collaboration between Striv and Social Assurance designed to engage students in managing social media content for their schools. Since that time, the platform has grown to more than 9,000 users in 17 states. SPN caught up with Co-Founder Ben Pankonin for an update.
“We’ve been having a good time,” he said. “Schools see it as an experience for students. Our hope is to see young people become leaders.”
The current client base for Class Intercom includes both small rural districts and large urban schools.
“We’ve been working with schools of all sizes,” Pankonin said. “Rural to inner city and everything in between.”
Educators can manage student access, approve student content and provide feedback through a single dashboard connected to multiple social media channels.
“Social media management is something a lot of larger districts have overlooked too,” Pankonin said. “When you have hundreds of social media accounts in your school district, you need to be able to look at them all in one dashboard.”
Class Intercom is leveraging the experience and technology of Social Assurance in social media management for enterprise-level financial institutions.
“We come from enterprise social media so that is something we understand,” Pankonin said. “A lot of people look at social media as an interaction between two people. But when you’re using it in an enterprise, that’s why there’s a need for software like ours. A whole lot of people are interacting with a brand in different channels.”
Besides making it much easier for schools to manage their brands, engaging students provides digital citizenship and leadership opportunities.
“Teachers are our biggest advocates because they’re trying to change the way education works,” Pankonin said. “They’re the ones that reach out to us and say how can I get students involved. In a lot of cases, they’re tired of telling them no. We provide an alternative to ‘don’t touch that’.”
An object lesson in how social media can affect a school’s brand came right after Stanford won the national championship in women’s volleyball, when a locker room photo including a negative image on the whiteboard was tweeted out – and quickly deleted. Class Intercom discussed the impact in a blog post and provided five conversation starters for teachers:
- How could you have shared this image without creating conflict?
- Who was responsible for creating the content?
- How does this image impact Stanford and the players in the photo? Do you think the players in the photo would be proud of this photo?
- What kind of legacy does this photo leave behind?
- How will you use this case study to create meaningful content?
Whether in finance or education, creating communities is a core value.
“A lot of what we’re working on is helping build a community around those educators who are trying to lead the way for a new generation of social media leaders,” Pankonin said. “I think finding leaders in a school or a financial institution is a similar strategy.”
With the revolution in marketing that is being driven by social media, engaging students can be a leading indicator.
“You have to look at a younger generation to understand where marketing is headed,” Pankonin said. “We need to think through how young people process the world. We have to become conscious consumers in order to understand how to become effective leaders.”
Engaging students in social media management is also a way to help them understand and prepare for a wide range of careers.
“Who would have thought a loan officer at a bank would be generating social media content?” Pankonin said. “In tomorrow’s jobs, you’re not just expected to stay in your lane. You’re part marketer and your employer will expect that.”
Pankonin says that one of the visions for Class Intercom is to expose students and teachers to new job opportunities.
“We want to help students adapt to the changing job market and realize that being a content generator is likely in their future,” he said.
Class Intercom’s podcast, coined “the Content Generation,” features content generators in the workforce. They have featured other startup employees like Kelly Mosier from Hudl and Aaron Babcock, sharing their stories of becoming content creators.
So what’s next?
“If I was going to sum up the future, it’s how to build community in both finance and education,” Pankonin said. “We want to help them understand how to scale their own community.”
Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.
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