The scoop on flavorful approaches to social media
ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:
NAME: Teagan Stedman
COMPANY: Shred Kids’ Cancer
High school student Teagan Stedman is the Founder and CEO of Shred Kids’ Cancer, a non-profit he started at age eight, to bring awareness to pediatric cancer, raise funds for vital research, and to give other young people a platform for helping their peers who are battling cancer. He oversees all aspects of the organization: Day-to-day operations, fundraising, and organizing events including Shredfest, an annual battle of the bands, now in its 8th year that has drawn celebrities including Slash, Dhani Harrison, Zakk Wylde, Matt Sorum, Jack Osbourne, Steven Adler and Tom Morello. This year, Shredfest 8 takes place March 5, 2016 at The FTC Warehouse in Fairfield, Conn.
Shred Kids’ Cancer has raised more than $325,000 since 2009 and funded eight pediatric cancer clinical trials at prestigious research hospitals including Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Steadman has earned numerous grants, awards and recognition for his charitable work including a feature segment on Good Morning America and recently won TEDx and SAP’s “The Next Big Thing,” for his own cancer research project, The Intracellular Motility Factors of Listeria Monocytogenes as a Platform for Liposomal Drug Delivery in Cancer, which he continues at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering Kumbar Laboratory at University of Connecticut Health.
In his “spare” time, he attends 10th grade at Westminster School in Simsbury, Conn.
SOCIAL MEDIA URLs:
FACEBOOK: Shred Kids’ Cancer on Facebook
YOU TUBE: Shred Kids’ Cancer on You Tube
Q: We have access to so much news on a daily basis. What kinds of information do you consume at the start of your day?
A: I usually access most global news straight from Facebook’s “Trending” bar: it gives a variety of coverage on one story and you can see commentary from non-journalists very easily, with just a few scrolls down. Otherwise, I may glance over online news sources like bbc.com or even look at some tech/science news from sites such as Gizmodo or Engadget. I also frequently read magazines like the Atlantic or Popular Science (in print) at breakfast.
Q: How do you use social media?
A: For an organization like Shred Kids’ Cancer, utilizing social media to the fullest is absolutely necessary. I especially use Facebook and Twitter to keep engaged with our audience, whether it’s for promoting awareness campaigns, reaching out to bands to perform in our Shredfest events, etc. Honestly, throughout my demographic I can’t say that I accurately represent my age group (teens) in social media, as posts on my personal pages are rather sparse. However I do like to keep up to date with geographically distant friends by using social media and find the message features helpful for communicating or getting in touch with people.
Q: How has social media changed your life?
A: I became a social media user at 11, which is probably around the same time that I became aware of how to be social outside of my immediate circle; I have never really known a social environment without social media thrown into the mix so I can’t say it’s actually “changed” anything in my life. The only reason why I truly became a social media user so young (two years before the “legal” age of 13) was because of Shred Kids’ Cancer – we had already been in operation for about two years and it really was necessary to operate as a nonprofit and spread our message authentically. For the first five or so years it was a great advertising tool since it was essentially free. Unfortunately those days are gone, and unless we pay a nominal fee, our posts reach a limited audience. I still believe it is the fastest and most cost effective way to get our message out there, and without it we would be at a loss.
Q: Do you think social media has enhanced or diminished our personal relationships?
A: There is the classic argument, or even running joke, that people today are spending more time photographing their food than eating it, or making status updates about their newborn babies while blatantly ignoring them. In large part, I find it to be true. If you are one to use social media so often and in such a one-track way, then surely it can diminish personal relationships. At the same time, social media, when used “correctly” and maybe in a bit more moderation, can be a miraculous tool for reigniting long-lost friendships or keeping you in continuous contact, not just the occasional contact something like a phone call can provide, with friends halfway around the world. It holds a never-ending stream of updates which can be easy to get sucked into, but also connect people as if they are living nearby. So, long story short, a bit of both, depending on how you use it.
Q: What organizations, brands or personalities do you follow? What makes them worth following?
A: News organizations, people reaching for similar goals and are in the same industry (in my case fellow pediatric cancer nonprofits, hospitals, and other social entrepreneurs), local community organizations, general interest subjects like science and music-related and a few marketing experts as they provide useful tips on how to leverage the most out of social media posts. I follow musicians who advocate for others and have personally supported me such as Tom Morello @tmorello and @nilerodgers. Russell Simmons, @unclerush, has motivating tweets, and @dalailama tweets remind me what’s important. @alliemackay tweets are good comedy and for inspiration @jenistepanek,also known as “Mama Peace,” the New York Times best-selling author of Messeger, about her late son, teen poet and peace-maker Mattie.
Q: What kinds of posts spark your interest?
A: Clickbait doesn’t always spark my interest, but of course you have to click on it because “#6 will blow you away!” In all seriousness, I have some people in my network or feed whose stories are truly inspiring and whose updates I will read right away. And, of course, I will jump down the link-hole for huge news stories.
Q: What is/are your favorite social media platform/s and why?
A: One of the social media platforms that I find most interesting is Quora.com, a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. Facebook is good to catch up on with friends but it is, again, the most successful for our organization in terms of awareness. I find Twitter to be a great tool to follow the hashtag conversations and comments during a major live event like the Super Bowl, Grammy’s or presidential debates.
Q: Favorite hashtag or one you’d like to see?
A: #morethan4. A majority of the funding for children’s cancer research comes from the National Cancer Institute and of that children’s cancer research is only allotted four percent. As a result, kids are treated with adult treatments which do not always work and can be extremely harsh with devastating effects. Treating kids with cancer successfully is well within our nation’s reach – we just need to prioritize it and allocate more funds and energy to that space.
Q: What advice would you give to a brand about how to get started with a social media program or make their existing one more effective?
A: Social media can act as a community hub for a brand to spark conversation or double as a broadcast medium. Even though I use social media as a broadcast medium, I tend to post quality over quantity and try not to clog up peoples’ feeds just to get noticed as it can turn them off. Since I’m a student and in class a majority of the day I am not always able to post social media updates. I highly recommend drafting a bunch of posts and scheduling them throughout the week – you can do this on Twitter and Facebook. Also, I found that people interact with social media more frequently in the off work times (evenings and weekends) so target those times to schedule your posts.
Q: If you could follow any historical figure on social media, who would it be?
A: I have a hunch that Mark Twain would be a remarkable Tweeter.
Q: Cone, cup, or straight from the container?
A: In most situations, waffle cones do the trick.
Q: Favorite flavor?
A: A loose tie between birthday cake and Phish Food.
Have something to add or share? Please leave a comment in the section below. Feel free to like and share on social media. And be sure to join us next week when our guest on Ice Cream Social is: Motivational speaker, Dr. Lori Baker-Schena, Founder and CEO of the Dr. BS Experience, a company she launched earlier this year and runs alongside Baker Schena Communications, a medical marketing firm. Her extensive background includes 24 years as a Journalism professor at California State University, Northridge.