Hash tags, tweets, sharing posts and blogging promote products and services instantaneously. Historically Black College and University graduates continue to use their collegiate experience, network and social media—while building net worth. They have extended their marketing beyond print media by using platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Linked In.
“The HBCU love is real on social media,” said Melissa Mitchell, 33, from Atlanta, Ga. She is a public relations graduate from of Florida A&M University. Mitchell is sole proprietor Abeille Creations, a custom art company specializing in custom art and hand painted jewelry. Alongside her sisters, they inherited their late father’s spiritually centered and creative clothing company “Parouzia Gear”.
Mitchell says that social media has been the heart beat of the companies. She has not invested a significant amount of dollars in advertising or marketing. When Mitchell tags someone or shares a post—she eventually is contacted by a potential buyer in her network.
“Instagram is a world of instant gratification,” said Mitchell. “With your business, you can take people on a journey with your progress. People are inspired by your talent and drive—and will want to invest in that.”
HBCUs across the nation are using social media to recruit students and communicate with its stakeholders. Students and alumni are using social media for elections, promotions, and business profiles.Chantel Morant, 27, from Baltimore, Md. is an alumna of Clark Atlanta University. She founded Laptop Lifestyle, LLC. This digital boutique is as a marketing firm with offices in the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. Morant helps business owners increase their online presence through social media and blogging.
Morant said that social media allows her to connect with consumers.
“Social media is constantly changing,” said Morant. “I have found Instagram useful for some of my clients to promote their products and services.”
Aside from using social media to brand their businesses, both Mitchell and Morant attribute the entrepreneurial successes to the HBCU experience. The classroom, mentorship, friendships and the connections made on campus prepared them to turn passion into profit through social networking.
Mitchell said that attending an HBCU was merely a gateway to developing her passion. “When we left class, many of us would bounce around ideas for small businesses,” said Mitchell. “When one person launched their business idea, we were all there to support. That kind of synergy created by entrepreneurship was contagious.”
Adopting the Clark Atlanta University motto as her personal motto prepared Moran to deal with challenges creatively and the spirit of optimism. She said “Find a way or make one,” resonated with her from her fist day on campus and still does.
Both entrepreneurs have advice for HBCU students and alumni seeking to use social media during business their start-up. Morant said that using two platforms will allow you to focus regularly on posting and engaging your audience. Mitchell suggests knowing your audience, authenticity and separate profiles.
Mitchell’s art and gear can be viewed on Instagram at @Parouziagear or @Abeillecreations. Morant’s Instagram can be viewed on Instagram @CoachChantel.