City of Atlanta residents can take care of a lot through the ATL311 website and phone app: report a water main break, schedule bulk trash pick-up, dispute a water bill, register a new business, apply for a farmers market permit, request a streetlight bulb replacement, and more. Although countless non-emergency services are centralized in a single one-stop shop, many denizens don’t know the tool exists. Alya Abdelkerim, an M.S. in Marketing student at Robinson, partnered with the city to change that.
During her Digital/Social Media Marketing course with Dr. Denish Shah, Abdelkerim and her classmates built a plan to raise awareness of ATL311. As part of the research phase, Abdelkerim and her peers interviewed existing ATL311 users to better understand what social media platforms they frequent. They leveraged their insights to reach more customers.
“We determined the same overall message should be delivered, but the content and tone should vary on Facebook versus Twitter versus LinkedIn,” Abdelkerim said. “Some channels rely on imagery and others, on text. Some require a combination of both. Plus, the language has to be tweaked for the demographic being targeted.”
The students mocked up flyers for potential distribution as well. But they had to be scannable and catchy, since many people are in too much of a hurry to stop and read. Abdelkerim and her classmates even made product improvement suggestions, such as allowing customers to track the status of a complaint. The project was pretty comprehensive.
Their efforts wouldn’t have meant much without real-life feedback. So, Abdelkerim and her cohort presented their findings to the City of Atlanta’s entire marketing team.
“That interaction was a great professional experience,” she said. “It gave me more confidence to express my ideas with conviction.”
Hands-on projects are a hallmark of the M.S. in Marketing program. In Dr. Gregory Cohen’s Buyer Behavior course, Abdelkerim and her peers hatched a plan for Atlanta-based Monday Night Brewing to brand and launch a series of new IPAs. In order to understand the psychology behind beer drinkers’ purchasing decisions, the students visited the brewery during its busy time and chatted with customers. They concluded Monday Night’s target segment comprises middle-aged urbanites who view imbibing as a social occasion and spend most of their time on Instagram.
Based on those findings, the students recommended special offers such as buy six beers, get one free as well as pithy events such as “Beer with Me This Valentine.”
“We encouraged the brewery to post videos of their patrons on Instagram,” Abdelkerim said. “It’s not just about posting. You need to engage with your customers as well.”
When Abdelkerim graduates in August, she will have racked up a lot of real-world experience to include on her resume.
“I’m passionate about psychology and people,” she said. “I’m curious to discover how they think and behave, and I want to make their lives easier and better.”