Category Archives: Social Entrepreneurship

A Love Child between APPLES and the CDSL

Social Media Stories is back in action this year hoping to form a foundation here at Carolina!  We want to start off by hosting an informational session this Thursday, September 22 at 7 pm, in Union room 3206B.  If you are interested in journalism, communications, video storytelling and editing, service hours, and/or entrepreneurship, this is the meeting for you!

The SMS goal is to find organizations on campus and local non-profits who want to create video collateral as a means of spreading their mission and accomplishments to the public.  We would create a short 2-3 minute video for the organization or non-profit, and they could use it across media outlets to gain a greater following for their cause.  Along the way, SMS members would gain experience with video recording and editing and service hours for all of their hard work.

If you think you might be interested in SMS, contact us through e-mail at or come out to our interest meeting this Thursday!


SMS Co-Founders

Lauren Livingston, Chloe Adcock, Freddie Montgomery

The Beginning for Social Media Stories

Social Media Stories (SMS) is a social entrepreneurial venture created out of the Carolina Digital Story Lab.  With the help of labbie Mike Nutt, three students Chloe Adcock, Lauren Livingston, and Frederick Montgomery started SMS in the fall of 2010.  We were all passionate about story telling within the UNC community and we all thought SMS would be a great contribution to the Carolina campus.  Our aim is to provide multi-media assistance to Student and community organizations that may not have the finances to pay for professional consultant work.  What we want to provide is video technology and editing expertise to our clients in effort to publicize their missions and events via social media tools such as YouTube, Facebook, and/or Twitter.

Since last September, we have accomplished quite a bit with SMS.  Everyone knows the first year in starting almost anything is difficult, and, while it has proven to be difficult, it has been a great learning experience for us and a growing experience for SMS.  First, we saw the opportunity to begin SMS through the APPLES Social Entrepreneur Fellowship which we applied for and were lucky enough to be rewarded the $1500 stipend to help get SMS running.  However, APPLES not only provided us with fiscal help, APPLES has also been a great resource in understanding how to operate SMS and has also provided us with our first clients.

Through APPLES, we were approached by the Atlantic Monthly early this year.  They were covering a podcast concerning the community and innovation and were looking for student work that highlighted new wave ideas.  We created a short video to document who we are, what we are doing, and why we are doing it.  We presented it to Atlantic Monthly and to Innovate Carolina, and SMS co-creator, Freddie, actually took part of the Atlantic Monthly podcast as part of a student panel discussing issues such as the world’s future economy and the students’ outlook of jobs.

Freddie and I are also in the midst of taking an APPLEs course Public Policy 326, Social Ventures, which explains the business side of social entrepreneurships, and how we can develop one of our own.  Since the beginning of the course, we have created business pitches for SMS, shadowed a working business, and are currently in the works to creating a sustainable model and budget.  Our goal by the end of this course is to have a good understanding of how to effectively and efficiently run SMS and, most importantly, how to make SMS sustainable.

While we try to develop SMS as a campus wide multi-media project and business, we hope student and community organizations will continue to let us tell their stories.  We have a long, adventurous road ahead, but we are all excited to start recruiting new members to the SMS family, to create inspiring videos, and to spread the word of so many great campus and community organizations.

-SMS Co Founders

Chloe Adcock, Lauren Livingston, and Freddie Montgomery

SMART Conference

Last Saturday UNC played host to the SMART Conference (Social Media and Related Technologies). During the conference I got to listen to a handful of exceptional speakers/thinkers, among them UNC students, staff, and business professionals. For a full list, check here. Among the subjects on the docket were Twitter, blogging, location-based services (in/out of mobile apps), and using social media in the real world both to find jobs and to enhance professional collaboration, news-gathering, and information-sourcing.

First up was a general information session delivered by Jeffrey Cohen, a master of many social media technologies. He provided a lot of shocking stats concerning the rapid growth of social media, their revenue streams, and the very real impact they played on people and companies (both famous and not). He discussed the little-known origins of some of the major sites and some controversies and successes. Especially popular was an image of an Egyptian protester holding a cardboard sign that read “Thank you Facebook”. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that social media have a large role to play in the construction of modern societies (or in their destruction/reformation as the case may be).

Second was a selective session about location-based services where the South-east regional manager (Kevin Newsome) for YELP spoke for a short time about the rapid growth of YELP and the services they were able to offer to people and businesses. Their product model is all about connecting people with local businesses, and it seems to be working. Mr. Newsome said frankly that the PowerPoint presentation he was using was perhaps a month old, and in that time its figures were outdated by the millions. That kind of growth is truly impressive. Of his major talking points, he discussed the role of trust and authentic reviews in sculpting a good community on the YELP platform. “Trust is our oxygen” was one of his memorable quotes. He fielded dozens of questions, some related to the pervasiveness of the company and others related to reviews, but a prominent question offered this insight: how do you know you can trust reviews? This brought up the concept of astroturfing, a new scheme that many large companies will deploy in order to flood aggregation sites (like YELP) with positive reviews for their own services/products and negative reviews for their opponents. Mr. Newsome spent some time discussing their filtration technologies in a basic sense and assured everyone that the reviews were carefully monitored. In my personal opinion, it seems interesting that these matters even warrant so much discussion. It is probably proof that there is a lot of work to be done in this area and brings to light the issue that it is very difficult to judge the value of online content, especially as it relates to social media and the dissemination of information.

The last half of the conference dealt with the future of social media and part of it was focused intensely on Twitter. Students in attendance were told to look at ‘outcomes’, not just ‘events’, in technology and media progress. By doing this we would be shielded from the information-media’s voracious appetite for needless novelty. We were told to search for good ideas regardless of their source and to judge all information with an erudite skeptic’s eye. More importantly, though, the panel of experts talked (and argued) about the power and span of social media, especially Facebook. Speaking to their pervasiveness, many wondered just how effective their business models could remain in the present climate. They talked of necessary change and constant adaptation to shifting models that were almost impossible to predict. Professionally, this meant that simple production of content was much less useful than smart aggregation of content. That is one key point that stuck with me. There are hundreds of thousands, even millions of people who are experts in their fields and produce professional information and content every single day that they work. There are many fewer people who can expertly sift through that information and choose the best of the best. The panel said they loved hiring people who could aggregate and sift, not just produce. This references the fluid nature of information and I think it’ just skimming the tip of the iceberg as far as the potential of social media is concerned.

Quite literally, anyone can learn almost anything almost instantly. That is the power of social media and digital aggregation of content. Choosing what to get and how to get it are very important. Those people and companies whose model practices involve getting just the right information to and from the right people are going to be the ones that survive. In a world with increasingly mobility and super-powerful computers, people will still be absolutely vital. We are now, and will be for some time, the filters for all of our digital creations. That role is perhaps more important than what produces that content in the first place. After all, we can all produce so much of it already.

In the digital hyper-modern realm of far-away tomorrows that’s what matters. That’s what’s smart.

Good Work SMS! Video up on UNC YouTube channel

Frederick held down in the front row of this morning’s digital town hall with great poise and character. And the video the Social Media Stories team made is up on the UNC YouTube channel already. Check it out!

Word around town is that an ABC reporter talked to Frederick and that will be used for a web exclusive on the Atlantic website…here I think?

Again, a very special congratulations to the whole Social Media Stories team: Frederick Montgomery, Chloë Adcock, and Lauren Livingston!

Look for more details about how to get involved with SMS over the course of the semester.


Labbies in the news!

Story Lab member Frederick Montgomery will be participating in a digital town hall meeting tomorrow morning, February 9th, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and it can be viewed online at The event is being put on by Microsoft and the Atlantic.

Over the last two weeks Frederick, Chloë Adcock, and Lauren Livingston have been hard at work on a video about a new social entrepreneurship venture they started for the Lab called Social Media Stories (SMS, get it?). We’re hopeful that the Atlantic producers will choose to show their video tomorrow. The three won an APPLES Social Entrepreneurship fellowship to start the business and they’re developing their business plan this semester.

The Atlantic’s town hall meeting site is interactive and visitors can submit questions and comments. Feel free to contribute.

In addition to our own Chancellor Holden Thorp, confirmed participants of the summit also include Timothy Geithner, Secretary, United States Department of Treasury; Julius Genachowski, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission; Orrin Hatch, United States Senate; Jon Huntsman, US Ambassador to China (via pre-tape); Governor Bob McDonnell, Commonwealth of Virginia; Brian Deese, Deputy Director, National Economic Council; and, CEOs and students from the University of North Carolina and Miami University.

We’re very grateful to Judith Cone, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, for inviting us to participate in this project.

Stay tuned for more news about SMS and tune into the webcast tomorrow!

Help us raise $$$: Bid on this iPod!

ipod nano watch

do you know what time it is?

Last week, incoming treasurer Peter Zasowski and I went to the kick-off event for the Carolina Challenge “idea competition” (aka business plan competition) at Top of the Hill. As if some good networking and a cask-drawn stout weren’t good enough, I also won the door-prize drawing for an iPod Nano!

Having recently succumbed to the iPhone fever myself, and belonging to a student group that needs some dough, I set up an eBay account for the Lab and have put the iPod up for auction.

I would MUCH rather hand deliver this to someone at UNC, so head on over to the iPod-Bay and help a student group out! Proceeds will help start a research fund for student members who are doing digital media related work:

Required Lab Reading: Engines of Innovation

Last week I went into Bull’s Head to buy a copy of the latest music issue of UNC Press’ Southern Cultures. A botched credit card transaction left me with some extra time at the register, in which I convinced myself I needed to spend more money. My impulse buy was Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century by Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein. I haven’t read a word of Southern Cultures yet (but I have been listening to the awesome CD that came with it). Engines of Innovation is required reading for all Labbies!

cover of Engines of Innovation

Memo from the Boss

For a student group that is doing its best to solve community problems through an interdisciplinary approach to media, the Chancellor and Goldstein offer encouraging words: “…for research universities to realize their full potential, they must attack the world’s biggest problems.” The Lab is trying to bring together students from across campus to collaborate on digital projects. Reaching across discipline boundaries is an approach hailed by the authors as a way to tackle “complex and ambiguous” problems.

One of the problems the Lab want to explore is poverty alleviation through digital story creation. Digital storymaking can of course be used to teach technology skills for job placement, but what about the creation of digital assets themselves? What kinds of digital tools are underemployed in the fight against poverty? How can regular community members take part in the digital economy through social entrepreneurship? That’s something we’d really like to find out more about here at the Lab.

To that end, I’m pleased to announce our first social entrepreneurship endeavor. Clicking on the picture above will take you to the website of Barnes and Noble. If you purchase Engines of Innovation from this link, the Lab will get 6% of the sale. Not only will the money generated from book sales be used to provide digital storymaking resources for our community, we’re also going to share the data with our community. We’re going to learn from this fundraising effort and share what we learn with you here on

We’ll soon begin building up our bibliography of digital story resources, and will also link those books to Barnes and Noble. If you have suggestions of books we should add, be sure to let us know through the comment forms!

And we are still looking for returning undergraduates to participate in this social entrepreneurship fellowship team! We’ve got lots of innovation for you here at the Lab – get in touch!