CU Student Grows Grapevine
“I heard it on the Grapevine!” is becoming a household phrase in the city of Lawton. With over 25,000 followers, The Lawton Grapevine Facebook group is a place to find out what is happening in and around the city.
Emmanuel Alfaro, a resident of Lawton, started the Facebook group while he was still a student at Cameron University working toward his marketing degree, which he completed in May 2016.
Wanting to combine his passion for marketing and community service, Alfaro originally set to create a website for events and businesses in Lawton, but a friend suggested he create a Facebook page instead.
“I want to bring people together,” Alfaro said. “That’s the beauty of social media. Everybody can get to know each other, can talk and ask questions, and can come together and promote change.”
Alfaro originally kept friends posted about garage sales and various community events on his personal Facebook profile then created a Facebook page for the Lawton Grapevine; however, the profile did not gain much traction until he transitioned the page into a group.
“In the group, everyone else can share their own stuff,” Alfaro said. “They can tell us what’s going on around town and share events with the community. It’s like a drawn out version of marketing for the city and keeps people in the loop, especially the soldiers who come in and out of Fort Sill.”
In addition to advertising sales and events, Alfaro said he wants to promote dialog between people and drew inspiration from the comment sections of various websites.
“I thought ‘wouldn’t that be better if they [commenters] could turn those into their own posts and get the same reach as the media and make it a discussion?’” Alfaro said. “People can bring up topics and issues, both positive and negative, and the readers decide what they want to make a trending topic by responding.”
Due to the popularity of the Lawton Grapevine group, Alfaro started several specialized Grapevine off-shoot groups including groups dedicated to romance, volunteering, business advertisements, Holidays in the Park and Cameron University.
“The Cameron University group is exciting to me,” Alfaro said. “I wish it had been available when I was a freshman because I had so many questions – where do you get your discounts, where do you get your car pass, where is the Student Union and the tutoring labs? Now that information is at your fingertips because other students are excited to help and to show they know something.”
Other members of the community also initiated off-shoot groups. Heidi Lane, creator of the Lawton Book Club, got the idea from Grapevine posts.
“On the Grapevine people were asking ‘Oh, hey, what’s a good book to read?’” Lane said “I noticed there was a big response on those posts.
“I had finished a book and was looking for something to read. I could have looked on the New York Times Best Seller list, but I really wanted a person to say, ‘Hey, I recommend this’ or ‘What do you think about this?’ or even someone to go further and want to talk about the book. The Grapevine really supported us to get going and advertised for us a lot.”
Alfaro also runs an app called GoGrapez and the Grapevine Cares program.
Grapevine Cares is a community wide donation drive which collects donations such as new or used clothing and toiletries for local shelters. Collection boxes are located at WellFast Urgent Care Centers, the He and I Construction office, Sam’s Club and Dollar Tree.