3 Ways to Use Slack to Foster Student Team Work in The College Class

I had a great time this past weekend presenting at the PRSA Educator’s Academy Super Saturday with Ai Zhang, Karen Freberg and moderator Kirk Hazlett.

If you missed our presentation, we covered how social media tools can be used to break down the classroom walls. #EdWithoutWalls


You can watch a rebroadcast of the Facebook Live Stream that Karen Freberg did.

I had the opportunity to discuss my experience using Slack in education settings. I’ve used it both in the classroom as well as for student groups that I’ve worked with.

Because of time, I presented a short version of the presentation at Super Saturday. So, I’d I’d like to share with the unabridged slides on using Slack for student teams in class projects.

This presentation goes a little further into depth about chat bots, their rise, and their potential for educators/the classroom.

(See the presentation on SlideShare.net)

I got several questions and compliments  about the GIFs I made and used in the slides (note: The Slideshare version doesn’t show the GIFs. But, if you download the slides you can see them in presenter mode).

I created them using Recordit.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how to use GIFS to enhance your teaching if you’d like to learn more.

It was great to see everyone and make new connections. I learned a ton. I look forward to seeing everyone soon and continuing to learn from everyone as we all work to build and share knowledge in social media education.





Three Quick Ways to Help Students find Digital Influencers using Hootsuite

When it comes to teaching social media, one of my goals this academic year is to continue to improve and update my focus on using social media software such as listening, analytics and metrics tools.

One area where tools can help us is the search for identifying digital influencers.

I require my students to research potential digital influencers for the primary audience in our topic focus (our primary audience is current and potential students of our department).

In my Comm 322 Social Media class, I’ve been talking about these concepts for several years. But, unfortunately, many of the tools for identifying influencers that my class has used in the past, such as Topsy, no longer exist.

I recently discovered 2 free add-ons to Hootsuite that I incorporated into the class this year in an effort to help students identify key influencers. I’d like to share them with you.

Because my students all participate in Hootsuite Academy, they all already have Hootsuite accounts and are learning how to use it for social media listening.

Installing these add-ons is easy.

Here are 3 quick things you can do within Hootsuite to identify potential influencers.

  1. Search By Follower Count

But before we talk about those, students can also quickly filter an existing stream in Hootsuite by the # of followers. You used to be able to filter by Klout score. But, that option is no longer available (Not to worry – I’ll show you how to search for influencer score with one of our add-ons).

Simply select a stream in Hootsuite. In the below example, I’ve selected my tab which displays my “academia” Twitter list. I simply click the magnifying lens. Then, from the drop-down menu i select “followers” and use the scroll bar to select the total amount.



Simply relying on follower count is of course flawed. We know that the total number of followers one has does not correspond to the influence one has nor the engagement that an account receives. So it is a crude metric. But a starting point.

A good read on digital influence is Brian Solis’ 2012 article: “The Pillars of Influence.” I discuss these with my class.

2. Finding Influencers with Right Relevance

Let’s expand beyond those people we’re already following on Twitter and try to find others who might be influencing the conversation about a particular topic.

One tool to do this is the Right Relevance add-on for Hootsuite.

You can find it here: http://appdirectory.hootsuite.com/178/right-relevance

This is the free version. There is also a paid pro version.

With this tool installed in Hootsuite, you can create a new tab for your Right Relevance search. Simply search topics to find influential accounts, profiles, and articles. In class, we searched different music genres, for example. But in the below GIF, I search lacrosse. And it turns out that Inside Lacrosse is a top influencer.

And, I can see their score.  It isn’t a Klout score. It is Right Relevance’s score based on their influence in that particular topic. So, Inside Lacrosse gets a score of 98/100 for their influence on the lacrosse conversation.

Altogether, it is a quick tool for finding accounts and articles related to particular topics.



Note that the above search can also be done directly from the Right Relevance website for free as well. Here’s a lacrosse search on Right Relevance.

3. Assessing a Potential Influencer

The last tool we’ll look at is Riffle. It can be added to Hootsuite here: http://appdirectory.hootsuite.com/88/riffle-twitter-insights

Let’s say you know of a Twitter account that you identified through the means above and you want to do a little research on it.  Maybe you want to see the Klout score. Riffle lets you do this and more.

Let’s use Kim Kardashian as our example – which is the person my students asked me to search when I showed them this tool in class.

You can quickly see Kardashian’s Klout score of 89, her top Tweets, hashtags, accounts mentioned, URLs shared and more. You can see the % of Tweets she sends to RTs (it is hidden in the below image but if you mouse over the green / purple section about 1/2 way down). You can see the # of Tweets per day and how those Tweets are sent – via Buffer, Twitter for iPhone and web client here.


Here I conduct a search for our department’s social media account, @ShepComm.


Taken together, our first two tools (sorting by follower count, and Right Relevance) enable you to search for and identify potential influencers in a topic area. Then, you can quickly see info about the potential influencer with Riffle.

While certainly not all encompassing, these tools give you a start. And they are easy and quick tools that you can incorporate into your class to help students begin searching for, identifying, and thinking about what makes someone a potential influencer.

It is important that any conversation about in class isn’t simply focused on showing students tools. You must augment any tool with readings (there are plenty of articles online and in books about digital influence) and an in depth conversation about digital influencers, what makes for influence and what doesn’t (e.g., reach, resonance, relevance) , the pros and cons of working with them, etc. Getting students thinking critically about these concepts is important.

I’d love to hear what tools you are using in your class to teach digital influence and how you are talking about it and/or what readings you are assigning. Please feel free to share them with me via the comments in this blog post or via Tweeting me @mjkushin.


Note: If you’d like to know how I made the above GIFs, please see my earlier post on micro-screencasting for educators.

What I’m Reading And How You Can Read It Too

“Always Be Reading” is my motto.

As professionals, we are constantly seeking to stay up to date with news, trends and developments.

So I’m excited to write this quick off-week post between our regularly scheduled program to announce that you can now follow the articles I read and share on Pocket using their “recommendations” feature.


I’m all about setting up systems to help me complete tasks and stay organized ( hope to talk more about systems-thinking in future posts). Long-time readers of this blog will know that I love to use the Pocket app to collect articles from the web to read later. For me, it has been super helpful in organizing all of the great content I come across on the web.  That way, I’ve always got a list of great content I can read when I have time – not when it goes flying by on Twitter when I’m in the middle of something else. I even have my app use text-to-speech to read me articles while cooking or brushing my teeth.

While many of the articles I recommend on Pocket I also share on Twitter, the benefit of Pocket is the focus specifically on great reads and it doesn’t go flashing by in a stream of noise on Twitter. It’s like a personal reading list cultivated by me. 🙂

Most of what I share surrounds news and insights about education, social media, PR, marketing, advertising, journalism, political communication (not my personal beliefs, but news, analysis, developments of trends) and technology. But I’m also passionate about lifestyle design, productivity and academia.

See you on Pocket. And I look forward to following you.




Social Media Campaigns: Strategies for Public Relations and Marketing by Carolyn Mae Kim (Book Review)

As I mentioned in a previous post about my Social Media class, this semester I’ve adopted Carolyn Mae Kim’s new textbook: Social Media Campaigns: Strategies for Public Relations and Marketing.

To put it simply: I’m so glad that I finally found a book like this.

social media campaigns kimKim’s book is among the most thorough and clear book I have read in terms of providing an overview of how to research, plan and execute a strategic social media campaign. For me, it is the end-to-end guide to help my students through understanding the process from start to finish.

If you’re familiar with strategic communication campaign planning, you’ll know key elements discussed in this book – from background research and audience analysis to goals, objectives, key messages, strategies, and tactics. And Kim does a wonderful job of explaining them to students in clear,  to-the-point language. Further, she does a wonderful job tying them directly to social media planning.

Because my social media class is situated after the principles of PR course and before our campaigns class, I believe this book is going to provide a strong transition from exposure to these concepts in PR that will help students build towards mastery and execution of these concepts in the campaigns class (In the social media class, I provide background research as well as the class campaign’s goals and objectives – though the students do complete their own social media audit and audience personas).

While there are many gems in this book, here are a few highlights that jump out to me.

  1. From the beginning, the book talks about how social media strategy needs to align who the organization is and why they exist. This should be a point of emphasis in any social media training.
  2. Social Media Listening – The second chapter on listening provides a comprehensive plan for developing and executing a social media listening plan. A strength is that students can complete much of what Kim discusses using free social listening or analytics tools because the concepts can carry across platform. The instructions for analyzing share of voice, for example, can be easily done in a spreadsheet program.  Here, Kim has inspired me to integrate teaching students to calculate SOV into my research class for next semester.
  3. Brand Persona – Chapter 3 gets students thinking about building the social profile of the brand and key considerations such as brand persona and voice (relating back to point #1 above).  We talk about these concepts in my class – and I think the way Kim explains them really rounds that out.
  4.  Content & Engagement – In discussing how to create engaging content that the audience will love, Kim goes beyond case studies as examples into key concepts of credibility, trustworthiness and more to explain to students tactics for achieving desired brand positioning related to these concepts.
  5. Chapters 5 cover implementation of your social strategy. Many tips and tools are discussed from creating an optimal content calendar to using alerts and harnessing social listening dashboards. But the book also covers important considerations such as crises and the inevitable social media fatigue audiences will feel.
  6. Chapter 6 covers evaluation. This chapter provides a great discussion of the intersection of social metrics and key outcomes related back to your campaign’s objectives.
  7. Lastly, I like that this book is concise while packing essential information. It is digestible, tightly written and everything ties together. An someone who puts a lot of emphasis trying to show my students how everything connects between my classes, I love that. And in an age where we are seeing many students who aren’t reading class texts, it’s all about packing a punch in an approachable package.

I’ve been teaching social media campaigns for 3 years, and I’m excited about the important details I picked up from this book. In several cases I found myself jotting notes of things I ways I plan to use things from the book to enhance my class or wishing I had the time and space in my class to integrate key concepts we simply don’t have time to discuss in the course of a semester. I’m very glad that my students will get a chance to read this book and get exposure to those things we don’t get to during class time.




The Power of the Micro Screencast: How Educators Can create GIFs to Save Time and Enhance Learning

Everyone loves GIFs. As I’m sure you  know, you can now easily search Twitter for GIPHY.com Gifs to share. They seem to be everywhere.

But how can GIFs enhance your job as a professor and help your students learn more all while saving you time?

By creating micro screencast GIFs using Recordit or a similar desktop app.

These micro screencasts are perfect for demonstrating brief tasks (I’ve found 10 seconds or less is ideal). And they can be pasted just about anywhere an image can. No embed code. No video player required.

Recordit is free and works for Mac and Windows.

Example of a micro screencast (click image to see high res):


Here are 3 quick ways you can create these micro screencast GIFs to enhance your teaching:

  1. Lab Guides with GIFS

I’ve written in the past about how I like to create lab guides in Google Docs for my students. I titled that post: “Are Your Classroom Handouts Stuck In the Last Century?

If  you missed that post, here’s a quick run down:

I began creating Lab Guides which are Instructional Handout with Multimedia (IHMs). I tend to create IHMs when  teaching students how to use a piece of software or complete a task online in instances when the steps are clearly defined and need to be followed in a specific order. They contain instructional material, embedded images, icons, links. Examples include: How to use Moviemaker, Blogger, Netlytic, etc.

In the past, these have contained lots of screen grabs demonstrating a process.  Not anymore.

Enter Recordit.

The newer lab guides I’ve been creating contain lots of GIFS of steps in a process, cutting down on need for lots of explanation and multiple still images.

For example, here’s a lab guide I created to get my students started with the basics of Netlytic.com – the free, web-based social network analysis site. The lab guide combines GIFs created in Recordit and screen captures created with Skitch (I’ll talk more about Netlytic in a post I plan to write next semester).


Using Recordit is easy. You choose the part of the screen you want to record, then record the video. As soon as you’re done, you get a URL to the video or GIF online. Which leads me to…

2. Answer a student question/email with a GIF

Because Recordit automaticaly generates a URL, you can quickly share the video or GIF via email, over social media, you name it.

I often get student emails asking me for clarity on how to do something for a class assignment. Or, there are those emails from students who can’t find where something is on the course webpage.

It is far more time efficient to make a quick video or GIF and email them back the link to it than to type a lengthy description that feels like a technical manual that the receiver may not be able to follow through every step.

Time saved! Yes!

fist pump club breakfast breakfast club

3. Enhance your presentation slides with GIFs

No matter how hard we try to make a presentation that pops, we can find ourselves limited by Powerpoint. And soon, the audience is… well…

today presentation af powerpoint

Want to show how something on screen works to your audience?

In the past, I’ve often relied on screen grabs. But some things are better conveyed through dynamic visuals.

Creating a GIF is great for showing a brief process on screen.

For example, I’m using Recordit to show simple steps one can take in the messaging app Slack in my upcoming presentation on Slack for class teams the PRSA Educator’s Academy Super Saturday in Indianapolis this October.  I’ll be on a panel with two of my favorite social media professors, Karen Freberg and Ai Zhang. Hope to see you there!

The clips are 3-5 second loops showing how certain commands work in Slack (see example of micro screencast above and below).

Example micro-screencast (click image to see high res)


How do you embed GIFs into Powerpoint?

Well, you can’t cut and paste the image from the web like you can a still image. Instead, create it or download it from the web and save the GIF to your computer. In Powerpoint on Mac, go to Powerpoint, click insert->photo->photo from file. It’s that easy. 🙂

I hope these quick tips help you see how GIFs can do more than create a laugh or a sense of nostalgia. They can be quick and easy teaching tools.




What’s Changing? A look at my Social Media Class for Fall 2016

And we’re back…

Summer flew by as it always seems to. It was such a pleasure to see all the talented and motivated familiar faces and make new connections at AEJMC. I got to see many innovative educators whom I admire and whose work I follow. I had an amazing time starting my role serving as the Director of ICBO One Global Digital Strategy for the partner organizations of the International Congress of Behavioral Optometry and traveling to Australia as part of that project.

While summer was truly an opportunity for growth and new experiences, the semester has begun here at Shepherd University. That means, back to blogging!

With that said, it is time for my annual post about “What’s changing” in my classes this semester (you can see past posts here). Today we’ll focus on a few tweaks to my Comm 322 Social Media Class (prior posts about this class. Prior syllabi).

This class is one of the most fun but also one of the most challenging as things keep changing. And, I’m always looking for small tweaks to improve how I run my class as well as the content and the assignments themselves. Here are a few highlights on changes I’m making to my Comm 322 Social Media class this semester.

social media campaigns kim

  • New Textbook! I’m a big fan of Carolyn Mae Kim at Biola University and have had the pleasure of working with her on prior projects. So when I found out she was writing a social media textbook (titled Social Media Campaigns: Strategies for Public Relations and Marketing), I knew it was something my students needed to read. Even though it just came out this summer, I made sure our university was able to get it in time for the semester. I had the pleasure of an early look at the book, and it is excellent. I’ve decided to replace Brito’s book. I liked his book quite a bit, but students seemed to struggle with it a bit. I believe Kim’s book will be a better fit into the class and thus more accessible. Our second book in the class will be the updated version of an old favorite, Likeable Social Media. Later this semester, I’ll do a book review of Kim’s Social Media Campaigns: Strategies for Public Relations and Marketing on this blog.
  • Slack For Teams – You’ve probably heard of Slack the app and web tool that’s aiming to replace email for teams. I’ve written a bit on this blog about teamwork and how much I rely on it in my classes. With that said, I began using Slack last semester with a group of students I’ve been working with informally outside of class. I found it a great tool for keeping everyone in the loop, sharing files and links, etc. So this semester, I’m going to continue using it with that team but also bring Slack into my Social Media class for team communication. Because the class is broken into different teams for different social platforms, in group and between group collaboration is important.  I know students may be a little reticent to use a new tool, when often they text or use Facebook Messenger to communicate with one another. I have a few ways in which I’m going to require use of Slack for class assignments. It should be an interesting experiment and testing it in this and another class will make for a great experiment in enhancing classroom teamwork. Look for a full blog post later this semester. I’ll also be presenting on Slack in Indianapolis during Super Saturday later this semester.
  • More with Metrics – I spent a lot of effort last year working on upping my metrics game. While I believe I’ve still got a ways to go, I’m planning to bring in professional social media listening tools into the social media class. We have access to Microsoft Social Listening now here at Shepherd. And may possibly have access to other professional tools.
  • Evolving But Keeping The Core of the Main Project – Due to the repeated success I’ve had with the semester-long project in this class (from student feedback, from my own evaluation and feedback from others), I’m not going to change anything structurally to it. However, with the ongoing evolution of social media I’m hoping for some fresh ideas from students on how to use tools like Instagram stories. With enough push from the students, I might even consider starting a Snapchat for our department. Though I’m not a Snapchat person myself, I was super inspired by Ai Zhang’s presentation on Snapchat at AEJMC (read about Dr. Zhang’s work on Snapchat).  If you’d like to see posts about that project, you can see an overview here and a reflection here.

A copy of the syllabus is below. It can also be found via the menu on this blog.

Altogether, it is going to be an exciting semester here! And I’m excited to be back in the classroom. I’ve got plenty of new things I’m doing to become a better educator and continue to improve my classes. I plan to blog about them throughout the semester. So stay tuned!

Hope that your semester is off to a great start!



Edit Faster: Stop Wasting Time with Unnecessary Scrolling in Microsoft Word

Hope summer is off to a great start! If you’re like me, summer means writing, writing, writing!

As I like to do once in a while, I thought I’d share another productivity tip for professors.

Today’s tip has to do with Microsoft Word. This is a favorite feature of MS Word I use all the time for grading, research writing, or just about anything else.
If you’re like me, you often jump around in a document. For example, when I grade student papers in MS Word I like to leave summary comments at the top of the document. So, as I scroll down the paper reading, I don’t want to have to scroll all the way back up to the top, write a comment, then go back and find where I was in the paper.
The solution? Splitting an open document so I can work on two separate parts of the same document at once. By splitting a document, I can have a section at the top open where I am writing comments to the student, and another section that I am reading. This is also very helpful when working on research. Commonly, I’ll have my document split so that I can work on a section while reading other parts of the paper. For example, when writing a discussion section it is helpful to have the lit review accessible to ensure I’m addressing topics/issues discussed in the lit review.
There are 2 key ways of doing this:
“Split” (horizontal split of same document in 1 window)
Split splits your document horizontally so that the same window has a line that can be dragged up or down to create two sections in the window. In each section, is a different part of your document that you can scroll to. Thus, the document is split into two sections on top of one another.
To use this, in Word click “Window” in the menu, and select “split”.
(Note: You can remove the split by simply dragging it up or down to the edge of the window and letting go)
“New Window” (Same Document – Two Separate Windows)
While I love split, sometimes I want to work on the same document side by side, as opposed to stacked on top of each other. Using new window, you can have the same document in two different windows. You can work on the document in one window, and the changes occur instantaneously in the other window. New Window lets you do anything you can normally do with two separate windows – one on top of the other, side by side, one small one large, one minimized, etc., etc.
To use this feature, in Word click “Window” in the menu, and select “new window”.
In both cases, you are saving one file. So closing a split or closing 1 of the windows in new window doesn’t impact anything.
Hope you enjoy this great saving trick!
– Cheers!
 – split or
– Edit side by side in Windows

A Social Media Education Blog by Matthew J. Kushin, Ph.D.