Portfolio building activities in social media: Exercises in strategic communication By Karen Freberg (Book Review)

Last summer, Dr. Karen Freberg [Twitter | LinkedIn] published her social media textbook, Social media for strategic communication: Creative strategies and research-based applications, to great fanfare.

Since then, her textbook has skyrocketed up the Amazon charts for social media textbook best sellers. The buzz generated has been well-earned as Karen has been more than an inspiration for those of us teaching in the social media space. She has been a leader, advocated, and supporter to so many of us, including myself.

Indeed, the book has already received so many rave reviews, including a shout out by @PerezHilton:

So I want to do something different. In this post, I’m going to review the workbook that accompanies Karen’s textbook. That workbook is titled Portfolio building activities in social media: Exercises in strategic communication. The workbook is meant to go along with the textbook, but it also can stand alone as a series of assignments that professors can use in social media classes or in classes where a social media assignment is desired.

Portfolio Building Activities in Social Media by Karen Freberg

Structure

The workbook is organized into 13 brief chapters, with each chapter providing a series of activities or assignments that professors can use in class. The chapters range from ethics and legal issues in social media (Chapter 2), to social media monitoring, listening, and analysis (Chapter 5), to social media writing (Chapter 7), to paid media, budgets, and campaign evaluation (Chapter 10).

Chapters 11 and 12 offer dives into social media specialties such as sports, non-profits, and global social media. And chapter 13 looks into the future of social media.

Organization of Chapters

Each chapter is a compilation of related assignments. The assignments are detailed and to the point. For example, in Chapter 3, which is about personal and professional branding, the first assignment offers a brief rationale for the assignment, discussing why personal branding is important. The assignment asks students to write a reflection paper both examining their personal branding goals and analyzing their current online persona. In a follow up assignment, students are asked to build out their personal brand. As I’ve blogged about before, I was inspired by Karen’s first book to build a personal branding assignment for my students. Thus, I was glad to see that Chapter 3 of her new workbook builds upon that assignment! I’ll definitely be using this updated assignment in the workbook to modify my personal branding assignment. I personally really liked the table Karen provides on page 13 of many social media certifications that students can complete and the way this tool can be used to help students decide which certifications are right for them.

Chapter 4 reminds me of a thorough enhancement to an informal activity that I do with students in my social media class. An assignment in that chapter asks students to identify several job positions presently available in social media and guides students through a process of evaluating those positions. The students are then coached into reaching out and networking with professionals working in these positions.

Later chapters get into analysis of social media campaigns as well as analysis of the appropriateness of different social media platforms for a given set of goals. There are great strategic planning assignments in Chapter 6.

But, what I find particularly impressive with this text, is he way that Karen so successfully provides assignments for both the broad, strategic elements that students need to learn to the detail of content creation topics like writing and style (Chapter 7) and curation (Chapter 9), to the audience targeting, and analysis skills students need to develop (Chapter 8), to the evaluative measurement (Chapter 10) skills necessary in today’s results-driven world.

Summary

The workbook is chalk full of great assignments. It really makes me wish I had more than 3 credit hours to work with to teach a social media class, or that I had a second social media class, because there are so many great assignments in here that I wish I could squeeze into my current social media class. If you’re like me, and your class is pretty full, you could still benefit from this book by using the assignments to enhance your own assignments. I will definitely be doing that.

It is truly impressive to see in this workbook the way Karen distills her breadth of knowledge about social media into actionable assignments that are detailed, all-encompassing, and easy to convey to students.

And there’s one last thing that I thought was really cool about this book worth mentioning – actually, it was one of the first things I noticed and loved when I started reading through this workbook: The workbook contains perforated pages. This way your students can rip the assignment to work on. I love it!

In short, if you haven’t checked out Portfolio building activities in social media: Exercises in strategic communication by Dr. Karen Freberg, and you teach social media in any capacity, I strongly encourage you to do so. It’s a quick read – just about every page from cover to cover is an assignment that you can readily incorporate into your classes. Of course, the accompanying textbook itself is marvelous and I recommend checking that out as well. But, even if you already have another textbook that you use in your classes, you cannot go wrong to explore this workbook as ancillary material.

Congrats, Karen!

– Cheers!
Matt

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