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Managing Higher Ed Social Media: Guest Speaker

I love having guests come and talk to my class. Last week, Comm 322 Social Media had another special guest – Leigh-Anne Lawrence from Hagerstown Community College (HCC).

Leigh-Anne is the Social Media and Public Information Specialist in the Public Information & Government Relations Office at HCC. Among her many responsibilities, she is in charge of all the social media for HCC- namely, their Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

A few cool highlights from Leigh-Anne’s presentation:

Leigh-Anne has helped build a university-wide social media policy to ensure communication consistency and reduce confusion among the public – For anyone thinking about creating a social media policy, particularly for higher ed, check out HCC’s guidelines. HCC’s policy will do more than just help govern what is appropriate and how entities should communicate on social media.  At many universities, social media is decentralized leading to communication inconsistency. There are too many accounts (many of which become ghost towns). This leaves students confused as to which accounts to follow and how to get important updates. Leigh-Anne takes a proactive role in preventing this problem by seeking to consolidate the voice of HCC on social media. This helps make things simple for HCC followers. She does this in part by reaching out to people who have created social media accounts at HCC and seeking to route their messages through the main account. Leigh-Anne told us that sometimes units within the university will create an account but the folks behind it may not be too certain as to what they want to communicate or how best to go about using the social media service. One thing she’ll do is monitor how active these HCC-related accounts are. For example, if, say, the dining services starts its own Twitter account and doesn’t use it very often, Leigh-Anne may ask dining services if they wouldn’t mind handing over to her the burden of getting dining services’ content out to the HCC community. Whenever the dining services wants to get a message out, they can send it to Leigh-Anne. She’ll post it on HCC Twitter and Facebook. That takes the pressure of having to maintain the account off dining services and helps meet Leigh-Anne’s mission.

Note: You can see her white paper highlighting her research on social media usage at community colleges.

Always On – Leigh-Anne told us how social media workers must be “always on.” There are no days where one can truly log off – workers must keep an eye on social media whether it is the weekend or a vacation day.

Social Media and School Closings – A quick anecdote for those who, like me, loved it when school was closed as a child and wait, wait, waited by the TV watching the ticker of schools that were closed and hoping to see their school’s name on the list. Today, people not only call into the school to complain when the school is or isn’t closed, they take to social media. Leigh-Anne told us she gets up at 4am when there is a storm, awaits the word on whether the school is closed, and spends the rest of her morning until she reports to work fielding questions and responding to complaints, including through social media. She may also find herself spending several hours continuing to answer questions after she gets to work.

Introverts can work in PR – I love this! Leigh-Anne explained that you don’t have to be outgoing to thrive in the field. Introverts thrive “behind the scenes” where their great writing, web, photography, organizational, and numerous other skills are highly valued.

Leigh-Anne was kind enough to share her slides, which I’ve embedded from her SlideShare account below.

Thanks again to Leigh-Anne for sharing her experience and her expertise with us! You can find her @writenowsoical or her website.

Social Media users praise brands in private and criticise in public

This is my first “reblog!” I want to share a great blog post by Ana Canhoto that I came across. This article describes the results of her research into social media and electronic word of mouth about brands. Specifically, the study looks at positive and negative online expression of consumer experiences with a brand. Enjoy!

Very interesting research –  I will be following her work and her blog! Check it out at http://anacanhoto.com.

– Cheers!

Matt

Interview with social media marketing professor Jeremy Floyd (G+ Hangout)

The semester is done. The grades are in.

It is time to reflect on the semester – what went well, what challenges we faced, what we learned, and what we plan to do to improve for next semester.

This evening I had the opportunity to talk about just that on a Google+ Hangout with social media / marketing professor Jeremy Floyd (@jfloyd). Jeremy teaches social media at the undergraduate and MBA level at University of Tennessee Chattanooga. He is also president at BlueGill Creative and brings with him a great deal of business experience into the classroom (more about Jeremy).

In the broadcast, Jeremy shares a ton of great insight about his teaching experiences, his goals, unanticipated surprises in the classroom, and his thoughts on how digital tools and the changing information landscape may impact education.

I learn a great deal from Jeremy every time we talk and truly appreciate his sharing his passion for, and knowledge of,  social media and digital. I particularly enjoyed our discussion on grades and assignments, and how grades can get in the way of education, as well as hearing how Jeremy uses Google Plus hangouts as a digital classroom, and how he’s integrated Twitter chats (he also has an overview blog post about it).

I highly recommend Jeremy’s blog JeremyFloyd.com if you aren’t currently subscribed.

Enjoy!

This is the second Google+ Hangout broadcast from our LinkedIn group – Teaching Social Media Marketing and Management.

Watch the first broadcast on Social Media Measurement.

Join us for Social Media Professor Google Plus Hangout Weds 5-22!

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Happy Tuesday! Tomorrow we will be holding our second Social Media Professor Google Plus hangout where professors teaching social media around the country get together to talk shop. The event will be broadcast on Google Plus and available for on demand viewing (check back later in the week for the video).

I’m excited (and a little nervous) to be hosting the event for the first time. The topic will be a great one:

Major skill sets we should be teaching to prepare our students to excel in the social media economy.

If your teach social media and care to join in on the the Google+ hangout, we’d love to have you. Our last two hangouts have been a ton of fun and I’ve learned a great deal from professors who are leaders in the field of social media education. Drop me a comment below or via Twitter, and I’ll send you a G+ invite. Or check out our LinkedIn group: Teaching Social Media Marketing and Management.

You can watch our most recent discussion on social media analytics.

Hope everyone is enjoying summer! It is starting to get hot here in West Virginia!

– Cheers! Matt

photo:

Summer Reading List: Social Media Books

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If you’re like me – growing up, summertime meant summer reading and Book It! I have many fond memories of cool pins and personal pan pepperoni pizzas at the local Pizza Hut in our small town in Rhode Island. My father would buy our family a pitcher of soda (this is in the pre-free refill days) and I’d proudly order my Book It! Pizza. Now that I’m all grown up – I’m not getting Pizza Hut trips for my reading. But I still love to read in the summer.

Here are a few social media books I will be checking out this summer. I plan to write brief reviews / thoughts about each. Some I will be reading cover to cover, others picking out chapters.

Toa of Twitter – By Mark Schaefer

This is my first introduction to Mark Schaefer and I’m glad I found his work. I’m about 60% done with this book – just haven’t had a chance to finish. While the book offers a bit of an introduction to what Twitter is and how to use it, it is a bit more about the culture of Twitter. With so many folks out there broadcasting away on Twitter and always thinking about “what’s in it for me?”, I think this book re-teaches us many things we seem to have forgot –  helping others, adding value, building relationships, and giving back, a la Dale Carnegie’s famous book. I mentioned this book and Born to Blog (below) in a previous post, where author Mark Schaefer participated in a video lecture with Don Stanley’s class at U Wisconsin-Madison.

Born to Blog – By Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith

Of all the books I’m reading this summer, this may be the one I’m most excited about. I’m about 50% done. I’ll hold off on any detailed analysis – but to sum it up, I’ve learned a ton from this book. It is quick and easy to read and really gets you thinking about why your blogging, who your audience is, and what skills you have to offer. I’m fairly new to blogging and this book has been a great motivator for me. I am considering using this book for my Social Media class next fall. Highly recommend.

Measure What Matters: Online Tools for Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships by Paine

I’m considering using this book in my Communication Research class, as mentioned in our last social media professor G+ Hangout. I’m a few chapters in – so not much to comment on here. Thus far the author has provided a fairly strong case for why research is so important in today’s media environment and seeks to debunk arguments from those skeptical or afraid of campaign research. The book also offers (somewhat non-specific) processes for getting a measurement program together. The strength thus far seems to be in its explanation of what to measures given the situation at hand. I always struggle with research texts for class as the writing usually seems inaccessible to many students. I don’t think that will be the case here. The book does lack in depth explanation of many advanced topics that a textbook would offer, but this book isn’t meant to.

Share This! The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals – The Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Just got my hands on this. The book is a few years old, and a newer version is due out some time this year. I haven’t had a chance to read any of this yet. Each chapter is written by a different author offering insights into how social media impacts different facets of PR.

Any fond memories to share from Book It!? What are you reading this summer? Are there books you recommend I read that aren’t on my list? Have you read any of these books above? What did you think? I’d love to hear your suggestions or thoughts in the comments below.

Happy Friday!

– Cheers!

Matt

Pay-Per Networking: Facebook Now Charging You to Contact Non-Friends

It appears Facebook has followed through with rumors and reports that the social networking service may begin charging to contact celebrities and “non-friends.”

That day, it seems, is here. A student of mine just dropped by my office to let me know the news. I tested it, and it is true for me as well.

Try it. Find someone you’re not friends with on Facebook and see about messaging them.

Here’s what I found when I tried to Message someone I’m not friends with on Facebook:

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I can see charing to contact celebrities, but people I don’t know? Facebook, seriously? Several weeks ago I blogged about how Facebook is losing its grab with young adults. This may leave Facebook holding on by a pinky. My student’s exact words when she told me about this were “Facebook is dead.” There again, perhaps people won’t use this service and so its impact is negligible. But the turn off is real.

Now there are ways around this, and people will get creative. The most basic is the “other” inbox that you can send these messages to. Privacy settings indicate that you can modify what comes to your normal inbox and your “other’ inbox. Admittedly quick poking around did not indicate a clear fix for this.

Facebook’s help page also indicates that if you receive messages you don’t want, you can filter them to your other inbox. This may also mean that marketing messages and spam will soon be coming to our Facebook inboxes, a la our email addresses.

What do you think? What does this mean for Facebook? Has social networking lost its innocence? 

As the teenager goes, so goes Facebook.. so goes the social media professor?

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Back in January I posted the below Tweet.

My Communication & New Media class was talking about the boom and bust of Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and the “cool hunt” – the tendency of young folks to jump from one trend to the next. (Yes, of course MySpace came up. Interestingly, students this semester hadn’t heard of Friendster).

I have asked the same question every semester since 2008-2009, when I began teaching new media as a grad student at Washington State University. “What is the most popular social network?” The answer has always been Facebook.

This semester the answer was clear. Facebook is on the way out.

Is there a shift coming to social media?

A great article posted to CNET last week titled “Why teens are tiring of Facebook” offers an in depth look as to the social networking giant’s troubles. Many of those same troubles were echoed by my students. They can be summed up in this Tweet I posted to a question I got from @richelecole to my original Tweet as to what was in:

In other words, Facebook:

  • Lacks exclusivity – “Everyone” is on Facebook – and yes, that means Mom, Dad, and the grandparents. There could be nothing less cool.
  • Is too cumbersome – Facebook, the social network that built itself on being sleeker and less chaotic than Myspace, is too complicated for the fast-paced on the go lifestyle. It takes too much time to maintain and participate in. Students said they just didn’t have time for all Facebook demanded of them. Twitter is quick and easy. Instagram is too, and the bonus is – pictures!

It seems my students aren’t the only ones thinking about unfriending Facebook.

As social media professors, are we always part of the cool hunt as well?

In a way. Trying to keep up with changing trends while balancing the many other responsibilities of being a professor may feel sometimes like an unwinnable race. That’s why it is so important that we keep our focus on what truly matters. Teaching students to think.

The tools will change. New trends will emerge. The fundamentals are much less fickle.

I think of them as:

  1. Monitoring: Strategies for identifying, cultivating, monitoring, and analyzing information on the social/real-time web.
  2. Metrics: Strategies for setting goals and what to measure on social media. And measuring them.
  3. Optimization: Strategic use of optimization strategies to maximize potential exposure to communication content online.
  4. Engagement: Strategies for targeting and engaging potential publics online.

When we teach new media, we should always keep in mind that the tool we’re teaching may be gone tomorrow.

It isn’t the tool so much that counts, as understanding the underlying concepts and strategies – the Why. If students learn only two things in my classes they should be: Be Adaptable (apply what you’ve learned to new situations). Be Lifelong Learners. These are platform agnostic skillsets.

Is a shift coming to social media and what does that mean for educators? As an educator, how do you stay current with changing trends in the classroom? What do you emphasize to your students?  Do you disagree with my approach? I would love to hear your thoughts and discuss this important topic further. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Like this post? Please share it.

Cheers!

– Matt

image creds: Facebook logo. This version hosted by MarcoPako Flickr page.