Social Media Measurement Google Plus Hangout with Social Media Professors

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G+ Hangout
Screengrab of our Google Plus Social Media Professor Hangout

Last night I had lots of fun hanging out on Google+ with some very talented social media professors. Gary Schirr, Nancy Ricmond, and Jeremy Floyd, and I discussed social media analytics.

This was the first public G+ Hangout broadcast from the Social Media & Marketing LinkedIn Group. We are planning to do hold one about every month.

Jeremy Floyd (@jfloyd), who hosted the G+ Hangout, put together a great list of resources from the discussion including links to texts and analytics tools.

Not loading? Watch the video on YouTube.

Among the many new tools I learned about last night, I am thrilled that Jeremy shared with us the spreadsheet he created for his students to use to monitor their social media. One thing that struck out to me was the ability to track metrics against individual posts per their day and time to help in post scheduling optimization. This is a tool I am looking forward to getting my hands on and adopting for my own classes next semester.

If you’re a social media educator, I strongly encourage you to check out the Social Media & Marketing LinkedIn Group, which I wrote about in a previous post on how to find social media professors.

It is a great space to discuss issues and strategies in social media education and has been a valuable resource and sounding board for me as I build out the Strategic Comm concentration here at Shepherd University. I believe I’m the only faculty member coming from Communication in the group – but, as you know, the lines have blurred with social media. I really feel that cross-pollination is the way to go and encourage both marketing and strategic comm folks to join.

Come join and be part of the discussion and next month’s G+ Hangout. I will be moderating next month’s topic which will be on what key knowledge and skills we need to teach students to thrive in a social media economy.

Cheers!

– Matt

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

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FB_logo

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.

How do you rock the Skype guest lecture?

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Last Thursday I had the wonderful opportunity to give a guest lecture in Dr. Antony’s COMM 4370 New Media Technologies and Communication at Schreiner University. As you know, my research focuses on social media and civic and political participation. So I was more than happy when I got an invite by my fellow WSU Edward R. Murrow College of Communication Ph.D. grad, Dr. Antony to discuss the topic with her students via Skype.

We covered social media and social change, both by working within and outside democratic systems. Discussion included subjects such as Rheingold’s Smart Mobs, Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, as well as Slacktivism

Dr. Antony’s students were great and well-prepared. They offered great insights, asked thoughtful questions and I truly enjoyed the opportunity to learn from them. 

I loved the experience and am always looking for ways to improve my delivery and better reach students. It got me thinking about some of the challenges of using video conference in the classroom. I love Skyping with classes, or having others come in and Skype with my classes. I always find it a little difficult at first – no matter what side I’m on as guest or professor with an invited guest – to build rapport when first meeting someone (or in this case, a classroom of students) through the screen. There is that sense of distance in the video experience. My students, often lively and talkative in class, always seem a bit reserved when I bring a guest in. 

Bringing guests into the classroom via Skype or Google+ Hangout is such a powerful resourceI am wondering how do you rock the Skype guest lecture – what tips and strategies do you use when giving guest lectures via videoconference? What tactics you have found helpful? How do you warm up your class to a videoconference guest? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

Below are my Slideshare slides from the guest lecture.  In a related vein, I spoke this January to the Shepherdstown, WV Rotary Club on social media and civic empowerment.

On a software service note, I was surprised to find that Skype requires a premium membership to do screen sharing. I seemed to remember doing this before at no cost. Why pay when I can use Google Hangouts for free? What’s up with that! 

Cheers!
-Matt

Talking to students about how they present themselves online

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February 26, 2013

Over the past few years I’ve noticed an increase in how much students are thinking about how they present themselves online, their professional online identity.

This is good news because according to a CareerBuilder survey, 37% of employers look up perspective employees on social media before hiring. (Personally, I was surprised by this – 37% to me seems a little low). Certainly what we say and do online impacts how others see us.

If you teach social media, you likely follow many of your students on social media. Sometimes I cringe when I see the things some students Tweet.

 

Every semester for the past few years I’ve taken time in class to talk about presenting oneself professionally online.

This semester I decided to go about it a little differently. I decided to go a little more in depth. I am building a concentration of courses in our department that will emphasize strategic social media, and because the Principles of Public Relations class is the first class in the concentration, I decided I want to get students thinking about the professional uses of social media from the get go.

Here’s what I did in my Principles of PR class this semester:

  1. Early on in this semester we talked about being professional online, the fact that many employers look up a potential employee on social media before making a hiring decision, and watched this video about the business of researching potential employees on social media (embedded below). I had them read Dr. Karen Russell’s great list titled “PR Students: What not to Tweet” over at teachingpr.org.
  2. I then had students fill out an in class activity about what being professional online means to them, and how they would want others to see their identity online (see it on Scribd). I photocopied the form and gave a copy back to them. I kept a copy.
  3. I told the students to start using Twitter, if they hadn’t already. (I decide to focus on Twitter, though I’ve come to find that many of our students don’t use or like Twitter. So maybe I should broaden my horizons in the future).
  4. After several weeks, we were discussing public opinion and how the failure of co-orientation between an organization and its publics can lead to misunderstandings of stance on an issue that can harm the relationship. (Chapter 8 of Cutlip & Center’s Effective Public Relations 11th edition) I told the students to: “Write a brief paragraph about how you want others to see you as a professional person who works in your career field choice.”
  5. I then gave them a little homework assignment (on Scribd). They were to  print out tag clouds of their Tweets, their Tweetstats, and their profile and bring them to class the following class.
  6. The following class, I gave students a few minutes to look over the things they’d printed the night before (their stats, profile, etc.) and had them answer some questions (found on Scribd here) about the sort of things they post, and whether what they post reflects how they want to be perceived professionally. We revisited Dr. Russell’s list of what students should not Tweet. Students checked whether they were following Dr. Russell’s guidelines, revisited what they’d written several weeks back about what being professional on social media meant to them, and revisited their statement from the class before about how they want others to see them professionally in their career of choice.

The purpose here was to see if the students identified differences between how they had seen themselves and how they discovered through the exercise how others may see them based on what they post online. Through this, we were able to make a connection to our discussion the class period before about the potential harm brought on by a lack of co-orientation between an organization (the org being the student in this case) and its publics.

Students who weren’t afraid to share what they post on Twitter to the class had their tweets projected on the screen using VisibleTweets.com.

After, we talked for a while about professional behavior online. Many students expressed that they were increasingly conscious of what they post online, particularly out of concern that a future employer might see what they post. When they were younger, some said, they didn’t think as much about what they’d posted. Many felt it was unfair that people were judged for things they’d posted long ago, pointing out that people change, grow, and mature.

I continue to see some students who throw caution to the wind, using social media as a place to vent all those frustrations and share those things they wouldn’t normally say to someone. But overall, I’m impressed by how much students today are considering the implications of what they post on social media. A few short years ago, this was not my experience.

How about you? Do you discuss professional self-representation on social media with your students? If so, what have you found effective? What challenges have you faced? It is a difficult subject and I’m constantly looking for ways to reach students on this issue. Please share in the comments section below. Thanks! 🙂 

Cheers!

images CC jcoleman (top) (bottom) DavidDMuir

Using Buffer in the Classroom to Teach Students Social Media Scheduling.

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Feb 13, 2013

These days, there is a lot of talk about the importance of scheduling posts to social media (Dan Zarella thinks of it as a ‘science). Posting content to social media at the right time can make all the difference as to how much engagement you garner via likes, clicks, retweets, comments, etc.

That’s why it is important that as social media educators we teach our students about optimizing scheduling social media posts and monitoring the success of our posts help us determine when the best times to share are.

Buffer_headline

Enter the new app that’s getting a lot of buzz: Bufferapp –  a simple way to automate scheduling posts to be shared on social media (More about the Buffer social media post scheduler).

No more posting too much all at once. No more thinking about when to post something.

But is this new tool Buffer useful in the classroom? I think so. Here’s how I would use it:

How I would use Buffer

While I haven’t used Buffer in the classroom – I’d consider it as a tool for executing a schedule plan. I think its greatest utility would be to couple Buffer with Hootsuite’s post scheduler. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Students schedule content they’ve created as part of a campaign (e.g., original Tweets, Tweets sharing their blog posts, etc). using Hootsuite.
  2. Students use Buffer as a compliment to Hootsuite – setting up their Buffer to post ONLY at those times that they are not posting their original content via Hoostuie. That way, when they find relevant and timely content to share, they can add it to their Buffer. If there’s no content, nothing is posted.

This combination will result in a more complete sharing schedule strategy that doesn’t overlap.

  • A simple example:
    • Original written and planned scheduled post – via Hoostuite.
      • 10am, noon, 4pm.
    • “Found” content – via Buffer.
      • 9am, 1pm, 6pm.

How Buffer Works

I had mixed feelings about Buffer at first. It honestly seemed like a lazy person’s tool to me (I’d previously taught my students to schedule their posts via Hootsuite).

Buffer’s appeal is its simplicity. You post something you want to share to Buffer, and it schedules it to be published on your social media account at a given time (currently supports: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I’ve connected to my Twitter @mjkushin & my LinkedIn profile). There is an app, a browser plugin, and integration into your social media accounts. So it is easy to add content from around the web to your Buffer. You can also manually enter Tweets.

Setting up Your Schedule on Buffer

Buffer-schedule

When I dug into Buffer, I found the user sets up what day(s) of the week and what time Buffer publishes content. You can also change your settings by day of the week (you have to pay for this feature unfortunately). Once your schedule is set up, all you have to do is add content and Buffer will publish it at your programmed days/times until your Buffer is empty (screen shot of empty buffer rom my Android app).

Bufferapp-android-queue

In theory, once you determine your optimized schedule, you can program Buffer for those times. You can always adjust the schedule later of course based on analytics feedback (below).

URL shortener and Analytics

Buffer-app-analytics

There is an integrated URL shortener with analytics, a la Bit.ly. As you can see (photo above of web app, photo below is same thing on my Android) , it tracks some basic stats for me: retweets, mentions, potential reach (my # of followers here), favorites, and clicks. Not quite as robust at Bit.ly, but good. You can also attach photos.

Bufferapp-android-screenshot

Conclusion

Benefits:

  • Quick & easy to learn & use
  • All-in-one posting and analytics.
  • Can be used to schedule posts, once schedule has been determined.
  • Can be used to monitor success of scheduling, to refine posting schedule.

Limitations:

  • A lack of in-depth analytics.
  • Minimal customization on posting schedule – you can’t adjust the days with free account.

I want my students to not only understand the importance of scheduling, but to understand how to determine the best times to schedule through pre-campaign research, and monitoring.

Buffer may be a great supplemental tool as part of a larger social media scheduling program and lesson. I’ll keep it in my thoughts and report back if I end up using it in the future.

Have you tried Buffer for yourself, in the classroom? What are your thoughts and experiences? 

Have you taught social media scheduling? How? Please comment below.

How to Connect with Social Media Educators on Social Media

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There are many passionate and talented professors across the world pioneering social media education.

With social media education being a new and emerging field, it is vitally important that those of us teaching social media connect to discuss best practices, experiences, tips, and talk content and curriculum. Here are a few quick ways to join the conversation:

 

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The Web-Savvy Professors List


It may be the definitive guide to social media educators. The The Top 100 Web-Savvy Professors of 2012, put together by BestOnlineUniversities.com, profiles – well, you guessed it: web-savvy professors.  Many of these are champions of social media – whether teaching social media, using it to teach, or both.

 

Social Media Professors on Twitter
There are many social media educators on Twitter. You’ll find many of them on the Best Web-Savvy Professors list mentioned above. A few other ways you can find them are:
Twitter lists
Education By Kerry O’Shea Gorgone (@kerrygorgone) – A list of higher ed folks, some of whom are active members of the Teaching Social Media Marketing & Management LinkedIn group discussed below.

 

Edu by Modern Journalist (@ModernJourno) – List of 196 educators and trainers on social media.

 

Academia by Ph.D. student at UT Austin Curt Yowell (@curtyowell) – 419 academics listed!

 

WVU professor John Jones’s List (@johnmjones) – One of the most comprehensive list of academics I’ve seen with 500 folks (Maybe that’s why it has 37 subscribers!).

 

Academia: Academics that Rock – My own personal list (@mjkushin) of  social media professors and related Tweeters.

 

Hashtags? Here’s 1 to get you started: #teachSMM for teaching social media marketing.

Join a LinkedIn Group
There are a few great LinkedIn social media educator groups I recommend:

 

Teaching Social Media Marketing & Management group – Great group that has just started a monthly Google+ Hangout to discuss social media in the classroom.

 

Higher Ed – this group that is not for educators, per se. It is aimed at connecting “professionals employed by a higher education institution who are actively engaged in social media planning, strategy and execution for a college, university, technical college, community college or college system.” But an interesting group and one I enjoy staying up to date on to get a sense on how universities are using social media in their marketing.

 

Teaching Public Relations – This group is aimed at public relations professional. Given the increasingly vital role of social media in PR, discussion of social media is common. However, there are many other subjects discussed here and social media is not the main topic. May not be of interest to some.

You’ll be surprised to find just how many educators are on social media. And while universities may be failing on the whole to teach social media, there are plenty of people who are changing that.

 

How have you connected with other social media educators?  Have other tips and resources? Please share in the comments section below. Thanks in advance! ☺

photo creative commons by Fora de Eixo

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