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

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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. Further, my book, Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love, (learn more about the book | buy on Amazon) offers an all-encompassing plan for executing the semester-long project in a social media class.

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!



5 thoughts on “What’s Changing? A look at my Social Media Class for Fall 2016”

  1. Hi Matt…. I found your blog through Karen Freberg. She was one of my professors a few years ago at WVU in the IMC program. She is AWESOME!! This summer, I was hired as the Assistant Professor of Marketing at WV Wesleyan College. It’s my first full-time teaching job. I am teaching Social Media Marketing this fall, so I’ve followed your blog to help me with tips, etc. Thanks for sharing your ideas with this post!! I hope you will check out my new blog if/when you get a chance at http://MKTGprofessorblog.worpress.com

    1. Kim, Thanks so much for the comment and for connecting! Congrats on the position here in the Mountain State. :) I’ve added your blog to my Feedly. Please feel free to reach out any time to chat. @mjkushin on Twitter.

  2. Matt,
    Wondering if you considered using Social Media Campaigns for your Strategic Campaigns class. It seems like a logical for for that class and wondering how you are using it for the Social Media class which seems more about execution than planning (which I see as the strength and focus of the Kim text).

    1. Keith,
      Thanks for your question! You have a great point. I use a similar book for the campaigns class but one that doesn’t focus specifically social media campaigns themselves (Bobbitt & Sullivan), but Kim’s book would be a great fit for that as well. You are very right – the Kim book offers a comprehensive look at research, planning, execution and evaluation. In the campaigns class, we do (or plan for) all of those parts (because the class teaches planning, the students don’t get to execute the campaign but create it in its entirety with evaluation in mind. When they get to do their individual capstone project, they then have learned all the steps then work with a client one-on-one to create and execute). Back to your question: In the social media class, we really do emphasize planning in the creation & execution of content – I situate it within the larger context of campaign planning. So, students do a social media audit and a strategic brief to plan our their social media for the target audience. We talk a lot about audience analysis, and I provide basic goals, objectives, key messages to situate the students within. Then, as the social media is going for the department, we talk about evaluation and track metrics in the social media class. I look at the class as a transition course to campaigns. So, I want them familiar with the concepts when we get to campaigns. But, certainly we don’t go as heavily into it as we do in the campaigns class – spending more time in social media on planning, execution, evaluation. Then, when they get to campaigns they are conducting thorough background research, creating key messages, goals, objectives, determining best communication channels, etc.

      I also have the students read the Likeable Social Media book, which goes into more depth on strategy for creating and executing content. In that way, I try to offer that balance.

      I’m sorry if this is a bit of a long response. I’m just trying to make sure I clarify my approach because you’re question is a great one. In summary, the Kim book could very well fit in a campaigns class for the points you mention and other books could do great for the social media class. I’ve got a book summary of the Kim book that I’ll be publishing on the blog on Monday. Also, please feel free to reach out to me via email or on Twitter if you’d like to chat further. Happy to discuss and share ideas! Thanks again! – Matt

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