What I’m reading: Creatively Canceling School; The Future of Organic on Social Media

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Hello from snowy West Virginia!

We’re facing over a foot of snow here for sure. Our driveway is measuring 18 inches! Though I’ve got a ton of projects to work on and a puppy who is getting restless since the snow is too tall for her to get outside (see Instagram photos on the column on the right, and below), I want to take a quick minute before strapping my snowshoes on to share a few articles from around the web.

Just for Fun

Well, school is canceled for us today. Though the announcement from Shepherd University wasn’t quite as creative as the Durham Academy’s cancellation in Durham, NC.

Continue reading What I’m reading: Creatively Canceling School; The Future of Organic on Social Media

What is The Future of Content Marketing in 2014?

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As I discussed on this blog, 2013 was to be the year of content marketing. (Here are all my posts on content marketing)

Recently, Gary Shirr (@ProfessorGary) brought up an interesting point in a discussion post he made to the Teaching Social Media Marketing LinkedIn group I’m a part of. It got me thinking quite a bit.

Continue reading What is The Future of Content Marketing in 2014?

The Super Social Super Bowl? Great Reads You May Have Missed

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Another week is almost over.  This weather has really made it challenging to get in the flow of the semester. Classes were canceled on Monday, and school didn’t open until Wednesday at noon. I want to take a quick minute to share some great reads from the week:

Super Social

The big talk this week has, of course, been about the social media and the Super Bowl. Here are a list of great articles I came across about how brands used social media for the big game:


PRNewser’s Study: Doritos, M&Ms, and more score perception bumps with super bowl previews – As we know, brands now release their big super bowl ads before the game. What is the effect? This article explores.



Fast Company had a great article looking at Audi’s plan for the big game. While many were talking about the dog commercial, what went unnoticed by many was Audi being an early adopter of using Snapchat for advertising. From the reactions I saw via Twitter, people seemed to enjoy Audi’s Snapchat photo memes.  Missed them? They were only around for 24 hours (unlike the 10 second limit for interpersonal messages). These messages were unbranded, and not related to cars. Here is one review. Personally, I applaud Audi for trying something new and different!

Winners and Losers

But the big question is often who are the “winners” and “losers” after all is said and done? Opinions of course vary, but you’ll see some trends emerge on these articles.

PR Daily’s “Social media ups and downs for Super Bowl advertisers” –

Marketing Land’s “25 Most Fantastic Social Media Updates From Brands During the Super Bowl

And The Metrics?

Here are some interesting stats from AllTwitter, including noting that game-related Tweets increased by 800,000 from last year.

And Media Bistro put together an insightful infographic of the social chatter, including a look at sentiment for different brands.

So what was my favorite Super Bowl ad? Putting everything aside, I have to say… Radio Shack’s #InWithTheNew 80s giveaway.


Talk about the 80s in your ad (oh, nostalgia! My love for the 80s is only eclipsed by my love for the 90s), give away a table-top Pac Man arcade (I spent many of my high school years saving up for one of these only to never get a chance to buy it!) via Twitter to increase engagement, and you’ve got my attention. Doesn’t that make them the big winner? No. I’m not sure what Radio Shack’s future is… they tried to rebrand themselves to “The Shack” just a few years ago. And I honestly don’t know how long they’ll be around. But I loved the commercial… but it looks like despite my Tweet, I didn’t win that arcade game.

Maybe next year!

That’s all for now! I am hoping for warmer weather and less snow in the coming weeks. Though if my WeatherBug app is correct, I won’t get what I wished for. 😛



Here Are My Spring 2014 Syllabi: Writing and Research

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The snow is coming down here in West Virginia! Classes are canceled today so I will be catching up on research and some other things. But let’s talk classes and syllabi!

In addition to the applied Communication Research class I am teaching this semester (discussed in the previous post) I’m also teaching a few other classes. 🙂 I want to quickly share some of my syllabi for the semester. I’ve uploaded syllabi for these classes to my Scribd account, which is where I host past syllabi and class assignments. Click the link below to see the syllabus. (You can also see all the below-described syllabi as well as past syllabi via the menu on the left, by mousing over “syllabi.”)

Comm 435: Communication Research – This class is discussed in depth in my previous post. Please read it to learn more about that class.

Comm 335: Writing Across Platforms – Changes from Fall 13 include: A lab day for greater access to press release examples and working with peers on the first press release assignment, I’ve re-organized and updated the related social media and blog writing assignments, and have shifted a few lectures around to more effectively deliver material. Other minor changes to make sure content is up to date. I’m also super excited that for our PitchEngine assignment this semester, all of our students will be temporarily upgraded from the free version of PitchEngine to the paid level thanks to the awesome people at PitchEngine! So, students will get experience with advanced functionality.

Hope you find these new syllabi helpful! If you share your syllabi online, please share in the comments below!

Teaching The Applied Communication Research Class

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Metrics, Metrics, Metrics! I hear it everywhere I turn. 🙂 More than ever, we need to be teaching our students research skills.

This Spring 2014 semester I am really excited to be teaching an applied Communication Research class!

For two years at Utah Valley University, I taught communication research with an emphasis on academic research. You can see the syllabus for that class. In that class, student groups planned, wrote up, and executed a semester long academic research study. Though many professors don’t prefer to teach this class, research is one of my favorite classes to teach. I’ve had numerous undergraduate students present their research at undergraduate research conferences and earn travel grants to do so. This is a super valuable experience for those considering grad school. Though it is very time demanding, and some feel teaching others how to conduct research is tedious, I didn’t find it that way at all. Seeing students get that “aha” moment in research and seeing them succeed makes teaching the class very rewarding.

This semester, I’ll be focusing on the more practical uses of research with an emphasis on using research for strategic purposes. This class emphasizes research across new media, legacy media, and interpersonal and online environments. Students will learn both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Our textbook is Paine’s “Measure what Matters: Online Tools for Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships.” I considered the Stacks book as well, but liked the emphasis on new media in Paine and felt her book may be more accessible to students, as students can be intimidated by a research class.

This hands on class will emphasize the following research skill sets:

  • How to conduct content analysis using a coding sheet.
  • How to conduct a computer-assisted content analysis
  • How to conduct interviews and focus groups
  • How to conduct quantitative electronic surveys using iPads

Students will work in teams to conduct 3 applied projects. The first 2 projects are real-world problems I set up and the students have to solve, and in the 3rd project they have to identify a problem, write a proposal, and execute:

  • Media placement evaluation – Answering questions such as, placement, share of voice, and whether key messages are included in media coverage and to what extent. Done via content analysis of media clippings.
  • Sentiment analysis of social media content – What are people saying about your brand on social media, and what is sentiment towards it? Done via computer-assisted content analysis of Twitter posts.
  • Audience Research – Focuses on 1 of the 5 key PR variables discussed by Stacks (2011): Confidence, credibility, relationship, reputation (which may include awareness), or trust. Students will choose 2 of the following: interviews, focus groups, and surveys.

Students will be introduced to the following software:

  • Computer-assisted content analysis (Yoshikoder will be used as it is free and easy to learn)
  • Digital Survey programming with XLS Forms
  • Open Data Kit Collector – field data survey collection software (we will be using this with the XLS forms on the free FormHub.com online form tool).
  • SPSS – We won’t get too far into SPSS due the other demands on the students time, but students will learn data entry, descriptive statistics, and correlation analysis.

I’ll be posting the syllabus for the class soon! As the semester goes along, I hope to get up a number of blog posts expanding on the class, assignments, and so forth. So check back!

Have you taught research – what do you emphasize in your class? How can I improve my class? What key skill sets should we be teaching  future practitioners?



– top photo CC by IntelFreePress

“Social Media and Mobiles” Social Media and Politics Research Published!

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I hope everyone is staying warm! Here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, we’ve got some terribly cold weather heading our way tonight!

I want to take a moment to share some news from the research side of my life in academia. 🙂 As you know, I research social media and civic and political participation.

I’m very excited because this past Friday, my latest co-authored study was published online in the journal New Media and Society.

This study, “Social Media and Mobiles as Political Mobilization Forces for Young Adults: Examining the Moderating Role of Political Expression in Political Participation,” is an extension of our earlier articles: “More harm than good? Online media use and political disaffection among college students in the 2008 election” (2013) in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, and 2010’s Mass Communication & Society piece, ““Did social media really matter? College students’ use of online media and political decision making in the 2008 election.”

Social Media and Mobiles really seeks to further investigate the seemingly important role of online political expression (such as posting political videos to YouTube, Tweeting about politics, or posting to Facebook, etc.) in political participation. Particularly, the study looks at what role online expression may play in moderating any effects of political media use on participation. Additionally, this study investigated political smart phone app use, something not investigated in the prior two studies.

Here is the abstract:

A web survey of college students was conducted to examine whether online political expression moderates the effects of political media use on political participation. Results showed that online political expression enhanced the effects of political mobile apps, traditional offline and online media, and social media on political participation. Implications are discussed for a mobilizing role of online media in the democratic process for young adults.

You can see my other posts on social media research.



photo CC zoonabar

What Are Your 2014 Teaching Goals? Here Are Mine

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Every December, my wife and I write down personal goals for the upcoming year. We sit down, discuss them, write them down, and then at the end of the year, we look at what we wrote down and honestly assess how we did. This year, I thought I should write down my 2014 goals as an educator.


By sharing them, I 1) hope to hold myself more accountable at the risk of facing some serious cognitive dissonance 2) hope it will inspire some people to write down their goals, and share them.

So here are is my list of goals as an educator for 2014:

1) Don’t Lose Sight of Why I got into Academia

If I think about it,I’ve been teaching at the university level for 7.5 academic years (including 4 years of autonomous teaching as a grad student TA). I love teaching. I feel very blessed to have found my calling. As I’ve gotten further along in my career, I’ve taken on new responsibilities that have taken time away from my ability to really focus on making my classes outstanding. I want to make sure that as I add more years of experience under my belt, I don’t lose sight of why I am in academia: the students.  In 2014, I want to make a conscious effort to keep putting my students first as I take on new responsibilities outside of the classroom.

2) Stay Young at Heart

This is also related to my growing years of experience mentioned in #1. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed the differences between myself and my students are growing in terms of life experiences. For example,  a few years ago students easily got cultural references I made to things from when I was growing up. Nowadays, I make movie references or mention musical artists and am greeted with blank stares. Anyone who has taken a class from me, knows that I love teaching and love learning, and seek to make the classroom environment fun and engaging. But, creating common ground on common experience is becoming more challenging. Of course, I could learn more about what students are watching, listening to, etc. – it isn’t too hard to chat with students and learn about what they’re into nowadays, that’s not what I’m getting at. I suppose I wonder in what other significant ways my getting older could create distance with my students. As time passes, am I having a harder time relating to the way young adults see the world, and what matters to them? When I started teaching, I was a grad student in his mid twenties – a fellow student living in college housing. My life is much different now. Since I started teaching, I’ve gotten married, bought a house, started planning for retirement, many of my friends have started families, etc., etc. While these things in and of themselves are great, with each year my day to day life and experiences are increasingly different from that of my students. So, in 2014 I want to make a conscious effort to be aware of that and to make a real effort to put myself in the shoes of my students. That includes, being sure to see things from their port of view, trying to reflect on how I thought, what concerns I had, what my priorities were, and how i felt when I was their age. In short, I want to make sure I stay young at heart and continue to be compassionate and mindful of the world of a college student.

3) Teaching Reflection

I am a bit of a perfectionist and a bit obsessive when it comes to my class. I want each class period to be perfect – right down to the order in which I present little bits of information. (I’ve found saying 1 thing before another can have a dramatic effect on how students react to information sometimes. I know. It is probably a bit over the top). When I started teaching, I would go to my office after each class and make notes on how the class went. If I felt a major change was needed, I would readjust a lesson. If something little needed to be done – say, we should have had a discussion about X, or I should have asked Y question, I’d make note of that. Then, I’d then update my binder so that the next time I taught the class, the improvement was made. However, as I’ve gotten busier, I’ve not kept up this routine. Instead, I’ve either 1) made a note to work on the fix over winter or summer break, or worse 2) forgotten about what I wanted to do to improve that particular class and hoped I’d remember the next time around. While #1) was better than nothing and sometimes gave me time to come up with new ideas that were great, sometimes because time had passed, I lost the advantage of having the problem fresh in my mind and thus my ability to create a real improvement to the class was diminished. Of course, #1 was better than #2. When i did #2, I often never remembered to make the change. Then I’d be teaching the class again and be kicking myself. While I’ve learned to be a bit more flexible, I do want to get back to taking the time to reflect on my classes and make more immediate adjustments after a class if I think something should be presented differently.  So goal #3 is: Rather the putting it off, spend time after classes when needed to plan changes to things that didn’t go as I had hoped.

4) Assessment

This is less of a goal and more of a “somethin’ I gotta do.” But still, it is a new challenge and an area I want to really do well in. As you know, I created the Strategic Communication concentration in the Department of Communication at Shepherd. I’m going to be building an assessment plan for the program. Assessment is something I haven’t done before. So i am excited and nervous about it. I’ve created a plan for my Writing Across Platforms class. So I’ve got a start. But the planning and execution of assessment is a big project for 2014. So, creating a complete assessment plan for my concentration and beginning to assess it is a big goal for 2014!

5) Be Thankful

Lastly. I know we get stressed at our jobs and that this is a challenging time for academia. I love what I do. And I’m so thankful that I get to do it. But sometimes, we get so busy and so focused on what we need to get done, or stressed about a project or a deadline, we lose sight of how lucky we are. In 2014, I want to really make an effort to keep on the top of my mind how thankful I am to get to do what I love every day and to work with amazing students and professors.

Thanks so much for reading my blog in 2013. It has been a wonderful year. I’ve learned so much and had so many amazing experiences in my professional and personal life!

What are your goals for the upcoming years? Have you dealt with the items on my goal list – and if so, what suggestions and advice do you have?

Cheers! I wish you a peaceful and prosperous 2014!


photo creative commons  meddygarnet

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