Teach Social Media book now available on Kindle Unlimited

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Teach Social Media now on Kindle Unlimited

Welcome back! We have arrived at the spring 2022 semester.

Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love

To kick off the semester, I am excited to announce that my book, Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love, is now available on Kindle Unlimited. This means that if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read the entire Kindle book at no additional cost beyond the price of Kindle Unlimited membership.  The book remains available for purchase in paperback and on Kindle.  I hope that this enables more people to get access to the book so that they can take advantage of its contents in preparing their social media class.

Continue reading Teach Social Media book now available on Kindle Unlimited

Leveraging Technology in Leadership Communication by Carolyn Mae Kim [Book Review]

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Leveraging Technology in Leadership Communication by Carolyn Mae Kim

Dr. Carolyn Mae Kim has a new book out about leadership and the role technology can play in building ethical leadership. Published by Routledge, this new book is titled Leveraging Technology in Leadership Communication.  Below I review this brand new book.

But before we start, I must admit my bias up front in reviewing this book. In my social media class, I use one of Dr. Kim’s other books, Social Media Campaigns: Strategies for Public Relations and Marketing (I reviewed the first edition of this book in 2016. I currently use the second edition in my class).

Professor Kim is someone I have long-admired. She is a leader in public relations education and the work she has done in helping build the PR program at Biola University is an inspiration. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from her as well as work with her on a few projects and I know her to be a person of exceptional character. Lastly, I had the opportunity to make a small contributions to this book in a leadership spotlight (more on that below). So, again, fair warning: the review you will find below is biased.

Continue reading Leveraging Technology in Leadership Communication by Carolyn Mae Kim [Book Review]

Here Are My Social Media and Strategic Campaigns Hybrid Course Syllabi and my Introduction to Mass Communications Asynchronous Syllabus

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Communication Course Hybrid and Asynchronous Syllabi

This semester is flying by! How is it late October already? We are entering week 10 here at Shepherd University. I promised several weeks ago to share my syllabi for this semester. As the saying goes, “better late than never.” 🙂

Below, you will find 2 syllabi from courses I have discussed previously on this blog. You will also find a brand new syllabus for a class that I have never shared on this blog before: COMM 203 Communication & New Media. This is a course that is commonly called Introduction to Mass Communication or similarly titled at other universities.

Continue reading Here Are My Social Media and Strategic Campaigns Hybrid Course Syllabi and my Introduction to Mass Communications Asynchronous Syllabus

What’s Changing? Navigating a ‘New Normal’ in 2021

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What’s Changing in Fall 2021?

Welcome back! Fall 2021 is in full swing.

Traditionally, I begin the academic year with a “What’s Changing” blog post (example: my 2019 What’s Changing post). In these posts, I share my big picture plans for the fall semester, and sometimes for the spring as well. Last fall, I broke that tradition with a post that I hope provided some encouragement to the education community.

Continue reading What’s Changing? Navigating a ‘New Normal’ in 2021

A Note to My Fellow Educators: Thank You (p.s. It’s Okay to be Exhausted)

The 2020-2021 academic year is drawing to a close for many of us. Thought you may not have felt like it at times, you have done an incredible job this past school year.

In my final announcement to my students, I thanked them for showing up. I told them that I hoped that, if nothing else, this school year helped them see how resilient they truly are. I share these words because the same goes for all the educators out there. Thank you for the sacrifices you made. Thank you for showing up.

As I wrote back in September:

You are good enough. You are awesome.

During this long, strange academic year we have had to adapt to a new world.  Many of us have learned to grow our skills in new vectors while shrinking the scope of our pre-pandemic plans. Throughout this journey through anxious times, we have dealt with uncertainty and tragedy.

As educators, we have a talent for self-laceration. Perhaps it is the fact that academic work often involves less oversight that we find ourselves playing the dual roles of motivator and motivated. As such, we may have struggled this year with thoughts like: “I should have done more of (fill in the blank),” or “my productivity this year has been a fraction of what it was last year.” Those kinds of thoughts just create more stress when pandemic-related obligations or restrictions get in the way of getting things done. Let those thoughts go.

My summer plans are, in many respects, probably not much different from yours. That is, I plan to play a lot of catch up. But, in doing so, I’m going to challenge myself to be mindful of the (often self-imposed) pressure of finishing all that went unfinished, or in many cases, unstarted, this past academic year. Can we put that pressure aside, at least for a little while, and work on our to do list while practicing self care?

Lately, I’ve been reminding myself a lot of something someone said to me once: “Stop trying to be perfect and start being human.”

You deserve a break. You deserve rest. It has been a hard year. And that is okay. It is okay to be exhausted. It is okay to be human. You do not need anyone’s permission.

Kermit, I love you, but I’m not sure I agree with the ‘that’s none of my business’ sentiment. In a way, I think it is all of our business to ensure we are supporting each other as whole people.

It is important to decompress. It is important to take time for yourself and for your loved ones. What you have been able to get done during a global pandemic is and was enough. Full stop.

So I plan to spend a lot of time this summer doing simple things to focus on the whole of me. This pandemic has taught me, for example, that I like to make homemade almond milk and oat milk (tweet at me for the recipes. Both are super simple to make). This summer, I plan to learn how to make vegan homemade ice cream (just bought an ice cream maker!!!), bond with my child in nature, and sit on my deck and listen to the morning birds. This pandemic has taught me the value of many things I was too in a rush to do or to notice.

But wait… who am I to tell you that you deserve a break? Let’s be real. I’m a person with a section on his blog titled “Be more Productive.” The irony of me in 2021 writing this blog post is not lost on me. Like many of you, I’ve developed into a compulsive worker.

One school of thought is that it is risky to take time to yourself in an ever-changing world. I think that the pandemic has taught us that we need to push back against that mantra and realize that we risk losing who we truly are if we do not carve out a space for the whole self. During this pandemic, many academics have shared stories of or concerns about burnout in academia. A candle that has burned out cannot light a path for others. The same is true for academics. With that in mind, it is imperative that we do take time for ourselves.  If taking time for yourself feels selfish, then do it for me. Allow me to be the selfish one here and say that I want the best version of you out there impacting lives, advancing knowledge, changing the course of humanity.

At the start of fall 2020 academic year as we entered the uncertainty of the COVID classroom era, I wrote  “We are in a time of revaluation. We are in a time where our compassion and humanity are our greatest assets.”

I hope we do not lose sight of our compassion and humanity as we move forward. This summer, I hope to keep my eye on compassion and humanity in my own life and in the lives of others.  I hope you will remain cognizant of your own humanity and approach yourself with compassion as you slide into summer in 2021.

Disruption engenders change. In what direction do you want to change moving forward?

From one educator to another, I sincerely thank you for everything you have done and continue to do.

Tweet at me your plans to take some ‘me time’ this summer. This is a question I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. It is important that we have more conversations about self-care, burnout, and the role they play in fulfilling, meaningful work in academia. Let’s talk.

Have a wonderful summer! I look forward to connecting in the fall!

Be well!


Teaching Paid Social Media and Influencer Marketing with the Stukent Mimic Social Simulator (Part 2 of 2)

This is post 2 in a two-part series about teaching paid social media with Stukent Mimic Social. Before reading this post, I encourage you to read post 1, which was published on the Stukent website.

Use Stukent Mimic Social to Teach Paid Social Media with this Assignment

In the first post in this two-part series, I introduced the Stukent Mimic Social simulator, which is a classroom simulator for teaching paid social media. In that post, I covered what the simulator is, the learning objectives I had for it, and how the simulator works.

In this post, I discuss how I integrated the Mimic Social simulator into my class. I also provide an overview of the assignment that accompanied the simulator. A copy of the assignment is provided as well.

Setting Up the Mimic Social Simulator: Considerations

Before we discuss how I integrated Mimic Social into my class and the assignment itself, I should preface with a few notes. When professors set up the Mimic Social simulator for their students, they choose the number of rounds they want their students to complete. Options range from 2 rounds to 24. I opted for 16 rounds given the time we had to commit to the assignment and my sense of how many repetitions would be necessary for students to begin to build mastery.

Professors can also decide to delay the opening of rounds such that students have to wait until certain preset dates to access each round (see image below). This prevents students from rushing ahead. I did not choose this option.

Mimic Social simulator setting up rounds

How I Teach Paid Social Media with the Stukent Mimic Social Simulator

I assigned the Stukent Mimic Social simulator as the final assignment in my fall 2020 social media class. Since the assignment was going to bring together many things the students had learned over the course of the semester (see my learning goals for the simulator in my first post), much of the semester served as a preparation for this final task. Assigning Mimic Social as the final assignment was like sending students out into the (simulated) real world after doing my very best to train them throughout the semester.

I taught this class online, with all but the two lectures noted below, done synchronously on Zoom.

To prepare my students for success with Stukent’s social media simulator, I introduced them to paid social media. First, I had my students complete The Essential Guide to Digital Marketing with Facebook, part of the Facebook Business educational resources. I provided two accompanying lectures on how social media advertising works, focusing on Facebook advertising.

In a third lecture, I went over the assignment and provided a lecture to 1) get students up to speed on what Stukent is and how it works, and 2) to connect the Stukent assignment to things students had learned in class – such as audience targeting and the marketing funnel – and to things they had learned through the Facebook Essentials Guide – such as split testing ads. After the third lecture, students began the simulator, using most of the class time to do the simulator. I prepared brief per-recorded lectures for them to watch before working on the simulator and made myself available for chat or video call to any student who might have questions. I liked this approach because students could work at their own pace from home while turning to me with any questions they may have.

In a brief fourth lecture, I covered how influencer marketing works in Mimic Social, which begins in the simulator in round 7. This lecture was also per-recorded and students were to watch it before working on Stukent for that day.

The Mimic Social Simulator Assignment

As I noted above, the Mimic Social simulator was the final assignment in my class. But I assigned it in two parts and students began working with the simulator during week 11 of a fifteen-week semester. The first part simply asked students to complete rounds 1 through 6 before the end of week 13 of the semester. For the analysis rounds 2 and 4, students were to answer the questions provided. For round 6, students were to answer all of the questions in the question section except for the last question that asked “What types of content did you use for this round? Why?” Instead of that question, I had students describe how they planned to use what they learned so far to complete the rest of the simulator. Part 1 served as a check in to so that I knew students were engaging with the materials during the same time that I was talking about the topic during the semester. But my major motivation for having this deadline was to head off any issues before finals week. If students were having troubles getting signed up for our class on Stukent, were having technical troubles or were having trouble understanding Stukent and how to succeed at it, I could address these issues during the semester and not at the last minute during finals week. After students were given 2 class periods to work on the simulator with the hopes of completing all of part 1, my class shifted to focusing on other topics.

Part 2 of the assignment was due during finals week. This gave students time between the end of week 13 and finals week to schedule the simulator into their schedules rather than rushing to complete it during finals. Part two asked students to complete rounds 7 through 16. Students did not need to answer the questions section of the analysis rounds. Rather, students were tasked with creating a report to the chief marketing officer of Buhi. As you’ll recall in the first post in this series, the simulator begins with a welcome message from the CMO, which includes a list of goals the student is to achieve by the end of the simulator. Students had the option of writing this as a report or of creating a presentation that they recorded and turned into me. Whichever option they chose, students were tasked with addressing the below questions in their final report and providing visual evidence (screen captures) from their analytics to support their claims:

  1. What goals did Buhi give you?
  2. Target Audiences:
    1. Provide a general overview of the target market for Buhi.
    2. What audience(s) – of the ones available to you – did you choose to target and why?
    3. What audiences did you have the most success with? Why do you think that is? (hint: In both Post Analytics and Post history you can filter by audience name).
  3. For Social Content:
    1. Looking over Post Analytics: What social media platforms worked best for you in terms of awareness, engagements, and revenue? Show evidence.
    2. What dates/times worked best for each platform? How often?
    3. What types of posts (e.g., articles, people indoor with products, image no product, memes) on your top 3 platforms worked best in generating awareness, engagement, revenue?
    4. Looking through your post history: What were your tops posts for: awareness, engagement, revenue?
  4. For Influencers:
    1. What types of influencers did you have the most success with? What social media platforms performed best with your influencers in terms of awareness, engagements, and revenue?
    2. What types of influencer strategies (e.g., brand ambassador, takeovers, etc.) worked best? Why do you think that is?
  5. Overall Performance:
    1. Looking over your early performance (the first few weeks), your middle performance, and your final performance (the last few weeks), in what ways did you improve? In what ways, if any, did you not improve?
    2. What were your final results in terms of total awareness, engagement, and revenue?
    3. How well did you meet each of the goals Buhi gave you? (see the goals Buhi gave you below)
    4. What was your ranking in the class (see course ranking)?
  6. Takeaways & Reflection:
    1. What did you learn from this experience?
    2. What were your areas of strengths? What areas would you like to improve upon?
    3. Imagine you were leaving this company and going to train the next person to fulfill your position. What advice would you give that person?
    4. Please feel free to share any final thoughts.

See the full assignment below or on SlideShare here.

Evaluating Student Success in Mimic Social

At the end of the simulation, each student was ranked by revenue along with the following metrics: budget spent, customer satisfaction, total posts, total promoted posts, total impressions, total engagements, total clicks, and total conversions (see image below). There are also exportable reports for: a summary of all data, post details, and influencer summaries. This data will let you dive even further into your students’ efforts.

Students were graded based on two factors (see the assignment for details). The first, which accounted for 90% of a students’ grade, was based on the final report. This included clarity of communication, how thoroughly the questions for the final report were addressed, how successful the student was in achieving Buhi’s goals, and a thoughtful reflection on their performance and what they learned. The last 10% of their grade came from their course ranking. That is, how well the student did in terms of revenue generated when compared to their peers. The person who ranked #1 earned 10% extra credit on their grade, the #2 ranking student earned 5% extra credit, the #3 ranking person earned full credit and each person thereafter received 2% off their grade on down to 0% of the 10% possible. I used a similar ranking system when I taught the Mimic Intro simulator. While it comes with some drawbacks, as some students may complain that they have no control over how their peers perform, it also seems to light a fire under students and gets them motivated to complete. I remind students that in business they will be competing with others for customers, donors, and the like.


Student feedback on the simulator was overall very positive.

Several students cited that it was their favorite project of the semester when we discussed what we learned in the class on the last day of classes. I got the sense that the simulator helped several students build push themselves out of their comfort zone and when they found success, it built their confidence. I messaged with Anna Keys, one of my students, about the simulator. She told me: “The Stukent Mimic Simulator provided me with tools that transferred seamlessly into real life social media advertising. I was able to learn about the process of targeting ads to specific ‘personas,’ which was something I struggled with prior to completing the simulation. I was also able to gain a much deeper understanding of the way in which money should be allocated during a campaign. I really appreciated that I received feedback after each round so that I could adjust my work to be the best it could be.”

In closing, I am pleased with how the Mimic Social simulator went. It helped bolster several key learning goals and provided students with hands-on experience with paid social media and influencer marketing that I could not otherwise provide them in class. The fact that students were able to do the simulator from home during an online class made for an easy integration of the simulator into what was a challenging fall 2020 semester due to the pandemic. Here’s to hoping we will be back in person for fall 2021. Either way, I plan on doing this assignment again this fall.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to read the first post in this series on the Stukent Blog!

If you’ve taught the Stukent Mimic Social in your class, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to drop a comment below.

Be well,

Notes and Disclosure: This blog post discusses how I used this software in my classroom to provide descriptive information for educators about my experience. This post is not an endorsement of Stukent, their products or any other software. While I was originally planning to write about my experience with Stukent on my blog, I did not get around to doing so before I was approached by Stukent with a request to write this blog post series. I was approached by Stukent with the request after the semester where I used the Mimic Social simulator and the above assignment in my class. I was not offered any incentive or compensation to write these posts. The university I work for did not receive any encouragement, incentives, compensation or discount whatsoever for my discussion of Stukent.

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