Social Media as a tool for Educators, Students AND Business

the tartanpodcast / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Throughout this article, I will be speaking strictly from my experience as to how social media is introduced in universities as an adjunct faculty member within Marketing and Management departments. Therefore, I am not referring to other disciplines or courses other than my own.

Social Media as a tool for educators:

Most college courses incorporate some form of social media into learning material, so most students are familiar with basic uses of the medium. Considering most students are already using such platforms as Facebook and YouTube, it only makes sense to utilize these tools for education. Students are using social media to view supplemental information pertaining to their courses via blogs, wikis, forums, YouTube and more. For example, Stanford Graduate School of Business has a YouTube channel that offers viewers lectures, interviews, and an insight into many of its graduate level courses. Similarly, blogs are introduced to students to offer additional resources for review in order to achieve an over all goal of comprehending course topics. Social offers various ways to present material. One of the most common and widely-used categorizations of the various types of learning styles is Fleming’s VARK model (sometimes VAK) which lists learners as:

1. visual learners: info-graphics, pictures, diagrams, video presentations.
2. auditory learners: lectures, discussions, podcasts, online videos.
3. kinesthetic learners or tactile learners: Physically “doing”.

Using social media can assist instructors in universities in catering to these needs.

Social Media as a tool for students:

Networking capabilities alone make the use of platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter a must for university students. Social allows the users (students for the sake of this discussion) to not only forge relationships with others in their field of study, but it also enhances the educational experience. Platforms such as discussion boards, Facebook, and individual blogs help to foster a feeling of community for those taking online/distance education courses (as well as those taking courses on campus). For example, I have a Facebook group for my present and past students. Via the page, students can network with each other, I post employment opportunities and Marketing related materials, and the students do the same. Students from both universities (thousands of miles away from each other) are utilizing this page. In addition, I use Twitter in the same fashion. Further, all of my level one students (those taking class one of three) have personal blogs as a requirement of the course. They ‘follow’ each other via Twitter and their blogs and give support and critique when needed.

I believe there is less emphasis on social for employment searches, career advancement, and personal branding than I would like to see in undergraduate courses. For example, the use of a LinkedIn profile and the groups found within could be utilized for job searches, industry specific news, networking with those in your field, or perhaps following an organization you hope to work for. A personal blog can highlight a student portfolio, and a Twitter feed may further enhance the students’ brand. Personal branding through social can help a student position themselves for success. Every undergraduate student should be able to utilize social in the following ways:

1. Networking
2. Researching
3. Job Searching
4. Personal Branding

Social media as a tool for business:

The Social Media as introduced in graduate courses go beyond the above mentioned basic use of social media platforms. (See my last article). The series of courses is introduced with the first week centered around students learning about the evolution of social media and comparison of the various social media tools. Often students do not realize how often they are using social media because they have never actually defined social media beyond Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter. Similarly, they may have never considered the business uses for social media or their benefits to consumers and businesses. Read the entire article on WindmillNetworking.

Photo credit: the tartanpodcast / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

What is the point of Social Media Marketing Classes in College?

velkr0 / Foter.com / CC BY

As social networks and their potential value to business are becoming apparent, marketing professionals should have a solid knowledge of social media and more importantly social media marketing. Simply having a grasp on how to post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or another platform is not sufficient. Marketing professionals need to understand how to integrate social into marketing strategies.

The term “Social Media” should not be confused with “Social Media Marketing”, there is a distinction to be made between the two. Social media is an evolving and changing assortment of platforms and tools that enable businesses and consumers to share dialogue, information, and interact on a one-to-one basis or on a one-to-many basis. Understanding how to combine the traditional principles of marketing with the use of a “tool” (such as Twitter, Google+, or a company blog) to meet an organizations objectives and goals is social media marketing.
It is unfortunate that many business schools are not recognizing the potential of new technology by offering courses in social marketing. Addressing it as a whole in one week of a semester is not sufficient. Briefly covering the leading sites, how many users sign on daily, how they are used by the typical user, and when each site was created does little to educate students on the significant part social media plays in business. While these facts are interesting and some of the numbers downright staggering, they do not benefit the student long term. Meaning, the brief overview of social does little to encourage the use of social media for more than keeping in touch with friends.

Offerings should include entire courses designed to not simply teach students to use social media, but to create it. Students should learn to use social marketing techniques to conduct market research and create more effective campaigns, improve products, and generate leads. Students must be able to understand people’s behavior in social media to better target audiences as well as know how social media relates to inbound marketing. Not to mention the benefits of blogging and of course the importance of SEO (search engine optimization). University students should at the very least have the opportunity to develop a tailored social media marketing strategy for their own personal brand to further enhance their attractiveness to future employers. Those universities not offering such courses are doing a disservice to both their students and the students’ future employers.

Alas, not all is lost! Do not fret, there are a few universities who have taken the initiative to offer social media programs! For example…
Read the entire article on Windmill Networking.

Photo credit: velkr0 / Foter.com / CC BY