Social Media as a tool for educators and students


Most college courses incorporate some form of social media into learning material (I have been known to go a little Social Media crazy), 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 (such as this one) 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.

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 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. Always an interesting topic for discussion for the first week of this first course is the state of current business practices using social media. It is a great way to get the students realizing what social media marketing is, and what it is not.

I am always surprised that one or two students each term questions if they ‘have’ to get a Twitter account and create a blog for the course. The answer is yes. Anyone wanting to learn about social media needs to be “in” social. I always look forward to seeing my students create their blogs. They have addressed various topics and I truly love watching them get creative with the design, layout, topics, and promotion of the blogs. Many of them choose to keep the blog private for only the class and myself to view, and that is completely acceptable. My main concern is having the student experience the creation and maintenance of a blog and understand the role it has within business.

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photo credit: mkhmarketing via photopin cc

Social Media, Customer Service, and Branding

Why don’t more brands engage with social media for customer service?

Each term I teach my introductory course in social media marketing, students always bring up the topic of social media use for customer service functions and the risks associated with incorrect implementation. Technology has brought upon many changes to the branding and marketing industries, specifically social media. Tools such as social media platforms, forums, video sharing, and mobile allow interaction between the brand and the consumer, and interactions between consumers themselves. This interaction is significant in that they can allow for real time dialog and can facilitate the exchange of experiences and preferences between consumers and to the brand as well. Should this dialogue take place on a brands webpage or blog, and include its products, the opportunity for creating and increasing brand equity is substantial. This sharing of information enables brands to gather and analyze data, and with that data, formulate strategies and policies that enhance customer satisfaction.

Given the environment today of on demand information, consumers can find a competitor in a matter of moments or a few click of a mouse. Therefore, brands need to foster an environment conducive to building loyalty. A satisfied customer becomes a loyal customer for a brand through continued positive experiences with the brand. Meaning, improving customer experiences at each touch point influences the loyalty of a consumer. Customers interact with sales staff, customer service, web pages, email, and even through social media. Each of these interactions is an opportunity for a brand to improve the customer experience, create a relationship, and nurture a relationship. Conversely, these are also opportunities to create a negative experience and drive the customer away. By evaluating these touch points, a brand can identify what customers think about the brand, what they value about doing business with the brand, and ultimately build the foundation for a long term relationship. A great example is Kmart, I recent wrote a bit about my experiences with brands via Twitter here.

An alarming trend in social media is the large amounts of brands that have active Twitter or Facebook accounts that do not respond to consumer interactions. Utilizing social media as a tool to learn more about consumers is becoming a real advantage to business. Those brands that choose not to reply to consumers are simply ignoring them, which is unacceptable. Whether the brand is using social media for customer service purposes, research, marketing, promotions, or the like, they need to be prepared before launching a social media endeavor. Read the entire article on

photo credit: jm3 via photo pin cc