Graduate School is nothing like Undergrad: 5 ways it is more Rewarding


When talking to undergraduate students or even those in the workforce considering going back to school for their Master’s, I am always asked, “How is it different?” It is very different, and in a good way.

I waited close to three years between my bachelor’s and master’s. I chose to graduate with a double major in Business Administration and Marketing, continue working full time and make a dent in my student loans. When I was ready to start the process of applying to graduate school, I found out my employer would not pay for courses in “Marketing” because I was working in a technical department within the telecom industry (with the hopes of a marketing department transfer). Instead of getting a Masters in IT or being deterred, I went ahead and switched jobs and made my preparations for grad school. Looking back, this was a great thing. Not only did I get my Master’s, I avoided massive layoffs, seeing my employer investigated by the SEC and the collapse of one of the largest telecom companies in the United States. Gotta love the ‘90s!

The biggest concern I had about graduate school was the GMAT. I felt I never tested well. Once the test was taken, the results printed, I was on my way to two years of fun. Truly, I loved every minute of it. And here is why:

Level of Maturity
I was 25 and mature enough. By 25, you usually have your personality developed, aspirations in mind, goals set out and a picture for the future — what better time to devote about two years to bettering yourself? I had some professional experience under my belt, which would prove to be useful in my course work, and had a clear idea of what I wanted from my graduate program.

Career in Progress
I was not as concerned about hurrying and finishing my degree so I could get a “better job,” as I was during my undergrad years. I worked part time my freshman and sophomore years, and full time during my junior and senior years. I was so determined to graduate and get a better-paying job that I overloaded each term by taking 21 to 24 semester hours. This time around, I was making better money and was able to pay for each class as I took it. Not to mention, while in school, I could defer my previous student loans.

Industry Specific
Probably the main reason I loved my Master’s program so much was that each course was directly related to my area of interest: Marketing. What’s not to love about Consumer Behavior, Global Marketing, Marketing Managements and Promotions? Graduate courses are focused on topics you may have experience with or will have experience with as you develop your desired career. These courses also make readings, case studies and projects more relevant and applicable. In contrast, my undergraduate courses varied and typically were dealt with subjects I had little interest in until I reached my junior and senior years.

In my graduate career, I had some great instructors who took an active interest in me. The classes were smaller, and we were able to get to know one another better. Many of these instructors kept in touch after graduation, and ultimately it was one of my grad-school instructors (turned Department Head) who hired me for my first adjunct teaching assignment. These instructors see what you are capable of doing and can be a great source of information and guidance — they can also write killer letters of reference! Similarly, I was able to create friendships with my peers that transcended into valuable professional contacts. Now with social media, it is even easier to stay connected to instructors and peers, and explore networking beyond graduation.

Like-Minded Individuals
Have you ever felt out of place with friends? Most of my friends had very little interest in business in the depth I did. Most had careers in different sectors or were married with children. In grad school, I was surrounded by like-minded folks who shared my respect for education, valued hard work and had the potential to be thought leaders in my field.

I am not saying obtaining a Master’s or an MBA is a piece of cake and one big social party. It is hard work, but when the end result is one you desire and the topic of study is one you love, it really can be enjoyable. And don’t forget: There are plenty of organizations that value an MBA.

Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from pursuing something so awesome! If someone you know if ‘thinking’ about a Masters/MBA, be sure to share this post with them.

Translating Business Objectives into Social Media Objectives

This month, my Social Media MBA students are working on a project that involves a website, blog, and multiple peripheral social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The objective of this project is to give them a virtual sandbox of sorts to put into action what they have learned in my previous two social media courses. The project involves creating a social media strategy from the ground up. Quite a challenge with the limited amount of time in a semester. However, they are moving right along and will pass the torch so to speak when their course ends.

The first hurdle we faced this term was setting goals and objectives that accurately addressed our vision and mission. This is often the case for many businesses. Initial goals and objectives are either too broad, not specific enough, or not measurable. Once we clearly defined our business objectives, the social strategy fell into place.

Regardless of the type of new business venture, organizations should evaluate their business objectives, strategies, and tactics beforehand. The world of social media is no different. Each organization is unique, and their approaches to social media strategy will vary according to set business objectives.

Before undertaking any type of social media initiative, an organization must begin with identifying objectives and then coordinating social media activities that address those objectives specifically. Most readers would choose to utilize social media to ‘increase sales’ armed only with an arsenal of tactics such as start a contest on Facebook, develop a blog with postings weekly; set up related Twitter feed. These actions in and of themselves are fine and could very well increase sales. However, what about the long term?

A viable social media strategy should start with these basic questions:

* Who? Who is your target audience, where are they online, how can you reach them?
* What? What are your primary objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
* When? When will you evaluate the social strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped.
* Where? Where does the social strategy fit into the overall business? When utilizing such tools as Twitter and Facebook, brands are realizing that social media sites can provide support for not only the marketing and sales departments, but can also assist with educational endeavors, public relations, and even customer care. A social strategy often spans over different departments and objectives should be formulated accordingly.
* Which? Which employees/departments will oversee social media, be responsible for posting, and reporting?
* How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

A key concept for business to understand is that a large portion of Internet traffic still comes from searches, and mobile use for these searches will soon exceed those done via personal computer! Read the entire article on Maximize Social Business.

Social Media landscape and its application to the Marketing industry

As I write this blog post, I am wrapping up another term of teaching Social Media MBA courses. I am reminded why I love teaching social media while viewing students final papers, wiki projects, and blog projects. These students have passion, they enjoy learning about these effective new ‘tools’ we have for the marketing industry, and they cannot wait to start the next social media course! This first course of three (Social Media Marketing), is a real eye-opener for some who know little or nothing about social media and what it has done, and can do, for marketers. Others know quite a bit about the various platforms but have not yet worked hands on with the tools with marketing and/or personal branding in mind. This first course always yields rave reviews at the end of the term, citing how it is helping the student personally and professionally. These are the emails every instructor loves to read!

Examining the Social Media landscape and its application to the Marketing industry (within the context of this course) reveals it can help drive efficiencies while also presenting various opportunities to engage with consumers. Consider how many times a day you actually use some form of social media? I guarantee you use more than you think. Social media is not confined to Facebook and Twitter. Social media applies to technical help boards, review sites, online support groups, personal and corporate blogs, Apps — basically anywhere communication becomes interactive can be considered a form of social media. Perhaps you check your Facebook in the morning to catch up with friends and notice your neighbor has sent you a message that she wants to start jogging in the morning with you. You then decide to purchase new running shoes on for your morning runs. You browse the reviews on Amazon to help solidify your decision to purchase. Then you “like” the running shoe brand on Facebook to see if they have any promotions or fitness information for you. You immediately get a response from the brand with a coupon for a running App for your iPhone. Social media has made communication direct and in real time. This is HUGE! Organizations have the opportunity to learn first hand about their customers and build relationships through relevant communication..

Read the entire article at WindMillNetworking.

Image: smarnad /

15 Social Media Concepts to Make You a More Marketable Social Media Professional in 2013


Social media marketing know how is quickly becoming a must-have skill for marketing professionals. Approximately 73% of Fortune 500 companies have a Twitter account; 66% have Facebook Pages. However, many of these organizations lack experienced personnel to truly unleash the power of social. According to a survey by Harvard Business Review of 2,100 companies, only 12% of those utilizing media feel they use it effectively. Further, online job postings requiring social media skills have gone up 87% from 2011-2012; there is now demand for proven social media professionals. This is great news for all of my Social Media grad students! This leads me to believe that not only employers accepting social, it is now a requirement for business (a notion many of have been shouting from the rooftops). Along with this comes the need for employees who can accomplish social strategies for businesses.

Many believe that social media is simply having an active Facebook profile or Twitter feed. I assure you it is not, there is a method behind the madness! My social media MBA courses offer students the opportunity to learn and apply skills relevant to their career or career goals. These courses are part of a traditional MBA program, requiring courses in accounting, finance, management and more. Students utilize all of these classes together; not in a vacuum. They learn to be strategic and analytic. Upon their completion of the MBA with the social media marketing focus, a student should be able to demonstrate the below competencies. These are not necessarily individual skill sets, but cover a broad spectrum of skills that if used together, make the individual more proficient and marketable. These topics below are addressed more fully within the courses I teach, but are a great resource to look over and evaluate yourself. View this check-list and assess which you have conquered and which you can improve upon in 2013:
* At a minimum, you should have an active Twitter account and LinkedIn account designed around your personal brand. Similarly, you should know what a hashtag is, why we use it, and how not to use or overuse it!
* Do you know the logic behind utilizing social? Here’s a hint: Engagement. This is a broad answer, but if you have been following this blog, you should know that the common theme is “engagement” with external and internal stakeholders.
*Accept and embrace the importance of listening before you speak (via social) and having a social plan/strategy before jumping on the social media roller coaster.

Read the entire article at:
Social Media Today

photo credit: draggin via photopin cc
I had one of these Little Professors as a kid! Was a favorite gadget of mine!

15 People you MUST follow if you’re “all about” Social Media Marketing

If you are remotely interested in social media marketing, you absolutely should be following these 15 content kings and queens!

If you are new to social media marketing or blogging, or perhaps you are in my first social media graduate course, this should get you started with some great daily reading. Not only are these twitter feeds outstanding, many of these folks have blogs you may want to subscribe to. They are a great read with your morning coffee, via RSS readers such as The Old Reader, Feedly, or Digg Reader:

Erik Qualman @equalman Socialnomics Creator ☆ Author ☆ Keynote Speaker ☆ Spartan; Longhorn ☆ Professor ☆ Superhero in name only – I do own a cape though Boston, MA ·
10,681 Tweets
59,687 Following

Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer Chieftain of the social web’s most unique blog, {grow}. Consultant, college professor, author of Return On Influence and Tao of Twitter. Social Media Bouncer. Knoxville, TN
34,622 Tweets
24,578 Following

Actionable Marketer shares practical advice on social media, marketing & life. Also, professor, journalist & speaker.
New York, NY 

20,101 Tweets
1,017 Following

Cheryl K. Burgess @ckburgess CMO @bluefocus Marketing, social branding consultancy | Winner 2012 MarketingSherpa Best Social Media Marketing Blog | Huffington/Wharton/Shorty Awards Winner New Jersey | USA ·
29,488 Tweets
5,223 Following

Mari Smith 
Top Social Media Strategist, Speaker, Author | Premier Facebook Marketing Expert | Scottish-Canadian | FREE Mega Event Oct 23
San Diego, California 

65,432 Tweets
146,533 Following

David Meerman Scott @dmscott Marketing strategist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of 8 books including The New Rules of Marketing and PR and Newsjacking. Boston, MA ·
7,654 Tweets
11,038 Following

Jay Baer @jaybaer President of a hype-free social and content accelerator firm. Keynote speaker. Co-author of The NOW Revolution. Tequila guy. Bloomington, Indiana ·
24,603 Tweets
26,264 Following

Dave Kerpen @DaveKerpen Father. Husband to @carriekerpen. CEO @likeablemedia, social media firm focused on business results. Author NYTimes bestseller @likeablebook. Mets fan. Nerd. New York, NY ·
39,179 Tweets
2,642 Following

Stephanie Agresta @stephagresta EVP @webershandwick. Married to @chrismccaffrey. Mom of @dillonmccaffrey and @chloemccaffrey. Strategist, author, speaker and social media enthusiast! Red Bank, NJ and NYC ·
12,391 Tweets
20,909 Following

Neal Schaffer 
Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, Keynote Speaker | Author, Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales & Social Media Marketing | University Professor
Irvine, Orange County, CA & 日本 · 

51,301 Tweets
46,421 Following

Jeff Bullas @jeffbullas Social Media Marketing for Business, including Blogging, Facebook, Twitter,YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Search, SEO and Content Marketing Sydney, Australia ·
113,217 Tweets
125,351 Following

Guy Kawasaki 
Author of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. Former chief evangelist of Apple. Co-founder of Alltop. 
Silicon Valley, California · 

107,640 Tweets
296,646 Following

Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan CEO and President, Human Business Works, a business design company. More? . contact: Boston, MA ·
105,990 Tweets
287 Following

Brian Solis 
San Francisco, CA · 

15,260 Tweets
2,641 Following

Jeff Sheehan 
B2B Sales|Marketing Pro. Broad traditional & Social Media background. Speaker- SM|SM for jobs. LUV volunteering, travl,photog,and sports. Frmr goalie and coxswain. 
Atlanta, GA USA · 

11,880 Tweets
106,704 Following

This list is by no means complete! This is a great list to start from. It is also not a bad idea to check out these content powerhouses various “Twitter Lists”. I am sure you will find like minded folks sharing relevant content to satisfy your social media mind.

Be on the look out for my next list of “folks to follow” within certain #smm (social media marketing) genres in the coming weeks.

*Note Follower/Tweet stats taken 10/5/2012

photo credit: lrenhrda via photopin cc

Social Media Books for Continued Learning & Keeping that SMM Spark Alive!

Last updated 1/2015

Well, another term of teaching Social Media Marketing courses is coming to a close and a new Fall term is beginning. I am proud of my students, all 3 of the courses delve into various topics, require a lot of reading, application, and writing. Let me re-phrase that, scholarly writing! (My students will chuckle at that)– I will see some of the students in my MKT655 again shortly in MKT666, and I look forward to it! Watching their progress (and Klout scores rise) is very satisfying. As I send off graduate students in my final course MKT666 (course 3 of 3), I wanted to remind them to keep on learning about this ever changing landscape.

I want to share with you the list of books I recommend to students and non-students alike.These books will help my students to continue their learning and to keep them energized about social media marketing! This list is not exhaustive of course, there are many other books out there that are worthy of mentions. However, these are books that I enjoyed that resonated with me and I hope you will enjoy them too.

*Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing: An Unofficial, Practical Guide to Selling & Developing B2B Business on LinkedIn by Neal Schaffer

*Maximize your Social by Neal Schaffer

*8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success by Kent Huffman

* The Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer

* Social Media Explained by Mark Schaefer

* Return on Influence by Mark Schaefer

* Born to Blog by Mark Schaefer

Dr J, Mark Schaefer, and Kent Huffman 1/2013
Dr J, Mark Schaefer, and Kent Huffman 1/2013

*Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (And Other Social Networks) by Dave Kerpen

* WTF: What’s the Future of Business by Brian Solis

*Engage! by Brian Solis.

* Socialnomics by Erik Qualman

*No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing by Erik Deckers

*The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social
by Jay Baer and Amber Naslund

*Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki

*The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk

*Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

*The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution by Brian Solis

*The Social Customer: How Brands Can Use Social CRM to Acquire, Monetize, and Retain Fans, Friends, and Followers by Adam Metz

*HeadStrong: The Keys To A Confident And Positive Attitude During Job Search by Tim Tyrell-Smith

*The Social Media Sales Revolution: The New Rules for Finding Customers, Building Relationships, and Closing More Sales Through Online Networking by Landy Chase and Kevin Knebl

*Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

*Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything by Chris Brogan

*Perspectives on Social Media Marketing by Bonin Bough and Stephanie Agresta

*Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization by Olivier Blanchard

*Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business
by Ann Handley and CC Chapman

*The New Rules of Marketing & PR: by David Meerman Scott

In my social media course I try to connect my students with some of the above thought leaders. Past terms have visited with Mark Schaefer (Summer 2012), Neal Schaffer (Fall 2012).

Update: Another great list of Social Media Books here!

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photo pin cc

Getting ready for the upcoming chaos

Well, I am on day 2 of 7 days free from doctoral work and teaching! So I find myself actually able to make a blog entry from my kitchen counter! Well, we will see if I finish as I have a pomeranian itching to go outside and a toddler just about ready to wake!

I am eagerly awaiting the start of a new course I am to teach at SNHU, MKT 655 (social media marketing strategy). I will have a lot of students from my last term taking this course as well, which I am looking forward to! I am curious to see their progress from one course to the other.  In addition, I will still be teaching MKT 555 Social Media Marketing (at SNHU) and Intro to Marketing ( at TAMU). Between both schools I have a great looking roster of students! I have already had many emails and Tweets concerning the courses. I love the enthusiasm I get from the students in my first Social Media course ( MKT555), they are always ready to dig in, get started, and try to apply what they learn to their specific industry.  I love my job!

Along with teaching Graduate school (term begins Monday) I will be part of a pilot program that involves mentors overseeing the development of adjuncts for Southern New Hampshire University. I am excited about the opportunity and think it is a very good strategic move for the school considering the growth of the program and how important it is to improve and sustain a great pool of adjunct faculty. I look forward to meeting each of the adjuncts I will be helping!

I also begin another doctoral course Monday (7 days off of doctoral work was NOT enough). I am looking forward to the course, CRM (customer relationship management) is a hot topic for me! I will enjoy writing about CRM, Social CRM, etc. much more than previous topics. It is time to put my scholarly writing hat back on!

While on my hiatus, I have been enjoying reading a few books that have been sitting on my bedside table for MONTHS! Engaged by Brian Solis is completed and I am hoping to finish Perspective on Social Media Marketing By Bough and Agresta as well. Next will be The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. I have a short list of other books sitting in my Amazon cart waiting for another week off… with the click of a button they will be delivered to my Kindle for my enjoyment!

With this being the first week of the year, I am already seeing so many articles online about how Social media has taken off in 2011… I am curious as to what 2012 will bring.

..and cue dog barking and toddler waking up from a nap saying “MOMMY, open my door, mommy me want cracker”…..

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