In my previous post, I discussed some common perceptions that students have about social media prior to taking a course in it.  As a social media educator, I thought I’d share a few strategies that I employ:
Social media isn’t just for friends.

It’s exciting to share success stories and cases that demonstrate the ways major brands like Mountain Dew and Starbucks use social media to engage and energize their audience. I simply bring up the Starbucks Facebook site and show how they have over 22 million “likes”. To further emphasize this, I invite the Mountain Dew Facebook community manager to join the class and describe how important social media is to the Mountain Dew brand.  Students post questions ahead of time to a shared Google doc that the class, myself, and the guest speaker have access to. This allows the presenter to target her presentation around the topics the students are most interested in.

Some questions from students included:

  1. How does Mountain Dew track and measure the development of communities not directly under corporate control?
  2. How do you deal with negative feedback or comments? Do you respond or let them get lost in the chatter? Have you considered has tags in Twitter?
  3. Wow, how did the evolution happen?  The end customer is helping to design new products – and therefore allocating a large amount of the company’s costs as they see fit. How did a corporate giant like Pepsi – embrace this movement?
  4. With the introduction of GreenLabel Sports and GreenLabel Music it seems that Mountain Dew has an opportunity to expand its target market beyond teenagers.  Is this something that Mountain Dew is looking to do and if so, what else are you doing to reach this new target market?
Students use social media to provide feedback to businesses
I show students how they are already using social media to provide feedback to businesses. I survey them ahead of time to see how they find information when planning a vacation. Most already use websites like TripAdvisor to read reviews of hotels. I use Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff’s Groundswell as the foundational text. There’s a great chapter on the social technographics profile. I show students that there are different levels of engagement with social media sites. A consumer posting to review sites is an example of an activity of a “critic”. I ask students to use the free tool below for their projects to identify the target audience for the brand, product or service they are consulting with.

Listening on twitter
For a week, I ask students obtain their news about a certain topic (sports, finance, fashion, etc.) from Twitter. Instead of posting to twitter and feeling as though no one is listening, they listen to others. I suggest that they follow @nytimes @nickkristof to start. Next, I have student reflect on how twitter is used by those that they are following. Then, I suggest that they begin to follow big brands to see how they use it to engage their audience. I suggest @ jetbluecheeps, @mtv, and @wired.
Next, I’ll provide an example of how I survey my students before the course begins.
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