Monday, May 6, 2013

Everything I Learned About Social Media I Learned from My Students

This post shows how you can develop your brand, connect and contribute on social media networks and in a short time change how you are perceived and create value online.  We just finished our social media module in Marketing Technology at Northern Illinois University   I gave them a basic structure to start building a personal social media plan using the top five platforms of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest.  There was no time to have them develop videos but we discussed the importance of YouTube and video in general in improving search engine results and web site engagement.

Teaching this class is like teaching in a Petri dish, a big sloppy experiment in various aspects of digital marketing.  I can observe the results of marketing campaigns that we deploy, see which PPC approaches work best and how online and offline strategies interact.  In this case, I made some simple suggestions for each of the five social media platforms and then sat back and watch the results come back.  I already noted in a prior blog post that making simple profile changes to LinkedIn resulted in more targeted job opportunities within twenty-four hours.

What I noticed was that my students were able to get results quite quickly from simple changes that they made to their approach to social media.   When we started the project, few of them had an organized approach to their personal social media plan.   I just finished reading their reflection papers on the subject and want to share some insights as to what worked for them and can work for you.

You can change how you are perceived online

Just by following my advice and fleshing out their Google+ profiles, when they were logged in to Gmail they could see a more professional appearance online.  Their LinkedIn, blogs and other online information showed up first in search results and helped them to present a more professional appearance.  This all happened in a few weeks time and many of them had online profile to begin with that reflected their personal rather that their professional lives.  Social media marketing helped them develop their personal brand image.

You can connect to just about anyone

The students were asked to connect to people where they might want to find a job or just find out more about the interactive marketing field  and this approach was effective.  Students were able to find people at key interactive companies and connect to them.  I recommended having some sort of relationship before connecting, i.e., having met them at a seminar or participated in a group discussion or webinar with them, before making the connection.  The students have the added advantage of being students.  Everyone loves to help students (I know I do).  I told them make these connections now while they are in the student role.

Everyone can contribute something online

Sometimes students think because they are students they can't contribute.  They don't realize being in an Interactive Marketing program like ours gives them and advantage in terms of knowledge and understanding in the area.  But everyone has something to contribute online.  The students learned that they could take a blog post or something we had learned in class, put a twist on it or make a comment and create value for those reading the information.  Witness the graphical approach to taking notes in class above by +Felicia Aguillon.  Her summary of our last day of class on social media was well-received not just by me but other social media outlets where it was posted.

So this post shows you can develop your brand, connect and contribute on social media networks and in a short time change how you are perceived and create value online.  It only took a few weeks to change perceptions.  The students changed how they were perceived online and also how they were perceived by others.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.
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