Social Media in the Classroom

By Cliff Shaluta, Western Kentucky University

01 / Introduction to Social Media

The business of advertising is being transformed. Consumers are choosing new communication technologies to network with others and to consume news, information, and entertainment on the platforms they choose at the times they want. We are witnessing a seismic shift in consumer media behavior, along with a much slower realignment of advertising budgets. eMarketer projects that spending on digital advertising in the United States will reach $23.6 billion this year, which represents about 14.4% of total advertising spending of $163 billion. Advertising spending exclusively on social networks is pegged at $1.3 billion or about 5% of total digital advertising spending for this year. Advertising on social networks is projected to reach just $1.6 billion by 2013. eMarketer projects that overall spending on digital advertising will grow to $34.0 billion in 2014, meaning that the actual percentage of ad dollars spent on the social networks will remain about 5% of total digital ad spending in the United States.

But, it's clear that consumers enjoy social media. In fact, a recent study from the University of Maryland and reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, indicates that students exhibited "addiction like withdraw symptoms" when asked to give up all media for a full day. What is not as clear is how social media will be supported. With a reported 400 million registered users, Facebook and a handful of other players can survive on advertising. Many other social media networks, however, will need to explore revenue strategies beyond advertising.

Online Resources
  • Koster, Bram. "Social Media Update 2010." Slideshare. Web. 1 May 2010.
  • PeopleStreme. "Did you know? Human Capital Edition." PeopleStreme. YouTube, Apr. 2010.
  • Razorfish Feed Report: /
  • Razorfish Fluent Report: /
  • Technorati Blog Index:
  • TelecomReport. "Social Media: Fiskars, the Finnish Tools Manufacturer." TelecomReport's Channel. Youtube, 1 Apr. 2010.
  • Xplanevisualthinking. "Did You Know." Xplane: Visual Thinking Channel." YouTube, 1 Apr. 2010.
  • Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail: Why The Future of Business is Selling Less of More. 1st ed. New York, NY: Hyperion, 2006.
  • Benkler, Yochai. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. 1st ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.
  • Qualman, Erik. Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business. 1st ed. Hokoken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2009.
  • Lane, Ronald, W., Karen King and Tom Reichert. Kleppner's Advertising Procedure. 18th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011.
  • Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. 1st ed. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2006.
  • Jaffe, Joseph. Join the Conversation: How to Engage Marketing-Weary Consumers with the Power of Community, Dialogue, and Partnership. 1st ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2007.
  • Garfield, Bob. The Chaos Scenario: Amid the Ruins of Mass Media, The Choice for Business is Stark: Listen or Perish. New York, NY: Stielstra Publishing, 2009.
  • McConnell, Ben and Jackie Huba. Citizen Marketers: When People Are The Message. 1st ed. Chicago, IL: Kaplan Publishing, 2007.

Journalism majors enrolled in JOUR 232 Electronic Technologies are required to create a WordPress blog covering a niche area of their major. Students are required to purchase their own domain name and a Web hosting plan from a list of vendors meeting our specifications. Not only do students get hands-on experience in creating a professional blog in this intro class, they are also building the platform that they will use to assemble an online portfolio. A final review of their online blog/portfolio is required in their senior capstone course.

We are organizing Ad+PR class assignments to provide students with experience in using digital tools and to also generate content for their new blogs.

J300 Ad+PR Research Assignment #1: Research White Paper

Topic: Describe your professional blog topic. Explain it. Tell readers why they should care. Why is your approach unique? Use available research to fully support your work. MLA or APA format. 5 page min.

J300 Ad+PR Research Assignment #2: Online Interview

Topic: Develop a list of 5 questions you would like to know about your professional niche. Use to contact experts covering your topic. Ask if they would answer a few questions. You can also post your questions on target blogs to generate discussion and answers. Open-format. 3 page min.

J300 Ad+PR Research Assignment #3: The Future

Topic: Consider the current direction of your subject area. How do you see the future of your niche? Will it grow in importance? Why or why not? Use available research to fully support your work. MLA or APA format. 5 page min.

02 / Curriculum Planning for Social Media

Organizations will expand their efforts to engage consumers in new ways through digital advertising and social networks. This has particular significance in the fields of marketing and advertising as the process of branding has changed. While mass media was successfully used for many years to help shape consumer perceptions of brands, social media now enables anyone with access to the Internet to be a media outlet. As Domino's learned last year, two employees and a video camera can do amazing damage to a reputation built over years. It really only takes one situation like this to seriously erode a company's brand image. In fact, Domino's recently launched a new campaign aimed at quality assurance. Our assessment is that social media must be integrated into the entire Ad+PR program. We developed three core areas of social media that are implemented in various classes depending on specific course objectives. But, all the work leads to content production of some kind.

Three Core Social Media Topics Covered in the Ad Curriculum

A) Insight

The Internet permits easy access to a wealth of information on a multitude of topics. Insight from social media streams can be harvested from free services, such as or from fee-based services, such as While some argue the validity of this research at present, it's clear that tracking discussions in social media can lead to unique consumer or business insight. It's also clear that the quality and utility of this type of research is improving. Many companies are building "brand embassies" in social media outlets. Facebook Fan Pages are a perfect example of brand embassies. They serve as online contact points for enhanced service and research. They can also be used to recruit "fans" to a private brand communities for in-depth research.

Online Resources:
  • Arts, Martijn "A Full Overview of Social Media: a Research Adventure." Slideshare. Web. 1 May 2010.
  • Free Real-Time Search Website:
  • Google Alerts:
  • Google Reader:
  • Gonda, Rob. "Free Social Media Monitoring Tools." Takemetoyourleader. Web. 1 May 2010.
  • Granter, Beth. "Free Tools for Social Media." Slideshare. Web. 1 May 2010.
  • Research Firm Utilizing Proprietary Software to Analyze Web Data:
  • Research Firm Specializing in Online Brand Communities:
  • Terrific RSS Feed Aggregator for Ad+PR Topics:
  • Surowiecki, James. The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter that the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. 1st ed. New York, NY: Doubleday, 2004.
  • Evans, Dale. Social Media Marketing: An Hour A Day, 1st ed. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing, 2008.

One of the more challenging aspects of social media is to explain that "crowds" can actually make great decisions. James Surowiecki describes the research supporting the theory that groups tend to produce better solutions when compared to any one individual. A quick example of the “wisdom of crowds” is to have the class guess the number of jellybeans in a sealed jar. Class guesses are averaged to create a “crowd estimate.” The “crowd estimate” is generally closer to reality than most of the individual guesses.

B) Brand Communications Strategy (Branding)

Advertising has been used for years to help shape consumer perceptions of products. Much of that work has included the process of branding, which means translating the tangible and intangible aspects of a product to a logo/image/personality/communications. Successful branding is a combination of raw creativity and a savvy business communications strategy. Now that consumers are able to share their brand impressions for the world to see, the process of creating and maintaining a brand perception is much more complicated than it was just 5 years ago. Annual research from Edelman Public Relations' Trust Barometer proves that consumers tend to trust the opinions of "people like themselves" more than advertising. So, organizations of all types need to consider how to best engage consumers directly to achieve their communication goals.

Online Resources
  • Idris Mootee. "60 Minute Brand Strategist - Limited Edition." Slideshare. Web. 1 May 2010.

  • Anderson, Alan. Brand Digital: Simple Ways Top Brands Success in the Digital World. 1st ed. New York, NY: Palgrave McMillan, 2008.
  • Tobin, Jim and Lisa Braziel. Social Media is a Cocktail Party. Why You Already Know the Rules of Social Media Marketing. 1st ed. North Carolina: Ignite Social Media, 2008.
  • Weber, Larry. Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business. 1st ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2009.
  • Jaffe, Joseph. Join the Conversation: How to Engage Marketing-Weary Consumers with the Power of Community, Dialogue, and Partnership. 1st ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2007.
  • Li, Charlene and Josh Bernoff. Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. 1st ed. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, 2008.
  • Gillin, Paul. Secrets of Social Media Marketing. 1st ed. Fresno, CA: Quill Driver Books, 2009.
  • Gillin, Paul. The New Influencers: A Marketer's Guide to the New Social Media. 1st ed. Sanger, CA: Quill Driver Books, 2007.
Assignments for JOUR 346 Advertising Account Planning

C) Content Production & Distribution

The final topic integrated throughout the curriculum is the production and distribution of content. Ad+PR majors are encouraged to use research to uncover facts that will lead to a great content piece. The content created is determined by faculty based on course objectives. For example, students in my J300 Ad+PR Research class can present their final projects in one of three formats: 12-page white paper, a micro site or an Apple Keynote/PowerPoint presentation. Ideally, students will either post or link their final projects to their blog.

Online Resources
  • Halvorson, Kristina. "Content Strategy: The Future of Marketing." Slideshare. Web. 1 May 2010.
  • Pulizzi, Joe. "Content Marketing Playbook: 42 Custom Publishing, Branded Content and Social Media Tips & Examples." Slideshare. Web. 1 May 2010.
  • Pulizzi, Joe and Newt Barrett. Get Content, Get Customers: Turn Prospects Into Buyers With Content Marketing. 1st ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2009.

JOUR 300 Ad+PR Research Final Project:

03 / The Future of Social Media

Real-time, 24-hour mobile steaming will be the next evolution in social media. The use of link-sharing services, like and is up over 1,000% from a year ago, indicating that users are not only communicating activities, they’re sharing content. Consumers will continue to construct online personal filters or "digital bubbles" to shield them from content they don't want to consume. Web analytics and online behavioral targeting will explode in the next few years. "Agencies are still trying to wrap their heads around it," according John Nitti, senior vice president and digital director at Publicis Groupe's Zenithmedia. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, spending on behavioral-targeted online ads will nearly double next year. Of course, what marketers see as a targeted advertising, consumers see invasion of privacy.

Online Resources
  • Tenno, Helge. "Future Media: No More Middle Men." Slideshare. Web. 1 May 2010.
  • Tenno, Helge. "When the Marketing Becomes the Product 2." Slideshare. Web. 1 May 2010.
  • Gilbreath, Bob. The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect With Your Customers By Marketing With Meaning. 1st ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2009.

"2010 Edelman Trust Barometer." Edelman Public Relations. Web. 1 May 2010. Laster, Jill. "Students Denied Social Media Go Through Withdrawal." The Chronicle of Higher Education 26 Apr. 2010. Web. 1 May 2010.

Pantoja, Matthew. "Social Media 'extracts' Contagious Magazine." Slideshare. Web. 1 May 2010. Paul, Farhi. "Behind Domino's Mea Culpa Ad Campaign." The Washington Post 13 Jan. 2010. Web. 1 May 2010.

"Press Room." Facebook. Web. 1 May 2010.

Steel, Emily. "Marketers Watch as Friends Interact Online." The Wall Street Journal 15 Apr. 2010. B5. Print.

"US Online Ad Spend Turns the Corner." eMarketer. 11 Dec. 2009. Web. 1 May 2010.

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