Teaching Social Media in Post Secondary Institutions | Hootsuite Blog
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Teaching Social Media in Post Secondary Institutions

Every year, U.S. businesses loses around $1 trillion dollars due to the “digital skills gap”—where employees don’t know how to use, or aren’t aware of, the technology available to them. According to a Harris poll survey in Entrepreneur, only one in 10 American workers have mastered their employers’ tools.

To address this growing issue, professors at post secondary institutions have begun to integrate technology education into their curriculums. It’s become an essential way for soon-to-be employees to understand tools that are used in the workplace.

Why teach social media at post secondary institutions?

Social media has become ingrained in our lives and industries. Pew Research Center charts the “meteoric rise” of social in U.S. over the past decade: the number of social media users has jumped from seven percent in 2005 to 65 percent in 2015. There are now 2.3 billion active social media users worldwide.

As social media adoption is nearly universal among global brands, there’s a growing expectation that employees understand how to professionally manage their social media presence. Without formal social media education, businesses have to invest more time and money into teaching these necessary skills.

How educators are teaching social media in the classroom

Karen Freberg, a professor at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, teaches a communications class that focuses on social media for business. It’s an inspiring and demanding course that asks students to dive into a quickly-changing industry, she says.

Freberg uses Hootsuite’s Student Program, which offers free coursework to help professors and educators teach social media in their classrooms. Here are some the topics covered:

Online reputation audit

An online reputation audit gives students a better idea of the quality and strategy involved in running social channels for brands versus their personal accounts. In their audit, students are asked to evaluate their own social channels and compare them to brands or professionals they’d like to work with.

Students learn:

  • What a “social audit” means and why it’s useful
  • How professionals in the industry use social
  • Social media etiquette

Brand summary and social analysis

Students do in-depth research and present an analysis of a brand they believe could improve their social marketing. Every research project needs to include information on the brand’s assumed target audience, popular content channels and types, and recommendations for future marketing activities on social.

Students learn:

  • How to analyze brand image on social
  • The best ways to present research findings
  • How to make convincing recommendations

Content strategy and implementation

It’s important to get students thinking strategically about social media for business, nonprofits, or clients. By mapping out a social media campaign with a brief, students are forced to think about key objectives, target audience, and metrics.

Coursework from Hootsuite Academy helps students learn how to implement their strategy using Hootsuite. They start with the basics by writing updates, creating lists and reports, and monitoring relevant hashtags.

Students learn:

  • The basics of content marketing strategy
  • How to build a content brief for social media
  • How to master widely used professional platforms like Hootsuite

Student-run workshops

Student-run workshops are a great way to get passionate students to share their expertise. In an open learning session, students usually get hands-on skills that will help them step up their social game for business. For example, Freberg asked their resident class expert on Snapchat to teach the class how to make a custom branded Snapchat filter on social.

Students learn:

  • New professional skills on a social network
  • How to improve public speaking
  • The best ways to knowledge share

Social media for educators

By teaching social media in the classroom, educators make a commitment to become social media users themselves. It gives them the opportunity to apply marketing and communications principles to a new channel, and to learn from their students about this quickly-changing industry.

Teaching social in the classroom is a rewarding challenge for educators that want to learn about how social media has influenced the marketing and communications field. When educators join the Hootsuite Student Program, they’ll get access to sample curricula and social media coaching to help them design an engaging course that teaches students about key aspects of social strategy.

Hootsuite’s Student Program

Hootsuite’s Student Program provides educators and their classrooms free access to professional and social media tools and resources, including:

  • Free online courses: All educators and students get access to Hootsuite Academy, which has everything students need to become social pros.
  • Hootsuite dashboard: Students and educators get free access to hands-on learning with Hootsuite, the world’s most widely used platform for social media management.
  • Free certification: Students earn professionally recognized credentials when they complete the program, which they can feature on professional social networks like LinkedIn.

Do you teach social media at a college or university? Integrate Hootsuite into your classroom with Hootsuite’s Student Program.

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