7 Ideas for Advanced Social Media Education

For the past three years I have been teaching college or graduate level classes in social media marketing.  Executives are clamoring for the next level of education in this area and so I’ve been wondering … what would an Advanced Social Media Class look like?

What new skills and ideas would go into the next level of social media education?  Where do we go beyond the basic frameworks and strategies?

This is a real, live opportunity and I would love to have your input. In fact PLEASE help out with your ideas in the comment section.  Let me prime the pump … here are some ideas I might include in an advanced social media class:

The politics of social media.  Many companies are “checking a box” and doing social media (i.e. “we have a Facebook page”) but they are not being social because they have not adapted their traditional broadcasting culture to one that is real-time and reactive. Making the cultural change to really connect with stakeholders at the point of need is extremely difficult and it has to start at the top. Tactics to do this would make for an interesting class, don’t you think?  How do you organize to optimize?

Internal applications — Last year I predicted that internal applications for social media would be the next big wave of opportunity for large companies and based on some of the successes we’re seeing this is probably coming true. Yet, this is an under-developed topic in most traditional discussions on social media. I think an exploration of how companies are realizing measurable returns on these programs would be energizing.

Exploring the Digital Divide — I’ve been touring North America with a new speech about the digital layers between companies and customers.  A few years ago, every customer interaction was only between real people. Then as we started dumping customer self-service functions on to a website, we created the first digital divide between ourselves and our customers. Today, many customers prefer to be met in the social space instead of a website, creating a second digital divide and further fragmenting marketing efforts. In my speech I articulate four more layers beyond social media and we will need to meet customer needs in all these spaces. I’m working on a blog post on this topic but am having trouble keeping it short!

Return on Influence — In the post “Why Klout Matters” I presented an argument that the ability to create content, move it virally on the social web, and measure reactions to that activity represents an unprecedented opportunity.  In the history of sociology, psychology, political science, and marketing, we have never been able to measure this thing called influence.  Current measurements like Klout are imperfect, but they are good enough for companies like Disney, Audi, and American Express to use in new word-of-mouth influencer campaigns. This is a big deal and certainly something that should be included in an advanced class.

Integration — Combining social opportunities with traditional advertising seems like the next evolution in marketing but for reasons I don’t totally understand, it’s not gaining traction as fast as I thought it would. I remember watching the Super Bowl ads last year and thinking, “OK, this is going to be the breakthrough event for social and traditional integration,” but there was nothing. Literally nothing. In fact, has there been anything that comes close to the brilliant Old Spice initiative?  Are companies keeping these efforts siloed? What are some case studies and best practices?

Beyond Business Marketing — I think it would be interesting to examine social media best practices in areas like HR, PR, politics, government, education, and non-profits.  Could probably spend a whole day just on that.  There are enormous opportunities in all of these areas.

International — The biggest brands are leaning hard into regional social media platforms such as Renren, Grono and Mixi. How do you navigate the increasingly complex world of fragmented national, regional … even local … sites?

OK, it’s your turn!  If you attended a class in advanced social media considerations, what topics would you want to explore?

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