Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

See it! —– Believe it! —– Deal with it!   

March 16, 2014

Myths and Best Practices for Professors who teach Social Media

I have been teaching social media courses for about two years now, but I have always considered myself to be a student of the field even after I got my PhD. This is a field that continues to evolve and change over time, so you have to be present and up to date when it comes to emerging technologies and tools to use both in practice and in research.

I am going to be part of a great higher ed panel session in a few weeks at the upcoming UT Social Media Week in Knoxville. It is going to be great to be back in Knoxville and present again at the University of Tennessee.

When I was thinking about the various points I wanted to note and share during this panel session, one topic seemed to come up over and over again for me, and that was involving myths pertaining to social media. I’m not talking about myths specifically when it comes to social media, but focusing on what it means for professors who use social media in their classrooms.


Are there certain rules or expectations for professors to have when they engage and interact with their students in the classroom? What are the best practices to create a dynamic and engaging learning environment? These questions resulted in my topic I wanted to cover in my session at the upcoming UT Social Media Week.

I would love to hear from fellow professors on what are some myths they have faced while teaching social media at their respective universities, but I wanted to share with you a few myths that I have run into since I have started teaching in this area:

  • There is only one way to teach social media: There are many ways to teach social media. There’s no right way to go about it in my opinion. Social media is part of so many different disciplines so there is no universal way to teach the course. Psychology teaches it one way as well as Marketing and PR. We have to adapt and tailor the course to fit the foundation we have in our profession to apply it strategically and effectively for our students.
  • You can use the same syllabus and materials from last semester for class: If you wanted to be viewed as not credible in the field, then do this. Teaching a social media class does not only have to be updated every semester, but you have to give yourself at least a few weeks during the semester to go over what is relevant and happening at that exact moment for your class. I have a few days dedicated in my course syllabus for new emerging trends – which gives you some flexibility for what you need to add and discuss for your class and share with your students.
  • No one wants to see what you are doing in the classroom as a professor on social media: Excuse me? I actually heard this at one conference and had to take a deep breath. All I have to say is that those who are in agencies, businesses, and other aspects of the workplace who would most definitely want to see what is going on in social media classes. I have shared my hashtag for my social media class with others so they can see what we are doing so 1) they know what conversations we are having online, 2) what topics and assignments we are covering, and 3) reading about what the students are writing about on their blogs and potentially strike up a conversation about possible opportunities in terms of internship and jobs.
  • There are no opportunities for sharing content with others on social media for professors: This is the beauty part of what social media is – it’s social! It’s all about networking, sharing, and reaching out to others to talk about what you are doing in the classroom. Spending the time to do this not only for yourself as a professor, but think about the opportunities and doors that will open for your students if you do this. Wow! I can name several cases where I have done this that has benefited my students in terms of having features, internships, and even job opportunities offered to them. Social media is a wonderful and powerful networking tool to formulate these wonderful professional relationships.
  • You have to have certain assignments for a social media class: Who made up this rule? I have been told over the years that all social media classes need to have a blog or podcast component. While these are important – are they required? Maybe, but maybe not. It really all depends on how you are going to use and apply these platforms in your class. Will students just write blog posts for the sake of writing blog posts? Or will you give them an opportunity to apply what they are learning and create their own online persona in the areas they are passionate in along with social media?

In summary, my goal for my presentation is to showcase some of these myths but offer some best practices along the way that I have learned through teaching a social media class for a couple of years with others. It’s about sharing these points of information and knowledge to not only help fellow professors, but also rising young professors and students who are interested in the field. We all need to know what are the expectations of a social media professor today.

I will make sure to post my full PowerPoint deck after the conference for you all to review. I would be interested as well to see what other myths and best practices you all have when it comes to teaching social media for professors.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

March 7, 2014

University of Louisville’s “Happy” Video

One of the great things I think is great about being at the University of Louisville is the fact that we have a great group of professors, students, and staff at the university when it comes to social media. It’s been like this for years and this is lead by Jeff Rushton, who is the Director of Digital Media here at UofL. We have regular meetings and share items, ideas, and trends with each other when it comes to social media on a FB group page.

Well, you just never know when your idea may be implemented, which is one of the things that has happened! As many of my students and friends know, I am a huge fan of the franchise “Despicable Me.” In fact, I have used them to create my grading scale in my social media class.

My grading scale for my social media class at UofL

One of the popular songs from the movie was Pharrell’s “Happy” song, and it translated into this music video:

YouTube Preview Image

Of course, we saw a lot of various versions of videos of this from other universities, businesses, and individuals to recreate the happiness that is displayed in the song. With this in mind, the UofL social media group came together, brainstormed some ideas, and went about in creating a fun and happy video showcasing the university with its students, staff, student-athletes, faculty, and even our university president, Dr. Ramsey. Here’s the video of UofL’s version of “Happy:”

YouTube Preview Image

More background on the brainstorming process can be found here on the UofL Blog. It was a fun project to brainstorm on (and no, I did not appear in the video to be dancing :)). It’s a great way to showcase the university and the people behind the UofL logo in a way that showcases positive feelings and happiness all around. You can’t help but dance to it!

Again, major props to the leadership and direction of Jeff for this great video showcasing UofL and all of the hard work, dedication, and team work the group did to make this come alive. Go Cards!

Hope you all are having a “Happy” Friday!

Best Wishes,

February 16, 2014

How to integrate Ted Rubin’s #RonR concept for professors & into social media classes

It is interesting to see how social media overall has become such a huge global phenomenon across industries and professions. We can see it even in the research and look at how it has truly evolved over the years – it’s truly amazing to see how fast this is changing. This is one  of the many reasons why I really like teaching and working in the field. There is always something new happening each and every day, which does have its challenges but benefits at the same time.

In many ways, like most areas nowadays, it is a business. One clear example was a report I saw where athletes at the Sochi Olympics are turning over their accounts to their sponsors so they are able to produce, create, and engage with their followers with content relevant to their personal brands. Calendars, content management systems, schedules, and promoted content are all part of the equation nowadays not only for businesses, but for individuals and their personal brands as well.

I would have to say that this was not surprising, but yet it still was to me when I read this. Is this the way social media is going as a tool and form of communication? Is it all coming down to scheduled updates, promoted content, and pushing of information to What does this say when we look at social media as a community? I think of course there is a time and place for promoted content, but where is the authenticity that can emerge from conversations and dialogues within these relationships with people?

YouTube Preview Image

Personally, I absolutely believe that it all comes down to relationships when it comes to social media. I have been inspired to see what Ted Rubin has said regarding this issue and I think it rings true for sure. He was the professional who coined the term “Return on Relationships” or otherwise known as #RonR. It is about listening and focusing not on what you are doing, but what you can do for others at the same time. We seem to forget this not only in businesses, but also in teaching and research as well. I think Ted is really doing a great job in communicating this idea for marketers and professionals in the business, and I think there is a HUGE opportunity for professors to take notice of this mindset, especially for their classes.

Why do I say this? Well, I have seen some amazing professors who have lead this way with their classes on social media and are always actively listening and engaging their students by following this principle of RonR as Ted describes it. So, the question is, how can #RonR work  for professors as well? There are certain things we can look at ourselves that can help us establish our social media practices to help our brands and research as well. Here are a few ideas I have here on how professors can do this and what I’ve tried to do with my social media class at UofL:

  • Listening to students: I tell my students that I am not a mind reader, but it is key to see what they are talking about and what questions they have for me as the professor. That’s why I am actively engaged on using Twitter and other forms of social media to see what they are sharing using the #Freberg14 hashtag. Each student has different goals and expectations and interests – and my role is to see how I can engage them with the content as well as share additional resources for them. Again, it’s all about engaging them to create a dynamic learning experience.
  • It’s about THEM: One of the things that really made me think about what Ted was saying is this point. Students are actively learning about the discipline – whether you are looking at PR or social media – and it is our role as professors to focus on helping them better understand the material both in and outside the classroom. Also, think about what you can do to help them out as well to achieve their goals. Look at your connections on social media to see if you can make a virtual introduction to an agency professional or business owner in the area of interest a student has. These network connections can help create longstanding relationships that benefit the student after the class and possibly result in an internship or future job.
  • Being active to see how you can help students out: I have been approached by students over the years on a variety of topics from internships or job opportunities, or even resources to expand their knowledge in the area. We have to make sure we are there for students on social media not only when they are in our classes, but afterwords as well. I am still in contact with students in  my first classes a few years ago in both my traditional and online classes. Teaching is not for the short-term at all – you can still learn and grow as an individual even after class is done.
  • Ongoing conversations create communities: I think Ted’s point on ongoing conversations is right on task here. I do talk a lot about social media among my students, but they share other areas and topics with me over social media. Particularly, students have shared images and updates with me that pertain to coffee, which I think is fab! (If you don’t know already, I LOVE coffee!) But I do the same with them as well. I have some students who are active sports fans, so I share content relevant to their interests. I have others that are fans of bourbon and local Louisville shops – same thing. It’s all about sustainable engagement. It’s not only about sharing great content, but creating great content to share with your students as well. That’s where a blog can be extremely helpful here for your classes. Here’s another great video of Ted speaking on the importance of content creation.
  • Don’t try to fit the cookie cutter mold when it comes to social media engagement with students: I think this was one point that sparked for me when I heard this talk with Ted Rubin – even though he was referring to marketing and brands, I still think this is relevant for professors to note here when it comes to social media as well. You have to adapt your practices and engagement with your audiences based on each individual. The conversations you have are not always going to be the same. Your social media interactions have to be personalized and tailored.
  • To be successful on social media, you have to be “social”:  This is so important! I do see some professors incorporate social media to just broadcast content and share links with students, without personalized interactions with the class. That’s not the purpose here when it comes to incorporating social media into the classroom. As Ted says, you not only have to build a community, but you have to be part and spark conversations. Experiment, test, and try out ideas in your classes – you will be able to see what works and what needs to be adapted.

In summary, I am very thankful for professionals like Ted Rubin who have been generous in sharing his expertise and insights not only for businesses, but also with professionals and professors who are teaching and researching with students to help them be prepared for the workplace. Thanks Ted and keep up the great work! :)

Have a great day!

Best Wishes,

February 7, 2014

“The Influence and Power of Social Media on Corporate Reputation:” My session in the Reputation Academy

They say that most news – or sometimes the best – happen on a Friday afternoon. At least that is what I am told. :) However, I am very excited to announce a project I was able to be a part of officially now. No, I am not launching a new album under the radar like Beyonce. However, I have to admit that Queen B does have style many PR professionals (and professors in fact!) could learn from this.

So, what is the news? I just found out the training session I did for the Reputation Institutes Reputation Academy on social media and reputation management is now available. I am truly honored by having this wonderful opportunity.

The Reputation Institute is the world’s leading reputation-based advisory firm with some of the leading minds in the profession and research on the area of reputation management, branding, and strategic communications. For me, this is super huge! Not only they are a great firm, but they are also hosts for a conference I’ve been to ever since I started the PhD program at Tennessee. Since 2008, I have been attending and presenting research at the annual conference hosted by the Reputation Institute. I’ve been to a lot of different conferences over the years, but this one is one of my absolute favorites. The presentations are engaging, relevant, and bridges between research and practice.

The Reputation Academy brings forth leading experts (both professionals and researchers) to create webinar training sessions for top level executives on a range of topics associated with reputation management. You see some of the thought leaders and visionaries of the field within these listings.

When I got asked to do a session on a topic that I love both professionally and personally, I was beyond excited. This was truly an opportunity I could not refuse and I jumped on board with it immediately. Creating content, organizing talking points for the session, and figuring out the amount of time each slide needed explanation were all factors that came forth with this experience.

What were some lessons I learned from creating the training session for the Reputation Academy? Here are some things I wanted to share about my wonderful experience:

  • Determine who your audience is first: This was key for me – I have done a lot of social media presentations across various industries, and it really does set the tone for what information you need to present, and how to frame it. I found out top level executives from brands and corporations around the world would be my audience – so that put things in motion to create the presentation.
  • Concise presentation and writing will be your friend: I’m naturally a wordy person when I am writing, and I know I do have a lot more words presented in my slide deck. However, I had an awesome friend/colleague/mentor who was able to be reviewer and pointed some places where I needed to reformat and even edit down a few of the points. Thanks Craig!
  • Practice, practice, and practice!: One of the things I realized very quickly is that I had to practice making sure to talk slowly and clearly. When I talk about social media – I get so excited I almost talk at warp speed! I realized that I had to take my time and make sure I was consistent with my tone as well as speed during the presentation.
  • Eye contact is crucial to have: With this presentation, I had to have both a microphone and I was on video. What does this mean? Not only do you have to make sure you are clear and concise with your talking points, you want to make sure you give the audience key eye contact at all times. This does not mean reading from the screen or looking all over the room when you are on camera. This is where doing lots of guest lectures via Skype and Google+ really came in handy for me.

In summary, I am again honored and extremely excited about this opportunity and chance to do this online training session for the Reputation Institute. It’s another big extension for me to help me become what I want to be as a professor, researcher, and consultant in the field.

Professors – I would encourage each to consider looking at opportunities like this as well. Students (particularly PhD students) – add this as a goal for when you are entering the profession as well. I highly recommend it – it’s been a wonderful learning experience and truly an honor to be a part of. Special thanks again to the professionals at the Reputation Institute for allowing me to be part of the sessions offered at the Reputation Academy.

Hope you all are having a wonderful day! :)

Best Wishes,

February 6, 2014

Apps, apps, and more apps!: 7 must have apps for social media and PR pros

Instagram of course has been a fun tool to explore for class along with research possibilities and applying them for social media campaigns for #Freberg14 and even #Freberg14.

What are some of the must have apps for Instagram? Many outlets like Mashable, Social Media Examiner, and others have shared their best of the best apps to download. Some are free while others are paid. I’ve tested a lot out myself (I consider it research for my social media class) for both professional and personal reasons (I love photography!).

With this in mind, I had several friends, students, and colleagues ask me what were the best apps to have for Instagram. Here is my list:

  • InstaCollage: I tell my students that one photo is just one way to showcase visuals on Instagram, but what better way to do this by making a collage. There are a lot of apps out there, but I like the range that InstaCollage has to offer for pictures. When it comes to videos, that will lead me to my next must have app.
  • PicPlayPost: An awesome way to showcase videos and photos in collages. What better way to showcase a talk, guest speaker, or even experience by having both videos and photos present. I have used this in classes as well as travels and even events (ex. concerts). A must have app for sure!
  • Camera+: When you need to edit a picture, boost color, or even add some cool features to it – Camera+ is the app to have here!
  • Partykl: Best new app I have found. Love the fact you are able to create animations with photos with various layers and features to it. It was one that I found by accident when I was following another professional on Instagram.
  • Rhonna Designs: If you want to look for an app that has great fonts, inspirational quotes, and other items to add to your photos, this is the one you will want to download. I use this for my classes especially on Instagram to promote positivity, engage with motivational quotes, and expressions as well. Awesome designs and visuals here!
  • #Selfie360: If you are going to do any selfies, go big or go home! This new app allows you to redefine what exactly a selfie is supposed to be. Awesome and lots of possibilities here.
  • Cycloramic: An app that allows you to take panoramic photos AND videos? Pure awesomeness. I think there are a lot of possibilities here for sure to use this app both in and outside the classroom. This is one I am recommending for my students who are working on their social media plans to download and use here.

In summary, there are lots of apps out there to choose from when it comes to all social media platforms. Like Twitter, Instagram does have an entire market of associated apps to look at and use for variety of different features. These are just some of my recommendations and suggestions on which ones I think are the best. I would be interested in hearing what you all think about this and if there are others that you think are top notch as well.

We are a visual society, and if we as social media and public relations professionals and we have to be able to communicate our ideas, insights, and even personal brand visually as well as in written form. With Instagram and these apps, you are able to do this successfully.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

« Previous PageNext Page »

SINCE 1995

Words to Live by:

"Train hard, win easy!"

Toby Tanser and
John Manners

Karen's Being Social Media Page

Karen's Louisville Page

University of West Virginia's IMC Teacher of the Year!

Managing your on-line Reputation

QR-Code for my C.V.

the Crisis & Social Media Daily

My Recipes

Laura Freberg's Psychology Textbooks

Powered by Word Press