It’s that time of year where we are all coming together to start the new semester off with classes and of course, updating all of the materials we want to cover during the course of the semester.

With professors who are teaching social media, this can be a daunting and intimidating task in many ways. How do you try to integrate ALL of the latest changes, case studies, advances, and resources from the previous semester? Teaching social media, as I have written about many times, is a constant prep. As professors, we have to make sure we are giving our students the most updated information out there so they are prepared to be marketable in the industry for their internships and jobs.

Yes, it’s challenging indeed, but what is good to note is there are a lot of resources out there to use more than ever. Here are some of the reasons why:

Assignments in classes are being adaptable to the growing expectations we are seeing in the industry. What is exciting always is to see what professors have come up with to integrate new forms of technologies, platforms, and exercises to teach their students all about social media. This is a constant challenge in many cases for professors since social media seems to be changing so much in just a few months, let alone a few weeks. From how to approach Facebook Live to creating Snapchat ads for students and many more. Some of the exercises I wrote about for Hootsuite can also be applied and adapted today with some of the changes we have seen with some of the platforms.

We are also seeing MORE professors open up and SHARE their resources. I know when I started teaching social media several years ago, this was not the case. However, I have found many professors to be really generous and supportive of others, and are more than happy to share what they have done in and out of the classroom, as well as what has and hasn’t worked for them. Specifically, more of these ideas are shared in a designated Facebook group called Social Media Professors Community, and on Twitter (@SMprofessors).

Lots of books to choose from that focus on social media today. This is pretty much a major question that is frequently asked amongst professors. Which book do you use? Do you even assign a book? What about articles and resources? Which ones should we not look at?

The answer is simple. It really all depends on which approach best suits your class. However, I do have a list of recommended books I do share with my colleagues and students.

  • Social Media Strategy by Keith Quesenberry. Keith has a good solid approach with taking key platforms and proposing creative strategies for campaigns. Another big draw for me is the fact he provides a TON of resources and templates for professors. This is a big plus here and it’s constantly updated.
  • Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics by Jeremy Lipschultz. If you are looking for a comprehensive theory + applied social media book, this is one you may want to use especially for graduate level courses. Jeremy has just launched his second edition of his textbook (congrats, Jeremy!) and it is a nice bridge between theory and practice within social media.
  • Social media campaigns by Carolyn Mae Kim. If you are teaching a social media campaigns class, this book is really good. Carolyn does a nice job in walking the reader through the various steps of the process and planning mode for social media campaigns.
  • Answers for the Modern Communicator by Deirdre Breakenridge. I am really, really looking forward to reading this book by Deirdre! I have all of her books, but this one is approached in a different way, but showcases all of the questions communication professionals have always wanted to have answers to. It is a book that really provides a human element to what we are doing not just in social media, but in communication practices across the board. It’s coming out in October, so make sure to pre-order it!
  • Known by Mark Schaefer: Like Deirdre, I have all of Mark’s book, and this is a must have if you are covering personal branding in the social media class. We are seeing this as a growing emphasis with many professionals when looking at future colleagues and employees. Plus, many of the social media classes you see here are focusing on personal branding, so it may be good to have this as an additional required reading for your social media class.

Another key point here to note is all of these professors are active and engaged with others on social media. You see them interact with others, engage in conversations about their book, and are present at both academic and professional conferences focused on social media activities. These are a few reasons why I endorse these books and authors for their work in my classes.

Other books that have been used in social media classes in the past, but have some missing components to them to keep in mind (might have to add supplement materials to address these missing items):

  • The Social Media Bible by Lon Safko. I used this in the first social media class I helped out with at UT, so it does a good job in providing an overview of the social media tools available. However, these tools change so much, it’s hard to keep this type of content updated. If you want to cover the overview of the tools, this is good to have, but if you are looking at advanced strategies, it may be good to look at adding on additional tools.
  • Social media: How to engage, share, and connect by Regina Luttrell. I have never used this book in my class, but I have read it to and while I do see a few chapters that could be potentially be useful for a class in certain areas. However, there were some missing components that I was surprised to see here. For example, I was surprised to see how short the measurement chapter was. With the growing emphasis in paid media, analytics, and listening capabilities, this areas should at least be a major section or even more. So, if you are going to use this book, keep this in mind there are some chapters that are more thorough and complete than others.

Rise in certification and education partnership programs. This is a growing area for higher education, and there are more brands and companies who are jumping into the mix here to help educators and students bridge the gap between what is happening in the industry, and what is necessary to integrate into the curriculum. Here are some certifications you may want to invest in for classes.

  • Hootsuite Academy. Hootsuite is a leader in the industry, and has several certifications that can be integrated within the classroom. They revamped their program a while ago, but they offer their Hootsuite Platform certification, which is a great one to integrate into the classroom. However, you can also assign the Social Media Marketing one ($199 for the certification) if you are teaching an advanced SM course.
  • Hubspot. Hubspot has been consistently connected with universities in the marketing, public relations, and digital marketing sectors. They have many great certifications (ex. inbound marketing, email marketing, etc) that can be used to teach students some of the key areas they will be experiences in internships in the workplace. Another great thing about Hubspot is they have a wealth of resources for professors including their Teacher’s Lounge Podcast and teaching digital marketing resource here. Definitely a place to go for getting started!
  • Meltwater. Meltwater is launching their new #MeltwaterEDU program where they will be working with universities to integrate their media monitoring platform into classes (ex. public relations, social media, journalism, and many more). I will be using Meltwater for the first time this fall for my PR and crisis class, and I am very excited! Plus, their blog has a lot of resources with opportunities to contribute (here’s my latest guest blog post).

Professors are indeed not only on social media, but are transforming how they use it in the classroom. There are many perceptions of what professors can and are doing with social media in the classroom. Most of the articles you see here are how higher education *may* be falling behind the industry trends or expectations.

From my own experience and knowing some amazing professors and educators, this is not at all the case. Most of the time, these professors are truly transforming not only how they are approaching social media, but the opportunities, skills, and experiences their students get from being part of their classes is truly inspiring.

Over the years, there are many social media professors who are leading the area both in their research, book writing, and teaching practices. Here are some of the must follow professors you will want to watch out for this upcoming academic year.

  • Keith Quesenberry (@kquisen)
  • Carolyn Kim (@carolynmaekim)
  • Matt Kishin (@mjkushin)
  • Jeremy Lipshultz (@JeremyHL)
  • Lin Humphry (@LinHumphry)
  • Ai Zhang (@aiaddysonzhang)
  • Amanda Weed (@amandajweed)
  • Jessica Rogers (@DrJRogers)

In summary, you are not alone when it comes to approaching social media this upcoming semester. There are a ton of resources, books, professors, and professionals out there who are willing to take the time to share their ideas and perspectives with you all.

Hope you all have a great day!

Best Wishes,