One of the things I really enjoy about my job as a social media educator is the fact you are always learning something new every day. From rising platforms to ideas on how to incorporate new assignments into the class. You are always learning.
I am always up for doing something new and testing it out myself. Essentially, I have sometimes joked with my fellow colleagues I would consider myself somewhat of a “guinea pig” for trying out new things and see how they go. Well, the focus of this post is exactly what it is: Trying out something new for class and see what works.
What is this new platform or assignment/focus I am talking about? Buzzfeed of course. Fair warning – I have definitely been a consumer of some of the content I have seen coming across Buzzfeed over the years. This is a place where a lot of my students go for various articles, quizzes, and lists to name a few. Plus, the Tasty videos are fabulous (even though I am still trying to train for my second mini marathon).
I did something I probably would’t have ever expected to do, but thanks to a good friend and fellow social media professor Matt Kushin, I got the idea I needed to do this.
Matt wrote a great post a while ago about how he created an assignment (inspired by another fellow professor) for Buzzfeed. I was very intrigued with this because I would have to admit, this would be a completely new area for me to go into. I am ALL about experimenting with various assignments for my classes, and I realized that I have never:
- Really gave out a specific assignment related to Buzzfeed before. We would talk about it in class, but nothing really do to with it.
- Actually created a post myself. This was a big thing that struck out at me and I realized – if I were to give out an assignment for my students, I needed to walk the walk as well.
So, that is what I did! This assignment was for my Strategic Writing class this semester. I have my students work on various writing samples across different channels and mediums, and we have two social media specific assignments dedicated to social media. One is going to be an in-class social media assignment, but the take home assignment is the Buzzfeed assignment focusing on creating a Buzzfeed post about Louisville.
What did I focus my first Buzzfeed post on? Well, I wanted to write about something I knew a lot about, but could be something that my community of colleagues and friends would appreciate. I decided to focus my post on “16 signs you teach social media.”
There were several takeaways I want to share about this first post experience.
- Writing a Buzzfeed post takes longer than you would expect. There is a lot of planning, organization, and content creation that goes with it. You do need to have a solid outline ahead of time on what are the main points you want to communicate if you are writing a list post for example.
- Show your sense of humor and personality. This was what I really think these posts do – it offers a platform to share your point of view in a visual and entertaining way. What better way to have your students be creative? There are of course some guidelines you want to of course outline for your students (Matt did this very well with his assignment), so as long as you outline your expectations for your class, that is perfectly okay.
- Taking the first step is always the most challenging. Getting started is probably the hardest part in this process. I spent some time thinking about what all I wanted to share and how it will be organized, and thinking about what thumbnail to use for the post just to name a few things. Take the first step, spend some time on the dashboard, and then start working on your post. Learning new tools and platforms are just a few things we have to do on a regular basis now as social media professors.
- Make sure to have proper citation of content used and shared on Buzzfeed. You have to make sure to give credit to the source of the image / GIF as well as the URL. That’s important to share with your students as well as when you are creating your own posts.
- Research your GIFs so they are related to both your topic and audience. You want to make sure the GIFs or images you are using are both relevant and entertaining to add for your post and content. While you are searching for GIFs, you will be surprised about how this could help brainstorm some other ideas for points you want to make in your post (this happened to me with my post).
- Take advantage of the free guides they have for how to cite GIFs, pictures, and write a post. This was very helpful to not only share with my students, but also to have open when I was working on this for my class. I’d recommend looking at this one for making a post and checking out the various resources they suggest for what photos/GIF sites to use.
In summary, I think this could be a great assignment for students to get some practice with so they are able to understand now only how Buzzfeed works, but what are some of the ways they can be creative in creating and sharing content on the platform. I am still learning myself, but as they say, practice makes perfect.
Hope you all are having a great day!