There is nothing like actually doing social media to teach you what you need to know about social media. This has been one of the biggest things we are seeing being discussed in practice among professionals. Dennis Yu (who is an amazing professional and person) really made this point come home to me with a recent FB post he shared with his network.
Dennis is right. We have to be able to provide our students with not only classes and projects that allow them to understand the concepts relevant for our field, but being able to tie theory and practice together. Working with professionals today is more essential than ever before, and this is why I have tried to really focus on this with my social media class especially at UofL.
With that being said, this means there really is not a lot of time to do this really in a semester. But, I am able to tell you, it can be done. It will take a lot of time and investment on the professor’s end, but it is worth every moment. To be able to not only see the light go off, but see the spark that happens when a student realizes this is what they want to do and they have the confidence to take action. This is what makes teaching so rewarding.
I share a lot of times about my social media class, but I want to share with you all an example that illustrates this point. In a span of a few months, my students in my social media class don’t just go from zero to 60. They pretty much have to hit the ground sprinting (forget running!) The growing changes and expectations we are seeing in the field not only expect this among young professionals, but they insist upon it.
This semester, my students (a total of 23) were broken into three groups and each were in charge for a specific event for the Louisville Bats, our class client. They had three games they wanted some help out with on the social media front. The three games were: The Bats/Exhibition Game, Opening Day, and Thunder Over Louisville.
We had our first game and event coverage from the class (next one is this week!) and I couldn’t be prouder of my students and how they embraced this task for Exhibition Game. Here were some of the things this group in particular had going for them:
- They were going to be the first team to run their social media tasks. This can sometimes be challenging because you are the ones that get to see what works and what could be improved on. However, this is also where you can view this as an opportunity to set the pace and standard.
- This game was a MONTH before the semester was done. Think about this: we started class mid January and the event (all the content, strategies, analytics, team duties and responsibilities) had to be finalized before the event on March 31st.
- The competing team was an MLB team known for their social media work. Chad (who is their digital content coordinator and was part of the Louisville Bats before heading to Cincinnati) really does amazing work. To be able to cover this game would lead to a lot of exposure for the team (and students) to showcase their work.
How did the social media group end up doing? In one word: FABULOUSLY! Here were some of the things that really stood out from the game with this first group, or otherwise known as Homerun Heroes.
Strong content game
As they say, content is king and the group really brought their A game to the event. We had several students who were responsible for creating certain content. The strategy was to be consistent with the brand voice of the Louisville Bats, but create content that really resonated with the brand and the game.
One of the big things that was part of the content creation game strategy was to engage with fans more on Snapchat. There were two major things the group wanted to do: create a branded geofilter (thanks to Emily!) and to use Spectacles.
I had a pair that I got a few months ago and I already told all of my students in class they will be able to use them for their projects. This is important to share with the students so they have an idea of how this type of technology works, how it can be strategically used, and save content they create for real world projects to showcase when they are interviewing for internships and jobs.
Emily did a great job in making sure to get some great promotional pictures to share across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (these are the main platforms the Louisville Bats use for their games and fans) and the group proposed using the hashtag #BatsVsReds as part of their promotional efforts.
Each member had designated roles
What was great was the fact each student essentially owned a platform or role within the team. This is really important so they feel they can be part of the team and be able to showcase their skills. This group really came together and I was pleased to see the teamwork shine both in and out of class.
You want to allow students the opportunity to shine in their areas of expertise. This is one of the things that really struck out at me with this first group. Everyone was able to come in with different perspectives and experiences – and this really brought forth some very innovative ideas. As a professor, I was very pleased to see this!
For example, we had several students who were designated to create content specifically for Instagram (images from Stephanie and story – Krista did some amazing Boomerangs with Buddy the Bat!) and others that were focused on other platforms like Facebook and Snapchat. We had one student (Sebastian) that was the one creating content for Snapchat with Spectacles and Jordan was able to help out testing out the FB live videos along with Danielle at the game.
Danielle (team leader) and Kathryn (co-leader) helped organize and make sure to keep everyone on task with their responsibilities and duties. Bell was a multitasker and made sure we had everything going smoothly as well as keep track of the metrics and analytics for each platform, like these from Keyhole from the #BatsVsReds hashtag.
What were the results? Overall, huge metrics and increases of followers across the board on all of their social media platforms. The students were all coming together as a team and when the time came to look at the metrics after the game, shock and awe emerged. The students were able to see what their work produced and what they were able to do for their client.
I am really, really proud of the first group for what they were able to create and implement for their event coverage. It’s not always easy going first, but I saw the hard work, strategic thinking, talent, and real creativity emerge within each member of this team.
Congrats on a job well done – cheers to Danielle, Bell, Emily, Krista, Jordan, Stephanie, Kathryn, and Sebastian! Very proud of each of you for your great work.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity Tony and Ryan of the Louisville Bats have provided my class with this semester. This has truly been a huge professional opportunity for my students, and I am very appreciative for them taking the time to meet with my students, offer their guidance, and allow them to implement their ideas into practice. Thank you again, Tony and Ryan!
Stay tuned for this Thursday when our second team covers the Louisville Bats for Opening Day. The last group for the class will be covering the Thunder Over Louisville game.
Have a great day!