It’s almost that time of the year where professors, students, and faculty all come together to start another great academic year. Yet, the few weeks before the semester starts, this is where a lot of professors are actively working on their classes and updating their materials for the upcoming semester.

This actually was a topic of conversation on the Social Media Professor’s Community FB group I created, and this really struck a cord for me. We are all in the same boat if we are teaching social media since it’s constantly changing. I only teach social media once a year, but I still try to integrate as much as I can throughout my PR and StratComm courses.

Which brought me to this point. What are some of the main updates we need to be aware of for the upcoming year?

My answer? There are a lot, but we have to keep in mind there are always going to be different approaches and focus areas for each class and professor. What we can do is to see what is out there, what is relevant, and what to watch + integrate into our classes. So, here are a few things to note as far as updates go for the upcoming semester.

Hard to keep track of all of the trends amongst the platforms. This is always hard and one of the things social media professors need to realize: teaching social media from semester to semester is always going to be a constant prep. We have seen many changes just over the past few months. Snapchat now allows you to record longer videos and links in videos along with creating geofilters within the app. Instagram has done the same thing as well as adding their own stickers and geolocation. Video and photo replies are now available on IG. Messenger is being used in a variety of different ways, like customer service. However, one way to show this trend is with the updated Conversation Prism, which can serve as a good starting point for students and for the class.

One of the challenges of course with all of these advances is to see how it is being applied. This is where going to sources like Delmondo, Social Media Examiner, and Social Times to find out what are the trends, how are they being applied, and additional resources that may be useful to add to your reading list for the class.

Here are some other core readings you may want to share w/ students and for your classes in the fall:

Tie in concepts w/ cases + campaigns. This is what really helps convey the real world application of what we are covering in our classes. We want to be able to share w/ our students how agencies, brands, professionals, and others are using social media strategically and what are some lessons we can takeaway on what worked and what didn’t. Here are just a few you may want to share and highlight with your students this fall.

Take advantage of new tools and resources. Platforms are always going to change, that’s the nature of social media, but we also have to be aware of the growing list of tools that are becoming available (or evolving) with these changes. Whether these are analyzing metrics on a certain platform, or ability to create content within the app (ex. Snaphat geofilters). we need to be aware of these. Some of these may be familiar, but there are going to be some that may be new.

There should be some room to experiment around with these tools, and see what exercises and assignments work for your classes. There are going to be some that may be more appropriate for certain classes, but there are some that can be integrated in most of them.

Keep updated on what is being covered (and offered) by brands in their certifications. This is one of the great things we have as social media professors. We have the opportunity to partner with brands like Hootsuite, HubSpot, Meltwater, and others to share their certification programs with our students. Here are some of the main ones to consider for your classes.

These are just a few things to keep in mind for the semester. Without a doubt, there are going to be more changes and case studies to explore. What is important is to find communities (like this one) where the information is shared and dialogue occurs. Again, we are all in the same boat and can learn from each other.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,