Wright State University seniors enter the Social Media and Personal Branding class thinking they are social media experts but in the first week are shocked by what they do not know. Instructors and social media experts Dr. Ike Brunner and Mr. Russ Shirley’s expertise quickly highlights the students’ void.
Whether the Raider senior is interested in personal or business branding, this COM 4710 class offers insights into an array of social media information that includes blogging, public relations, marketing, and customer service industries, such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media analytics, and up-and-coming social tools.
“Social media is the key component of all of those industries right now,” said Brunner. “It is the skill set that overlaps with all of them and allows companies to talk with consumers in a one-to-one manner (dialogue & engagement), rather than the past way of one-to-many (broadcast).”
Students create a semester-long social media campaign, otherwise known as a “digital hub,” that explores brand management with a focus of their choice. In past classes, for instance, students have created digital hubs for local businesses, personal blogs, music projects, and start-up companies.
Both students and employers are benefitting from bridging communication theory and practice.
For example, mass communication senior Kacie Klarer’s digital hub focused on her interest in non-profit organizations.
“The overall purpose of my digital hub was to acquire an internship regarding non-profit networking and serving as a public relations specialist,” Klarer said. “My hub was designed to achieve my own personal brand of networking which spread awareness towards non-profit issues.”
At the conclusion of the social media course, Klarer landed an internship with a non-profit organization, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Dayton & Miami Valley, thanks to Brunner’s announcement of the opportunity.
“Without the class I would have never thought about doing an internship with social media,” she said. “The class helped me prepare by learning about content engagement, branding consistency, and content optimization. Through monitoring social channels and creating content calendars I am able to create a reputation for the BBB.”
SEO, analytics, and various social tools are utilized throughout the course to provide a deeper understanding of how vital social media is in most professions. Students will therefore be better prepared for careers in the aforementioned industries, or for marketing their own art.
“I didn't learn anything in that class that I don't think I can apply to improve both my personal and professional presence online,” said 2014 Spicer-Blake Outstanding Media Senior Chelsea Keadle. “I learned about a lot of useful tools that can help me and because of that class I definitely feel more prepared to enter the workforce.”
A bonus is that the COM 4710 students become Hootsuite certified professionals free of charge.
Hootsuite is a leading social media aggregator that allows all social networks to be accessed and used from one location, the Hootsuite dashboard. It also contains an in-depth analytics interface. Many social media jobs require Hootsuite expertise.
The Greentree Group’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. Travis Greenwood praised his communication studies intern’s skills learned in this class as well.
“Shelby Eversole took the social media class prior to working with us. As a result, she brought skills and expertise that we didn’t have,” said Greenwood. “We basically had a superstar in our office that was teaching us things we never had done before—and we’re an I.T. company! In fact, we’re still using the skills she taught us last year.”
Eversole and Klarer are but two examples of students who have applied course material in the workplace to better prepare themselves for their desired careers.
"Our students with the expertise taught by Brunner and Shirley are in high demand for jobs," said Communication Department Chair Dr. Melissa Spirek. "Even WSU's College of Liberal Arts has sought to tap this social media expertise as we reach out to media audiences in new ways."
Above photo: An Instagram photo by 2014 Mass Communication graduate and former Guardian Editor Brandon Semler taken during class time, which is permitted and encouraged using the class hashtag, #DDWSU.
Ryan Ballman is the 2014 Outstanding Department of Communication Senior and is currently looking to tap his mass communication and internship experiences for a career in the public relations arena.