An Open Letter to My Fall 2016 Social Media Students

Dear Fall 2016 “Intro to Social Media” Student,

Back. To. School. It is officially upon us. I took on the opportunity to teach undergraduate students like you about social media marketing last spring. It has been 100% worth it. Social media is not only a passion of mine, but it’s something that I get to do as part of my daily full-time job. It is easy for someone to talk about a subject, but I think I offer you a unique value proposition that I live and breathe what we’ll be talking about in this course everyday.

Last semester as a novice collegiate-level instructor, I think I learned as much as my first-ever students, but one thing that I learned for sure is that UMSL undergrads like you work REALLY hard. Many of you have full-time jobs, families, or internships that you are doing in tandem with a full-time student schedule. You are crazy busy people, but you don’t use any of the above commitments as excuses for low-quality or late work.

Given the schedule I know you keep, you can expect my utmost respect for your calendar as I know you will respect mine. You can expect me to be clear about assignments, due dates and class agendas. You can also hold me to replying to all your emails in 24 hours or less, as I know you don’t have the time to wait for answers when you are working in the creative environment of social media.

Now to the “fun” part. What are we doing in this class? We’ll have “syllabus day” of course, but here’s a preview of what we’ll be focusing our time on.

#1: You will be developing social media posts, graphics and videos. No, this is not a graphic design or video production course. Where do brands like Panera, Purina, Enterprise get their social posts? A social media manager (a.k.a. the future “you”) actually writes them, or works with someone more skilled while ensuring they are following the business’ social strategy. You’ll learn all about content planning, the FREE tools to make you look like you might be a graphic designer or video producer and the platforms like Hootsuite for scheduling your posts a month in advance to make you look like superman(woman) to your future boss.

#2: You are going to write blogs. No, this is not an English or Writing course. I’m not sure how anyone today can go into social media or marketing in general without honed writing and editing skills. Clarification: we are not writing books, or researching papers. I’ll be asking you to start practicing putting your thoughts on paper for the social media world to see on the UMSL Digital Mindshare WordPress blog: https://umsldigitalmindshare.com. You’ll be famous, and we’ll make sure you look good doing it.

#3: You are going to support a REAL client’s social media efforts. No, you will not be paid. Being able to run your personal social media pages is great, but no marketing hiring manager really cares if you can take the best picture of your dog or chipotle burrito. You NEED as much experience as you can possibly get working with a real business and using their social media channels to build their brand, drive traffic to their website or generate sales. You’ll learn what it takes to develop quality content for a brand with established business goals, and how you can show the brand’s leadership that your social efforts were successful and strategic via social media analytics.

In closing, I am very proud to say that you will all leave this course with a professional online portfolio that will make you stand out from the other 3,000 marketing majors applying for the same 4 entry-level marketing jobs in December or May. We’ll work hard, but I promise you that what you’ll be working on will be useful to you far beyond this course and into your career. And, it might even be a little bit “fun.”

See you all soon,

Sarah Dalton

PS – I’m an adjunct. I have an MBA, not a PhD. Feel free to call me Sarah, Ms. Dalton, Professor… whichever you are comfortable with.

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