Can “Social Works” work for teaching social media marketing too?
I designed and authored the capstone graduate course on social media marketing campaigns for Southern New Hampshire University MBA in social media in 2011. After teaching a few sessions for this graduate program, I decided to adapt the course to the industry I know best: higher education! I’m currently in the middle of the 4th session of my 8-week online course on social media marketing for higher education with a great group of professionals working in institutions across the world (yep, we have an Australian in our class!).
The course materials include a combo of written lectures I’ve been updating as things change in the social media marketing landscape, videos, webinar excerpts, constantly updated online articles and research reports. We also use “Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Content” by Colleen Jones as a text book. This book works great as foundational book, but it doesn’t provide examples of social media marketing campaigns in higher education (even though it includes a couple of higher ed examples).
That’s why I’ve been eagerly waiting to read “Social Works,” a collection of 25 case studies the publishing branch of the digital agency mStoner, Inc. is (finally!) releasing today. I wanted to evaluate the book to see if it could work as a complement to “Clout” for my course on social media marketing campaigns for higher ed.
A Short Disclaimer
Michael Stoner is the editor of this collection of case studies written by 18 authors including professionals and executives working for several institutions and for companies serving the higher ed market (mStoner obviously and ReadMedia).
While I’ve known Michael in the digital space for a long time (he’s been blogging on and off before everybody else in our community), I only met him face-to-face at the 2008 AMA Symposium for Higher Ed in Chicago.
After giving a 3-hour workshop on blogging, I had almost no voice left (this isn’t a figure of speech) but I used the little I had to convince him to give a chance to Twitter — explaining it was going to be a game changer for our community.
Two weeks ago in a tweet, Michael told me that this “almost voiceless” plea to try Twitter had earned my name an unexpected (and really not deserved) mention in the intro of the book where he thanked the people who helped him with the book.
I used that tiny leverage to request an advance review copy to get the time to read the book and write a review.
So, Should You Read “Social Works”?
Now, that I’m done with this disclaimer, here’s is my 1-1-1 Express Book Review of “Social Works,” a collection of 25 case studies edited by Michael Stoner
- 1 thing I liked
I read the digital version on my iPad in 5 days in a few seatings. At this pace, it felt like attending a conference focusing on social media marketing campaigns in higher ed.
Even better, actually.
It’s like being at a conference where you can listen to cool case studies and get inspired, except you don’t have to choose between concurrent sessions and miss anything.
You get the full package. Because “Social Works” focuses on the “what,” namely winning social media marketing, communication or fundraising campaigns, it is the perfect book to convince any executive or board member who still doesn’t get social media. It can also be used by practitioners as a springboard to brainstorm, get inspired or borrow great ideas.
- 1 thing I didn’t like too much
As you know if you read any of my 1-1-1 book reviews, the format calls for a balanced view.
The strength of this collection of case studies (its great diversity in topics, authors, represented institutions, campaign themes and target audiences) has also resulted in what felt like the lack of a unified structure and voice. As the content strategist in the room will often tell you, a consistent approach applied to a given type of content not only helps with content creation but make content consumption easier as well. This is the reason why content page templates have caught up on the web.
While the first chapter touches very briefly on some general themes and a basic framework for successful campaigns, it doesn’t go deeply enough into the process necessary to design, plan and implement great social media marketing campaigns. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the goal of this collection of case studies, anyway. So, “Social Works” definitely delivers where it’s expected: offering a great kaleidoscope of examples. The social media marketing instructor in me would have loved to see a conclusion at the end of the book offering an analysis of the main lessons learned and more detailed advice on best practices.
- 1 big take-away from the book
After going over my reading notes, it is obvious that many great take-aways can be found in this compilation of higher ed case studies. Because it shows more than it tells, “Social Works” is going to be a great addition to my course and I will buy its digital version – along with “Clout” – for the professionals who register for my course on social media marketing for higher ed, starting with the next session on April 2nd.
Now beyond this big take-away for my course, the most important lesson from “Social Works” is that success in social media campaigns is all about crafting human digital experiences for your target audiences to engage with, so they can connect with each other. A social media campaign is a team sport: you won’t score without a great coach, players, captains and dedicated supporters.