College of Information and Communications
Posted May 23, 2017
Story and photos by Lauren Crank, reprinted from InterCom
When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004, his target audience was the collegiate community; you needed a university email account to even create a pro le. Now, in part due to Zuckerberg’s innovations, social media is all around us. Every person you meet can send you toward their Instagram, brands are reaching directly to their consumers through platforms, and social media skills are a must for anyone working in business. What is the University of South Carolina doing to keep up with the ever-changing world of social media?
Internally, USC and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications are making strides to ensure that today’s graduates are prepared for a world in which “proficient in social media” is a job requirement. “We incorporate social media into many of our classes because it’s really a part of everything now, but we felt that we needed a class that focused on social media and strategy,” Dr. Andrea Tanner. SJMC director, said.
That class, “Social Media: Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics,” is taught by Ernie Grigg and Christopher Huebner. “Too many students tell me that their internship put them in charge of social media, and they had to learn the relevant skills on the fly. Students need proper preparation — grounded in strategic communication best practices — to help them succeed in the workplace,” said Grigg.
Although enrolling in the course could certainly give current students an advantage, the university’s entire curriculum ensures that social media is something that students know well. Additionally, student involvement is high on personal social media channels, most notably in the “big four” platforms most used by brands: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Her summer brain child, the “Millennial Slang” video featuring university professors trying to decode the most recent set of student phrases, such as “shade” and “bae,” won an American Advertising Award (ADDY) after it went viral across all platforms.
When the men’s basketball team beat Duke and advanced to the NCAA playoff ’s “Sweet 16,” UofSC’s tweets garnered 2,636,290 organic impressions within 24 hours, and were featured in the AP and People Magazine.
Lake believes it’s important for the university to be socially active. “It’s where our target audience is,” said Lake, “it’s where our new customers and prospective students spend a lot of time. Prospective students are more likely to trust a first-person point of view over an informational brochure.”
That target audience varies from platform to platform, but Lake’s goal is to appeal to prospective students with every post. “That means fewer press releases on our pages, fewer educational announcements, and more “slices of life” for an everyday Carolina student,” she said.
Both Lake and Dr. Tanner foresee social media making a lasting impression on the communications field, and are working to ensure that the university and its students are prepared for what’s to come. From live streaming commencement stories to covering the latest sporting event with a pair of Snapchat Spectacles, CJ Lake is keeping up with social trends at a rate that may put USC at the top of higher education’s social media game. “I know the future of social media at the university is bright,” said Lake, “I don’t think it’ll ever be a science, but being able to identify moments to create meaningful interactions between our brand and our audience will absolutely translate into a successful, sustainable program.”
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