The Summer of Social Media
A Chronicle of Comm 4701, "Integrating Social Media," University of Denver, Summer Quarter 2010


Somewhat odd to begin with the conclusion, but that’s the reverse chronology of blogs as the past is pushed away. To show how one ending is always a new beginning with social media, let’s go back to the video showcased in our first week: “Social Media IS NOT A FAD” by Eric Qualman. Thanks to our fellow students, our brilliant guest lecturers, and our instructor Lora Louise Broady for her vision, energy and heart. May the end of this class be but a beginning of new learning, communication, and connection.


In our final week, it was time to put a little personality into our social media plans by way of an oral presentation using the site VoiceThread. We each created a PowerPoint executive summary, uploaded it to the site, and recorded a podcast-style narration to accompany the slides.

The assignment compelled us to condense 10 weeks of effort into 10 minutes of presentation. Each member of the class then selected another student’s presentation for peer review. It was enjoyable to assess and appreciate classmates’ hard work.


The class is wrapping up and we (royal “we,” that is) nearly forgot Extra Credit. Lora Louise generously provided additional assignments so we could broaden our knowledge and sock away those extra points for a rainy grading day.

The extra credit assignments:

  1. Social media tour: a brief report on multiple sites from one of the following social media categories: blogs, networking, bookmarking or news.
  2. Class network: building and maintaining a social media platform for the class. And that, boys and girls, is how “The Summer of Social Media” came to be.
  3. Social media policy: writing social media guidelines for the subject companies used in our main social media planning assignments.
  4. Create your own: the chance to devise a unique social media project.

So there really is no end to social media, especially when you get extra credit.


Why the image of John Lennon with the title “Come Together”? Besides being the lead track of “Abbey Road,” Lennon’s song also represents the theme of Week 9 as the previous elements of our individual social media plans come together as a whole.

As Lora Louise directed us:

Your Social Media Plan should be tight and actionable. Prepare it to be “client-facing” ( e.g. you should be able to distribute this plan as is to executives at your target company.

Suggested Approach (to completing your Social Media Plan)

  • Prepare your outline first (this will help eliminate any extraneous information)
  • Review my comments on your previous 3 sections and edit as necessary (note: some of you have already done this step)
  • Prepare your new section titled Implementation Considerations (see outline below)
  • Prepare a cogent summary and describe the next steps
  • Once your Social Media Plan is assembled, review it once more. Does it flow well?

So, “here come old Flattop” and here come our final projects.


This week, our guest lecture and discussion segment comprised review of DU students’ capstones, all focusing on social media:

“The Role of Social Media and the Need for Specialized Marketing Companies in the Non-profit Sector,” by Alison Smith. After competing her degree in June 2010, Alison joined the environmental organization One Change as Regional Manager – Toronto. She choose her capstone topic after realizing there was a lack of resources available for non-profit organizations in Toronto looking to expand into social media marketing.

“Developing Micro-Niche Messages for Digital Marketing,” by Lisa Jorgensen. Since graduation, Lisa has been preparing to take the GMAT and apply to PhD programs while waiting for classes for a web development certification to start this fall. Her Capstone topic stemmed from her interest in learning if/how companies were changing their marketing plans and messages to integrate social media.

“Evaluating Social Media and Inbound Marketing Success for Content Delivery Companies,” by Talia Davis. At Patheos, Talia directed the Jewish Portal, managed the online community for the site as a whole, and assisted in the development of the public relations strategy. Talia choose her capstone topics because her job focused day-to-day on the difficulties of measurement and pleasing a boss without a Facebook page.

“Does Not Play Well With Others: Why Participation Organizations Cannot Avoid, and Must Engage In, Social Media Practice,” by Chase Squires. After 19 years in newspaper and wire reporting, Chase took a job at DU in public relations. Working in the department, he became interested in the new ways of connecting with news reporters, new influencers and writers. His conclusion: social media has reached a point where organizations have no choice but to participate, even if that just means listening.

“The Importance of Integrating Social Media into the Marketing Mix,” by Brooke Bennett. Brooke is currently pursuing her Master’s in Professional Studies in Organizational and Professional Communications. She has recently been interviewing with Denver area agencies with the intent of working in PR/Marketing and social media. Brooke chose her capstone topic because of her interest in social media and strong beliefs that a successful campaign needs social media integrated into businesses marketing plans.


It was the moment of truth in our individual class projects: measurement. We had to determine KPIs (key performance indicators) derived from our social media programs along with the means to compute and interpret them.

Lora Louise directed us to information on measurement in our text, The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web, along with a post in Social Media Today by Mike Brown, “6 Social Media Metrics You Should Be Tracking.” The background reading showed us the importance of tracking internal performance in fulfilling social media goals, engagement of target audiences, and sales conversions through direct response tools like e-coupons.

Call this week a measured approach, but social media must be held accountable like all other elements of the marketing mix.


This week’s theme was measuring social media. Here’s one indisputable measurement: AdAge’s Power 150, ranking the top English-language marketing blogs in the world. Our guest lecturer resides in the top 20 of that esteemed list, Jason Falls, author of Social Media Explorer.

In his online lecture and asynchronous discussion, Jason outlined the potential accomplishments of social media:

  • Aids In Branding & Awareness
  • Builds Community
  • Provides Customer Service Opportunity
  • Allows For Research, Development and Collaboration
  • Offers Direct Sales Opportunities

Jason stressed the importance of a social media plan to articulate meaningful goals. As he advised us in an early post, counting Facebook followers or blog comments is not enough and that these metrics in themselves “don’t ring the cash register.”

Social media may be new, but it still subscribes to the time-honored practices of strategic planning and results measurement. We thank Jason Falls, an industry-leading expert in making social media actionable and accountable (log onto the AdAge Power 150, and you’ll see how that statement is measured.)


This week’s assignment was a big one: creating the tactics of the social media plans we are developing for our subject companies. With business goals and Web 2.0 strategies in place, it was time to designate concrete actions.

With each tactic, we had to identify:

  • Rationale
  • Benefits
  • Risks
  • Resources Required
  • Timing Considerations

In short, no tactic could be considered lightly and each certainly had to be deeper than “being on Facebook.”  This week’s assignment crystallized our learning to-date and tested our grasp of integrating social media with a comprehensive marketing strategy.


Social media may seem like one big free-for-all. In truth, ethics, risks and regulations figure heavily in its use, especially for companies interacting with their customers. To learn about these potential pitfalls we turned to an attorney, Marc Trachtenberg, associate in the Chicago office of international law firm Winston & Strawn LLP.

Marc specializes in protecting brands and copyrights in the digital realm. He knows that prudent social media does not revolve around a “no comment” mindset (refreshing to this PR professional). Marc discussed how companies must engage their publics online while guarding against disseminating misinformation, issuing libelous statements, or allowing unauthorized employees to “speak for the company.” He reinforced the importance of a clear social media policy to guide Web 2.0 deportment for organizations and their workers, from the CEO on down.

We thank Marc Trachtenberg for making the case that we have constant ethical and legal responsibilities as professional communicators.


This week’s assignment focused on social news:

Creating and posting content that showcases an organization, product or event;

Promoting the content through the use of social news sites like digg and reddit and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

We referred to our text The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web for guidelines on creating and posting our social news piece. Lists, breaking news, games/quizzes, controversy, videos and pictures were provided as examples of creative content that can inform audiences while performing PR and SEO functions.

The social news assignment familiarized us with one more opportunity to turn user-generated content into a marketing vehicle.