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


“Evolve or Die.” At least we have a choice, per Eric Anderson.  Our guest lecturer for Week 6 is principal of SE2, a Colorado-based mass communications firm focused on public issues, policy and social marketing. Prior to co-founding the firm in 1997, Eric was a staff writer for The Denver Post, where he covered Colorado politics and government, among other topics.

Eric’s lecture (you’ve already learned the title) charted the evolution of the media audience, a change concurrent with the transformation of media technology and business models. The ability to generate and share media has empowered audiences, granting them a “Bill of Rights” that defines their expectations about media access and usage, according to Eric.

Our discussion strings with Eric focused on the use of apps in marketing, the blurring of PR and advertising, and media accuracy and ethics in the Internet age.

Speaking for the class, we choose “evolve” over “die,” a positive outcome made more likely thanks to Eric Anderson’s informative lecture and discussions.


This week’s assignment required us to augment the class’ social bookmarking site on, an archive of social media information that student Brooke Fritz started as her extra credit project. (Find link to Comm 4701 social bookmarking site in right sidebar.)

Each student was required to add links he or she cited in class discussions to the social bookmarking site. In the second part of the assignment, we used the “explore tags” search from delicious’ homepage to locate other relevant sites and add them to the class archive. Through this search, we also noted the history of tagged sites listing delicious users who had individually saved a given site. In this, we learned about delicious’ networking capabilities.

Social bookmarking is much more than hitting the “save to favorites” button. It is a unique means of gathering content, sharing information and building connections–all vital social media functions.


“Chaos.” Most people disdain the state. David Chao built it into his company’s name: CBD Management–Chaos By Design–a consulting firm specializing in business strategy, marketing and branding, and product and technology management for start-up and midsize companies.

David’s lecture focused on social bookmarking, websites used to share, organize, search and manage bookmarks of web resources. Beyond their functional enhancement of accessing and cataloging Web content, social bookmarking sites build communities as users connect through the content they amass, tag and share.

The potential here is similar to other social media to distribute information, increase inbound links, and establish influence. In his lecture and our subsequent discussions, David presented his company’s methods of incorporating social bookmarking with other social media in marketing and public relations campaigns.

Think the Web is a place of chaos? Social bookmarking is a way to organize the chaos and make valuable new connections in the process. We thank the man who converts chaos into opportunity (no kidding…check out his homepage) for giving us the opportunity to learn more about social bookmarking: David Chao.


This week’s assignment was a “scavenger hunt” that had us prowling the Web and “looking under the surface” to determine popularity of specific Web content, visitors’ engagement, and business’ engagement in social media.

Part 1 of the assignment was to choose a “content delivery” website in the model of Patheos, where this week’s guest lecturer Talia Davis serves as community manager (see previous post). A content delivery site aggregates articles and posts from other sites as well as presents original content and community functions such as groups and forums. We each identified the most popular article on a chosen site, tallied its groups and forums, and determined the activity level within the groups and the quality of moderation within the forums.

Part 2 of the assignment involved our personal Facebook pages. We each had to determine which group we belong to has the largest membership and assess overall posting activity within our groups.

In Part 3, we each had to select a company with a Twitter account and assess that company’s interaction with customers, watching for topics or conversations that the company may be ignoring.


Our guest lecturer this week, Talia Davis, has a rich background in teaching and communication–skills that were most evident in her excellent presentation and discussion on social media. She is the daughter, niece, granddaughter and great-grandaughter of rabbis (Hebrew for “teacher”) and a dance/theater major who has taught theater arts to numerous children. She is currently a master’s candidate here at DU.

Talia’s lecture drew from her use of social media as community manager and PR director for Patheos, a Web portal on religion and spirituality. She outlined her strategy of using Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to the site and build an online community united in their interests relating to Patheos’ subject matter. She also explained her use of WordPress, BuddyPress and Facebook Connect in creating content and commentary.

It’s obvious that Talia is a teacher in the tradition of her learned family. She is also a remarkable storyteller as shown by her presence on Patheos and her engaging online lecture. Our thanks to fellow student Talia Davis for sharing her successful and evolving social media practices.


As we have studied in Chapter 6 of our text, companies can and should track Twitter for mentions of their names and products, positive or negative buzz, and overall relevant trends reflected in content and tweet frequency. There are numerous search functions and dedicated platforms to facilitate such research and analysis, many of which are listed in Chapter 6. On the subject of companies monitoring Twitter, student Michelle Friends opened a discussion on Gatorade’s new Social Media Command Center, as reported by Mashable.

This week’s assignment was to select a company and assess its reputation management on Twitter. Students were advised to use the search function within Twitter or employ an aggregator site such as TweetDeck, Sideline, or Monitter.

In monitoring tweets for our chosen companies, we had to determine:

  1. Was the brand awareness predominantly positive or negative?
  2. Were brand attributes mentioned?
  3. How was the quality of the brand discussed?
  4. Do these conversations help or hurt brand loyalty?

This week, we had a guest lecturer team: Bernie Fischer and Allan Talusan. Bernie is the former Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Media NewsGroup, owner of The Denver Post and other daily newspapers around the country. Bernie graduated University College in 2009 with a master’s in Applied Communication, public relations and marketing specialty. She helped instigate this new course in social media and provided feedback on Lora Louise’s syllabus prior to the course’s launch.

Allan is the Director of Marketing and Creative Services at MediaNews Group. He holds a BFA in Graphic Design/Drawing from Colorado State University and a BA in English/Journalism from State University of New York at Albany.

Bernie and Allan’s lecture focused on two chapters in our text: Chapter 5, “Using Blogs to Communicate, Influence, and Learn from Your Constituents,” and Chapter 6, “Microblogging Magic: How Twitter Can Transform Your Business”

Topics in our asynchronous discussion included:

  • Getting corporate buy-in for blogs and Tweeter
  • Generating sufficient content and posting frequency for corporate social media
  • The perils of fake or planted social media: astroturfing and flogs
  • How newspapers can maintain revenue in the transition to online formats

Our class benefited greatly from having two media industry professionals instruct us in the use of social media to connect with consumers and build corporate reputation. Our thanks to Bernie and Allan for a terrific tag-team lecture.


This week’s assignment: select companies to be case subjects for the 10-week course and write the strategy component of the social media plans for our chosen companies. And yes, Sun Tzu and The Art of War came up in the week’s discussions, hence his image in this post.

Lora Louise provided us with a detailed outline of what the strategy section should contain along with a list of resource articles (all of which are bound to end up on our Delicious bookmark page–see link in sidebar to the right). Much of this section is meant to follow a traditional marketing plan in defining target markets, outlining company goals, and creating a SWOT analysis. Our subject companies’ current social media usage and typical social media usage among target market members are also part of this strategy section.

As the legendary Chinese general said: “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.”


There’s a line used in action films to describe a particular character who has incredible skills: “He’s forgotten more things about (fill in the blank) than you’ll ever know!” That bit of snappy dialog applies to our week 2 guest lecturer, author/consultant Cathy McCall, a person who’s forgotten more things about social media than we’ll ever know. In truth, it doesn’t seem Cathy has forgotten anything. What’s more, she’s always growing her knowledge and always sharing (as we can attest from her guest lecture in our previous class with Lora Louise, “Internet Marketing Communications.”)

In her online presentation, “Defining Strategy and Goals,” Cathy showed how marketing planning and measurement can and must be applied to social media. In her Q&A with the class, she went into greater detail about the social media planning process and ways to measure ROI. When it comes to social media, may we never forget Cathy McCall and her valuable lessons.


Each member of the class wrote a brief report on a social media platform or tool in the form of a “slick,” per Lora Louise: “old school jargon for marketing materials (collateral or marcom materials or flyer or tear-sheet), which describes the often-used glossy paper used to print a one-page marketing brochure or flyer.” Students logged onto to select their report subjects from a list of blogging, networking, bookmarking and news sites.

A template kept the slick creation simple yet attractive, allowing students to focus on research and writing. The result: a slick pack, a compendium of fast facts on today’s major social media sites which everyone can use as a reference. As Lora Louise pointed out, the marcom format may have been traditional, but the overall collaborative nature of the project was very Web 2.0, just like the subject matter.