Integrated Marketing – My #ASW13 Presentation

It has been a long time since I have added a new blog post, but I have been busy, honest! In fact, this is a presentation that I gave at Affiliate Summit West 2013, also known as ASW13.

Sixty-five years ago, James Culliton described the role of the marketing manager as a “mixer of ingredients”; one who sometimes follows recipes prepared by others, sometimes prepares his own recipe as he goes along, sometimes adapts a recipe from immediately available ingredients, and at other times invents new ingredients no one else has tried.

Part of mixing your marketing ingredients is knowing which channels to focus on and which to avoid, kind of like the Food Network TV show Chopped where chefs take a mystery basket of ingredients and turn it into something amazing…or else they get chopped. For example, in one of the first episodes of Chopped, the chefs were given ground beef, wonton wrappers, cream of mushroom soup, bananas in the appetizer round. One chef refused to use the bananas in his appetizer and was eliminated. With help from Google’s Zero Moment of Truth and Chris Penn’s New Media Trinity, I’ll try to give you some tips that will help you to mix all the right ingredients to keep you from being eliminated.

In that episode, bananas were definitely the causes of concern or conflict. In today’s presentation we’ll also talk about marketing channel conflict and how to minimize conflicting channels by mixing all the ingredients properly.

And finally, we’ll take a look at the integrated marketing pyramid. Like the food pyramid, there is a hierarchy to integrated marketing and I’ll tell you what needs to be the base and the top of your marketing priorities. While mixing ingredients was great in 1948, in 2013 we’re not about mixing, we’re all about marketing integration, in fact Search Engine Watch declared 2013 as the year of integrated marketing.

According to Search Engine Watch, 2013 is the year of Marketing Integration and there are 3 levels of integrations you need to check out in 2013 in order to hit the marketing jackpot.

Marketing basics haven’t changed in 2013 (and probably never will). New channels, new tools, new platforms and new ideas, they are all new ways to achieve the same old goal – generate demand for your products and services.

–       Channels: More channels will start to integrate and consolidate as offline and online begins to work in concert together and the integrations of channels become more possible through new tools and solutions. For example, Social Media will become measurable and accountable. If you’re not on social media, you’re not doing your job. You don’t have to be on every social media channel, but you need to be measuring the activity (whether it’s visits, leads, sales or something else) coming from your social media and acting based on those results.

–       Campaigns: Integrated campaigns will become the everyday for marketers who are trying to leverage content across multiple channels and make the most out of their media spend. Ann Handley and CC Chapman wrote a book called Content Rules which outlines how to reimagine a single piece of content, like a blog post, into white papers, ebooks, podcasts, webinars and even videos. One thing to remember is that even the coolest, most engaging content in the world will fail if you don’t use manners and smart business skills to share it with others. The same way you wouldn’t go up to everyone at a conference and immediately try to start selling them on your product, the same rules apply to your content. People like to be approached in different ways and your marketing campaigns need to be integrated enough to help everyone without being too pushy.

–       Tools: Tools like Google Analytics become more important as marketers look to streamline their process, cut operational costs (time and money) and leverage the effect of seeing all their campaigns, channels and data in one place. You’ve heard talk about Big Data – using tools and gathering insights from the tons of the measurable information about your business and using that business intelligence to create actionable goals is becoming a priority.

Integrated marketing is a way to take different marketing methods such as mass marketing, one-to-one marketing, and direct marketing and create a seamless experience for the customer. A content marketing plan that combines paid media like PPC, earned media like your social following, and owned media like your blog, is a simple strategy that leads to success. By presenting a similar tone and style across all of your marketing methods, it reinforces your brand’s core message. The goal is to make all aspects of marketing communication such as online and offline advertising, public relations, direct marketing and social media work together as a unified force, which maximizes their market impact and cost effectiveness. The “Big Data” generated by all of these channels can be used to influence product development, pricing, distribution, etc. so you use the banana in the Chopped basket to enhance the marketing strategy rather than throw a monkey wrench into it.

So now that you understand what integrated marketing is, how do you take that strategy and use it to manage multiple channels?

First, collect all of the information about your company, your product, your competition and your target market. Going back to our Chopped example, think about the different ways you know how to cook your core ingredients and what tastes best to the judges who are your website’s audience.

Take all of that information to outline your integrated marketing communications plan from beginning to end – is the dish you’re going to make sweet, savory or have elements of both and how does that compare to your competition? This is one of the most important pieces of your marketing plan as it lets you see exactly what media and messaging they use in their own marketing campaigns, as well as how they reach their market and generate business. Create a SWOT analysis and capitalize on the things your competition isn’t doing well, or isn’t doing at all.

Review your integrated marketing communications plan. Take the extra minute to make sure your dish is complete and exactly what you think the audience will like best based on the info you collected. Unlike Chopped, if there’s anything you feel needs more research or additional information, you have time to do the extra work. Make sure promotional garnishes like coupons, rebates and discounts are considered, but don’t make them a main ingredient.

Periodically review the results of your plan, and adapt any aspects you need to in order to achieve better results. Take the feedback that you get from analytics and eliminate what isn’t working, concentrate on fixing what has promise and expand what is working. Stay on top of the activities and tools that your major competitors are using so you don’t get blindsided.

Hubspot has an ebook comparing SEO and Social Media in order to determine which is best for getting the most traffic to your site – and the answer is “it depends” – but it’s always better to do 1 thing well than 2 things not well. So you need to know which channels to focus on and which channels won’t deliver the results you need and should be avoided until you have the available resources.

Where the consumer spends time is where the advertiser must follow. A user may end up interacting with a website after being exposed to various online advertising vehicles. Considering that today consumers are using channels most convenient to where they are and what they are doing, all of this makes it tough for marketers to understand the actual impact of their campaigns.

Slingshot SEO analyzed more than 23 million conversions and found that paid advertising, referrals and SEO were most often undervalued with Organic Search undervalued by as much as 77% percent! On the other end of the spectrum, Direct Visits were overvalued by as much as 82% percent – which makes sense if your brand message is strong enough in paid, earned and owned media during the consideration process, then it’s understandable that people will remember your site and come back directly when they are ready to convert. Just because it is the last touch before purchase doesn’t mean there weren’t other factors in their decision-making process.

Google calls the online decision-making moment the Zero Moment of Truth – or ZMOT. They’re found that 84% of Americans perform some sort of ZMOT activities prior to purchase. The average shopper used 10.4 sources of information before buying. That’s a lot of shopping around! You have to be there when people are looking for things about your company, product or service.

Three really great ways of being there when people are starting the buying process are described by Chris Penn, VP at Shift Communications, as the New Media Trinity.

–       Content on your website and blog – since it is static, it’s always there for people to find you.

–       Conversation via social media – at the Zero Moment of Truth, people want to be part of the conversation or community.

–       Distribution via email – push media to inform or remind people where to find the information they need to make your product or service their decision.

When these three work hand-in-hand you have a well-balanced dish or in Vegas terms, Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!

So what happens when your marketing channels don’t work together? There are 4 main causes of channel conflict that could happen when your marketing channels aren’t aligned.

–       Goal incompatibility – this is especially tough when you’re mixing online and offline goals. For example, getting a consumer to purchase in-store vs. online. Each sales channel wants to make the sale and this could be problematic without some method of looking at the big picture to acknowledge that overall sales goals were reached.

–       Territory disagreement – when something is available on one channel but not others, for example discounts on coupon sites that aren’t available to customers who found your site through search, that could cause channel conflict and artificially inflate the results for a certain channel. This needs to be taken into consideration when you determine your best-performing channels.

–       Inadequate communication – this sometimes causes a difference in perception. It’s important that all of your marketing channels communicate the same message, whether it’s online, offline in paid, owned or earned media.

–       Competition for resources – sometimes in the dessert round of Chopped, both competitors want to make ice cream but there is only one ice cream machine. Sales exclusivity is a perfect example of how competition for scarce resources can cause channel conflict.

Channel conflict WILL happen, both in your marketing and sales channels. So what do you do about it? There are 4 ways to minimize channel conflict:

–       Pricing approach – Many retailers price everything the same whether it’s online or offline, but sometimes pricing your products differently based on what channel they came in on makes sense in minimizing channel conflict, for example if online sales have shipping and handling it could offset the costs associated with your online marketing efforts or the lack of sales tax in states not impacted by the affiliate or Amazon tax could make the price differences negligible for the consumer. Mattel toys has in the past charged as much as 15% more for their products online in order to avoid channel conflicts with their retail merchants. Auction pricing offers companies an opportunity to sell products cheaper online without causing channel conflict.

–       Product approach – By offering a unique product or product or product bundle that is not available through all the company’s marketing channels, to minimize channel conflict. Ducati sold accessories and apparel online only, which gave people the opportunity to purchase their brick-and-mortar locations to buy motorcycles yet visit their website for other items to make their buying process complete. The product approach also allows the merchant to test pricing and product variables, without upsetting the consumer.

–       Brand approach – The decision of whether or not to use different brands in different marketing channels often comes down to a choice between flexibility and trust. Scandinavian Airlines launched a brand called Snowflake to compete in the low-cost carrier marketplace. Snowflake quickly became a well-known and reputable brand for travelers who were looking to travel without any extras that they might find on Scandinavian Airline’s flights.

–       Promotions approach – Estee Lauder is an example of using the promotions approach to minimize channel conflict. Although they sell directly to consumers online, they encourage brick-and-mortar purchases through high-volume retailers like Macy’s by the use of free products given away when a customer purchase price exceeds a certain sales threshold.

All of these approaches have their pros and cons, so it’s important to consider what will work best in your specific circumstance.

Like the food pyramid that Chopped contestants need to be aware of, marketers need to be aware of the integrated marketing pyramid:

–       Start by creating an effective, well-integrated plan, set goals for content, distribution and communication blending offline and online methods

–       Strategically link and leverage all elements in the communication mix across channels to be at the right place and the right time with the right message

–       Evaluate the contribution, not just the last click, of each element —including advertising, direct marketing, Facebook, Twitter and blogs—to maximize communication impact

–       Develop an effective content strategy, and build an editorial calendar, to make sure your messages are consistent and reach customers across all marketing channels

–       Use your editorial calendar topics to create engaging content to reach, impact and engage customers

–       Differentiate your brand – remember to use the power of the employee voice to humanize your brand – people buy from people, not brands.

What have I left off my integrated marketing shopping list? Please leave a comment below to let me know.

They Left Us Too Soon

Engadget Tribute To Steve Jobs

Engadget Tribute To Steve Jobs

The past week has been a tough one. I’ve lost two close friends in separate incidents, and it was the one-year anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs. They say these things come in threes, so let’s hope that does it for this week.

Another loss from about a year ago was that of Trey Pennington, a popular marketer with over 100,000 Twitter followers. Trey and I interacted in many Twitter chat sessions and I was always impressed with his marketing knowledge and insights. The loss of his social media interactions is felt in Twitter chats each week.

Steve Jobs was an amazing innovator and his loss is something Apple is only just beginning to feel. One of my favorite Jobs’ quotes was about viewing things in a pragmatic manner:

I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time.
— Steve Jobs, 1993

Speaking of kids and Steve Jobs, here’s a little humor to let you leave this post with a smile. During a conversation with my son (who is normally a very empathetic kid) he said, “Mom, are you upset about Steve Jobs dying?” Thinking he was looking for an explanation for why I was sad for the loss of someone I had never met, I explained, “Yes I am. Steve Jobs was a pioneer. Without him we wouldn’t have many of the innovations you take for granted each day: Mac computers like my MacBook Pro, iPods, iPads, iPhones…” To which favorite son interrupts and says, “There’s an app for that.” Ba dum dum.

When Vacations Go Bad…

Expired Passport

Expired passport with no renewal notification? Oh no!

Normally, I talk about Marketing on my blog, but today I’m going to talk about Customer Service. You see, my family and I are supposed to be in the Dominican Republic right now enjoying our vacation with friends. So why am I writing this blog post? Well, when you travel internationally you need this thing called a passport. And it needs to not have expired…and that’s the part that tripped us up.

I try to be an organized traveler. I check out the destination and resort reviews and even ask my friends on Facebook for recommendations on where to visit and which hotels/resorts are best for our stay. I read all the travel checklists and make sure I’ve got the right documentation for my itinerary – whether it’s hotel confirmation information, airline tickets/boarding passes, round-trip airport-to-hotel transfer or rental car paperwork. Then I confirm the transportation arrangements and check-in at the airlines in advance.

I was checking in Friday for our Saturday flight and entered the passport info for my husband with no problems, entered my passport data, too, then as I got to the field for the kids’ passports, I looked at the expiration date – WHAT??? How could they possibly be expired??? My passport isn’t expired and we all got them at the same time. Oh, wait, I remember that the kids’ passports are valid for a shorter time than adults. But it hasn’t been that long, has it? Besides I never got a notification that their passports needed to be renewed…

Did you know that no one notifies you when your passport is about to expire? I get renewal notifications for my drivers license, or my car registration, or even to renew magazine subscriptions, so you would think in this technologically-advanced age, someone, somewhere would send out a postcard or an email, or even make an automated phone call when you need to renew your passport. Apparently not.

After several frantic calls to the State Department, Customs and Immigration, even the Dominican Embassy, I resigned myself that we weren’t going to make Saturday’s flight and if we wanted any hope at all of joining our friends on the trip that we would need help to expedite the kids’ passport renewal. I started making calls and found that many passport expediters were closed on the weekend since they can only process the renewals Monday through Friday. I left messages for several companies and finally one called me back and walked me through the process of how to renew an expired passport.

In the words of my husband (at 1AM – three and a half hours before we were supposed to leave for the airport), “It’s like a nightmare and you just can’t wake up.”

Since the kids were under 16 when their passports were issued, they actually needed to apply for new “adult” passports instead of a standard renewal. That meant we needed to find a passport acceptance location that a) was open on Saturday, b) would take an emergency walk-in to verify the passport application information and c) we could get passport pictures there as well. My husband and I both started calling everywhere in a 10-mile radius and we got all the way to “W” in the alphabet before we found one that fit the criteria and would fit us in if we got there before the post office closed. I’d like to give a HUGE “thank you” to Darnell F. who refused to take me up on my offer to write a letter to his boss telling them about how he went above and beyond to get the paperwork done!

The fantastic customer service we received by people like Darnell who worked so hard to help us get the kids’ passports processed almost makes up for the dozens of calls that went unanswered or voicemail messages not returned by other agencies and locations. Now all we need is for the passports to be processed so we can try to take another international vacation before the kids have to go back to school. Wish me luck!

Another Penn State Scandal? Email Marketing Problems Now

In the next year and a half, I’ll have TWO kids in college – yikes! And since my kids both took the SAT test, our family email inbox has been overflowing with emails from colleges that the kids may or may not be interested in attending. While I’m not thrilled, I do understand that since they didn’t opt-out when they took the test, the colleges’ emails are CAN SPAM compliant. However, there might another Penn State scandal – this time in their email marketing opt-out practices.

In April, our home email address received an email from Penn State inviting us to spend a summer day at Penn State.

Penn State Email

Penn State Email

Thanks, but neither of my kids is interested, so I’ll just Unsubscribe. I click on the link and I’m taken to a page with the following info:

Unsubscribe Email Address

Please enter the email address you would like to unsubscribe from our events and communications lists.

Email Address:

You will receive an email at this address which contains a link to confirm your unsubscribe request. Thank you.


WHAT??? You’re sending me another email? I know DJ Waldow says it’s ok to break the rules and send a post-unsubscribe email, but I’m not sure an email with a link to confirm my unsubscribe request is exactly what he had in mind… I’m feeling agreeable so instead of clicking the “This Is Spam” button on the original email, I insert my email address and click Submit.

I received the email confirming my unsubscribe selection:

We have received a request to have this email address removed from our events and communications mailing lists. If you wish to complete the unsubscribe process, please click the confirmation link below.

Your web browser will display a confirmation notice when your email address has been removed.

Confirmation Number: XXXXXXX

Phew, I click on the link and I’m done, right?

By having to visit two separate pages, the Penn State email unsubscribe process could be considered in violation of the portion of the CAN SPAM compliance guide requirement #6 Honor opt-out requests promptly which states “You can’t…make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request.” But it’s ok, because I’m done so I won’t create another Penn State scandal by ratting them out on my blog.

Unfortunately, we’re not done yet. I then received ANOTHER email from Penn State Admissions stating:

This email address has been removed from the events and communications mailing lists of the Penn State Undergraduate Admissions Office.

Please allow 24-48 hours for the change to take effect. If at any time you wish to begin receiving email messages from our office again, please send an email to indicating your preferences. Thank you.


The Undergraduate Admissions Office at Penn State

Two emails after the original marketing message when my kids didn’t overtly subscribe to begin with, and I had to click on two links and go to two separate web pages in order to unsubscribe, but wait there’s more…did I mention I got another email from them and started the process all over again in May??? Let’s hope that’s the end of email marketing messages from Penn State coming to my email address.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? Were you mad? Did you delete the email or choose the “This Is Spam” option or contact the sender directly? Please let me know what you did and if you got any positive results in the comment section below.

Building A Chat Transcript

It used to be so easy, I used “What The Hashtag” to plug in the hashtag, select the dates, and voila – you’ve got yourself a chat transcript! Then Twitter changed the rules and “What The Hashtag” was no more…but now there’s Storify. I learned about Storify recently when Amber Cleveland used it to create a transcript when she was the #SMChat Customer Service moderator on April 11, 2012. I tried it myself this week, and although it wasn’t quite as simple as set the dates and press a button, it was definitely easy enough for me to create.

Here’s my first Twitter chat transcript – what do you think?

There were definitely some pros and cons to


  • Easy to use
  • Intuitive – and if you didn’t know what to do yourself, it provided some great tips


  • Would love to select a date/time range and press “go” to get a complete transcript
  • No evident way to select multiple Tweets at once and move them to the “story”

What do you like or dislike about Storify? Do you use something else to curate chat transcripts? Please leave me a comment below to let me know! Thanks!

Leap List: 29 People to Help Your Marketing

The kids getting ready to "leap" off a terrain jump in Park City

The kids getting ready to "leap" off a terrain park jump in Park City

In 2010, I posted the Olympic Dream Team for Internet Marketing – a list of people from all aspects of the Marketing world who were providing thought leadership at that time. In honor of Leap Day (February 29th), I’m revisiting that list and giving you 29 Online Marketing thought leaders. Some of these people have remained on the list because they are consistently providing compelling and insightful information. People have dropped off the list, not through their own actions, but because my focus may have changed and others became more important to my current Marketing information needs, or it could be that we have simply lost touch. There are a few new names on the list that either I should have included back in 2010 or that we’ve only become acquainted since the original online Marketing Dream Team list was created. There is no particular order to the list, I’m excited to see posts from any of them in my Twitter stream, Facebook timeline, Google+ circle, or email inbox.

  1. Chris Penn
  2. Geno Prussakov
  3. DJ Waldow
  4. Wil Reynolds
  5. Chris Jones
  6. Dawn Westerberg
  7. Stephanie Miller
  8. Jen Goode
  9. Avinash Kaushik
  10. Andy Wetzler, Danielle Leitch and the MoreVisibility team
  11. Ann Handley
  12. Mike Volpe and the Hubspot team
  13. Shawn Collins, Missy Ward and the Affiliate Summit team
  14. Shelley Ryan
  15. Beth Harte
  16. Jeremiah Owyang
  17. Joseph Ruiz
  18. Elizabeth McCaffrey
  19. Jim Kukral
  20. Kristina Allen
  21. Cathryn Hrudicka
  22. John Foley Jr
  23. Megan Leap, Kathy Bushman, Penny Fiederlein and the MarketingProfs team
  24. Scott Brinker, Anna Talerico and the ion interactive team
  25. Scott Hardigree
  26. Amber Cleveland
  27. Lewis Poretz
  28. Alasdair Munn
  29. Michele Price

Bonus: Rachel, April, Andrea and Sara Beth – the ZipSetGo team (I added the ZipSetGo team and their #TNI Twitter chat as a bonus because their focus is travel rather than marketing, but I think it’s a great example of using social media marketing for the travel industry!)

OK, I cheated a little by combining people and companies on a few of the entries, but sometimes there were just too many smart people in one company to list them all! I consistently get valuable information and insights from these people and I respect their opinions. Even though we may not always agree, they always give me something to think about. Whose Marketing insights do you look forward to reading each day? Please add them in the list below…

3 Things The Ravens Taught Me About Marketing

Ravens - good Marketing teachers?

Ravens - Tough To Beat The Home Team

Wide left. That’s how the Raven’s 2011-2012 season ended when Billy Cundiff‘s 32-yard, game-tying field goal sailed outside the uprights with 11 seconds left in the AFC Championship game. Their dream won’t be coming true this season. Although the game left a hole in my heart, it also taught me a thing or two (ok, three) about Marketing.

It’s hard to beat the home team. The Ravens went undefeated at home in the 2011-2012 season, showing that having fans (or in the marketing world, brand advocates) behind you makes a big difference.

Win or lose, play as a team. Make sure your marketing tactics complement each other. You need to balance every marketing “player” or the whole marketing team will fail. Even though both Joe Flacco and Tom Brady went 22/36, Flacco had 67 more yards (28%) but the Ravens still lost the game.

Every play has the potential to be the game winner. If Lee Evans could have held on to the ball just a few more seconds in the end zone, or if the play had been reviewed, there could be a different team headed down the road to Indy. Take the time to review your marketing results and make sure a dropped pass wasn’t in fact the next Championship winner.

This was to be the Raven’s “Relentless” season, but perhaps being unyielding in severity, steady and persistent isn’t the best way for a team to win the Superbowl…or for a Marketer to win additional customers. Maybe you need a little flash. What do you think? Please leave a comment below and let me know!

The Ravens, Ravens logo and all mentions of Baltimore Ravens are Copyright © 2012 Baltimore Ravens.

2011 – Year in Review

2012 New Years Fireworks photo by Meaghan Mostyn

Happy 2012!

Here’s my recap of 2011 in numbers:

15) Flights of steps I had to walk down TWICE – during both a fire drill and an actual earthquake!

10) Number of #smchat Twitter chats I hosted this year. Please join #smchat every Wednesday at 1P ET, especially on the 3rd week of the month when I moderate the #smchat Marketing topics!

7) Nights in Turks and Caicos (my favorite vacation destination).

5.8) Magnitude of the August 2011 earthquake that shook most of the East coast including my office building (see 15 flights of stairs above).

3) Events I spoke at in 2011 – Affiliate Summit, Marketing Profs and Baltimore AMA in the AM  – and the number of Proms that the kids attended!

2) Number of “day jobs” in 2011 – more on that as the new job is ready to be “launched” in mid-2012!

1) Number of completely available (no planned events) weekends in 2011… AND the number of times I was on TV talking about social media!

Plus more emergency room / urgent care visits than I’d care to admit, so let’s just say we’re still keeping our “frequent flier” status!

Leave a comment below and let me know your “numbers” for 2011!

Social Media is a Responsibility for Educators and Everyone

Last month, I moderated a chat on social media in education so when I saw a post by a local TV station asking if there was a reason for teachers and students to connect on Facebook, I wanted to give a counterpoint to the “teachers shouldn’t use social media ever” stance that many people seem to have.

Schools that have taken the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to the social media curriculum are neglectfully choosing to look the other way as students communicate, collaborate, and connect in worlds devoid of adults.

~ Lisa Nielsen, The Innovative Educator

I’m not naive. I know that educators can act inappropriately, and unfortunately sometimes they do. However, I also know that there are ways for Facebook and other social media to be used effectively as a teaching tool, for communication between teachers, parents and students, and for the pure “social” aspects that Facebook and other social media platforms have to offer. According to a 2009 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), when polled about why they chose to stay in school, almost all students named a specific student, faculty or staff member who gave them the support and encouragement they needed to keep going. What better way to keep in touch with that teacher than via social media?

As a marketer, I have seen the value of social media by being a part of the community and conversation happening online. Not that long ago, marketers had to justify to the C-suite why companies should be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media channels. My response to that has always been that the conversation is happening, don’t you want to be a part of it? And don’t you want the social media profile found in searches to be yours rather than one that was made for you? There have been several cases where students have posted made-up social media profiles for teachers and administrators. If you’re not on social media, or actively monitoring the channel, how will you know?

Connecting with students and their families on Facebook gives teachers the perfect opportunity be a part of the conversation where there students (and parents) are, rather than attempting to force the communication into a less often visited channel like the school’s website, etc. The CCSSE study found that most students are already using social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, texting and instant messaging outside of the classroom – and that was in 2009, so you can image the adoption rate for social media now!

Connecting with educators on social media also gives the students a chance to see how social media should be handled (assuming the teacher is socially responsible with their posts). Leading by example is a great way to get students to understand that they need to manage their digital footprint and only post in ways that they will be proud to see themselves and have others see them. It is vital that young people learn that their social media interactions WILL impact their future. College recruiters are checking Facebook pages and so are Human Resources Departments when you’re ready to get a job.

With all of the “pros” for increased social media interaction between students and teachers, I do have some caveats:

  • Students need to be 13 or older, but that’s in Facebook terms of use, so if a younger student is using that channel then it needs to be brought to the parents’ attention.
  • Teachers need to post responsibly, but then EVERYONE should post responsibly!
  • Teachers should be trained on the proper use of social media. Sort of a “train the trainer” session on why it’s important to only post things that are appropriate for public viewing, and that once something is posted online, it will never go away. This training should be updated as privacy changes are made as well as when new social media platforms are introduced (like Google+).
  • Teachers don’t need to “friend” students on their personal social media page. There are ways to set up pages for “public figures” where teachers can post what they want their students to see, and still keep their personal profile separate.

So what do you think – SHOULD teachers connect with their students via social media? What tips would you have for them? Do you have any positive examples of teacher-student or teacher-parent interaction on Facebook, Twitter, etc.? Please comment below to share your opinions and experiences.

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