An Overview Social Media Campaigns – VCU Class Week 2

For the the second meeting of the undergraduate course in advertising that I’m teaching at VCU, we went over social media campaigns. Because they’ll be creating their own social media campaigns,  I took them through some of the ones I created at The Martin Agency and Big River.

We talked through the Gecko Journey campaign for GEICO, and I explained how sometimes social campaigns are created as an extension of a broadcast campaign to create a larger, interactive campaign that amplifies results.

We also talked about Stove Top’s Angry Pilgrims campaign (one of my favorites)

We talked about social listening and bringing a character to life on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.01.57 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.02.05 AMAnd how sometimes the characters you create cam seem so convincing, the audience might think they’re real:

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.57.07 AM

 We talked about social listening for research, Sysomos, Radian6, and other common tools used by agencies and clients. Topsy is what we’ll be using in this class for social research.

After class, we discussed this article in our Facebook group. I loved this response:

“I like how this article recognizes that we have to evolve as time continues. Brands that have been around a lot longer are going to fall behind allowing newer brands to take the lead if they do not evolve. It’s smart to pay attention to what people are saying because ultimately they are giving you what you need to know in order to reach out to them, connect to them, etc. If a brand chooses to ignore what’s being said via the multiple channels, especially on social media, then they are missing out on a huge opportunity. It’s a competitive market, so brands really need to pay attention to the consumer and learn how to connect with them in a more simpler way.”

Teaching in Advertising

Last week, my section of VCU’s undergraduate advertising course in campaigns met for the first time. This is my second time teaching the course, described as an: “Intensive study in the planning and preparation of advertising campaigns. Students develop complete advertising plans including research, media and creative strategies, sales promotion plans and merchandising plans.” With encouragement from Scott Sherman, I put my own spin on the course. Because of my experience both in agencies and on corporate social teams, I created a course  plan that focuses on a social media campaign: “This course will take you through the process of creating a social media campaign for a brand, choosing the right channels, targeting the right audience, and understanding how to shift your approach based on ongoing community management and analytics.”

My goal is to take students through the process I’ve seen and give them as much real-world exposure as possible. Last year, the students heard from local entrepreneurs, branding experts, copywriters, and had a Skype call with my favorite web designer all the way from  Ohio. I keep a running list of the types of people students request to meet, and do my best to get those people in front of them. So far, I know they want to meet someone at an in-house agency and someone who’s started their own business. Don’t be surprised if I reach out for a favor :)

A lot of the way I teach my course is inspired by this guide. I like Scott’s overall message of inspiration, empathy and relatability. I try to bring that philosophy to how I teach. I also think back on all of the teachers I’ve been lucky enough to have had that inspired me.

To kick things off, I like to ask a few questions as an icebreaker at the beginning of class:

What’s been your favorite class so far at VCU? Why? What project have you been the most proud of? Tell us about it. What are your extracurricular activities? Where do you work? What’s your favorite social media channel and why? What brand do you think is doing a great job? What do you love about their advertising? What’s your dream job? What client would you love to do work for? What’s a fun fact about you? What’s your favorite part about being a VCU student?

I loved hearing the answers on there. I got to hear students talk about projects they were passionate about, inside and outside of school. When we got to fun facts, I learned I have a karaoke expert, a unicycler, and an actor in a local production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

After class, I sent them their first assignment:

“This is an iconic ad from Volkswagen What would this campaign be like today, with all the possibilities of social extensions .


Your assignment is to scour YouTube, magazines, ask your friends and do surveys to find great campaign ideas with missed social media potential. It could be a current campaign/client that lacks an integrated digital approach, or a brilliant brand or campaign from back in the day that would have been that much better if social media was around. I’d like to see a few examples from each of you. Be able to explain, talk about what you like about the campaign and the potential you see.”

I would LOVE to hear your ideas on brands that would be cool for the students to use for this exercise. Feel free to ask me questions and share your advice!


Want Social Employees? Empower Them.

“It’s one thing to create influential brand ambassadors online, but keeping them out of the loop of your business’ growth won’t make them feel included. If a tweet goes viral or there is a sudden increase in website traffic, find the source and praise the individual responsible. This way all the employees will feel connected in building the brand and spreading the word.” – LinkHumans

Be Yourself

“Replicate what you’re good at in real life on Twitter [or Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram]. We often get so caught up in making sure we’ve used all the right hash tags and links that we forget to sound like the human beings we are. Too often everyone ends up sounding more or less the same on Twitter, but resist the urge to just conform to the collective voice.” – words of wisdom from this piece in Forbes. 

In Marketing, Look Beyond Generational Grouping

“Generational grouping, like demographics, are too often treated as a crutch due to easy access. It’s simple to look at a group of customers or prospects through the lens of age, marital status, product ownership, channel, and so on. Why? Because we have this data in our systems and it’s cheap and easy to obtain.

But we are shortchanging ourselves, our employers and our profession when we stop there. To help marketing be a driving force of organic, sustained growth for our companies we need to do the hard work of truly understanding those we aim to serve and no longer rely on generalities and averages of the masses.” – Love this post from Joel Mier of Genworth.

Writing Your Way To Happiness

Researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health. Check out the article here. Great find, Katherine Oliver!

Design like a Content Strategist

“If you’re developing a content model or editorial calendar without first clearly understanding the vision, you could just be designing an editorial calendar that essentially becomes a system for being wrong on a regular basis. Like, once a week, we’re going to be doing something that is wrong, because it doesn’t completely connect to our organizations goals. All the books say just dive in and start doing an inventory. I don’t necessarily think that’s the best place to start. I think we need to have sort of a model for what content strategy is going to mean.” I really like the way Scott puts it here:


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