Social Media in Higher Education

By Josh Lawson | @JoshKLawson


Social media can be a hard concept to grasp. Most people say you need to be a master in something before you try to teach it to others. That way you can reword difficult concepts to students who don’t understand it. The medium of social media is constantly evolving and expanding. It’s often used in higher education to offer social CRM, but for students. It humanizes professors and can give a sense of ownership on the content we create.


The fact that social media is changing means that whoever teaches it needs to evolve with it. The platforms will change, but the basics will always stay the same, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t a time-consuming industry. You constantly have monitor several different account and hashtags, learn everything that changes with each update, and experiment with new features that each platform offers.

Many students, faculty, and sometimes even professionals have no idea how to use any aspect of social media. This means there is a huge disconnect between the brand and the consumers. The most successful accounts on social media platforms are those who show the most personality in their content, have a social CRM strategy, and act like an actual person instead of a computer generating lackluster content.


Someone who teaches social media needs to have an excellent grasp on every concept surrounding the different platforms, rather than just the numbers and analytic data about them. Yes, that information helps, but not as much as hearing what it’s actually like to work in the industry using those tools and those platforms.

The information learned from someone who has professionally worked in the social media industry is invaluable. Those skills cannot be learned anywhere else. There is something completely different about learning vicariously from someone’s experience than learning from a PowerPoints and TEDtalks without trying to explain those any further.


The skills learned with social media are based in customer service, public relations, journalism, and ethics. We learn these skills leading up to this course, or at least some of those skills. We don’t need to be learning the data and statistics for these platforms, but rather we need to be learning how to use social media in the real world.

Journey to the Center of Memes

Joshua Lawson | @JoshKLawson

The definition of a meme is an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. It originated in the field of psychology, and the internet has adopted it and changed the meaning while also embracing the previous definition.

We now live in the digital age. A wealth of knowledge is at our fingertips and fits in the palm of our hand. But, instead of using that tool to learn more about the world around us we use it to spread ideas of what we perceive as funny. Some people create their own memes to share with the world, and others just look at them and laugh. picture2

The definition of memes has expanded beyond intangible thoughts, to ideas that people can see and share. They allow people to experiment with different social cues, expand problem-solving skills, and adopt different social identities as a form of improvisation in relationships. Creating memes has become a new learning activity as

Creating memes has become a new learning activity. Users have to comb through different news outlets, trending RSS feeds, and other relevant content to create a meme that other people find funny and conveys the emotions they wanted. But that doesn’t all memes are good.picture3

Some memes have malicious intent. Some memes use images they don’t have permission to use. Before you make someone into a meme, just, think if you’d be ok if it happened to you. Think if it would affect the image, or personal brand, of the person in the meme. Overall, think before you post. You may think you did all your research, but always double check.

VidCon 2015

The Anaheim Convention center, where VidCon is held. Image from the VidCon Twitter account.
The Anaheim Convention center, where VidCon is held. Image from the VidCon Twitter account.

VidCon is a conference for people who love online video to gather and meet. According to their website, online video has become a massive cultural force, launching many careers and online communities.  It was founded in 2010 by brothers, Hank and John Green, of the VlogBrothers YouTube channel. John Green is known for his best-selling novel, The Fault in Our Stars, and Hank Green recently interviewed President Obama on YouTube. Needless to say, they’re kind of a big deal.

When VidCon began, there were 1,400 people in attendance. This year, in 2015, there were over 18,000 people in attendance. Technology has also advanced. In addition to YouTube, people may view and create videos on Snapchat, Periscope, Vine, Facebook, Instagram, and more. A lot of the chat at VidCon is about these other platforms. Vessel, a new YouTube competitor, which offers creators a bigger cut of ad revenues, in exchange for debuting their work first on their service, was at the conference.

VidCon is a popular event for teenagers, especially over the weekend when YouTube stars host meet and greets. However, Thursday and Friday are devoted to sessions about the business of YouTube, with topics such as “How to grow your audience,” and “How to make YouTube your paying job.” Industry leaders speaking include YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, and executives from CBS, PBS, Buzzfeed, and Discovery.

According to Wojcicki, YouTube’s strategy will always be the same: to invest in the creators. They’re changing the way television and online content are viewed. YouTube watch time has accelerated and is up 60 percent year over year. In addition, the amount of content uploaded to YouTube has grown over the last year, too, with more than 400 hours uploaded every single minute. The number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40 percent year over year since March 2014.

Written by: Meghan McAfee

Additional Sources:

Bilton, N. (2015, July 22). At VidCon, Small-Screen Stars and Big-Time Fame. Retrieved July 27, 2015, from

Graham, J. (2015, July 22). At Vidcon, buzz expands beyond YouTube. Retrieved July 27, 2015, from