In 2011, I created my first dedicated social media marketing course. I had just left a 17-year copywriter/creative director career first focused on traditional media, but later integrated digital and social media even winning a PRSA Bronze Anvil for a social media focused campaign.
There weren’t a lot of materials for a social media only course. The professional discipline was still forming. In piecing together those early classes I learned that what was missing in teaching and professional practice of social media was a solid strategic approach.
Piecemeal Articles Don’t Make A Strategic Process.
I needed something more than the up-to-the-minute news and tips in the trade press and blogs. They’re great for the latest developments, but together don’t provide enough to fully teach a strategic, integrated approach to social media.
Each business has unique challenges, opportunities, and objectives that can’t apply the same “Top 10 tips and tricks for social media success.” I was looking for a solid blueprint with a consistent voice and process upon which to build a course and a social media plan for clients.
An Approach Beyond Yesterday’s Silos.
I also needed an integrated approach. All a consumer’s varied needs and insights go through social media. All marcom disciplines must use it and must work together through it. With social media academic disciplines and business units can’t afford to be siloed.
Social media is too big for one corporate or college department. I needed a cohesive and inclusive process for marketing, advertising, communications, and public relations pros and academics that can be used in classes for all these programs in communications and business schools.
An Approach Beyond Today’s Hype.
I wanted a strategic approach that’s relevant beyond this month’s hyped-up social media platform, feature, or algorithm change. A strategy isn’t built on Meerkat, Facebook, Vine, or TikTok. Platforms come and go, trends and algorithms change, and user demographics shift.
In 2013, I partnered with Advertising Age and my co-author Michael Coolsen on a How To Integrate Social Media Into Your Marketing Strategy research report. I also conducted social media academic studies, led conference social media sessions, and continued freelance projects for clients.
In 2015, this knowledge, insight, and experience created Social Media Strategy’s First Edition. Each edition has improved, but the strategic process remains. Nearly 10 years later I’m most proud of this Fourth Edition with updates in content, examples, templates, insights, graphics, and readability.
What’s New In The Fourth Edition?
In each edition, important concepts and subjects have been added while updating key stats. A few social platforms have been removed and some added over the years. As strategies and templates are needed like social advertising and influencer marketing they’ve been added.
This edition also revised the overall structure. I rethought how it communicates based on my teaching experience, comments from students, and requests from instructors. The result is a more approachable and more versatile text for a variety of disciplines and a variety of course formats.
Clear, Concise Reading Structure.
Text copy has been condensed and chunked into smaller sections making material more manageable for students and busy professional attention spans. Numbered sub-chapter sections (1.1, 1.2 …) have additional subheadings each with pull quotes and boxes to break up dense text.
Unneeded sections have been removed. Each chapter is shorter. One chapter has been removed to fit within a semester more easily. Writing is more conversational and approachable.
Learning objectives have been added to each chapter to focus reading and studying. All chapter notes have been moved to the end of the book to be less distracting and chapters more succinct.
Visually Focused Infographics.
More graphics have been added throughout. A consistent infographic design style with icons has been applied across all graphs, tables, and figures. Concepts are illustrated with more figures. Information and stats are presented in more tables and graphs.
Instead of platform stats given in paragraph text, each social media platform now has a Fact Sheet in an easy-to-skim table including monthly and daily active users, user demographics, advertising CPC and CPM and top content information.
Overall data and information are presented less in paragraphs and more in tables and more template worksheets have been added across the text. Bolded lists appear throughout each chapter and section to highlight key stats, concepts, and processes. Color has been added to the eBook.
New And More Examples.
The main chapter case studies are all updated. More recent smaller case examples have been added throughout. Links to videos and podcasts are provided with cases, examples, and strategies when available to provide additional information and context in a video and audio format.
A consistent fictitious business College Cupcakes has been added to explain and illustrate the strategic process. This example includes a completed social media audit, content planning worksheet, social media research worksheet plus guidance to create an example content calendar.
Other added strategic examples include a SWOT graphic and SMART objectives for a sports apparel business. There’s also a new sample buyer persona for a fitness brand target audience.
Writing and design best practices are illustrated with example copy and design for the launch of a new running shoe. There are example objectives and metrics for varied clients and goals. The content calendar includes a new emphasis on determining optimal posting times and frequencies.
Focused Appendix On Concise Updates.
The appendix includes a more succinct list of practical resources for use in creating social media strategies and for updates between editions. Most of the resources are evergreen links to articles and reports that are regularly updated with the latest stats, strategies, algorithms, and examples.
The appendix provides one place to view all recommended professional certifications versus being spread out in the text. The recommended professional certifications have been updated and narrowed to only the most relevant to social media strategy and professions.
Reordered Sections Designed To Fit A Variety of Course Formats.
Previous editions were ordered more for an end-of-term social media plan project. Yet, I and other professors teach social media courses in different formats. Students who work with real clients or use a social media simulation need to create social posts earlier in the semester.
Content planning and creation sections have been moved earlier. Advocates/brand ambassadors are in Chapter 2. Social media content creation/marketing is in Chapter 3. Social media advertising is in Chapter 5. Influencer marketing/social media analytics are in Chapter 6.
New Template Worksheets.
There’s the new social media audit example, buyer persona template, and a buyer persona example. There’s a new social media advertising template, a new template for how to create social media ad posts, and a new template explains how to analyze social media ad results.
An influencer marketing planning template has been added. There’s a new social media content planning template and a social media content planning example. A new social media research planning template has been added along with a social media research planning template example.
Some Topics Have Been Removed.
Some platforms have shut down or become less relevant. Tumblr, Forums, Blogger, Foursquare, Digg, and Yahoo! Answers have been removed. The Geosocial and Live Video sections are gone as they’re no longer new features. Instead, those features are now covered under each platform.
The former Chapter 12 on Content Marketing and Influencer Marketing has been removed. Those topics are now covered in earlier Chapters as mentioned above. Theoretically Speaking sections were removed, but the most relevant theories were kept and discussed in the main text.
New Topics Have Been Added.
Emerging topics relevant to social media have been added such as Web3 and the metaverse. Each social platform now has a section addressing the platform’s algorithm. Wix was added to replace Blogger as the second most popular blogging platform. The new platform Threads has been added.
Previous editions included AI but new sections address generative AI. Implications of new AI text and image generators and integration into popular software platforms are discussed. Ideas for acceptable uses of generative AI are given along with cautions.
A new section addresses the rising evidence of the negative effects of social media on mental health and society has been added to the Appendix. It includes concepts, research, and exercises.
New Focus On Social Media Plans.
With content creation moved into early chapters, the focus of chapter 13 (formally chapter 14) has been updated. It now emphasizes how a social media plan report and presentation is unique from social media strategy and social media management.
A story framework guides the structure for social media plan development to sell to management or clients. An outline is given for a social media plan report and best practices are shared for plan presentation pitches. The budget section includes new social media spending by economic sector.
The Core Of The Text Remains.
With the improvements in content, structure, and order, the core strategic process and principles remain. Those who have used the text in the past will be able to easily adjust existing courses whether designed for final projects, or for real clients and simulations.
Core definitions, explanations, and examples remain. Each chapter ends on key terms for review. Chapter checklists are included along with chapter key questions and exercises. The basic order of chapters and parts remains.
It Is 100% Human Created.
While generative AI has been added as a topic, generative AI was not used in writing. Early drafts were checked for spelling and grammar correctness by Grammarly, but the text was not written with GrammarlyGo, ChatGPT, or other text generators.
All copy was human written by the author, photos were by human photographers, and graphics were by a human designer. Thank you Anna Brock for the great graphics! A human proofer and editor were used.
Learn more on the publisher’s website. Instructors can request an eExam copy and access to teaching support materials: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781538180112/. Also, explore on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Social-Media-Strategy-Advertising-Revolution/dp/1538167093.