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About This Course

2930583_lowStrategic Social Media: Building Relationships & Creating Conversations

It’s time for a new conversation! I love social media. I love the idea of social media. The visionary philosophies and the challenging discussions that go on every day about the whys and the whens drive my curiosity. I love the potential of social media and I am fascinated by the drawbacks.

This conceptual course is designed to build on a basic foundation of  the “how to” of specifics tools and to help students understand the why and when of social media for the purpose of building relationships and creating conversations with stakeholders and key audiences.


  • To introduce students to core concepts of social media including interactivity and conversation-building.
  • To understanding the background of social media and the concepts and theories that inform their use for organizations.
  • To increase understanding among students of how social media tools can help organizations reach their objectives and when these tools are most appropriate.
  • To be able to provide strategic counsel, based on their understanding of core concepts of social media, to organizations about why and when to use social media tools in their public relations, marketing and advertising campaigns.
  • To create a social media plan that chooses the tools (tactics) designed to meet the objectives. Emphasizing that some companies don’t need or aren’t ready for social media… and some objectives can’t be met with social media.
  • To engage with tools and understand how to measure social media campaigns.
  • To understand the ethical decisions organizations must make when engaging in social media.



LI, Charlene and Josh Bernoff. Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2008.

Holz, Shel and John Haven. Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media to Maximize Value and Build their Brand: November 2008, Jossey-Bass

Online readings: Long Tail (Anderson), Cluetrain Manifesto (Chris Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger) and much more.


Surowiecki, James. The Wisdom of Crowds. Garden City: Anchor, 2005.

Shirky, Clay. Here Comes Everybody. City: Penguin Press HC, The, 2008.

Gillin, Paul. Secrets of Social Media Marketing. City: Quill Driver Books, 2008.


Week 1: Social media overview & theories

  • Theory: Uses & Gratifications, Parasocial Interaction & Diffusion of Innovation
  • Wisdom of Crowds, Collective action, Forester’s Technographics
  • READING: The Long Tail,

FRIDAY noon – 2 pm: Social Media Bootcamp – RSS, Feedreaders, Blogging overview

Week 2: Ethics, transparency and authenticity

  • WOMMA’s code of ethics, Cluetrain Manifesto, Cases: Walmart/Edelman, astroturfing, The Commotion Group’s viral video “tactics”
  • Guest, Paull Young from Converseon

FRIDAY noon – 2 pm: Social Media Bootcamp – Blogging, Social Networks, Twitter

Week 3: Listening & monitoring

  • What to listen for, more from Groundswell, reputation management online
  • Marcel Lebrun from Radian6

FRIDAY noon – 2 pm: Social Media Bootcamp – Podcasting & Videocasting

Week 4: Conversation & Community

  • Building & Maintaining Community: Panel Discussion

MON: Panelists: Hannah Smith, Tillamook Community Manager; Matt Neznanski, Corvallis Gazette Times; Katie Pontius Stansberry, U of Oregon

  • The Wisdom of Crowds (Surowieki)
  • Communispace private communities

Week 5: Outreach & Engagement

MON: Erin Holland, Edelman Portland

WED: Panel with Floragenex (social media strategy “client”)

Week 6: Engagement

MON: Paull Young, Converseon

  • Using micromedia (twitter)
  • Case studies/campaigns using a variety of tools

Week 7: Topics

WED: John McClosky, ESPN

  • Qualitative measures (tone, content, style, conversation, depth)
  • Quantitative measures (output, volume, reach)

Week 8: Topics

MON: NO Class

WED: Kami Huyse, My PR Pro

  • Internal uses of social media
  • Crisis communications online (monitor, respond, survive)

Week 9: Topics

MON: Holiday

WED: Denise Sposato, H&R Block

  • Public health/social marketing in the social web
  • Healthcare organizations and pharma’s use of Web 2.0

Week 10: International Social Media & the Future

  • How does usage vary across the globe (1st world), digital divide
  • The future of social media


The assignments in this course are designed to challenge your thinking about how social media can be used strategically for organizations of all sizes – from tiny non-profits to Fortune 100.

Weekly Case Study Critiques

  • Each week you’re responsible for finding an example of an organization using social media in a business-context and submit a 2-page analysis. The example/case can be positive or negative. The templates for the write-up can be found on Blackboard.

Mid-Term Project

  • For your mid-term project, you’ll create an e-book or a podcast on the issues and concepts of the course.

Contribution to Class Blog

  • You will be required to contribute one time to the class blog. Written, audio or video submission. You’ll sign up for a spot by the end of week 1. Visit the class wiki (registration & login required):

Final Assignment

  • In teams of 2 or 3, you’ll create a social media strategy/plan for a client. I have a client in mind, but if you can make a strong case for an alternate, I will consider it.

Graduate Student Assignment

  • Grad students will be required to submit a written analysis using case study methodology on a social media campaign. You’ll be required to present your case in class, too (a short overview). The case study should have heavy emphasis course concepts. Primary research is encouraged. Specific case should be in line with student’s core interests and academic program and will be approved by instructor.

General Guidelines
This is a journalism course and my emphasis on writing skills cannot be understated. Grammar, spelling and style are all major considerations.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mariah permalink
    February 19, 2009 11:29 am

    I’m really excited about this class, I’m trying to get more connected, and I am really interested in this “new” strategy of social media. I think that for the course books The Groundswell or Personality Not Included look the best. Hopefully I will see you in this class

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