Apr 13

Teaching Social Media Marketing Means Getting Hands On

kittyeducationChamplain College is getting ready to graduate the class of 2013 (commencement is just a few short weeks away!) and that means a whole host of Marketing grads are ready for YOU to hire them!

And unlike that little kitty right here, these students know exactly what to do with their education. At a time when employer expectations are high and many individuals assume that college graduates automagically know all the latest and greatest tools of the marketing trade, I can say with confidence that the young women and men I’m about ready to showcase actually do know all the latest and greatest tools of the marketing trade. And they can prove it.

It takes getting hands on to really understand the tools in demand in marketing.  From SEO, to analytics, to blogging, to social media marketing, to building an online brand, these students have actually done it.  Teaching social media marketing means creating a curriculum that weaves the tools throughout their classes, where expectations are that students will not just read about the tools, but they will use them. From their first year at Champlain, marketing students have had to utilize tools such as Twitter (yes I even developed a rubric for it!) and various blogging software to tell stories and fulfill academic requirements. They have had to read and follow bloggers ranging from David Armano, to Danny Brown, to Avanash Kaushik, to Laura Fitton, to Ann Handley. They have had to work on class projects for brands ranging from Sugarbush, to Fiddlehead Brewery, to Darn Tough Socks. They’ve written marketing plans, implemented events, made digital marketing recommendations, analyzed analytics, and created branding campaigns. And it all culminates in their senior capstone class where they bring it all together.

The goal, as they graduate, is to get found on Google. To build a social brand that has clout (and Klout). To create a full Professional Digital Identity (PDI). An online ecosystem that shows employers:

  • Writing and thinking through an ongoing blog
  • Personal philosophy through a reflective statement
  • Strengths/Values/Work illustrated through narrative and images
  • Social media experience through a presence on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others

The PDI is designed to help our students provide employers with a dimensional look at who they are, what type of employee they might, and to help our students get fully hands on with the tools of the trade. The assignment requirements are in-depth, and emphasize critical thinking and a holistic approach to building their online digital identity. Their final work will be graded on how well they met the requirements which include content, social media, SEO, visual identity, and how they have measured success (we’ve explored quantitative tools like Google Analytics and the built in WordPress analytics as well as qualitative tools like Klout, Kred and Tweetgrader).

Just 15 weeks ago most of these students had a basic LinkedIn profile, very little on Google+, and a mix of content on Twitter. Some had blogs they had started, most hadn’t been keeping them up. They have learned what it takes to have to create ongoing content, utilize social media to build their following, write search engine friendly content, link their online properties, and endorse and follow one another in order to build stronger results. They have had to set goals and see how those goals have been met…or not. In other words, they have been learning…by doing.

So when one of these students shows up at an interview, they won’t be afraid to show their social media, they’ll be proud of it and you’ll really, really want to hire that grad!

Each of these students has been working hard, and since their final PDI isn’t actually due until the 25th, I anticipate they will be continuing to update and even change their content as they complete the assignment, so don’t be surprised if you go to their sites to check them out and find that they’ve made even more changes!

Kaisey Arena:
Initial Klout: 33| Current Klout: 65


Samantha Beebe:
Initial Klout: 16 | Current Klout: 43


John Desmond:
Initial Klout: 49 | Current Klout: 54


Ricky Fitzpatrick

Initial Klout: 36 | Current Klout 42


Ollie Fichera:
Initial Klout: 46 |Current Klout: 60


Quillan George:
Initial Klout: 55 | Current Klout: 62


Jess Lowell:
Initial Klout: 44 | Current Klout: 60


Tommy Lyga:
Initial Klout: 33 | Current Klout: 62


Adam Miller:
Initial Klout: 19 | Current Klout:  44


Colby Sears:
Initial Klout: 15 | Current Klout: 63


Nikki Tetreault:
 Initial Klout: 51 | Current Klout: 61


Samantha Winchell:
Initial Klout: 24 | Current Klout: 56



And there you have it. To get graduates ready to take on the jobs that are available, it takes giving them an opportunity to get comfortable with the tools of the trade. It takes more than theory and discussion. It takes doing the work and building a professional digital identity. This is not just the culmination of four years of academic, project based, internship focused, education. It is the stepping stone to a career in marketing. It is not just an ending but the beginning of great things yet to come.

Note: This page was updated on 4/22 to reflect a new domain for one of the students, and to update the name of another student. It was updated on 4/26 to add a new student to the list.

Sep 12

The honeymoon might be over, but the fun has just begun

My ThisisVT imageToday is my last day tweeting as @thisisvt.  What I can tell you is that it has been super fun and I count myself lucky to have been able to interact with so many people this week and repp a state that I have called home for 14 years.

My turn at the helm came at the seventh week.  You know how they say the honeymoon is over when you hit the seven year mark in your marriage?  (ok, I really don’t know who “they” are, but I remember my ex-mother-in-law clearly explaining to me that “they” say that year 7, and every 7 years after that is a big deal.  Maybe it’s an Italian thing…for the record I made it to 14 years.) Well our State’s little Twitter account has reached that point now as well.

In the first weeks of the the account the accolades poured in from Time, New York Times, and Mashable (and of course Forbes, thanks to Larry Olmsted, fellow @thisisvt tweeter) as well as some local reviews, to name a few:

The account began in July and here we are already in September.  But it was during my time (Sept. 3 – Sept. 9) when …. well the critics started to come out. On Sept. 1 the DMN News (Direct Marketing News) called the @thisisvt twitter campaign “lackluster”: http://www.dmnews.com/vermont-tourisms-lackluster-twitter-campaign/article/256303/ (Sept 1) and Jonathan Baskin raked the VT Tourism Dept. over the coals for being “lazy”  and called out those of us who are tweeting as “boring”:  http://baskinbrand.com/?p=926 (Sept 3).


Then the local folks jumped in — with lots of interesting suggestions on who else should be tweeting for the account. I guess we got all our #vtfeathers ruffled.  Locally responders are looking for more diversity in the pool of people tweeting, and yeah, they wanted it to be more risky.  So I’m also going to address that from my POV.

So far we’ve had seven individuals tweeting. We hail from Alburgh, Montpelier, Burlington, Rutland, South Burlington, and an undisclosed location (that’s Larry). We’ve had equal representation from men and women and a variety of professions from College Professor (that’s me!), to Adman (Ken), famous writer (Larry), a healer/tarot reader (Raven), a bookbinder (Elissa), a blogger and owner of a local family web guide (Dana), and a small business marketer/comedian (Ed).

We had some good local suggestions though — like @southunionskunk and @BTVSnowDragon and 20-somethings and 80-somethings. It was an interesting dialogue and I certainly had a good time talking about risk taking (hence the #vtrisky hashtag). We’ve got a great deal of awesome people here in VT so I’m sure that we’ll continue to see a wide variety. Just remember, if you want to take the helm, be sure to nominate yourself! 

FYI, the DM News folks just focused on number of Twitter followers as a metric of success. For those of you who follow my blog you know that number of Twitter followers is NOT a measurement of success.  As to Mr. Baskin — while his blog post has syndicated in many different areas, his chief complaint is that not only are we boring, and the tweets useless, but “the tweets aren’t about Vermont, they’re about the tweeters themselves.”. Ahem. Yep. That there, my friend is the point. The marketers “didn’t give up” — they are providing us all an opportunity to share what we love about Vermont. That is the point of this whole thing.

Yep. It’s about one person, each week. One Vermonter each week. We all bring our own point of view, personality, and interests. We bring part of our life into this and are giving people a glimpse of our lives. But only a glimpse. Essentially, no matter how awesome we are…we are still just people. Ordinary people. With ordinary lives. And that, well, really isn’t that exciting. Sorry to break it to you. From my own experience, I’m not going to “pick fights” nor am I going to toss F-bombs just to make it “interesting”. In my experience that isn’t really worth it. I focused on providing information to people about events, goings on, pictures, history, education, business…those things that I think are great about Vermont.  (I did get into a little dust-up over the merits of VT Maple Syrup vs. MI Maple Syrup though.) Ed, on the other hand called out Texas while he tweeted. Raven focused on some wonderful things going on Rutland.  In other words, we did exactly what the Vermont Department of Tourism is looking for. We were ourselves. We brought our own points of view. We had fun. And that is the point.  On some levels while this is all about marketing for our most awesome Green Mountain State, it is also about giving those of us who love this state the opportunity to show that love.  It feels good to do this and to represent.

I had fun.

So I hope as the weeks go on, people will focus more on each individual person and what they bring to the table to showcase what makes Vermont so frick’n awesome: Vermonters.

Oh, and Cider Donuts (which @stevegarfield ordered from Cold Hollow Cidermill, thanks to me — and that my friends is an ACTIONABLE METRIC!)

From this:


To the big win:


Cold Hollow Cider Mill Cider Donuts received by @stevegarfield

So good luck to all of those who come after me and remember, the fun has just begun!


Apr 11

2011 Social Media Ninjas

It seems not so long ago that I posted the list of new Grasshoppers who were on their way to being Social Media Ninjas in our Senior Marketing class at Champlain College. Students went “live” with their personal branding projects in February and here we are at the end of April and it’s time to reveal the Social Media Ninjas for Spring 2011.

First, let’s begin with the rubric which this year I tweaked a wee bit to include a Google search to find out just how the students stacked up according to the Googles. We had some interesting results and it’s no surprise that those who dominated their ego search for their name scored high on the rubric.

The rankings are simple:

  • Social Media Ninja = A
  • Specialist = B
  • Apprentice = C
  • Grasshopper = D/F

Getting there, however is not so easy and it really does take quite a lot of work.

This year I watched as the students learned a great deal about what it really takes to engage in social media. Even with passion there are days when it is very difficult. Creating engaging content, linking, responding, tracking…it takes time, dedication and a willingness to be present, always learning and continually curious. At the end of the day, regardless of the final ranking I believe that every one of the students in #ccc410mkt learned a great deal this year.

So here we go… our top results for Spring 2011!

Specialists: These are the students who really pushed hard. They might have changed things in mid-stream and ran into some barriers but in the end they all were able to gain their stride and really start creating content, make connections and start to make an impression on others outside of their F2F social circle.  I’ve made some specific notes after each one.

And now…for the Ninjas. The Social Media Ninjas. They rocked it from the start — well sometimes they crashed and burned (one had their site down for a month) but in the end they rallied, listened to the feedback, made connections, built communities and created content that is having an impact on a wide circle of people well beyond #btv and #campchamp!

And the Ninjas Are…



Tricia stood out because not only was she consistent, she has employed all the tools, made the connections and has helped her peers grow (Google searches for the different students often showed her blog with links to them in top results). She gets community. She gets how to leverage the tools and above all she has taken @garyvee’s advice and CRUSHEDIT!

@klei_ber@Klei_ber (aka @culturecycles)


Brian has been working with his passion, Culture Cycles prior to our class.  I have seen him really grow this blog and learn how to make the Twitter feeds and Facebook much more meaningful. He has built a great fan base for the blog and is now seeing what happens when he intentionally injects more of himself into the Culture Cycles brand. He overcame a huge tech failure and hasn’t lost any readers by keeping the site fresh, engaging and interesting.





In a very short time, Nate has begun to make a big impression with his blog — his focus on home brewing and most importantly helping to educate others about home brewing is helping him to gain recognition in a niche area. He’s taking @garyvee’s words to heart and helping others to learn and understand about something he is passionate about. As he has begun to find his voice, Nate has been expanding his content to not only provide how-tos but also connect the home brewing community together. It’s all about adding value and Nate has shown how it can be done.


@tech5@Tech5 (aka @tfquilty and @Alexqmfashion)



Alex has taken his passion and has woven it throughout his work here at Champlain. His goal is to go back home to Chicago and run the family business — a military surplus store — that has helped outfit costumes in movies. He loves military fashion and has taken this assignment to new heights by using it to fuel his business idea through different twitter accounts, a blog and his newly launched business website. He has linked them all and created a foundation for an online brand that will broaden out the scope of the traditional historian/antique military buff to the fashion world where as it turns out, many folks really like to wear the military garb!

And there you have it.

The 2011 Social Media Ninjas from Champlain College’s Senior Marketing Capstone class.

I hope you’ll follow the Ninjas and the Specialists and of course consider hiring them — if they can do all of this for themselves…imagine what they can do for you!

Feb 11

Another year…more Ninjas!

Well, it’s that time of year again!

The students in the B.S. in Marketing here at Champlain College get to finish off their program with a CAPSTONE experience. This course is a five credit culmination of all of their work from their marketing program AND their core liberal arts learning.  It’s the place where they learn just how important critical thinking, communication, problem solving and being open to new experiences are to being a successful professional and member of society.

This year, we have a great group of students, who, as a part of their work in this class are pulling together their PERSONAL BRANDING PROJECT aka “The Social Media Ninja Project”. Last year I ran this project for the first time in our MKT420 class and you can read all about right here on this blog — just check out the tag on MKT420.

Students were asked to begin the semester by reading CRUSHIT! by @garyvee and then I asked them to hone in on their passion.  Something that they could sustain over a 10 – 12 week time frame that they could also Tweet about, write about, talk about and build a brand around.  The ultimate goal of course is to be able to show a potential employer that they truly “get” social media, content creation, and how to set goals and measure success.

And now, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the Ninjas In Training. I hope you will follow them, provide them with feedback and input because come May, I’ll be awarding Social Media Ninja Status to a select few and will be asking all of you out there if you will HIRE THESE GRADS and based on the topics, you just might learn a thing or too as well!

So there you have it. The Senior Marketing Class of 2011 begins their social media training. Let’s see where they end up!

Apr 10

And the Ninjas Are….

It is the end of the semester and as the Marketing Management class wraps up it’s time to announce who has achieved true Ninja Status (for the rubric, please check my earlier post).

It’s exciting to have watched the students as they each explored their own personal brand and while there have been ups and downs, this is truly all about learning, having fun and understanding the true implications of the social tools that are infusing the business world. Not everyone can be a Ninja. It takes dedication, passion, interest and willingness to put yourself out there, engage and connect. At the beginning of all of this I wasn’t sure who would achieve “Ninja Status” — I wasn’t even sure anyone would.

First a shout out to the up and coming Ninjas — the Specialists!

I’m excited to announce that out of the full class of students a total of NINE people made SPECIALIST (that’s the level just below Ninja). The specialist is the person who you should watch carefully — they are honing their skills, hitting their stride and with a bit more time will surely become Ninjas. These individuals have created content, begun building their brands and have, above all, continued to explore and learn the tools of the trade.

Our MKT 420 Specialists are:

If you aren’t already following them…well you should.

And now, for the Ninjas.

This honor goes to TWO students who have picked very different areas to focus their energy on. Each in their own way has exhibited an understanding of engagement, connection, consistency, relevancy and building a brand. Both are passionate about what they are doing and their personality and passion shines through in different ways. One is helping others and gaining visibility and interest in what they are doing through outside blog posts and in-state business people. The other is connecting content and pointing out the challenges women face in the world. They have done all the right stuff — and even if there have been some true “learning moments” along the way, both have earned…


Corey and Nichole -- Social Media Ninjas

Congratulations to
Corey aka Rosie the Marketer
who is writing a blog about strong working women and marketing.
| Twitter: @rosiemarketerandNichole of Hire This Grad
a blog and twitter account that is spotlighting Champlain College seniors to help them “get hired”.
http://hirethisgrad.tumblr.com | Twitter  @nicholemagoon and @hirethisgrad

Posted via email from Elaine’s Posterous

Mar 10

Social Media Ninja Status: That’s Impressive!

It’s been a little while since I wrote my post about the students in the Marketing Management class becoming Social Media Ninjas.  This is just a quick update for those of you wondering how it’s going.


Two students have job offers on the table right now. Another has been reached out to via twitter.  I won’t tell you who they are.  I’ll let them do it.

By the way our class is now working with RADIAN6 which means these students will not only know how to run a full blown social media campaign — but they will be able to show measurement and success as well.  Some of the students already know web analytics, so between the quantitative of GA and the qualitative of Radian6, that’s impressive. Here’s a post by Lauren Vargus of Radian6 outlining their higher education program — and talking about what the students in the class are doing.

We’ve also gotten some mentions in other places too:

  1. Campus Tweet:  http://campustweet.tv/2010/02/18/being-a-social-ninja-2/ (by the way, we are still the THIRD CAMPUS with the amount of Twitter engagement at 171 registered users. For a school of only 2000 that’s impressive.)
  2. Talent Management Tech: http://www.talentmanagementtech.com/community/blogs/1005/532_college_students_social_media_and_the_job_search.html

We’ll see what else pops up but for now, we continue to apply what we learn in the classroom so that Champlain College Marketing Majors not only know the tools that are important, but how to use them, when to use them and when NOT to use them. The perfect mix of traditional marketing  (target market, product, message, media channel, goal setting) and digital new media skills ready for the workplace.  Now THAT’S Impressive!

Feb 10

Ninjas Have to Start Somewhere

Before a person can become a “Social Media Ninja” they have to start somewhere don’t you think?

I suppose it would be good to start with explaining what a “Social Media Ninja” is.

This semester in my Marketing Management class (#mkt420) the students are engaged in a semester long personal branding assignment inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk and his book, CrushIt.  Each student has been asked to identify something they are passionate about and build their personal brand through social media.

We are six weeks into the semester and the fruits of their planning and thinking and research are beginning to show. What is so exciting is that each student is doing something different and they are learning how to incorporate different tools into what they are doing.  Even more fun, is they are helping each other through the process.

In essence this semester the students in #MKT420 are learning how to become Social Media Ninjas. They are learning the intricate and mysterious rules of social media.  (Ok, you got me, there really aren’t any rules because if you haven’t figured it out yet, we are all making up the “rules” as we go along — which is why they are “mysterious”). Words that describe the Social Media Ninja include: Agile, Nimble, Gadget Master (think in this case tools like blogs, twitter, facebook, analytics, SEO), Multi-faceted, Master Wordsmith, Content Creator, Content Distributor and Networker Extraordinaire.

This of course highlights that just because they are young doesn’t mean they are ready to run a social media campaign for your business. They need training. And this assignment is that training ground. When they complete this course, if they do the work and they listen to my feedback (and yours…but I’m getting to that in a minute), they will become Social Media Ninjas.

So here is where you come in.  You are a business professional.  Perhaps a Social Media Ninja yourself.  Or perhaps you are looking for bright talent that will become your Community Manager or your Content Manager. Here is your chance to get in on the ground floor. To not only watch these students develop their mad skilz in social media marketing, but even help them by providing feedback, reading their content and being willing to engage and mentor them.

They graduate in May.

Perhaps you just might want to Hire These Grads.

So here they are. Social Media Ninjas In-Training.  Follow them. Subscribe to their Blogs. Watch their Videos. Help them reach Social Media Ninja Status.

Girls on Shred a blog about women, snowboarding and lot’s of other things I don’t really understand.  http://yaaagrlz.tumblr.com | Twitter:  @cailaburke

My Personal Runway a blog about Fashion — Mens fashion. Featuring lots of fun and funky beauties!  http://mystreetfashion.tumblr.com | Twitter: @mjbutler85

Tying it All Together a blog about connecting her school work to her internship to her employment. http://jcooper225.tumblr.com | Twitter:  @jcooper225

Event-uring a blog about events — planning, managing and participating — and having fun learning.  http://event-uring.tumblr.com/ | Twitter:  @LDamici

The Snake Pit a blog about snowboarding with a focus on capturing the true spirit of the lifestyle and sport. http://shralp.tumblr.com/ | Twitter:  @joegaynor

sNOboundaries a single Mom’s snowboarding blog — yep Moms board too! http://www.snowboundaries.com | Twitter:  @kristig3

Rosie the Marketer a blog about women. Strong working women and marketing. Provides commentary on women in the media as well. http://rosiethemarketer.tumblr.com | Twitter:   @rosiemarketer

Apres-Shred a blog about New England and all things Snow. www.Apres-Shred.com | Twitter: http://twitter.com/ApresShred

Design Gutter a blog that asks the designers burning question, is it good design, or does it just meet requirements? http://thedesigngutter.wordpress.com | Twitter: @ajjones87 and @designgutter

The Brew Meaning it’s a beer blog. With a mission.  Visit all the breweries on the “Vermont Brewery Challenge” and write about the beer. http://thebrewmeaning.com | Twitter:  @rrrali

Carolyn Gets Risky a blog about taking risks and experiencing life. http://carolyngetsrisky.tumblr.com | Twitter: @carolyngetsrad

Hire This Grad is a blog that will spotlight the individuals from our Marketing Class to help them “get hired”.  http://hirethisgrad.tumblr.com | Twitter  @nicholemagoon and @hirethisgrad

Candace Is Hungry is a FOOD blog. Recipes, pictures of food, downright yummy content.  http://candaceishungry.tumblr.com | Twitter:  @candaceishungry

The Promotional Experience is a blog about the world of Experiential Marketing and Promotions.  http://caitlineoconnor.wordpress.com/ | Twitter: @caitlineo

Sled Head is a blog about Snowmobiling or as it is known here in VT, Snow machining. Did you know people jump things with their sleds? http://sledheadblog.blogspot.com | Twitter:  @Dan819

The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar is a travel blog about a students going to Tanzania this May to help Friends of IMMUA. http://www.hungrycaterpillar-abathomas.blogspot.com | Twitter:  @abathomas

Wamser and the World is a travel and adventure blog from a student who has been places and is going even more places! http://kwamser.tumblr.com/ |Twitter:  @kwamser

Madison Whitney is a fashion blog that is opinion and compilation of images and commentary about the fashion world.  http://madisonwhitney.tumblr.com/ | Twitter: @madisonwhitneyw

Brooke on Wheels is a blog about Roller Derby and one woman’s quest to learn more about the sport first hand. http://brookezam.wordpress.com | Twitter:  @BrookeZam