Social Media Marketing: The Past, Present, & Future

In today’s digital media landscape, the only thing that remains constant is change itself. There are always new tools and apps coming out. Within this flux of change, there is an ever-increasing amount of content circulating in the digital space.

I just watched the recording of Mark Schaefer’s talk at this year’s Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego. In Mark’s talk, he shared how everyone, including brands, organizations, and individuals, were struggling with a state of content shock. There is way too much content.

Ironically, on the other hand, we are encouraging everyone to become content creators to share their stories and to document their journeys.

How could we ever figure out the digital marketing world?

Well, I had the honor to interview a social media marketing expert, Keith A. Quesenberry, to discuss the latest changes and strategies in digital marketing. Click on the link below to watch the replay of our interview and read my highlights below.

Click  here  to watch the replay of my interview with  Keith A. Quesenberry

Click here to watch the replay of my interview with Keith A. Quesenberry

Before we dive into the content of my interview, let’s first get to know Keith.

Who is Keith A. Quesenberry?

Keith is a Marketing Professor at Messiah College. Prior to teaching, Keith spent 17 years in marketing and advertising at at advertising agencies such as BBDO and Arnold Worldwide. Keith is also a contributing writer to Social Media Examiner and Harvard Business Review. His expert opinions have been featured in many mainstream media and publications such as MSNBC, The New York TimesForbes, and Entrepreneur.

Keith is also the author of a popular social media book, Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution.

You can learn more about Keith from his Website, and connect with him on TwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.

What are the big changes in social media marketing?

Keith just released the second edition of his Social Media Strategy book. The first edition was published in 2015. Between the two editions, a lot changed in the digital marketing space.

Keith shared four significant changes that he has observed based on his research and practical experience.

1️⃣ The growing popularity of live video. Within a few years, there has been a spring of live streaming platforms such as MeerKat, Blab, Periscope, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and YouTube live. Some platforms are gone such as MeerKat and Blab, some still remain like Periscope, and some are dominating such as Facebook live.

In fact, Keith’s observation resonates with the findings in Social Media Examiner’s latest industry report, in which they highlighted an increased interest among social media marketers in using videos and live streaming.

2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
Do you wonder how fellow marketers are using social media? Wondering if you should focus more on ads or bots? In our…

2️⃣The emergence of Influencer Marketing and micro-influencers. Keith commented that even the way we approach influencer marketing has changed compared to a few years ago. Back then, people relied at vanity metrics such as number of followers. Now, it is important for brands to identify micro-influencers. Those are people who have smaller audiences, but they are more effective for brands to reach out to targeted demographics and to accomplish your business goals. Spending thousands of dollars paying celebrities to share your content is no longer an effective strategy. Instead, identifying micro influencers who are more relevant to your messaging and audience.

3️⃣Paid social. I am sure you have all heard the phrase, “pay to play.” Especially on platforms that are saturated with content such as Facebook, marketers can no longer ignore paid social. Every social media strategy has to have a paid component. And this paid feature has become official on almost all the social media channels.

4️⃣Emerging and diminishing paid social platforms. The last change that Keith discussed was that some platforms, such as Google +, have faded away, whereas others have come into prominence such as Snapchat, Messenger apps, and various rating review sites such as Trip Adviser and Amazon.

In the midst of all these changes, Keith shared that one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for an overarching brand strategy. With social media sites emerge and disappear so frequently, brands and marketers cannot succeed by chasing after the latest platforms, features, or tactics. Instead,

One has to understand the larger brand. The message has to distinguish one from one’s competitors. Think about who your real target audience is and where they are most active at? They may not be on the big three social platforms.

What are some social media mistakes that brands and companies make?

Keith shared three major social media mistakes that companies still make.

❌ Many companies tend to start with social media objectives without thinking about their actual business objectives. For example, a company might be thinking about creating content to increase followers and shares on Instagram. Within this context, social media has become an end to itself.Marketers may not even know if their social media efforts are translating into business goals or making any contributions to the bottom line.

Instead, always start with the business objectives, such as increasing sales, changing perceptions, asking for donations, increasing volunteers, etc. From business objectives, you go to identify target audience, ➡️ then figure out where your target audience congregates, ➡️ then select the right social media channels to reach these people, ➡️ finally, create the content. Don’t jump into the last step without fully understanding the first three steps.

❌ Most companies tend to focus only on the popular social networks, without examining whether or not these channels are the best for their unique messages and strategies. For example, Keith shared that mediums like corporate blogs and Pinterest can be very effective at generating sales. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of Fortune 500 companies are leveraging them.

❌ The last social media mistake is that brands are not engaging. Most brands tend to use social media as a broadcasting channel by producing and publishing content, without making any genuine effort to engage their consumers after the content is released. As Keith said,

The real return on investment comes in the engagement. It is a two-way channel.

Amen! There were brands that I stopped interacting with and supporting them because then never engaged back.

You can read Keith’s article on Harvard Business Review below to dive deeper into the common social media mistakes discussed here.

The Basic Social Media Mistakes Companies Still Make
Executive Summary Over 90% of medium and large business have used social media marketing for years, but many still…

Educators Need to Be Practitioners

To me, Keith is the ideal marketing professor. He has extensive experience in the professional field. He does not only academic research but practical ones as well that students and professionals can use and apply. Keith walks the talk and is up to date with the latest industry trends and changes.

I think this is how classes should be taught, not just by educators who have terminal degrees in respective academic fields but by educators who are immersed in the professional fields as well.

As a college professor myself, I wholeheartedly believe that educators need to be practitioners. It is one of the important ways to shrink the gap between classroom teaching and real-life applications. Reflecting on my own self-reinvention journey to expand my professional services (listen to the podcast interview below), I have come to see how every single professional endeavor that I do outside the classroom has made me a better professor inside the classroom.

“Who Looks Inside, Awakens”: How I Embraced Big Changes in Life
Recently, I had the great honor to be on Deirdre Breakenridge’s podcast, Women WorldWide. I have been a loyal listener…

Documenting A Journey to My First Self-Published Book


I don’t have the book yet. This is going to be a series of mini blog posts to document my journey to release my first self-published book with another amazing coauthor and collaborator, Chetachi Egwu.

Where Am I Coming From?

I have been teaching in the classroom for a decade. I received my MA and Ph.D. in Communication/Public Relations from Syracuse University and University of Maryland. Like most educators, I have had a pretty traditional career path.

However, my career path started to shift as I embraced social media and digital media devices as a teaching and a career development tool. On top of being a college professor, I have expanded my services from teaching to speaking, consulting, blogging, and live streaming. Very soon, I am going to add another title, “author,” to my repertoire of professional services. Excited!

My encounter with digital media has not only made me a better teacher inside the classroom, but has opened my eyes and mind to the myriad of opportunities that are available to educators outside of academia.

There are so many skills that we have as educators that can be translated to the professional world and to bring us additional income opportunities. Unfortunately, many educators don’t see them or are simply not aware of the possibilities.

That’s why I was so excited to collaborate with Chetachi to write and self-publish a book together.

Our goal for the book is to tell educators about the possibilities outside of academiato encourage educators to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset and digital media devices, and to demonstrate strategies and tactics that educators can apply to amplify their impact and income, which don’t have to be exclusive.

Chetachi and I have just conducted our first round of interviews with two amazing education entrepreneurs who are trailblazers in their own unique ways.

Read the highlights of each interview below.

Interview with Dr. Will Deyamport

Dr. Will and I connected on Twitter. Of course, where else did you find and connect with people nowadays? Dr. Will is an Instructional Technologist, Writer, Speaker, Consultant, and Business owner. He also has an amazing podcast, The Dr. Will Show, that he has been running for quite a few years.

What amazes me about Dr. Will is that besides his full-time job as an Instructional Technologist, he has a series of side hustles that help him create additional income and impact.

Here are some highlights I learned from our hour-long conversation.

✅ Money is NOT evil.

✅ There is nothing wrong with educators having side hustles.

✅ You need to monetize your knowledge and content.

✅ Everyone needs to be a content creator. There is no shortage of platforms to share your stories and wisdom. You can even self publish a book that can probably have a similar impact as traditionally published books through publishers.

✅ Don’t get too comfortable with your day job. Job security is not as secure as you imagine, even in the educator sector.

✅ Personal life and social media life are not dichotomous. You are a holistic human. Show the human side of you on social media sites. Be real and present yourself as a holistic person.

✅ Understand your “why” and your message before you jump onto any social site. Once you discover your gem, stay focused until you crush it.

✅ Create your network before you need it.

✅ Educators are brands. It is time to wake up and to embrace that.

Interview with Dr. Vernon Lindsay

Dr. Lindsay has an incredible story. In October 2016, he made a huge decision to move from Chicago to Mexico with his wife and three kids to start his how business. He is now a successful Writer, Consultant, and Personal Development Coach. His articles have been featured on Entrepreneur, The Good Men Project, Addicted2Success, Thrive Global, and many more. And he has just published his book, Critical Race and Education for Black Males, as well as an online course on Self Development.

However, before this point, Vernon had a promising and successful career in higher education. He was a postdoctoral fellow in Teaching and Mentoring at the University of Illinois at Chicago for three years and was an adjunct professor at DePaul University for a year. Vernon received numerous awards and accomplishments during his tenure at these two universities.

What inspired Vernon to take such leap of faith and pack up and relocate to a new country?

Here are some highlights of our interview.

✅ Don’t just quit your job without having a solid plan. Take at least several months or even a few years to accumulate your capital and to get prepared for your entrepreneurial adventure before you quit your full-time job. Use your full-time job as an investment.

✅ You can’t be creative and produce meaningful work if you have to worry about paying your bills.

✅ Don’t get lost in the rabbit hole of social media. Being popular on social media can be an addictive feeling. Popularity and profitability are not the same. Unless your “likes” and “shares” are bringing you closer to your business goals, you might have to rethink your social media effort and strategy.

✅ Invest in yourself. Find mentors or coaches who had been where you are to guide you on your journey and to offer support. Just because you are a solopreneur, it doesn’t mean that you have to “hustle” alone.

✅ Flexible hours and being able to control your days are attractive traits of being an entrepreneur. However, you need to build structures into your life to make each day productive. Schedule time to write, work, plan, exercise, etc. Fail to plan; plan to fail.

✅ Build your social proof. Document your journey.

✅ People in academia have developed some strong skills that can be translated into the entrepreneurial world such as discipline, work ethics, writing, ability to work independently, and ability to research, gather, and synthesize information.


So, you already have a sneak peek from our upcoming book! Here are the highlights that I took away from our two initial interviews:

🎯 Academics have plenty of strong skills — both working style & skills — that they can leverage to become entrepreneurs.

🎯 Like everything else in life, social media is a double-edged sword. It has its benefits and challenges. However, used strategically, social media can help educators enhance their teaching career and bring additional income and impact.

🎯 Plan for yourself — even in academia, job security isn’t secure anymore. Plenty of schools have closed in the past several years. Whether you just want to have a side activity, completely go off on your own, or just want to get engagement from students and the academic or professional community; social media is a powerful tool for that. But it takes some planning and strategy to do that effectively.

I cannot wait to conduct more interviews and to eventually publish the book! Stay tuned.

“Who Looks Inside, Awakens”: How I Embraced Big Changes in Life


Recently, I had the great honor to be on Deirdre Breakenridge’s podcast, Women WorldWide. I have been a loyal listener of Deirdre’s podcast for quite a few years. So, it was a surreal moment to be a guest on her show.

During our interview, I shared my journey of reinventing myself and how I expanded my professional services from teaching college-level public relations and social media courses to becoming a speaker, consultant, blogger, and live streamer.

I had such a great time chatting with Deirdre; and we had an extensive and thought-provoking discussion. You can click on the link below and listen to the entire interview. In this article, I highlighted a few of my responses from Deirdre’s interview questions.

Deirdre Breakenridge & Women WorldWide Podcast

Deirdre is the woman behind the WomenWorldWide podcast. As an author, speaker, educator, and CEO of Pure Performance Communications, Deirdre has been coaching and mentoring women and professionals in business for more than twenty years. She launched the Women WorldWide podcast to share women’s stories across the globe and highlight their successes and failures. I highly recommend that you subscribe to Deirdre’s Women WorldWide podcast and learn from the wisdom that these successful women leaders have shared.

Now, let’s dive into my story.

From Philadelphia to South Korea

February 2017 was a challenging month. As a family, we collectively made the toughest decision that literally changed our lives. We decided to relocate from Philadelphia to Seoul, South Korea, for a few years due to my husband’s job.

It was a decision made not without tears and struggles, knowing that this relocation was probably going to affect my career the most, as a college professor with a stable and secure job.

A few months later, on April 8, 2017, we packed 10 suitcases of stuff, on top of the 820 pounds we already shipped to Korea, and boarded a plane to Seoul.

Our suitcase, my older son (front), mother-in-law (back), and younger son (in the stroller)

Our suitcase, my older son (front), mother-in-law (back), and younger son (in the stroller)

A new chapter in my life had begun.

Today, I have successfully added several titles to my Website and LinkedInpage, including speakerconsultantblogger, and live streamer. In fact, a few weeks ago, I did my first paid speaking engagement in Seoul with two local social media influencers, where we discussed Instagram marketing. Our event was covered in the Korean media, which totally made my day.


In a few weeks, I will be doing my second paid speaking engagement at Hongik University’s School of Advertising and Public Relations. I will be discussing personal branding with Korean students.

I cannot be more thankful for where I am today. All the tears and struggles are so worth it. Most importantly,

I have fallen in love with the person that I have become as a result of the self-reinvention.

How Did I Embrace Change?

I believe that I manifested the South Korea opportunity through my husband.

From September 2017 to May 2018, I was on a research sabbatical. I spent lots of time conducting academic research, but I also spent an amount of time reading books and listening to podcasts on social media and self-development. It was the first time that I dove into concepts such as lifestyle businesses, entrepreneurship, digital CEOs, nomads, and online businesses.

My mind was blown away by the stories that I heard and books I read. So many people were enjoying the abundance in life while doing what they love, creating impact, and experiencing the luxury of life. I felt a deeper part within me that had been buried for a long time was slowly waking up. I felt a strong desire for change and developed a craving for a bigger stage and stronger impact. As I shared in my interview with Deirdre,

There was a desire in my heart that was craving for a bigger stage and some change.

The desire grew stronger as I continued to learn and improve myself, and finally my desire was manifested through my husband’s opportunity to come to Korea.

What I learned from reinventing myself is that, throughout our education and schooling, we invest so much time and energy in studying other people’s lives and works, but hardly any time in discovering our intrinsic values and getting to know ourselves.

However, self-discovery is a crucial step to becoming successful and self-actualized. We cannot change the world outside without understanding the world inside of us first. It is only when we discover who we are & what we value that we can maximize our potential to society and humanity. I LOVE the following quote from Carl Jung,

For the first time ever, I was looking inside, and I became aware of my own dreams and values. I am proud of myself for having the courage to embrace big changes in life and for taking the action to actualize my dreams.

What is the State of Digital Learning?

Technological advancement has disrupted quite a few industries such as taxi and hotel businesses. The same thing is happening in the education space.

There are an ever-increasing number of alternative learning platforms that allow students to learn at any time and place that they want, such as Kahn Academy, Udemy, CreativeLive, MissionU, Massive Online Open Courses, and so many others. Organizations, influencers, and thought leaders from various industries are also launching their own online courses, certifications, training, etc. These alternative channels are gaining both popularity and credibility.

At the same time, today’s students have changed dramatically. They grew up with technology and digital media devices. Contemporary students are digital learners. They prefer digital first and they love self-paced learning.

As educators, we need to meet students where they are instead of expecting students to come to meet where we are, and learn to speak students’ language, the digital and the social media language. That’s why I am a huge advocate of incorporating digital media devices into classes as a teaching tool, and I do what I do as a Digital Learning Consultant.

I am aware that there is a strong voice against using media devices in the classroom because they cause distractions. I agree that technologies are very distracting. However, I do believe that banning technology completely in our classrooms is not the way to solve the problem.

Technology is not the root of the problem. Pedagogy is. Educators need to teach students how to use technologies smartly, strategically, and responsibly.

Without actually allowing students to use digital media devices in learning environments, where else can teachers train their students regarding smart usage of technology?

Why Did I Call My Facebook Live Show, Classroom Without Walls?

In June 2017, I launched a weekly Facebook live show called, Classroom Without Walls — Using Technology to Reimagine Education. I created this show because I believe our society has changed a lot. Social media and technology play a huge role in our society.

Technology has minimized the geographic barriers that once separated us; thus, has significantly amplified what one teacher can do in the classroom. I want to create a virtual community of people from all over the world, where we can be both teachers and students and learn from each other, and co-create content together.

I also LOVE technology because it is helping reform the traditional hierarchical power-dynamic between teachers and students. In the digital space, there are no “forever” teachers or students. Instead, our roles have become fluid and blended. We are both students and teachers. There is always so much to learn and so much that we already know that we can share with the outside world. Technology has made such endeavors possible.

So far, my weekly Facebook live show (every Wednesday at 5PM, EST) has been viewed by people from fifteen countries. And several of my videos have gained 1.2 K to 1.4K views with dozens of shares and hundreds of comments. Achieving this level of impact would be challenging through a traditional lecture class.

Meanwhile, my show has created a virtual community people are both teachers and students. We come together every week to learn from each other and to allow others to learn from us. It has become a virtual classroom that is not confined by geographic barriers or physical walls, hence, #ClassroomWithoutWalls.

What Does Success Mean To Me?

I believe we each have a zone of genius. Many of us probably never have a chance to discover that. Instead, we get settled in life too soon.

What success means to me is being in a state of creation, where we are operating within our zone of genius. In that state, work flows naturally to us. We become so focused that we forget about time and space. We become our work and our work becomes us. When we enter that state, regardless of what we do, creation happens effortlessly. And what we do aligns perfectly with our inspiration and the root of who we are. To me, that is success.


My self-reinventing journey has just begun. There is a lot more to learn and to experience. I am excited to continue to grow myself and to explore future opportunities.

I hope you enjoyed reading the highlights of my interview with Deirdre. Please listen to the entire episode and share it with friends who are on a similar journey and may benefit from my story. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think about my self-reinvention.

Leveraging Live Video To Grow Your Business & Brand


Recently, I attended the Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego. It’s arguably one of the top Social Media Marketing conferences in the US. If I had to select one takeaway from the conference, it would be: Go Live, Go Video.

Live videos connect people at a new level that is otherwise hard to achieve through traditional text or even audio. As a live streamer myself, I cannot think of a better way than live video to serve and connect with my community members.

Having said all that, I was beyond honored to have Chocolate Johnny, a live video expert, as a recent guest on my Facebook live show. John offered many valuable tips and insights regarding live video. He also shared best practices that we can all employ to use live video to grow and scale our businesses and brands.

In this article, I will share a few highlights of our interview. I also recommend that you watch the replay of the show. John is not only a live video expert, but a dynamic speaker and a genuine human being.

Interview with the one and only John Kapos, aka Chocolate Johnny, owner of Perfection Chocolates & Sweets. John is also a speaker. He spoke at last year's #SMMW17 conference, where he gave an awesome talk on live streaming.

Who is Chocolate Johnny?

John Kapos, aka Chocolate Johnny, is the owner of a chocolate shop in Sydney Australia called Perfection Chocolates and Sweets. John has successfully leveraged the power of live video to scale his business. As a live streaming expert, John also coaches other small businesses to tap into the power of live video.

In addition, John is a social media and motivational speaker. In fact, John was a speaker at last year’s Social Media Marketing World conference (#SMMW17), where he discussed how he used live video to grow his business and brand. I had the honor to listen to John present in person. It’s a value-packed talk.

To learn more about John, please visit his Website and connect with him on TwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.

Chocolate Johnny’s Live Streaming Journey

John’s live streaming journey started three years ago when social streaming app Meerkat was first released. He immediately downloaded the app and started playing with it. John broadcasted his first live streaming session on April 1, 2015, when he was taking a walk on a beach in Sydney. To his great surprise, thirty people joined his session and started conversing with him.

That moment was a turning point in his career. John started to brainstorm ideas where he could incorporate live video into his local chocolate business. He started to ask himself, “How can I utilize live streaming for my business and for other people’s business? How can I take live streaming to the next level? What can I do with it?” Intrigued by these questions, John started to live stream his Perfection Chocolate business.

Push The Broadcast Button: Your Business Could Change

My biggest takeaway from my hour-long Facebook live interview with John is: push the damn button. John said it so well, “push the broadcast button, your business could change.”

John shared several stories where his live videos of Perfection Chocolates has benefited his business.

✅ A famous TV presenter in Sydney shared John’s story on her Instagram channel, where she has a hundred thousand followers.

✅ Through Periscope, 79 people have come to John’s store because they watched his story on Periscope. Those people came from all over the globe such as New York, London, Paris, Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand, China, Japan, etc. Because they watched John go live on Periscope, they felt an urge to connect with John in person and try his chocolate.

✅ A famous comedian visited John’s chocolate shop as his first stop in Sydney and he live streamed his entire visit.

✅ For one of his live streaming broadcasts, John had 115,000 viewers and made $3K in sales purely from the live broadcast.

Not only are these stories amazing from a storytelling perspective, but from a business angle, these visitors have become consumers who have all purchased John’s Perfection Chocolates, in-person or online; and they will continue to share their stories about Chocolate Johnny with their friends and family members. To me, these are the finest examples of social selling and selling without selling.

In John’s own words,

People see you and your product. They hear about you. People see me on social media and will come in to try my product. I have planted my seed. Fix your foundation up. Build a relationship first, build the trust and watch your business grow.

So, if you are an individual or a small business owner, it might be the time for you to push the broadcast button. Your effort is likely to benefit your business.

We Can All Become Digital Storytellers

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that only attractive small businesses such as chocolate can benefit from live videos. During the interview, John shared several examples where small business owners from a wide range of industries have benefited from live streaming.

✅ A butcher shop owner uses live videos to teach people how to identify quality meat, how to process the meat at home, how to cut the meat, how to put it on the barbecue, how to season it, how to do recipes, etc.

✅ A florist uses live videos to teach people how to choose good flowers and arrange them into beautiful designs.

✅ A funeral director uses live video to teach people how to write a good eulogy.

✅ A financial planner uses live video to show people the basics of financial planning.

The list can go on and on, but you got the idea. The point is that we all have a story to share. We all have passions and hobbies, and we all know something a little bit more than the average person. As John shared,

You are different from everyone else and you have a story and everyone needs to hear it. You have a story that someone out there needs to hear your story and that’s going to change their lives.

Remember, push the broadcasting button.

Everyone Has to Start With Zero

When you are starting out on your live streaming journey, it’s very tempting to look at your numbers and feel discouraged. I love what John shared,

We all start with zero followers. Listen carefully, zero followers, zero hearts, zero likes, zero zero zero. Everyone starts with zero!

Amen! So true.

John shared a great tip that can help people, especially newbies of live videos, to get over their fears of numbers. John recommended using a piece of paper to cover your live streaming viewers’ numbers, should it be on Periscope, Facebook, or whatever platform you use to go live. In this way, you wouldn’t be able to see the numbers and be bothered by them when you go live. When in doubt, remember John’s wise words:

I am insecure enough. Everyone is. I don’t need another thing to make me feel insecure. I don’t care about the numbers. All I care about is the comment. And if no one comments on it, that’s okay. One day someone will!

This reminds me of what Gary Vaynerchuk shared in one of his videos. When Gary started producing videos, not that many people consumed his content. Be patient and be consistent. One day, people will pay attention to you and your content.


I hope my interview with Chocolate Johnny has given you enough confidence and motivation to start your own live streaming journey. As a live streamer myself, I cannot resonate enough with every single pointJohn shared. The only way to overcome our fear of live video is by acting on that fear, “push the broadcast button.”

The benefits far outweigh your fears. Because if you get fears in your head, it doesn’t give you enough room to put your dreams inside. Take the fears out of your head; push the button. I don’t care if your hair is curly or not straight or if you haven’t put make-up on. People want to hear your story.

Seven Tips To Help You Launch and Succeed In Facebook Live Videos


In June 2017, I launched my Facebook live show, Classroom Without Walls: Using Technology to Reimagine Education, where I interview leading professionals and educators regarding issues related to social media, technology, education, and innovation.

In this article, I will dissect my journey and share with you my top seven tips to launch and excel on Facebook live.

No Need to Invest in Fancy Equipment


Yes. You read it. When you are starting out on the live streaming journey, you do not need to invest in fancy equipment at all.

Maybe this sounds counterintuitive, but all the fancy tools in the market are simply barriers to help you start on your own live-streaming journey.

Instead of thinking about what to purchase, ask yourself the following three questions:

  • Do I have a Wifi connection?
  • How about a smartphone?
  • Do I know what to talk about?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, you are ready to start your live-streaming journey.

When I started my Facebook live show, I had nothing but my smartphone and a wifi connection. The key is as long as people can hear and see you clearly, you are good to go.

Nothing is more important than getting started and producing content of value for your audience. You will evolve as you start doing more live shows.

Once you build a community, your content will continue to improve as you start to hear feedback from your audience and understand what type of content performs well and then produce more of it. This is exactly what happened to me.

Practice, Rehearse and Be Prepared

Experience is the best teacher.

For my very first Facebook live show, I interviewed a professor who uses Snapchat as a teaching tool to engage students and to teach his psychology class.

He was also interviewed by NPR. I was elated that he agreed to be on my show. At the same time, I felt pressured to do a good job.

Content-wise, everything went great.

However, technology-wise, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Everything that I wanted to happen didn’t happen.

All the articles and videos I read and watched regarding how to go live helped but still didn’t prepare me enough.

I used Zoom for my very first Facebook live interview.

Although I used Zoom several times before this point, I didn’t know that using Zoom as a guest was quite different from using it as a host.

Eventually, I had to give up on using Zoom and did the interview by using Facebook’s native live feature. It got the job done but was not how I imagined the first show would happen.

What I learned from my first live streaming is experience is the best teacher.

Regardless how much you learn, read, or watch, you can only prepare yourself to a certain extent. It’s the process of doing it that teaches you the most valuable lessons.

Don’t overthink. Getting started is the key. Practice and rehearse ahead of time, but be prepared for things to go wrong. Don’t panic and have a backup plan.

Have An Introduction

When you first go on-air, it is very tempting to say things like, “can you guys hear me?” or “let’s wait for a few minutes until more people join us live” or say other things that simply fill blank space.

These are not desirable ways to start a live show. If you truly want to connect with your audience, you can go live a few minutes prior to your show’s start time and have small talk with your audience. Otherwise, just go live and start your show when you scheduled it.

And don’t ask your audience if they can hear you or not. Your audience is intelligent and if they cannot hear you, they will tell you directly.

Finally, if you promise your audience to go live at 1 PM then go live at 1 PM.

Start on time even if no one shows up. Don’t feel discouraged by the numbers.

In fact, when you’re starting out with Facebook live, don’t focus on numbers. Everyone has to start somewhere. Focus on producing quality content instead.

Below is the intro I use for my own Facebook show.

My introduction helps fulfill two objectives. The first is to tell people a little bit about my show and share my “why.” The second one is to introduce my guest and tell the audience what they are going to learn from the interview.

  • Hello everyone. Welcome to my weekly show, Classroom without Walls — Using Technology to Reimagine Education. My name is Ai. I am the host of this weekly show. I created this show because I believe our society has changed a lot. Social media and technology play a huge role in our changing society. As educators, we need to change how we teach and interact with our students. On this show, I interview leading professionals and educators such as ____ [mention the guest’s name] regarding topics related to social media, education, and technology. If you are new to the show, thank you for joining us live. If you are a returning attendee, you know how much your support means to me. If you are watching this on replay, thank you, future people, [don’t forget that there will be people watching the replay].
  • Today, I am so honored to have ____ join us live. _____ is a renowned _____ [introduce your guest] and will share will us ______ [what the audience can learn from your interview].

Even though this seems like a lot when it’s written out, it doesn’t take me more than 1.5 minutes to say everything, and definitely helps set the context for my show.

Don’t Forget Your Live Audience

If you are hosting a live interview, please make sure you are engaging with the audience who join you live.

Sometimes, I become so focused on my conversation with my guest that I forget I have a live audience joining me.

To remedy this, here are some ways that I have engaged my live audience.

At the beginning of the live show, I ask my audience to share in the comment section where they are joining us from.

During the live show, if I am asking my guest a question, I also post the question to the live audience and ask them to share their experience and insights.

Even better, invite your live audience to join you and your guest to have a live discussion. I pin my BeLive link in the comment section so that people can simply click on it and join us live.

Sometimes, I do giveaways and select winners among those who share my live show on their social media channels.

The part I love best about doing Facebook live shows is that you are not simply disseminating information, but actually co-creating content between you, the guest, and the live audience. The more interactive and participative you can make your live show be, the better it is.

Make your audience feel that their voices are heard and opinions are valued.

Be Consistent

I run my Facebook show on a weekly basis, every Wednesday at 5 PM, EST.

I love having a consistent schedule so that my audience knows what to expect. And this level of consistency also helps my audience develop a habit of consuming my content.

So, decide on a time and frequency that work best for YOU, and commit yourself to it!

If you are a content creator, you know that creating content takes time.

Running Facebook live shows is no exception. From finding and researching guests, scheduling, creating graphics, developing interview questions, to actually running the show, it takes at least four to five hours per week for me.

Think carefully before you make a decision; and once you make up your mind, commit to it!

Promote and Repurpose Your Live Content

Once a Facebook live show is over, don’t let it simply sit idle on your Facebook page. You need to actually promote your content before, during, and after a live show is over.

For example, before I go live each week, I create a graphic to promote my show on Facebook (my personal page, public page, and a group that is linked to my public page), Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I also do stories to promote my show.

During the show, ask your audience and guest to share your show on their social media sites.

After a show is over, repurpose the content by writing blog post recaps or creating videos clips, quote images, or infographics to share your content.

I recently listened to a podcast episode, where the host, Amy Porterfield, interviewed an expert blogger, Julie Solomon.

Julie shared an 80/20 rule, that is, she spends only 20 percent of her time creating new blog content and 80 percent of her time promoting her blog content.

Repurposing my own live content is something that I need to improve on as well.

Equipment I Use and Recommend

I didn’t see a need to invest in better equipment to improve my overall show quality until only recently. After lots of research, I made two purchases.

In November 2017, I purchased a Neewer Ring Light and cannot recommend it enough.

The ring light completely lightens up my face when I go live, especially when I have to go live late at night or early in the morning, where there is insufficient natural light.

My second one is a recent purchase of an expensive microphone. This particular microphone has been recommended by several of my social media friends who do podcast regularly.

However, I want to remind you of what I said in my first point: an expensive microphone is not a prerequisite to launch a Facebook live show.

Before this purchase, I had been mainly using the earphones that came with my iPhone.

If you want to learn more about live-streaming tools, I highly recommend that you follow Luria Petrucci’s LiveStreaming Pros website, and check out this video where Luria discusses the four levels of live streaming:

  • Level one: Phone
  • Level two: Browser-based (using browser-based software to go live such as Facebook, Zoom, or BeLive)
  • Level three: Software on one’s computer (like Ecamm for the Mac)
  • Level four: Home studio

I am currently at Level two. I use BeLive to go live on Facebook. Before I started using BeLive, I tried a combination of Zoom and Facebook’s native live feature. Each of them has its strengths and weaknesses but were not exactly what I was looking for.

BeLive so far is my favorite choice and works extremely well for my live-streaming interviews. If you want to learn more about the differences among these third-party tools, read my blog post here.


I hope the seven tips that I shared here can help you launch your Facebook live show.

Content creation takes time, regardless of whether you are writing blogs, creating visuals, or hosting live shows.

The key is being consistent, staying committed, and keeping your audience’s needs in mind as you are producing content. Slowly but surely, you will achieve what you want to accomplish.

This article was originally guest published on Corina Manea’s Website.

Leveraging Twitter to Maximize Your Conference Experience


Recently, I had the great honor to attend two amazing conferences: the Social Media Marketing World in San Diego (#SMMW18), organized by Social Media Examiner, where I served as a volunteer at the conference; and the sixth annual Texas Social Media conference (#TXSocialMedia), where I co-presented with Jacqueline Rose. We discussed how to use social media as a teaching tool as educators in the 21st century.

I’ve spent a lot of time attending conferences, both industry and academic ones. It has become clear to me that conferences sometimes can feel quite overwhelming given their themes, audiences, topics, and sizes. I have tried various means to enhance my conference experience. There is one strategy that works effectively every single time.

That is, leveraging Twitter to maximize your conference experience.

In this article, I will share with you two specific practices that you can use to enhance the ROI of your conference experience — regardless of what conference you attend.

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

Live Tweeting During the Entire Conference

Nowadays, it has almost become a common practice that conferences use hashtags to allow people to connect with fellow attendees and to live tweet what they have learned during the event.

Within the past several years, for every single conference that I attended, I live tweeted during the entire event. Although this may sound crazy, I cannot tell you how much I have benefited from this practice.

For example, while attending the Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego this year, I live tweeted as much as I could even though I was a volunteer as well.

This practice paid off. I got a big shout out from Social Media Examiner at one of the keynote sessions. See the image below. Did you see my Twitter handle @AiAdysonZhang?


This is a big deal, considering that 5K+ people attended the conference. And Social Media Marketing World is one of the most influential conferences in social media marketing. Can you image how much advertising money that I have to spend to get that type of media exposure?

Even more so, my tweets and Twitter profile got noticed by Onalytica, which is an influencer relationship management software. They gave me another shout-out and selected me as one of the Top 50 influencers discussing Twitter during the Social Media Marketing World conference. See the images below. I am at number 46. Did you see my Twitter handle @AiAddysonZhang on the list?


Because of these exposures, I had lots of people whom I didn’t know reach out to me at the conference. I even got people who were NOT attending the conference engage with me on my Tweets.

Similarly, at the recent Texas Social Media Conference, right after I got myself registered for the conference, I tweeted out a video of myself expressing how excited I was to speak there. See the tweet below.

Guess what? A few minutes after I tweeted out my video, someone walked up to me and greeted me by my name. Holy cow. Prior to this conference, we had never interacted with each other. As we started chatting, it turned out that we both attended this year’s Social Media Marketing World conference and we share similar interests. We are now talking about collaborations. What a serendipitous experience! And of course, we took a selfie! See the tweet below.

I have endless examples like the ones above to share with you, but you got the idea. I got connected with so many incredible people simply because I was live tweeting at conferences, many of whom have now become friends and collaborators.

If you choose to give this practice a try, please make sure you:

✅ Use the right conference hashtags when sending out your tweets.

✅ Mix up your text tweets with videos (like the one above), images, GIFs, emojis, or other creative visuals. For example, you can create your own GIFs by using GIPHY CAM, which you can download for free. See an example below. This GIF took me less than one minute to create.

Networking With Speakers Prior To The Conference

For most conferences, you can see the conference schedule or programs before the conferences take place. I normally spend a few days studying the conference schedule and select the sessions that interest me the most.

And then, I search the speakers’ Twitter handles and send them a quick Tweet with videos, customized GIFs, and/or emojis telling them how excited I am to attend their sessions.

The above tactic works miraculously every single time. Because of the interactions that I have with the speakers prior to the conference, when we first connect in person at the conference, it feels like that we have known each other for a long time. Forget about handshakes. There will only hugs and selfies.

These social interactions prior to the conference have built a solid foundation for face-to-face networking. It creates a level of connection that you just won’t get when you first meet a stranger. That’s the power of social media.


🎯 Live Tweet: It will help you absorb content & get noticed.

🎯 Pre-Conference Network: It will help you build common ground & cultivate relationships that can scale your conference networking.

These are my tips and best practices. How about you? What are your strategies to maximize your conference experience?

5 Ways to Use Snapchat as A Teaching and Learning Tool in Higher Education


Please note: "This article is originally published on Brian Fanzo's website as a guest blog post.

Most people probably agree that the most impactful change to the public relations, marketing, and/or advertising industry within the last decade is the evolution of digital landscape. Personally, I don’t even remember the last time when I actually used my phone to call someone for a business- or work-related matter (okay, it was last night, but you get my point). Social media platforms are making communication faster, easier, and more dynamic and engaging. Emojis and GIFs are adding another level of engagement to communication messages.


In my seven years as a professor of Public Relations, I have seen social media quickly rise and predominate the field as the de facto method of spreading an organization’s message, engaging with the public, and maintaining an edge in highly competitive environments. And when we think about engagement, social media outlets are offering more dynamic ways to reach out to customers, consumers, influencers, etc. In this article, I’ll share how I have been using Snapchat, in specific, as a teaching tool to increase engagement with students in my classes, and help prepare students to engage with the industry. 

Before I dive into the topic, please let me tell you who I am. My name is Ai (pronounced as “I”) Zhang. I obtained an M.A. and a Ph.D. in the field of Communication from Syracuse University and the University of Maryland, respectively. I have been teaching public relations at my current school, Stockton University, since 2009. When I started teaching, I had little understanding of how the industry used social media. And topics related to social media were nowhere to be found in our curricula. Until one day in the spring semester of 2014, I read in a student’s paper that he had no idea what Pinterest was. That was my wake-up call and brought me to my social media journey as a public relations professor. I realized that if I wanted my students to stand out in today’s competitive market, they need to be proficient in using these digital platforms. Here I am today, being addicted to social media.

So, how do I use Snapchat as a teaching and educational tool? Let’s get started.

Humanize the teacher as a real person:

  • This isn’t necessarily something I consciously do, but rather is an innate side-effect of using social media. With that said, it’s probably one of the most important parts of being on social media. Students tend to be afraid of teachers, a LOT. Even though you might think you are the friendliest person on earth, there is a power distance that separates teachers from students. Approaching teachers, even when asking legitimate class-related questions, can make students feel intimidated and stressed. Using Snapchat along with Twitter and Facebook to share my personal and professional life has helped me communicate to the students that I am a real person like them. I laugh, sleep, work, grade papers, teach, shop, complain (sometimes), and procrastinate (never! ;). But the point is, sharing some parts of myself in my “natural environment” helps build a rapport with students that wouldn’t otherwise exist. And this is extremely helpful for facilitating their learning and engagement in the classroom.

Engage students through Snapchat Q&A and Geofilters


There are multiple ways that you can use Snapchat to engage students. Doing a Snapchat Q&A is one of my favorites. For example, when you receive a question from a student via email, rather than emailing back, respond to that question via Snapchat. I can almost guarantee that receiving a personalized response from a professor will blow a student away. It instantaneously connects you, the “superior,” and the student. Plus, who doesn’t love taking a break from answering and responding to emails? The Snapchat Q&A approach works particularly well with those students with whom you already have a better connection. Sometimes, a simple question and answer can lead to an insightful discussion about a class topic or career related issues. I love it when these extended discussions happen. You can feel by the end of a Snapchat Q&A that you are closer to the student and the student feels more comfortable at talking to you. The “face-to-face” and one-on-one communication via Snapchat allows you to transmit what would be lost by using emails. 

  • Another fun way to involve students is to ask them to create class-specific Geofilters. My students love this exercise, and sometimes I offer them extra credit to do so. In this way, they earn course credit and learn an important tactical skill that benefit their careers — win-win. Here is one example of a Geofilter created by one of my students using our class hashtags, #AZSM.

Brand the students and the class


In today’s information- and noise-loaded environment, differentiation is crucial to help an individual or a brand stand out. I use Snapchat to give my students shout outs and highlight their accomplishments. For example,a few weeks ago, I had four students join me on a #HootChat. I was so excited that they took charge of their learning and then created this Snapchat story →  Several individuals and even Hootsuite itself chatted back about the contributions these students made to the discussion, and then I shared the feedback with the students. Cool, right? But you might be thinking, that’s good, but shouldn’t students be doing this self-branding anyway? Why are we praising students for doing what they are supposed to do? Well, the most important reason is that many students do NOT know how to use social media channels strategically to brand themselves, especially on a new platform like Snapchat. By observing how their instructors use social media, students learn to imitate our behaviors. Interestingly and unexpectedly, students started to brand me and give me shout outs. “Amazing Teacher”? Thanks guys! *brushes back tears*. With the spring semester approaching an end and graduation just around the corner, I plan to feature a few students as my snapchat “heroes” to showcase their accomplishments. I plan even let these “heroes” take over my snapchat account for a day. As many of my snapchat connections are professionals in the industry, this type of branding can further enhance these students’ professional reputation. 

  • Aside from posting students’ work and accomplishments, I also snap major events in our classes. For example, when we have guest speakers, I snap the highlights of their talks as well as their social media handles. Students have benefited tremendously from such virtual connections. I also share fun activities that our class does, such as our end-of-semester pizza party. Yeah! Cannot wait.

Mentoring and coaching students in the virtual space

  • One of the attractive features of Snapchat is that its content disappears after 24 hours. In other words, it provides a sense of anonymity and privacy. I’m taking advantage of this by using the platform to coach and mentor students, especially on topics that they might feel otherwise uncomfortable to disclose. Again, think about the humanizing aspect — you might have students who are reluctant to come to your office hours to discuss academic or personal issues they’re facing (Confession: I rarely have students come to talk to me during my office hours unless I reach out to them first to schedule a meeting.) While I hope that students understand they can approach me in person, and I don’t want them to feel like they need to hide behind the perceived “safety” of an app, I also realize that I need to meet students where they are at. And that place often happens to be through their smartphone screens and Snapchat nowadays. In light of this, I have recently created a #RockYourCareer hashtag to offer coaching and mentoring to students on both Snapchat and Twitter. In the traditional school environment, student-teacher interaction often ends as school closes. In today’s digitized environment, that connection can continue to be present even after students and teachers become spatially separated. Doing this type of coaching has brought me a strong sense of inner fulfillment.

Integrating with the larger professional community

  • Brian Fanzo’s recently published an article, “Snapchat: What, Where & Why I’m All-in,” (check it out!). Among the many good reasons he lists to be in love with Snapchat — all of which I agree with, by the way — the one that resonated most with me is Snapchat’s ability to foster and nurture relationships and communities. Brands are getting their “authentic” selves out there, people are connecting — it’s all just one big happy interconnected awesome-fest. And from where I stand in the high, cold tower of the ivory fortress, this is an important aspect. The biggest problem I see in public relations education, is the disconnect between the academy and the industry. There are multiple reasons for this disconnect, and one of them is definitely that students are not integrating with the professional community until it’s time to go out and hunt for jobs. If you’re waiting until you’re on the job market to get connected, you’re starting too late! Or at the very least, students are missing huge opportunities to connect and integrate with organizations and professionals earlier in college. As an educator, I believe that part of my job is to reduce that gap by introducing students to the industry and to engage with industry leaders and influencers. I do this through “traditional” assignments, such as having students run PR campaigns for real organizations; but I also heavily incorporate digital tools like Snapchat to get students engaging with professionals in the field. Not only can you see what others are doing, but you can also get one-on-one engagement with people you might not otherwise have had a chance to meet.

Hope you enjoyed reading these five tips. If you want to learn more about using Snapchat as a learning tool, please make sure to follow Dr. Karen Freberg@kfreberg on both Twitter and Snapchat. She is an innovator! And if you happen to be in higher education as well, I would love to learn how you use social media platforms to interact with your students!

Social Media Marketing: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly


When Mark Schaefer agreed to be a guest on my Facebook Live Show, Classroom Without Walls, I screamed, danced, and had to pinch myself so that I knew I was not dreaming.

I have been a super fan of Mark for a few years. One of my daily habits is to consume Mark’s content, should it be blog articles, live streaming interviews, or podcast episodes. The more I get to know Mark, the more respect I have for him.

You know when you have Mark Schaefer on the show, it will be a value-packed session. Mark didn’t disappoint at all. He offered so much value and shared great insights on Social Media Marketing.

With this particular interview, we had people from 13 countries who either joined us live or watched the replay. The interview so far gained 1.2K + views, 21 shares, and 230+ comments. Even a few weeks later, I am still receiving requests from people to get the replay link.

Click on the image/video below to watch the replay of our interview and draw your own conclusion. Below, I also offered a detailed recap and major takeaways. And if you do choose to watch the replay, I have to warn you that my face was frozen the entire time due to technical difficulties. However, you can hear me and Mark clearly. At least, I was frozen in a good way.

Who Is Mark Schaefer?

Mark Schaefer is “a globally-recognized keynote speaker, educator, business consultant, and author who blogs at {grow} — one of the top marketing blogs of the world.” Mark is also the author of six best-selling marketing books, including Social Media InfluencerReturn on InfluenceBorn to BlogThe Content CodeThe Tao of Twitter, and Known. Mark’s books have been adopted as “textbooks at more than 50 universities,” and “have been translated into 12 languages.” Mark is also among “the Top 10 most re-tweeted marketing authorities in the world” (information from Mark Schaefer’s Website.)

You can connect with Mark on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram. Please also make sure that you subscribe to Mark’s blog {grow} here and commit to reading it daily.

Without any further ado, let’s hear Mark’s insights on Social Media Marketing.

Will Purchasing Fake Followers Ever Go Away?

A recent New York Times article titled, The Follower Factory, exposed the dark and the ugly side of social media marketing. In the article, the authors shared quite a few stories of how people were purchasing followers to become popular in the digital space. For example, do you know that

Celebrities, athletes, pundits and politicians have millions of fake followers.

Intrigued and frustrated by this numbers’ game and popularity competition, I asked Mark if this trend of buying popularity will ever go away?

Mark believes that this trend won’t entirely disappear. As he shared,

One of the things I learned from my time in business is that wherever corruption can occur, corruption will occur. There will always be people creating fake news, purchasing fake followers, or doing lousy tricks with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to become famous.

However, all these practices will only lead to short-term wins if there are any. Within this context, Mark shared two pieces of advice to help combat the fakeness in today’s digital space. Read carefully, my friends. These are powerful words that can change your careers and life.

✅ Google cannot let the bad people win. Instead, Google rewards original authorship and quality content. They are looking for signals that reflect quality and authority.
✅ Act on the web as would on the real world. Act with generosity and kindness. Stay centered. Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. Don’t worry about the tricks. Don’t worry about SEO. Don’t be influenced by the bad stuff going on. Because in the end, the most human company will win. The most human person will win.

How to Rise Above the Digital Noise As An Individual or Small Business Owner?

It was only a few decades ago that people had to rely on traditional print media or TV to get their stories to the outside world. Today’s digital landscape is drastically different. Anybody who has access to the Internet and a digital media device can create content and make their voice heard. As Mark shared,

The most wonderful thing we have in our world today is this opportunity to be heard, to be recognized, and to be acknowledged.

Regardless of whether you are an individual or a small business owner trying to build a brand, you don’t have to wait for others to tell your stories. You can be the narrator of your own stories. You have the power to create content and to establish yourself as a thought-leader in your field. Remember Mark’s words,

Everyone has the opportunity to create their own power. We don’t have to wait to be published in a newspaper or on TV. That’s someone else’s decision. We don’t have to wait to be picked. We can pick ourselves, small business owners, entrepreneurs, or people who want to create a personal brand in the world.

So, what else are you waiting for?

Get started with whatever you have and start producing content and being consistent with your content creation.

Top Three Content Creation Tips

Mark shared great content creation tips, , which I summarize in the following three points.

✅ “One key aspect to content creation is that you just have to start. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to know exactly where you are going or where your niche is, because often you don’t find that out until you start. And you don’t even need to have all the answers to create content. You just need to have the questions.” The feedback you receive from your audience will help you crystalize your message. Your evolution will come as a result of the feedback that you receive from your audience. Produce more of the content that is resonating with your audience.

✅ “The content you create helps you develop an emotional connection with your audience. Your content helps break down the geographic barriers to allow your audience to get to know and trust you.” Mark shared a story of how he was invited by General Electric to conduct a workshop. The person who invited him had been consuming his content for four years before he reached out and made Mark aware that he was consuming his content.

✅ Select a content creation platform or format that works best for you. Video is the buzz word now. But, does it work for you? The truth is that people consume content in different ways and resonate with different types of content. Some people prefer videos, whereas others may like blogs or audio. Select one platform that works best for you and stick to it. For Mark, it is blogging. And Mark has been blogging twice a week, every week, for ten years. The key takeaway is,

Do what brings you joy. Don’t do what people tell you that you should do. Don’t do what you think you should do because somebody else is doing it. Don’t feel that pressure. Do what brings you joy, because if you are not having joy doing what you do, your audience will be able to tell.

The Importance of Social Sharing

One increasing challenge for content creators is getting their content seen. Take Facebook as an example. Mark shared that in 2011, the organic reach for a business page on Facebook was close to 30%. In 2017, the average reach dropped down to 1%. A person using Facebook can be exposed to, on average, 2,000 stories a day. How insane is that?

Within this much digital noise, social sharing has become even more crucial to help content stand out. As Mark said, “The economic value of content that is not seen or shared is zero.” If you are spending hours producing content, but nobody is consuming it, you are simply wasting your time or money. On the other hand, if someone makes an effort to share your content, they are endorsing your content. In Mark’s words, Social sharing is advocacy and

The most powerful thing people can help you do is to share your content. When they share your content, they are saying, I believe in this and I want you to believe in this too. It is a very intimate choice to share someone’s content. It becomes part of your brand. Social sharing is the most important marketing metric today other than conversions. The economic drive of social media and content marketing is social sharing.

What’s Next For Mark Schaefer?

Mark shared with the audience that he is thinking about writing another book, which will be the next revolution of Known. The new book will dive deeper into the humanity side of marketing. I just love it when Mark said “humanity.” As Mark explained,

We are so lost as marketers. We lost our humanity. We lost our soul. We turned over marketing to SEO analysts and IT doing A/B testing. People don’t trust marketing. People don’t trust marketers. We have done it to ourselves. We had all these amazing technologies that are extending human lives in the medical field for example. And the great use of technology in marketing today is to find more ways to annoy people. We are not using technology to take down these barriers and to connect in a human way, and that’s what we should be doing.

Bring humanity back to marketing. Don’t you just love it? I cannot wait to read Mark’s next book.

Call To Action: Be More Human

Mark used three words to end our interview. That are, “Be more human.” Look at every single piece of the content you are producing and asking yourself, how can I be more human?

How can we show our faces, smiles, and humanity, because in the end the most human company will win.

To add on to what Mark shared here, not only the most human company will win, but the most human personal brand will be remembered and shared. Are you being human enough?

P.S. If you are an educator reading this article, I highly recommend you adopt Mark’s book, Known, as a textbook for your social media marketing class.

Digital Dinosaur to Digital Savvy: How Social Media Transformed My Career

                                         Image Credit: Spin Sucks/   shutterstock

                                         Image Credit: Spin Sucks/shutterstock

Please note: This article was originally published on Spin Sucks as a guest blog.

After earning my master’s of arts degree from Syracuse, and my Ph.D. from Maryland in 2009, I thought I was finished with learning.

Boy, was I wrong!

I am a college professor who teaches public relations and social media classes.

During the 2015 spring semester, I had a wake-up call from one of my students who said he’d never heard of Pinterest.

I was in shock and disbelief, initially thinking I’d misheard him.

I assumed that digital natives were digitally savvy.

Are Digital Natives Social Media Savvy?

The truth is, many of today’s digital natives are NOT digitally savvy.

Sure, they know how to use Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram to chat with their friends.

However, that’s pretty much the extent to which most students use social media.

Not many know how to use social media strategically, professionally, and responsibly.

And few have truly grasped the ramifications of having a digital footprint.

Even fewer know how to use analytical tools to draw meaningful implications to strategize their content production and distribution for the purpose of personal branding, professional development, and career advancement.

Unless they’re being coached, most young people are merely using social media as a social toy.

What’s the Missing Piece?

There was a gap in my teaching, a disconnect in my classes, and an important missing piece in my students toolbox — and that gap started with me as the educator.

Unless I embraced and embodied change, the change I wanted to see among students would NOT happen.

I embarked on a journey to fully immerse myself in the digital world, hoping to use my own experience to influence my students and lead by example.

Little did I know that simple decision would bring a 180 degree transformation to my own professional career.

The opportunities I received with my visible digital footprint were amazing: Speaking engagements, research collaborations, guest blog invitations, book chapter invitations, and many others.

More importantly, I built a close community with an awesome group of people who I respect and collaborate with, which would not have been possible otherwise.

I’m sharing the specific strategies I learned during my digital transformation so you can employ them to transform your career.

Building a Community Using Twitter Chat

Platforms come and go, but people stay.

I agree with Brian Fanzo’s discussion of building communities and fans, not just followers.

The platform that helped build my online community is Twitter, specifically Twitter Chat.

If you are a digital dinosaur like I was, you must embrace Twitter Chat!

Spend as much time possible participating in, and even hosting, Twitter Chats.

It’s a great way to meet others and learn more about the current state of your field.

Seriously! Pause Netflix and jump into a Twitter Chat right now.

When I started my digital journey, Twitter Chat helped me build my personal brand.

I did two or three chats a day.

It helped me connect with professionals in the field of higher education, social media marketing, and even parenting.

I’ve hosted two Twitter Chats: One with Deirdre Breakenridge #PRStudChat(a must-do if you are in higher education), and the other with Public Relations Student Society of America’s monthly Twitter Chat #PRSSA (a must-do for students or junior PR pros).

Hosting these chats exposed me to a much larger community, expanded my network and personal brand, and enhanced my digital craftsmanship.

A year after March 2015, I grew my Twitter followers from 300 to 2,440!

I love the Twitter community I’ve built for my brand.

Your community is what makes your brand successful.

Personalize Storytelling and Communications

How many of you are camera shy? Raise your hand! I know I was.

I remember that raw feeling when I did my first video on Snapchat.

It felt awful.

I couldn’t stand my own voice or the way I looked, but I pushed through that initial stage of discomfort.


I personalize messages by sending video greetings, engaging in extended discussions via video or audio chats, and by expressing gratitude to those who engage with me regularly.

I am not afraid of sending video or audio messages to people I’ve just connected with online.

I am passionate about sharing my life stories through digital platforms, and am certain I’ll do a video announcement upon the publication of this blog!

I love what Caleb Maddix said about transformation, “It is through application that we experience transformation.”

Without the doing part, nothing can happen.

I’m sure Gary Vaynerchuk would agree with the application part, as he puts so much emphasis on execution and taking action.

The bottom line is: If we don’t change old habits, we will never have breakthroughs in life!

Embrace Videos and Livestreaming Apps

The hottest trend in social media marketing is real people using video or live streaming in real time — as Deirdre Breakenridge discusses here.

Audiences crave authenticity and transparency, which are possible via live streaming and videos apps such as Periscope, Facebook Live, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories.

Snapchat has been my favorite tool to tell stories and build my personal brand as a college professor, a social media enthusiast, a homeschooling mom, and a vegan.

Between the stickers, geofilters, bitmojis, and emojis, Snapchat is a lot of fun to use.

I find the real power of Snapchat is its ability to engage in one-on-one conversations with people.

If globalization has made the world smaller, then used strategically, social media envisions us to experience what communities look like in the digital era.


What is the key feature of social media?

It allows you to socialize and be sociable!

Notice that, social media is not called sales media!

Although selling can definitely happen, social media is not primarily about selling stuff.

Relationship and community building should always take precedence.

A key strategy that worked extremely well during my digital journey is engaging with others.

When I follow people, I comment on their articles, Tweets, videos, pictures, and snaps.

I send videos to greet new followers on Snapchat, and thank those who interact with me.

I give shout-outs to people who have inspired me.

I send videos to congratulate accomplishments and acknowledge special moments in life.

Staying engaged is hard work.

But if you are seeking what Connor Blakley has termed, Return On Interaction (ROI), engagement will eventually guide you to where you want to be.

For example, through engaging with Brian Fanzo, I got the chance to write a guest blog for his website, where I discussed five ways I use Snapchat as a teaching tool.

That article was shared a few hundred times, which far exceeded my expectations.

After some interaction with Deirdre Breakenridge via her #PRStudChat on Twitter, I was offered the opportunity to include some of my students as special guests on her Twitter Chat.

By engaging with PR influencer Carrie Morgan, together we hosted a Twitter Chat during one of my public relations classes.

As a public relations professor, I used to struggle with finding quality guest speakers for my classes, but by actively engaging with all these industry professionals, I now have an amazing lineup of guest speakers for my classes.

It’s such a humbling experience knowing how professionals truly want to give back.

Quality > Quantity (Evergreen Content)

Let me start by saying that consistency is absolutely critical to building an online presence.

Like many with a hectic lifestyle, I am not good at consistently producing content.

I do my best to ensure the content that I produce is high quality, evergreen content.

As an example, a Brazilian journalist found me through a guest blog post I wrote, and subsequently interviewed me about how I use Snapchat as a teaching tool.

It just goes to show that you never know where these experiences will lead you, or who might read your blog post.

So if you cannot make the time to produce content consistently, then seek quality.

Don’t ever sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity.

Without high quality, your readers will NOT engage with you, regardless of how often you publish.

Lifelong Learning

Confucius said, “There is nothing happier in life than applying the knowledge that you learn.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

Learning is rewarding and fun.

I love discovering new things and applying knowledge I have learned to make an impact.

Many others have inspired me on this digital learning journey, and I thank them all.

Never stop learning. Never stop growing.

Our degrees and diplomas only represent our past. It is our ability to learn that moves us forward and brings revolutionary changes to our lives. — Tweet this.

Using Social Media to Teach Social Media: My Interview with HubSpot Academy

              Click  here  to listen to the podcast interview

              Click here to listen to the podcast interview

Recently, I had the honor to be interviewed by Isaac Moche, the Education Partner Program Manager at HubSpot Academy. We discussed how I use social media as a teaching tool.

You can listen to the entire podcast here or read the transcript of our interview here. Because of the detailed show notes from HubSpot, in this article I want to add some nuances and reflections to what I wasn’t able to share during the podcast interview. If you are looking for specific tactics and examples to use social media as a teaching tool, please make sure to listen to the podcast or read the transcript, where there are lots of detailed examples.

First, let’s get started with the basics.

Who’s Ai Addyson-Zhang?

I am an Associate Professor of Public Relations and Social Media at Stockton University, NJ, United States. I have been teaching communication classes for ten years and have recently started to teach Social Media courses.

Outside academia, I am a firm believer and advocate of using Social Media as a teaching tool. I serve as a social media (pedagogy) consultant. I have recently developed an online course on Social Media Pedagogy (contact me if you want to have free access to the course for a limited time). I am also the host of a weekly Facebook Live Show, Classroom Without Walls: Using Technology to Reimagine Education.


My Journey as a Social Media Professor: Three Takeaways

In the interview, I mentioned that I didn’t become active on social media until March 2015. Why was I late to the game?

I will forever remember March 2015. It was Spring Break. I was at home grading students’ papers. I read in a good student’s paper that he had never heard of Pinterest and he didn’t even know how to spell the word correctly. He wrote in the paper, “Pin…terst…?”. To this day, that word is still imprinted in my mind.

Why was this such a shocker to me? Because I talked about social media in my classes all the time. In fact, I didn’t even remember how many times I lectured the importance of having a basic understanding of the mainstream platforms at least in the United States. Clearly, my teaching was not very effective.

Besides being shocked, I also felt very guilty. Here I was, a Public Relations and Communication professor, and my student didn’t even know how to spell Pinterest. I took the blame personally.

I decided to radically change how I approach social media myself as a college professor. I also saw an urgent need to finally walk the talk.

Little did I know that simple decision to become a better teacher literally transformed my teaching practice & paved a professional career for me that was unthinkable a few years ago. — Tweet this

There are three important takeaways that I gained from this experience.

  1. Are digital natives also digitally savvy? I learned that our students, so-called “digital natives”, are not necessarily digitally savvy. They are very adept at using social media for social and entertainment purposes. However, they lag behind in terms of using social media as a strategic tool for networking, learning, and professional development purposes. They need to be trained by qualified teachers.
  2. Walk the talk. Educators need to walk the talk, especially if you are teaching subjects that are highly applied such as communication, public relations, marketing, and business. I made the mistake of not walking my talk. And I felt so thankful for the student who shared that he had never heard of Pinterest. Without that painful wake-up call, I wouldn’t even be where I am today.
  3. Engage in lifelong learning. A premise to walk the talk is to engage in lifelong learning. I love how public relations and marketing influencer, Deirdre Breakenridge, embodies the spirit of a lifelong student. Unless we embrace the mindset of engaging in lifelong learning, we, as educators, are going to struggle to educate students who are prepared for an increasingly digitized environment. Similarly, I cannot agree more with what education consultant Eric Stoller argued that nobody is only a “digital native” or a “digital immigrant.” In a way, we are all digital natives and immigrants. Becoming digitally literate is a lifelong journey.

Fear of Technology

I cannot not talk about my social media journey without mentioning my fear of technology. If you are reading this post and happen to be apprehensive of technology, please let me assure you that you are NOT alone.

Technology and social media change on a daily basis. Trying to keep up with all the changes is exhausting and overwhelming to say the least. I love how the founder of Social Media Examiner, Michael A. Stelzner, mentioned in a podcast interview that their Friday Social Media show covers at least 20+ changes in social media every single week. It is hard enough for full-time social media marketers to keep up, let alone educators, who have a highly demanding job.

I was consumed by my own fear of technology and of being in front of the camera. I was also afraid of sharing my own ideas with the outside world in written formats such as blogging. In short, I felt lost, scared, and overwhelmed in the rapidly changing digital space.

I wish I had a magic pill to help you overcome your fears. I don’t. But, I learned from my experience that the only way to overcome my fear is by acting on that fear and by taking baby steps. If incorporating five platforms into your classes seems too much, then start with one. That’s exactly how I got started.

I started with Twitter Chats, and that’s it. Incrementally, I added Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Whale, and other sites. Choose one platform that you feel the most comfortable with and go from there, and join supportive networks. Also remember that you don’t have to know everything and be okay with that.

Becoming A Social Media Pedagogy Advocate

I have been on this social media journey for a little over 2.5 years. I couldn’t be more grateful for where I am today. So many opportunities came to me as a result of my digital footprint, such as guest blogging, speaking engagement, research collaborations, book chapter invitations, influencer collaborations, and podcast interviews like this one with HubSpot Academy.

Oftentimes, we teach our students to build their personal brand and digital footprint. However, equally if not more important is that educators, ourselves, need to build our own digital footprints and professional brands. This is not to just walk the talk, but to elevate our own classroom teaching and professional careers to a new level.

For example, I used to struggle with finding guest speakers from the industry for my classes, but now I have a waiting list of professionals who want to share their experiences with my students. I used to feel inadequate because of my lack of professional experience. But, now, I have people approaching me requesting to be coached.

As I shared in the interview, I am no different from many other educators. You are probably more accomplished than me. The key is getting started and being consistent with your effort. Slowly but surely, you will see changes and experience transformations.

To borrow a bit from Gandhi,

Be the change you wish to see in the classroom.

Just do it.

I believe in you.