Three Reasons Every College Professor Teaching Social Media & Personal Branding Should Require Mark Schaefer’s 📚, Known

Whew! That’s a long title. But, I promise you the content in this article is concise and to the point, and worth your time.

As a college professor teaching social media, one of my biggest struggles is finding quality textbooks that are relevant, timely, and have a good balance between theoretical concepts and practical applications. I know by heart that I am not the only professor struggling with this.

As soon as I heard Social Media Examiner’s podcast interview with Mark Schaefer regarding his book, I was hooked. Then, I heard Julia McCoy @JuliaEMcCoy, CEO of Express Writer did another amazing interview with Mark on her podcast, I was on. I ordered the book immediately and finished reading it within a few days. Loved every page of it. And I took pages of notes.

In this article, I share with you three reasons that you, if you are teaching a social media or personal brand class, should adopt Mark Schaefer’s (@markwschaefer) book, Known: The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age.

Before I start listing the reasons, let’s get to know Mark Schaefer a little bit. After all, who is this person that I have been raving about? (Full disclaimer: Mark didn’t ask me to write this blog). Here is a brief introduction of Mark from his website:

Mark W. Schaefer is the author of The Tao of Twitter (2012 and 2014), Return On Influence (2012), Born to Blog (2013), Social Media Explained (2014), The Content Code (2015), and KNOWN (2017). He is a globally-recognized educator, speaker, business consultant, and author. His well-known blog {grow} (, is one of the most acclaimed marketing blogs of the world. Mark has worked in global sales, PR, and marketing positions for nearly 30 years and now provides consulting services as Executive Director of U.S.-based Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

See his influence? Now, let’s begin.

Reason ONE: Mark Schaefer will Skype in for a Q&A with your class

If you are a college professor, do you struggle with finding guest speakers for your classes, especially speakers who are highly influential and accomplished? I know I struggled with this for a long time until I started to embrace social media as a pedagogical tool. So, if you do, imagine the excitement of your students anticipating Mark to speak to them and to learn cutting-edge and best practices of social media and personal branding from a highly successful marketer. Moreover, the Q&A session will be specifically tailored to the questions that YOUR students ask! How amazing is that!

Think about the knowledge, the advice, and the wisdom that your students could learn from Mark, not to mention an incredible networking opportunity that this can bring to the students. If I were a student, I would be too excited to go to sleep the night before. And if I were teaching my social media class right now, I would adopt his book within a heartbeat. Come join the 70 universities that have already adopted Mark’s book.

Reason TWO: A concrete four-step process that guides you to be known

Do you love bullet points? Do you love action steps that tell you exactly what you need to do and how to get there with guaranteed results? I know I do. Mark lays out a specific four-step process that everyone can apply to his or her field and duplicate the successes of the people mentioned in the book.

Step 1. Finding your place
Step 2. Finding your space
Step 3. Finding your fuel (consistent creation of rich content)
Step 4. Creating an actionable audience

In the book, Mark tells you clearly what each step means and provides details to help you accomplish each step. The best part of reading this book is that it forced me to engage in a deep introspection to truly understand who I am and why I am doing what I am doing. The “WHY” question is such an important one that I didn’t pay much attention to until I started reading the book.

What is your “why”?

Have you ever had students who told you that he or she wanted to be in communication because the person enjoyed talking; or wanted to major in computer science because the student liked playing computer games? I heard these types of stories a lot. In Mark’s book, he succinctly and eloquently explicates the fundamental differences between passion and sustainable interest.

Passion and sustainable interest are not the same.

Often, we hear from mainstream culture that we need to follow our passion! However, Mark teaches you why following your passion is not always the smartest move. Let me share with you a personal example of how following my passion has almost ruined my personal brand.

I have been a vegetarian and later vegan for a decade. I love talking about cooking and eating vegan food. It’s absolutely my passion. At one point in myself, I thought maybe I should start an online vegan shop selling home-baked cookies and live stream the entire process. Sounds great? But not so much in my case. Because over the past two years, I have been working diligently on building my personal brand as a college professor who applies social media as a pedagogical tool. Following my passion, which was really just a hobby, nearly derailed the work I had done to build my personal brand.Mark’s book brought me back to the right track, to say the least. I had an honest conversation with myself and discovered that my “why” is education and innovation, identifying ways to capitalize on the power of technology to enhance teaching and learning. This is a topic that is “inexhaustibly fascinating” to me at any time of the day. How about you? Do you have such a topic?

What’s your sustainable interest? Read Mark’s book. It will bring you a new level of clarity.

I know building a highly visible personal brand is an important component in many professors’ social media classes. After all, that’s how the world functions now. Students need to be noticed to be hired. Or, at least, having a personal brand accelerates the hiring process. Many students feel clueless in terms of how to become known in their respective fields. And the whole process of building connections with influencers and creating content seem daunting and intimidating. Mark’s book helps eliminate that fear and gives you hope.

Reason THREE: Inspiring examples from ordinary people like you and me

I love telling stories. And I connect to others via stories. Social media is an ideal platform to create and share stories, and to amplify the impact of our stories. Particularly, I love stories that come from ordinary people like you and me. Why? Because they are relatable and they give me hope. I love how Mark shared so many successful stories from ordinary people just like you and me. He even included stories of himself when he was at the lowest point in his life. To be honest , I was in tears when I read that part.


In addition, Mark has an amazing ability to tell stories. During the entire time when I was reading the book, I felt that mark was sitting in front of me, having a conversation with me about how to become known in a field. Do you ever fall asleep when you read a book? I promise you that Mark’s book is different. It invigorates, captivates, and energizes you.


If you are still not sure about Mark’s book, check out his interviews with Social Media Examiner and Julia McCoy to learn more before you make the purchase. Most students go to college are to find jobs after graduation. With graduation season around the corner and a new school season starting in a few months, Mark’s can be a thought-provoking commencement gift or a powerful textbook.

Let’s end this review with my favorite quote from the book:


Let your content serve YOU, instead of you serving your content. I know for sure that Mark’s content has activated a new me. Thank you for an incredible book, Mark.