Student Engagement: Lessons From David Meerman Scott

Foreword: I’m a “Junior – and – a – half” (graduating in December) at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. I’m often discouraged and even amazed at the levels of student engagement and excitement among not only students at my school, but all colleges. I hope the following post does not offend anyone, as it is somewhat strongly worded. The topic is simply one that I am very passionate about.

As a college student, I recognized that myself and my classmates are a part of something bigger. We are not always going to be students and we will not always be entry-level professionals. Rather, we are the future. We are the next generation – one that will be responsible for continuing growth and development of our community, our country and our world.

That is a scary thought to me because I know what the typical college student looks like and what their abilities are.

I’m not talking about grades. College courses are difficult and it’s perfectly fine to not be a 4.0 student. What concerns me, though, is the level of student engagement that I see across college campuses.

Student Engagement

I love college because I literally view my campus as my playground. There are opportunities for me everywhere. Between the clubs (Brockport PR Club) and honor societies (Lambda Pi Eta) that I am a member of, room for independent studies, and the support from faculty and administration to find internships with organizations in the area I am able to design and craft my own undergraduate education specifically tailored to my interests and skill set. Nobody will ever go to school and have the same education as I have had – how cool is that?

College is my playground because I can join clubs and decide what I really want to do. Then, I can make it happen with my peers. Faculty doesn’t have the ideas, nor do professors guide me through the process. In short – I really can do anything I put my mind to.

But college isn’t a day-care program. Nobody has ever offered me the opportunities I have had. Instead, the responsibility to have an outstanding college experience is on each and every individual. And quite frankly, not enough people take that responsibility seriously enough.

If you’re a student, what do you say when someone asks you, “what are you doing at school this semester?” If your first instinct is to tell them what courses you are taking, you’re doing college wrong. No, really, trust me – you were mis-informed somewhere along the way. Classes are important, sure, but aren’t you bored? I’m willing to bet your grades aren’t spectacular, either… because you aren’t engaged.

How many students are studying the same thing as you at your school? Or even in this country? What makes you any better than the rest of them? It certainly is not the .1 difference in GPA that you boast on your resume that will get you hired after graduation. Instead of looking at your campus like a classroom, look at it like a playground. What are you doing that sets you apart? What are you doing that you truly enjoy that will be the difference between you and everyone else? Ask yourself each and every day, “why would someone hire me?”

Until yesterday, I was afraid to graduate from college because I thought I would miss having the ability to look at my life like a playground and having the ability to really experience and do all of the things that I wanted.

David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR

Then, I met David Meerman Scott.

If I look at my college campus as my playground, this guy looks at the globe as his. Just like calling me a student doesn’t capture everything that I do at school, calling Scott an author doesn’t capture everything that he does in his career. He’s an author, sure. But he is also an internationally recognized speaker (soon to have spoken on all 7 continents), a blogger, a marketing strategist, and even an actor among other things.

David Meerman Scott is in the position to pick and choose the experiences that he has and the people that he works with each and every day, just like I can. The difference is that he does it on a world-wide scale.

Everyone needs to ask themselves where they want to go in their lives. If you think about your destination in this world as a cubicle on the third floor of an office down the street, working for a company you don’t love, performing a task that essentially anyone could do – please continue skipping half of your classes, getting mediocre grades, and not doing anything that sets you apart from anyone else.

But – if you have ambition and aspiration, if you want to look at the country or the world as your personal playground – the time to start that journey is right now. Join clubs, plan events, meet professionals, learn new things, start a blog, read books, teach others, and never stop.

Playground

If it sounds like more fun than work to you, then you have found your playground.

 

 

 

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Both Edges of the Social Media Sword are Positive

Recently, I realized first hand that not all executives at companies are necessarily in love with social media. In fact, some may not believe that their company should be using it at all.

To prove that these individuals are, in my opinion, misguided, take a look at a snapshot of my day:

6:30 AM – wake up, immediately wishing I could stay in bed.

8:00 AM– Get to work right on time and begin scouring the Blogosphere via Twitter & my new favorite iPad app, Mr. Reader.

Mr. Reader is a Google Reader client for iPad.

8:15 AMDiscover this Mashable article. on Vizify, a service that produces free graphical biographies.

9:30 AMComplete my bio – I love it.

12:00 PM – Lunch break: Scour the blogosphere using Twitter & Mr. Reader again. (Some people may consider this an addiction.)

12:05 PM – Discover that a friend, Heather Saffer, also made her bio today.

I asked her what she thought of it:

Twitter Conversation

This isn’t exactly a noteworthy series of events for me. In fact, something like this generally happens to me every day. And yet, sometime during my lunch break something hit me with more clarity than ever before:

This perfectly exemplifies the double-edged sword that is social media.

First, the positives:

  • Social media, and digital tools in general, are used to spread information. Without using Twitter & Mr. Reader, I would never have heard of Vizify – leaving me incapable of using this awesome tool.
  • I liked Vizify so much that I endorsed it. That is free, third-party marketing on behalf of Vizify. Additionally, I emailed invitations to other users that I think will enjoy the service, further spreading my discovery. This is viral marketing at it’s finest, and tools like Twitter allow that.

Now, the negatives:

  • Whenever people are talking about your product, they may say something negative. You can see for yourself that my conversation with Heather today took a respectfully negative turn. Obviously, when there is something bad to say, Twitter is a venue for that as well.

I always try to end things on a positive note:

  • Even the negativity can be seen as a good thing. First of all, it’s free feedback that should be highly valued. Normally, to get feedback like this, a company would need to send surveys to collect information – there are a ton of costs associated with that process! Furthermore, this type of feedback is less biased and more honest.
  • Second of all, the fact that this negative dialogue occurred on a social media platform means that Vizify will have the chance to respond to it. I think we can all probably agree that when companies have a presence during a negative situation, it reflects upon them in a more positive way. By having the ability to respond to criticism, Vizify can turn a negative into a positive.

One thing is for sure:

Whether or not Vizify had a presence online, I was probably going to have the same conversation that I had this morning. If Vizify wasn’t there to witness it, they would lose out on the feedback, and they would lose out on a lot of the free marketing potential that social media unlocks.

David Meerman Scott, Author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR

This is one thing that one of my favorite authors, David Meerman Scott, writes about often.

I think him and I, and hopefully you, can all agree that every organization needs an online presence.

Have you ever dealt with resistance to social media efforts by an executive? How did you deal with that situation?

LinkedIn side-steps a crisis situation

Would anyone be surprised to know that LinkedIn is the third most popular social networking site in the world? That’s right – only behind Facebook & Twitter. You don’t hear about LinkedIn nearly as much as some other, smaller sites like Pinterest and Instagram, and yet, according to the site’s blog, it reached the 100 million-member mark last March. Furthermore, I discovered today that LinkedIn accounts for over 50% of web referral traffic at a company that I work for. That’s a lot.

And so, when more than 6.5 million user passwords are leaked, and the site is hacked into, it’s somewhat of an issue. In fact, that scenario has crisis written all over it. And that’s exactly what transpired today!

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Warning: do not attempt drinking without Tweeting!

I have a Marketing professor that talks a lot about influences on demand. In other words, why we buy the products that we buy on a daily basis. One of the things that this guy says repeatedly is that alcohol is marketed in a social manner. If you haven’t noticed, all alcohol commercials feature friends hanging out and having a good time together. Dr. Weaver once said,

“I don’t drink my Budweiser at home by myself, folks. If I did… well, I would have a pretty significant problem on my hands!”

The man has a point – drinking is usually something we do with friends in social settings.

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