The Semester of Social Media Project

“Social Media” is a tricky term to define in that it is better described by examples (see the “getting started” list below).  In “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media,” Andreas M. Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define it in term of user-generated content and networking in “Web 2.0” environments.  Where the web was once static HTML web pages (followed shortly by CSS and such), Social media is dynamic content:  CMSs, blogs, feeds, etc.  Social media is probably how you most often engage with things online now, whether you know it or not.  And “Social Media” is a quickly moving target that might literally mean something different by the end of this term.

The “Semester of Social Media” project has two parts, one where you participate and engage, and the other where you reflect.


First, you need to sign up for a Twitter account and a LinkedIn account (if you aren’t already signed up for these things, of course).  We’ll be using these social media environments for both this assignment and other interactions during the class.

Second, besides these two, you will join and participate in two other social media activities you currently are not engaged in. See the “getting started” list below, but what this means is that if you already participate/engage in Facebook, you can’t count that as one of your Social Media activities.You will participate/engage in each of these activities at once twice a week and ideally more than that.  The specifics of how you engage/participate in these activities is more or less up to you:  that is, the subject of your social media activities are completely your choice, as long as you do not participate/engage in a way that gets you or me into any trouble.

See the class schedule about this, but you will need to let me know what two other Social Media activities you are going to participate/engage as part of your first progress report early in the term!


Reflecting on your Social Media experiences– especially as it relates to our class readings and discussions– is really at the heart of this assignment.  It involves two different writing assignments, both of which will be published on your Writing for the Web Portfolio site.

First, you will need to post three “progress reports” on your Writing for the Web Portfolio during the course of the term (see the schedule for the due dates on these). The progress reports will be fairly short– around 500-750 words– and as much as anything else will tell your audience– both your classmates and your instructor– what you’ve been up to as the “semester of Social Media” progresses.

Second, you will write a concluding “reflective essay” that will be due near the end of the semester (see the schedule for due dates for peer review and the final version of the essay). This is different from the more informal progress reports. This essay will be longer (1250-1500 words) and more formal in that you will want to incorporate evidence from our assigned class readings research you conduct on your own in order to make a more complex “point” about your social media experiences.

Getting Started Examples:

Here are some examples to get started with social media, but I want to emphasize that there are certainly more than these here; you might, for example, see something more interested on this Wikipedia entry that lists social network sites or some place else I don’t include here, or you might have a different example of Social Media in mind.  When in doubt, just ask and we’ll work it out.

Oh, and if your reaction to any of the items on this list is “what’s that?” do a Google search and you’ll find out.

In no particular order (other than perhaps obviousness):

  • Facebook, or related sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, and the newest big service to make waves, Google+.
  • Twitter, and similar “microblogging” platforms Vine. Also quasi-blogging sites/tools like Tumblr.
  • Location-based networking, such as Foursquare, and sort of location-based (and controversial app) Yik-Yak.
  • Wikis, which obviously includes wikipedia, but it might also include a wiki on a topic especially interesting to you– for example, Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki, and lots of other special interest wikis via sites like Wikia or Wetpaint.
  • Social bookmarking via sites like Delicious, Diigo, CiteULike, Pinterest, or Digg
  • Photo and art sharing sites like Instagram, Flickr or Picasa
  • Video sharing through sites like YouTube or Vimeo
  • Review sites like epinions, Yelp,

And again, this is just a beginning.  If there’s a social media out there that you want to focus on that I haven’t included here, let me know.

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