Accessible social media education

K-State Social Media Week is one of the first events of its kind offered at a university.

For professionals today, there is a social media element to nearly everything. Whether it is launching an initiative or sharing a message, gone are the days when digital communication is left solely to a social media manager. Many large cities have implemented a social media week: a week-long event dedicated to social media insights and opportunities.

Working nearly 20 years in marketing and advertising and focusing her research on social media use among young people, Jana Thomas, professor of practice in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was inspired by social media weeks happening throughout the country. She decided to bring this idea to Manhattan, Kansas, as K-State’s first ever Social Media Week, February 14-18. Events throughout the week will focus on innovation, problem solving and tactical social media skills that are imperative for all students to understand. K-State Social Media Week will be one of the first events of its kind held in a university setting.

Over a year in the works, Social Media Week is made possible through the collaboration of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications, K-State Libraries, Lafene Health Center, the Office of Student Life, the Career Center, Communication Studies and the Staley School of Leadership Studies.

“It’s important to prioritize education and programming around a tool used in almost every aspect of our students’ lives,” Jana said. “Rather than focusing just on negative effects of social media use, K-State Social Media Week is focused on forward-looking, creative, and timely applications of social media in society and industry. It’s also focused on education surrounding strategic and effective uses of social media for personal and professional growth.”

Discussions throughout the week will give participants the skills to understand their own social media use learn about productive digital collaboration, understand ethics relating to social media, discover the role of social media within various industries, and explore personal well-being in relation to digital use.

One of the many events throughout the week is titled “Click Talk: The Power of Social Media” with Vincent Fu, a medical student and educator in digital citizenship, who will shed light on the professional advantages of a strong online presence.  In another presentation, student leaders and athletes will share about their experiences in navigating negative social media interactions.

Other events include:

  • “How I Landed My Job at TikTok” with K-State alumnus Cameron Banning
  • Huck Boyd Lecture and Panel Discussion: Using Network Analysis to Identify Polarization, Reduce Misinformation and Improve Social Media
  • Content Creator Studio with the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab

Social Media Week is not just for K-State Students. Area high schoolers and prospective students are invited to join and learn more about social media, while simultaneously exploring K-State as a potential choice for college.

“I had the privilege of learning about K-State Social Media week as this innovative program was just beginning to take shape and was thrilled Student Life was provided the opportunity to co-sponsor,” said Thomas Lane, vice president of Student Life. “Given the multitude of ways social media impacts not only college students’ lives but the world we all share together, taking a week to highlight and educate our K-State community about this powerful tool and topic seems especially relevant and timely. I’m excited the bar has been set high for future Social Media Weeks given the quality of presenters and variety of relevant presentation topics being offered during this year’s inaugural offering.”

K-State will continue its social media education by increasing student awareness for the variety of social media courses available, including social media management and strategy, social media content development, social media influencing and personal branding. Students who attend two or more events during Social Media Week have a chance to earn scholarship money toward these courses. These new offerings will complement students in all career paths by providing translatable skills in social media usage and management.

“K-State’s social media courses are for everyone,” Jana said. “Whether you’re a student in architecture, sales, advertising, vet med, education, or park management and conservation, you should have a good basic knowledge of how to use social media to your advantage or to the advantage of the business, organization, or initiative you work with.”

Philanthropic donations enable more students to have sufficient financial support to receive social media education outside of their major and minor requirements.

“Support for this philanthropic initiative will help students across all disciplines and career fields expand and enhance their knowledge and skills in social media strategies and best practices and content creation” Jana said. “Every single student who comes out of Kansas State University should have a good understanding of how to manage social media personally and professionally.”

Written by Ariana Brancato

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