Photo: Portland-based social media strategist Jess Columbo advises students in SOU’s Creative Careers Bootcamp in 2018. In Spring, 2019, she brought her expertise to the Communication Program online course in Strategic Social Media.
Faculty Focus: Jess Columbo Teaches Strategic Social Media
The Communication program at Southern Oregon University has offered a course in Strategic Social Media since 2015, but our section of COMM323 in the Spring of 2019 added a new twist: prominent Portland-based social media strategist Jess Columbo joined our faculty to teach an online version of the popular course.
An expert in communication strategy related to health care, Columbo brought professional insights straight from the frontlines of professional social media to our students. Formerly with Oregon Health Sciences University, and currently with her independent consultancies Med|Ed Digital and Work With Tiller, Columbo’s career has been defined by helping a plethora of clients build their brands and make better decisions about how they reach, engage, and convert audiences online.
Students emerge from Strategic Social Media able to successfully run social media campaigns over multiple platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, social media strategy goes beyond just pressing the “post” button. Through this course, students learn about content planning, analytics, and the importance of an editorial calendar. In addition to content strategy, students grasp the importance of hashtag usage and how to identify appropriate influencers for clients.
At the beginning of Spring term, the students of COMM323 split into teams and took on the task of establishing a creative blog and a promotional social media campaign for any topic of their choice. Over the course of the term, students slowly began to understand the concepts involved in running a strategic social media campaign online.
“The teamwork in COMM323 is excellent!” said Professor Columbo. “Watching students respond and grow in their strategic thinking is really satisfying.”
The teams also apply their knowledge, gathered through industry articles, case studies, and online discussions, to further develop their brand identity and social media campaigns. The team’s topics included off-the-grid spots in Southern Oregon, technology, and local coffee.
Although these may have seemed like simple subjects for social media campaigns, many students in COMM323 have realized that it takes a lot of work to direct web traffic to online platforms through a compelling social strategy.