The Social Media Marketing and Education Research Symposium brings together the brightest minds in social media marketing and education research.


Social Media Marketing & Education Research Symposium

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The Symposium will feature themes such as:

Social Media Education Research

  • Innovative pedagogy
  • Platform education
  • Teaching flexibility and adaptability
  • Work Integrated Learning initiatives
  • Authentic assessments
  • Developing ethical practitioners of the future
  • Evaluating social media student success
  • Community/Industry engagement via social media education

Social Media Marketing Research

  • Industry insights
  • Practitioner perspectives
  • Social media analytics
  • Social Media Ethics
  • Consumer Behaviour
  • Strategic innovation
  • Content Marketing
  • Community building insights
  • Innovative practice

Who should attend the Symposium:



Social Media Educators

Research Students

The format of the online symposium is very similar to Social Media Marketing Institute Conferences. The symposium will feature a keynote presentation, speaker sessions and panel discussions.  Additionally, there will be time for interactive networking with fellow delegates.

What are the benefits of online symposiums?

  • You can easily attend from anywhere in the world
  • Attend the symposium while not being absent from home or work
  • Online materials and recorded sessions will enhance the exchange of knowledge between presenters and the attendees during and after the event.

Symposium Chair

Karen Sutherland

Dr Karen Sutherland is a Senior Lecturer in Public Relations at the University of the Sunshine Coast and the Program Coordinator of the Bachelor of Communication (Social Media). Her passion lies in demystifying social media for local business, community, and nonprofits.

Karen is also the Co-Founder and Social Media Specialist at digital marketing agency, Dharana Digital, the 2020 winner of the Social Media Marketing Institute’s Best Social Media Educator of the Year, author of Strategic Social Media Management – Theory and Practice by Palgrave Macmillan and co-author of Public Relations and Strategic Communication by Oxford University Press.


Karen Freberg

Karen Freberg, Ph.D. is a public relations and social media professor at the University of Louisville.

Social media education has flourished as a leading area of study, practice, and teaching around the world. Educators, practitioners, and students are shaping the way we evaluate, explore, and practice social media in and out of the classroom. But what can we do to lead and continue this evolution?

In this presentation, you will be able to:

  • Understand the current landscape of social media education
  • Explore the expectations for research and education practices in social media
  • Determine best practices on becoming a modern social media educator
  • Examine steps to take in and out of the classroom to bridge the gap between academia and industry.


Teressa Del Rosso

Teressa Del Rosso, Ph.D. is a public relations professor at the University of Memphis.

In March 2019, John Hermann wrote for the New York Times that TikTok is changing how social media work, “even if you’re avoiding it.” Almost two years, a pandemic, and considerable social and political violence later, TikTok is proving to stay influential. Kesilj (2020) wrote for the Harvard Business Review in October 2020 that “The future is TikTok” and Robinson (2020) of Adobe Spark ranked it fifth in the Top Seven Social Media Apps (after Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter).

When a professor considers the influence of TikTok in combination with who uses TikTok the most (42% of TikTok’s users are 18-24), it makes for a compelling argument that educators, especially social media professors, should be using TikTok as much as the other four popular platforms (Sehl, 2020). This presentation provides professors with a “how-to” guide for setting up an account and understanding the app, in addition to the three TikTok assignment modules.

Student learning goals:

  1. Learn how to build a professional presence on TikTok
  2. Learn how to use the platform
  3. Through modeling, learn how to use TikTok in a professional setting

Professor learning goal:

  1. Learn how to build and maintain a TikTok account
  2. Understand more about this popular platform

Lina Gomez-Vasquez

Dr. Lina Gomez-Vasquez is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Tampa. She has over 15 years of international experience in higher education and strategic communication. She has also served as a social media consultant for the Puerto Rico Board of Social Workers and the HIMA San Pablo Hospital.

Classroom disruption due to the global impact of COVID-19 brought faculty and students opportunities to connect and maintain social presence through digital platforms in a time of isolation. While there is a large body of literature devoted to digital platforms for teaching and learning, there is little research regarding the use of social media during emergency remote learning. This work aims to explore the use of social media and messaging platforms by faculty and students in a medium-sized private university in the southeast United States in times of emergency. The study employed an exploratory design approach, with 242 faculty and 711 students consenting to the survey.

Findings indicated most faculty respondents (73%) had fewer than four years of experience with online teaching, while students (80%) had fewer than one year of experience in online learning. Faculty turned to Facebook groups, such as Pandemic Pedagogy or online communities (23%), to keep up with professional development, followed by YouTube (20%) and Twitter (11%). Fifty-five percent of faculty found it helpful to use social media platforms for professional development. However, only 6% of faculty always/often used social media in remote learning, and 12% of students employed social media always/often in the remote classroom. Facebook groups encouraged the exchange of ideas, discussion, and collaboration. Additionally, messaging applications like GroupMe and Slack (21%) promoted connectivity among students: “My professor engaged every week with our whole class in a positive way. She used GroupMe to keep daily discussions. It was the only time I still felt connected as a student.” Findings suggest that social media platforms and messaging applications encouraged connections, social engagement, collaborations, and a sense of normalcy during these difficult times among both faculty and students.

Melissa Goodson

Melissa Goodson, PhD is an Associate Professor of Business Management and Marketing at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. She leads the Sandbulte Center for Ethical Leadership at the college. Dr. Goodson is also a certified Social Media Strategist through the National Institute for Social Media (NISM).

The main objective of the research was to uncover ways faculty members can design and incorporate assessment-based certificates into curriculum to enhance knowledge and skills in Marketing & Communications, specifically strategic social media planning, starting at the undergraduate level. The certificate, authored by Dr. Melissa Goodson, is based on the National Institute for Social Media’s 2019 Jobs Study and skills related to Marketing and Communications tasks and the NISM Marketing and Communications textbook. The assessment-based certificate is a partnership between NISM and The College of St. Scholastica with 50/50 revenue share.

Students were asked to complete the NISM/The College of St. Scholastica Marketing & Communications Assessment-Based Certificate in MKT 3320 Marketing on the Internet. The four-credit course focused on the process of combining strategic marketing concepts with online techniques to generate sales and enhance brand image in the world of e-commerce.

The results were successful despite being in a hybrid (mostly remote) teaching and learning scenario due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students were receptive to the work and excelled achieving an average of 85% or more on the final assessment of the program.

This presentation will focus on the use of a co-branded assessment-based learning certificate from the National Institute for Social Media and The College of St. Scholastica in the classroom. The highlights will include an analysis of skills gained and the effectiveness of faculty involvement in the certificate from the perspective of both teaching and learning. The goal is to offer the program more broadly to the business community. The NISM/The College of St. Scholastica Marketing & Communications Assessment-Based Certificate will be submitted to Institute for Credentialing Excellence for accreditation in 2021.

Lauren Gorfinkel

Dr Lauren Gorfinkel is a Senior Lecturer, Department of Media, Communications, Creative Arts, Language and Literature, Macquarie University. She convenes Public Relations and Social Media units and conducts research focused on the role of online and social media in the building of relationships and identities in culturally and linguistically diverse contexts.

This presentation discusses the use of online and social media by government schools in Sydney, Australia, with a focus on high schools with Intensive English Centres (IECs), and examines how social media is leveraged to build a sense of community with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) stakeholders.

The focus is on the 15 schools’ official use of public Facebook pages, under the auspices of the NSW Department of Education, examining how identity is created through the use of social media and the extent to which it fosters a sense of belonging and social inclusion. It canvasses literature on the use of online and social media by schools, considers the policies and ethical concerns schools have regarding social media, and highlights the gaps in research in this area. It will then introduce the specific context of schools and multiculturalism in Sydney, Australia’s major immigrant-receiving city, which provides a unique case study for the analysis of online and social media by schools in a globalized and multiethnic context.

Using theories around the representation of identity, organizational listening and voice, the chapter delves into the implications for developing meaningful online and social media communication amongst multicultural and multilingual school communities.

Through content analysis of official school Facebook pages, it raises broader questions around the purpose and implications around the role of social media by government and public service entities like schools as part of their remit to serve multicultural communities and how it can be used to impact on a sense of inclusion and belonging. It also raises questions around how to measure effective school-stakeholder communication in multicultural contexts, and whether social media should be playing a greater role in such contexts.

Aidan Moir

Aidan Moir received her Ph.D. in Communication & Culture from York University. Her research analyzes the social media profiles of global figures as important tools for branding and public communication. She is also interested in the role of social media in creating innovative classroom environments for postsecondary students.

The pervasiveness of mobile devices and digital technology in contemporary culture continues to offer new and exciting learning opportunities for the university classroom. The shift to online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic reinforces the increasing importance of social media in education, particularly as a means to minimize feels of isolation and disconnection. Twitter can be a valuable resource, acting as a digital space unique from the physical classroom that provides students with different ways to engage in course content and connect with their peers. This presentation will draw from research on the pedagogical possibilities of social media in education along with my personal experiences and reflections of incorporating Twitter into my teaching. Despite the continued popularity of the microblogging service, there is no specific framework outlining how to implement Twitter as a digital learning space for a university course. How Twitter is utilized by a course instructor will vary based upon a variety of different factors such as content, class size, and grading requirements, amongst others. Through discussion about engaging with the platform, I will address some of the issues and complications with using Twitter as a teaching resource, in addition to the innovative ways the platform encourages students to become active participants in shaping the direction of the course. While this presentation will focus primarily on Twitter, attention will also be directed towards applying other social media platforms in teaching. Social media is an important educational tool promoting community engagement while also helping students develop the necessary ethical and digital literacy skills to become effective communicators in the contemporary cultural landscape.


Priscila Alfaro-Barrantes and Jean Beaupré

Prior becoming a professor, Priscila worked in PR and Sports Marketing. Before becoming a Professor, Jean co-founded and managed her own marketing/advertising agency which served different industries.

The purpose of this presentation is to share two innovative academic projects implemented at a small business college in Massachusetts, USA to teach about the use of social media for gender awareness and diversity in college recruitment. One of the assignments was implemented in a course called Digital Marketing and Recruitment Practicum. A practicum is considered a hands-on course in which students devote at least 120 hours toward a project and the professor takes on the role of mentor. In the Spring semester of 2021, students were tasked with developing digital marketing tactics that aided the college in the recruiting of women to its largest academic program: Sport Management. After reading numerous articles about college recruitment, students were responsible for establishing in-house partnerships with the Office of Admissions & Enrollment as well as the Marketing Department. Then, they developed a variety of digital marketing initiatives that targeted women such as an electronic newsletter, Instagram takeovers, holiday/special dates posts, among others.

The second project was part of a class called How Women Lead. The students created a social media campaign around International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021. They built on the #ChoosetoChallenge theme, posting individual selfies on the College’s platforms, and tagging staff and faculty to do the same. The result was an exposure to gender awareness for the campus, as well as a showcase of strong women for prospective recruits. In a parallel project, the instructor worked with two students on a research project with two students that included interviewing alumni about women and leadership. These stories were shared on the College website and promoted via Instagram stories. Similarly, this effort both educates the campus community and aids in the recruitment of female students.

Sneh Gupta

Sneh Gupta is a senior research fellow, pursuing her Ph.D. at University School of Mass Communication, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi in India. A gender advocate who believes in the potential of new media in advancing the UN SDG-5 targets, she has actively worked on gender advocacy campaigns and presented papers internationally at conferences in USA, UK, and Asia. She has recently been named as winners of the UNICEF- IAMCR (C4D) Research Fund for 2021.

In India, access to mobile phones and Internet has increased over the past decade and so have the efforts to incorporate digital platforms, mobile media and social media into social and behaviour change communication (SBCC). Mobile devices are becoming the port of entry to the digital world, particularly for disadvantaged groups, and mobile-only use is now increasingly prevalent. Young population in India (even in lower income communities) finds ways to navigate financial and social constraints so that they can participate in adolescent/ teen social life and youth culture by being digitally connected (Bonnie Zare, 2021). Education-entertainment programming taps into these urges and uses multimodal, transmedia approaches to reach and engage with adolescents. Using rural Rajasthan in west India as a case study, this chapter examines how mobiles represent opportunities as well as challenges for the digital inclusion process. In June 2019, global NGO Girl Effect launched Chhaa Jaa (a clarion call to “Go Forth and Shine”) an online content-driven programme to educate and inform low-income adolescent girls (16 to 19 years old) in rural Rajasthan in India. The content is underpinned by innovative behaviour change science designed to empower girls to make informed decisions about their future – from accessing information about Sexual and Reproductive health rights (SRHR), to negotiating with parents about choices for their education, or preparing to find a first job. Chhaa Jaa used mobile media affordances and launched web video series, Sex and Relationships Chatbot, and Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGA) communities to facilitate SRHR information among adolescent girls in Rajasthan. Using in depth interviews with structured questionnaires and netnography tools like social media traces, virtual community interactions,and researcher experiences, investigative, interactive and immersive data will be collected. Various aspects of adolescent girl’s understanding and practices about their Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRHR) in relation to their digital skills, differentiated uses of the web, and communication design will be discussed. It is a critical evaluation of creative approaches to monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) of digital SBCC initiatives in rural India. Evidence suggests young people are responsive and enthusiastic to digital solutions related to health (Vyas et al, 2020). More specifically, digital solutions have the potential to tackle some of the key barrier’s adolescents in LMICs face when seeking SRHR information and services, including provider bias stigmatization and discrimination, lack of privacy, embarrassment, and high cost of services and transportation. Merging technology and SRHR can encourage an open dialogue about taboo topics in the wider community, increase self-efficacy of young people, and engage mass audiences in a cost-effective and meaningful manner. The chapter aims to explore opportunities of digital technologies in the villages of India.

Research Questions

  1. What are the digital technologies used by adolescent girls and young women to access SRHR information in rural Rajasthan, and how and why are they using them?
  2. How has Chaa Jaa affected the SRHR information level and practices among adolescent girls in rural Rajasthan?
  3. How can digital spaces like Chaa Jaa be better used to help improve SRHR among adolescent girls and young women in India?

Design & Method

The present study is exploratory and uses mixed methods. Theory of Change used in creating several advocacy campaigns on SDG 5 forms conceptual foundation of the study. Cross sectional design with a mixed methods approach (Creswell and Plano Clark (2011) will help in triangulation of data, offsetting the weaknesses and enhancing the quality of results. Convergent parallel design of mixed methods approach is employed to seek heightened validity and convergence of results.

Symposium Program Overview

8.45 am Welcome
8.55 AM
Acknowledgement of Country and opening remarks by Karen Sutherland
9.10 AM
Keynote by Karen Freberg
9.30 AM
9.35 AM Presentation 1 - Education
#ForYourClass: Incorporating TikTok into the Classroom by Teressa Del Rosso
10.05 AM
10.10 AM Presentation 2 - Education
Encouraging faculty-student connections using social media and messaging applications
during COVID-19 pandemic emergency remote learning by Lina Gomez-Vasquez
10.30 AM
10.35 AM Presentation 3 - Education
Designing an Assessment-Based Social Media Cert (During a Pandemic) by Melissa Goodson
10.55 AM
11.00 AM Presentation 4 - Education
Incorporating Social Media into the Classroom: Issues, Complications, and Opportunities by Aidan Moir
11.20 AM
11.25 AM Education Panel
11.40 AM
11.45 AM Presentation 1 - Marketing
How Sydney's culturally and linguistically diverse schools are using Facebook to engage with their
communities by Lauren Gorfinkel
12.05 PM
12.10 PM Presentation 2 - Marketing
Using Social Media for Diversity Education and College Recruitment by Priscila Alfaro-Barrantes
and Jean Beaupré
12.30 PM
12.35 PM Presentation 3 - Marketing
Empowering the adolescent girls in rural India through digital technology by Sneh Gupta
1.05 PM
1.10 PM Marketing Panel
1.25 PM
Closing Remarks by Dr Karen Sutherland
1.30 PM

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