Monday, April 12, 2010

Social Media for Business: One Student's Experience

by Ann Abbott

I have had the opportunity several times this semester to give presentations about social media for business. When I taught "Spanish for Business" during the fall semester of 2009, I used the standard textbook, Exito comercial, but I also added lessons about how to use social media for business.

Why did I add lessons about social media for business to a curriculum that is already jam-packed with highly-detailed information about everything from what the difference is between a sole proprietorship and a limited liability corporation to how companies handle strikes? For two reasons:
  • Social media is a personal passion of mine, and I want to walk into all my classes and be excited about what I am teaching.
  • Even more important, I wanted my students to walk out of that class being able to DO something, not just talk about what others do.
So, in the end, I felt like I had at least laid the groundwork for students to be able to think of themselves as social media marketers. In today's tough job market, recent grads need all the unique skills that they can get.

One of my students, Jill Novak, took the information and put it in practice immediately! So when I spoke to my fellow Faculty Fellows (I know, that sounds funny) at the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership about social media earlier this semester, I asked if Jill could talk too. Professors love to see the student perspective, and Jill's work is so interesting that I knew they would be curious to hear directly from her.

Jill uses social media in many ways to sell and market the hand-made fashion accessories that she makes.
  1. She has a virtual store at, called Jill's Boutique. provides a forum that facilitates sales, but it also allows users and customers to give feedback and interact in other ways.
  2. She blogs about her creative and entrepreneurial process at Jill's Boutique Blog.
  3. She tweets about her newest creations at @jillybud1.
  4. She created a Facebook page for her business.
As you can see, Jill not only can do social media marketing, she does. And she knows how to talk about it as well. Below are Jill's notes from what she shared with the Faculty Fellows about her use of social media in her own entrepreneurial endeavor.

Faculty Fellows Presentation

"I would like to share with you what I learned about social media in Professor Abbott’s Spanish 202 class, Spanish for Business and how I apply it to the marketing and maintenance my own business. First, I’ll give you a little background on what my business is. I have a virtual shop on, which is a website for buying and selling handmade items. I design and create fashion accessories, mainly headbands, and I market them by posting photos and creative descriptions right there on the website. But I also use three types of social media to promote my business and I would never have known their value if not for Professor Abbott’s course.

"She gave excellent business advice, everything from considering cultural differences, to the different kinds of business partnerships, to market segmentation, even things that may seem small like the value of learning and using the names of our peers. It was the best preparation for the real world I’ve found in any class at this University, especially as it pertains to my interests in the Spanish language. Everything I learned is directly applicable to pursuing a potential career in business.

"In the course, Professor Abbott showed the importance of social media for branding a business and as a way to start a dialogue with prospective customers. Three types of social media that we learned about in the course stuck out to me because of their dominant presence on the web: Twitter, Blogger, and Facebook. Before taking the course, I had entirely different perceptions about the purpose and benefits of these media.

"Twitter- I had the impression that Twitter was a venue for sharing personal thoughts with others, I never considered its benefits to a business as a way to market or get feedback about your products or services. I was influenced to begin a Twitter account while enrolled in the class, and now I use it everyday to share links to my Etsy shop and tweet about what I’m creating lately. Twitter has so many features that make it easy to use it as a promotional tool. Since you can only type 140 characters in your tweet, readers get a glimpse without having to read a lengthy article. TinyUrl is a feature that allows users to make long website names much shorter so as to fit within the limited character allowance. Just two or three enticing words and a link can really grab the readers’ attention and make them want to know more.

"Blog- again, I only pictured it as a media for personal use... Span 202 showed me that blogs are useful for businesses in 3 ways…The blog itself can be your business, you can blog ABOUT your business, or you can use the blog to establish yourself as an expert in your field. I choose to blog about my business ideas and share my creative spirit with customers and friends and anyone else that may be interested. I do this with the hopes of getting more traffic on my Etsy shop.

"Facebook- During our final project in the course, we analyzed a business’s use of social media and how successfully they were using them. I found that many businesses were reaching out to their customers via Facebook, a media I already had been using for personal use. Having learned of its advantages for businesses, I decided to created a “Fan page” for my boutique, and over 100 people have joined already! I will be posting updates, photos, and hopefully topic discussions that will fuel and facilitate open conversation about my creations.

"In addition to these, there are countless options for using social media….YouTube, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Flickr…so much out there in the way of social media and so many opportunities to connect with others and brand yourself.

"The class got my gears turning…I learned that a big key to realizing a new business idea is using social media because 1. everybody’s on it. And 2. it’s an inexpensive way to market whatever it is that you do. Not only can I read what other people have to say that are in the same field, but I can share my ideas and get publicity for it. The reality is that social media are ‘social’; they are made up of people and connections and have unlimited potential for networking. Very few brands create a back and forth dialogue and prompt discussion, but the ones that do are successful.

"Thank you, closing remarks….questions?"

The faculty who attended the talk had lots of questions for Jill. Do you have any questions for her? Leave a comment here or on one of her several social media venues.


  1. Thank you, Professor Abbott! It was a great honor to be invited to the Faculty Fellows luncheon. I have learned so much from your classes that I apply daily!

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