Assignment ideas for social media courses

I want to share some assignments that I developed for Introduction to Social Media Marketing, which is a 3-week open online course at MulinBlog Online J-School. If you are an instructor of social media, please offer some comments and share your course materials; if you are a student, please also share your learning experience.

The three weekly modules in this open course each covers a focused topic – concept, strategy and tactics. This course does not cover the range of topics I would include in a regular college-level course, which will go deeper in each topic and will include additional topics such as engagement and measurement.

In each week, there are selected readings, tutorials, quiz, class discussions, and one or two assignments. You can download the syllabus or view it embedded below. I developed detailed instructions for each assignment; see below the embedded syllabus for each week’s assignment instructions.

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Week 1 assignment: Social media marketing concepts

Following guidelines and examples in the reading, please conduct a real social media SWOT analysis. Some suggestions on what you can do:

  • You can do an analysis of a big brand; compare their social media practices with the four areas of a SWOT analysis, and discuss what we can learn from this brand.
  • You can analyze social media activities of a small business or a non-profit organization, and try to suggest improvements. It can be a business or organization you have connections with or otherwise have knowledge of.
  • If you want to, you can even conduct a SWOT analysis of your instructor, Dr. Mu Lin, who has been promoting his blog ( on Twitter and Facebook.

When posting your analysis, please follow this format:

  • Description of the business or organization you are analyzing.
  • The actual SWOT analysis (please follow examples in the reading).
  • Takeaways or suggestions. Something we can learn, or improvements they can use.

Week 2 assignment: Social media marketing strategy

There are two options for this week; you can choose to work on one or both of them.

Option #1: social media strategy

Read or download a social media strategy template by HootSuite and create a social media strategy for a real business or institution. You may need to conduct a SWOT analysis and incorporate findings in your strategy.

Option #2: content curation

Follow tips in this week’s reading for finding content ideas, research for an idea and create a Storify story.

Week 3 assignment: Social media marketing tactics

There are two options for this week; you can choose to work on one or both of them.

Option #1: Social media listening

Set up social media listening in Hootsuite for a brand, an institution, a celebrity or just any subject where there may be active related social media discussions. You can refer to the lesson for how to set up listening streams as well as what to monitor.

In your report, tell us what you listened to, what streams you set up, what you have found that interest or otherwise surprise you, and what you suggest that business or institution should do, and just anything else you want to discuss and share with us.

Option #2: Message creation

If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, try promoting something following best practices in this week’s lesson.

Specifically, choose a piece of content that you think may interest your followers/fans. Create a new tweet or Facebook post following writing guidelines in the lesson, conduct a hashtag research to find and include a few hashtags, then publish your message.

In your report, paste the actual tweet or post you created, tell us what specific guidelines you followed in drafting that message, how you came up with relevant hashtags, and tell us about responses to your message.

Need more ideas about social media marketing? Check out these popular books at Amazon:

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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