The likes and positive comments are flowing for USC’s Social Media degree program after it gained high recognition at the 2020 Australian and New Zealand Social Media Marketing Awards.
USC’s Bachelor of Communication (Social Media) Program Coordinator and Lecturer Dr Karen Sutherland won Best Social Media Educator of the Year, while students Nikita Kuenz and Chantal Barclay won the award for Best Student Campaign.
Chantal and Nikita said the client experience training they gained at USC had boosted their confidence to create their award-winning entry – a strategy submission for the Starlight Children’s Foundation’s Livewire online community for teens living with illness or disability.
“I feel like I’ve learned so much about social media in such a short time,” Chantal said. “Working with real clients has given me a lot of confidence in my skills and knowledge.”
Nikita added: “The award provided confirmation that what we learned in the course has paid off and that we knew what we were doing with our campaign”.
Dr Sutherland said the opportunity to gain practical experience working with real clients from the local business community was a big drawcard for students, including those from interstate, to study USC’s Bachelor of Communication (Social Media).
Throughout the social media minor, major and degree program, students develop customised social media strategies, campaigns and social media performance reports for real clients. This year alone USC social media students have worked with 170 local businesses.
“By the time students graduate from the degree program they will have gained practical experience with four clients and 208 hours of work experience in a social media agency.”
Dr Sutherland said social media was now vital to most businesses and required professional skills to manage it strategically. USC has responded to this trend over time by expanding Social Media from a single subject to a minor and then to a major and degree program of its own.
“The students have been so open to trying new things because the field of Social Media changes all the time and they are willing to ‘feel the fear’ and do it anyway,” she said.
The awards, which were held online by the Social Media Marketing Institute, also featured USC students Jane Hedges and Micah Carswell as other finalists in the student category.
As well as teaching Social Media at USC, Dr Sutherland provides pro-bono workshops for not-for-profit organisations, with participants from as far afield as the United States, Thailand and the Czech Republic.
She is a member of a USC research project team called, Real Rural Digital Solutions, delivering digital skills workshops to people in drought affected areas and is a published author; her latest book, Strategic Social Media Management: Theory and Practice, will be available in December 2020 by Palgrave Macmillan.