Why Everyone Should Take Digital Strategies At UMSL

Digital Marketing/ Digital Marketing Strategies is a valuable class for everyone. Those interested in business, marketing, social media, those who just need to catch up on how this fast paced world works and where it is heading, and many more can benefit from this course. The main ideas and takeaways from the course that everyone should know include: how marketing/business has changed with technology, where we are heading, and how to promote yourself. Professor Perry Drake does an excellent job of keeping up on trends and information about technology and social media, as well as passing that information on to his students.

Main Takeaway 1: How marketing and business have changed with technology

Of course, this is the main topic of the course. The world is changing fast, and so is business. whether or not you are a current student, want to back to school, business major, or non business major, we all need to know about this change. Professor Drake does an excellent job of explaining this to students, because even young students who have social media accounts, and use mobile technology daily usually do not fully understand how it all works, and how it impacts businesses and individuals. Businesses today typically cannot survive without adapting to technology change. As consumers change and accept new technology, businesses must do the same to be able to reach their markets. Understanding how businesses use communication platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, Google, and more is useful information for anyone to have, and that is what taking Digital strategies at the University of Missouri St. Louis allows students to do.

Not only does Professor Drake teach his students information on digital, but they also learn from one another. Another aspect of the digital strategies class is the fact that each student gives presentations in class regarding trends, changes, new products, new companies, etc. in and around the social/digital space. This opportunity allows individual students to do research, read articles, become experts on a certain subject, and teach that subject to their classmates. On the other hand, the students listening to the presentations, get to learn additional information not taught directly from the professor in a different format.

Another way students can learn as they go is by the fact that digital strategies is a hybrid class. This means that the class meets in person once a week, and has the other days of the week to work the class modules. The modules are a good way of learning outside of the traditional method. These are opportunities for students to go more hands on with technology and do projects, listen to presentations, watch videos, and take in a lot of information from different sources which allows for students to vary the way they learn and gives a more complete and well rounded education. Beyond taking in all of this information, we also put this information into use. Professor Drake’s students have bi-weekly homework and quizzes. Also, a few hands on projects (SEO, Google Analytics, and Online Branding), and of course discussion boards. Discussion boards are a great way to interact with other students outside of class. It is a platform for students to give and receive the opinions of others respectfully, and a good way to get students really thinking about problems, issues, and questions facing our society relating to technology and digital marketing.

Professor Perry Drake at UMSL also practices what he preaches. he uses technology on a regular basis to communicate with students. He uses the Bonfyre application as a communication tool for his courses. Bonfyre is an app designed to allow large groups of people chat and have private group conversations. Discovering and using this app was one of my favorite parts of the class. It was very convenient for us students to be able to post a question about the homework, the final, the schedule, etc. and have it be seen by everyone in the group immediately. I would recommend more courses use this app whether they are business related or not because this is an excellent tool for students to have at their disposal.

Main Takeaway 2: where the world is going.

Another aspect of this course and something all digital strategies students should have taken away is looking into the future of digital, social, Google, and so on. Much of this information came in the form of student presentations and guest speakers for the course. Many of the articles that were presented by students in class covered the future in terms of new products, new companies, or how companies will be changing to stay relevant or reach more of their target markets.

For example, my presentation for the course was over a new product from Snapchat, the Snapchat Spectacles. When this article was presented, the product had not yet been released. They are basically (relatively) inexpensive sunglasses that have cameras in the top corners. They allow the user to take first person point of view videos hands free and upload them to their Snapchat account. This product has since been put on the market in a limited manner. It was cool to be able to talk about a future product and now be able to see that the product is real and available to purchase. Presentations like this and more are what students who take digital strategies at UMSL can experience.

Also, students will learn the future of companies and industries from professionals in the field in the form of guest speakers. We had two guest speakers throughout our semester, and both were very interesting and knowledgeable. Personally, my favorite was TJ from AT&T who spoke on the future of television. It is a good learning experience to listen to a professional from inside the industry speak on future trends. The discussion was essentially about how television was heading towards a lot more streaming technology and services, and it will have much more targeted ads in the future.

Main Takeaway 3: Branding yourself

Finally, teaching students of all ages about self branding was another one of professor Drake’s main goals for the course. Particularly focusing on using Linkedin effectively and its importance in finding jobs and getting your name out there. Linkedin is essentially an online resume and a way for professionals to interact, network, and find employees. In Digital strategies class, there were many discussions on Linkedin and its proper usage. To ensure that everyone takes their linkedin profile seriously and sets it up correctly, it was actually included as part of the mid term grade for the course. Many of the students like myself had a Linkedin account but it was not done correctly, or it was not used or updated for a long time. This is another reason I am glad I took this class. Now I have a new and updated picture, job history, skills, and summary for my Linkedin profile and I feel much more confident in my ability to brand myself.


I feel that the skills and knowledge I acquired in taking digital strategies with Perry Drake at UMSL are well worth the time and money to take the course. This is a course designed for business students, but I do not nee it as a course only for business students. Anyone is able to benefit in learning how the world has changed, where it is going, how to brand yourself, and more!




The Restaurant Approach to Social Media

Below is a list of five different types of restaurants and their approaches to different types of social media for their businesses.

1. Steak N Shake    steak n shake

  • Steak N Shake uses social media as a tool for promoting new menu items, as well as highlighting existing items
  • They post mostly appetizing pictures and a few videos daily
  • They also have celebrity endorsement on their page from Indy car racer Graham Rahal
  • Steak N Shake also promotes new services such as online ordering, and their online store
  • Also they try to fit the trends of healthy eating by posting picture of their new salads

2. Buffalo Wild Wings        b dubs

  • Buffalo Wild Wings is using all types of social media to reach a male demographic
  • As a sports bar, they post several times a day about sports (basketball and hockey), wings, and beer
  • They post many promotions such as wing Tuesday, beer of the month, fast break lunch, etc.
  • Facebook and Instagram are almost all pictures, whereas on Twitter there are about 1/4 text-only posts

3. Five Guys     five guys'

  • Five Guys’ social media strategy focuses on customer service and their employees, nearly every week posting pictures of their employees and celebrating them.
  • They also utilize a contest on Facebook and Twitter called Five Guys Games for their social media followers, they give away several cars a year as prizes
  • Pinterest is utilized as a place for pictures of their menu items as well as articles on their restaurants and recipe ideas.

4. Hardees      hardees

  • As a fast food restaurant, Hardees does not focus as heavily on customer service or quality of their food, but rather their image and target demographic.
  • Hardees has been known for targeting a male audience and that is seen on their social media pages
  • They also use social media as a platform for finding employees with want-ads and now hiring posts with links to their hiring website
  • Hardees takes advantage of the cover photo and profile picture to emphasize their brand and their newest product
  • They also have a promotion on Twitter and Facebook in which people submit videos of themselves trying their new product ( that is very spicy) for entertainment purposes.

5. Balducci’s     balduccis

  • As opposed to the above restaurants, Balducci’s pizza is a small local St. Louis restaurant
  • Since they are such a small, one location, place, the only social media they are utilizing is Facebook
  • They are using it to promote new menu items, share pictures of the menu, and to create conversations with followers.
  • There an equal amount of sales posts and conversational posts
  • They are attempting to create a “family style” friendly brand for their restaurant through the use of Facebook (but should at the very least make a Twitter page too).

Different types of restaurants (fast food, franchise, sports bar, local, etc) have different social media needs and uses. With this information try to find the strategy that best works for you!

How Retailers are Using Social Media

Different types of businesses use social media in different ways and for different reasons, so how are retailers effectively using social media?

1. Best Buy    best buy

  • Best Buy uses all of the major social media platforms
  • Their main focus seems to be friendliness and service, many sources claim Best Buy to be one of the best at correcting customer issues/complaints via social media
  • They have taken a very visual approach, posting almost exclusively photos and videos
  • The majority of their posts are the same from site to site
  • Most posts are for sales and only a few interesting or entertaining posts

2. TJ. Maxx         tj maxx

  • TJ. Maxx is on all major social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram)
  • They post at least once a day to all platforms
  • All of their posts are not direct sales posts but rather pictures of ideas/opportunities that people can do with their products, without any prices.
  • However, each post includes a link to their website if you do want to purchase the items.
  • A rating/ comment section is included on their Facebook showing positive and negative feedback.

3. Hot Topic       hot topic

  • As a store based around young people’s trends, naturally they are on all social media channels
  • Approximately half of Hot Topic’s posts are sales posts and the other half is modern pop culture posts and entertainment (I.e. the new Star Wars Trailer is posted, and pictures of bands, etc.)
  • All posts are visual, no text-only posts all pictures and videos, most of which have links to their website attached

4. Costco      costco

  • Costco is on all major social media platforms
  • One problem is that their official Twitter page has been active since January 2013 and yet there have been no posts, on all other platforms they post several times a day
  • They utilize contests solely on social media almost on a weekly basis
  • There are some posts directed for sales, and many interesting articles posted on Facebook and Twitter (mostly articles about their business).

5. Toys “R” Us          toyr r us

  • Toys R Us is focused on selling to parents of young kids (because their demographic is not typically on social media yet).
  • Their posts go with trends that are happening with young people (right now many posts include Star Wars and superheroes)
  • Posts including promotions and coupons are common
  • However there are a fair amount of entertainment-based posts that are not for selling (Happy Easter, first day of spring, etc.)
  • They post often, but not daily on all social media, almost all quick, to-the-point, visual posts

There are many similarities within all of these retailers’ social media accounts but the slight differences are what helps to set them apart, take advantage of all of the tools and ideas other retailers are using to get yourself started!

Recommended Tools for sCRM

What is sCRM? It stands for social customer relationship management, which is is use of social media services, techniques and technology to enable organizations to engage with their customers. There are five recommended tools that businesses should use to start taking advantage of this process.

1. Batchbook              batchbook

  • Used for small business CRM
  • For each contact you can create tags that help group together related contacts and make contact lists
  • Contact activities are a one page summary of everything that is happening with that contact
  • Can see contacts Facebook or Twitter to see what they are talking about, or what they are up to
  • To-Do’s help manage workflow by sending email or calendar reminders
  • Sales Pipeline feature allows you to keep track of all deals from start to finish
  • Can collaborate across teams
  • Mobile capabilities

2. Nimble           nimble

  • Nimble tracks the complete history you and your contact share on every channel
  • Analyzes shared interests to you why your contact is important and relevant to you
  • Categorize or segment groups of contacts with tags and saved searches
  • Relationship platform powered by context
  • Contact management system is built to empower social media engagement

3. BlueCamroo           BlueCamroo      

  • Help find new sales opportunities by using the social scout feature to search for keywords on social media
  • View and share social updates within BlueCamroo (all team members)
  • Allows you to listen to “buzz” around your company to address potential problems/complaints about your products or services.
  • Save relevant messages to your customer records and create tasks, events, or cases, based on those messages

4. Insightly      insightly    

  • CRM for small businesses some features include:
  • Lead/contact management
  • Automatic address book
  • Custom fields and filters
  • File sharing
  • Mass email
  • Flexible calendaring and events
  • Tags, notifications, and following

5. GreenRope         greenrope

  • Offers complete marketing automation, ties into your storefront, analytics, and forms
  • Instant feedback from email and mobile
  • Can identify the leads and customers that have the greatest value to you with the customizeable lead scoring system
  • Keep track of client payments
  • Track the activity on your  company website from anyone in your CRM
  • Phone integration within your CRM including click-to-call, inbound call handling, SMS texting, and more
  • Use predictive analytics to predict who will take action next and purchase from you

In order to build relationships, manage, and engage your customers and leads, look into these five helpful tools to see which best suits your CRM needs!

Free Social Media Monitoring Tools

Social Media Monitoring is defined as monitoring social media channels for information about a company or organization. This is a valuable tool to use when attempting to see how people respond to your brand online. In order to start doing this there are a few important free tools you can use.

1. Vocus/Cision         vocus

  • Vocus allows you to reach out to people who are talking about your brand on social media
  • Transform mentions into conversations and relationships with social media users
  • Covers social networking sites, forums, opinion sites, top video- and image-sharing sites all from one place
  • Identify influencers by ranking top Tweeters and Bloggers by specific criteria
  • Analyze brand mentions to gauge the sentiment of bloggers, tweeters and readers
  • Track the volume of keywords tied to your campaigns (receiving data/ charts to show results)

2. Radian 6            salesforce_radian6_logo

  • Radian 6 offers a contact builder to get a view of all of your customers in one place, shows entire communication history to gain a better understanding of customers
  • Build your customers’ journeys by responding to real time individual behaviors and tracking progress
  • Deliver personalized content through email, mobile, social, ads, web, and content builder
  • Use audience builder to filter and segment based on any criteria you choose
  • Use the Salesforce1 app to connect all of your data, devices, and data into one place

3. Google Trends        google-trends-logo

  • Allows you to see what the top Google search trends are currently, or in a certain time-frame
  • You can also search for trends by one or more keywords
  • Good for brand and reputation management
  • Can filter data by category or region to help narrow your results
  • Trends also lets you compare multiple terms and related searches

4. Tweetdeck        tweetdeck_1875923b

  • Used for Twitter only, allows you to organize and build custom timelines to put on your website.
  • Tweetdeck helps you keep track of all lists, searches, and activities
  • Create/filter searches to track certain topics, events, hashtags, etc.
  • Share an account with your whole team, and maintain control over permissions
  • Mute users or terms to eliminate unwanted noise
  • schedule Tweets to be posted in the future,
  • Can turn on alerts to keep up with emerging information

Explore these four tool to help you start monitoring your brand on social media!

How to Create, Use, and Optimize Your Personal LinkedIn Page

Creating a Personal LinkedIn Page

Below are the very basic first steps to actually creating your LinkedIn personal page.

  1. Name and Photo- use a professional head-shot profile picture and use your real full first and last name
  2. Use a professional headline because it appears often when people search for you
  3. Add custom links to your other websites
  4. Fully fill in the blanks including summary, experience, all education, contact preferences
  5. Add as many options as possible to the skills and expertise section
  6. Keep your profile active with status updates and being involved in LinkedIn groups

Sample complete profile:

sample linkedin

Using your personal LinkedIn page

This covers how to use your profile for finding jobs, networking, getting found, and so on.

  • Use keywords in your profile that you want to be found by
  • Show samples of work you have done
  • Take advantage of LinkedIn’s job boards to find a job
  • Use your profile as a resume
  • Share your LinkedIn status updates on Twitter
  • To increase networking, use the “who’s viewed your profile” tool to see what users have looked at your profile
  • Allow others to see your name and headline by adjusting your privacy settings
  • Join LinkedIn groups to make communicating easier as well as getting to know others with similar interests      groups

Improving your LinkedIn page

This includes seven ways to simply give your page a makeover from time to time to increase profile strength. In order to increase strength a profile must include (and continuously update)…

  1. Your industry and location
  2. An up-to-date current position with a professional description
  3. Two past positions
  4. All education
  5. A minimum of three skills/expertise
  6. A professional Profile picture
  7. And At least 50 connections

Optimizing your page/personal brand

This includes the best ways to maximize the results and tools available from having a LinkedIn page

  • Create a custom URL with your name in it
  • Add, remove, or rearrange sections of your profile
  • Get endorsed for skills and endorse others
  • Use keywords to describe your skills, company name, or anything you want to be found by
  • Ask for recommendations
  •  Use the “events” section to increase networking possibilities
  • Do not connect with competitors
  • Integrate LinkedIn with your other personal social media pages/personal website
  • Post interesting content, do not constantly sell yourself or your services, this helps you to stand out among the pack







All of these tips should help you set up, properly use, constantly improve, and optimize your personal LinkedIn page. Put them into practice and click the above links to see more details!

5 Important Blogs on LinkedIn Company Pages

The first thing that you would want to know when learning about LinkedIn company pages is how to set one up. I chose this first blog post because it takes you through the steps of actually setting up your company page                  how

  • Start by adding your company and filling out as much of the profile that you can. This includes company name, description, address, phone number, company type, links to your website, and more.
  • Make sure all of your employees and co workers link from their personal page to you company page.
  • Keep your page up-to-date by giving employees access to make changes to the company page.
  • Use LinkedIn as a promoter for your other social media as well.


After setting up your page, you will need to know how to improve it and make it useful, which is what this blog post covers.                 linkedin

  • Make sure your content solves a problem for your  audience
  • Use images/videos to catch attention
  • Make updates short and sweet to encourage click-through’s
  • Engage your audience by asking and answering questions
  • Reveal your company culture and brand
  • Add a follow us (LinkedIn) button to your company website


Not only do you want to know what you should do, but also what you shouldn’t do, This post explains how using LinkedIn incorrectly can be a waste of time and resources.        do's and don'ts

  • Do not post during the work day because most LinkedIn traffic comes before and after work hours.
  • Avoid posting updates for the sake of posting updates, keep a goal of getting likes and shares in mind
  • Do not just post an update, but have your team share and like the updates so their connections may also see it.
  • Do not post content without first creating a plan and goals for that content


Another step to having a LinkedIn company page is really maximizing its value to your company. This SalesForce blog post has 7 tips to unlocking that value.         unlock

  • Set up the page
  • Post content regularly
  • Target your posts by industry or location
  • Increase the reach of your posts
  • Get insights on your followers
  • Drive inbound links
  • Finally, engage your audience


Finally, now that you know the basics, and the do’s/dont’s all you need is to increase your followers and viewership, this post offers 5 tips to growing LinkedIn followers.          infollow

  • Add a LinkedIn widget to your website that directs people to your company page and encourages them to follow.
  • Optimize your page with keywords, news, and targeted content
  • (Again) Engage with your audience
  • take advantage of LinkedIn “groups”
  • Also, make sure to follow your client’s pages, in hopes that they follow yours.


These blog posts cover all aspects of the importance of company LinkedIn pages, click through the links to get the full scoop!