Durham, NC — A Duke University course called “Building Global Audiences” reached more than 80 million people this semester on different social media apps.
Dr. Aaron Dinin is a lecturing fellow in innovation and entrepreneurship at Duke.
“We have reach, and when you reach millions of people from Durham, North Carolina, what does that mean, and what are you going to do with that,” Dinin said.
He started the class years ago, focused on search engine optimization. It’s evolved since then, now including a look at apps such as Instagram and Tik Tok, where influencers can make thousands of dollars.
Dinin says his class is not focused on the money.
“It’s less about how much you can make and more about, you have something important that you want to get the word out and want to say and want to share. How do you do that? In some cases, and in a lot of cases , that can lead to making money,” Dinin said. “But, there’s also wonderful places and ways you can use this to change the world, and hopefully change the world for the better.”
Although his Generation Z undergraduate students are using the latest smartphone apps, Dinin says the driving force behind social media isn’t new.
“Oral poetry, epic poetry and homeric epic, those were media tools designed to get people thinking about social and cultural norms and establishing these things,” Dinin said. “Nothing is new. Tik Tok is a new platform and a new media, and the reach you can have is new, but the cultural lineages of these things go back forever.”
Duke freshman Jacob Whatley plans to major in visual media studies with a concentration in cinematic arts. He works with the university as a videographer, and he was thrilled to take Dinin’s class.
“I think more universities should offer courses like this. I think it is a great thing for students to not always have such a rigid plan and to have these classes that allow for creativity to be sparked, and for students to be the driving force in their learning,” Whatley said.
Whatley sees the importance of social media for big brands, but also small content creators.
“Now, instead of having a company like Coca-Cola put into a newspaper ad, they’re going to ask an influencer, ‘Hey, can you create a video with our product?'” Whatley said.
Dinin argues social media is important for everyone in 2022 but especially important for college students.
“It’s the water they swim in,” he said. “And so the question is, do we want to be in the room when they’re doing it, or do we want to have them doing it on their own without thinking about things like purpose and what they are trying to accomplish in the world .”