What Do You Teach in a Social Media Class?
When I introduce myself as a "Social Media" Instructor, people will ask me "What do you teach in a social media class, cat videos?"
The Masters of Science in Marketing class MKT59: Digital and Social Media Marketing (also known as #CoolestClassAtUA) at the University of Alabama's Culverhouse College of Commerce focuses on social media platforms as tools to spread an organization's key message to stakeholders. We study strategy, analytics, price, and especially return on investment.
I love a good cat video and especially an excellent dinosaur meme and many of the students are digital natives, who love them too. Being a Masters program, we also have students who are continuing their education after many years in the workforce. While the age range may span, all students have the same mission in common - understanding the nebulous nature of social media and how they can help businesses and organizations spread their message to an ever increasing global audience.
Here are the top 5 topics covered in MKT597: Digital and Social Media Marketing / #CoolestClassAtUA. It is an introduction course for the Fall Term with an advanced course in analytics and strategy to follow in the Spring:
1. Social Media Platforms - All the social media platforms and how to choose the best one (or several) for clients. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest - how do you choose? Our students have been studying each platform, the analytics, the pros and cons and how to get the best results in order to better suggest platforms for businesses and organizations.
2. Social Network Theory - Social Network Theory is Mark Granovetter's premiere theory about how people connect and the strength of the weak ties and novel information that they can provide. Much of social media is social networking - by utilizing online and digital formats. You can learn more about social network theory in 14 easy slides by clicking my most viewed (1000+) Slideshare here: http://www.slideshare.net/susanchesleyfant/social-network-theory-26118107 3. Likeable Social Media - We're reading Dave Kerpen's Likable Social Mediaas a textbook of sorts for the class. While the book is geared towards business professionals, I've retooled some questions and cases to work from an academic perspective and for students to get real world insight on social media strategy. 4. New Digital Media - Having a love of foresight, I know that students need to know what will happen 3-5 years out when they are in the workforce as social media experts (fingers crossed!) So, topics like how do you create a Google Glassglassware app? When should businesses jump and try new technology mediums? What is good social media networking practices for the future of mobile connectivity? are all topics we cover in great details. Plus, it gave me a good reason to put Google Glass in the budget.... 5. Live Social Media Case Studies - From live tweeting charity events in our local community to presenting social media strategy to presidents of companies, our students have been engaging in preaching what they're practicing. For their final projects students answer a local business executive's top three questions on how to use social media for their businesses. The majority of their grade is dependent on that executive's impression of their pitch and their research.
While the classes and topics are always changing, so far this formula has seemed to work with graduates securing social media centric internships and jobs. While, working in social media, might be the nature of entry level jobs right now - certainly the growth in these job placements for our students are showing positive results.