Category Archives: Social Media

We Don’t Need No Steenkin’ Social Media Gurus

social-media-guru_callout.pngA couple of days ago, as I wrote in my last blog posting, I spoke at a Social Media Day gathering in an interesting, concert-like downtown Queen West Toronto venue, to an interesting and varied crowd.

After I had left the stage and assumed a position within the audience, beer in hand, a woman began talking to me in the crowd. Lets call her Jennifer. Jennifer told me that she knew nothing about social media even a few weeks ago, but that her husband had bought her an iPad for their anniversary and now she was devoting all sorts of time to learning it. She had driven up from Niagara Fallsabout a 2-hour drivein order to see the Social Media Day event.

I want to become a social media guru, she said to me, with a big, winning, business-y smile.

Gotta tell ya, Jennifer. Thats just about the last thing the world needs. That, another horndog politician, and four bucks will get you a Starbucks latte.

love-guru.jpgosho_rajneesh_photo.jpgI keep hearing this term social media guru everywhere, usually in puffed-up self-proclamations (which my mom always taught me were faint praise, anyhow) as in Hi, Im George, and Im an alcoholic–and a Social Media guru.

Now, give me a big fat molten chocolate-covered break.

Yes, I know the word guru officially and originally meant “wise teacher? in Hindi. Even so, if you say you are a social media teacher, what are your designations, where is your accreditation, who certifies you to teach about it? It is supposed to mean one with great knowledge and/or wisdom, who uses that wisdom to teach and guide others on a spiritual path. What the heck does it mean to be a self-realized and Fully Ascended Social Media Master, anyways? Is there supposed to be something Intensely Spiritual about the Like Button?

And, here’s the gist. Doesn’t anyone using that honorific realize that, since the days of Bhagwan Shree Rhagneesh, EST, and the whole weird 1970s ESALEN California spirituality vibe thing, the use of the designation guru” in the West always contains with it more than a salt shakers worth of irony, as well a distinctly greenish tinge of worldly avarice lying just underneath spiritual rhetoric, and leading, almost inexorably, to fleets of Rolls Royces?

I mean, come on. Guru? Guru? Really? In the West? In 2011? Without irony?

social_media_experts_as_real_as_unicorns_tshirt-p235421643853038531q08p_400.jpgMe, I am a Ph.D who studied social media in my dissertation and a Full Professor now, and I have had a strong social media component to my classes since 1999. That’s twelves years ago, for those who are counting. I began teaching the first social media course in Canada, and one of the first in the world, in 2007, calling it Word of Mouth Marketing. I have developed multiple courses at undergraduate, graduate, and PhD levels to teach Social Media Marketing and Management. Those course outlines are being used by dozens of other professors around the world right now.

And I am definitely no “Social Media Guru.” No thanks.

I much prefer to be known as a Still-Learning Social Media Expert-in-Progress. Or a Social Media Researcher. Social Media Pioneer? I think I have probably earned that one. I have been researching and writing in this area since 1995, with multiple publications in top peer-reviewed scientific journals. That is legitimacy. I pioneered a social media research approach and method. I have consulted to industry on these matters since before there were blogs. I was one of the first researchers to clearly specify the importance of social media to marketing. I have been in this space for 16 years. Like the few true experts in this area, I can give specific examples of what I have accomplished, rather than writing yet another book with some trendy title that is also subtitled How Your Company Can Profit From Facebook and Twitter” and calling myself by some ridiculously inapplicable Indian honorific.

social_media_guru-f918bc5.jpgSo please forgive me for being more than a little ticked off at the gathering of Social Media Guruslike ants at the proverbial picnic. While this boom is still booming, they will keep swarming. And I feel entitled to spray a little Raid.

As far as I am concerned, if someone comes up and tells you they are a social media guru, they are telling you, essentially, that they have a Facebook and Twitter account, talk about it to their friends and family, and hope to one day cash in on their spiffy mailing list of 406 friends and 217 followers. Maybe they have even written one of the 968 popular business press books about social media you can find lying around the shelves of your local bookstore like old remaindered copies of The Celestine Prophesy or The Coming Stock Market Crash of 2003.

If they come up and tell you they are a Social Media Guru, here is what I think you should say to them. Because it is probably just as true. Dont ask them for their credentials (I will write more about some interested efforts at WOMMA, at Universities, and at NetBase soon to tap in this market need soon). Dont ask them what is new or original about their approach. Certainly dont ask them if they know more about social media itself, or about its application to real marketing or business strategy needs (that might really confuse them). No, you just look them right in the eye nice and steady and say:

“Wow. Me too.

Talking Netnography in Toronto

social media day 2011If you are in Toronto, and we haven’t met, here’s a last minute chance.

I will be talking tomorrow at the Social Media Day 2011 Mashup, as organized by Michael  Nussbacher.

I will be giving an introduction and overview of netnography. Some new stuff, mostly familiar stuff. It is intended for an audience unfamiliar with the virtues of cultural research using social media.

Here’s the link:

If you can make it, please introduce yourself. I enjoy meeting the readers of this blog, and thanking you in person for your support and readership.

Social Media in 2011: A New Class

Robert Kozinets teaching at Schulich SchoolFirst things first. Happy New Year to all my faithful blog readers, students, friends, SEO victims, and curious bystanders. May it be a fascinating, enriching, and wonder-filled year for each and every one of you. Now, to the King: content.

Welcome to my new extended classroom (cue not-so-sinister laugh here….).

Yes, for the next few weeks, I am going to be using this blog as part of my two new classes at the Schulich School of Business. Although I have been teaching courses in Word of Mouth Marketing and Social Media marketing as Independent Study courses since 2007, this year I launch full undergrad (BBA) and master’s program (MBA) courses in Social Media Marketing and Management.

The thing I am most excited about with these courses is that they are going to take place both in the classrooms at the heart of our gorgeous and glamorous (not, and definitely not) Keele and Finch campus but also in the public space of the social mediasphere (your loud applause here, please).

Yes, you deduced that correctly, Sherlock. Important class assignments throughout the course will have to be posted, cross-posted, and linked up to a variety of social media tools, such as this blog, and, most especially the new Facebook page for the class.

As such a public venture, and, again, as a little experiment, I am keeping the FB page open to everyone (yes, even you), and this blog is open, and I’ll be Tweeting the progress of the page. As well, I’m hoping the student makes liberal use of video formats, and that will probably mean YouTube, perhaps Flickr and other different kinds of sharing sites will be involved. I am hoping for a large range of different materials, shared in different ways.

The preparation begins with today’s BBA class, and builds next week with the MBA class. Then, in a week, student presentations begin, and those presentations must be shared through social media, using the Facebook page as a sort of hub to guide students and interested onlookers to the materials.

To give you a quick preview of what is to come, here are some of the potential (and likely) topics my eager and amazing social media students will be covering over the coming three months or so:

  • Word of mouth marketing
  • Word of mouth theory
  • Brand community (various aspects to consider)
  • Social media marketing associations and resources (e.g., WOMMA, CMA, AMA)
  • Understanding Social Media Collectives (e.g., etribes; tribes; subcultures)
  • Market segments in Social Media
  • Market Positioning with social media
  • Transmedia 101
  • Understanding the basics of brand narratives,
  • Storytelling and Social Media Management
  • A Company Campaign that uses Transmedia and/or Brand Narrative
  • Book Review: Convergence Culture
  • Book Review: Enterprise 2.0
  • Metrics in SMM campaigns
  • ROI and SMM
  • Looking at past campaign(s) and how they have measured the value of SMM (positive and negatives of approaches?)
  • Book reviews of books on metrics and SMMHow to get an ad to go viral: example
  • A SMM Research Method: Social network analysis
  • The analysis of influence
  • Online Forums and social media marketing
  • Online Research for Social Media Insight
  •  Netnography
  • Web analytics
  • Social media marketing research companies and products
  • Using SNS and Microblogs—principles and guidelines
  • Lessons from Facebook marketing campaigns
  • Other SNS (MySpace) campaigns and strategies
  • Lessons from Twitter campaigns
  • SMM uses of YouTube and Flickr“
  • Wikinomics” and innovation 
  • Eric von Hippel and lead users
  • “prosumers”
  • User-generated media
  • Book Review: Wikinomics
  • Book Review: Wikibrands
  • Wikis and SMM
  • Virtuals worlds and SMM
  • Mobile
  • Social marketing and SMM
  • Of course, there may be plenty of surprises in store as well….stay tuned. I think this is going to be a great start to the year for this blog, and for everyone who enjoys thinking about and learning about social media marketing and management.

    Social Media Changes Everything: An Open Letter to President Obama about Wikileaks

    Wikileaks Logo interpreted by KozinetsDear President Obama:

    It was really nice when social media was your special friend, wasn’t it? When you had your Facebook page and everyone lauded it, you were the social media President, the social media guy. People saidf you had “cracked the code” on using social media for politics, people wrote books and reports about how you had won the Presidency by “getting” social media when very few people and companies go it, and everything was great.

    But now social media is not your special friend any more, is it?

    As the major media have been ceaselessly reporting, “a cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats” (NY Times, Nov 28, Shane and Lehren article).

    Social media changes everything.

    Social media isn’t just about fan pages, Mr. President. It isn’t just about organizing your supporters. It most certainly isn’t like chain mail, that can just “amplify” a social (“Change”) or campaign (“Vote”) message. Not in the big picture analysis. It isn’t just about marketing. Not really. Where you did get it right, President Obama, and where there is still lots of hope, I believe, is that the key to your campaign’s use of social media-although it has disappointingly dropped off in your years in the Oval Office-is that it was always about Empowerment.

    Edelman wrote a nice report about the Obama campaign’s use of social media that hammered home how it used social media to empower its supporters. Here are its principles:

    1. Laddering support through tiers of engagement
    2. Empowering super users
    3. Providing source materials for user-generated content
    4. Going where the people are
    5. Using tools people are familiar with
    6. Ensuring that people can find your content
    7. Mobilizing supporters through mobile devices
    8. Harnessing analytics to constantly improve engagement activities
    9. Building the online operation to scale

    Those are good solid marketing lessons, good social media marketing lessons, too. But here’s a new lesson for the books, Mr. President: Empowerment cuts both ways. Wikileaks is doing this, too. And here is another one: social media changes everything.

    wikileaks-graphics_1084331a.jpgWhat I mean is that, for you, and for others in power like corporate executives and heads of nonprofit companies, and leaders of all shapes and sizes, social media is like someone coming and peeling a wall from your house and one from your office, replacing them with two panes of glass, setting up deckchairs on your lawn, and inviting everyone to come take turns watching you. The same ability to get into people’s living rooms means they are peering into your living room, too.

    You want “Transparency”? In the social media world, you’ve got it. “Control of the message”? Well, that’s a whole other thing.

    Here is the dilemma. What Wikileaks did and keeps doing is a major headache and a major embarrassment. You, Hilary, and your State Department staff must be apologizing like jostled Canadians at this point. Maybe it is more than a headache. Almost certainly the site is breaking some laws by “publishing” such private governmental information. Should it be shut down? Crushed like Napster or Pirate Bay (sorry).

    wikileaks_censored.gifI don’t think so. What the major press has also picked up is that this gargantuan leak is also an incredible opportunity for anyone to take a peek, as deep a peek as they like, into the way American diplomacy is done. It is a window thrown open onto something that was previously backdoor. And in a real democracy, that is incredibly value, because it spurs examination, self-examination, and real “Change” (remember that word, Mr. President? It used to be your friend, too).

    According to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, the site will release a treasure trove of documents early next year that will show a big US bank engaging in “flagrant violations” and “unethical practices” and trigger all sorts of regulatory examination. And as the finance industry goes, it is no doubt that other industries will follow. A parade of companies will follow, their leaders hung out to dry, naked and vulnerable with their expletives undeleted, their decision-making  and moral stances fully exposed (anyone remember the Ford Pinto? How about the Toyota scandal?)

    Social media changes business in more ways that marketing. It is a painful transition. It is going to be wrenching. We are just feeling the first death thrashes of the old, secretive system. But in the long run, truth and consistency are good things.

    obama_thinks.jpgMr. President, please be careful as you consider the question of whether to shut Wikileaks down, or limit its ability to reveal.

    Let’s be honest. It isn’t like this is the first time you have tried to control social media, President Obama. Most people have already forgotten how you got into a public argument with Joe Anthony, an early supporter of you. Mr. Anthony was advanced enough in social media to start a MySpace page with your name on it, to support your bid to become a candidate for President, before you did. He gathered 130,000 friends for you. You then went straight to the authorities at MySpace and had them turn the page over to your campaign so you could take control of it. Oops. No thank you, no apology, just “that’s mine-I control that.”

     That old school, heavy handed technique did not work. The followers rebelled. It got nasty. It took a real, personal apology and a lot of effort to get people back and on board.

    You learned your lesson that time. Please remember it this time. Let the secrets keep flowing until you learn how to manage them. Let the information get out until frontstage and backstage are consistent. Let the people know how you really govern, not just how you say you govern. Please don’t just be a politician. It is clearly not what the people want from you. Learn from the mistakes to lead with inspiring integrity and truly empower.

    And let social media change everything.


    Spreading the Word, II: Netnography in Portuguese

    Our Ph.D. students are truly amazing. They are go-getters, free-thinkers, evangelists, and hard workers. I think so highly of all of them and it is a genuine honor to be working with them.

    Yikun Zhao was kind enough in a past posting to have translated my netnography white paper for NetBase into Mandarin Chinese. Now, Daiane Scaraboto has translated it into Portuguese. This is very significant because, as some of you already know, there is a major following for netnography in Brazil, and has been for some time. That is one of the reasons Daiane has come here as a student, to work on the technique and for us to learn from one another.

    I have also been working with Debora and Bernardo, two excellent researchers and thinkers from the advertising planning side in an alliance in Brazil that will bring a high-quality of netnography to Brazilian companies that are interested. The firm is called “Folks-Netnografica” and it is growing in influence, with some exciting large new clients. As well, I’ve been talking to a very interesting marketing reseacher who is very interested in the technique. Perhaps this document will help to spread the word among those who speak Protuguese.

    Again, if spreading the word around the world is important, then keeping netnography texts as mainly “English-only” is silly. So here comes the “spreadability” Henry J.

    Here we go. Netnography 101 and the Listerine brand example. Netnography White Paper in Portuguese

    Again, I’d like to thank NetBase for agreeing to allow us to do this with that paper. They asked me to note that the NetBase semantic search engine does not read and analyze  Portuguese–yet. It is currently an English-only search and analysis tool.So here, without further ado, is the Portuguese version of the Netnography: The Marketer’s Secret Weapon White Paper. Netnography White Paper in Portuguese. It is presented as a pdf file. I hope that our Brazilian readers and those who are interested in Netnography find it useful. Thank you once again, Daiane Scaraboto and Michael O.

    Netnography White Paper in Portuguese

    The Social Media Turf Wars: Are Marketing and PR on a Collision Course?

    Marketing Versus Public RelationsI have been presenting for the last couple of years about The Future of Marketing and PR for a number of different audiences. It’s a topic that fascinates me no end because it is deeply related to the topic of social media and its impact on industry and organization in general.

    In my presentation, I use a slide adapted from iPressroom’s “Digital Readiness Report” survey in 2009 that shows which “Departments” (really, I think the PR side of this is often outsourced) handle which elements of the business. It’s a bit surprising. More than a bit, actually.

    According to Diagram 6 on p. 8 of that report (have a look, it’s definitely worth reading), it turns out that PR is way ahead of marketing in terms of who “manages” working with bloggers, podcasting and RSS feed. It’s way ahead in managing microblogging (i.e., Twitter), social networking sites, and social search. Marketing and PR are pretty much neck-and-neck in managing SEO and the management of “web content” (that’s a pretty major category). The only category where marketing is completely, definitively in the lead, is…guess.

    email marketing: is that all marketers can do right?Yep. It’s email marketing. Whoah. There’s a real red-hot category for the future for you corporate marketers. Leave social media to the PR firms. You get to be the spambots. Happiness and high fives all around.

    If we believe that these results are generalizable and representative and applicable to the present day (three big ifs, I will grant you that), then I’d say Marketing as a field is in big trouble. It’s being seriously threatened and undermined in the rapidly emerging and incredibly important areas of social media by Public Relations.

    So it was with some interest that responded to a recent request from Paolo Debellini who is an avid reader of this blog. Paolo is an Italian Master’s student in Public Relations from the Dublin Institute of Technology who has a prior degree in Marketing. His dissertation research looks at consumer public relations and how it is evolving since the wake of WOM marketing. He is looking at how WOM Marketing impacts the practice of consumer public relations.

    The basic idea, which I have explored many times, is that the approach of marketing is switching from a primarily persuasive unidirectional broadcast mode to a more multidimensional, multimodal form that also incorporates conversation. So WOM marketing essentially oversteps into PR terrain. The big question in that case becomes one of understanding how the communications landscape is changing and what kind of challenges different communications practitioners will be facing.

    Of course, there’s a whole reptilian territoriality to the exercise. If I’m hunting here, and you start hunting here, even though maybe you aren’t quite eating my lunch, not yet, are you threatening my food supply?

    “Marketers,” say the PR peeps, “Stay away from PR kinds of activities. Stick to what you know: advertising and sales. Broadcasty kinds of stuff. Leave the subtle influencing and the conversationalizing to the professionals.”

    “Are you kidding?” say the Marketing mafia, “You guys are the ones who are out of your element. Don’t start a conversation you can’t finish. The social media revolution simply underscores the fact that marketing is evolving into something much bigger than any single set of conversations. This is exactly what marketing needs to do, and the tactically minded PR people have no business interfering in anything that is so central to general management and strategy.”

    Let the games begin. As always, I’d love to hear what you think.

    If you’re interested, here’s an edited version of my interview with Paolo.

    Paolo Debellini: According to your experience, what is the difference between “Online PR” and “Social Media Marketing”? Do you think the roles of Consumer PR and Marketing are overlapping each other nowadays?

    Rob Kozinets: Yes, they overlap. But PR is still about managing and manipulating communications—its communications focused. Marketing is much broader. It’s about the entire interface of company with consumer group, including innovation, new products, channels, and everything else. Marketing is developing into an aspect of general management, or general management is recognizing the centrality, as Peter Drucker had it, of marketing mission and innovation to the successful enterprise. In my view, marketing overrides PR. PR should probably never have separated from marketing. It’s the same game. And PR will always be subservient to marketing because marketing is strategic and linked to general management. Sorry PR, but right now that’s the way I see it.

    PD: How do you think the commercial-communal tensions mentioned in your article (2010) are going to shape the communication landscape?

    Public RelationsRK: The March 2010 Journal of Marketing article is pretty explicit (and it’s worth unpacking and sharing on the blog, for sure). We are moving to a world of networked communications, where the voice of the marketer is just one voice among many. It is not “management” anymore, in the sense of controlling or even directing, but a type of spontaneous, dynamic, evolving relationship. It’s a set of constant adjustments and compromises, a slow merging and emergence from an old system into a new one.

    PD: How do you perceive the relationship between WOMM and traditional marketing and what kind of challenges are communications professionals going to face in the future?

    RK: Traditional and WOMM media feed on each other in complex ways. Each channel, each medium, has it particular sets of messages and forms. Social media feeds off of the legitimacy and power of consensual traditional media. Traditional media feeds off of the authenticity, freshness, and groundedness of social media. They are one ecosystem, but its an ecosystem that, sort of like many of the worlds ecosystems, is constantly reeling as resource supplies and territorial hunting grounds change. It’s a great avenue to investigate and theorize further. New and open-minded scholars—take note.

    PD: From my research it emerged that the role of marketing has been switching from “persuasion” to “conversation”, and therefore from a “one-way asymmetrical”  to “ two-way symmetrical” communication. In other words, the role of marketing is now somehow tracing the role of public relations. Would you agree with that statement? Is this evolution going to revolutionize the communications landscape in the near future?

    RK: But the marketing conversations are still persuasive! Marketers have only taken tiny little steps towards where they need to be going. They recognize the need to have relationships, but they don’t know how. How do I have a conversation with you that doesn’t involve me telling you my needs and trying to manipulate you into doing what I want to do. Marketers have been conversational pick up artists for sixty years, and now we expect them to stop being players, settle down, and have honest heartfelt conversations. Good luck with that transition, because it’s not going to come easy. And PP. PR is just as persuasive, but it’s a lot subtler. That’s its edge, its advantage. The problem is that PR has spent a lot of time learning how to convince people that increasingly less people listen to, like newspaper reporters. They have to learn a new game, too.  Neither one really recognizes the power of Consumer Tribes (see the intro chapter to the book for many more details on this relationship). Not yet. But some do, and they will soon.

    PD: How should Marketing and PR roles and competencies be inserted in this particular context?

    RK: Yow. That’s a big fat hairy question. It all depends on the particular contexts (see JM article from some ideas about some details to examine).

    Conversational ConsumersPD: What kind of challenge will Online PR, and WOM Marketing agencies be facing over the next couple of years?

    RK: Vast ones. The growth and corresponding legitimacy of alternative, social media based forms of marketing will bring major integration challenges with traditional channels. How to manage the complexity of the overall marketing environment, the mediascape, the retailscape. How to be accountable to the various constituents involved. What metrics to use to measure success—click throughs and other short-term measures are just silly if we’re talking about brand-building. Ethical issues around how to do this stuff. The FTC was starting with the most obvious breaches, but there are plenty of subtle manipulations going on all the time. It’s a brand new game in many ways.

    PD: Consumers are becoming more and more sophisticated; How do you think they will perceive, in the near future, this sort of “latent persuasion” generated by WOMM campaigns?

    RK: They are already skeptical. It is going to require a lot more than a Facebook fan page to convince people that you “get” social media. The idea of incorporating consumers into corporate decisions, giving away more and more decision power, is growing and seductive. How can that power balance re-equilibrate? It will take decades to work this through. It’s not a question of chance this tactic and make more sales. This is a fundamental shift that will recalibrate the whole economy and ramify for decades.

    PD: Last question (not strictly correlated with my research topic, just feel free to answer):In Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” the decline was associated with the elevation of the private domain over the public domain, and therefore the focus on personal happiness was correlated with the decline of a nation or civilization. In addition the research company Mintel (2009) has highlighted the fact that the current economic climate has provoked a context whereby people tend to spend more time with their friends/family and less time pursuing consumerism; do you see any correlation with the current social media trend? How do you think social media are going to evolve?

    RK: It’s a fascinating question. But in many ways I see social media as an element of this general reversal of our decline of community or “civilization”. In my upcoming chapter on social media for social change for the Transformative Consumer Research volume, we see how social media allow communities to take on social issues, to gather and create new public spaces. If you look at all of my work, from e-Tribalized (written in 1998) marketing forward, you will see this theme repeated—we are seeing a renaissance of a new public space and public consciousness building online, beginning from the consumer sphere but inexorably spreading outwards. This is an awakening of a mass mind. It’s often, like many mobs and crowds, a very stupid mind. But it also has moments of shining potential, shining brilliance. I’d love to see marketers and PR people stop and recognize that what is emerging with this world of interconnected consumers is potentially something very special, not just a resource to be tapped, but a fundamentally new way that culture and community are opening to us and beckoning us to grow.

    Thanks to Paolo for initiating this conversation, and for kindly permitting me to share it on the blog. And thanks to the people at leading PR firm Environics, especially Bruce MacLellan who invited me in, new age PR firm Environics Sequentia and its guru Jen Evans, Matchstick & Patrick Thoburn,  & friend and colleague Chris Irwin, all of you for the long-standing and fascinating conversations around these very important topics.

    Upcoming Social Media Ph.D. Course in Bergen, Norway–August 23-27, 2010

    social-media.jpgI just got back from a Europe and have some things to recap and share with you about some interesting experiences there. But first I wanted to share some exciting news about a course on Social Media Marketing and Marketing Research that I will be teaching/facilitating in beautiful Bergen, Norway, at the NHH School, next month.

    The course will run from Monday, August 23 to Friday, August 27. It a one week intensive, and students should expect to put in some long days, as there will be full days of discussion and instruction followed by full evenings of research homework. Expect to be fully immersed in social media theory, practice, and action.

    The course is a combination of readings, intense discussion, and hands-on research research experience. It it aimed at beginners and those with intermediate abilities and interests.  The goal is to have a dedicated and fully up-to-date Ph.D. course on these important matters for students from around the world to take.

    nhh_logo.jpgIngeborg Kleppe at NHH initiated the course, and the school has been extremely generous in that they are providing the course for free to interested Ph.D. students. Students will be required to bring their own laptop computers to work on. And, believe me, they will be using them a lot. This is a course about doing netnography, not just talking about it.

    The catch is that to provide the optimal experience we are limiting enrollment to 15 students. We currently have about 20, I believe, so there are 5 slots currently available.

    Interested Ph.D. students should write to Ingeborg Kleppe as soon as possible. Her email is

    Instructors, students, and others might be interested in the syllabus for the course, so I include it here in its entirety (although please note that there will likely be updates and substitutions in the actual course as this material is part of a rapidly growing and rapidly changing body of work).

    Course title: Social Media Marketing– Web 2.0

    Program of study:PhD

    Course responsible Professor Robert Kozinets, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto

    Associate professor Ingeborg Astrid Kleppe, NHH

    Semester Fall 2010 Teaching language English

    Objective/ course outline

    Online communities, social networking sites, blogging, and other interactive uses of information technology are changing the way people communicate and understand their world. Social media is changing society, and changing the nature of marketing.

    An understanding of online communities and online WOM are critical for the marketers of today and tomorrow, who are trying to be heard in a mediascape cluttered with advertisements and drenched in consumer distrust. Companies are trying to discover how to speak to consumers in a way that is more authentic, and social media marketing are being tried as an alternative to traditional marketing tactics. But how should it best be used? What are the rules for success? It’s all brand new and uncertain.

    The purpose of this course is to introduce PhD students to research in social media marketing and social media marketing research. In several classroom discussions led by the professor, students will learn about the theories and practices that inform this new set of marketing techniques, and will study actual and ongoing social media marketing campaigns.

    Specific topics include (subject to adaptation and revision):

    • Terminology issues: distinguishing the different types of social media and social media marketing campaigns
    • Similarities and differences between new and traditional media, and between organic and amplified WOM
    • Overview of useful theories about social media and word-of-mouth
    • How networks of social influence work
    • Marketing Metrics: Tracking online and offline word-of-mouth and influence
    • Building social media marketing into strategy and tactics
    • Ethical aspects and codes of the industry


    We will be using a reading package and online materials to conduct a ‘real-time’ learning experience that blends theory and practice and talk and action, as well as school and business.


    The course is designed to help students answer the following important questions about social media marketing and research:

    1. What is social media? What are its key characteristics?

    2. What are the underlying characteristics of social media? How is it consumed? What principles underlie its consumption? Why do people use it? What is its historical basis? How can we better understand it?

    3. How can we research social media? What methods are available and how do they work?

    4. What characterizes a good or successful social media communications campaign? How can we create one? What are the keys to its planning and implementation?

    5. What are the underlying principles regarding the production and consumption of social media? How do they inform our theoretical understanding?

    Requirements for course approval 

    In order to complete this course successfully, students must meet the following minimum criteria:

    • Do the readings
    • Participate in class discussions
    • Come to class prepared and with an open mind
    • Work hard on the in-class and out-of-class assignments
    • Take Feedback
    • Submit final paper on time
    • Take your Learning to the Next Level

    Individual Terms Papers

    • * First outline of paper due August 25, 2010
    • * Presentation and initial research presentation due August 27, 2010
    • * Final paper: Due on September 3, 2010

     Other remarks

    Course aims

    By the end of this course you should:

    • Be familiar with all of the key authors readings in the field of social marketing
    • Be able to use key concepts in social media marketing
    • Be able to reflect on the practical business and marketing implications of social media marketing across a wide set of industries
    • Be able to identify current gaps and opportunities for future research in the current theoretical domain of social media marketing studies

    Learning and teaching activities

    * This is a highly interactive, workshop-oriented and discussion-oriented class that depends upon student involvement

    * Therefore, assigned readings should be read prior to attending class each week

    * Lecture style presentations will introduce topics and develop ideas

    * In-class discussion require active participation by all students

    * Workshops in class will be highly engaging and require intense student involvement

    * Professor’s blog and other blogs may be helpful additions to course material (brandthroposophy:

    Required Course Readings

    * Kozinets, Robert V. (2010), Doing Ethnographic Research Online, Sage: London.

    * Course Package readings

    * Many course readings and, especially, cases, are available online


    * There are no exams in this course.

    Final Grades will be based on the following assessments, weighted as indicated:

    *Class Participation and Contribution -25%

    Social Media Project –Stage 1, Presentation and Summary -25%

    Social Media Project—Stage 2, Final Paper -50%

    Final grades in this class will follow the usual distribution for electives.

    Class Participation and Contribution

    Your Class Participation and Contribution Grade will be based on your attendance, contributions to in-class discussions, and awareness of issues in required readings. Your participation grade will be assigned by the instructor based on these factors.

    Social Media Marketing Research Project

    As the major deliverable from the course, you will engage in a multi-stage social media marketing research project. Your project will be directed at one of two goals. Either you will research a social media marketing campaign and its response, formulating refined principles for marketing practice. Or you will examine a marketing or consumer research topic or site of interest, formulating refined theoretical insights to enable enhanced understanding. The two goals can also be combined, but this is a more challenging endeavor.

    Marketing Practice Project: For this project you will use netnography to investigate, report upon, and analyze the online environment, which may include company’s and competitors existing online initiatives, and will include social media activity related to a particular campaign.

    What communities and cultures exist in this online social space? What sort of presence does the focal company or client have in the social media arena? What general brands are being promoted? What intelligence is being gathered? Are campaigns successful or not? Why or why not? You will use your netnographic research and analysis skills in order to examine and benchmark consumer activity and marketing responses in this field and to suggest guidelines for marketing practice that are grounded in sound research. A 15-20 page written report on your specific research findings, with a data appendix of up to 10 extra pages—is your Stage 1 project deliverable. You will submit it in hardcopy, double-spaced, in 12 point New Times Roman font. It is due by email softcopy one week after the end of class.

    Marketing Theory Project: For this project you will use netnography to develop our conceptual understanding of a site or topic. Beginning with a concentrated field investigation, you will circle into theory development based, at least initially, upon relevant and related course readings. You will follow sound theory development and theoretical positioning practices in order to craft a paper that could potentially be submitted to a research journal.

    A 15-20 page written report on your specific research findings, with a data appendix of up to 10 extra pages—is your Stage 1 project deliverable. You will submit it in hardcopy, double-spaced, in 12 point New Times Roman font. It is due by email softcopy one week after the end of class. This will be your Stage 2 project deliverable.

    On Friday, August 27, a full report will be made to the class in a 10-15 minute PowerPoint presentation, followed by a Q&A/comment session. The presentation—consisting of the PowerPoint deck with 1-page executive summary—is your Stage 1 project deliverable.


     * Note: Because of the rapidly changing nature of this course’s topic matter, new, updated, online material will likely supplement some of the readings for the course.

    CLASS 1: The Cultural Foundations of Social Media—MONDAY, AUGUST 23, 2010

    1. Dichter, Ernest (1966), “How Word-of-Mouth Advertising Works,” Harvard Business Review, 16, 147-66.

    2. Whyte, William H., Jr. (1954), “The Web of Word of Mouth,” Fortune, 50 (November), 140-143.

    3. Feick, Lawrence F. and Linda L. Price (1987), “The Market Maven: A Diffuser of Marketplace Information,” Journal of Marketing, 51(1), 83-97.

    4. Cova, Bernard (1997), “Community and Consumption: Towards a Definition of the Linking Value of Products or Services,” European Journal of Marketing, 31 (3/4), 297-316.

    5. Levine, et al. (2009), The Cluetrain Manifesto, Revised Edition, Chapter 1

    6. Kozinets, Robert V. (1999), “E-Tribalized Marketing?: “The Strategic Implications of Virtual Communities of Consumption”, European Management Journal, Vol. 17, No. 3, 252-64.

    7. Cova, Bernard and Cova, Véronique (2002), “Tribal marketing. The tribalisation of society and its impact on the conduct of marketing,” European Journal of Marketing, 36 (5/6), 595-20.

    8. Muñiz, Albert M. and Thomas C. O’Guinn (2001), “Brand Community,” Journal of Consumer Research, 27(4) 412-432.

    9. McAlexander, James H., John W. Schouten, and Harold F. Koenig (2002), “Building Brand Community,” Journal of Marketing, 66 (January), 38-54.

    10. Schau, Hope Jensen, Albert M. Muñiz, Jr., and Eric Arnould (2009), “How Brand Community Practices Create Value,” Journal of Marketing, 73 (September), 30-51.

    11. Fournier, Susan and Lara Lee (2009), “Getting Brand Communities Right,” Harvard Business Review, April, 105-111.

    12. Kane, Gerald, et al. (2009), Community Relations 2.0, Harvard Business Review, November, 45-50.


    CLASS 2: Principles of Online Social Behavior and Social Media—TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010

    1. Adam, T. L. and S. Smith (2008), “A Tribe by any Other Name,” in Adam, T. L. and S. Smith (eds.), Electronic tribes. The Virtual Worlds of Geeks, Gamers, and Scammers, University of Texas Press, Austin, USA, 11-20

    2. The Wealth of Networks, Yochai Benkler, Chapter 1-2.

    3. Sunstein, C. Infotopia, Chapter 1

    4. Simmons, Geoff (2008), Marketing to postmodern consumers: introducing the internet chameleon,” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 42 No. 3/4, pp. 299-310.

    5. Brown, Jo, Broderick, Amanda and Lee, Nick, (2007) “Extending Social Network Theory to Conceptualise On-Line Word-of-Mouth Communication,” Journal of Interactive Marketing, 21 (3), 2-19.

    6. Kozinets, Robert V., Hemetsberger, Andrea and Hope Schau (2008), “The Wisdom of Consumer Crowds: Collective Innovation in the Age of Networked Marketing,” Journal of Macromarketing, 28 (December), 339-354.

    7. Molesworth, Mike, and Janice Denegri-Knott (2007), “Digital Play and the Actualization of the Consumer Imagination,” Games and Culture, Vol. 2, No. 2, 114-133.

    8. Jenkins, Henry (2007), Convergence Culture: When Old and New Media Collide, Chapter 1.

    9. Jayanthi, Rama K. And Jagdip Singh (2010), “Pragmatic Learning Theory: An Inquiry-Action Framework for Distributed Consumer Learning in Online Communities,” Journal of Consumer Research, 36 (April), 1058-1081.

    10. Tsai, Jessica (2009), “Everyone’s Social (Already),” Customer Relationship Management, June, 34-38.

    11. Rettberg, Jill Walker (2009), “‘Freshly Generated for You, and Barack Obama’ : How Social Media Represent Your Life,” European Journal of Communication, (24), 451-466.

    12. Kaplan, Andreas M. and Michael Haenlein (2009), “The fairyland of Second Life: Virtual social worlds and how to use them,” Business Horizons, 52, 563—572

    * CLASS EXERCISE: Finding, describing, and evaluating social media marketing campaigns

    * Case Study: Burger King’s Subservient Chicken, from


    CLASS 3: Applied Netnography: Social Media Marketing Research —WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25, 2010

    1. Kozinets, Robert V. (2010), Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research Online, Chapters 1-7

    2. Kozinets, Robert V. (2002), “The Field Behind the Screen: Using Netnography for Marketing Research in Online Communities,” Journal of Marketing Research, 39 (February), 61-72.

    3. Kozinets, Robert V. (2006), “Click to Connect: Netnography and Tribal Advertising,” Journal of Advertising Research, 46 (September), 279-288.

    4. Brown, Stephen, Robert V. Kozinets, and John F. Sherry, Jr. (2003) “Teaching Old Brands New Tricks: Retro Branding and the Revival of Brand Meaning,” Journal of Marketing, 67 (July) 19-33.

    5. Muñiz, Albert M., Jr. and Hope Jensen Schau (2005), “Religiosity in the Abandoned Apple Newton Brand Community,” Journal of Consumer Research. 31(4), 737–747.

    6. Nelson, Michelle R. and Cele C. Otnes (2005), “Exploring Cross-Cultural Ambivalence: a Netnography of Intercultural Wedding Message Boards,” Journal of Business Research, 58, 89-95.

    7. Annamma Joy, John Sherry Jr., Alladi Venkatesh and Jonathan Deschenes (2009), “Perceiving Images and Telling Tales: A Visual and Verbal Analysis of the Meaning of the Internet, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 19, 556– 566.

    8. Locke, Karen and Karen Golden-Biddle (1997), “Constructing opportunities for contribution: Structuring intertextual coherence and ‘problematizing’ in organizational studies,” Academy of Management Journal, 40 (October), 1023-1062.

    9. P. N. Limerick (1993), “Dancing with Professors: The Trouble with Academic Prose,” New York Times Book Review, 31 October.

    * Case Analysis: Communispace, published by New Communications Review

    * Case Analysis: NetBase Solutions, Inc.


    * Deliverable and Discussion: Social Media Marketing Research Plan


    CLASS 4: Overviewing Strategies and Tactics in a Social/WOM World—THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010

    1. Mike Molesworth, Janice Denegri-Knott, (2004) “An exploratory study of the failure of online organisational communication”, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 9 Iss: 4, pp.302 – 316

    2. Godes, David, Mayzlin, Dina, Chen, Yubo, Das, Sanjiv Dellarocas, Chrysanthos, Pfeffer, Bruce , Libai, Barak Sen, Subrata, Shi, Mengze and Verlegh, Peeter (2005), “The Firm’s Management of Social Interactions,” Marketing Letters, 6 (3/4), 415–28.

    3. Pitt, Leyland F., Watson, Richard T., Berthon, Pierre, Wynn, Donald and George Zinkhan (2006), “The Penguin’s Window: Corporate Brands From an Open-Source Perspective,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34 (2), 115-127.

    4. Kozinets, Robert V. (forthcoming), “Brand Fans: When Entertainment + Marketing Intersect on the Net,” in Tracey Tuten, ed. Enterprise 2.0: How Technology, E-Commerce, and Web 2.0 Are Transforming Business Virtually, Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

    5. Wang, Youcheng and Daniel R. Fesenmaier (2003), “Assessing Motivation of Contribution in Online Communities: An Empirical Investigation of an Online Travel Community,” Electronic Markets, 13 (January), 33 – 45.

    6. Kozinets, Robert V., Kristine de Valck, Andrea Wojnicki and Sarah Wilner (2010), “Networked Narratives: Understanding Word-of-mouth Marketing in Online Communities,” Journal of Marketing, 74 (March), 71-89.

    7. Avery, Jill J., Protecting the Markers of Hegemonic Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Gender-Bending Brand Extensions (May 2008). Available at SSRN:

    8. Füller, Johann, Gregor Jawecki, and Hans Mühlbacher (2006), “Innovation Creation by Online Basketball Communities,” Journal of Business Research, 60 (1), 60-71

    * Case Analysis: Fiskateers


    * Discussion: Initial Findings–Social Media Marketing Research


    CLASS 5: Practices and Projects: Metrics, Ethics, and Research—FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 2010

    1. Kozinets (2010), Netnography, Chapters 8, 9 and 10

    2. Kozinets, Robert V., Frank-Martin Belz, and Pierre McDonagh (forthcoming), “Social Media for Social Change,” in David Glen Mick, Simone Pettigrew, Cornelia Pechmann, and Julie L. Ozanne, eds. Transformative Consumer Research to Benefit Global Welfare. Rokka, Joonas (2010), “Netnographic inquiry and new translocal sites of the social,” International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34 (4), 381-387.

    3. Rokka, Joonas and Johanna Moisander (2009), “Environmental dialogue in online communities: negotiating ecological citizenship among global travelers,” International Journal of Consumer Studies, 33 (2), 199-205.

    4. Tsai, Jessica (2009), “Taking the Measure of Social Media,” Customer Relationship Management, July, 17-18.

    5. Clemons, Eric K. (2009), “The complex problem of monetizing virtual electronic social networks,” Decision Support Systems, 48, 46–56.

    6. Social Media: 20 free e-books about social media: (scan and read at will)

    7. Social Media: Research, see: 80/SNSResearch.html, a bibliography from communication, information science, anthropology, sociology, economics, political science, cultural studies, computer science, etc. (scan and read at will)