Social Media and Marketing: A New Schulich MBA Course

Social Media logos

I’ve been pretty busy lately. My co-authors and I wrote an article for the Journal of Marketing on word-of-mouth marketing that breaks some exciting new ground (more on that soon–to be published in March 2010), I just taught a great 3-day seminar in Chicago on ethnographic research and innovation for Sony’s Global Marketing and Product Planning group (a superb group of people), my Sage Netnography book is in the final typeset proof stage and will be released in December, and I have another 15 research projects on the go. AND the baseball team I am coaching advanced to the semi-finals. Yeah!

To top it off, I started a new course yesterday on Social Media and Marketing. The course was initiated by Vanessa Barretto a wonderfully motivated and action-oriented Schulich MBA student who has been instrumental in pulling a classroom full of interested students together in less than a week. Amazing.

I thought I’d share the outline and some of the ideas with you. Here is the outline:

SOCIAL MEDIA AND MARKETING
MKTG 6900.030: Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto Canada

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 begin 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 advanced Schulich MBA students to social media marketing as a method, and then to rapidly develop your skills as Social Media Marketing Strategists. 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 numerous actual and ongoing social media marketing campaigns.

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 will also feature guest speakers.

Prof. Kozinets has been working in the area of social media marketing since 1995, when he began writing and speaking about these topics. He was a founding Advisory Board member of WOMMA, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. His book about online ethnography is coming out in December 2009, and his article on WOM Marketing in online communities will be published in the Journal of Marketing in March, 2010.

Specific topics include:
• 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-mouthn
• 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

The centerpiece of the course will be a practical assignment. In teams of 5, you will work with a company interested in engaging in a Social Media Marketing campaign and then design and refine this campaign over the 15 weeks of the course. Your mid-term assignment and final deliverables will be based upon this practical, applied assignment. There will be no exams.

The course is realistic, applied, intense, and demanding. By studying these developing, expanding cutting-edge techniques in detail and in a realistic corporate setting, it is expected that students will gain valuable knowledge, expertise and also make valuable connections with important companies and current industry players and firms.

As with all classes, attendance at discussions and participation in them is expected. We will also be sharing online material. The deliverables for the course will be two group assignments.

* * *

In our first class, yesterday, each student was assigned a book about the topic to summarize. Here are some of the books’ titles (easy to google or amazon them for more info):

  1. Groundswell
  2. Citizen Marketers
  3. Watch This, Listen Up, Click Here.
  4. Word-of-Mouth Marketing
  5. Tribes
  6. Beyond Buzz

I welcome your suggestions of new, relevant, and interesting books.

In the next class, students will be presenting their summaries of the books, and the marketing-relevant takeaways.

The questions we will collectively be seeking to answer over the next few weeks are:

  1. What is social media? What are its characteristics? How does it relate or compare to other related terms like Internet Marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, and Web 2.0?
  2. What is *not* social media? What does the definition exclude?
  3. What kinds of social media are out there? What are their characteristics?
  4. What marketing purposes are those different kinds of social media good and not good for? How do we know?

As always, I’d love to hear you comments and see your feedback on this new course.