Shaping marketing strategies with social media

Students in MGT 391, Social Media Marketing, live tweet a film while enjoying snacks prepared by their classmates from recipes on the social media website Pinterest.

February 25, 2013

By Elizabeth Szalay ’13

There is a class at Bradley where it’s encouraged to be on Facebook.

Heidi Rottier ’98 MBA ‘01, instructor for MGT 391 Social Media Marketing, said going on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest during her class is required, not restricted.

“The idea of Facebook for credit sounds like fun, but it isn’t like that,” Rottier said. “The class is about converting my students’ perceptions of ‘this is how I use social media for me,’ to ‘this is how I use social media as a brand.’”

The three semester hour class offers students the opportunity to understand and experience how companies are using social media tools to connect with customers and promote their brand.

In it, students study the influence social media has on marketing activities from product promotion to customer complaints. Part of the social media concentration curriculum for marketing majors and the minor in social media marketing, the class connects business objectives and strategies with social media.

Katie Byford, a senior majoring in organizational communications, said the course has enhanced her career opportunities by adding to her skill set.

“Not a lot of people can say that they have formal training and knowledge about blogs or how beneficial social media can be to an organization,” Byford said. “Having a class like this on your resume makes you stand out.”

Toby Sanders, a senior organizational communications major, said she enjoys learning about the interaction between the corporate world and the realm of social media platforms.

“We get to work with a real business and help them reach their goals,” Sanders said. “By learning from professionals in the social media industry, it helps me picture when and where I can use the information I’m learning.”

Sanders’ group is working with All In Bloom, a florist shop in Washington, Ill. Student groups in the class work with various organizations throughout the semester to help promote the business through social media sites. “Our end product is to leave [All In Bloom] with a three month plan to carry on their social media,” Sanders said.

The course employs popular outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter; and other multimedia platforms like Instagram, Foursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs and more. Students must keep a blog during the semester and are required to interact with each other online.

“A new thing this semester is we are working with HootSuite, which is a social media management tool,” Rottier said. “All of the students will go through a certification process that shows them how to use the tool and how companies are using the tool. If they pass the test, then they will be HootSuite certified professionals.”

Last semester, the course’s final exam involved students tweeting live about a movie while snacking on food made by classmates from recipes found on Pinterest.

“One of my students said ‘I don’t ever want to do that again!’” Rottier said, regarding the live tweeting. “But, in the real world, you may be called upon to live tweet a press conference, where the pace of it is incredibly fast. It is one thing when you’re watching a movie for fun, but when you’re listening to a press conference you might miss some pretty big details. It gives students a sense of what that would be like when it actually counts.”