Robyn Gee on Friday, Mar. 11th
Talk about relevant curriculum. Emerson College in Boston now has a social media course that is underwritten by big companies, like Sprint Nextel Corp., Levi Strauss & Co. and Mattel Inc., in which students create social marketing strategies for these companies and implement them.
For example, Sprint supplied the class with smartphones and unlimited service and the students return the favor by tweeting, blogging, and pushing the company’s name through social networks, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Rubi Godinez wrote on the Emerson College Admissions blog, “As one of the semester-long projects, we are given a for-profit client. For this client we are to create a social media campaign to increase their social media presence…. I will be working with the Boston Symphony Orchestra working with Google Adwords. Google is sponsoring our class with a $10,000 budget a month to work with Google Adwords and create ads for our clients. This is big. This class is allowing us to try out ideas with clients, use real money, fail, and succeed. Pretty good deal.”
Students get a good deal, but the WSJ points out, “Of course, some parents may be surprised to learn their tuition dollars are helping to underwrite corporate marketing in addition to their children’s education.”
WSJ readers sent in mixed opinions of the new social media course. One reader commented, “This is not real crowdsource evangelism since the students are bought with sponsorship and items. I hope that they are indicating in the Tweets and in blog posts that it is sponsored just like the rest of us bloggers must do for full disclosure. If not, they should also learn about that in the class.”
Another negative response questioned whether learning how to tweet was enough. “ I’d advise students NOT to take courses that show you have to “tweet” or talk aspirationally about “driving the conversation”, “engaging in the dialogue”, or “promoting influence” … but rather take a paid or unpaid role with a PR firm, or marketing agency, or just read a good, recent book from a true “expert” like “Empowered” (by a Forrester VP of Research), to get up to speed … and follow tweets of people more engaged in the space than you. That’s the best way to learn.”
But these comments were overpowered by students weighing in on the value of classes that engage with real world, real time issues. They mentioned similar projects going on at Bentley University, De Paul University, Ithaca College, and Carnegie Mellon University.
One student wrote, “I am a Finance Major at Bentley University and am finding Professor Snow’s class eye-opening and engaging!… The hands-on experience of creating marketing plans that fit our real-life client’s time and monetary constraints is invaluable and an excellent resume builder. I highly recommend a class like Professor Snow’s to anyone interested in making a mark in our rapidly changing eWorld!”
A reader from Carnegie Mellon said classes like these might even help students get jobs. “Students appreciate the opportunity to get in front of clients in a consultative setting while clients enjoy the opportunity to come to campus and work with a diverse group of students who bring an innovative fresh mode of thinking to their social oriented strategies. To be honest, they also look at it as a potential recruiting tactic… I think this style of teaching will continue to grow in popularity across schools as the benefits for both groups become more widely known.”