The Perfect Social Media Marketing Course!

I am putting together a proposal for a social media marketing course to be taught as a hybrid – online and in person. I have already benefited from great / generous help and suggestions from the members of my SM “family” including @dstevenwhite  @chuckmartin1  @andressilvaa  @AlanSee @joebobhester @CraigEYaris @aboyer and others.  Of course none of them are responsible for the oversights, errors and silliness evident in the tentative plan, which follows.

My preliminary thoughts on the SMM Course follow. Please comment, twitter (ProfessorGary) or email me ( with any corrections, suggestions or thoughts.

Only pre-req is Principles of Marketing. It is suggested that students ultimately take the offered courses in Internet Marketing and Integrated Marketing Communications.

Objective: To understand the principles of social media marketing, how SMM differs from standard marketing and internet marketing, and to be able to use social media to support the mission of a professional, business or non-profit organization.

Social Media Marketing is not Internet Marketing. In internet marketing promotional tools such as direct selling, coupons, advertisements are brought online and established success measures include SEO, click-throughs, etc. Social Media Marketing is really social networking online: reaching out and advancing real relationships with customers, prospects, and stakeholders. Promotional tools used in SMM are often jarring and counter-productive.

The “big four” for professional  Social Media Marketing (per @michellegolden) are:

  1. Facebook
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Twitter
  4. Blog

Course Topics

  1. Networking – what it means and how it is done
  2. Networking vs. Marketing: conflicts and synergy
  3. Using the “Big Four”
  4. Other important social media (presentations by student teams)
  5. Measures of influence – Google analytics, Klout, etc. What do they really measure? Do they really matter?
  6. Organizational Applications of SMM
  7. Setting organizational goals and tracking them

Two Projects

First Major Project: Your service or voice (starts immediately):

  1. Set up big four
  2. Use at least one other – Flickr, Foursquare, YouTube, etc.
  3. Set goals for semester (with measures)
  4. periodic progress reports and goal modifications
  5. Final self-assessment

2nd project: Organizational Assessment – An organization that volunteers to be class project (Start about four weeks into the course):

  1. Four person teams from class compete to come up with best plan for SMM
  2. Strategy and action plan for organization – written and presentation (videotaped and posted)
  3. Best group presents to the organization (videotaped and posted)

Course Meetings

  • Early in semester once a week live meetings in person (some remote by conferencing)
  • Weekly scheduled twitter discussion
  • Facebook postings irregularly

Course Information – its own Facebook site


  1. Online text comprising selected chapters from FlatWorld “Online Marketing” text and other readings.
  2. One practitioner book such as SMM for idiots, SMM for professionals, SMM for the CEO, etc.

Again, I eagerly await criticism, abuse, ideas, and suggestions!

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7 Responses to The Perfect Social Media Marketing Course!

  1. Gary….correction …Professor Gary 😉

    Professor your course sounds really exciting. As many people know, education lacks real-world social media marketing courses. This is such a brilliant idea to crowdsource professors.

    As you probably already know, you’ve mentioned a few of the professor tweeps I absolutely admire and respect: @dstevenwhite @chuckmartin1 @andressilvaa @AlanSee @joebobheste. Now having said that I’ll give me my suggestions for your Social Media Marketing course.


    Create teams of 3 to 5 students to visit local businesses (like a Pizza shop, dry cleaners, etc). The students will serve as consultants to use social media to help market the local business. For example, using Facebook, the students can set-up a FB page and show the owner how to use it to distribute content (menus, promos, etc), set-up groups, etc. Basically, use SM to help drive his business. After completion, the University should have a special evening/day of recognition for the students and store owner.


    In his new book, Marketing 3.0, well-known marketing professor, Dr. Philip Kotler, says that we have gone from product-centric marketing to a new level that he calls “Marketing 3.0: Values-driven marketing, which takes a holistic approach to customers as multidimensional, values-driven people. In Dr. Kotler’s model, the leading social media channels enable marketers to position their brands to reap the benefits of a “world in which consumers are more aware, more active and more powerful than ever before.”

    One question professor if I may, “Will my Klout score go up for commenting on your blog?” 😉

    psssst Professor! I just checked my Klout score and it dropped by 1 point down to 64. It also said that I was an influencer of @ProfessorGary – Does this warrant an automatic A?


  2. gschirr says:

    Maybe they marked you down a point for associating with questionable types such as me? (Only a “57”)

  3. Patrick Strother says:

    Hi Gary,

    This looks great. I’m working on a course curriculum myself but won’t really get going full speed on it till mid April.

    I have a couple of thoughts you might find useful. Last fall I taught a four credit capstone course in Strategic Communications Campaign planning at the University of Minnesota. I included a substantial amount of social media in the course. The two things in the course I thought were most beneficial was 1. Dealing with both B2B and B2C audiences. I had the students do presentations for both, one of which was a major team project presented as the final. I had one of our own clients for the major project and it gave the experience real meaning. 2. The second thing I did was use no textbook. I assigned readings based on the topic and also based on what I thought was the state of the art in thinking in those areas. I made most of the readings available through a course Twitter account that I established. I have been teaching this course for decades and used most of our agency’s best practices for the essential strategic elements.

    Since social media was only about a third of this course it is only partially relevant, but I think students need a broad range of cases that go well beyond sugar water and shoes.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Gary – this looks great and I will definitely be following your course’s progress. A few quick thoughts:
    – will students have a variety of ways to measure success? For example: Will one of the goals still be to get people into a sales or service funnel of some kind?
    – will personal branding/business and organizational branding be a part of this?
    – and I really like Patrick’s mention of both B2C and B2B because in social they can be quite similar or wildly different depending on what you’re marketing.
    Again, best of luck with this and I will be following from afar. 🙂

  5. gschirr says:

    Thanks so much! I appreciate your input. Students will have a choice of a B2B or B2C project for the second effort…

  6. Looks like a fascinating course Gary! It’s tough to add much to the outstanding suggestions above, except to echo Patrick’s point: the “textbook” for social media marketing is still being written on a daily basis on expert blogs. Rather than assigning readings from an out-of-date textbook, a better approach may be to have the students read a set of “best of” fresh social media marketing posts each week.

  7. gschirr says:

    Thanks Tom!

    I agree with you: I rely heavily on posts and expert guest speakers. It is tough to do planning on a course that relies on current posts, though!

    Thanks again!!

    – Gary

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