As social networks and their potential value to business are becoming apparent, marketing professionals should have a solid knowledge of social media and more importantly social media marketing. Simply having a grasp on how to post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or another platform is not sufficient. Marketing professionals need to understand how to integrate social into marketing strategies.
The term “Social Media” should not be confused with “Social Media Marketing”, there is a distinction to be made between the two. Social media is an evolving and changing assortment of platforms and tools that enable businesses and consumers to share dialogue, information, and interact on a one-to-one basis or on a one-to-many basis. Understanding how to combine the traditional principles of marketing with the use of a “tool” (such as Twitter, Google+, or a company blog) to meet an organizations objectives and goals is social media marketing.
It is unfortunate that many business schools are not recognizing the potential of new technology by offering courses in social marketing. Addressing it as a whole in one week of a semester is not sufficient. Briefly covering the leading sites, how many users sign on daily, how they are used by the typical user, and when each site was created does little to educate students on the significant part social media plays in business. While these facts are interesting and some of the numbers downright staggering, they do not benefit the student long term. Meaning, the brief overview of social does little to encourage the use of social media for more than keeping in touch with friends.
Offerings should include entire courses designed to not simply teach students to use social media, but to create it. Students should learn to use social marketing techniques to conduct market research and create more effective campaigns, improve products, and generate leads. Students must be able to understand people’s behavior in social media to better target audiences as well as know how social media relates to inbound marketing. Not to mention the benefits of blogging and of course the importance of SEO (search engine optimization). University students should at the very least have the opportunity to develop a tailored social media marketing strategy for their own personal brand to further enhance their attractiveness to future employers. Those universities not offering such courses are doing a disservice to both their students and the students’ future employers.
Alas, not all is lost! Do not fret, there are a few universities who have taken the initiative to offer social media programs! For example, Southern New Hampshire University offers graduate students the option of an MBA in Social Media Marketing or a Masters in Marketing with a certificate in Social Media Marketing. I have asked my students in my Social Media Marketing class and Social Media Marketing Strategies class at SNHU what made them choose to study Social Media Marketing. The responses did not surprise me in the least as I see the value in studying social media marketing. However, their responses below go to show there are and will be quite a few marketing professionals out there eager to use social media in marketing campaigns, and I would hate to be up against them without any knowledge about social media marketing strategies. These folks are your NEW competition.
Reasons my students are pursuing a Social Media MBA:
• “Social media is not going away. Businesses and brands use social media to market themselves in a completely different way than before. I do not want my company to be left behind”.
• “The social media movement is rapidly growing, but lacks people who are actively studying the field of social media marketing and all of its various sub categories to produce experts on the many different facets of the topic. Without producing experts is to never fully harness the full potential of social media as a marketing tool”.
• “ A competitor has taken over 50% of my business with the use of social media marketing techniques. I want to possess the tools to wipe them off the map”.
• “With my thirty years in sales and marketing, and a strong computer background, I am hoping I can bridge the gap between my generation and the new with the combination of traditional tactics and social media marketing”.
• “ Social media will be a major influence on business, I want to be part of that change”.
• “I want to make myself the most ‘marketable’ I can in an over saturated market. There are many in the marketing field being asked to develop and provide social media platforms without the professional knowledge to do it correctly. I want to be able to receive a full understanding of how to create a campaign through social media marketing that will engage, educate, and entice customers, clients and the like”.
Businesses should take note of the importance of an education covering social media marketing. As most marketing professionals know, word of mouth is unparalleled by any other tool in the marketing field. Social media is the online version of “spreading the word”, and has actually been around for almost a decade. For those in higher education and the corporate world to ignore it seems a bit absurd.
If this article has sparked some interest, this is only the beginning! Be on the look out for monthly articles on the Social MBA, I will be covering topics I cover in my classes such as:
• Innovators and Enablers
• Marketing Strategy and Theory for Managing Social Media
• Tools and Trends
• Risks and Future Implications
The views expressed are those of the author, and do not represent those of Texas A&M University-Commerce or Southern New Hampshire University unless stated explicitly.