New COBE Class to Study Social Media Marketing

Gary Schirr

Gary Schirr

Social media have transformed not just the way we communicate but the way we do business.

Gary Schirr, assistant professor of marketing, is preparing a course for the College of Business and Economics (COBE) to be offered in spring 2012 that will study the dynamic new media and prepare students to apply the media to the business world.

”Businesses are concerned about this area and are increasingly pledging to invest money at the expense of their traditional media spending,” said Schirr, who developed the course with a COBE seed grant. “For graduates, it is an opportunity to show achievement -- employers will want them to know about this and even guide them. “

Titled “Marketing 471-01: Special Topics: Social Media Marketing,” the course will focus on the principles of the burgeoning social media marketing field, differentiate it from Internet and conventional marketing, and explore social media’s applications in the business environment. Students will produce two projects using social media’s “big four” -- Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging -- with a project in an additional medium like Flickr, Foursquare or YouTube. 

Schirr, who was recently recognized by Social Media Marketing magazine as one “who gets it” and ranked fourth on its list of more than 100 top marketing professors on Twitter, said the class will be valuable to marketing students and as an elective to communication, information technology and fashion merchandising students.

“Social media marketing allows companies to engage in and affect discussions about their products and brands,” Schirr said. “But it can be a two-edged sword since companies have less control of what is said in the conversations they have in social media.”

Schirr does not think social media will supplant conventional media, but he points out that consumers are increasingly relying on discussions with and guidance from their networks on social media platforms to influence buying behavior. As part of the special topics class, three local businesses with what Schirr calls “good cause or business stories” will serve as clients and entertain proposals from the students. 

For more on the class and Schirr’s explorations of social media marketing, visit his Facebook Fan page or his blog.