How to Teach Social Media Marketing – Part One

students working

You may be wondering how to teach social media marketing given how quickly the landscape changes, people adopt new platforms and the platforms themselves change with the wind.  Recently Jay Baer talked about the difference between potential reach and actual reach of social media. The point is that just because you have followers, doesn’t  mean they see your posts – it only means they could potentially see them.  This is a big problem for marketers and for educators who try to stay on top of teaching this challenging topic. So, how do you impart the necessary knowledge to students given this situation?   Emphasize the following five basics:

  1. Teach Marketing Concepts
    1. The Four P’s
    2. Segmentation and Targeting
    3. Research for Decision Making
  2. Emphasize Objectives
  3. Build on Digital Marketing Prerequisites
  4. Focus on Process
  5. Preach Measurement
  6. Know the Law

Teach Marketing Concept

If you are a marketing professor you likely teach students the notion that it is important to meet consumer needs while reaching organizational objectives.  The basic marketing mix plays a role in every part of social media marketing.  Social media influences product design and development, pricing and distribution and promotion.  Including examples of each of these in a course will set the stage for teaching more social media concepts.


The company used social media to choose the best products to bring to market, and then leveraged the knowledge of the crowd to develop the marketing strategy.  Crowdsourcing can be used by other firms to select the best possible ideas.


Best Buy created its own shelf tags for consumers to use with mobile devices to help limit the need to search for lower prices on mobile phones.


Brands like JewelMint leverage social media to sell more products encouraging customers to share with their friends.


Chipotle and Chobani have each used social media not only to promote their offerings but also to create a personality for their company. Videos, blogs, sponsorships and events have been utilized to tell their corporate story and cultivate positive attitudes toward their brand.

A great idea is to flip the classroom and get the students to find their own examples of brands that use social media as part of their marketing strategies.

Another concept that comes into play in teaching social media marketing is segmentation.

Segmentation is the process of dividing consumers into homogeneous groups based on certain demographic, geographic, psychographic characteristics and usage behavior. Faculty members who teach segmentation can use elements of social media to highlight aspects of the topic.

Social networks collect vast amounts of data on consumers and can provide a rich discussion on the various methods to divide consumers into groups based on the various segmentation methods: geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral. By logging onto Facebook a faculty member can show how Facebook provides actual market sizes for the various groups of individuals associated with specific characteristics.

In order to reach and engage people in social media marketers must ensure that the target uses these platforms and wishes to engage with marketers.  Most of the time people are on social media to connect with friends and not products.  Moments that matter and can influence sales are key to receptive audiences.  To bring this to life I ask students to use demographics from Pew Internet Research to define target markets for the major social sites.  You can find great data using the following link:

Target Markets for Social Media Sites

Finally, research is an important component of a strong social media strategy. Stay tuned for more information on how to cover this topic and more.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s