The dual listed information systems and marketing class was offered for the first time to juniors accepted into the College. Students enrolled in the course learned to think about how the social media platforms, that many of them use daily, could be specifically used for business.
“We started the conversations back in 2016 about what a class like this would look like,” said Sheila Pearson, associate professor for the course. “It was a great opportunity for the students to learn about the business of social media.”
Divided into teams, the students worked with local businesses in Magnolia to develop and implement a social media strategy and campaign in preparation for the town’s annual Fall Festival.
“The students worked closely with the owners to learn about the businesses and decide on which platforms they could use to help them grow,” said Pearson.
One team worked with new business, Gunter Hill Collections/Gunter Farm Custom Wood; the other two teams worked with a local consignment shop, and a retail store downtown.
“It was extremely successful,” Pearson said. “All of the businesses were happy with the work the students did, and it was extremely interesting to see these students grow.”
According to Pearson, the businesses were ultimately in control of their campaigns and some adopted more of the students’ ideas than others- much like the way it would be with traditional clients in a professional setting.
Brittney and Jordan Sharp, owners of Gunter Hill Collections, had just recently started the business and really took on a lot of what the students were planning.
“They really grasped a lot of the students’ ideas, and ran with it,” Pearson said.
The SAU course curriculum encouraged the students to explore platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and others and discover ways they could be used for business.
They also learned about Hootsuite, a social media management platform designed to integrate with several social networks at once. The platform allows for scheduling and also provides analytics that can be used to determine the ROI of the campaign.
“Hootsuite allowed us to manage Gunter HIll’s presence across multiple platforms, and it allowed us to accomplish a lot more,” said Wilson Impson, a senior on the Gunter Hill team. “It’s intentional and strategic and the analytics back it up.”
The team met with their businesses bi-weekly to discuss upcoming plans and track their performance.
According to Impson, seeing the data was extremely interesting.
“Social media is incredibly data driven,” Impson said. “It’s more of a thought-based science than I ever thought it was. I think it really helped me, as a marketing major, to know how useful social media analytics is when I’m going to a client.”
Impson, and his teammates Jon Quillin, Tyler Thomas, Nick Whitley, Rose Witcher, Larry Booker, Jessica Ridell, and Lyndsay Barnes gave a presentation about their experiences to the Rankin College Business Advisory Council.
The students’ social media campaign projects were originally supposed to culminate at Magnolia’s annual Fall Festival, but many of the students stayed with the businesses until the end of semester.
Other businesses downtown have already approached Pearson about being involved for Fall 2018’s class, she said.
Pearson plans to keep the course relatively the same for 2018, the businesses the students work with will be different, and the curriculum might spend a little more time on LinkedIn usage for business, and social media policy.
“Overall, the first session was a huge success,” she said. “I think the students learned a lot and now look at social media managing as more of a potential career choice for them.”
If you are interested in having a team work with your business contact Ms. Sheila Pearson at email@example.com.