Social media the focus of new undergrad course at Beedie School of Business

Jul 29, 2011

by Jevta Lukic

As Twitter and Facebook increasingly become topics of conversation in many company boardrooms, undergraduate business students at SFU’s Beedie School of Business are also focusing on social networking in a management context. This fall, they will enjoy a unique course offering that explores the intersection of social media and business strategy. Entitled Business 495: Social Media & Business, the course strives to develop students’ understanding of how social media is used by individuals, communities, and organizations to engage with one another and develop innovative business models. At a time when Facebook has over 750 million active users and YouTube sees over 35 hours of content uploaded every minute, social media is becoming the cornerstone of many business strategies. “It plays an increasingly important role,” says Prof. Jan Kietzmann of the Beedie School of Business, who will be co-teaching the course. “It’s a role that businesses are often uncomfortable with as they don’t retain full control over communication that affects their firms.” The students in the course will develop an in-depth understanding of the social dynamics that underlie online interactions and the different tools and platforms that such relations exist on. Guest speakers, seminars, and a strong focus on the practical component of the curriculum are all expected to create an innovative classroom experience. The course will challenge students to think critically about concepts such as community building, conversation curation, and virality – and will explore specific tools and techniques that focus on measuring and monitoring activity and social media return on investment. As part of the practical component of the course, the students will be tasked with building online communities, conducting social media audits, and developing social media strategies. “I would like my students to be educated about social media,” said Kietzmann. “A lot of mid-career managers don’t know about enough about the topic and are looking for new hires who can offer a contribution in that space.” “Developing and managing social media is not easy. It’s very difficult,” continued Kietzmann. “It goes far beyond technology and business; it’s often much more fundamentally about understanding human nature and social engagement dynamics.” Kietzmann, an Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems and Innovation at the Beedie School of Business, will co-teach the course with Ashish Gurung, a social media consultant and recent recipient of the City of Surrey’s Top 25 under 25 honour. The course curriculum was born out of much discussion with industry and the identification of a unique need for employees who are knowledgeable in the field. “The Undergraduate Program in the Beedie School of Business stays on the leading edge of business innovations by offering new courses as special topics courses and then converting them to calendar courses if the trial of the course warrants it,” said Maureen Fizzell, the Director of Undergraduate Programs at the Beedie School of Business. “Our new course in Social Media and Business recognizes the increasing role that social media is playing in many facets of business strategy.”

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