Marketing Projects Create a Frenzy of 'Like' Notifications at BC
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
For the past month, Boston College students’ Facebook newsfeeds have been flooded with pleas from their friends to “like” their fan pages supporting various brands or businesses. Confusion abounds as people question why their friends have suddenly become such strong advocates for Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Solo cups, Reservoir Liquors, or TransLoc. Are they just trying to attract their friends’ interest to a local business like Fin’s after a great dining experience, or did half of the students in the Carroll School of Management (CSOM) suddenly land marketing internships for these companies all at the same time? It turns out that neither of these possibilities is driving the brand push. The reason actually stems from a desire for something all BC students can sympathize with: a good grade.
Professor Victoria Crittenden developed the Facebook fan page project for the CSOM Marketing Principles classes as a way for students to learn the theory behind marketing in a practical application. Over the span of a month, students must pick a brand and promote it in a way that will attract the most “likes” to their page. In addition to creating, maintaining, and promoting their Facebook pages, the students must put together a presentation about the strategies behind their marketing techniques in order to show that they understand the fundamentals of marketing. According to professor Edward Gonsalves, those students who have been most successful have either picked a really good brand or have done some interesting promoting. “I think digital and social media is so important now because the traditional marketing tools and techniques used in the past don’t always work,” Gonsalves said. “You have to think differently to market your brand effectively.” Through the practical practice of this project, marketing students are learning skills that will help them in their future professions. Additionally, students have learned the importance of having a strong network for successful marketing. “The most important thing I learned was that our grade could actually be determined by how many friends we have on Facebook, regardless of how much effort was put in,” said Rob Garrett, CSOM ’14.
The Facebook fan page project is just one of several ways that professors at BC are incorporating social media into the classroom. Gonsalves’ classes also use YouTube as a marketing tool in a project that promotes a specific product. This project addresses the question “How does something go viral?” Students must attempt to figure this out as they try to attract the most “likes” to their short YouTube video promotion of the product. Incidentally, the product chosen for this semester, the Teecil, was developed by one of his former students. Students market this combination golf tee and pencil by posting pictures of the Teecil in attention-grabbing scenes on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. One clever group put a Teecil message on the Jumbotron at Fenway Park, demonstrating the innovative and competitive nature of BC students.
Freshmen and sophomores taking professor Gerald Kane’s Computers in Management, part of the CSOM core, use Twitter to facilitate class discussion through sharing articles and responding to them via their class list. “It creates a nice ongoing discussion throughout the week,” Kane said. “It turns a three hours a week class into a 24/7 discussion. We spend a lot of our class time talking about things we’ve shared on our Twitter feed or class blog.”
When asked about the impact social media has had on higher education, Kane said, “I think it’s in the very early stages. Faculty are generally pretty conservative when it comes to using technology … so I don’t think it has had much of an impact yet. Based on my experience with it, I think it can have a borderline revolutionary effect.” Kane was given a grant from the National Science Foundation to use social media in the classroom and specifically wanted to see how he would incorporate Twitter into his curriculum, which he continues to do to this day. He warns faculty that they must be wary not to use social media for social media’s sake. Instead, it is important to outline the goals of the class and then to determine how incorporating social media can help to reach those goals.
Even entire academic departments are embracing the social media trend to provide their students with helpful information and resources relevant to the major. It’s a brilliant move to capture a student’s interest as he or she catches up on the day’s online activity rather than just sending information out in an email that will likely end up in the trash folder before the student has read past the subject line.
Kane views social media use as a skill just like the standard skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. As social media extends its reach into the workplace, he anticipates a definite impact on management and aims to teach his students how to handle the benefits and drawbacks of what he refers to as the “double-edged sword” of technology. He cites a study in which 80 percent of managers affirmed their belief that social media will be an incredibly important management tool in the future. Kane hopes to craft his students into strong critical thinkers who can constructively use social media to harness all of the potential power it has to enhance their fields.