Bold, new class at SAU #MKTG398

Donnie Ingram, instructor and social media wiz of Social Media Marketing class. #MKTG398. Emma Williams/The Buzz.

Donnie Ingram, instructor and social media wiz of Social Media Marketing class. #MKTG398. Emma Williams/The Buzz.

This week’s trends on Twitter include #FailedObamaCareSlogans, #ForeverPurple and #BullsNation.

But something new is trending among the Ambrose community. #MKTG398.

“Tweeting IS homework #winning #AwesomeClass #MKTG398.”

“This class made me do something I said I would never do… join Twitter #MKTG398.”

“Social Media Marketing has been really interesting so far. Can’t wait to learn more! #MKTG398.”

MKTG 398, Social Media Marketing, is a bold new direction for the St. Ambrose Marketing Department that builds on marketing fundamentals and applies them in the context of social media. The course, instructed by Senior Instructional Designer and Adjunct Instructor Donnie Ingram, is offered to St. Ambrose undergraduates every semester and is also offered to MBA and ACCEL students in the summer.

“Some businesses experiment with social media by creating a Facebook page or a Twitter account,” Ingram said. “This course helps students become acclimated to the systematic approach of social media marketing by introducing fundamental concepts that translate to sustainability in the field.”

The course is instructed entirely online over Elluminate Live! and Blackboard. Students enjoy the lecture in the comfort of their cozy room, kicking back in their favorite chair in the library or while enjoying a panini in the basement of the Rogalski Center. Students are encouraged to participate in the lecture through voice communication, instant messaging or responding with programmed emoticons, including “laughter” and “confusion.”

In marketing, social media enhances means of interacting, sharing and communicating. With dependency on social media rapidly rising, businesses are discovering the effectiveness of using platforms in their business plans. In 2011, the marketing department proposed the implementation of a course to provide students with the valuable skill sets needed for this emerging industry. Tapping into Ingram’s category expertise, thanks to his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Western Illinois University in instructional technology and telecommunications, the course was created and first offered in fall 2011.

“Enrollment has been consistent since the time it was introduced,” Ingram said. “Classes usually fill up each semester. Student reception has been extremely positive and is something I’m very proud of.”

Students in the undergraduate level course work hands-on with local businesses and organizations to create or improve their social media marketing strategies. Since the introduction of the course, students have worked with fourteen local business including The Filling Station, Rookies and River Music Experience.

“A few semesters ago some students worked with JJ’s Catfish and Chicken on Locust,” Ingram said. “They did some great networking with other businesses and were able to make some large banners for the business with QR codes so customers could check-in and upload pictures by using the code. The banner is still up outside of the restaurant and is still being used, all thanks to the students.”

Students also worked with Create Frozen Yogurt in Northpark Mall. The group created a YouTube channel and filmed commercials. Students then have to find ways to promote these social media platforms. Ways to promote are taught through the weekly lectures and assignments. The assignments typically include researching new social media platforms, exploring web analytics programs or creating personal LinkedIn accounts.

“The LinkedIn assignment is a valuable one,” Ingram said. “I can get on and endorse students and write them recommendations. LinkedIn is huge right now and a lot of students aren’t even aware of it until the course.”

Another unique feature of the course is the Facebook group Ingram has created to share social media news and advice. The page has over 105 members and serves as a great resource for past, current and prospective students. But according to Ingram, the best feature is the collaborative effort put forth by the students in support of local businesses.

“It is very gratifying to see students engage in activities that support local businesses and at the same time incorporate many of the social marketing concepts that are discussed in class,” Ingram said. “It is a great way to show support for our community and demonstrate real world application at the same time.”

The course will be offered in the spring 2014 semester. MKTG 209, Principles of Marketing, is a pre-requisite for the course. For more information, contact Donnie Ingram at IngramDonnieL@sau.edu

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