(UPDATED 8/23/2023)

Best Ways to Reach Me

  • Slack DM (preferred): @srossmktg
  • Email:
  • Phone: x45305 or Google Voice: 413-274-4227

Basic Course Information

Table of Contents

What’s this course about?

The emphasis of this course is on understanding consumers’ social interactions, examining the various social media channels available to marketers, learning how to build social marketing strategies, and practicing how to track their effectiveness.

Marketoonist Cartoon. Execs at an office table. One exec holds up a phone, saying, "No one has wanted to engage with our brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, or Tiktok, but let's see how much they love us on CLUBHOUSE!

What should you be able to know after successfully completing this course?

You’ll know/understand:You’ll be able to:
How to differentiate between social media for personal use and social media for professional use.Define social media marketing.
Evaluate differences between your own social media behaviors and brand/company social media behaviors.
Apply professional standards to social media use.
The theories and concepts behind social transmission of information that makes social media marketing different from traditional marketing.Discuss the workings of social networks and how these networks augment marketing communication.
Discuss the role of social influence as a function of social transmission.
How to use social media as an effective tool for strategic marketing planning.Create clear goals and objectives for a social media campaign that creates awareness, consumer consideration and conversion.
Align target markets according to platform characteristics.
Design a creative campaign that accounts for social media budgeting.
How social media platforms vary in their tactical execution.Identify the critical features of key social media platforms.
Create platform-specific content that is relevant to target markets and communities on social media.
Leverage an understanding of social media platform features in the face of platform disruptions.
Make decisions regarding which platforms to include in a social media campaign.
Why strategic measurement is important to determine the effectiveness of social media marketing.Identify social media KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to determine the effectiveness of a social media campaign.
Link KPIs to strategic objectives.
Monitor and evaluate the successes of a social media campaign using KPIs.

Click to jump to top

What materials will you need to be successful in this course?

Cover of Social Media Marketing 3e by Zahay, Roberts, Parker, Barker, and Barker

Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach (3e), Zahay, Roberts, Parker, Barker & Barker, Cengage, ISBN 9780357710982, $43 for eTextbook (through 5/12/2023), or rent the hardcover for $87 (through 2/19/2024). Or rent on Amazon Kindle for $47 or Amazon paperback for $67

Hootsuite logo

Hootsuite, Here are step-by-step directions on how to register for the Hootsuite Student Program. You’ll need to obtain the Hootsuite Platform Certification and the Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification (certification will make you eligible for the Hootsuite Certified Professionals Directory, there are badges you can apply to a LinkedIn profile, and you can put it on a resume).

If you follow the registration directions correctly (they may take a couple days to approve), the cost of the Hootsuite Student Program and certifications are free in this class. As part of the Student program, you’ll have access to: Hootsuite Academy courseware for Hootsuite Platform; Free Social Marketing course ($199 value); Free Hootsuite Platform Certification ($99 value); Free Social Marketing Certification ($199 value); Hootsuite dashboard (free features). You should not have to pay anything to complete these certifications.

Canva logo

Canva is a basic graphic layout and design tool to create digital marketing content. The Canva Design School has a number of modules to help you create social media content. You are more than welcome to use other tools to create content, however, this is a good free one if you don’t have prior experience.

Slack logo

Slack is a business communications tool we’ll be using instead of email/Blackboard. If you’ve ever used Discord, it’s a lot like that, but designed for corporate environments.

The reason I prefer Slack (vs. email/Blackboard) is because it’s available for web/iOS/Android, and has a whole host of contemporary app features. As a collaboration tool, it puts everyone in the course on a level playing field to share media, ask, and discuss. And, it also has the benefit of making virtual collaboration on your team work much easier. People at universities have just started using it, but thousands of businesses and other startups have used it for years now. During COVID-19, it has allowed me to respond to students much quicker, and allowed students to collaborate among themselves much easier while everyone worked remotely. Nearly all course materials and engagement will be posted through the course Slack channel.

I’ll send a registration link to your UML address. Check your spam folder in case you haven’t received it.

If you need to register manually, please do so with your address at (team name: srossmktg). Join the course’s channel by clicking/tapping the + (“plus”) by the CHANNELS,” searching “#23fa-socialmedia”, and clicking “Join Channel.” (you’ll also be automatically added to the default #general-announcements and #newslinks channels). Downloading the app to your phone and turning the notifications on is recommended for easy and quick communication and collaboration.

All my course communications (i.e., Zoom links, cancellations, announcements, discussion) and supplemental course materials (i.e., links, other readings, slides) will be posted through Slack – NO EMAILS.

Blackboard (assignments/grades only)
Blackboard logo

I only use Blackboard for individual assignments (such as the Personal Branding homeworks) and gradebook purposes.

Additional Readings

As business students, you should naturally be visiting business related news sites (e.g., WSJ, FT, Bloomberg, Mashable, Business Insider, Social Media Examiner) and coming to each class ready to share articles and events relating to marketing topics. Part of your course engagement grade will heavily depend on being able to present, discuss, and debate these current marketing topics.

Click to jump to top

How will you be evaluated?

Summary (Points)

Assignment % Contribution to Course Grade
Hootsuite Platform Certification (2 @ 5%) 10
Personal Branding Homeworks (6 @ 5%) 30
Course Engagement 17
Manning BeHub Research Credits 3
Teamwork on Social Media Plan 20
Teamwork on Social Media Presentation 15
Project Peer Evaluation (online link) 5

Performance Scale (Points)

Excellent to GoodSatisfactoryUnsatisfactory but PassingFailing
94 – 100 = A
90 – < 94 = A-
87 – < 90 = B+
84 – < 87 = B
80 – < 84 = B-
77 – < 80 = C+
74 – < 77 = C
70 – < 74 = C-
67 – < 70 = D+
64 – < 67 = D
60 – < 64 = D-
0 – < 60 = F
I WILL NOT ROUND FINAL GRADES. (Unless I’ve erred in calculation, do not ask for your 89.99999 to be an A-.) All assigned work will be graded based on guidelines provided. Late work will not be graded and instead, will be given an automatic “zero” (0) grade.

Click to jump to top

What’s being evaluated?


Hootsuite Platform and Social Marketing Certifications (10%)

You’re required to earn the Hootsuite Platform (5%) and Social Marketing Certifications (5%) through Hootsuite’s Student Program. You’ll receive an online certificate (good on resumes!) and will also be added to the Hootsuite Certified Professionals Directory. You’ll be asked to submit evidence on Blackboard that you’ve passed both certifications. Check the course calendar for the deadlines. The point of the Hootsuite Certification is to a) make sure you know how to use at least one prominent social media management platform, c) understand how a social media management platform helps with strategy, tactics, execution, and measurement; and c) provide you with a practical certification.

Personal Branding Homeworks (6 @ 5% = 30%)

There will be six short homework assignments that relate to personal branding on social media– particularly as you develop a professional career. The homeworks are designed to have you think strategically about how you present yourself as a potential employee (or entrepreneur) and apply what you’re learning to your own career development. These assignments will be posted to Blackboard for grading (or Slack PM if you can’t attach content samples). The point of the personal branding homeworks are to have you evaluating how social media for personal use differs from social media for professional use.

Course Engagement (17%)

Communication skills are extremely important in marketing (after all, it’s one of the things we do!), which is why I grade course engagement on active participation and contribution, not mere class attendance (you’ll note I don’t have a formal attendance policy). I also expect everyone to actively engage in class discussions, any class exercises, and make quality contributions/discussions on Slack. All of this counts as engagement. And since this class is going to run partially like a social media marketing agency, being a contributing member of the team is extremely important!

Therefore, course engagement is a function of: (in-class active participation + outside-class on Slack)*(volume)*(quality). Both inside and outside of classtime, I encourage us to work hard to create and maintain a supportive, respectful, and empathetic environment. While I’ll help guide you, the class should be a thought lab to express your critical and analytical thinking, while also considering the backgrounds of others in and out of the class.

While you must be present in classes to be able to participate in them, I guarantee attendance alone will not earn a full 17% engagement mark (for example, attendance but no participation may earn closer to 14% while no attendance but a lot of participation may earn closer to 12%). Your involvement and participation are vital to the success of yours and your peers’ learning experiences; consistency and quality matter. Slack has threaded messaging; rather than mandate Blackboard discussion posts, I encourage actual, real discussion in and out of classtime. The point of course engagement is to foster communication and collaboration skills with peers, as well as to actively engage the content, both inside and outside class lecture.

Manning BeHub (Behavioral Hub) Research Credits (3%)

You’re required to participate in at least 3.0 credits of Manning BeHub research studies (or, if you choose, see me for an alternative credit task) as part of your course grade. 3.0 credits is approximately 4-6 studies in a semester (1.0 credit = 1% of final course grade). Most studies take between 10-20 minutes per study. If you accumulate credits for my course in excess of the 3.0, up to an additional 2.0 credits may be awarded as extra course credit

Many studies will be online studies that can be done at home, though occasionally, in-person “lab” studies will be offered for credit or other incentives. I’ll send out announcements via Slack to the class as the BeHub periodically announces new study availability. You may also direct BeHub questions to me as one of its co-administrators. Study availability may be ongoing through the semester. However, studies are usually only open for limited periods of time before they expire and are then unavailable for participating credit. Please make sure you participate in studies before they are closed. The point of participating in research studies is that these studies will help your professors (including me) generate knowledge and insight about business, as well as give you firsthand experience of how business research is conducted


TEAM WORK ON Social Media Plan (20%)

The culmination of the course is a social media plan that ties together the course goals.. We will be working with a real, small, local business as our client and the class will function like a social media marketing agency with different teams having different functions. Your team will contribute to the class social media plan. This plan will be due by the end of the semester and will incorporate everything you’ve learned

The teams will be ~5 members and there will be different points where teams will work on something and then we’ll critique/discuss strategy as a whole class. If there is a problem within the group, you should inform me as soon as problems arise.

Groups may meet with me during any class workshops or outside class. As well, students often find Slack private groups or group DMs help with collaboration (and that’s ultimately what the purpose of Slack is in business). If there’s a problem within the group, you should inform me as soon as problems arise, not the week before deadlines. The point of the social media plan is to showcase written communications skills, to work on interpersonal skills in a teamwork collaboration, and to demonstrate social media strategy, execution, and evaluation in a cumulative fashion.

TEAM WORK ON Social Media Presentation (15%)

Your team will contribute to a 30-40 minute pitch of your social media marketing plan. In contrast with the plan, which should have a lot of written strategy, the presentation is an opportunity to bring your plan “to life” with a presentation of the content. The point of this presentation is to demonstrate oral communications skills in a visual presentation that communicates to a client, in cumulative fashion, how to use social media as an effective tool for strategic marketing planning.

Online Peer Evaluation (5%)

A link to a rigorous online peer evaluation form will be distributed in the last week of class. Failure to submit the evaluation by the assigned date will be an automatic “0” (zero) for your own evaluation score, as I use your peers’ scores to calculate your own evaluation grade. If you can’t be bothered to give your peers their scores, I won’t be bothered to calculate your score.

Click to jump to top

For general Terms and Conditions of the course, please visit my course policies page