Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Social media and the MBA

Top business schools are introducing elective courses on social networking to their MBA programs.

With web 2.0 sites like Facebook and Twitter proving popular places both for networking and promotional activities, it appears that some of the top business schools are keen to offer MBAs with social networking forming part of the marketing specialization.

American paper Businessweek reported on July 26th in an article entitled B-schools all a-Twitter over social media that at least six business schools have, or plan to introduce over the coming months, social media elective courses as part of their MBA. Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, London Business School, INSEAD, and HEC Paris have all confirmed that they will be teaching MBA students the benefits to businesses of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.

“I am confident we will see both an expansion of social media study in all MBA programs, and a deeper integration into existing areas of study,” explains Rachel Sterne, principal of digital media consultancy firm Upward Strategy and adjunct professor in future social media entrepreneurship at Columbia. “Ultimately, social media should be part of any complete marketing, customer service, or development strategy.

Social networking

Andrew T Stephen, assistant professor of marketing at INSEAD near Paris, teaching their advertising and social media strategy course, explains to the benefits of social media in MBAs. “The course teaches principles of integrating social media with traditional media and other marketing and business strategies so that students see how all the pieces of this complex puzzle fit together. That way the course doesn’t date.

“Rather, students are given tools and ways of thinking that will be valuable in the future. This is critical since every month there’s a new website or social media platform, and I can guarantee that in even one year from now things will be different,” Stephen explains, pointing out that participants on his elective will be taught the skills to adapt to the ever changing social media environment in the future.

But is social media really that important when MBA students have graduated and are looking for employment?
“My hope is that students will be more attractive to employers, more capable as team members, and better positioned as entrepreneurs,” Columbia’s Sterne tells “The goal of the course is to equip students to identify opportunities to use emerging technologies, innovate with social media, and evaluate their efforts in any role.”

Sterne is also keen to point out the importance of ensuring MBA students are capable of analysing the results of social media marketing, which in turn will focus campaigns and ensure impressive results. However, students should also notice the benefits from courses on social media through networking and gaining professional contacts.

INSEAD’s Professor Stephen explains how experience in social media can be applied to many different business sectors. “Recruiters are looking for graduates who are savvy in this area, not just for positions in marketing, advertising or media, but also for consulting, finance or venture capital, and other fields that aren’t automatically associated with social media. There is strong demand, and to remain at the frontier of business innovation and to be cutting-edge [business schools] need to have social media in the curriculum.”

So it appears that many of the high ranking business schools are keen to adapt to the evolving online world, as some of the most respected schools accept the new marketing trends that the web has brought to modern society. Albeit a very new development, the top business schools clearly feel that social networking is a marketing trend that is here to stay, and so feel that their graduates will benefit greatly from studying how to implement it into the world of business.


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