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Why take a social media strategy course?

Why take a social media strategy course?

Earlier this year, CoursesNow decided to take a closer look at how social media could help us communicate better with current and prospective students and also how our students may be able to easily form a community. We turned to one of our providers, the University of New South Wales Australian Graduate School of Management, for guidance.

Dr Jeffrey Tobias is an innovator, entrepreneur and angel investor. He is also standing at the front of a classroom at the AGSM Sydney campus giving us a range of reasons why social media should be part and parcel of every marketing strategy in every business. The Social Media Strategy class consists of a few MBA students but is mostly made up of marketing and communication staff, and a few general managers, from a variety of companies, ranging from technology startups to a large grocery chain, medium-sized financial institutions to multinational brands in IT and security. For the networking alone, this class has already set a high standard.

The first part of this two-day in-class course deals with the social era we need to navigate, so first we need some context. We place ourselves in a line according to how strong we believe our social media skills are. Most are familiar with Facebook and LinkedIn for personal use but have not necessarily used in a business context. I’m the only one with Twitter confidence, and having managed LinkedIn groups and company pages as part of my media experience puts me near the front of the line. The only homework I hadn’t touched was Instagram: I couldn’t access it because I don’t have an iPhone or Android phone.

It turns out this exercise centres on identifying our ‘known unknowns’, getting us to think about why we are here and what we want to achieve from the course. It is not about the media we choose to use, reminds Dr Tobias, but the strategy that sits behind its use.

One key correlation is the growth of mobile along with social. It seems every idle moment, whether commuting, waiting or during a meal break, is spent on a mobile device either playing a game, reading articles or, you guessed it, checking—and checking in on—social media.

Throughout the course we also break into groups to discuss a number of case studies: from airline KLM, which decided to personalise its service with KLM Surprise, to Qantas, which had its #qantasluxury hashtag hijacked by angry Twitter users, to Pepsi Canada’s 2012 Ultimate Taste Challenge campaign. This is an interesting exercise in the process of thinking about social media, what a strategy requires and how a campaign can go wrong. The only thing missing is the results; it would’ve been interesting to have an insight into the companies’ decision-making process to find out what happened next and whether it worked for them according to their own metrics.

Knowledge and experience

Two guest speakers visit to talk about social media strategy from a brand perspective. On the first day it is Gary Wheelhouse, who looks after Harvey Norman’s digital strategy in Australia and oversees some of the brand’s international market. While Wheelhouse uses social media such as Facebook and Twitter to show what Harvey Norman is doing in the community, he admits the best use of these platforms is to monitor what people say about the company so he can help improve customer service or fight fires, such as when the brand chose to pull inappropriate ads off air, or stop supporting controversial radio shows such as Alan Jones or Kyle & Jackie O.

On the second day Matt Jones from Better Happy, a brand consultancy specialising in strategy, vision and experiences, gives us an insight into how social media should sit within the business. While Wheelhouse’s presentation acted more as a case study, Jones takes the time to show us what is ‘under the hood’ of social media success, how giving something for people to share is the basis of all good social media, and that comes from a sound brand and marketing strategy that requires businesses to be exceptional and individual in their industry. Although he starts with a rough analysis of what people share and why, he spends the most time encouraging us to look internally to establish who we are (identity), what we stand for (values) and what we want to do (vision). The rest—our products or services—are just vehicles for those, he says.

On the second afternoon, Dr Tobias invites us to develop our own vision and strategy, outlining the short-term activities we need to support them, then present them to a partner. What is CoursesNow’s vision? To be a recognised source of career-led information and support to prospective, current and graduating students. Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or join us on LinkedIn to see how we execute our strategy.


If you’re looking for a social media course that will show you how to use Facebook for business, or how to attain more followers on Twitter, this is not for you. There are plenty of courses of that ilk, ranging from cheap two-hour lessons to full-day classes.

Here, AGSM has put together a comprehensive two-day course based on the strategy required before a business chooses a platform. This course clearly shows the overlap between marketing, sales, human resources and customer service—all areas, Tobias emphasised, that organisations should get right first before social media success ensues.

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