Preparing Future Managers for the Digital World:Digital Marketing Alive Course


Marketing and Public Relations are being reinvented daily.  Advertising agencies and marketing managers are challenged to learn new skill sets and develop more comprehensive and integrated strategies.


How are we preparing students to become future executives and managers and address these challenges?


University Business Schools at both the MBA and undergraduate levels are just starting to dip their feet into the digital waters. Many of the efforts are adding a course or incorporating social media into an existing course. The critical element is changing the Mindset from old school push marketing to pull marketing. The focus is on engaging the customer, developing relationships and encouraging sharing the message with their social communities. Placing ads or posts on social media without developing conversations is continuing the old school “sales“ focus without leveraging the power of the new media.


Digital Marketing Alive Training

To address this need, Lynchburg College’s School of Business and Economics launched Digital Marketing Alive,  an innovative Social Media Marketing course in the Spring 2011.  The goal was to provide an “alive,” interactive Digital Experience that translates to future jobs. Students share their experiences.

The training was designed to adopt a digital mindset – customer (student) centered, interactive, participatory, engaging, and transparent. It was structured in three integrated parts: digital marketing strategy; social media tool development and a “live” business project.


Objectives for each student

  1. Challenge familiarity with Facebook  and translate to Social Media Marketing
  2. Instill digital mindset (truly customer centric)
  3. Think strategically about marketing
  4. Integrate all marketing functions with social media
  5. Expand confidence and use of social media tools
  6. Access power of social communities and social sharing
  7. Understand and use evaluation metrics
  8. Expand concept of ROI

Social Media Classroom

The marketing concepts (strategy and social media tools) were shared via engaging formats. The students experimented and refined their skills with these concepts/tools through an interactive online learning environment, Social Media Classroom. This user friendly environment designed by Howard Rheingold and developed by Sam Rose allows for students to learn and experiment with blogging, wikis, forums, social bookmarking and micro blogging in a private safe setting. In the Social Media Classroom they build confidence and gain experience while interacting with their teachers and colleagues in preparation for using these skill sets in a live Social Media Marketing campaign.

Interactive Student Presentations

To further understanding of Social Media Marketing concepts, students were asked to choose a topic to present to entire class. They selected class readings and prepared a 30 minute multimedia session including questions for the group. Each student wrote a blog post on their reflections on the presentation.  This proved to be challenging for the presenters and engaging for the class.

Digital Alive Projects

Students were offered the opportunity to work on the implementation of a Social Media Marketing campaign for two clients. The work environment was designed to be similar to that of a small marketing group. The six member groups had to organize tasks, agree on the strategy and tactics to be developed and a timeline for implementation.  At the end they had to evaluate the results and make a presentation to the clients. They were asked to apply all the concepts that were discussed in class and presented by the student teams.

  • Fez Sacred Music Journey  Sarah Tours the client has been doing tours to Morocco for 20+ years and to the Fez Sacred Music Festival for 15 years. Client has invested some $15,000 this year to promote the Festival and the Journey.
    • This class was responsible for launching a national sweepstakes for free tickets, Social Media Marketing (Facebook , Twitter, YouTube Sites),  online web environment, online newsletter, press release, and direct mail.
  • Lynchburg College School of Business and Economics (SOBE)  Client looking to implement a Digital Marketing Strategy and increase its Digital Footprint.
    • This class was responsible for launching Social Media Marketing (Facebook , Twitter, YouTube Sites),  refining online web environment, and online newsletter.


In keeping with the digital model, feedback was encouraged throughout the semester among the students and between the instructor and students. In their last blog entry each student was required to compare their course expectations before the course began with the experiences at the end of the course.  The following are some of the student reflections.

Students’ Reflections

Challenging Yet Inspiring by A. Diamond , Senior


“At the beginning of the semester it took me a while to get used to the “Blogging”, for I still have difficulty doing so. Looking back through all of my blogs I can honestly say that I have grown to become a better blogger–Better in a way of incorporating creativity in my blogs with different pictures, links, and research.

We were introduced to the SERVAS Digital Analysis in the beginning of the semester– Sustainable Goal-Energize-Relationships-Value-Action-Synergy. At first I wasn’t quite sure what it would be used for but now I think what could it not be used for?  SERVAS is a helpful tool for evaluating a company’s performance on their Social Media Marketing Campaign or specific advertisements. The SERVAS analysis is extremely beneficial to a company, it allows individuals in charge of this campaign to be able to look back/at and evaluate its effectiveness. This allows for the company to make changes before the campaign goes viral/live. This tool is a very effective and useful, I definitely see myself using this in my future.

One of the most important concepts I learned was that Social Media for Businesses involves a two way communication with listening, engaging, interacting, and responding.  A concept that has evolved from the traditional marketing  is pushing messages to consumers and not necessarily interested in listening to their customers.

My group project was the Fez Sacred Music Festival group. I am not going to lie; I was a bit skeptical at first because yea, I like music but it wasn’t a huge passion or interest of mine. This project was great! It was a great opportunity because it allowed us to use what we learned throughout the whole semester and apply it to this real world application- a very hands on approach. Having a real world application has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage was measuring our effectiveness as we progressed with the project; the disadvantage was the stress and deadlines, having to do a lot in a little time. I have grown personally from this class. Once I graduate I want to pursue all of the marketing for the store that I manage. I now know effective ways and tools to use for integrating Social Media through listening, engaging, building relationships, and acting.”



The End – Reflections on the Semester by N. Como, Senior

“Before the class started, I knew of many of the different social media platforms but now I can say that I know how to use them effectively in the scope of business usage.  When marketing for a business with social media, there is conversation involved, it is not just one-way communication, a concept I had not understood until taking this course.  We have explored many ways to develop this communication.”

What a Social Media Adventure by S. Smollen, Junior

“During the semester I went beyond Facebook and developed a strong relationship with Twitter.. Through Social Media Marketing I have learned (although I have not always been able to properly implement it) to use Twitter as the social media conversational device that it was intended to be used.

…The most important lesson that we learned was that social media is a lot tougher than just a couple of clicks on a mouse. It takes consistency on all platforms, clever wording, and a whole lot of patience in waiting for bites.”

Where has the time gone? by P. Berry, Freshman

“The tools that we thought we knew at the beginning of the semester, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, were all much more than they originally seemed. They were not merely places to socialize with friends, where some few companies had content posted; they are valuable assets, platforms on which companies and individuals can spread ideas, all from a single computer. The possibilities and opportunities are endless, the social media world will continue to grow, and with the ratio of viewers to publishers/editors being so high.

Thanks for an awesome class and shedding some light on our journey through the marketing revolution that is social media!”