2011 Spring – MIS3538 course blog

Social Media Innovation by Prof. Johnson



Welcome to the course blog for Temple U. Fox School of Business MIS3538: Social Media Innovation, taught by Prof. Steven L. Johnson in Spring, 2011. The course is over, but the website lives on.

If you’re looking for a quick overview of the website content, check out the site map.

If you’re a Temple University student interested in the class, it is being offered again in Fall, 2011. For everyone else, consider signing up for our Executive Education certificate program, Social Media: Managing Your Online Presence.

Photo: “Welcome” by alborzshawn, on Flickr

5 secrets of social media innovation

Here are five key points to remember from this semester.

#1: A starfish is oft mightier than a spider

Starfish and the Spider from Amazon.com

Starfish and the Spider

From the book summary:

One thing that business, institutions, governments and key individuals will have to realize is spiders and starfish may look alike, but starfish have a miraculous quality to them. Cut off the leg of a spider, and you have a seven-legged creature on your hands; cut off its head and you have a dead spider. But cut off the arm of a starfish and it will grow a new one. Not only that, but the severed arm can grow an entirely new body. Starfish can achieve this feat because, unlike spiders, they are decentralized; every major organ is replicated across each arm.

#2: There is no President of the Internet

Be like a catalyst:

  1. Genuine interest in others.
  2. Numerous loose connections, rather than a small number of close connections.
  3. Skill at social mapping.
  4. Desire to help everyone they meet.
  5. The ability to help people help themselves by listening and understanding, rather than giving advice (“Meet people where they are”).
  6. Emotional Intelligence.
  7. Trust in others and in the decentralized network.
  8. Inspiration (to others).
  9. Tolerance for ambiguity.
  10. A hands-off approach. Catalysts do not interfere with, or try to control the behavior of the contributing members of the decentralized organization.
  11. Ability to let go. After building up a decentralized organization, catalysts move on, rather than trying to take control.

#3: Know your audience

Everything you write on the web has two audiences: people and search engines. To build a lasting audience, create content foremost for the human beings–the real people–in your audience. Social media is about making connections through shared interests. Compelling content leads to connections.

At the same time, be aware of how search engines work (PDF). You compelling content can only lead to connections after someone finds it.

#4: Track your traffic

Use a website analytics tool like Google Analytics to track your website visitor traffic trends. My four favorite statistics to track are:

Pages Per Visit – Average number of page views per visit

Top keywords – List of search engine strings used to find site (available via Google analytics under “Traffic Sources”, then “Keywords”)

% new visits – percentage of total visitors visiting for the first time (available via Google analytics under “Visitors Overview”)

Top content – what pages on your website get the most hits (available via Google analytics under “Content”, then “Top Content”)

#5: What will you tell two friends about today?

Some ideas get more traction than others. Involve your audience, give them a reason to involve their friends, and make sure their friends feel welcome when they come by, too. In almost every market it’s easier to keep a customer than to find a new one.


Google Tattoo from Body Arts Gallery

Google Tattoo from Body Arts Gallery

As a final cautionary reminder: “I hope you know this will go down on your permanent record.” Treat anything and everything that you write on the web as though it will may be read by anyone and everyone at any point now or in the future. You already have an Internet “brand,” it’s up to you to manage it.

Bonus Task: Philly TechWeek

Here’s another bonus task for the class and an announcement about a set of interesting events going on next week. First, the event:

Check out this really cool event, brewing right in our Philly backyard!
  1. Philly Tech Week – there will be 45 events, many of which should be right up your alley as an MIS student.
  2. Switch Philly – April 26th at 6pm hosted by tech news blog, Technically Philly. This is one of the signature events during Philly Tech Week. There will be 5 Philly tech companies that will demo their latest and greatest for 7 minutes each. See Ohanarama, cWyz, Laan Labs and others show off Philly’s next big thing at The Wharton School of Business. The event will last just over an hour, and then they will head over to the Blockley Pourhouse for happy hour afterwards. Tickets are $9 but they are offering a special deal for Temple students and faculty members. Get your tickets for $5 by using the coupon code “Temple” when you buy your ticket on Ticketleap today. Most of the other Philly Tech Week event s are free to attend.

Check out the Philly Tech Week schedule. I counted five different events on the Temple U. campus and many others conveniently located nearby neighborhoods.

Bonus Tasks

BONUS10: Submit a link to a blog post that describes a Philly TechWeek event.

BONUS30: Submit a link to a blog post that describes a Philly TechWeek event and include original video or at least 2 original photos.


Week 13 Follow-Up

Thirteen (13th/52) Follow-up items from our Week 13 class meeting…

Watch again: FoxCapture for Thursday’s class.

Check out the blogs of this week’s presenters:

Photo credit: Thirteen (13th/52) by skippyjon, on Flickr”

What’s your elevator pitch?

The Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short summary statement of business value.

Discussion Question

Answer one of these questions:

  • In just a few sentences, what would you summarize as a key “take-away” that you’ve learned from this course this semester?


  • Imagine you are in a job interview and you are asked “what did you learn in the social media innovation course”? What is your answer?

Task 15 Completion Criteria (30 points)

Post a comment below with a link to your well-written post on this discussion topic.

Google Online Marketing Challenge Update

I received the following email from Google Online Marketing Challenge today:

Dear professor,

We are very excited to have you on board.

Thank you for your patience with our account crediting process – we would like to apologize for any delays caused by our safety and security procedures.

If any of your student teams are experiencing this issue, please fill this form to send us the Customer IDs of the students that have not been credited yet. Allow us 48-96 hours before the credit is fully applied.


  • All students’ accounts MUST BE verified by professors. Please check your Spam folders regularly to make sure you verify your student groups.
  • Your students AdWords accounts MUST BE set up in US dollars ($ – USD) with no billing information.

We are doing our best to answer all your queries in the support email address, please use this form for any credit related queries.

Thanks for your understanding and happy challenging!

Week 12 Follow-Up

No 12 - white metal Follow-up items from our Week 12 class meeting…

Watch again: FoxCapture for Thursday’s class.

Check out the blogs of this week’s presenters:

Individual Quest Point Standings

Individual Quest Point Standings 14 April

Congratulations to Venkata, Hahn, and Myle for a Virtuoso week!

Photo credit: No 12 – white metal by kirstyhall, on Flickr”

Viral Marketing and the Power of Networks

Viral Marketing and the Power of Networks

The essence of viral marketing is when a satisfied adopter tells two friends about a product and, then they’ll tell two friends about it, and so on. The power of such compounding can be seen in the parable of the ruler and the chessboard.

Successful viral marketing has three major challenges to overcome:

– Initial product adoption: do I need shampoo and I am willing to try a new brand?

– Adoption attrition (e.g., keeping churn rates low); will I buy the same brand again?

– Product recommendation: how many others will I recommend the product to?

Discussion Question

  • What examples can you think of where you have participated in viral marketing of a product or service?
  • Thinking about this week’s reading on network effects, do you think viral marketing is more or less likely to be successful for products with network effects?

Task 14 Completion Criteria (20 points)

Post a comment below with a link to your well-written post on this discussion topic.

Reminder of Bonus Task

As I announced in class, Tuesday night’s IT Awards and AMIS After Party provide another Bonus task opportunity. Here are the details:

BONUS10: Submit a link to a blog post that describes your overall impressions of one or both events.

BONUS20: Submit a link to a blog post that describes your overall impressions of one or both events AND includes specific details about someone you met and something you learned from attending.

BONUS30: Submit a link to a blog post similar to above AND include original video or at least 2 original photos.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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