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MKT 3810: The Syntax of Social Media  

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More Extra Credit!

This extra credit exam is worth 6 points. It has three sections. It is due December 5 at midnight. You should email me your answers by that time.

See each individual section for instructions and point values.

Section 1: Explain each element of Jonah Berger’s STEPPS with regards to social media content marketing and provide an illustrative example from a brand’s social media marketing content/efforts. This section is worth 2 points and should be 3 pages long (1/2 page for each element of STEPPS)

Section 2: For two points, how does the” mannequin challenge” illustrate Berger’s STEPPS? Discuss in a page.

Section 3: This section is worth 2 points. How can a new product like Urb-e ( use STEPPS when planning it’s digital content in order  to catch on? What content should Urb-e’s Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Blog have that would illustrate STEPPS? In four pages (1 page per platform) create a summary of proposed content for the platform that follows STEPPS.


Extra Credit Opportunity

Due Saturday December 3rd by Midnight;

Email as a word or pdf document to by deadline. Emails received after deadline will not be reviewed.

This extra credit project is worth 5 points if completed accurately and completely. 


After reading Contagious you should have an idea of what kinds of content catches on and is shared. Social media content is very important to brands since it can be easily shared and forwarded (EWOM).  Go to the company website for Copa Vida (,a small independent coffee shop in Pasadena. What kinds on content should this business share on social media? Craft a polished, professional report that would provide a content strategy that would facilitate sharing and word of mouth referrals. Specifically address the following platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr

In no more than 7 single-pages present an overall content strategy that increases brand awareness and facilitates trial. To do this you will need to:

  1. Provide a brief introduction of the business and what they do (1/2 page);
  2. A current digital content audit. Review all of their social media and digital content; Analyze and determine what is effective and what isn't; Do not tell me they are doing a great or a bad job. Instead produce a factually neutral anlytical audit that describes (quantity and quality) of content and the reaction (engagement and shares) and determine effectiveness based upon facts and analysis; Use a chart; Chart and analysis should be no more than 2 pages;
  3. Content channel plans for Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr; Create a 1 page chart to make this easier to follow;
  4. 6 week editorial calendars with recommended content for Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. Again, I'd probably present each of these as a 1 page chart (3 pages total); For each piece of content explain how it will raise brand awareness and/or facilitate trial; Be specific!
  5. Summary/conclusion (1/2 page)

The Syntax of Social Media

MKT 3810 The Syntax of Social Media 

Fall 2016

Salazar Hall 164A

Professor: Michael Germano


Text: 769-287-1015

Phone:  323-343-3963

Office Location: Library North Room 1018A (Ask for me at reference desk)

Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 3:00-4:00; Tuesday and Thursday 3:00-6:00 or by appointment


Required Course Materials

Berger, N. (2012) Contagious: Why things catch on. New York: Simon & Schuster

Pulizzi, Joe (2014) Epic Content Marketing. New York: McGraw-Hill Education. (e-book)


Course Description

MKT 3810. The Syntax of Social Media Prerequisite:  Marketing 3800 or consent of instructor  Applied course that studies syntax in a social media context. Examines how marketers use verbal and visual content to convey value, build brands, and connect with customers.  Some Sections may be Technologically Mediated


Course Objectives

Businesses and non-profit organizations of all types and sizes have recognized the value of social media marketing for its power to reach customers in order to meet diverse strategic objectives that range from building brands to developing customer loyalty. The need for professionals who are attuned to the new and emerging processes for engaging the marketing function in digital spaces is creating a demand for savvy social media marketing professionals. In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook has predicted 14% average annual job growth for sales, marketing, and advertising professionals overall while suggesting that “…managers who can navigate the digital world should have the best prospects."

The dramatic upheaval in the ways businesses as well as non-profits view and engage customers, as represented by social media marketing, demands that students entering the workforce are comfortable with the use of social media for strategic marketing.  There is a strong need for marketing professionals who are attuned to the digital world and the myriad options that interactive social media represents for engaging customers. This course will provide students with the background needed to successfully undertake subsequent courses in the Social Media Marketing Certificate Program at CSULA by providing a foundational knowledge of social media marketing.

This course is an elective for the Marketing option as well as the Social Media Marketing certificate.  The Syntax of Social Media explores the ways in which marketers use visual and written communications in interactive ways in order to foster engagement with brands for the purposes of facilitating awareness, desire, trial and/or purchase. The course will look at a variety of communication devices that are unique to social media including long and short form written communications, memes, images, videos and infographics. Students will be challenged to use such communications to create story driven marketing messages that generate positive word of mouth and replicating messages from influential others.


Student Learning Outcomes

Students that successfully complete MKT 3810 will achieve the following:

  • Understand the role of content marketing and its importance to social media marketing;
  • Understand the various forms of expression and communication (written and visual) commonly used in social media in order to engage customers;
  • Understand the syntactical elements of social media written communications as well as the syntactical elements of various social media platforms including Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Vine, Instagram etc.;
  • Create social media narratives that follow a cohesive story in order to promote a brand for the purposes of raising awareness or instilling desire;
  • Craft earned media in the form of a fan page for a brand of choice;
  • Comprehension of what generates positive word of mouth and why; Appreciation for the concept of virality as planned and not accidental;
  • Evaluate social media marketing narratives for purpose and effectiveness;
  • Draft infographics that tell compelling stories related to complex customer needs or desires;
  • Write social media press releases that take advantage of interactive media;
  • Create visual and written communications that convey value.


Course Requirements

Students in MKT 389 can earn 100 points total over the course of the quarter. The total points earned will determine the final grade:





















Grades are based upon the following requirements/deliverables:

  • Class Contributions/Participation/activities 10%
  • Social Media Platform Syntactical Presentation 10%
  • Social Media Press Release 10%
  • Content Quizzes 20%
  • Fan Pages/Earned Media 20%
  • Content Marketing Blog 20%
  • Final Exams

Brief descriptions of each deliverable are listed below. Consult the course calendar at the end of this syllabus for all due dates.

Class Contributions: Attendance is obligatory since 10 points/10% of your grade is based upon active engagement and participation in class discussions and exercises. MKT 389 is highly participatory and interactive. Failure to attend the entire class meeting and failure to actively participate will adversely impact your final grade by up three points per absence/non-participation late arrival or early departure. Some classes will feature hands on activities that will be collected and evaluated by the professor.

Concept Quizzes: 5 quizzes worth 4 points each, 20 points total. Each quiz will be 12-16 terms that will need to be defined in a sentence or two. Concepts tested will be based upon readings (Pulizzi and Berger).

Social Media Platform Syntactical Presentation: 10 points/10% of grade. This assignment will require students to present in groups on the special syntactical elements/features of a specific social media website used in marketing. They will examine the syntactical elements of sharing/interaction as well as creating messages that resonate with users and replicate as a result. Detailed instructions at the end of the syllabus.

Social Media Press Release: 10 points/105 of grade. Students will craft a polished, professional social media press release. The press release can be on any topic of interest (for work, fan related or fictional) and take advantage technology and social media platforms in order to generate WOM/self-replication. Detailed instructions available at end of syllabus.

Content Marketing Blog: Worth 20 points students will keep a blog that shares trends, news, ethical considerations and examples of content marketing that they observe or come into contact with. The goal is to engage in analysis of content marketing issues and topics that are introduced during class and demonstrate mastery of concepts involved via application and analysis. Detailed instructions are available at the end of the syllabus.

Fan Page/Earned Media: Working in groups for 20 points/20% of grade students will create fan pages on two social media sites of choice (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.) and build an audience over the course of the quarter. The topic of the page should be a brand, event or service and feature positive WOM/earned media. Detailed instructions are available at the end of the syllabus.

Final Exam: 10 points/10% of grade based upon syntatcial presentations and course readings.

Extra Credit Opportunity: If you are concerned about your performance in an assignment or the course generally, please contact the professor for information about extra credit. Up to 5 points can be earned doing an extra credit assignment involving the analysis of a specific company’s use of social media content and storytelling. See the professor for more information.


Course Policies

A student that succeeds in MKT 3810 must demonstrate the following traits and characteristics:

  • Owns or borrows a copy of the textbooks and reads regularly;
  • Observes all university policies related to academic honesty and adheres to them at all times;
  • Shows up on time and prepared for class each week and stays focused for the entire period;
  • Actively engages professor and classmates during discussions and class activities;
  • Adopts disciplined study/work habits that allocate at least 4-6 hours per week on average for outside preparation and completion of requirements;
  • Is fully aware of all due dates, exam dates, course requirements and asks professor (via email or office hours) if they do not;
  • Checks email regularly and communicates with professor in a timely way when needed;
  • Does not make excuses for missed deadlines or failed work and instead offers solutions to the problem of not meeting course requirements;
  • Works effectively and collegially with colleagues on group projects/presentations;
  • Acts like an adult who accepts full responsibility for their choices and actions whether they result in success or failure;
  • Commits fully to their professional success as a student while achieving balance in their personal life so it does not impinge upon that commitment.


Students with Disabilities

The university provides reasonable accommodations to students with documented physical and learning disabilities.  The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), located in Student Affairs Room 115 coordinates all documentation of disabilities (323-343-3140)



If you have any questions at any point during the quarter please contact the professor via email or during office hours as soon as possible.


Class Schedule


Topics Covered

Required Reading

Due Dates & Deadlines


Introduction to course and requirements

·     Syllabus review

·     Course introduction

·     The critical/central role of creativity on content marketing and building social media audiences





Introduction to content marketing

·     Why content marketing

·     Examining and evaluating content

·     Decoding marketing narratives/stories

·     Conveying value

Pulizzi Pt. I (Ch. 1-6)


Blog set up


Content strategy

·     The audience

·     Perceptions of value/importance

·     Engagement cycles

·     Storyboarding

Pulizzi Pt. II (Ch. 7-13)

Concept Quiz #1


Managing Content

·     Content types

·     Editorial calendars

·     Telling stories over time

Pulizzi Pt. III (Ch. 14-20)


 Fan media set up



Storyboarding for organizing content

·       Multiplatform storytelling

·       Storyboarding tools

Pulizzi Pt. IV & V (Ch. 21-25)

Concept Quiz #2


Content marketing and measuring WOM

·       Stories that Replicate

·       Social Influencers

·       Measuring the value of campaigns and messages

Berger Introduction

Social Media Press Release




Creative Visual content

·       Infographics

Berger Ch. 1, 2

Concept Quiz #3


Creative Visual content

·       Images

·       Video

Berger Ch.  3, 4




Creative Written content

·       Microblogs


Berger Ch. 5

Concept Quiz #4


Creative Written content

·       Social media press releases

·       Long form blogging

Berger Ch. 6



Viral as a strategic goal

·       Elements of self-replicating messages

·       Reproducibility


Concept Quiz #5


Platform specific syntax and content


Syntactical Presentations



Platform specific syntax and content


Syntactical Presentations



Platform specific syntax and content

Syntactical Presentations



Platform specific syntax and content


Syntactical Presentations




Blogs & Earned Media DUE!


Faculty Profile

Profile Image
Michael Germano JD, MA, MS
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Contact Info
Office: LN 1018A
Office Hours Spring 2017:
Monday 2-4
Tuesday 3-6
Wednesday 3-4
Thursday 3-5
Friday 11-12
Text (769-287-1015) or email ( to schedule an appt.
Send Email

Course Twitter Feed

You will be expected to follow the course/professor's Twitter feed as part of the class (counts towards class participation points). I will post entries on news and issues relevant to social media marketing.


Hint: You can have all of my tweets send directly to your phone as a text message by texting 'follow profmgermano' to 40404 (off profmgermano to stop)


Social Media Marketing Certificate Info

Like social media? Earn a certificate in social media marketing. Open to any majors. Take MKT 380 plus 3 of the new social media marketing courses and you earn the certificate.


Full Syllabus


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