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MKT 3810: The Syntax of Social Media: Syllabus


MKT 3810 Syntax of Social Media Final Exam

This exam is worth up to 14 points (four extra credit). It has five questions. You can answer all of them or simply choose the ones you wish to do for the points assigned. You may work in teams of up to 4 or alone. It is due December 8 at midnight. You should email your answers (cc all students whose names are on the exam) by that time as an attached word document or pdf (no links to google docs.) All page lengths are double-spaced and are suggested as minimums for effectively answering the question. Write for comprehensiveness and clarity not for length. Exams received/timestamped by email after the deadline will not be graded. Exams that fail to meet the requirements of format and delivery (word or pdf attachment, all group members cc'ed on email) will not be considered.

Additionally, late exams will result in a net loss of 5 points from total grade so better to send nothing than send something late. 

See each individual question for instructions and point values.

  1. Explain each element of Jonah Berger’s STEPPS with regards to social media content marketing generally and provide/analyze an illustrative example from a brand’s social media marketing content/efforts that was not discussed in class. This section is worth 3 points and should be 3-4 pages long (1/2 page+ for each element of STEPPS).
  2. Create content channel plans and an 6 week editorial calendar for Spotify on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. HINT: Refer to Epic Content Marketing for an example of a content channel plan if you’ve forgotten. This question should be about 4-5 pages in length and is worth 3 points. Use charts/tables for the channel plans and calendar.
  3. Use a free infographic tool (piktochart is a good easy one that I recommend) to create visual content that Spotify might use for a strategic purpose (loyalty, customer service/experience, awareness, facilitate trial etc.) Infographics are all about making complex ideas simple so work backwards from this idea. Briefly explain the strategic purpose behind the content (use one listed above) and how that purpose is fulfilled. This is worth 2 points; The infographic should be a page and the explanation should be about a page or so. Remember, infographics are about making complex information easy to understand. So you must use a fair amount of information, data and/or statistics about music or musicians etc.
  4. Create a storyboard for a story that can be used on social media (any platform of your choice) by Spotify. This question is worth 2 points and should be about 2-3 pages. You should include the following:
    • A brief overview of the narrative/story and which platform you chose to tell it on and why
    • Storyboard your story using a free storyboarding tool (I recommend but you can Google ‘free storyboarding’ to find others
    • Explain how the story’s content would facilitate EWOM and what strategic benefit (new customers, loyalty, trial, etc.) would be met by telling/re-telling it
  5. How can Spotify generate EWOM through user-generated content? Create tactical plans/campaigns (set of specific actions) that Spotify can engage in that would generate EWOM on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Each campaign should feature specific syntactical elements of the platform that can be exploited to get users to generate and share content related to Spotify. The campaigns should each include a target audience, core value message, and goal (what kind of EWOM generated). Each platform specific campaign must be different. No duplication allowed. This question is worth 4 points and should take 4 pages approximately (1 page per campaign).

Social Media Course Survey

The Syntax of Social Media

Salazar Hall C266

Thursday 6:00-8:45

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 & Wednesday 3:00-4:30; Tuesday & Thursday 3:00-5:30 or by appointment
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 Exam 10%

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/10% 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/20% of grade 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)




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)



Blog set up 


Storyboarding for organizing content

  • Multiplatform storytelling
  • Storyboarding tools

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

Concept Quiz #2

Fan media set up and Editorial Calendar created


Content marketing and measuring WOM

  • Stories that Replicate
  • Social Influencers
  • Measuring the value of campaigns and messages

Berger Introduction




Creative Visual content

  •  Infographics

Berger Ch. 1, 2

Concept Quiz #3


Creative Visual content

  • Images
  • Video

Berger Ch.  3, 4

 Social Media Press Release 


Creative Written content

  • Microblogs
  • Memes

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


Sourcing Content and Influencers

  • Alignment with strategic changes
  • Budgets
  • Evaluation of content
  • Disclosures




Platform specific syntax and content


Syntactical Presentations and Reports

Teams 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 


   No class


Last blog posts this week


Platform specific syntax and content


Syntactical Presentations and Reports

Teams 1, 2, 3, 7, 11

Last fan media posts  this week




Final Exam 

Take home exame due Saturday 12/9 at midnight (or before)


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

John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300