NUAMPS/A&RT Launch MOOC Specialization: “Social Marketing – How to Profit in the Digital World”


In today’s digital climate, many businesses have gotten good at being active on social media. But very few have figured out how to be profitable on it. Northwestern University’s new, free online courses take dead aim at this issue.

The five-course specialization, Social Marketing: How to Profit in the Digital World (@NUsocialmktg), launched on Coursera last Tuesday, September 15. One of the University’s newest MOOCs—massive open online courses—these free courses are designed to teach entrepreneurs and executives how to engage with high-value target audiences and develop profitable social media strategies.

“Only about 20% of companies worldwide say they have social programs that deliver bottom-line profit and ROI,” said Randy Hlavac (@RandyHlavac), the Northwestern University Medill IMC professor who is leading the course. “This course focuses on the strategies used by the most effective companies within that 20%. It describes the types of strategies that work and gives you the tools you need to go out an implement them in your organization.”

Hlavac, who teaches Digital, Social, and Mobile Marketing at Medill, is the author of the new book, Social IMC: Social Strategies with Bottom-Line ROI. He is also the coordinator of the Digital and Interactive Specialization at Medill and the director of the Medill IMC OmniChannel Initiative with IBM.

The courses, which are open to and designed for business owners, executives, and marketing professionals around the world, will show students how to develop, deploy, and monetize a successful social media marketing plan. “It’s designed to teach you the strategies that are actually trackable and monetizable. Then it shows you how to go out and execute those strategies,” Hlavac said.


Structure of the Specialization

The specialization is made of up five free MOOCs and cumulates with a capstone project. The first MOOC is available now, and subsequent MOOCs will launch over the next four months. The MOOCs will cover:

Participants anywhere in the world can sign up for the individual courses for free on Coursera and complete the MOOCs on their own schedule. Those who complete all five MOOCs—and pay to take the premium version of the entire specialization, which includes the capstone project—will earn the Northwestern University Specialization in Social Marketing Certificate. The premium version costs $79/MOOC or $426 for the entire specialization


Tools for Building Profitable Social Media Marketing

The courses give students the habits, expertise, and tools they need to become an expert in the social markets that are most valuable to their organizations.

“One of the things that makes these courses so unique is that they are going to be extremely hands-on,” Hlavac said. “We’re not going to talk about the theory of social media marketing; we’re going to have students go do it.”

All students will receive access to social marketing toolkits by enrolling in the courses. Containing items like advanced marketing and analytics tools, the kits will prove to be critical in developing a successful social strategy. Students taking the premium version of the specialization, however, will receive more valuable tools—longer review times, more advanced tools, special videos, and e-books—to justify the extra investment.


Contributors to the Courses

Another highlight of the course is the opportunity to learn not just from Hlavac and other Northwestern professors, but also from experts at some of the world’s most innovative companies and programs.

“Rather than being a traditional lecture, the course is made up of conversations with experts in fields such as data analytics, infograpics, gamification, blogging, and content marketing,” Hlavac said. “The conversations will examine the companies that are leading the way in using these tools to deliver bottom-line results.”

Northwestern Faculty

Faculty from across Northwestern will share insight from their research and teaching:

  1. ​Randy Hlavac – Medill, Integrated Marketing Communications
  2. Tom Collinger – Medill, Integrated Marketing Communications
  3. Judy Franks – Medill, Integrated Marketing Communications
  4. Rich Gordon – Medill Journalism
  5. Tom Hayden – Medill, Integrated Marketing Communications
  6. Zach Wise – Medill, Integrated Marketing Communications

Industry professionals

The courses feature insight from a tremendous lineup of leading professionals across digital marketing and analytics, including: