JUST BECAUSE TODAY’S undergraduates have grown up using social
media platforms doesn’t mean they know how to use them
effectively. To turn marketing students from social media users
to social media pros, Ball State University’s Miller College
of Business in Muncie, Indiana, recently opened an interactive
social media lab within the Miller College’s Center for Advancement
of Digital Marketing and Analytics (CADMA).
Opened in 2016, CADMA immerses students in hands-on
social media projects as they complete courses in marketing
research, marketing communications, social media marketing,
and brand management. Seating up to 35 students, its
750-square-foot lab is equipped with mobile seating, mobile
whiteboards, and five large displays, two of which employ
The lab serves as a “command center” where students work
on a range of projects. For instance, students have managed
social media marketing platforms—such as Facebook fan
pages—for local businesses and campus organizations. This
spring’s class took over the social media activity for the Miller
College of Business and its departments. They completed a
social media audit, designed a platform management strategy,
and provided the school with analytics and weekly updates.
CADMA also offers a social media certification, as a way for
students to show employers that they’re ready to handle digital
marketing. To receive the credential, students must earn at
least three industry-recognized digital marketing certifications
using platforms such as Hootsuite, Hubspot, or Google
Analytics. So far, approximately 100 students have either
earned their certifications or are working toward completion.
The certification grew out of a junior-level social media
marketing course taught by Eric Harvey, CADMA’s director.
Students in Harvey’s course always have been required to earn
three industry certifications.
To fund the lab, the college used proceeds from a
US$299,999 Academic Excellence Grant from the university.
The award will be issued over three years; after that, the center
will seek out future grants, donations, and sponsorships.
As part of the grant’s requirements, CADMA has opened a
student-run social media marketing agency, has sponsored a
social media competition, and plans to hold a digital marketing
summit. The center also provides faculty with social media
data they can use in their projects.
Through their work at CADMA, Miller students are developing
a sought-after skill set to work in an evolving area of
business, says Harvey. “Companies—from the largest Fortune
500 firms to small startups—are seeking well-educated, highly
motivated people” to manage their digital marketing, he adds.
“We will continue to evaluate the marketplace for changes in
demand so we know how to shape our marketing students.”