The tremendous growth of social media to collect customer and market data is creating exciting, new career opportunities.

Not so long ago, social media was for recreational use only – a way for friends and families to connect and share photos. Today, sites such as Facebook, Twitter and countless others have become legitimate and powerful marketing tools.

To meet industry's demand for managers with the technological and business skills to address this latest evolution in marketing, Saint Leo University launched an MBA concentration in marketing research and social media analytics.

The specialization, which includes several new leading-edge courses, will arm MBA grads with the knowledge and skills to utilize today's rapidly evolving tools and techniques to create comprehensive marketing strategies – strategies that capitalize on the potential of 'big data' to drive business decisions.

Dr. Diane Monahan, chair of Saint Leo's Department of Communication and Marketing, answers some questions prospective students might have about the new program and the emerging field of marketing research and social media analytics.

Why is the field of marketing research and social media analytics such a hot career choice?

Dr. Monahan: The explosive growth in social media use by individuals and organizations has generated tremendous amounts of new data. We have reached the point where we have access to huge amounts of diverse data that were inconceivable even just a few years ago.

These technological developments have provided us with new insights and have opened up new opportunities to improve human decision-making in all activities, including business. Previously intuitive decisions can now be quantified both in terms of inputs, processes and outputs. The whole decision process is becoming more accurate and the cost-benefit analysis between effort and results is becoming more precise.

As a result, job creation in the marketing research and web analytics field is booming.

What excites you most about Saint Leo's program?

Dr. Monahan: It's an excellent opportunity for both our students and the university to respond to industry needs. Both the new online MBA concentration and the graduate certificate program will prepare students well for the newest evolution in marketing.

Nearly every business wants to know how to better collect, analyze, and use analytics to develop strategic marketing plans and make better business decisions, particularly related to rapidly developing field of social media analytics. Most business students do not learn this at the undergraduate level, and so our new MBA concentration helps prepare students at the graduate level to meet the needs of their current and future employers.

What career opportunities are open to students with this specialization?

Dr. Monahan: "Big Data" is revolutionizing all areas of our life—science, politics, entertainment, art, sport, business, and more. Small, medium, and large businesses are in constant need of highly skilled marketing managers who can analyze big data from social media and then design successful marketing strategies and campaigns based on that insight.

Graduates of our program will be prepared to conduct traditional marketing research, as well as use the latest data mining technique to integrate web and social media analytics into comprehensive marketing strategies.

Specifically, what types of positions can graduates get?

Dr. Monahan: Graduates will be prepared for a wide variety of jobs across industries. These jobs include a marketing analyst, e-commerce manager, social analytics consultant, digital analytics consultant, and audience data analytics and marketing researcher.


How is this program consistent with the university's mission and core values?

Dr. Monahan: The marketing research and social media analytics MBA concentration aligns Saint Leo with its industry partners' needs and demonstrates the university's willingness to provide highly skilled employees who are ready to fulfill high-demand positions. 

This program also is consistent with Saint Leo's focus on utilizing the latest technologies and providing our students with the skills to succeed. It aligns with our university's core value of excellence.

What new courses are being offered?

Dr. Monahan: This program introduces four new courses. All of the courses will be offered completely online. Each course was carefully selected and crafted to holistically create a foundation in social media analytics, tools for applying the analytics, and applications to better engage customers as it relates to consumer buying needs.

Gamification Applications in Marketing provides comprehensive training in a technique based on using insights from games to make marketing exchanges more efficient.

Web Analytics trains students in the latest techniques for analyzing and optimizing web content and analytics

Data Mining covers data mining processes, tools, and strategies.

And Social Media Marketing is the capstone course. This course will integrate knowledge from the other courses and provide students hands-on experience conducting marketing research, analyzing web analytics, using gamification concepts, and developing comprehensive social media marketing strategies.

What are the requirements to apply to the program?

Dr. Monahan: Saint Leo has rolling admissions, so you can apply for the online MBA program at any time. Simply fill out the online application. You'll also need to submit a current resume, two professional recommendations, a 250-word educational and career goals statements, and a transcript release form. GMAT scores are not required.

Are you considering applying to an MBA degree program? Share any questions you might have in comments below.

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