Academic thesis for Indiana University's School of Public & Environmental Affairs.
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Jamie Phipps
Arts Management

Professor Paul Sturm
Adjunct Faculty, Arts Administration
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Faculty Mentor

 As defined by Webster-Miriam dictionary, “social media” are forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. The term, coined in 2004, has had a very dramatic impact on marketing procedures for organizations ranging from local arts organizations to Fortune 500 companies. Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter have evolved from being person-to-person communication mediums to being brand-to-person communication mediums.

While originally social media seemed to be a fad, statistics show that social media has grown exponentially and is here to stay. Many companies have developed digital marketing departments that include content developers and social media specialists. As technology continues to advance and new social media platforms develop, it is a social media marketing specialist’s job to keep track of up-and-coming social media platforms, monitor activity across various social media networks, and develop new and engaging content across all social media channels.

Because there is still skepticism surrounding social media, and few hard numbers exist to measure the return on investment of social media, the general consensus is that social media should be treated as its own entity, rather than as an integral part of the new marketing mix.

Through my research, I will study how social media has been integrated into the traditional marketing mix by finding how social media marketing has been treated as a marketing tool, how social media has changed elements of the traditional marketing model, and how organizations measure the return on investment (ROI) for social media. I will research the various uses of social media across multiple organizations including arts organizations, advertising agencies, and for-profit companies in order to develop a clear image of social media for business.