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Learner Reviews & Feedback for What is Social? by Northwestern University

4,104 ratings

About the Course

The “What Is Social?" MOOC is for business owners, executives, and marketing professionals who want to significantly improve their abilities to grow their social strategy using effective, proven methodologies. This hands on, "how to" program won’t just tell you how to grow your professional persona using social – you will actually do it! This course is the first in the six-course specialization, Social Media Marketing: How to Profit in a Digital World. While the course can be audited for free, paid learners will receive additional content beyond the course basics. For MOOC 1, the toolkit includes a special video from Alessandro Acquisti on Big Data and a set of studies done by IBM on engagement and social marketing strategies with bottom-line profits. This course has been designed to give you the tools, insights, knowledge, and skills to immediately impact your organization. In addition, we will help you network with thought leaders in social. After completing this course, you and your organization’s staff will be able to position, engage, and grow relationships with the consumers of highest value to you. Today, we are living in a period of massive disruption. New technologies are changing the way people engage with each other and with the organizations that interest them. This course will start you on the path to growing your own social strategy using effective, proven methodologies. Additional MOOC 1 faculty include: * Judy Ungar Franks (President, The Marketing Democracy, Ltd. & Lecturer, Medill Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern)...

Top reviews


May 12, 2016

A really great introduction to Social Media Marketing and an opportunity to gain access to really useful tools that make me competitive in the job market. Very excited to begin MOOC 2 of this program.


Oct 6, 2016

Great course. Looking forward completing whole specialization.

Additionally, the course shares and recommends tools which are helpful if you are doing social media marketing or eager to become one.

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1 - 25 of 1,059 Reviews for What is Social?

By Mary L

Jun 28, 2019

This course is an excellent well executed course. It has allot of very interesting reading as well as quizzes to make sure you understand the knowledge, plus there is inter-action with fellow peers &

By Daniel M

Mar 19, 2017

It was probably one of the best MOOC's I've ever attended! Sir Randy did a great job explaining everything, accompanied by excellent slides which made me understand the course more! Excellent course!

By Megan P

Apr 28, 2019

Please update the social media platforms that are being used for this coarse. Many have either changed names and their billing or are no longer existent.

By Alyson C

Feb 28, 2016

This class was so boring I could not stand it. Social Media Marketing is such a fun + interesting subject that I could not BELIEVE they could make it so dull. Disappointed!

By Amanda v Z

May 30, 2016

There are no clearly defined learning outcomes at the start of each video which are cramped with stats and facts and statements such as "you will learn more about this in mooc 2" and "this will be talked about extensively in mooc 3". As a learner its confusing to know what to take out of each video.

The extend to which students are used to promote the course by prompting them to tweet about the videos is a concern. Ones or twice is okay. But every time?

The assignment is a miss - students should be given a choice whether they want to focus on marketing their professional personas or marketing their business.

I can summarize MOOC 1 in one sentence. Social Media is big and therefore business must change the way they do marketing.

By Vida R

Jan 1, 2020

Education should be the number one priority of these f*king courses in marketing. Why are they wasting my time promoting their books on and on an on... Exactly how dumb do you think we are??

By Julia K

Oct 23, 2019

Slightly outdated and patched up, this course needs a complete overhaul including graphics. Also, audio quality is somewhat lacking in some videos.

By Jonas M G

Nov 22, 2018

Bit boring and out of date.

By Svenja R

Sep 22, 2019

Boring and basic. I don't feel like I learned any new skills throughout this course. The few theories that were introduced were dragged and repeated over several videos. The readings did not provide any additional insights or complementary points of view. Most of the time the professor points out what you'll learn in the follwwing MOOCs as opposed to teaching you something from MOOC 1. The continuous call to sign up for Twitter is super annoying.

By kimberly c

Jan 6, 2016

Decent coverage of the basics, but some of the data, tools and approaches used are out of date by 2-3 years which is particularly troublesome in the fast-moving social space. For example, they rely quite a bit on data from 2011 and 2012 and from social tools and reports from IBM.

For someone completely new to the social space, this could be a great starter class. Just be sure to do your own research to supplement the data and be sure you're current.

After grading assignments by other students, it was easy to see why the discussion portions of the class were flat: most either didn't invest in the assignments or didn't understand the materials. While I have found the discussion portions of other MOOCs to be equally interesting to the class material, I didn't have that experience in this session.

By Peter C

Dec 6, 2020

1. Asking people to tweet what are basically endorsements of the course and its creators may do wonders for Randy et al.'s social capital, but it does nothing for the students unless they are their first tweets in life.

2. Slides with spelling and grammar errors should be unacceptable in an academic setting. They are, at least to me, but apparently not to Northwestern and its Ph.D. instructors.

3. I have submitted 3 peer reviews and was given electronic feedback that they were accepted. However, the website keeps insisting I have submitted none. Two attempts to resolve this question has resulted in crickets as a response. I have paid for this Coursera course, and I am now resenting having made this a paid course.

4. There is some mildly interesting content. Still, it is delivered with no passion in a way that breaks a ton of rules about communicating virtually - which is strange considering the topic.

5, I was delighted to be turned on by Randy to ClueTrain, but I think that Randy would do well to take a few of its lessons about the need for the authenticity of communication to heart.

6. You have students in discussion boards begging for peer feedback and getting none, and you have other students bargaining, "I will give you full grades if you give full marks back to me". I see no evidence that this is remotely problematic to the university's standards, as long as people declare they are doing their own work.

6. Randy is asking students to identify where the obsolete material that they have discovered is listed. I would have thought, Randy, that doing the work of knowing what you have said, where you have said it, and why would be your responsibility to track down and renovate rather than crowdsourcing that responsibility to your beginner level students. Hey, maybe that's just me,

7. Sorry to be so critical here. This is a course that is in serious need of refreshing, and if I were the academic authority of Northwestern, I would require a sea change of practice, content, and standards. Northwestern has a stellar reputation as a communications powerhouse. This course, in no way, reflects that reputation.

8. Having said that this reflects poorly on Northwestern leaves unsaid the other obvious part, this also reflects poorly on the reputation of Coursera for reviewing, assessing, and eventually deploying only exceptionally high-quality educational experiences. I realize MOOCs are an evolving medium, but we know enough to know that what would be bad practice in an in-class environment is likely to continue to be a bad practice in a virtual environment.

By Dean G

Aug 3, 2017

Far too often, we talked about what we are GOING to learn about Social Media Marketing vs actual content. After week two, it was a running joke with my colleague that anytime we talked about the course, we would just say "oh we'll learning this in MOOC 321."

I'm being harsh because I paid for this. Please improve your content.

By Alan E

Aug 22, 2017

I felt it was a constant advertisement to the presenter's products ("in my book", "in the next course")... too little information provided per course. Plus, I'm paying my monthly fee and still requires me to pay an additional $79USD? why? First Coursera course that makes me feel tricked.

By Guido P

Mar 11, 2016

The informations were useful, but the videos were repetitive. This whole course had the amount of informations as one week of many others. If it was free I would have no complaints, but since it is part of a specialization, I expect more. Removing all the fat each week would have 10 minutes worth of material.

Also I did not appreciate the length at which the speakers promoted their books.

By tiroj P

Apr 25, 2020

Social media is a phrase that we throw around a lot these days, often to describe what we post on sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others. So you can infer that social media are web-based sites that allow people to interact with each other.

But if we use the term to describe a site like Facebook, and also a site like Digg, plus a site like Wikipedia, and even a site like I Can Has Cheezburger, then it starts to get more confusing. Just what exactly is social media, anyway?

The term is so vague that it can basically be used to describe almost any website on the internet today. Or can it?

Some people have more of a restricted view of social media, often equating it to mean the same as social networking (a.k.a. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Other people don't consider blogs to fall under the social media category.

It seems as if everyone has their own personal opinion of what social media is and isn't. But let's dive deeper into the general concept to gain a clearer and more precise understanding.

So, What Is Social Media?

Rather than define the term using a bunch of boring jargon that would probably only complicate things further, perhaps the best way to get a clearer understanding of it is to break it down into simpler terms. To start, let's look at each word individually.

The 'social' part: refers to interacting with other people by sharing information with them and receiving information from them.

The 'media' part: refers to an instrument of communication, like the internet (while TV, radio, and newspapers are examples of more traditional forms of media).

From these two separate terms, we can pull a basic definition together:

Social media are web-based communication tools that enable people to interact with each other by sharing and consuming information.

By Sohail B

Sep 23, 2017

Brief Profile: Sohail Butt

I am a man of 58 years old and having an experience of almost 30 years of Business Management of Pharmaceutical & Nutraceutical Industries of Pakistan. Presently I am having my own Consulting Company " AIMMS CONSULTING" and extending my services as Management Consultant to different companies of said sectors.

I am of the conviction that learning is never ending and have a habit of learning new ideas about my favorite subject about Social Media Marketing.

I really appreciate highly the efforts of my respected dynamic & highly competent Prof Randy Hlavac and enjoyed the course material and videos presentation of this course. Mind blowing conceptual approach was adopted especially in the areas of basic conceptual knowledge of Social Medial Overall it was my superb experience of learning.


MY PERSONAL HUMBLE REQUEST, Please make also the important components of course material as a part of this Certificate with % AGGREGATE so that it has a much more worth & impact for the courses participated.

By Dr L P

Jun 11, 2017

Negative: A lot of teasers for upcoming MOOCs and a little too self-promotional at times (ie: books from guests, tweet about the course after every segment and links to pay-in sites). Maybe could be more succinct for the amount of content delivered (but, I come from an educational background where material is very taxing and gone through VERY quickly, so I'm probably a little biased).

positive: social media marketing in general seems interesting, especially in terms of building relationships with the consumer. Some interesting examples and the rest of the course seems like it will be useful.

By Yagnik P

Jan 3, 2020

I submit my assignment before 2-3 weeks ago and still, my grade don't update and when I see into discussion form every second day someone post for review their assignment everyone has done peer review but their own assignment 3 don't evaluate my full vacation passed but I don't receive my certificate.

By Kenneth H

Oct 24, 2018

some data outdated.

By Priti V

Sep 8, 2020

The course was good for introduction to Social Media.

However, the tools and examples used are dated, since 2016-17, so much has changed on social platform. The relevant examples could have been inserted as capsules. It should have been updated for 2019-20.

After paying for the program came to know the program was curated 3-4 years back.

Case examples could have been used in the course

By Toby W

Jul 24, 2017

Exciting that such an esteemed US marketing university - Northwestern University -- has offered this social media marketing specialization. This opening module -- What is Social -- does an excellent job of defining social media marketing and the accelerated rate of change, trends, available technologiesthat is happening here. I love the conceptual work paired up with practical applications and examples to maximize learning. Randy Hlavac and the presenting team of experts do a great job. As a late-deafened marketer, I am particularly happy that a transcript and captions are offered with each video for me. Kudos to Northwestern and Coursera for making these necessary ADA accommodations. I want to call out Experts (1) Judy Frank presentation on "Media: Chaos to Clarity" and (2) Stan Smith's "Position as Authority Brand" as must-see. As the lead presenter, Randy does an excellent job guiding each student through the process. I would highly recommend this specialization and this specific "What is Social?" course. Well done.

By Jennifer A V

Oct 11, 2020

MOOC 1 had great insights on different levels of social media and their functions. It also helped to identify the different types of communities to better understand the type of brand that you want to develop. Professor Randy Hlavac was thorough in his discussions with a lot of key tools and information were given.

By Farhad

Oct 7, 2016

Great course. Looking forward completing whole specialization.

Additionally, the course shares and recommends tools which are helpful if you are doing social media marketing or eager to become one.

By Joerns N

Oct 20, 2020

The content was substantial and informative. Its a page or video turner.

By Ummehani M P

Oct 11, 2020

I got to learn so many new concepts.