Social Media & Consumerism

This lesson marries traditional consumerism with social media and explores the strategies used to market consumer goods and brands via social media. This lesson is primarily one that promotes awareness and critical thinking about advertising and the subtleties that can influence consumers like students through a medium they are all too familiar with. I think of this lesson like an informatory discussion with your child about how not every person they meet is a safe person. This lesson is about teaching caution by  thinking & researching before jumping on every trend and by analyzing the company’s point of view and intentions so students can make smart, informed decisions about what they participate in online.

Time Frame: 2 blocks


  • 3.5.1 Conduct market research to determine consumer trends and product development needs.
  • 3.5.1 Analyze features, prices, product information, styles, and performance of consumer goods for potential trade-offs among the components.
  • 3.5.8 Utilize appropriate marketing and sales techniques to aid consumers in the selection of goods and services that meet consumer needs.


  • What is social media?
  • What is the purpose of social media?
  • What does it mean to go viral?



  • Computer Lab
  • SMART Board

Background for Teachers

  • I included a PowerPoint that is merely a slide show of screen shots from Target’s social media sites. It is far better to go to the sites in class so they are most up to date however, I realize a lot of schools still block social media sites. If you want to make your own “screenshot” PowerPoint click here for instructions.


  • As a class preferably on a SMART board categorize social media sites. Have students give a summary/description of each one.
  • Examples
  • Next, steer class discussion towards consumerism and their effective or ineffective use of social media. Ask questions like, “How many of you are “friends” or “follow” a company or product. Ask for some examples and why they chose to subscribe, follow, or friend that product/company.
  • What are the reasons that companies want you to download their APPS, friend, or get you to follow them?
    • Send you product promotions
    • Brand visibility – to remind you of their brand
    • Get customer feedback on products
    • Track users and data mine user activity to learn about their customers

468x60 class


  • As a class take a look at Target’s social media campaign and ask the class the following questions. It is my preference to let students login to the site individually and silently first to make their own judgments before class comment.  Put the following questions up on the board for them to think about as they view. As an alternative you can also post these questions on a discussion board if your school has access.
    • What was your customer experience like?
    • Was anything compelling about their campaign?
    • Was anything a turn off?
    • From Target’s perspective what do you think their motives are? What are they trying to get you the consumer to do? Do you think it is effective?
    • If this was not a class assignment how many of you would be friends with Target on your own? Why or why not?
    • What demographic is this campaign targeted to? What age range, gender, culture, location, income level, stage of life? How do you know?
  • With a partner you are to compare and contrast two similar products or brands’ social media campaigns. Ex. Walmart vs. Target;  Abercrombie & Fitch vs. American Eagle; JcPenny vs. Macy’s; Pizza Hut vs. McDonalds; Este Lauder vs. Lancome; University A vs. University B
    • The final product will be a Glogster (online interactive poster)
    • Guiding Questions:
      • What are the missions of the two companies?
      • If you were in the board meetings of each of the companies what do you think they would say are the objectives of their social media campaign? Awareness, create web traffic, support existing customers, increase sales, brand recognition, etc?
      • Dissect their current social media campaigns. What platforms are they using? There may be more than one!
      • Summarize the messages they are sending or soliciting from their customers.
      • What Gimmicks are they using?  How compelling are their strategies?
      • What things if any are helpful to the customer?
      • Were there any social media marketing campaigns that went bad? How/why?
      • Give a rating, evaluative opinion on which product/brand does a better job utilizing social media and why you think so.


  • Career Connection: have a social marketing specialist come and speak to your class. Talk about marketing and careers in marketing such as working for ad agencies, promotions, public relations, and social media marketing.
  • There are tons of articles out there on how social media sites are tracking user data and selling it. Have students read a few and write a reaction paper.


  • After all the presentations ask the class what type of social media marketing tactics are most effective? What platforms? Why? Answers should involve the idea that brands/companies that can use social media to inform, help, add value to customers are the most successful. Ones that are gimmicky, are misaligned and provide little value put customers on the defensive and destroy customer trust.
  • What did you learn today about marketing? As a consumer how can you hedge yourself from being overly influenced?  What are some of the consequences of being inundated with social media marketing?


  • Glogster is graded




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