ELE 3766 Social Networks and Communities

ELE 3766 Social Networks and Communities

Course code: 
ELE 3766
Communication and Culture
Course coordinator: 
Christian Fieseler
Product category: 
Bachelor - Electives
2018 Spring
Active status: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

Understanding relationships is vital for organizations and is particularly critical to the success of marketing and/or public relations activities. However, new forms of communication and cooperation have made it more difficult for organizations to have an overview or control over their relationships. Analyzing and detecting social networks and communities allows organizations to make sense of the social and information networks arising from the pervasive availability of the Internet and new interactive applications whose use by consumers and other stakeholders can be a benefit for organizations but also can put their reputations at risk. The course introduces basic theoretical perspectives and research methods of social networks and their applications with a focus on communication networks.

Against this background the course will cover particular aspects of social networks and communities impacting corporate communication, marketing and other communicative aspects of product and service development, and reputation.

Target groups
Bachelor students with an interest in corporate communication (for example, public relations, customer relations, public affairs), marketing (especially advertising and branding), journalism, media and technology. The course is ideal for students who intend to pursue a career in marketing and communication, but also in communication related tasks in consulting or strategy-related corporate functions.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

After completing the course students should have gained a basic understanding of:

  • What is changing in marketing and communications, but also why these changes are occurring.
  • Major current economic, technological and social developments in the Internet, and the ensuing implications for enterprises in general and for marketing and communication in particular.
  • Scientific and cultural backgrounds on the properties of social networks, the (sub-)culture of Internet communities, the characteristics of digital media to issues of transparency, attention and power
  • Basic tools for researching and analyzing social networks


Learning outcomes - Skills

On completion of the course students are able to:

  • Explain how organizations can reach their target audiences in an increasingly fragmented media environment
  • Articulate social networks’ impact on the production, authorship and quality of messages and content
  • Identify novel ways of creating and maintaining social capital to avoid reputational crises and activism
  • Outline important innovations in addressing target groups
  • Perform social network analysis
Learning Outcome - Reflection
  • Upon completion of this course students will have an understanding of current communication challenges, but also the requisite knowledge that will help them to fundamentally understand and anticipate societal as well as organizational changes. These include the major current economic, technological and social developments in the Internet, and the ensuing implications for enterprises in general and for marketing and communication in particular.
Course content
  • Defining social networks
  • Creating and Sustaining Social Capital in the Web 2.0
  • Principles and Applications of the Social Internet
  • Social Networks: Forms of Analysis and Applications
  • Communities, Peer Production and Collaboration Processes
  • Trust on the Internet
  • Attention Economy - The Future of Content
  • Communication implications of digital business models
  • The (Counter-) culture of the Internet
  • Engaging social networks online
Learning process and requirements to students

The course aims at combining formal lectures with a case teaching approach. In addition, experts involved in branding and corporate communications will present their insights. The course will consist of the following elements: 

  • Formal lectures for basics of the topics and to provide a conceptual framework;
  • Case studies for deepening knowledge of the management process, as well as for applying theoretical knowledge real-world situations;
  • Guest lectures by media and communication experts in order to gain insights in their roles/activities and experiences.

Project paper
Students will write a paper in small groups in which they have to imagine that they are communication consultants, experts on one of the central modules covered in the lecture. Their analysis should be based on four key questions:

  1. Be convincing: What is the relevance of the topic for today’s business world? Why is it necessary to address the topic? Why does it make good business sense?
  2. Be informed: How well does today’s business world address the topic? Do you find any signs that it already systematically addresses your topic? Are there signs that businesses need to catch up on their efforts? 
  3. Be creative: What are opportunities for improvement? How can businesses become even better at addressing your topic? What new, exciting measures would you propose? How could they benefit from your suggestions?
  4. Be rigorous: Why should business believe you? How can you ground your assumptions in theory, as it pertains to your particular topic, based on the literature handed out to you as well as additional (scholarly) material?

The length of the paper should not exceed 20 pages and shall correspond to general scientific requirements. With the paper students are also required to hand in a short presentation summarizing their approach to the topic, not exceeding 15 slides. It is taken for granted that students prepare for the lectures and play an active role within the course.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

For electives re-sit is normally offered at the next scheduled course. If an elective is discontinued or is not initiated in the semester it is offered, re-sit will be offered in the electives ordinary semester.


Higher Education Entrance Qualification.

Required prerequisite knowledge

There are no formal prerequisites.

Exam categoryWeightInvigilationDurationGroupingComment exam
Exam category:
Form of assessment:
Written submission
Exam code:
Grading scale:
Grading rules:
Internal and external examiner
Examination when next scheduled course
100No1 Semester(s)Group/Individual (1 - 5)
Exam category:Submission
Form of assessment:Written submission
Grouping (size):Group/Individual (1-5)
Duration:1 Semester(s)
Exam code:ELE37661
Grading scale:ECTS
Resit:Examination when next scheduled course
Exam organisation: 
Ordinary examination
Total weight: 
Workload activityDurationType of durationComment student effort
Teaching39Hour(s)Participation in teaching sessions, presentations.
Other in classroom6Hour(s)Group work in class.
Prepare for teaching60Hour(s)
Self study45Hour(s)
Submission(s)50Hour(s)Work on Project Paper.
Expected student effort:
Workload activity:Teaching
Duration:39 Hour(s)
Comment:Participation in teaching sessions, presentations.
Workload activity:Other in classroom
Duration:6 Hour(s)
Comment:Group work in class.
Workload activity:Prepare for teaching
Duration:60 Hour(s)
Workload activity:Self study
Duration:45 Hour(s)
Workload activity:Submission(s)
Duration:50 Hour(s)
Comment:Work on Project Paper.
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 7,5 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of at least 200 hours.

Talis literature


Authors/Editors År Tittel Edition Publisher StudentNote
Fieseler, Christian 2016 Collection of articles      


Authors/Editors År Tittel Edition Publisher StudentNote
Howe, Jeff 2008 Crowdsourcing: why the power of the crowd is driving the future of business   Crown Business  
Palfrey, John; Gasser, Urs 2012 Interop: the promise and perils of highly interconnected systems   Basic Books  
Shirky, Clay 2011 Cognitive surplus: creativity and generosity in a connected age   Penguin Books  
Osterwalder, Alex; Pigneur, Yves; Bernarda, Greg; Smith, Alan; Papadakos, Trish cop. 2014 Value proposition design: how to create products and services customers want   Wiley  
Authors/Editors År Tittel Edition Publisher StudentNote
Enders, Albrecht; Hungenberg, Harald; Denker, Hans-Peter; Mauch, Sebastian 2008-6 The long tail of social networking.      
Mark S. Granovetter 1973 The Strength of Weak Ties      
Kaplan, Andreas M.; Haenlein, Michael 2010-1 Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media      
Kietzmann, Jan H.; Hermkens, Kristopher; McCarthy, Ian P.; Silvestre, Bruno S. 2011-5 Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media      
Borgatti, S 2003-12 The Network Paradigm in Organizational Research: A Review and Typology      
Boyd, Danah m.; Ellison, Nicole B. 2007 Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship