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Sauder students receive prestigious award nomination for social media strategy

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The assignment: Build a custom social media plan for Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant Awards, the publication’s celebrated annual event announcing the city’s best eateries.


The hands-on project was taken on by a team of students as part of the new course, Decoding Social Media: Theory and Practice, launched in January by the Sauder School of Business and UBC Graduate School of Journalism.

Were they successful? Their recent nomination for a Canadian Online Publishing Award points emphatically in the direction of “yes.”

Co-taught by marketing Instructor Paul Cubbon, and journalism Associate Professor Alfred Hermida, Decoding Social Media aims to equip students with skills to connect with and serve online audiences. To sharpen these skills the instructors have made real life experience a core part of the course.

For business the student team, the goal was to drive online traffic and build awareness for Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant Awards in social media, and boost the overall appeal of the brand.

“The team was diligent in listening to their client to understand the issues, and then creative in their solutions.” says Cubbon, noting factors leading to their success.

Their recommendations were presented to the client and many were adopted. One tactic included the use of the dedicated hashtag #vanmagawards, which became a trending topic in Canada the night the event took place.

The success of the campaign helped bolster an understanding of social media’s power at the popular Vancouver publication. Cubbon says it’s ultimately the goal of the course to demystify social media for students and the organizations they’re paired with.

“Our students are working with organizations to remove mystery around social media as an effective tool, so that both the students and the companies can better understand how to connect with stakeholders,” says Cubbon. “With this consulting expertise and experience, our graduates are even more attractive as employees.”