Monday, July 10, 2017 - 4:00pm

Marketing majors in the School of Business had an extraordinary opportunity last spring when they sat down with executives from Facebook to tell them exactly what they think. And the Facebook folks? Well, they were taking notes.

As part of a semester-long project, students in Mercy’s core Marketing Research class were assigned to help the social media giant understand the overall relevance of Facebook among college students.

“With all the social media options available today, Facebook was interested in gaining deeper insight from millennials into what role the platform currently plays in their lives,” said Dan Longest, who teaches in Mercy’s Business Administration/Marketing B.S. track. “They want to gain more traction by learning what this growing audience segment really wants. The students, who’ve grown up with Facebook, were in a great position to provide this user feedback—while sharpening their skills as future marketers.”

The class of 20 students divided into five teams, each focusing on a different aspect of the Facebook experience. Students conducted surveys and focus groups and mined data from the Internet. Then they consolidated and analyzed their research results to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to Facebook’s marketing strategy.

There was just one more step: presenting their findings to Facebook.

“We met with a marketing team at Facebook headquarters in Manhattan,” said Longest. “All 20 students presented—even though a few were a little nervous and star-struck! The presentation was extremely well-received, and the feedback from Facebook was overwhelmingly positive. The team really appreciated the students’ insights, strategic thinking and presentation skills.”

Not only did the students benefit from a field learning experience, they also gained key allies. “It’s not just the fact that the Facebook team requested names and contact information for each student, with the potential for making professional connections,” said Longest. “The students showed they were competent, well-informed and tuned in to the latest marketing trends. That alone will help them stand out from the competition.”