At Texas Tech, social media takes center stage

Financial planning students get first hand lessons on how to use social networks

Aug 22, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Students returning to Texas Tech University this fall to study financial planning will have a chance to learn how social media can be used in the business.

The school's personal financial planning department will make social media a regular part of the coursework in technology, marketing and entrepreneurship. It is collaborating with Finect, a compliant social media network. In marketing and entrepreneurship classes, students will use Finect tools in business and sales plans. Members of the school's student board of directors as well as its Personal Financial Planning Association also will have access to Finect's platform.

“Most advisers see it as a mass marketing replacement,” said Deena Katz, associate professor of personal financial planning at Texas Tech, adding that the goal is to teach students how to use social media not only to push out information but also to “get people engaged” and learn about clients' interests.

“They don't understand the power of social media and how they can leverage it in their practice," Ms. Katz said. "Sending out graduates with that expertise will be beneficial for the advisory firms hiring them.”

It also is in demand among advisers who are turning to Texas Tech to find interns from among the school's 250 financial planning students.

“Our sponsors are crying for students who understand social media — because they don't,” Ms. Katz said.

College students have a good grasp of Twitter, Facebook and other outlets, but they don't know how to use them for business purposes.

“We're on the ground floor of something that will be huge,” said Jeremy Ransom, a student in the Texas Tech financial planning program. “The consumption of information in America is largely digital now.”

Texas Tech's move into social media is “a boon for the older students,” said Dustin Parks, 43, a graduate student in financial planning.

Mr. Parks has been involved in web development, but some of his classmates are not as familiar with the online world. He said the experience they get in social media at Texas Tech will be an advantage when they're job-hunting after graduation.

“They can put that on their resume,” Mr. Parks said. “Not only are they financial planners, they're also — maybe not social media gurus — but they they're not novices either.”

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