Competing With Social Networks

Course Number 1217

Associate Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski
Winter; Q3Q4; 3 credits
28 sessions

Career Focus

Competing with Social Networks is a Strategy class targeted at students considering careers in high technology, entertainment, social media or consumer packaged goods. It is useful for students considering consulting careers, careers inside companies as well as for students who are planning to start their own Web 2.0 companies. Frequent protagonist visits help students establish relationships required to be effective in this space.

Educational Objectives

The course introduces the social failure framework which helps us understand why so many people find social interactions online so appealing. Second, it introduces the social platform framework to understand how firms can successfully address these social failures, and help people interact in ways they are unable to in the offline world. Third, it outlines the social strategy framework which helps us understand how large and established firms can leverage social platforms for competitive advantage.

Course Content

There are three modules in the course. In the first module, we use courseware to establish what social failures are and where they come from. In the second module, we examine why some social platforms succeeded while others failed. Here we examine cases on: eHarmony, MeetUp, Twitter, Facebook, mixi, LinkedIn, Friendster and MySpace. In the third module, we examine how small and large firms can leverage social platforms for competitive advantage. Here we examine cases on: Zynga, Yelp, Wikipedia, American Express, Nike, Harvard Business Review, Cisco, and Barack Obama. Field projects complement our discussions.


"Competing with Social Networks" is highly complementary with "Digital Marketing Strategy" or "Online Economy."

Additional considerations

Students interested in integrating cases in this course with extensive field projects undertaken at large social platforms in the Silicon Valley, should consider enrolling in Competing with Social Networks-California.