Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing
When Gema Vinuales, assistant professor of marketing, came to the United States as an exchange student years ago, her American counterparts “could not believe I did not have a Facebook page.” She recalls. “Social media was just emerging, and I thought it would be a great area to research.”
Today, Vinuales teaches a popular, required course on interactive marketing and is working on a related project funded by a recent American Marketing Foundation grant. Her research interests lie at the intersection of digital marketing and branding. More specifically, she is interested in visual communication in online networks and its impact on brand management.
“I look at how information about the presentation of brands in social media and blogs influences consumer judgment,” says Vinuales. “We have learned that comments from blogs are more influential than traditional advertising strategies. People want to hear from other users.” Her work has focused on how different groups of people interpret images and how photos are effectively integrated in online advertising.
The bottom line is that companies and their brands used to have total control over their messaging, but now consumers have much greater influence, according to Vinuales, whose course covers how companies can monetize social networks as well as the most appropriate channels to reach audiences. For all of their tech-savviness, much of this information is news to students. “Even if students have lots of experience with social media, they have not looked at it from a business perspective,” notes Vinuales. “It is amazing to see them start thinking about social media and its content from a different angle.”
Vinuales has also partnered with many local nonprofit organizations to develop digital fundraising campaigns. “Students gain hands-on experience through projects that involve digital marketing expertise and skills that also benefit the community,” she says. As a result of these experiences, students feel more confident they can complete a similar project for a company. “You see how their classwork can ultimately impact their careers.”