It’s uncommon to find people in the modern world who don’t have social media accounts, yet organizations still struggle mightily with how to effectively and strategically use social media for business. Formal teaching—whether in the form of a degree or simply in disciplined coursework—will help. In last week’s post, I refuted some of the more common arguments against pursuing a degree in social media. In this post, I’d like to focus on coursework and those who I believe are doing it right.
What Should Coursework in Social Media Look like?
A huge component of life in social is being able to measure engagement and growth. Coursework designed around these skills can teach how to grow your brand through social media by making it part of an integrated marketing strategy using social media tools, engagement, and analytics.
But coursework need not be limited, and it’s important to note that many of the skills taught could and should focus on other things. For example, how to create and implement a social media ambassador program, how to track, measure, analyze, and report social media results, and how to use social media to help search strategies for creating content to increase reach. Some schools are examining ways social media can be used to connect and communicate globally or to learn about the history behind social media and how it found its place in our global society.
Who Is Doing It Well
Currently, a few prominent schools offer some form of degree program in social media. Rutgers University has a “mini-MBA” in social media marketing. The cost for nine classes is $4,995. Austin Community College in Texas offers a two-year degree or a certificate in social media communication. Online students at the University of Florida can earn a master’s degree in mass communication with a specialization in social media; they can also pursue a four-course graduate certificate program in social media.
The University of Michigan offers curriculum that moves beyond foundational social media skills by teaching students how to master a marketing campaign strategy with analytics, paid content, earned media, social measurement, even social content writing (think blog writing vs. Facebook vs. Twitter and understanding the nuances).
At BYU, the MBA program has a social media class not unlike the University of Michigan where the focus in a market research class might be how social media can be an effective tool used for social listening, engaging customers, etc. Among many of the programs doing it right, there is a significant focus on real-time learning and the case study method over the traditional textbook-based approach.
Social media done well involves strategy and rigorous execution. Although the debate will likely continue as to whether or not pursuing a degree is a worthwhile endeavor, I tend to think it is. A specialized degree can be a differentiator with some companies—at least a door of opportunity that may not open otherwise. Formal teaching and coursework designed around social media skills like tracking, measurement, and content creation can give tomorrow’s professionals the opportunity to learn skills that won’t become dated—and that’s competitive advantage we can take to the bank.