Are your tweets, likes and pins certified?
Do you struggle to emit an endless stream of clever observations about your core business in 140 characters or less? Are you baffled when one post to the company Facebook page has a reach of 200 users, and the next, seemingly similar status update attracts 2,000 pairs of eyeballs? Social media mastery is second nature for some, and arcane wizardry to others, but everyone in on the same playing field. In 2014, you either have a social media strategy or you're behind the times.
Last year, Hootsuite, the Vancouver-based social media management firm best known for its eponymous and industry-leading social media management tool, launched a social media certification. Last week, Hootsuite exapnded its core strategy by taking the Muhammad-must-go-to-the-mountain measure of offering specialized social media training to businesses on their own turf. The "we'll come to you" approach, dubbed Hootsuite Custom Education offers customers training specifically tailored to their business needs.
Hootsuite exec Jeanette Gibson, the company's vice president of community and customer experience, said in a release announcing the launch of Hootsuite Custom Education that 77 percent of businesses feel that some level of missing skill is hindering their social media efforts. "Empowering your employees to be confident and knowledgeable is critical to the success of a social business and staying ahead of the competition," Gibson said. "Hootsuite's Custom Education program enables senior leaders to tailor training for their organization based on specific business needs."
HCE includes a mix of content from Hootsuite University, the company's education and training arm — which includes its certification program — as well as the Advance Social Media Strategy Certification (ASMS) program that Hootsuite administers in collaboration with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To date, more than 11,000 individuals have attained some level of Hootsuite certification, while more than 60,000 have participated in the company's social media training programs.
Social media training and certification is a rapidly expanding niche of the IT certification world. A number of universities have entered the social media training arena — Rutgers University offers a Social Media Marketing "mini-MBA" — and Splash Media, MediaBistro and the Online Marketing Institute are among the other companies to offer social media certifications. It may not compare to the heavy lifting required by many more traditional IT certifications — some social media certifications require little more than a single day's training — but social media certification is registering an increasing presence in the certification landscape.