Flabbergasting Facts About Social Media Certification - You Won't Believe No. 14!
Once upon a time, after spending 16 hours on Facebook, some guy looked out at his newsfeed and thought, "Well, I might as well make money off this thing." Just like that, social marketing was born — and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Marketing has changed. It used to be that TV and radio acted as entertainment bottlenecks: You got what you were served, no substitutions. As a millennial in the '90s, I had no idea that the silly little videos I watched (obtained via excruciatingly long download) were a creeping form of cultural insurrection, that my ability to choose my entertainment would make an entire industry relearn its tactics. Yet, here we are. Vine and YouTube stars accept lucrative endorsement deals while Hollywood celebrities use YouTube cameos to boost their own popularity.
Marketing in this age of niche-interest requires a completely different paradigm than in the past. It used to be that you knew you had an audience, you just had to make your 30 seconds memorable. Now it's more important that your spot be entertaining, something that will get posted and reposted, on walls, blogs, feeds, tumblrs, etc., spreading like a � bacteria.
Making content go bacterial can be very difficult, though. Social media marketing is as much an art as a science, requiring intelligence and creativity, with an eye for trends and a taste for audiences. I'm not going to bother going on and on about how valuable these skills are. We already know that every business needs them, and some businesses have basically created themselves on the power of the viral marketing (like Dollar Shave Club for Men). You came here for one reason: Certs.
Well, if you're cert-ching for ways to validate and improve your skills, I can certainly help with that. (Also, I promise to never do that again if you keep reading.) You're interested in Media Marketing certifications, so let's go over some options.
First, the big, exciting name right now is Hootsuite University. Yes, Hootsuite University, as in training based around media marketing platform Hootsuite. Hear me out, now: Yes, it's vendor specific, and I don't like that any better than you do. Having said that, the Hootsuite certifications are comprehensive, so you're getting more than just software training. Furthermore, Hootsuite is an incredibly powerful toolset that's gaining popularity among serious media-marketing professionals, so centering some of the training on the solution may actually end up being beneficial.
Hootsuite University is a self-paced learning system based around a monthly fee of about $21. For anyone who is serious about earning a social media cert, but isn't sure about the Hootsuite specifically, they also offer a high-level certificate called the Advanced Social Media Strategy Certificate for about $2,200. (Yikes! You might need some help from yesterday's article.)
Another option is Market Motive's Social Media Certification Course. Cons before pros: You cannot test out of the classes. There are many different ways to handle the coursework, ranging from a monthly subscription ($300/mo) to a 90-day instructor-led courses for $,3500 ... but no matter how you elect to finish it, the coursework must get finished. As we've mentioned with Search Engine Optimization, this one is going to be more about the skills you actually develop than the certificate itself.
Finally, many colleges and universities have started offering social media courses as part of their general business curriculums. The pro is that the name of a university on a resume can catch a conservative employer's eye. The con is that the university may or may not actually know anything about the subject. If you're enrolled in classes somewhere already, then it's definitely worth looking into. If at all possible, however, look into the credentials of the professor and/or the course designer.
Bottom line: Is it worth it to certify in social media? I wish there was an easy answer to that (it would have saved me several hours of research). This is a field in which none of the available certifications hold enough clout to make a career on their own, but in which any of them will strongly signal seriousness and intelligence to employers. When it comes down to it, though, the best way to prove yourself in the field is to practice it. Certifications are likely to be much more effective as a means to your end than the end itself.
No matter if you take the cert route or not, if you're serious about social media marketing, get your feet wet. Learn the skills as thoroughly as possible. Then, get out there and make things go bacterial!