Businesses everywhere need social media expertise, but if social marketing is not being taught in our universities, who’s picking up the slack?
A survey released just a week ago from the folks at Bazaarvoice made it absolutely clear that CMOs and companies in general are investing big in social media:
…social media had become an essential component of executive marketing strategies by the end of 2010, with 90% of CMOs participating in three or more social activities. CMOs still focus on measurability and ROI but are recognizing there’s even more business impact to uncover. Nearly all (96%) are beginning to look beyond sales goals and web metrics to focus on how social can deliver strong insights that fuel improvements across the business. This is consistent with Forrester Research’s recent finding that more than 45% of all companies now use social media assets for product development in addition to customer engagement (83%), and indicates a sea change in the strategic value that CMOs place on social today.
With almost every business looking to embrace social, there should clearly be demand for education on it. Certainly there are enough case studies on social media, both good (Blendtec) and bad (Kenneth Cole), that can fill college textbooks with examples of best practices and spark discussion, internal project creation, and debate. And now we have academic books slowly being published on the subject, like the one recently published by my friend Beverly Macy “The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing,” that are beginning to put social in both an academic and corporate perspective. Where can professionals go, then, to take online courses in social media?
Unfortunately, further research on the subject proved that there are very few options out there for professionals who want a degree or certification in social media marketing through online courses. While I wouldn’t expect more traditional institutions to move quickly on new trends, I believed that online universities might be more aggressive in picking up the slack. Thanks to a definitive ranking list of best online colleges, I was able to skim the 64 top online schools in America for 2011 and see which of the bigger or more famous schools might have a program in social media. What I found wasn’t much, and while my search was by no means exhaustive, here is what looks like to be your only option if you’re looking to choose an online study program for an education truly specialized in social media marketing:
I am highlighting them because they actually have created a unique program which may become a model of how other online and offline programs can start to teach social marketing in an academic setting. SNHU actually offers an Online MBA in Social Media Marketing, and while the curriculum also consists of 10 core MBA classes, 3 specific classes are offered in the discipline of “social media”: (course descriptions taken directly from the corresponding links for your convenience)
Social Media – This course provides students with a broad approach to the history, theory, technology, impact, and strategic uses of social media. Social media (such as Twitter, Facebook, blogging, podcasting, and so on) are relatively inexpensive and accessible technologies that enable individuals, almost instantaneously, to create, publish, edit, and/or access messages intended for audiences ranging from a single recipient to millions of readers or viewers. Students will learn how to explore the possibilities and limitations of various social media and will learn how to apply and adapt basic and advanced marketing strategies to construct and critically evaluate social texts, their impact, and their practical use in marketing contexts. Students will also examine the general strategic uses of social for advertising, marketing, public relations, journalism, and civic and political participation. Finally, students will gain basic hands-on experience with several forms of the most current social technology.
Social Media Marketing Strategy – This course will develop the students’ ability to effectively and successfully create, and implement a social marketing campaign and evaluate as well as measure its success. Intensive skill building will be placed on creating, applying and integrating the appropriate social tool that will enable marketers to build high-value relationships with their constituencies. The course will focus on key elements such as determining and matching social tactics with the appropriate target market and developing strategies to engage those markets using relevant social channels.
Social Media Marketing Campaigns – This course will develop the students’ ability to effectively and successfully create and implement a social marketing campaign and evaluate as well as measure its success. Intensive skill building will be placed on creating, applying and integrating the appropriate social tools to meet the marketing objectives of the organization. The course will focus on key elements such as a)audience, b)campaign objectives, c)strategic plan, d)tactics, e)tools, and f)metrics to measure the campaign.
While I appreciate that the SM course goes beyond marketing to talk about other parts of the corporate organization and how they can also utilize it (although I was surprised that social recruiting wasn’t mentioned), I find it interesting that the SM Marketing Strategy class is all about a campaign and tactics. Surely strategy should be about strategy, no? A class on SM Marketing Campaigns, thought, sounds like a killer one to me.
So what about the likes of University of Phoenix, Walden, Kaplan, and the rest of them? Surprisingly nada. The only one that came close was a Devry University Emerging Media Communication Specialization course as part of their Liberal Studies undergraduate program.
With the growing demand for social professionals and lack of education available, one wonders where SNHU can find experienced and qualified professors willing to teach the course. No doubt that the role of Social Media Marketing Professor will be in hot demand for some time to come!
Do you know of any other online courses from accredited universities in social media? Where should you go to study? What should Corporate America do about this? #pleasecomment 😉
2/8/2011 Revision: Note that after publishing this blog post I was introduced to a great online course in social media from a “traditional” university. The program is being offered by Rutgers University and is called the ONLINE Mini-MBA™: Social Media Marketing. It is a 12-week online course that provides education on the following topics:
- Intro to Social Media Marketing Strategy
- Video & YouTube
- Blogging for Business
- Social Media Applications
- Images & Social Media Marketing
- Social News Networks
- Viral Marketing
- Online Reputation Management
- Measuring Social Media ROI
What especially excites me about this online course in social media marketing are the key takeaways that it promises, including:
* Analyzing social media marketing opportunities
* Exploring the behavioral and psychological factors that drive social media
* Understanding how to form and optimize social networks
* Designing effective communication strategies of social networks
* Implementing measurement strategies to track and measure the ROI of social media
* Discovering new social media technologies and learning how and when to employ them
If you have been a student at any of these online courses in social media marketing or know of any others, please let me know in the comments or by contacting me and I will add them to this blog post! Thanks!