Today’s guest post is written by Martin Waxman.
Social media education started off DIY.
That’s what differentiates it from many other forms of marketing communications.
In social media, anyone can try the platforms, learn enough to be dangerous and, with a few clicks, become a video producer, community manager, content curator, published writer, or any combination of the above.
That said, understanding the craft and mastery all take time. Which brings us back to the DIY nature of social media; requiring reading, clicking, testing, participating, measuring, repeating…
But as social media moves into the mainstream, a more formalized type of social media education is beginning to emerge; one that provides instruction in a classroom setting and grants accreditation, certificates, or degrees.
Spin Sucks reader Dana Wilson, asked about social media education and if there’s anywhere she could go for a degree. She found one program, an MBA with a specialty in social media from Southern New Hampshire University.
Many academic institutions have yet to establish distinct social media programs, though they’re heading in that direction. Right now, if you’re looking to be educated in social media beyond self-learning, there are a number of options.
First – and this isn’t a paid commercial announcement because I’m a guest blogger – check out Spin Sucks Pro, which offers a strategic approach via a range of online resources for all levels.
- Many colleges offer social media classes through their communications programs. For example, I’ve been teaching a 14-week social media 101 course to PR and marketing certificate students at McMaster University in Hamilton.
- IABC recently presented an eight-week webinar, Develop and Implement an Integrative Approach to Social Media, developed by Shel Holtz and Joe Thornley.
- PRSA partners with Eric Schwartzman to offer Social Media and New Media PR Bootcamps. Eric also teaches online courses through Udemy.com.
- The American Management Association now has a number of classes.
- Social Media Week just announced it will be offering social media courses and accreditation beginning in 2013.
- There’s a seemingly endless array of conferences where you can learn about social media. Some notable ones include South by Southwest, BlogWorld, Mesh Conference and events run by Ragan and PR News.
- You can also attend local unconferences or read any of the numerous books on the subject – perhaps that’s a topic for another blog post.
Before you make a decision, here are a few tips for choosing the right course of action for you:
- Figure out what you want – work upgrade, certificate, or degree.
- Research the instructors. Are they credible practitioners, thought-leaders, or academics? Do they speak, write? Are they good teachers?
- Crowdsource – ask friends/colleagues in social channels if they’ve taken any courses and could provide recommendations.
- Adapt and recalibrate if the course or certificate is not giving you what you need.
In a world that’s changing as rapidly as ours, we need to become lifelong learners. Social media has reinforced that. And that’s a good thing. However, formal courses simply complement the DIY nature of online communications and it’s just as important to continue to participate.
We’re interested to hear about any courses you’ve found – the good and the bad.
Martin Waxman is a senior counselor for our Canadian partner firm, Thornley Fallis. He is a social media and communications strategist, founder of three PR agencies, blogger at myPALETTE, Inside PR co-host, @martinwaxman on Twitter, social media instructor, and former fiction writer, comedy MC, and Winnipegger.