What Is a Social Media Degree?
At the turn of the century, there was no such thing as a social media degree, but times have changed. The demand for employees with social media skills has skyrocketed due to the number of businesses that are using social media as part of their strategic marketing plan.
Many colleges and universities have answered this demand by creating social media degree programs that are designed to instruct students in the use of various types of social media - from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Pinterest. These programs typically focus on how to communicate, network, and market through social media sites.
Types of Social Media Degrees
Formal social media education takes many forms - from introductory certificate programs to advanced degree programs and everything in between. The most common degrees include:
Bachelor's Degree in Social Media - This is typically a four-year degree, though three-year programs may be available at some schools. Most bachelor's degree programs in this area of study combine core courses in math, English, and business with specialized courses in social media, digital strategy, and internet marketing.
Master's Degree in Social Media - A specialized master's degree in social media can typically be earned in two years or less after earning a bachelor's degree or the equivalent. Although these programs will have some general business or marketing courses, the curriculum will be heavily focused on the advanced study of social media and digital strategy.
MBA in Social Media - An MBA in social media is very similar to a master's degree in this area. The main difference is that MBA programs tend to be more expensive, a bit more rigorous, and in some industries, more respected than a general master's degree.
Why You Should Earn a Social Media Degree
A high quality social media degree program will not only teach you about the basics of the most popular social media platforms, but will also help you understand digital strategy and how it applies to branding a person, product, service, or company. You will learn that participating in social media means more than just sharing a funny cat video. You will also gain an understanding of how posts go viral, how to communicate with business customers, and why it's more important than ever to think twice before posting anything. If you are interested in marketing, particular internet marketing, a social media degree could give you the edge you need over other competitors in the job market.
Why You Should NOT Earn a Social Media Degree
You don't have to earn a social media degree to learn how to use social media or get a career in social media or digital marketing. In fact, many experts in the field recommend avoiding formal degree programs. Reasons vary, but one common argument is that social media is constantly evolving. By the time you complete a degree program, trends will have changed and new social media outlets may be dominating the landscape.
Some schools have dismissed this argument with the assurance that their degree programs are also in a constant state of flux and evolve in real-time with social media trends. If you do decide to enroll in a long-term social media degree or certificate program, you should make sure that the program is designed to keep up with changes in digital communication and marketing as they occur.
Other Social Media Education Options
A long-term degree program is not your only social media education option. You can find one-day and two-day social media seminars in almost every major city. Some are broad in focus, while others are more targeted, centering on things like social media analytics or psychological factors that drive social media.
There are also several well-known conferences that gather social media experts and enthusiasts in one location. For years, the largest and most well-attended conference has been Social Media Marketing World, which offers both workshops and networking opportunities.
If you want to become a social media guru without spending any money, that option is available to you as well. The best way to perfect your ability with anything is with practice. Spending time studying, and more importantly, using social media on your own will give you applicable skills that can transfer from your home computer to your career. This type of immersive environment will help you stay abreast of trends and emerging social media platforms.
Careers in Social Media
People with a social media degree, certificate, or special skills tend to work in marketing, public relations, digital communication, digital strategy, or a related field. Job titles can vary by company, level of education, and experience level. Some common job titles include: