(My post originally appeared on gentwenty.com)
Social media is often a hobby for twenty-somethings, but did you know you can get certified in social media? We grew up with it, so it makes sense that most of us continue to use it on a regular basis. For some of us though, social media extends beyond a past time. Some millennials work full time in social media, managing the accounts for businesses or individuals.
Plenty of job opportunities, many of them being in public relations or customer support, exist in social media. Public relations specialists or managers often handle social media as one of their duties. For larger companies, multiple individuals are needed to work primarily on related social media accounts. It depends on the kind of online traffic that organization gets and what budget they’re working with.
While social media might sound like an appealing job, it requires a number of personal and technical skills. Social media managers must be willing to adapt easily to change. Many of our beloved sites (Twitter and Instagram) are less than 10 years old, and more social media sites will emerge in the coming years. Social media managers must stay on tap of trends and determine what sites are best suited for their audiences.
Along with technical skills, professionals must be creative in their social media engagement. Simply advertising a product or deal on Facebook won’t bring fans in. Social media managers must think of ways to draw new fans, as well as retain their current audience base. This can be through the form of contests or highlighting valued customers.
Interested in a job in social media? Sometimes the easiest way in is through experience. Complete an internship or two in social media and that will help future employment opportunities. Another way to show our commitment is through social media certification. There are a number of places that can help us get certified in the industry.
Four places to get certified in social media:
1. Social Media Course from the University of Georgia. The course, called “Using Social Media to Build Business,” consists of four main topic sections and two big assignments. While the certification is pricier than some other options, it’s worth it given that the certificate comes from UGA and that it’s endorsed by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
2. Certified Social Media Manager from the Management and Strategy Institute. The class, which is a current Groupon deal, costs about $99 for certification. There are no prerequisites to take the course. Participants go through seven modules to eventually take a manager-level exam through the institute.
3. Certification exam from the National Institute for Social Media. The institute has a number of options for people who want to get certified. They can self study and then pay the fee for the exam. They can also take a sponsored course to prepare for the class. If a professional feels they’re prepared regardless of self study or the class, they can go ahead and take it for the cheapest option (around $295).
4. Social Media Certificate Program from Media Bistro. A well known source, Media Bistro prepares professionals with hands-on assignments. Participants learn the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. Unlike the other options, applicants must apply to the program. Media Bistro’s is the most expensive, but comprehensive, program that prepares professionals for social media marketing.
This list covers just a few of the options available for professionals working in social media. What certification we pick ultimately has to do with where we are in the industry, what our budget is and what we want to learn. Have any recommendations for social media certifications? Post them in the comments!