Social Media Certification – The world has changed

In the early days, in 2003 when LinkedIn was founded and I was one of the first 8,000 users, or 2004, when Facebook was founded, all the way to 2008, there was no education on social media and we all learned by experimenting and trial and error. It took a year or so to get our arms around it, but back then that was OK.

Education was always the best shortcut to results.

Today – 2011 – we have over 600 Million in the social web and trial and error is a daunting and time consuming task. And more so the complexity of social media has exploded. The number of tools has grown to a staggering 10,000 with an additional 100,000 of little gadgets that float all over the social web. For business leaders the strategic options are overwhelming.

What a social media director needs – what a social media certification needs to include:

Like in any education area, the education institute certifies what skills and knowledge the attendee acquired during the education process. And the Social Media Academy is no different. Here is what our certification process looks like:

  • Multiple tests during the class
  • Contribution at workshops
  • Active collaboration in project work
  • Participation and level of completeness of lessons
  • Presentations during project
  • Final test

All together it will indicate the level of learning and understanding. A certificate is only granted if the learner achieved a certain level of education that documents that the attendee is ready to take on a certain level or responsibility in the professional field.

In order to take on the responsibility of a social media director or manager in a medium to large organization or a social media consultant helping medium to large organizations to embrace social media, here is knowledge that person needs to be able to acquire and what the Social Media Academy certificate is about:

  • Ability to create a thorough assessment of the organization and their ecosystem
  • Having methods to do the assessment completely and most efficiently
  • Acquiring the skills to develop a social media strategy for a department or the whole organization
  • Having a strategy framework that is applicable to social media
  • Knowledge to bring the social media strategy in alignment with the corporate strategy and at the same time make the needs and wants from the market an integral part of that strategy
  • Understanding how to involve the key constituencies of such a strategy development
  • Ability to create engagement plans for a cross functional initiative
  • Understanding the impact of social media not only for marketing but equally important for sales, support, product management and all other market facing units of an organization
  • Understanding the organizational implication and organization models to gradually engage all teams within an organization
  • Ability to explore, select and implement the various technologies that are best suited for the company and its social media objectives.
  • Acquiring the skills to develop social media programs and plans using a planning models
  • Acquiring the skills to plan resources and budgets as well as calculating a financial ROI of the social media engagement
  • Knowing the functionality and importance of social media monitoring, it's tools and implications
  • Ability to create a social media guideline and motivational measures to engage the team
  • Having a crystal clear understanding of social media time management relative the companies business needs and objectives
  • Acquiring the skills to organize and manage a social media initiative throughout a medium to large organization
  • Having proven methods, models and frameworks for all strategic and tactical activities


Is a certification needed in the small business arena?

People who are able to setup a fan page, know how to use Twitter for marketing and have several good tricks to get sales leads out of LinkedIn are quickly called experts and make their living by helping small businesses to do the same. Well – if a $1 Million small business has a $10,000 marketing budget, there is often no much more than $3,000 left for "the social media thing". Helping to get Twitter up and running by somebody who just managed to do it is a good thing. While it maybe better to strategically approach social media to grow the business to a larger corporation – most small business owners don't even want to go there. The dilemma for the small business social media consultant remains to be scale. Many actually started to fold their business and went to larger companies or larger consulting firms.

But the level of knowledge that worked for a small business owner isn't working for a larger organization with hundreds of employees and thousands of customers. Certification is as old as education. It does not certify anybody's experience – but somebody's capability, range of options, methods, models and frameworks one is using. Even defining what a corporation needs is easier when there are well set definitions.

Certified Social Media Strategist

The recent post her about 14,000 open social media positions that are filled only very slowly are a good indication for the problem: Job interviews quickly unfold the capabilities – or the lack thereof – to successfully develop and execute a social media strategy for a mid market or large enterprise. There are over 2 Million business with more than 50 employees in the US alone. But they already understand "A bit of tweeting and a fan page isn't going to cut it". A certification as stated above is at least a significant part of the decision process. Certified Social Media Strategists are the best to interview and see whether it is of any value or not.



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