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Update on Social Media Certification — the Pros and Cons
I decided to start a discussion on several LinkedIn Groups and asked, “Do you think social media professionals should be certified?”
I received dozens of comments – most were in favor of some sort of certification – but exactly how it would be structured and who should do the certifying was up for grabs.
I did learn about at least three other current programs. San Diego State University and San Francisco State University offer social media certificates. The Social Media Academy offers a Social Media Strategist Certificate.
Of course, there were naysayers, who thought certification was a waste of time and that your work should speak for itself.
PRSA is a Possibility
Many of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA National) Group comments suggested that social media certification could be folded into the existing Accredited in Public Relations (APR) program.
Subsequent to the publication of my post, PRSA announced it will be offering a one-day “Social Media Bootcamp” on Saturday, October 13th, during the 2012 International Conference in San Francisco. (Maybe the conference organizers were listening in on our discussion?).
Below are several representative comments from each side of the debate.
Those in Favor — But
Thank your for posting on this…I’m a fan of continuing education. (Consider that even MBAs have a “life span” of 5 years before what they learned in those programs is outdated.) But it is all a moving target and if someone offered “certification” it should be a program that offers and/or requires regular CEU updates, very much like the APR.
Although it’s deemed the latest and greatest because it’s so new and evolving every day, social media is still simply one way to conduct outreach (with certain differences in relationship-building in the online world, of course). Nevertheless, I believe social media is still a function of the research, planning, implementation and measurement we all learned when pursuing APR accreditation. For that reason, if there is a certificate, PRSA might be a good hosting organization but I also see such a certificate program as one that can quickly become outdated simply because, again, social media is evolving so quickly, especially in an era of fierce competition between social network providers.
I believe that PRSA should consider a sponsor position and team up with local universities who are offering these classes and are being taught by those in the industry.
There could be more done, preferably through PRSA, involving social media.
2) Social media is not a one-time cert, and even the “experts” can’t keep up with it.
3) Social media is only rising in importance, so this is definitely a discussion worth having!
I have such a certification – the Social Media Strategist Certificate from the Social Media Academy. I value having the certification, especially as I know that getting it was no pushover. I’m mentioning my own experience to illustrate my point of view, not to plug the particular program or academy. And let me say upfront I think it is nonsense to say a certificate is “necessary” in the way, say, appropriate certification is necessary in medical surgery.
What everyone has talked about is being a “lifelong learner…” I agree that generally the certificate is not the best way to go especially when people have experience in using it (most likely combined with learning)…but if someone wants to quickly get the basics, a certificate could be helpful.
You can probably learn everything you need to online…however, if I was the customer and I was choosing between two people to pay to do my social media I might be swayed by the fact one has a certificate and one does not.
I developed the first certified social media program in the country three years ago at Centriq Training with my partner Steve Harmon. We earned our certification status with both the Kansas and Missouri Board of Regents (not an easy task, FYI). Our courseware was developed to look past the pitfalls of “train the tools” and instead focused on bridging the knowledge gap created when any leading edge technology is introduced into an organization.
No. That’s a bit ridiculous. Either they do good work and can show a portfolio of results, or they can’t.
Let me give you a real world example of why it’s a bad idea. If you were in the “graduating class” of June 2011 you would have not taken one course on Pinterest or Facebook Fan page time-lines which both became game changers roughly six months after your certification.
… lack of regulation allows for anyone to sell expertise with no valuation on measurable improvement or demonstrable core competences. In short: no value.
Personally, I think certification (including APR) does not mean a thing to the outside world.
If you are selling how to make money using social media you are opening a gold mine… as George Hull said, “there is a sucker born every minute”
Should a journalist be certified? When it comes down to it, your portfolio is your certification, whether you write books, magazine articles, or posts on Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / Google+ / etc.
I am certified in Social Media & Communities by my employer, and I found the training valuable, but my real credibility is still going to come from my work – not some letters after my name.
I have never heard of such a thing. You can have a million certificates for social media and not be good at it. Like every other form of networking, it is demanding, relevant to the time and trends, and the output is based a great deal on the energy you put into it. Educating oneself in any discipline is a good idea but it’s not a piece of paper on a wall that is going to validate me to potential clients, it’s what I do well in the ever changing world of networking that sells… well, me!
Social media marketing is about sales, marketing and customer service? Do we have certificates for sales people, marketing people and customer representative? I don’t think so.
At this point, it is tough to weed out the hucksters of hype from the professionals, and I cringe when I see anyone called or call himself a “social media expert.” That’s just nonsense.
There you have it. If you didn’t weigh in with your opinion before, now is your chance. Just leave a comment below.
Social media writer and blogger helping organizations to build brand awareness, increase revenues, and engage employees as brand advocates on social media. Visit my Work With Me page for specific ideas about how I can help you to incorporate social media into your marketing plan to reach your customers, employees and other target audiences.