Many of us know Hootsuite as the social media management system we rely on to monitor and post to Twitter, Facebook, and a host of other social platforms. But Hootsuite is not your typical social media solutions company. In addition to services that range from free to enterprise level, Hootsuite is making a mark in the industry with its innovative Hootsuite University.
The Hootsuite University program is designed for professionals seeking to increase skills in Hootsuite and other social media tools and tactics. And recently, Hootsuite brought distinguished Syracuse professor Dr. William J. Ward (@DR4WARD) on board as their Director of Education Strategy. Dr. Ward describes himself as "an industry and academic hybrid" in that he has been working in both spaces for most of his career.
"I was hired as the first Professor of Practice in Social Media at the S.I. Newhouse School of Social Media," Ward said. "My job is to bridge the gap between theory and practice and prepare students for what's next."
Dr. Ward helped tackle the challenge of keeping up with the rapid pace of change by partnering with industry leaders on innovative programs including piloting the Hootsuite Higher Education Program and developing the Newhouse Hootsuite Advanced Social Media Strategy Certificate for the industry. Hootsuite University has been quietly establishing a strong presence in the education market, especially in the higher education classroom.
"We are also charter members of the LinkedIn College Pilot Program and were pioneers in using Google Glass (wearable technology) in the classroom," Ward said.
One of the biggest challenges Ward hopes to address is the disconnect between how students view social media as a way to share with friends, yet miss its potential as a workplace tool. Today's student population is tech savvy, but lacks the knowledge of how to use that technology outside their social circles. It is Ward's mission to widen their gaze of how the media can be used effectively, especially as it relates to job skills that can be practically used in the marketplace.
"Students need help to understand the professional and business dynamics that will allow them to harness their ideas using these tools," Ward said. "Understanding strategy, targeting audiences, representing the brand consistently on social channels and across teams and geographies, analyzing data, measuring Return on Investment (ROI) against objectives, etc. are all skills that students need to learn for the workplace."
Ward said that students already know how to use social media as a toy. The challenge is teaching them how to use it as a professional and business tool. He also believes that social media education should start in the K-12 education system to better prepare young people on the responsible use of the media by integrating it into the classroom experience.
So why Hootsuite? Dr. Ward's enthusiastic partnership with Hootsuite is based on their commitment to education. "Over 11,000 professionals have earned their Hootsuite Certification, and Hootsuite has educated 60,000-plus professionals and business people through Hootsuite University and the Newhouse-Hootsuite Advanced Social Media Strategy Certification," Ward said.
According to Dr. Ward, Hootsuite has also worked with over 300 global higher education institutions, empowering students with digital skills for today's workforce. Newhouse-Hootsuite Advanced Social Media Strategy Certificate program for industry offers 15 learning modules and a certificate in advanced social media strategy. (Hootsuite University does not offer a certificate in social media strategy, but is available for higher education and provides Hootsuite certification.)
Dr. William J. Ward is the Director of Education Strategy at Hootsuite. He helps organizations from a wide range of industries integrate new media and digital technologies into their communication strategies. Better known by his handle @DR4WARD, Ward is ranked by Marketing Magazine as one of the Top Marketing Professors on Twitter.
Editors' correction (September 18, 2014): Syracuse was the first to use the program but is now one of 300 schools using the Hootsuite (HSU) Higher Education Program today. Hootsuite University is not a collaboration with Syracuse University (although it was piloted at SU). The Newhouse-Hootsuite Advanced Social Media Strategy Certificate program targeted for industry is a collaboration.