Should you major in social media? Take on a BA for blogging? Receive honors for working with a #hashtag?
I'm already having too much fun playing with words on the social front but in all seriousness, courses on social media are already well in swing in business schools throughout the country. Offerings vary from 6 week community college classes for baby boomers unsure of how to pull together a Facebook profile to MBA degrees for ambitious millennials looking to get their foot into any barely cracked job door by tossing in the magic phrase, "I'm social media savvy."
Today the need to be fluent in social is absolutely necessary in the job market. Social media teams are becoming vital parts of marketing and pr for small businesses and corporations. The trouble here lies in that many corporations already view any batch of college grads as being instantaneously in the know when it comes to Tweeting when in reality few have had the background education to prepare them for the position.
There's no one to blame here either. Social media is a fairly recent platform of study. It's also an ever-evolving platform, one filled with so many changes, trends, and rules for each specific area that it's nearly too specialized to fully follow along. In other words, a Psychology textbook will be filled with theories from Freud and Jung that can be reinstated over and over for centuries to come. A textbook that discusses Myspace as though it's the new kid on the block immediately shows its age and lack of relevancy.
Is it worth it to take out a student loan to study social media instead of a broader major in say, marketing or communications? It's an attractive idea on paper but you're better off skipping it and pursuing working on your blog on the weekends for several reasons.
Freedom to Do What You Want
Social media is an organic experience. In order to grasp it, one must play around with it. Often. Make mistakes. Often. Give up on an outlet and pursue something new. Often. The organic bit of the experience is due to the user not only expressing interest in learning about how each network works but because the platforms genuinely piqué their interest. According to the Chicago Tribune, the New England College offers up a series of classes for MBA programs including such compelling titles as 'Psychology of Social Media,' 'Digital Media Law and Ethics,' and 'Professional Writing and Design for New Media.' No doubt each course comes with a rigid syllabus, quarterly exams, and a group project at the end of the term that will probably involve creating a website for a client and reeling in some imaginary ROI numbers.
Where is the fun? Granted this is not something that corporations want to hear being dispensed as advice but when it comes to social media, creativity is a key component to what makes a good social campaign work. Featuring your blog on your resume shows off that you are aware of the trends and keeping up with them- but not necessarily in the way everyone may expect you to. This is a good thing. This is an organic thing.
Too New to Study
I'm not a fan of anyone who describes themselves as a "social media expert." Really? You're an expert, eh? Quick, tell me the exact number of followers on Oreo's Facebook brand page, the author of Influence: Science and Practice, and year Delicious was founded. Even if you could do answer all three of those questions, you have to admit that they weren't easy to roll off the tip of your tongue. And in the case of the Oreo Facebook fan page, they won't even stay consistent on a daily basis. Social media is still a babe in the woods of the working world.
But while the field itself is still in its infancy, key components of it aren't. Such as the ability to write well. Strong writers are a hot and highly competitive commodity that will always be beneficial to any area of communications. Move toward getting your degree in writing or in marketing or business administration- these tried and true majors that have been around the block and know a thing or two.
On another note, as a major or even an emphasis is offered in colleges, social media can also look like the lazy way out. Major in a stronger concentration field and limit yourself to taking a class as an elective instead and explore social platforms via an internship or on your own. Wherever you go on to work at after, particularly if it's missing the Tweeting gene, will look at this extracurricular and reward it with a job offer.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation, an online filing services company that specializes in incorporations and LLCs. Find her online at mycorporation.com and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.