Return on investment. It’s the compilation of metrics that are used to determine whether an activity or expenditure is worthwhile for a business. Over the last 4 years, social media has been at the center of ROI debates between marketers, company executives, and gurus across the spectrum.
More brands are jumping on the Facebook bandwagon to tap into the size and strength of the world’s most powerful social network. Some are literally merging their existing presence into the platform, and single sign on is the option many are using to handle the integration process.
The promise of social media has been high for quite some time as major brands are building their customer base, guiding their customer service, and flat out making money through sites like Facebook and Twitter. Small businesses are finding success as well, but it’s not quite as easy particularly for localized businesses.
In 2009, a school in the Birmingham in the U.K. began offering a Master’s degree in Social Media. Today, a number of schools are offering Master’s degrees in Social Media including Northeastern University. Originally, the name used for this type of degree was Masters in Social Media. Today, the are a range of names for the same thing. Washington State University calls their degree a Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM). This program emphasizes not just Social Media ala Facebook, but all the modalities from video through audio. It looks upon Facebook and the other venues for staging content of various types as “distribution channels.”
This degree focuses upon digital media and social networks much like a traditional communications or public relations course would. It analyzes the various media types and channels to determine how best to deploy them to influence and persuade specific audiences. It shows students how to create standards to measure the success or failure of a particular Social Media campaign. Masters candidates graduate with the skills to analyze Social Media to locate target constituencies, deliver messages and measure effectiveness across all the modalities. This means that students will learn not just how to send out a message, but how to obtain and circulate the desired responses and build new images for companies, fix misperceptions and correct bad images.
There are other colleges and universities offer the Social Media degrees as a subspecialization within a degree program such as marketing, web design, information architecture, communications or information technology. Other institutions offer standalone Masters in Social Media degrees.
With the availability of online Master’s in this field, where the student is located is not as important as whether the school’s curriculum provides the skills being sought by the student. Some degree plan focus on the Social part of Social Media. Those degree plans focus on message delivery via a number of channels such as Facebook, Twitter etc. The digital media degrees are a bit more strategic. Digital Media degrees include training in statistics and metrics for effectiveness of campaigns. Still other degrees including digital film and audio production. Each student needs to identify their own goals for their degree. If they have a particular job in mind, students need to choose that program that best prepares them for that opportunity.
Job environments create a yardstick for course content analyses. Students assess the curriculum for its applicability to the skills required by the kind of job that they want. For example, a curriculum that emphasizes Linked-in won’t be as applicable to an environment in which most target customers use Facebook. An employer that is very interested in creating online Youtube commercials might not value Twitter expertise. The actual job defines the skills required. The student’s task is to find courses that impart those skills by looking through the course catalogs of the relevant Master degree programs currently available.
Among the issues that a good Master’s degree program in Social Media should concern itself are: is the audience internal or external, setting appropriate measurements for the success or failure of a Social Media project, how to create a strategic vision for Social Media as a standalone activity as well as within the context of a larger communications, marketing and sales strategy. The key with Social Media and Master’s degrees is to go where the society is and to “Master” that new terrain.
Make no mistake. Pinterest may be a pretty interface full of recipes, do-it-yourself tips, and pictures of cuddly animals (what social site doesn’t have cute animals anymore?), but the end game is all business.
As social media continues to expand and enter more areas of our lives, the health and fitness segment has been dominated by a handful of major companies and publications. Nike was a trendsetter. Men’s Health made a splash early on. For the pure healthy lifestyle enthusiast who also enjoys a good Tweet or Facebook update, there’s an up-and-coming site that has the right mix of substance and social: Greatist.
Facebook celebrated its 8th birthday this month. How much has it changed? How much has it changed us? Are we all a little more batty now that Facebook has become a prominent part of so many of our lives, giving us insights into friends and family that we never had before and offering a venue through which we can exclaim the nuances of our lives for the world (or simply our world) to see?
A Google+ update sent out by internet entrepreneur and FamilyLink.com founder Paul Allen hints there may be another reason to keep an eye on the recently launched Search Plus Your World. According to the post, Google looks to be indexing web content faster for users who are logged in to its social network than those who are not.
Every few months I take a serious look at my chosen profession and wonder if it’s really a tool for good or if it’s real “use” is to promote the negative in the world. There are many examples of good happening through social media whether through revolutions that weren’t possible a few years ago from oppressive regimes or the simple connection of people with others who they need to meet.
These days hysteria about social media has reached fever pitch. All signs are pointing to social media being the printing press of the 21st century. And like Gutenberg’s 15th century printing press, social media is a revolutionary tool will thousands of applications, many of which we probably haven’t even discovered yet.