Social Media Certifications: Useful or Useless?

An excerpt from, by Lauren Holliday

Kate (1) spent nearly $300,000 on digital marketing courses and certifications.

“My husband and I spent close to $250,000 in three years. From going to conferences and buying books and memberships to marketing clubs,” Kate said. “It’s probably more, but that is a conservative estimate.”

In spring 2013, Kate enrolled in a Harvard Extension digital marketing course on social media. The four-credit course, which Kate dropped after the first assignment, cost $2,100.

“The first red flag was when the professor began reviewing case studies from 2009; it was 2013,” Kate said. “I thought it was insane we were studying social media strategies from three years ago. The conferences were much more advanced and on the cutting edge. After the first assignment I decided to drop the course since it was not helping my business or me.”

Kate is far from an anomaly. In fact, she is one of an increasing number of students enrolling in social media courses.

One-fourth of the world’s population use social media, equating to 1.73 billion active users worldwide. The top three social networks, which include Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, are worth a total of $150.6 trillion.

It has been five years since Facebook transformed MySpace users into its own loyal brand ambassadors. As these networks expand so do the number of experts and companies littering the Internet, charging a high price to teach social media marketing to newbies.

Online certifications versus college courses

John Souza, Social Media Marketing University (SMMU) founder, launched SMMU in 2009 and touts 125,000 happy graduates. With five years under its belt, SMMU may just have been the first social media certification course on the market, but it is difficult to say because there is little to no information on the history of these courses.

“Our program is like an executive training program at a university,” Souza said. “There are a few factors that are driving demand for marketers, who are proficient and ideally certified in social media.”

According to Souza, a social media certification is essential to remaining competitive.

Eddy Dominguez, CEO of Resource Employment Solutions, agrees.

“You have to wonder: How do you know if someone is qualified to help you in social media. It’s such an ever-changing topic, and you’re trusting someone to get yourself out there,” he said.

This is exactly the reason Brad Tonoff, marketing consultant, enrolled in Syracuse University’s and HootSuite’s Advanced Social Media Strategy (ASMS) Certification.

“I thought it was reasonably priced, and it could be done remotely. Not to mention, I thought that having this certification would look good when applying to jobs.”

The course, which defines itself as the industry standard credential for social media managers, “consists of 15 lessons, each followed by individual, responsive assessments and will explore the entire social media ecosystem at a strategic level,” according to its website.

After a few months of freelancing, Tonoff dropped $2,000, out-of-pocket, for the program to increase his skillset in order to land a full-time job as a social media strategist.

It took time to land a job for Tonoff to secure a job upon completion of the program – a problem he attributes to being “very particular” in his job search – but today he is a social media consultant for an ad agency and a marketing specialist for an insurance company.

He says both jobs would have been difficult to land without this certification.

Continue reading this article on SitePoint

Hmm, am I missing something here? Top three social media companies worth $150.6 trillion dollars? I suspect there’s an error there. :slight_smile: either that or I need to start investing in social media companies!!! :wink:

Nice article though, thanks for writing up the this article and posting.


Yeah, someone really typoed there. The three are only worth a mere 279 Billion as of this morning. Pocket change

Well, what can I say? If it is a typo, it is not mine… I corrected the links to the article because they didn’t direct to the article itself though. I do apologise for the error… I mean I just was trying to check if you read the whole thing

Only @LaurenH knows for sure

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