Knowledge and skills related to social media are becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity when it comes to business savvy and professional opportunities. Entire agencies are dedicated to “digital media” and the idea of using formats like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram as a more efficient and wider spreading medium of messaging. Because of the ever-increasing use of mobile devices along with the standard desktop or laptop, internet and social media marketing are, in some cases, cheaper and more useful. According to Business Insider, each month Americans are spending at least 12 hours on social networks. Young people, 18 to 24 year olds, are spending as much as 20 hours. The idea of “native ads” and guaranteed visibility are more quantifiable as a tactic than the more traditional marketing schemes.

Having knowledge concerning and the ability to use social media at its fullest makes an individual imminently more attractive to a business, even if the position they are seeking isn’t related to marketing. Businesses are starting to focus their efforts on taking advantage of the platform of social media because of easy exposure. Business programs at many colleges and universities are offering social media courses and program focuses in order to help prepare their students for this brave new world of marketing. Approved Colleges offers many such courses for individuals who wish to advance their skills, knowledge, and careers by learning about the new and ever-evolving animal that is social media.

The course Branding Yourself with Social Media is an introductory course that focuses on how the individual or small business can “brand” themselves with social media in order to promote their business and/or services. The Social Marketing course is a bit more advanced and covers concepts like “Forrester’s Technographic Ladder,” which helps an individual to understand information that is relevant to generating more engagement, retaining customers, and measuring the general impact of a social media campaign. The Virtual Customer course emphasizes the use of technology and the internet in business as a whole. Since shopping online has become a normal mode of consumerism, having a sensible and effective presence online is increasingly paramount to success. This course covers how the virtual customer can impact a business and techniques related to attracting these customers. Social media is often used to promote products, gather information and feedback, and gain new customers, and therefore is also covered in this course.

Social media is on the rise because it is a dynamic way of advertising and branding. A company or individual can acquire immediate feedback and business through this medium. Having your audience and potential client base there to comment, “like,” re-post, or otherwise is directly related to generating more business and therefore success. Businesses across many fields are taking advantage of social media as a primary or secondary mode of advertising. Therefore, contemporary professionals who wish to advance their careers or make an impact in their current positions should learn how to best utilize social media. We are standing on the shore of a great ocean of possibility when it comes to marketing, advertising, business, and branding. The best thing to do is learn how to swim.

Contributed by S.E. Curtis