Social Media Education Empowers the Next Generation of Marketing Mavens

By Kendall Walters


University graduates who earn Hootsuite certification have a better understanding of the professional application of social media tools, concepts, and strategies for business, a recent study found.

A group of university professors and researchers examined the impact that social media certification program Hootsuite University’s certification program had on students, employers, and professors. The main findings go a long way in demonstrating the value that Hootsuite Certified graduates bring to today’s businesses.

The study, Hootsuite University: Equipping Academics and Future PR Professionals for Social Media Success, was published in the Journal of Public Relations Education, a publication “devoted to the presentation of research and commentary that advances the field of public relations education.” It explored the value to students who are enrolled in Hootsuite’s Higher Education Program in the classroom, the perceptions of employers who hire recent graduates, and the partnership between professors and Hootsuite.

Professors from five different universities worked together to research the topic.

The study authors were:

In order to study the impact of social media education, they conducted interviews with students, employers, and educators.

The social media skills gap

No one doubts that digital natives are skilled at using social media. What is becoming increasingly clear is that they need to learn how to transition the skills they use on personal accounts into the professional sphere.

Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes recently made the case that there’s a huge social media skills gap: “Nearly 90 percent of U.S. companies are currently using Twitter, Facebook, and other networks—all jockeying for their share of the estimated $1.3 trillion in value that social media stands to unlock. There’s just one small problem: The contemporary workforce is woefully ill-equipped to help companies unlock it… The clearest culprit is the breakneck proliferation of new platforms and features… At the same time, how social media is used in the workplace is fundamentally changing… Reports of social media gaffes and blunders in the workplace are still routine. Meanwhile, the real price of the skills gap often goes unnoticed—billions of dollars in missed opportunities and lost revenue.”

Study author and Syracuse University professor William Ward concurs that the skills gap is a pressing issue.

Ward explains: “The real problem is that we expect people to know these skills without providing any training. Social media know-how isn’t something you just pick up as a casual user. And it isn’t just older employees who are in the dark—millennial hires need training, too. Because somebody grows up being a social media native, it doesn’t make them an expert in using social media at work. That’s like saying, ‘I grew up with a fax machine, so that makes me an expert in business.’”

Empowering the next generation of marketing mavens

The study found that social media education empowered students, giving them the tools they needed to be successful.

In the paper’s conclusion, the authors wrote: “[Some students] felt the training they received from Hootsuite University not only empowered them, but gave them the confidence needed to become a leader within their organization.”

Of the students who responded to the post-certification survey, 82 percent indicated that they thought their Hootsuite University social media education would help them in their job search.

Emily Maher, one of the students interviewed for the paper, became a reporter for Hearst Television after graduating. Her Hootsuite University training became useful very soon after beginning her new job: “[Within] the first six to eight months I was there, they started using Hootsuite at work. Everyone else had a learning curve, so I was already ahead of the game.”

Another grad quoted in the study, Alex Ptachick, went on to work with USA Today’s social media team. She summed up the value of the training: “There’s really nothing quite like Hootsuite University in the sense that someone is actually telling you what to do, how to do it, and why it’s important that it’s done.”

Adelyn Biendenbach, director of digital for the Florida Panthers hockey team, explained how applicable Hootsuite training is to her position: “I use it for social listening to see every Tweet from and about our players and prospects. The season at a pro-sports team really is year-round with long hours and crazy busy days. I was able to so quickly jump into and adapt to this atmosphere because of the extensive training I already had in the Hootsuite software.”

Hootsuite was thrilled for our social media education to be the focus of this study. In addition to product training and certification through Hootsuite University, Hootsuite offers free social media education through Podium. Hootsuite has also partnered with industry and academic leaders on certifications, including the Advanced Social Media Strategy Certification with Syracuse University and the Social Media Basics Certificate for Healthcare with Mayo Clinic.

Learn more about Hootsuite’s social media education offerings today!

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