PR Campaigns – The blog

March 30, 2009

Facebook University: Enroll Now!

Filed under: Mission Public Relations — kbergeron44 @ 6:52 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Social media is taking over the world.

Twitter and Facebook have forged an unholy alliance to slowly take over the lives of everyone on the earth in an effort to create a race of pod people to enlist into an online army hell bent on global conquest.

The first bullet has been fired and it is aimed at graduating college students.

In his blog on Mashable, Stan Schroeder reveals Birmingham City University‘s plan to incorporate a masters program dedicated strictly to social media.

“The one year course will earn you a master’s degree at the cost of 4,400 pounds (6,239 dollars). “During the course we will consider what people can do on Facebook and Twitter, and how they can be used for communication and marketing purposes,” says the course convener Jon Hickman, adding that “There has been significant interest in the course already, and it will definitely appeal to students looking to go into professions including journalism and PR.”

When I first read this I thought it was a good idea.  I am constantly told in my public relations classes that knowledge of social media is going to be one of my best assets when I graduate and enter the work force.  Furthering my education in this phenomenon would make me even more appealing to potential employers.  But wait a minute…

Do I really need formal education to learn how to tag a picture of my friend’s drunken escapades?  or create a group to get friends to attend my Graduation party?  or even how to describe to the world “what I am doing?”

I’m aware the course will go a lot deeper than that, but at their base, Facebook and Twitter are just tools for people to interact with others; and if the telegraph, the two-way pager, smoke signals and pay phones taught us anything, tools change.

Twitter and Facebook could be obsolete in a matter of years and at that time what will this degree be worth?  It seems to me like this university is just trying to milk this social media cow for some extra cheese by offering a course in a popular social phenomenon.

Am I alone in this?  Or do those of you already recruited by the Facebook/Twitter army see more value in this?  If this becomes a trend and other colleges pick up this program, what should be included in the teachings?

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8 Comments »

  1. Ok, so a class in how to use Facebook and Twitter for marketing purposes sounds fantastic to me. I can’t tell you how many webinars and luncheons I have attended with the promise of how we can use this as PR professionals, but merely give us a Twitter and Facebook 101 approach. I know it’s still new, but I want Best Practices on using these tools successfully. I don’t need to know what it is and how to set up the account, so if that is all they are going to offer, I say no way. But if they take it a few steps further, then sign me up!

    Comment by Nancy Flores — March 30, 2009 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  2. I guess you are right, I never thought of it from the perspective of the already established PR professional who has yet to get on board with social media. I could see a class like this being useful in that situation, but then what does that do to us graduating seniors who are relying on our social media expertise to land us a job? Is this class going to make it harder for us to get a job?

    Comment by kbergeron44 — March 30, 2009 @ 9:19 pm | Reply

  3. I think the idea of a social media masters program is very smart, as long as the curriculum is constantly up to date and changing with the trends in social media. Yes, right now Facebook and Twitter would be two of the most important tools to study, but like you noted in five years it could be two completely different social media that are more popularly used. The program would need to constantly change and adapt to the demand of the current trends in social media. Either way it is important to implement the ideas of social media in higher education, just like the internet and email have the past 10 years. It will not happen over night, but social media is becoming more and more present in communication studies at the college level.

    Comment by lmdavis2 — March 30, 2009 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  4. I totally agree that while a program dedicated to Facebook and Twitter may seem pretty cool and relevant right now but I think in a few years something new and better will come along. While social media is a booming industry at this moment, who knows what we’ll need to be fluent in in a few years.

    Comment by Christine — March 30, 2009 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

  5. First off, excellent post on a great topic. I was not aware of this social media university. I think that these teachings would be beneficial because let’s face it social media is here to stay and it is becoming more dire that we as PR professionals know its ins and outs. I am currently working for a local radio station and have become aware of how important it is for them to present on these websites. However, I do agree with you that social media is in a constant state of change and with this twitter and Myspace could be completly different in a few years, even months than it is know. I think the best thing in this career is to keep up with social media and learn as social media grows.

    Comment by kristenih — March 30, 2009 @ 10:15 pm | Reply

  6. I think this the a dumb idea for a university. If someone wants to truly understand social media, why not get a Master’s Degree in something like computer information systems or communication? And what happens if these applications fail? Guess I am out of luck (and $7000). I feel like the university knows it is a bullshit degree because it is a one-year program instead of a more traditional length.

    Who offers a one-year Master’s program in anything? This would be like offering a master’s in something like Blackberry phones. It was awesome to many people about three years ago, but now there are iPhones and I’m sure something better will be out soon.

    I feel understanding the technology (CIS) or the methods of communication (any comm. degree or even psychology) would be more valuable to an individual than a year dedicated to one application of these areas of knowledge.

    Comment by mjcavaleri — April 2, 2009 @ 1:32 am | Reply

  7. That is not worth it to me. It’s like when my dad threw me into the deep end. I learned from just doing. If people really wanted to learn the benefits of facebook, but they can look back at other social media campaigns that have utilized it. You’d be an idiot to spend that much money on a class for it. I would like to know more information about who is teaching the course and what else makes him or her more qualified.

    It’s a cool idea, but the class should not be that much.

    Comment by gbohulan — April 5, 2009 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

  8. I think a lot of the hesitation I feel for this class is because I grew up with the internet and things like Myspace and Facebook. I’ve personally had a Facebook account since I was a college freshman and feel like I would not benefit in the least from a class using only Facebook and Twitter. The whole PR, Marketing and Advertising world is completely submersing themselves in social media and I feel that they may be focusing too much on this one aspect. I know it is still new and exciting and there are a lot of opportunities for advancement in this avenue, but providing degrees strictly on social media seems a little ridiculous. Yes, social media is a great tool, but if there is no critical thinking and strategic planning on how to incorporate these tools into the bigger picture, then there is potential for many ineffective campaigns.

    Comment by mlmyers — April 6, 2009 @ 12:00 am | Reply


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