A Social Media Curriculum

Lead the people with administrative injunctions and put them in their place with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence and put them in their place through roles and ritual practices, and in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously.
-Confucius (Analects II, 3)

I have argued vociferously for formal education in Social Media professionalism for years, and will therefore avoid repetition here. Rather, I will relate what I have attempted in my own didactic efforts, as well as my future aspirations, in an essay of what might be considered when exercising erudition towards online communication expertise.

At the time of this writing, there are no formal education programs leading to an undergraduate degree in Social Media in the U.S. Therefore, these suggestions are at best academic (pardon the pun). However, with the current level of online community acceptance in today’s economic and business environments, it is reasonable to expect that at some juncture a university level scholastic program will be warranted. While the subject is being embraced and taught in various aspects, especially in the form of non-accredited agencies and widely dispersed classrooms of collegiate institutions, an explicit curriculum has yet to be described. Towards this end, what follows is a description of my own furtive attempts to achieve an edification and enlightenment leading to a Social Media career path.

Social Media is a wide ranging field; this is evidenced in these pages by the myriad disciplines examined in The Social Media Professionals Series (found elsewhere in this blog). It follows that indoctrination should be wide ranging, with guidance in multiple disciplines. Suggested courses in communication, Internet and Web technology, marketing and business administration, design and aesthetics, and social science, including cultural anthropology, would seem prudent to provide a well rounded development. Let us examine each in more detail.

Introductory courses in communication technology, basic journalism, as well as written (English) and spoken (Speech) articulation classes have obvious value. Most working professionals consistently agree that Social Media is based in communication. A firm understanding of this subject provides a solid foundation.

Internet and Web Technology
This is an area often overlooked, yet it is cardinal to the very infrastructure of the field of study. Social Media is based in digital medium – cultivation in XHTML, iFrames (in the case of Facebook Fan Page development)), JavaScript, and Cascading Style Sheets are necessary to learning the language of the Web and communicating therewith. Further, knowledge of how the Internet works, along with a basis in networking science, gives insight into technical considerations (see The Rise of Techno-Business).

Marketing and Business Administration
Obviously, an understanding of business procedures, especially marketing theory, is crucial for enterprise employment of Social Media. The student should be well versed in these subjects, and subject matter should be geared towards the paradigm of online community channels.

Design and Aesthetics
The World Wide Web is a visual medium, and lends itself to appreciation as such. As designers of Social Media, professionals should be acquainted with an apprehension of the philosophy of art and the study of beauty. Having an understanding of artistic theory increases audience reach within the medium.

Social Science
Social science underpins the entire formulization of Social Media. A grasp of human interaction and presentiment is necessary for effective comprehension of the targeted markets. Included study of cultural anthropology provides discernment of societal differences and uniqueness.

It should be apparent this listing is far from complete, but rather a framework from which to build. These are the parameters from which my own education has been and continues to be constructed. Perhaps in time academia will step forward to finalize and initiate a prescribed formula to take Social Media to the levels of professional character and spirit that is needed. Further comment on this issue is welcomed in the hopes that dialogue can be generated to initiate this highly warranted contention.


About Grannelle

eMarketing Scholar
This entry was posted in Education, Opinion, Social Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Social Media Curriculum

  1. marianabra7 says:

    Hello Gregory,
    You did bring good points here! Well done!
    Take care.


    • Grannelle says:

      Thank you, Mariana! Your friendship and association as a fellow Social Media professional are greatly appreciated.


  2. We have the same problems with coaches, anybody can call himself “coach” without any formal training, The bottom line: it is up to the customer to do their due diligence on people they are hiring and select on value not price only.


    • Grannelle says:

      Exactly, Anne. And it shouldn’t be incumbent upon the customer – the customer should have some assuredness on the front end about what they are purchasing. To tout a business plan of caveat emptor is not conducive to good customer service; given my understanding, providing the customer w/ a pleasant purchasing experience is desirable in business. By standardizing the process, as well as the field, this paradigm is enabled.


  3. Mike10613 says:

    Bloggers are like the ‘outlaws of the old West’ – I like that. I thought about the rules of communication and how they applied to social networking. There are rules of course but they do need to be clarified. I suspect as social media and networking ‘grows up’ then some academics will jump on the band wagon and suggest it is added the the curricula of universities. I’m too old to do a course now, maybe I could be a honorary professor of blogging? I must make an effort to write on today; I think I’ll write about the ‘wise ones’.


    • Grannelle says:

      Mark my words, Mike – this is a hot-button issue. No one currently drawing a good salary w/ perks courtesy of Social Media is going to want to hear they need an education, and every imaginable arguement against it that can be conceived will be made – or at least that’s invariably been the case in the past. To me, that simply underscores the need.


  4. I like this. We’re on the same page here, Greg. I wrote on the importance of blogging today and you did as well. Wouldn’t it be kind of impossible to have a degree program in something that just emerged a few years ago? Serious scholastic study takes years to get noticed, much less be important enough for other people to study. I understand its importance, but I’m kind of glad its not an area of study with a certificate program. It’s like the old west and we’re a couple of outlaws…


    • Grannelle says:

      Agree w/ outlaws, Daniel. 😉
      And you are correct about the wheels of academia – they turn slowly and yet exceedingly fine. However, w/ the billions of dollars currently being spent in enterprise towards Social Media, and the widespread belief that every man, woman, child, and household pet w/ a Facebook page qualifies as a Social Media consultant, the need for standardization is urgent. Every month that passes w/o quality assurance is wasteful. We live in the digital age, where changes take place at the speed of light – we no longer have the luxury of waiting as we once did.


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