Students seeing need for social media classes

Marc Torrence noticed a change in his popularity after covering his first University of Alabama football game — he gained thousands of followers on Twitter, USA Today reports.

“Even if 10 or 15 other people are tweeting the same quotes from (head coach) Nick Saban at a press conference, I get tons of retweets,” Torrence said. “Everyone wants to know what Nick Saban is saying.”

Torrence isn’t the only college student increasing his professional interest in social media. As schools across the nation develop social media programs, students are finding out it might be a necessity.

Southern New Hampshire University offers a social media marketing M.B.A., and Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y., offers an M.B.A. in social media management. Courses in the curricula include classes such as social media marketing, the psychology of social media and social media campaigns.

Karen Riggs, a media studies professor at Ohio University, built one of these programs out of several specialized, social media-focused classes. The program will be available to any major, and a social media certificate is awarded after graduation. The program is in the process of being approved.

Riggs said the classes’ focus isn’t on teaching lessons that can be directly applied to social media; instead, she asks students to think critically and understand the environment is constantly changing.

“Students have to learn to become social media curators and be on the leading edge of what it’s becoming,” she said.

Riggs predicted the program would be popular at Ohio, but not only among communication majors such as Torrence.

“I think the certificate will be popular because it clearly cuts across all careers and society,” she said.

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