Jeff Espo wrote a great post on why you shouldn’t fall for bullshit social media certifications.
As someone who has beaten the “there ARE social media experts” drum for the last few years, you’d think I would be all for them. After all, if you earn enough certifications, you win. You’re the expert.
The problem is, the social media industry is lacking several important criteria to make these certifications carry any impact:
- There is no centralized authority. A certification means something if the entire industry is behind it. But social media is so fragmented, and no one can claim ownership of the industry voice. Until we have one, we can’t have a meaningful certification.
- The granting organizations don’t have any credibility. Who is granting these things? In Espo’s post, he’s talking about the PR News giving a certification for people who attend four conferences. The PR industry can’t even measure their own efforts. How can they claim authority in someone else’s industry?
- There is no standardized knowledge. We’re getting there, especially as more professional marketers and PR flaks adopt this as a channel. As they adapt and create more best practices, the knowledge will standardize. Until then, a lot of what is “best” is going to be based on opinion and personal experience.
But while these three issues exist, we can’t/won’t/shouldn’t accept a certification program that claims to declare people have amassed a certain body of knowledge. We can barely do this with college degrees. Otherwise, we wouldn’t favor degrees from certain colleges over others.
So avoid any programs that claim to certify you or grant you special status. Until then, these are just seminars that give you a piece of paper when they’re done.