UAB offers graduate certificate in social media

A new state program demonstrates how social media has become an integral part of doing business.It connects consumers to companies, and employers to potential employees.

It's so important many businesses hire someone to handle social media platforms.

Now, students at UAB's School of Business have an opportunity to get a graduate certificate in social media. The program is intended for working professionals interested in leveraging social media for business purposes."Social media careers didn't exist five years ago, and so now we see a strong emerging market," says Molly Wasko. Wasko is Chair and Associate Professor of Management, Information Systems & Quantitative Methods for the UAB School of Business.

Wasko says prior to offering a graduate certificate, there was a lack of social media curriculum at the university level. "About how to leverage social media, to create a return on investment. Especially for us in the business school, we wanted to create a curriculum that implemented the best practices," Wasko explains.This one of a kind program became certified this spring. In order to receive the graduate certificate, students who qualify must take four online courses that teach the strategic and marketing value of social media. As well as show how to utilize web analytic reports and digital trace data for business purposes. "We can actually see where people have visited on our website, how long they've stayed there. We can get feedback from the consumers of our products and services in real time," says Wasko.Wasko says the interest in the program has been strong from the start."It is geared perfectly toward working professionals who want to pick up these skills," she says. "Meeting the needs of working professionals and providing them with a credential that says they are an expert in a specific area without having to complete a full degree, so interest has been really strong."Many businesses see the value of social media in company culture. Using it to develop customer relations and to learn more about who they are marketing to.

Ike Pigott, a spokesperson for Alabama Power, helped develop his company's social media platform.

The company uses Facebook and Twitter to connect to its customers.

"It's been helpful for us to be able to reach some people we otherwise wouldn't be able to reach," says Pigott. "There is a class of customer now, that prefers to handle service issues through social media. That helps us get our message out in a much quicker basis, particularly in the event of a major storm outage."

Peyton Russell is the social media director for The Pants Store. Each of the store's locations maintain a social media account. Those "Likes" and "Friends" are important to business. "It's just such an important part of our business," says Russell. "It definitely plays a huge role in customer service, because you can answer direct questions from your consumers, you can see what kind of things that they like."{}

UAB's new program is open to anyone with a bachelor's degree and a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. Those with a GPA less than that, can submit a GMAT score of 480 or better. Basically the same requirements for someone wanting to get into UAB's MBA program.

Two classes are offered in the spring and two are in the fall.