Why get an accredited social media qualification

In Kevin Shively’s recent post, for Simply Measured, he talks about how social media is growing up and being taken seriously by companies of all sizes. He refers to the importance of social media being integrated into the digital marketing mix and the importance of metrics to “drive real value from social media, and become an invaluable part of the marketing organization”.

I agree with much of what Kevin says in his article, but he doesn’t address the need to educate and train people in the skills required to take an active and successful role in the industry. Digital marketing and social media in particular requires a combination of IT skills, marketing skills and the skills to research, adapt and innovate.

There are a number of courses available that offer a qualification in social media and digital marketing but they are not all accredited with an awarding body. What should you consider when looking for a course to suit your needs?

Quality of Learning

As Kevin said in his article, the digital and social media industry is still growing so any learning needs to be up to date.  What was true last year, may be the wrong message this year. Any course you take needs to be updated regularly and the awarding body should be ensuring that this takes place. Concise Training’s accredited qualifications – the ITQ Social Media and the Diploma in Social Media for Business are updated every six months (both learning and assessment resources are updated).

Method of Learning

Everybody learns in a different way. You need to be clear whether you like to read, watch videos or a combination of both. Do you want to attend regular face to face training courses, do you prefer to learn in your own time through e-learning or do you like to attend webinars? How interactive would you like any e-learning to be? Are you happy with PowerPoint slides and recorded audio or do you prefer to be able to be an active learner and experience different types of learning styles in one e-learning course? The ITQ Social Media qualification offered by Concise Training is delivered through interactive, multi-media E-Learning courses, the Diploma in Social Media for business is delivered through interactive, multi-media E-Learning courses and webinars.

Accreditation

How is the course accredited? Many courses are called ‘diploma’, but what does that mean? The advantage of an accredited course is that an industry recognised awarding body will have created a set of criteria that the course should meet. There will be quality processes in place to ensure the training provider delivers training and assessment that meets the defined criteria and the assessment is standardised across all training providers delivering the qualification. There is also the benefit to having a course from a recognised awarding body on your CV. All Concise Training qualifications are accredited by City & Guilds. In fact Mary worked with City & Guilds to create the units and criteria for the Diploma.

How are you assessed?

When you learn something new, it is important that you apply your learning. An accredited qualification is likely to require you to evidence that you have understood the learning. In my opinion, social media is a practical subject, not something to be remembered, so practical skills should form the basis of assessment rather than multiple choice or right/ wrong tests. Having taken the assessment, what sort of feedback will you get so that you can improve your learning even further? The ITQ Social Media qualification requires the completion of 20 practical tasks, the Diploma in Social Media for Business requires 11 assignments to be completed which evidence knowledge, application of principles to your situation as well as practical skills. Individual feedback is given on each assignment or task you complete.

Support

What support is available if you don’t understand how to apply something to your situation? Can you call or email somebody to get advice appropriate to your situation? Is there a limit to the amount of support available? The qualifications offered by Concise Training both come with unlimited personalised support.

Level and Progression

At what educational level will the course be delivered and how does that suit your needs? There are accredited digital marketing courses available from level 2 (equivalent to GCSE) all the way up to level 6 (post degree). You need to consider what level you require for your needs. Do you need a practical knowledge of the subject or do you want to learn about applicable theories related to the subject? Is there a clear progression to more advanced qualifications within the training environment? Concise Training offer two qualifications at Level 3 – the ITQ Social Media Certificate is the smaller, more practical qualification, focused on an individual business or an individual’s personal brand, the Diploma in Social Media for Business is focused on applying social media in a range of business environments and touches on marketing theory. In the future Concise Training plan to deliver the level 4 Diploma in Digital Marketing which will offer a deeper and broader view of digital marketing.

What do graduates do after the course?

It is worth finding out, and speaking to, graduates once they have completed the course to find out what they are doing now as a result of the qualification and how they found the course in reality. A number of Concise Training’s graduates have gone on to use digital and social media marketing within their own business or have successfully helped businesses as consultants.

What would you add to this list?  I would be interested to know.

ITQ in Social Media can be started in your own time.  The next cohort of the Diploma in Social Media starts on May 11th.  We have an informational webinar to help you find out more about the course at 10am on April 27th.  Sign up here.

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