As we certified and then re-certified more and more social media professionals, we realized we needed to make a few updates to our social media strategist recertification process. As an organization committed to the training and certification of social media professionals, we couldn’t do that without telling you why.
The Value of Maintaining Your Certification
One of the biggest differences between certifications and most other education programs is that certifications require maintenance. Once you complete a course or a degree, it’s yours forever. A certification, however, is only yours as long as you work to keep it. So why on earth would anyone choose a certification when it sounds like so much work?
Whether you’re in the medical or accounting field, a project manager or social media strategist, a certification allows you to demonstrate that you’ve remained current and active in your industry. Because it’s known that a certification can expire, one that is current speaks volumes about your commitment to learning.
Our CEUs: A Community Effort
Every industry changes at a different rate of speed and ours is currently one of the fastest. Because there are so many new tools, techniques, and opportunities arising, there are as many or more ways to learn about them. Credible institutions with rigorous curriculum create content that may be appealing to someone working in social media, but someone less committed to creating valuable content may also offer courses. How can we keep up?
We’ve identified organizations and courses that we can pre-approve – and these are a great way to gather ideas if you’re trying to decide how to earn your CEUs. But we also rely on our community to share their ideas and experiences. If you know of something that would be a great continuing education credit, let us know! We’ll ask you a few questions and, if it meets the basic requirements, we’ll add it to our pre-approved list.
How do the changes affect our current social media strategists?
A lot of the CEU recommendations we’ve made in the past are still valid. The items we’ve removed are generally those that, over the years, have proven difficult to measure and prove valuable. For example, webinars have become so prevalent, you can find one on almost any topic – as long as you don’t care if the content is accurate or rigorous enough. That doesn’t mean all webinars are off the table (see the next section). It just means we need to consider how you can demonstrate that you did learn from the webinar.
Conferences and networking events are another great example. It may seem like an “all day conference on social media” would be worth 8 CEUs, right? Or that a 2-hour social media lunch is 2 CEUs? It’s important to consider these events – which are often amazing places to learn – may be more focused on helping professionals connect with each other or develop non-social media skills. That’s why we encourage more clearly defined learning and – if you really want an event considered – an outline of what portion of the day was actually spent advancing your skills as social media professional.
We’ve also capped categories and large courses at 5 CEUs with the exception of Grovo training (because the content is so varied). This is to ensure diversity in an SMS professional’s learning experience. While there may be exceptions and we always want our strategists to talk about their learning plan with us if they have any questions, there’s a risk of not receiving a well-rounded educational experience. If, for example, a person were to attend a monthly recurring webinar series that was pre-approved by NISM 20 different times, the information has the potential to have been too repetitive – and you may have missed out on other ways of learning that would have been more beneficial for you.
You can check out our full list of guidelines here if you’d like more details or a list of continuing education types.
What if I’ve got something I think should qualify, but it’s not on the pre-approved list?
We definitely want to hear from you if you’ve found (or maybe you even offer) a great continuing education resource. If you think a course should be added to our pre-approved list, email Amy at [email protected]. Share the link to the course or materials and any personal knowledge you have of the content (i.e., if you completed it previously or done additional research). We’ll respond within a few weeks and let you know if it’s been added to the list.
Thank you to everyone in our community who continues to share their knowledge and help other elevate their status as a social media professional through education and certification. We’re excited to continue to grow stronger as individuals and as an SMS community!
Author: Amy Jauman
Dr. Amy Jauman, SMS, is the Chief Learning Officer at the National Institute for Social Media and author of the Comprehensive Field Guide for Social Media Strategists. Amy is also one of 58 members representing 12 countries in the inaugural class of the Prezi Educator Society. Previously she was the Social Media Director for Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota (WeMN) and she currently serves as the marketing director for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Speakers Association. She is also an adjunct professor in the St. Catherine University Business Department and the St. Mary’s University of Minnesota MBA program.