Unleash the power of the tweet
Jonathan Vern McGill
With a few clicks on eBay anyone can add 10,000 followers to Twitter or Facebook, giving the purchaser’s social media page a false appearance of popularity.
But, Ernest Barbaric warns against this temptation.
“Social media isn’t a game of numbers. If I have 500 followers that can sustain a business, it’s much more powerful than having 10,000 who don’t really care,” said Barbaric, a digital marketing and social media instructor at Mount Royal University.
Along with Marc Binkley, another media strategist, Barbaric has created a social media certificate program at Mount Royal, which will teach students a wide range of social media wisdom from basic to advanced skills.
The program is among the first of its type in Alberta, and is ground-breaking content for marketing and public relations professionals, Barbaric said.
“This program spans the whole spectrum on why social media is important and how to make a social media strategy,” he said.
The continued education certificate will be split into five courses: introductory, social media strategy, branded communities, analytics and metrics, and a final project that has students applying knowledge with a local non-profit.
Over 10 classes, students will create a plan to present to a charity group currently struggling with digital marketing.
Social media is different than traditional marketing, and Barbaric said many businesses and individuals do not know how to effectively engage customers.
“Talk is talk, and that’s one thing. But, when you apply it to a real business challenge, it’s a different story,” Barbaric said.
Patti Derbyshire, an associate marketing and entrepreneurship professor at MRU, said the program is a “unique opportunity to gain knowledge from an expert who has been in the field.”
A social media and digital marketing strategist herself, Derbyshire has been involved with many projects across Calgary, seeing the relationship between online marketing and community branding.
“The textbooks on social media aren’t (yet written) or are just being written, and the knowledge isn’t there,” Derbyshire said.
Transferring into the domain of online marketing and this new social media space is challenging for many businesses. While it takes only five minutes to open a Facebook page or a Twitter feed, Barbaric said many professionals don’t know what step to take next.
“Knowing how to engage people is the key to success, and, in my experience, a lot of folks run out of ideas and don’t know what to do next,” Barbaric said.
“They start posting sales, or a 15 per cent off coupon, but that’s not what the social media space is about.”
“Everybody is stuck on the game of numbers,” he added. “You can easily buy those followers, but it doesn’t do anything, except waste 15 bucks.”
The social media certificate course begins Jan. 29, and registration is still available on the MRU website under Continued Education. For more information, visit Barbaric’s website at ernestbarbaric.com.