PEABODY, Mass. (AP) — About three years ago, Jenna Coccimiglio launched her own business in the growing field of social media management.
“Basically, I completely run and manage social media platforms for different businesses,” said Coccimiglio, who is also the new executive director of the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce. “I am the behind person on Facebook or Instagram, Twitter for businesses.”
She does graphic design, integrates logos and takes photos for mall-business clients of her firm, Garnet Marketing Solutions. Clients include a trucking company, some landscaping companies and other businesses that may want a social media presence, but lack either the time or the know-how to manage it.
Why is this important?
“I think as social media has kind of grown, the relevancy of it, not just for the social media piece but for SEO — search engine optimization — has grown as well,” she said. “I think a lot of businesses see the value of it but don’t have the time to really put into it to make it useful for them.”
In fact, the importance of social media and internet has become so important to businesses that North Shore Community College is launching a 30-credit social media certificate program this fall for those who want to pursue a career in the ever-changing field. The community college launched its first course on social media marketing strategies three years ago.
The college sees a demand for jobs like “director of social media” and “digital and social media manager” at some large Bay State companies. Within a 25-mile radius of Danvers, there are more than 2,000 jobs that require social media skills, college officials say, with salaries ranging from $40,000 to $95,000.
Landing those jobs, however, requires skills far beyoned the ability to tag a friend or post a video.
“A social media marketing certificate is a wonderful idea,” said Mary Sarris, executive director of the North Shore Workforce Investment Board, which oversees the North Shore Career Center and studies labor market trends. “Very much needed and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind hiring an intern out that program myself.”
The driving force behind the one-year certificate program is Dianne McDermott Cerasuolo, an instructor in the business science department who has a background in corporate marketing. She spent 20 years working in high-tech marketing and 15 years running a small ad agency in Haverhill.
McDermott Cerasuolo created the social media marketing strategy course at the community college.
Courses in the certificate program will include marketing, advertising, social media marketing strategy, e-marketing and introduction to business, digital photography, integrated design principles, electronic imaging, and composition and public speaking.
“When they finish this program,” she said, “they are going to be highly employable.”
It was not easy to get the program up and running; it took almost two years. But there is no other program quite like it in the state higher education system.
“The program is solid and cutting-edge,” said North Shore Community College President Patricia Gentile, noting that it was developed and reviewed not only by college faculty, but by industry leaders in the field.
The courses include industry certifications in software applications used by social media directors to prepare posts in advance, manage multiple accounts and track website traffic — applications such as Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Buffer, Facebook Blueprint and Google Adwords.
McDermott Cerasuolo said the pace of change in the field is so fast that she is constantly updating the coursework.
“I can’t teach the same course even two semesters in a row,” she said.
John McDougall, president and CEO of McDougall Interactive, a digital marketing company in Danvers, was one of the industry advisers for the program.
“I am really excited for North Shore Community College,” he said, noting that the days when a business could simply hire a young person to post on Facebook and drive traffic to a website are over.
Social media typically drives 2 percent to 5 percent of traffic to a website, he noted; more than half of a website’s traffic comes from Google. People may spend time on a company’s Facebook page or YouTube channel, but they may not migrate over to the website, which is where someone could learn more about the company or buy products and services.
Social media can be a powerful tool to drive traffic to blogs or websites, but if a marketing professional is not taught the tools of the trade, like Hootsuite, or how to conduct a social media audit, they cannot be effective, McDougall said.
For her part, Coccimiglio said the new program at North Shore Community College sounds “very cool.”
A lot of small businesses are focused on what they do, not necessarily getting their word out on social media, she noted. That’s her job — and one that requires not only advanced technical skills, but a knowledge of marketing strategy.
“One of my past clients was an insurance agency,” Coccimiglio said. “As you can imagine, insurance is not the most exciting thing on social media, so I was really tasked with writing good content for that and figuring out what people were really into.”
Information from: The Salem (Mass.) News, http://www.salemnews.com