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A-State to Offer Degree in Social Media Management


With social media continuing to evolve in today’s communications world, Arkansas State University introduces a new Bachelor of Science program with an emphasis in Social Media Management in the fall semester of 2015. Arkansas State is the only university in the region to offer this kind of degree.

"We are seeing more demand for students who have expertise in social media from corporations, nonprofits and agencies,” said Dr. Brad Rawlins, dean of College of Media and Communication. “They are particularly interested in students who can develop and deploy social media strategies, measure effectiveness of social media messages, and construct multimedia content for social media sites.  

“Our curriculum in strategic communication prepares all students to have social media skills, but this new program provides more depth and focus to social media management.  The addition of a minor in marketing as a requirement helps us achieve some of this focus."

The objective of the Social Media Management emphasis area is to provide an understanding about the fast growing, dynamic social media industry from a public relations perspective. This understanding includes strategy, monitoring and brand building through social media in conjunction with traditional public relations, advertising, and marketing strategies and techniques.  

“Today’s businesses and nonprofits are deeply invested in social media, and our curriculum is designed to create a new wave of communicators skilled enough to maximize that investment,” said Associate Professor in the Strategic Communications Dr. Holly Hall. 

Hall noted the program is designed for students interested in careers as social media managers for a company or advertising/public relations agency, social community managers and digital public relations/advertising strategists.  

Organizations are using more social media than ever before. According to Hall, the average midsize or large company (1,000 employees or more) has 178 social media assets, including Twitter handles and employee blogs. Yet, only 25 percent of companies offer social business training to their employees. One-third of global buyers use social media to engage with their vendors, and 75 percent expect to use social media in future purchasing processes.  

The 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report reported 92 percent of marketers said that social media is important to their businesses; sixty-four percent of marketers are using social media for six hours or more and 37 percent for 11 or hours weekly; of those spending more than 40 hours per week doing social media marketing, 68 percent are under the age of 40; most marketers are using social media to develop loyal fans (72 percent) and gain marketplace intelligence (71 percent). 

More than half of marketers who have been using social media for at least three years report it has helped them improve sales; and 82 percent of employees said they trust a company more when the CEO and leadership team communicate via social media. 

A need for experts who understand how to best to use this new media comes with these trends. In addition to the growth of marketing, public relations and advertising positions — all of which will require a deep understanding of social media — the industry has created a demand for new, specialized positions in managing social media assets.