Ever dreamed of being a social media influencer? Students in Ireland are now being offered a degree in that very thing.
Open for applicants in November 2023, the Bachelor of Arts in Content Creation and Social Media is based at South East Technological University in Carlow. For many young people, it may be a dream come true.
Why Choose Influencing as Your Degree
Influencing on social media platforms has become a stabilized industry within the past decade, with the market valued at an enormous 21.2 billion US dollars.
In 2021, almost 19,000 companies were offering influencer marketing services, establishing the industry. According to Mintel research, one in five social media users consider themselves content creators (10%) or influencers (9%), while 76% of self-proclaimed influencers earn enough to sustain their lifestyle without additional work.
It’s a Form of Marketing
While it may seem light and glittery, social media influencing is an important part of the current marketing climate.
Neal Schaffer, founder of digital marketing consultancy PDCA Social, indicates influencing is vital to modern marketing. “Social media influencers serve as the bridge between brands and consumers,” he says, also noting that while ‘content creation’ is the basis of an influencer’s role, building a community over social media is what they are truly valued for.
The Kind of Work Involved
It’s a booming area of work that is catching the interest of individuals all over the world. But what exactly does the job entail?
The job of a social media influencer is inexplicably varied, with content creation only being one aspect of the role.
Administration is required, the same way it would be with any individual’s business, and there are countless hours of editing after the photos and video have been shot.
A social media influencer also unsurprisingly relies heavily on socializing. Networking with businesses to continue their client base and engaging with their audience to foster the community they have built is a critical component of their job.
The Degree Can “Help you Become More Professional”
And while many influencers have learned these skills on the fly over years on the job, South East Technological University is prepared to teach them all in one concise course.
The university is enthusiastic in its approach toward the course. “We have diverse courses on offer, including creative video, celebrity studies, psychology, data analytics, podcasting, and work experience.”
With jobs available not just as a social media influencer, a graduate can hope for employment with a marketing agency, production company, advertising studio, or even under a more traditional media outlet. The university also attests that they are here to “help you become that professional.”
The degree covers a wide variety of subjects, including journalism and social psychology. For those in the third year of their degree, work placement is available, as is an optional study semester abroad.
Dr Eleanor O’Leary who is a lecturer in media and communications at the university, spoke to RTÉ’s News at One, explaining that the job of an influencer requires business skills and an understanding of critical cultural studies in addition to the expected technical skills of editing and photography.
“If you think about working in this space, there is quite a lot of crisis management, understanding how the different platforms work and what you might develop depending on what brand you are working on,” she said.
Is it a Risky Choice?
Ultimately, for an individual with an interest in the social marketing industry, the degree is more specified than others in the same sphere.
While it may be deemed risky or even low-value, particularly when the UK is cutting out deemed ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees, it appears that in a world where the industry is booming in value, it may be a course with more value than initially meets the eye.
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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.