A friend of mine who has had a long career in communications emailed me the other day to inquire about a certification in social media. An associate of his wondered about the best program for this.
So, he asked, which did I recommend? And this is what I told him:
I just don’t think that’s the best way to figure out the culture and language and inner workings of social media.
When someone wants to become skilled in using and knowing the capabilities, dos and don’ts, and many other aspects of social media that can seem intimidating to neophytes, a program that offers a certification isn’t the answer. What that someone does need to do is to get online — as many hours a day as possible — and plunge hip-deep in lingo, Tweetchats, hash tags, RTs, repins, shares, likes, following, tribes and posts.
To absorb. Learn. Play a little. And take it all in. Seriously.
“Social media is, somewhat ironically, really best learned the old-fashioned way — watching how it’s done by those who already make it look easy, and then practicing as much as possible and getting the hang of things.”
Just as an apprentice might. While apprenticeships used to be much more common, they still exist. And they make so much sense.
Because, like any truly hands-on work, no short cuts can replace the polished skills that come only from use and practice. And no certifications will replace the hours and hours that takes. It’s very much like Malcolm Gladwell’s premise in his book Outliers.
Two years or so ago when immersing myself into the social media realm, I found folks who were always worth reading and following. I relied on their advice and their smarts. They probably don’t know it. But they taught me a great deal. And they still do.
The list of worthy social media folks to follow is very, very long. So, this is not exclusive, by any means. This group also does not necessarily include the best bloggers or writers on the web. Nonetheless, these folks know the ins and outs of social media as well as anyone. They are definitely worth following.
As I began my virtual apprenticeship on social media, these are among the “master craftsmen and women” I relied on the most. (I’d be keen to hear about yours!)