LDSBC Rises to Challenge of Growing Social Media Career Industry
Contributed By Sarah Harris, Church News staff writer
- The LDSBC’s social media program has grown steadily since it was created in 2014.
- LDSBC’s relatively small size and short programs allow it to respond quickly to market needs that arise in the social media industry.
“We are the ones who are able to react quickly and offer programs like this one. I don’t think that any of the more structured schools around … have the ability to respond that quickly to market needs.” —Nelson Altamirano, LDSBC social media marketing program director
The LDS Business College has developed a unique social media marketing program to accommodate the advent of social media careers in recent years.
LinkedIn returns more than 7,800 job openings related to social media marketing worldwide as of this writing, and Google searches of the term “social media marketing” have increased dramatically in popularity since 2006, according to Google Trends.
A booming industry
Social media careers first appeared around 2007 with the invention of Apple iPhones and the increased popularity of mobile devices, according to Nelson Altamirano, LDSBC social media marketing program director. He said this is when companies really started paying attention to social media.
“As soon as companies realized the power that social media has to connect people and to communicate and influence opinion, that’s when it all started,” Altamirano said.
Companies also discovered they could more easily track audience engagement and return on investment from social media marketing with online analytics.
“With digital marketing and social media, you can measure impact, and with social media, you can both reach millions of people and target very specific audiences,” said Angel Viveros, digital marketer and instructor in LDSBC’s social media marketing program.
Many businesses seized this opportunity, scrambling to hire anyone who knew anything about social media to run their platforms in the beginning, according to LDSBC social media marketing student Maurice Melligan.
“Now, as the market and experience has matured, I believe that individuals are more scrutinized about their experience,” Melligan said.
Responding to market demand
LDSBC saw the continuous high demand for professional social media knowledge and created its social media marketing program in 2014 to fill this need, according to Altamirano. He said the program has become very popular since then.
“We are the second-largest program in the school, and we have over 400 students concurrently, which is amazing,” Altamirano said. “We have some programs that have been here for 20 to 30 years, and we have surpassed their numbers.”
Altamirano said LDSBC’s social media marketing program attracts a wide variety of students, including people currently working in social media who want a more formal education on the subject, recent high school graduates, and marketing professionals who want to know what they should expect from their social media employees.
LDSBC’s versatility as a relatively small school with short programs allows it to respond quickly to market needs like those that have arisen in the social media industry, according to Altamirano.
“We are the ones who are able to react quickly and offer programs like this one,” Altamirano said. “I don’t think that any of the more structured schools around … have the ability to respond that quickly to market needs.”
Reflective of the industry itself, LDSBC’s social media marketing program is consistently being reevaluated and changed to keep it up to date.
“As these platforms evolve and continue to grow, we will evolve and continue to grow,” Altamirano said.
LDSBC social media marketing student Hunter DeVries said he appreciates the real-world experience the business college’s program has provided him. He said students in the program have the opportunity to work on projects with real companies in the school’s social media student agency.
“As opposed to taking an exam that is all about theory, we’re putting that theory into life,” DeVries said. “We’re creating those case studies.”
Melligan said he has appreciated learning about social media marketing from current articles and social media professionals at LDSBC. Altamirano said the majority of the social media marketing professors at LDSBC are also actively working in digital or social media marketing roles.
Viveros said as both a digital marketer and LDSBC instructor, sharing personal experiences he has had as a marketing professional has been a powerful way to teach his students.
“Being able to share that with the students is extremely valuable, and they get a glimpse of the real world,” Viveros said. “They get a glimpse of what it really takes to be a marketer, especially in this digital age.”
Here to stay
DeVries said he doesn’t see social media careers going away anytime soon.
“If anything, it’s going to continue to evolve, and more and more companies will jump on board, and it’s going to be needed for you to get a job in marketing or advertising,” DeVries said.
Viveros said social media has become especially important for businesses in today’s world as a critical component to keeping a conversation going with their clients.
“I think an organization today that does not create a healthy dialogue through social media with their consumers or clients is behind,” Viveros said.
Melligan said social media skills are highly sought after because they can be used in any profession to rise above the rest of the market.
“Social media is the new medium for marketing, and it definitely helps with whatever [company] you’re a part of,” Melligan said.
Consequently, LDSBC’s social media marketing students are in high demand, Altamirano said. He said since he became the program director, his phone hasn’t stopped ringing with companies looking for someone to do their social media marketing.
Altamirano said he doesn’t know of any other social media marketing program like LDSBC’s.
“I haven’t been able to find anyone that is doing what we are doing here in the way we do it,” Altamirano said.
LDSBC students can now specialize in the social media marketing program, which has 400 students concurrently, Altamirano said. Photo by Kaipo Fitisemanu.
LDSBC students run the social media platforms for Elevate Conference, one of the school’s events. Photo by Kaipo Fitisemanu.