Certificate Explores Social Media Strategy for a Global Marketplace

Astronaut taking selfie.

Certificate Explores Social Media Strategy for a Global Marketplace

Want to learn how to run a successful social media campaign? Just follow this real-life example from a well-known government agency.

First, you’ll need great content. Because, as Bill Gates famously said, “Content is king.” And if that content includes visuals, well, all the better.

So, what do we have? Well, how about this shot of the greenish-blue earth, graced by patchy white clouds, from 254 miles above the planet? That should do nicely.

Next: Storytelling, because today narrative is key. This morning, we’re filming yet another spacewalk, but, for the first time, both spacewalkers are women. Looks like a story there.

Engaging the World

We could go on, but the point is that NASA didn’t have to look too hard to find spectacular content for its coverage of the first-ever all-woman spacewalk by astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch. For more than seven hours on October 16, it streamed live video from inside and outside the International Space Station, provided up-to-the-minute commentary, answered schoolchildren’s questions, showed videos of other notable women astronauts, and ran a live feed of messages from some of the billions of viewers it reached around the world. On the day, it was among the most talked about, or trending, topics on Twitter.

“Social media is centered on great content, and we [at NASA] are fortunate to have a wealth of spectacular visuals, ranging from photos of our home planet captured from astronauts in orbit to selfies taken by our rovers on Mars,” said Brittany Brown, acting chief of NASA’s Digital Services Division. “For most companies and organizations—large or small—their social strategy includes content creation or content curation to put content in front of the audiences they want to reach.”

In other words, back here on Earth, you might have to work a little harder for great content. But it’s still eminently doable, as well as essential in today’s marketing environment, said Brown, who also leads the Certificate in Social Media Management program at Georgetown University.

Included among the skills that Georgetown’s program teaches are: Navigating leading social media platforms, developing a comprehensive social media strategy, identifying tactics to reach intended audiences, and measuring the return on investment for social media campaigns.

Focused on Innovation

The certificate program dates back to 2012, when it was born from a lecture and discussion session for Department of Defense communicators as well as social media managers across other federal agencies. At that time, Brown was the social media manager for the U.S. Army headquarters at the Pentagon, where she led an award-winning program by managing sites such as Pinterest, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, YouTube, and Twitter.

The series was so popular—and the topic so fundamental to today’s global marketplace—that Georgetown decided to reimagine it as a certificate program open to everyone, regardless of their level of social media experience. And the six-course certificate maintains that broad appeal today as both an on-campus and online program.

“There’s really something for everyone, whether you’re a small business owner, an entrepreneur with a startup, a marketing official for a brand, or even if you’re a news journalist,” Brown said. “All in all, the program has evolved to include material that is relevant for all sectors and experience levels.”

Social media strategy has changed considerably since the program debuted seven years ago. Perhaps the most fundamental shift has been the move from one-sided communication—that is, marketers posting material that they hoped would attract viewers—to a more reciprocal, participatory relationship with the public. For example, one required course, Using Social Media Tools Effectively, investigates such tools as “internet forums, message boards, blogs, wikis, podcasts, picture and video sharing, and social networking”—what the course description calls “powerful alternatives to traditional interruptive advertising.”

Brown puts today’s evolution of marketing and advertising this way:

In 2012, “people had a social media posting strategy,” she said. “Now, they have a listening, posting, and engagement strategy that takes into account expectations from audiences during a 24/7 news cycle. This program is a stepping stone to prepare communicators to leverage social media to meet their social media goals and objectives and navigate the changing landscape in a professional capacity.”

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