To specialize or not to specialize?
It is up to you whether to stick with the general, all-purpose networks or dig deeper into specialized networks for specific industries. Ultimately, it comes down to a cost benefit analysis for you. Ask yourself: Is there enough potential business in your area to warrant the extra time and effort? If you live in an area dense with hair salons competing for customers, you may want to just focus on that niche and grab a hair salon client in every street in your city. If you think there might not be enough volume of work, you can expand on to mechanics for example. We suggest starting with the big and obvious verticals and then considering specialization. If you have specific contacts or networks in an industry, e.g. you worked as an ice machine supplier to hotels, you may want to focus on that industry for obvious reasons.
Is a social media management certificate worth it?
It has become quite popular for vocational schools and community colleges to offer classes in social media management. Those classes come with a cost: your time and your money. Will they impress some potential clients? They might, especially if you’re competing for the job with someone else. However, at the early stage this industry is in, we don’t think it’s widely expected for a social media manager to have such a certificate. The real test for whether this is a career for you is if you can actually produce results.
Will you actually learn something?
We don’t know since we’ve never taken any of those certificate courses. We can safely guess that the folks teaching those classes definitely know some things about how to use social networks for business. However, given how fast things change in this industry we think they will probably never be able to cover everything. Social media management is a career that lends itself well to independent learning and continuous self improvement. If you don’t have the time and money for certification, we believe you can still be quite successful in this business.
What about other certifications? (Hootsuite, Yext, OwnerListens etc.)
There are several companies out there that offer specific certifications for the type of services they provide. Yext, Hootsuite and OwnerListens are all examples of such programs. It’s nice for prospective clients to see that you’ve put in the effort to become a certified expert in the tools you are offering as part of your package of services. It makes you more professional and you may be taken more seriously. To the extent these programs are free and not too demanding (most of them are not), we recommend doing them. The other advantage of getting certified by companies is access to their marketing resources and supporting materials they provide to partners. In many cases, there is also preferred pricing for certified partners.