A Social Media Major? At One College, It’s Real

Expertise in social media — sites like Facebook and Twitter — might be useful for something besides keeping in touch with friends and following the actions of celebrities. According to Fast Company, South Carolina’s Newberry College is about to launch a program that will allow students to major in social media and related technology.

Although the idea strikes some as absurd, in reality, student desire to conquer the medium really exists, with many believing that this kind of expertise might a necessary marketing tool in the future. The program is designed as a blend of graphic design, business & marketing, psychology and statistics according to Tania Sosiak, associate professor of graphic design and social media at Newberry College. She said that this was the first interdisciplinary major offered at Newberry.

Opinions on the new program can best be summarized as “unenthusiastic.” Amora McDaniel, assistant editor for the Upstart Business Journal, appears uncertain about it. She thinks that if the major is designed well, it could help to solidify social media as part of any well-designed business plan and that companies might begin to seek out employees who have the skills to execute it.

Yet, with the price of college tuition continuing to be a concern, and as an increasing number of people raise questions about the value of investment in a degree, this could serve as a perfect demonstration of the kind of trivial majors that erode a college’s prestige.

Fast Company is just as skeptical.

Now, we agree that Web 2.0 (if we can use so outmoded a phrase) is all about the social experience of the web, with a side serving of revolution in mobile social Net access. Obama leveraged Facebook to win an election, social media sites break news, and important info like earthquake alerts before the mainstream media has even warmed up its cameras, and heck, even his Pope-iness himself has taken to Twitter. But is a major in social media really something you want to slap on your resume alongside your Klout score? (And did you see what I did there?).

There are reasons to be concerned. On the news segment about the program, an example of what students will learn was given involving “marketing” a product or a service using QR codes, “those little black and white scanners you use with your smartphone.” For anyone with even a little bit of digital savvy, this raises more questions than it answers — especially since QR codes are considered a rather unsophisticated technology and generally isn’t the best way to spread the word about anything.

So…last time we looked, the QR code was frowned upon by almost everyone, everywhere (though it does linger in the U.S.). And surely one worry is that by the time students graduate in 2017, with the course starting in 2013, the rocket-speed development of social media itself will have outpaced their education.