Blogging, tweeting, posting comments on Facebook or networking on a seemingly endless number of websites are all part of the social media landscape.
For those who want to learn more about just how to navigate this high-tech field for their jobs and businesses, Merced College is providing a way to do just that.
It will offer a course this summer that prepares people to get a social media certification, verifying their ability to use these tools effectively.
Merced College is the first in the country to offer the course, according to business office technology Professor Toni Reintke.
"We are the first college to be approved by the National Institute for Social Media in the nation," she said. "We are starting certification for a whole new discipline."
The National Institute for Social Media developed a certification test for people to become Social Media Strategists. Reintke, who's passionate about social media, got connected with the institute and helped develop the exam.
Reintke, who has taken the test, will teach the course.
The course is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will run from July 30 to Aug. 3 at the Merced College Business Resource Center.
Reintke said the course and certification are aimed at business people and those who have social-media- related jobs. With changes that have emerged with social media, it seemed the right thing to do, she said.
"This is something we really need to be doing. We wanted to put something in place for our students," she said. "I wanted to educate our local students not just for socializing, but for work."
The course, which costs $495, will cover several aspects of social media such as strategic planning; compliance, governance research and analysis; social-media marketing; and project and community management.
"This really trains you to be a strategist in social media," she said. "I'm very happy that we're able to offer something like this."
Representatives from the National Institute for Social Media couldn't be reached for comment. However, on their Web site, they are giving people the opportunity to win a free-tuition seat at Merced College for the course.
After taking the course, people who meet the requirement of having 64 academic units or a minimum of two years' business experience related to social media will be able to take the test to become certified, Reintke said.
People don't have to take the course to take the exam, but it's a good way to prepare for it, she added.
Those who get certification after taking the test will be more competitive in the marketplace, Reintke said.
According to a Nielsen State of the Media: The Social Media Report, "people are constantly being driven to social media."
Today, nearly four in five Internet users visit social media networks and blogs, according to the study.
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