Two weeks ago I attended the open evening and formal launch of a unique course in Search and Social Media Marketing. What makes it unique is that it was launched by an academic institution, the University of Salford in Manchester, with support and backing from SEMPO, the industry body for the search industry.
What really pleases me about this is that it is a course that is very much led by the industry’s activity, as industry professionals are supporting the development of course materials and the training itself. Partners to date include myself (SEO Director, MEC Interaction), Simon Wharton (MD, PushOn) and Richard Gregory (Chief Operations Officer, Latitude).
SEMPO & Industry Professionals
Richard Gregory, being a UK ambassador for SEMPO, has been able to help provide the real foundations of the course with a wealth of SEMPO’s online training resources. In addition to this, I’ve been fortunate enough to feed in what items should feature and how the information is presented – considering critical, creative and commercial thinking along the way – making this an utterly industry-informed course for people looking to get practical insight to how professionals in the sector plan, set-up, manage and report on SEO and social media campaigns in the context of the environment we work in. So far the content is very SEO focussed, but naturally key elements of paid search and social media had to feature too in order for the opportunities for integration and synergies to be highlighted.
University of Salford’s Search and Social Media Course
It’s a simple set-up. The course consist of 10 evening classes, where industry speakers will be invited in to present the materials we have helped to develop, alongside the key lecturer on the course, Aleksej Heinze. The training programme, as you might expect, starts with a beginner’s course and moves on to more advanced topics around both on-site and off-site SEO.
More on the search and social media course can be seen here.
Challenges for Academia
For academia to be developing a course in this field has to be an excellent mark on the industry’s maturity. It had to happen, and I’m very pleased to see that the industry is embracing what could ultimately be an increase in appreciation of what SEO can achieve of those in the SEO labour market and also by those working with SEO’s day-to-day too.
Getting sign-off for such a new course is naturally a tough one, as it requires checks to ensure best practice in teaching is indeed being delivered; as such, a number of stakeholders have been involved in this project to ensure that the entire faculty is supportive of the development of this course for the greater good of the Business School and the industry at large.
So what’s this talk of accreditation, anyway?
Now, the whole item of accreditation in search and social is one that is openly debated, and one that I covered in my post specifically on SEO accreditation on Dave Naylor’s blog some time ago. That said, I can’t imagine that anybody would shun training that encourages creative and critical thinking in SEO.
As part of my role at MEC, I’ve been involved in a gazillion SEO interviews it seems, but what we’re always looking out for is something that makes folk with initiative stand-out from those with a passive interest in the trade. It’s this kind of course that can help people do just that. It doesn’t mean that this, as a standalone item, would achieve 100 offers of employment, but I would say that it does offer the chance to go the extra mile to expose yourself to experienced professionals and training materials that might provoke new thinking around your businesses approach to SEO. And, along with a fantastic awareness of current issues, commercial hands-on experience, and an appreciation for the complexities, challenges and opportunities for SEO for a business, can all make someone very employable indeed. The Search Social Media course could really become an excellent, tangible item on someone’s CV…
This course is not going to change the world in which we live, but I do like the idea that it highlights a new level of maturity for the labour market, training and the professional recognition from those outside of the industry too. All good stuff in my book.