Internet influencers, once the butt of jokes and objects of societal derision, are the new wave makers. Many of the “noisy teens” and “rogue” social media influencers are now proving their doubters wrong.
With social media influencers raking in 6-figure incomes by promoting brands and products, colleges which are known for majoring in the more “serious” traditional career paths are seeing the light and making the necessary adjustments.
There are now college classes on content creation led by highly renowned professors. One of these is the “Building Global Audiences” course from Duke University.
This course teaches students how to build their own social media influencer platforms on sites such as TikTok. But this time, with a scholarly and yet, highly practical approach.
The initiator, Dr. Aaron Dinin, who teaches entrepreneurship and social marketing, saw the need for a shift from the conventional school system. The objective of the course is to help content creators with useful tips to connect with their audiences.
An article in the Duke University student’s online newsletter described the class as focusing on the “marketing and business components of social media, with ample class time devoted to analytics, growth strategy, and reflection.”
Dinin isn’t just a trainer. He also nurses an interest in social media influencing, which he has expressed in a newly created TikTok account.
The course has provided a massive boost in his knowledge of social media influencing, he says. While teaching, he has also learned a lot from his interaction with the students.
“It’s been really rewarding to just work with this group of students who were just so incredibly into the work of the class, that it doesn’t feel like a class. It feels like a community that just happens to get credit,” he said.
But for many, this revolution doesn’t come as a surprise. For watchers of the content creation industry, the signs of this revolution have been visible for quite some time.
The creator economy, as it is widely called, has been enjoying a progressive boom for the past decade. The industry is now valued at $250 billion, with influencers including teens earning up to $100,000 per year and a millionaire status as a result. Experts predict that the industry will be worth about $480 billion in the next 5 years.
Many creators have had to ditch their full-time jobs to focus on online content creation and brand promotion gigs. Such decisions are a no-brainer for influencers such as Katherine Saras, a model and fashion influencer with over 650,000 online followers. “When someone tries to tell me social media is not a ‘real job’ but 1 TikTok can pay my entire rent,” she wondered in one of her video posts.
Interestingly, this career is far from capital-intensive. All that is needed, at the least, is a smartphone or a computer, a social media account, talent, and strategy.
These new college classes want to fill the gap in providing the needed strategy to build a solid social media presence that will be useful to brands and rake in some cool cash at the end of the day.