Austin Community College has become the first college in Texas to offer an associate's degree in social media. Almost everyone uses social media today, so more and more companies are jumping on board the virtual bandwagon, using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to target certain audiences and demographics. However, they need experts to do that.
That's where people like James Toler come in. Toler graduated from UT with a bachelor's degree in business. He never planned on going back to school, but now he's one of the first students enrolled in ACC's Social Media Communications degree program.
"You hear new things and you talk to people. You find interesting things that might benefit you," said Toler.
The new 60 hour program is the only social media associates degree offered in the state, and is much more than just a crash course on how to use Facebook or Twitter.
"We give you the basics; we talk about how to determine your audience and how to get the right message out to build a strong reputation," said Jill Brockman.
Brockman will teach many of the courses on social media at ACC, beginning in the spring semester. Brockman says when students graduate they shouldn't have a problem getting a job in the field.
"The technology industry that is coming to Austin that was bubbling under the surface is now exploding," said Brockman.
"This is a viable marketing strategy that most companies are getting involved in," said Brian Bogus, owner of Speak Socially. Bogus and 15 employees take in clients and help promote their business on social media platforms.
"I think it's brilliant that it's being offered in universities, I think it's a little too late. I mean I'm kind of thinking why hasn't this happened before," said Bogus.
Bogus says the small company has grown significantly since it opened two years ago, and he expects it to get even bigger as time goes on.
"The interest from social media from a business side has vastly increased," said Bogus.
It's a future that has a lot of promise for new students and those broadening their horizons.
"You first have to get good at them before you can use them to your full potential and a course like this will help you do that," said Toler.
If you don't want to get the associate's degree, ACC is also offering a certificate. Enrollment for courses is already underway and until January 9, 2013. However, you might want to register now because classes are expected to fill up fast.