CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article misstated if UNC offers content creation classes. The University offers New Media Technologies: Their Impact on the Future of Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations and The Branding of Me. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
A decade ago, the typical responses to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” could have been “ballerina,” “doctor,” “teacher” or even “astronaut,” but technological advances and increases in social media use have introduced a new answer — “an influencer.”
Content creation and influencing are growing fields for young people.
As demand for social media marketing grows, students should take advantage of opportunities needed for emerging industries. UNC offers some classes on content creation, including New Media Technologies: Their Impact on the Future of Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations and The Branding of Me.
Those who have succeeded as social media influencers have increasingly advocated for the seriousness of their career, and the job market the past few years has proven them right. Over the past five years, the American Influencer Association and the American Influencer Council were started as trade associations focused on the market and industry. These organizations function as legitimizing institutions for the profession.
TikTok, which reported a reach of one billion users earlier this week, introduced a Creator Fund for American users in July of 2020. The fund started at $200 million to “help support ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content.”
Users must be 18 and older to be part of the fund, which would include a majority of college students. Since finding a job in your major is not always guaranteed, launching a career on a social media app like TikTok may be more appealing.
A report found that users between 20-29 make up 29.5 percent of users on the app, making college and graduate students a prime demographic and audience for students considering social media careers.
Addison Rae, a 20-year-old TikToker with 84.7 million followers and an estimated net worth of $5 million, dropped out of her broadcast journalism program at Louisiana State University to pursue a social media career. Since that decision, she has been featured in a movie on Netflix and most recently was invited to the Met Gala in New York City. If LSU had a content creation class, perhaps Rae could have stayed and completed her degree while also building her career.
While making funny videos, doing your makeup or writing blogs may seem like easy work, there are certain skills needed for content creation, such as editing, photography, writing, graphic artistry and technological savviness. These skills are useful for self-promotion and can be used at other companies looking to increase their advertisements and engagement.
The University of North Dakota offers a content creation class that focuses on those specialized skills. Though online, the course allows students to expand on the skills they already have in their everyday social media use and can set them up for professional success.
The reason students attend college is as certification for the field they hope to enter. While the pandemic impacted most job industries, digital marketing increased by 8 percent — reaching $336 million in total. These trends may remain as companies find it easier to turn to social media for marketing their products. Researchers posit that spending on the influencer market will surpass $3 billion this year, and the introduction of vlogging toys for children may be evidence that influencing is here to stay.
As content creation becomes more relevant for college students and their job prospects, the University should continue to consider how incorporating classes around it can benefit them.
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