Discovering you had the skills and experience to earn a data analytics credential is exciting, but maybe not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory exciting. Photo by Pete Wright on Unsplash

Why credentialing your social media skills is like found money

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The Paranoid Knowledge Worker

Having worked in the social media space since 2008, I’d classify myself as a ‘paranoid knowledge worker’.

Early in my corporate social media career, the struggle was to maintain relevancy in a medium that was rapidly evolving.

With paranoia acting as my career Sherpa, I scaled three distinct development paths at Telstra and Westpac:

  • Organic social – learning how a corporation can adapt to a two-way, real-time medium.
  • Content strategy – creating original video content designed to support the consumer in making a purchase decision.
  • Paid social – managing paid ad campaigns and rallying traditional marketers to invest above the line campaign budgets into paid social campaigns.
Discovering you had the skills and experience to earn a data analytics credential is exciting, but maybe not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory exciting. Photo by Pete Wright on Unsplash

Working as an independent consultant

In 2015, I made a move to become an independent consultant.  I quickly found myself adjusting to the harsh realities of operating outside the corporate bubble.

No longer was I afforded the luxury of building relationships and earning the trust of colleagues and decision makers over an extended period.  Nor did I have direct access to corporate, agency and social network resources and insights.

To adapt, I analysed social media pages and ad campaign data to inform strategies that aligned with the client’s commercial goals.  I earned the client’s confidence by being transparent and using their data to build strategy they were confident to implement.

To execute my service offering, I relied heavily on data analytics.  I quickly recognised my need to upgrade my data analytics toolkit.

I directed my attention towards learning Tableau.  Using Tableau helped me develop the following methodology I continue to refine:

  • Establish the client’s objective.
  • Document the client’s campaign hypothesis.
  • Traffic the ad campaign.
  • Visualise the paid social ad data.
  • Interpret the results with the client.
  • Develop iterations for the next campaign.

At the end of 2017, I was looking for opportunities to have my data analytics capabilities recognised.  I considered online courses such as edX and Coursera. Through my Feedly account, I came across DeakinCo.’s micro-credential program, backed by Deakin University.

Photo by Negative Space on StockSnap

The program offers applicants the opportunity to have a recognised third-party (industry and Deakin academic assessors) verify your skills, work and experience.

You can choose to apply for a range of credentials at three levels (think low, medium and high) of expertise to have your capabilities assessed.

Applicants are required to produce a written reflective testimony including evidence and participate in a recorded video testimony. Applicants are required to pay a fee to apply.

Disclaimer – When I reached out to DeakinCo., the program had just kicked off.  As a way of promoting the program, DeakinCo. asked if I would agree to share my thoughts/experience in return for the ($495) fee to be waived. I agreed, and this post is my experience.

Even though the fee was waived, I was hesitant to go through the credential application process.

I feared I was going to put much effort into an application that was likely to be rejected.  Unlike social media, data analytics was not a significant part of my professional self-concept.

In the end, I applied for and earned a credential in Data Analytics Proficient or AQF 8.

Found Money Feels Good

The moment I learned I received my credential felt like the moment you unexpectedly find money in your coat pocket.  While the money was always there, discovering the money is a pleasant surprise.

In fact, through the credentialing process, I realised I am working on an emerging fourth career development path.  I am working on projects that have a data analytics outcome using social media data.

Recognising this emerging development path has encouraged me to seek opportunities to broaden and deepen my data analytics knowledge beyond social media.  I’ve since applied and accepted an offer to study the Master of Data Analytics at Deakin University (Cloud Campus).

Disclaimer – I will be paying the school fees out of my own pocket.  Thanks to me, the DeakinCo. micro-credentialing outreach campaign has already achieved a positive ROI.

Lacking the expertise of a super-forecaster, I won’t attempt to predict what I’ll be doing in 2028.  Although I do hope my paranoia continues to prompt me to answer the question ‘what next’.

Contact Mike

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