Social media has been growing exponentially in recent years. Today, social media platforms and advertising are ubiquitous. Ideas explode in popularity quickly and get mentioned in Google’s “Trending Now” posts, but then they fade just as quickly. Learning how to take advantage of these platforms to reach a wide audience is important in today’s business world.

You might start a blog on the WordPress platform or create a Facebook page for your company. Social media has radically altered the way we think about communication. Years ago consumers found out about most new services and products by word-of-mouth. Newspaper advertising allowed with the opportunity to reach a larger audience. Then, ads placed on radio and television eclipsed printed ads in the number of people reached. Now, with social media advertising, companies not only reach more people, but they can target the audience they reach to increase the cost-effectiveness of the ads. Many statistics suggest that 20 to 50 percent of people own smart phones; more people still own home computers or tablets. Advertisers know this, and they have figured out how to use it to their advantage.

Today, ads appear on Facebook so seamlessly integrated that you might not recognize them as advertising. There are mobile apps that let people access business websites just by scanning a QR code that appears in a magazine with their smartphones. Consumers can place a phone call to a business by just clicking on the number in a search engine ad. Still, this technology is not something businesses may empirically know.

Using social media to generate sales requires someone with a professional competency in the technology. Universities and colleges are generating new technology degree programs to keep up with the demand. A glance at the Wikipedia list of social media sites is mind-boggling. There are sites to appeal to every interest or population imaginable, and they appear and disappear daily. An IT degree will not give someone the expertise they need to manage these types of communication forums, so schools are again working to come up with an answer. The University of Florida’s degree in social media is an innovative answer to the problem. It is delivered online, of course. Other schools also offer similar programs, and businesses will soon have the advantage of well-trained social media experts.

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