Cal State East Bay Blog

The Future of Social Media: Q&A with Social Media Marketing Program Director Marguerite Hinrichs



Since 2014, Cal State East Bay’s Social Media Marketing Certificate Program has provided students with the necessary training in the practical and strategic components of social media marketing. Students learn how to stay current with the latest marketing trends and gain the skills and knowledge to become an effective social media professional. The online program is designed for working adults and can be completed in one semester.

We spoke with the current director of the program, Marguerite Hinrichs, to talk all things social media. Hinrichs comes from a robust career in public relations and possesses experience in media relations, event planning and entertainment. She currently teaches two courses in the Social Media Marketing Certificate Program.

In this interview, Hinrichs discusses the importance of social media today, how she stays up to date with the latest trends, and what future students can expect in the program.

How did you get into the field of social media marketing (SMM), and how long have you been with Cal State East Bay’s Social Media Marketing Certificate Program?

I earned my Communications degree in 1994 from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, with an emphasis in Public Relations, and I’ve had a PR consulting business since 1997.

I’ve always had an interest in public relations, media relations, event planning and entertainment, so the foundational activities of public relations started to really evolve into SMM as social media started to dominate the landscape. I didn’t resist MySpace, and eventually Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I really embraced it all because I saw a lot of media activity was happening in these social spaces, particularly journalism through Twitter. I started to notice early on this is free space that you can reach a lot of people with and if you use it in the right way it’s going to surpass traditional media, and it certainly did. For example, press releases. Now you can just “@” mention a reporter. I embraced technology and social media as I saw it married to public relations and marketing activities in a lot of ways.

I’ve been able to leverage social media as a tool to help folks build their brands, to help create awareness, and to create exposure for education, organizations, and even Cal State East Bay. I joined CSUEB’s SMM program in 2014. When we switched to online it was even better because we started to reach people from all over the world, so because of that I continued to be very excited about coordinating and teaching in the program.

What trends are you noticing with current social media marketing?

It used to be about follower count. A lot of social media is about validation, and now folks are also focusing on building community. Many users would rather have a small community who are really into what they’re posting, instead of having a million followers who are bots. Building an online community versus attention to follower count is one thing that’s changing.

Also, people are being more authentic. People are catching on and saying, “Hey, I’m gonna be me,” so you’re seeing people being more authentic with unpolished content. More short form content is also dominating the landscape. And of course, more interactive content.

Social commerce is bigger now too, so people are selling their wares online and merchandise, and it’s great because people are really creative and people don’t have to go to big box stores. People can sell things right from their home.

What is the future of social media marketing? Where do you see social media heading in 10 years? 20 years?

The future will be even more interactive. It will have more exciting and immersive content in a friendly experience.

In 20 years, we’re looking at artificial intelligence dominating social media strategies to a point where people might not be able to tell the difference between AI generated content and original, authentic content. I hope they will, but I do see AI really playing a part in SMM.

Since social media is constantly evolving, what kind of things are done to keep the program updated and relevant?

One thing to remember is we’re all heavily involved in the areas we teach, whether it’s risk management, or metrics, or more. We’re all currently practicing professionals in the field we teach. We also do a lot of research and participate in trends, and in apps, like social apps, and assess whether or not they’ll work for various clients. Clubhouse [a phone app where users can communicate in audio chat rooms that accommodate groups of thousands of people] is one example, and whether a client should use it or not.

We try to stay updated by participating in trends, investigating new applications that come up, and staying up to date in trade journals, news and media. It’s important to always be researching, reading, participating and practicing, and all of our instructors are certainly always doing that.

Who would you say CSUEB’s Social Media Marketing Certificate Program is for?

This program is for anyone who wants to gain a holistic understanding of how to approach social media with the strategy that positions them for success. It’s great for entrepreneurs and recent graduates, whether it’s a BA or MA, or doctorate, and you want to brand yourself. This program puts another addition into your resume. And it’s also for emerging and experienced professionals.

The courses are really focused on helping our participants be successful in the field and grab a little bit of this big world of social media and pair it into a certificate where you can say, “I know how to write content, I know how to handle an online crisis, I understand what metrics are about and I can write social media policy for any business.” Students will know all the things that make someone a strong SMM professional.

What can a student expect from the program?

They can expect an engaging, personalized experience. All the professors are committed to making sure we work with each of our students to make sure they’re getting what they want out of the program. It’s all online so we walk participants through the essential elements of SMM, from developing a strategy and creating content to understanding metrics and minimizing risks in the online environment. They can expect to learn a little bit of everything from this large world of social media to really make them an effective professional.

Also, expect engaging, excited professors who love what they do.

What’s your favorite social media network and why?

I love YouTube. I love the variety of content on it. I’m active on Facebook, and I love Instagram because I’m a visual person, but I spend most of my time on YouTube.

What advice can you offer to someone who is just getting started with social media marketing?

I would advise them to get certified in our program so they can be equipped with the skills, the experience and the confidence to manage a social media project or strategy or leadership role. This is your opportunity to get some real world experience. It’s an opportunity for you to make mistakes, and we’ll help guide you through it so that you can go out into the real world and be an effective SMM professional.

Overall, the SMM program is designed to provide you with additional skills and experience so you can be a leader in SMM and you can have the confidence for when you represent a brand or a business.

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Social Media Marketing Certificate Program

Stay current with the latest marketing trends and gain the skills and knowledge to become an effective social media professional with a comprehensive, innovative online program designed for working adults. Learn more here.