Sounds crazy, right? That was my first reaction to this what-you-would-think-would-be-a rhetorical question.
However, did you know that according to Morning Consult (not exactly a fly-by-night operation), a whopping 86% of young people want to become a social media influencer? Many are most likely enticed by the money–Charli D’Amelio earned $17.5 million in 2020 thanks to her efforts on social media platforms. Some of it is undoubtedly the fame that comes along with being a popular influencer. But, without question, this is clearly a career path young people are thinking about.
And China is already making this happen. Yeah, in China you can actually go to school to become a professional influencer. Again, I know how crazy that sounds. But, before you write it off, consider the cirriculum these kids are taking.
According to that same Pandaily article referenced above, the courses these would-be influencers are taking include “short-video editing, social media marketing, e-commerce, and other aspects of the new “trade”, and are often taught in cooperation with industry players such as the social media platforms themselves.” Those all sound like courses I’d like to see many universities here in the states offer! And what kid wouldn’t want to take a class with reps from TikTok and Pinterest involved?
What’s more, these Chinese vocational schools, as part of these classes, are asking kids to build profiles for themselves on social, create content and learn how to build an audience. Isn’t that what we try to do every day as social media marketers? Seems like that would be HUGELY relevant. Again, I might like to see classes like these in the U.S.!
And not only are they teaching these kids useful social media marketing skills, and how to build brands online, they’re also teaching them how to be successful business people.
According to the article, “At some point in an influencer’s career path, they’d move beyond the advertising model and dive deeper into e-commerce either by establishing their own brands or becoming a live-streaming salesperson for established brands.”
So, let’s recap briefly on this Chinese model. These kids are learning:
- How to create social media content that grabs attention in a very hand-on way.
- How to livestream–a social media tactic that’s gaining steam rapidly
- How to sell via social media–sometimes from reps from the social media platforms themselves
- How to build brands on social media–again, in a very first-hand, hands-on manner
Doesn’t that sound like outstanding training to become a professional digital and social media marketer, too? Some of these Chinese kids will surely go on to be professional influencers–but probably not all of them. The rest would probably make great social media marketers.
Besides, the training above sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Doesn’t that sound like the kind of training kids would absolutely love in 2022? We laugh at what China is doing, but maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe, instead, we should study it and potentially replicate it.
Going to school to become a social media influencer just might not be as crazy as you think.