You can major in going viral.
An Italian University is the latest to introduce a degree in being a social media influencer.
Milan’s SDA Bocconi School of Management teamed up with Conde Nast Italia for a “Social Academy” where students get a certified postgraduate degree that will help social climbers become industry influencers.
The curriculum promises to educate its 100 participants on the right way to use social media with quality content, killer photos and ethics. Students will learn about the importance of labeling advertised posts and how to manage the number of followers and likes they get.
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To apply, students must be at least 19 years old, English—speaking and have a high school degree with current enrollment in college. Once the course ends, they will become part of Conde Nast’s network of influencers. It’s unclear how much tuition will cost.
Social media influencers, or people with 3,000 to 10,000 followers, can earn between $60 to $115 per post, and those with more than 100,000 followers can ask for more than $400 per post, according to Tribe, an influencer marketplace. Some celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez can make more than $400,000 just on one brand-sponsored pic.
Milan isn’t the first city to introduce a social media influencer major. In June Yiwu Industrial and Commercial College (YWICC) near Shanghai offered a three-year Modelling and Etiquettecourse poised to give wannabe internet celebrities a well-rounded education in “aesthetic cultivation,” “fashion sensitivity,” “public relations etiquette” and photography skills – and, ultimately, an associate’s degree.
The school has yet to respond to Moneyish requests for comment or to share tuition. But the YWICC’s cyber-celebrity curriculum was first reported in Fall 2015, and has built buzz as the skills classes in applying makeup, performing on camera and learning luxury brands have drawn packed classes of 33 or more students. “I like dressing myself up really pretty and take pictures. I feel like this major really suits me,” one student told AFP.
Sounds crazy? Being an internet influencer is a $10.8 billion industry in China thanks to its 700 million smartphone users, and it’s even expected to double by 2018. Social media stars, or wanghong – which translates to “hot on the web” – are big business, such as Jiang Yilei, 30, a.k.a. Papi Jiang, whose comedic video rants have earned her 23 million followers and product endorsements from New Balance and luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre. Or Zhang Dayi, a fashion entrepreneur/vlogger who earned $46 million in 2016 – more than China’s top actresses.
And spoiler alert, but even the most recent season of “Orange is the New Black” sees inmates Maritza and Flaca become YouTube sensations when they get ahold of a cell phone (and fashion a selfie stick out of a plunger) and begin posting videos of their beauty routine behind bars.
So it’s not surprising that students are signing up to becoming overnight internet stars – even in the U.S., a quick Google search pulls tons of social media courses. Rutgers Business School offers a “Mini-MBA in Social Media,” or a $5,000 week-long program adding up to 30 hours of instruction on practical applications to platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, as well as influencer engagement. Harvard is hosting a five-day, $5,500 Digital Marketing Strategy program this September.
And NYU, Pratt and Fordham University also offer social media courses that click with students.