There are few terms more overused these days than “social media expert.” Now Unified wants to actually certify those experts, through a new program called Unified University.
Unified calls itself “the first social operating platform” — it offers tools for planning, purchasing, and analyzing social media advertising campaigns. Even though CEO Sheldon Owen says he wants to build a big enterprise technology company, Unified sometimes finds itself working as a social media consultant, of sorts for the agencies and brands that it works with, helping to train them in the best practices of social advertising. With Unified University, the startup can get its customers up-to-speed more efficiently.
Despite the “university” name, this isn’t actually something people need to commit to for weeks or months. Instead, it’s a series of online tutorials that can be completed in about a day, and at the end, the “students” get certified in different subject areas. The curriculum focuses on three broad topics — Metrics & Reporting, Tactical, and Strategies for Success.
In the short-term, people need that certification in order to unlock certain Unified features. For example, Owen says there are lots of unique challenges to promoting content on StumbleUpon. Rather than allowing customers to waste their time and money, Unified’s StumbleUpon feature only turns on after they’ve completed the relevant tutorial in the University. In the long-term, Owen is hoping that the certification will become a generally recognized way to recognize social media knowledge, say within large organizations, or when you’re moving between jobs.
By the way, Unified’s co-founders Josh Backer and Jason Beckerman were actually part of the inaugural class of TechCrunch 40 companies with their startup Teach the People.