|Aside from Engineering, Law, Arts, and Psychology courses in Italian University ECampus, the institutions now offer a course for being an influencer. / Photo credits by UfaBizPhoto via Shutterstock|
Influencer marketing has been the biggest thing since it started gaining traction. Brands and companies are abandoning selling their products via commercials and ads, which are gradually losing touch with the audience. The name of the game is relatability, and it’s being capitalized by big businesses. Now, a school in Italy has m a school course out of it.
ECampus, an Italian University now offers a course for anyone who wants to make a living out of being an influencer.
About the Influencer Course
|It may seem as being an influencer is not an actual profession, but the demand for being an influencer is highly increasing. / Photo credits by De Repente via Shutterstock|
According to 10 Daily, a news and entertainment website, ECampus will be offering “a new degree program to teach students the skills it believes are necessary to bridge the gap between traditional and digital marketing, as companies increasingly rely on celebrities and so-called ‘influencers’ with loyal followers to promote their brands and products.”
From a marketing perspective, it makes sense that the university chose to latch onto this particular career choice for new students. Influencing and connecting with each other on the internet in varying degrees is, after all, the language of the generation.
Even non-Instagram-exclusive people have been successful in promoting a brand tied to a certain belief--remember Colin Kaepernick and his personal stand against police brutality and racism? Nike found that they shared the same message with Kaepernick, and that they shared the same message with Serena Williams, too.
According to news outlet CBS News, the program will have three years' worth of coursework that they hope will be sufficient for anyone looking to make a career out of being an influencer for brands. ECampus believes that the course is important because it will “bridge the gap between traditional and digital marketing.”
They have already put up a description of the goal that the influencer course is trying to achieve:
“The figure of the influencer, despite not being officially recognized as a profession, is increasingly in demand by companies, commercial brands, and advertising agencies, because they can deliver messages to their followers who recognize them as credible and reliable ‘opinion leaders.’”
Hitting the Ground Running
Aside from the fact that the course itself sounds appealing to any Gen Z looking to make bank on an undoubtedly lucrative job as an influencer, ECampus itself seems to be pretty invested and interested in this idea. According to business news website Bloomberg, the university has already even asked the help of football star Cristiano Ronaldo to help promote the course and is currently in the college’s publicity campaign.
In tandem with this promotional campaign, Ronaldo will also be “funding 36 student grants as part of his commitment.”
To prepare their students who will be taking this course, the university will offer classes such as fashion psychology (for any promotions that may include clothing or other fast fashion items), semiotics (the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation), the philosophy of language (to help them with formulating an eye-catching and attention-grabbing captions), TV history, intercultural communication (so they can be able to reach more audiences with messages that cater to every possible demographic), and information technology.
Other than this new influencer course, the school also offers degrees in Engineering, Law, Arts, and Psychology.
Maurizio Pasquetti, head of marketing at ECampus, explains that part of the reason ECampus decided to add influencer marketing as a course is that it’s not as easy as it seems.
He tells Bloomberg, “Many people have misinterpreted the fact that trying to be an influencer and knowing how to work with influencer marketing and personal branding are not the same thing. There is specific and technical knowledge that you need to master.”
Just because ECampus seems to be excited about the course, doesn’t mean the rest of Italy is. After it was announced, many have also jumped in on the discussion and questioned the nature of the course if it were to push through.
Pasquetti’s simple defense, he tells CBS News, is that the classes that these students will be taking lean more to the business side of things -- the side of marketing that is connected to social media metrics and how to talk to audiences to make sure you come off as authentic as possible.
"In Italy, there are unfortunately a lot of people who call themselves influencers but they and others still don't understand how digital marketing works," he says. “Obviously, we teach them technical skills, but we don't just teach them to take selfies. We also teach them how to understand metrics on Facebook and other social media platforms so they understand their results and what works and what doesn't."
There is no guarantee that such a course will work as it is still beginning. From the ground, influencer marketing is usually frowned upon by the general audience. Consumers are more perceptive and critical of the content they consume, so the challenge that these students will likely encounter is striking a balance between being relatable and being authentic.