Academy Launches Social Media Center

The new resource will help students and faculty develop their skills to meet the changing needs of the online world


Stephan Rabimov, director of the Social Media Center at Academy of Art University, leads a discussion on social media strategies. Photo by Bob Toy.

Academy of Art University has launched a new Social Media Center ( at the heart of San Francisco. The Social Media Center is comprised of a professional development series of courses in social media, a hub for academic social resources and a gateway, in the form of a Global Advisory Board, connecting the Academy to the industry giants of San Francisco, Silicon Valley and beyond.

“There is a growing need for social media skills across fashion journalism and other programs at the university,” said Stephan Rabimov, who was named director of the Social Media Center as well as fashion journalism at the Academy. He is also a contributing writer for The Huffington Post and Forbes International.

One of the first classes Rabimov has launched is blogging content creation and promotion that grew in enrollment by 200 percent since its initiation. This demand is in line with the market needs, as according to industry research, social media-related careers are one of the fastest growing professions across job markets. 

Earlier this year, during the Department Action Team (DAT) meetings at the School of Fashion that included Simon Ungless, executive director of the School of Fashion, it became apparent that there is an Academy-wide need for social media training.

“We all agreed that the changes in the fashion journalism program that were taking place to reflect the increasing importance of social media skills should be amplified and expanded to other programs and schools at the Academy,’’ Rabimov said. “So the idea for the Social Media Center with a dedicated series of courses was born.”


B.F.A. MPTV student Evan Pleger evaluates a fellow student’s Facebook page against key industry benchmarks. Photo by Bob Toy.


B.F.A. GAM student James Breland and B.F.A. fashion styling student Audrey Waananen work together as peer reviewers of each others’ social media content. Photo by Bob Toy.

The goal is for these courses to become a universal resource and training center for prospective students who want to gain new skills in social media, current students who want to be more employable or find opportunities in social media management and even for department representatives themselves.

“Our mission is to provide exceptional training by industry professionals who are in the know of what hiring employers are seeking in great candidates,” said Dr. Elisa Stephens, president of Academy of Art University. “The social media management program is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to start a career working with social media in virtually any industry.”

There are four PRO courses that, once completed, will qualify the participant for an award of completion in social media professional development. The four courses include: PRO 515 Social Media Content Development, PRO 525 Social Media Strategies, PRO 535 Social Media Data Analytics and PRO 545 Social Media Management.

The PRO courses are developed in line with the Academy’s long-standing philosophy of industry-led training on the leading-edge of technology. Industry partners will serve as members of the center’s Global Advisory Board and already include Tumblr, Weebly, Flipboard and Newco on the growing roster.

“Social media is rapidly evolving the face and pace of marketing for virtually every fashion and art brand in existence. It’s so fantastic that the Academy of Art University is taking notice and action in a big way, and we’re happy to be part of the [center],” said Tumblr Fashion + Art Evangelist Valentine Uhovsky.

 “Faculty can take the courses as well as current students to understand how to create their social media presence aka footprint and how to produce and manage effective social media content to promote their programs,” Rabimov said.


Academy of Art University students participate in a discussion on the impact of social media promotion tactics for their blogs. Photo by Bob Toy.

Moving forward, Rabimov views the center as a place that can support the Academy’s various departments in launching and sustaining their blogs as well as acting as a central social media directory. It would essentially organize the school’s social media links into a universal catalog that is easily accessible by anyone searching for the school’s creative output across social media platforms.

In addition there will be a space for students to learn social media guidelines. “Many are coming from high school or foreign countries and they’re not aware of the full professional social media etiquette,” said Rabimov. “They would benefit from knowing how to protect their personal data, how to make some social media posts public and others private and overall, learn general guidelines on how to smartly manage your social media as a professional in any field.” 

The center will also provide current students and alumni with a resource for career networking and job searching, including how to reach out to different companies and setting up the perfect LinkedIn profile. It will provide regular updates via blog posts on the best social media practices to help promote your personal “brand.” “There is a methodology on how to apply social media to your job search, including how to market yourself, your brand across social media, and how to cultivate and nurture your social media networks for career opportunities,” said Rabimov.

“The unique advantage of this center is its proximity to Silicon Valley,” Rabimov said. “The relationship the center is cultivating with firms here, which are locally successful and globally known, would create dynamics for potential opportunities for internships or job placement.” 

Rabimov believes that in the future, the Academy’s Social Media Center could even be an incubator for leading and emerging social media companies. “Our students are extremely talented and creative, they can bring a much needed original perspective to help many firms stay ahead of the curve.”