Perpetual fee for maintaining certification = bad idea
Most professional certification programs charge a flat, one-time fee for the study materials and test. You pass the test and then they certify you. At most, you have to take CPE credits once a year to refresh your knowledge. Other than that, there is no continuous monthly fee to remain certified. Once you've earned your certification, it's yours to keep.
Frankly, HootSuite is valuable but it is not rocket science. Anyone can figure out how to use it. I'm not sure why anyone would need expensive lessons to use it effectively.
I cannot be the only one who is questioning the legitimacy of a program that requires monthly payments to maintain certification - a certification that's too new to determine whether or not it's going to be a competitive advantage in the job market.
I hope you're going to re-think this. It's a terrible idea, and the soak factor is off-putting.
Kirk Munro commented
Ok, this is pretty bad.
First, it isn't apparent when you sign up that it's $21 _per_month_, and that you must pay this to be listed in the "certified HootSuite professional" directory listing (a listing that is so new that it's value is minimal).
Second, your test scoring system is broken, reporting correct answers as incorrect on 2 of the three core tests, so the value of becoming a "certified HootSuite professional" is questionable (how many of the certified professionals that are there now are there because they answered incorrectly and were marked as having the correct answers? Sounds certifiable to me.
Third, while there is some value (albeit minimal) in the continued learning/seminars that are made available through HootSuite U, I think you would be much better off if you were to take up some of the other suggestions posted here. It appears that the only reason you're not offering up your courseware for free at this point is because you are aware that the "Certified HootSuite Professional" certification means nothing, so there would be little value for users to take the tests once they learned the courseware (that, plus the testing system is broken).
Why not: (a) offer a one-time enrollment fee to take the courses/exams, and (b) have a minimal alumni fee for those customers who want to continue to get additional content every month (and this would have to be minimal, like $5/month, while you provide enough value on your side to make it an absolute no-brainer for customers to stay signed up)? And for your listing, well, just show the user and the date they were last enrolled (including alumni dates), with an expiry period beyond the date of last enrollment (6-months, 12-months, something like that), so that users see some value in the courseware, continue to sign-up, stay on as alumni, and aren't afraid to promote what you're doing here.
I've reached out to you about the scoring issues through one of your co-workers (Mark) and haven't heard anything in over a week. As a paying customer for a service that is overpriced, that's not acceptable.
As it stands today I can't even "Like" your page on FaceBook because the model is too flawed for me to put any weight behind it.
I was ready to sign up until I realized it was perpetual. This really makes me question the overall ethics of this company. I hope they rethink this.
Is Hootsuite charging us just to show our certificates, I rather have them send me a certificate to post in my wall (Real Wall at office), and pay them for upgrades like CE Credits every time there is a major upgrade to the platform just like Google+ or other major changes. There is no real value for this monthly charge
Javier G. commented
I agree that perpetual fee is perhaps quite expensive. Just to add some ideas here: offer Pro accounts for free (or a special plan like Pro + another user), annual discounts (such like pay 8 months, get listed for a year), add good material each month (for instance a complete tutorial of Facebook, with search, ... real cases to get engagement...
There are good ideas in the material you share in Slideshare to everyone for free, these can be useful to make video tutorials, and also you can offer the slides you share in slideshare only to people who pay HootSuite U... also, we could learn a lot with more webinars, exclusive events...
You can offer us more than only get listed, thank you very much.
HERE'S A SOLID SUGGESTION:
(1) make the training materials available free
(2) charge about $50 for the tests (total fee for all 4 tests)
(3) create a special Partner account level for $12/month that *includes*:
-- continued access to training materials
-- a Pro account with 1 free additional team account
-- listing in the certified pro directory
it only occurred to me after signing up for a month of HU (thinking I could easily pass certification within one month) that paying the $21 every month might be required in order to be listed as a certified HootSuite U "graduate".
I agree the cost is excessive. For any other software certification program I have ever contemplated, there is a test fee and, if one chooses to take the official training, of course a fee for training materials.
It behooves the software vendor to have certified consultants available to potential customers. We evangelize the tools we have learned and we help YOUR customers implement them. Hence we are channel partners and $252 USD/year is way too much to charge for a directory listing.
Michael Biedenstein commented
not sure what i'm getting for a pretty steep price...