So you’ve decided it’s time to invest in your social media prowess and you’re considering your options. One of the decisions is whether you want to complete a course of online learning or attend a training session in person. The reality is that these options represent a drastically different learning experience so working out which is the best choice for you will save you a lot of time and money.
Online vs in-person social media training
The world of online courses has exploded in recent years and digital marketing is one of the hottest topics covered. Why? Because there are many areas of digital marketing, it changes rapidly and business owners and marketers can benefit massively from upskilling. But this means there are many outdated and low-quality courses available that are only really benefitting their creators. So discerning the reputable online course from the dubious is one of the challenges you face.
For some, however, the choice is more down to their preferred method of learning. Having an in-person social media training session is a far more engaging experience and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions relating to your specific issue or business goal. Of course, there’s a big difference between attending an open group seminar and a private, personalised session. A personalised session from an expert is going to have significant benefits compared with a generalised course.
Let’s take a look the main benefits of each option:
Main benefits of online learning:
- Range of options at different prices
- Lots of material – potentially days of learning
- Learn at your own pace in your own home or from wherever you like
- Sometimes possible to see samples before committing and even get a refund if it’s not for you
- Possible to invite multiple people from your organisation to view the material
Main benefits of in-person learning:
- More likely to contain up-to-date material (not always!)
- More engaging and interactive
- Personalised interpretation and application of the material
- Solve problems in real-time with your trainer
- Learning is more intensive and time-bound
It’s worth noting that if you’re looking for a long-term process of learning because you want to go from a relative beginner to an advanced social media marketer, an extensive online course, or an extended course of one-to-one sessions, is probably a better option. Having a broad, in-depth understanding of all the key major social networks requires months of study and practice, even years – there are degree courses in social media now!
Live training sessions; initial boost and lasting learning benefits
Live training sessions provide an intensive boost in a specific knowledge area, often in-line with a specific business goal. This means that an in-person session is ideal for those with a good understanding of social media, who know what they need to know to have the greatest impact on their business.
However, course providers will often supply associated information or the course slides to back up real-time learning. If you forget everything you learned and there’s nothing to look at after, you’ve lost a lot of the value. Supplementary materials can help you extend the learning process and deepen your understanding.
Private in-person training is a premium option because of the high degree of personalisation and commercial value. An expert social medial trainer takes into account the wider marketing and business aims to ensure there’s real value in the learning.
Choosing the right online course
We’ve established that online learning can be an excellent option but with so many options out there available, which one do you go for? Here are some questions to ask in order to help make your decision.
The online social media training checklist:
- Is the creator of the course legitimate? Who are they and can you find them online?
- Is the course material new or recently updated? Material on social media likely needs updating every year at the rate the platforms evolve.
- Can you find genuine third-party reviews of this course?
- How much useful material is there? How much of this could you find elsewhere?
- Is there any element of personalisation or one-to-one advice? This is a great indicator that the creator cares and this may be the most valuable part of the course.
- What recourse is available to you if the course is not as you expected? Most reputable course providers offer some kind of money-back or refund system if it’s not for you.
Online courses have the same weakness as group seminars insomuch that the course material is fixed and generalised, so you need a course with lots of material to make sure there’s value for you.
Some online courses also come with some elements of personalisation such as a call with the course creator or a plan of action from them based on your social media profiles. This can provide a lot of extra value for you. To reiterate; it’s worth double-checking when the material was created. Social networks evolve very quickly so some functionalities, tactics and examples may be outdated and ineffective.
In conclusion: which to choose?
Online courses represent a very different learning proposition to in-person courses. Learning is done in your own time and under your own steam so it’s important you know what you need to learn and how to apply it.
In-person training keeps the intensity high with learners having to take on board everything there and then. But the opportunity to ask questions and received tailored help creates huge value.