Improving your knowledge and skills around social media is a great idea. From gaining just a basic understanding of platform functionality, right through to utilising advanced search and interaction techniques will stand you in good stead. Whether you want to manage you own social media presence or be in a better position to advise others or employ a specialist, investing in a social media course is a smart move.
But here’s the bad news:
There are loads to choose from. Online, offline. Courses with accreditations. Courses that take a few weeks, some just an hour. And what about the price? We’ve seen prices for social media course vary wildly. So how do you go about choosing one?
This is the first thing you need to do…
Before you begin to look at a social media marketing course, sit down and consider the following:
- What do you want to have achieved at the end of it?
- How much social media knowledge do you already have?
- What are your social media goals?
- Do you know which social media platforms you want to use?
Once you have answers to these questions you can begin to look for a social media marketing course that is suited to your needs.
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Which social media course is best for you?
If you have very little knowledge of social media and how to use it effectively within your business, then you should be able to find a basic course. This kind, of course, should cover the different platforms that are available to you, the basic functions of each platform and ways you can start to build your social media network. You can find these locally and online but beware that online courses become dated very quickly so check when they were last updated. Remember, though, all the information about basic functionality of platforms can generally be found on the platforms themselves and informative blogs (like our own!) will provide a lot of information for free!
If you already have a basic understanding of social media (or have completed a basic course) we would recommend looking for courses on specific platforms. This will provide you more in-depth detail on how to utilise the platform to generate the most engagement from your target audience.
If you already have a reasonable grasp of social media, we strongly advise against mass social media seminars, particularly if you’re paying for them! This is simply because so many people are in attendance that there is no way a session can address the issues of a mixed ability group across multiple industries. That’s why our LinkedIn sessions have a maximum of twelve delegates at any one time and everyone gets a little bit of homework to get them up to speed.
We’re huge advocates of bespoke social media training which is delivered to one or a small group of delegates from one business. Why? Because the industry, company, and goals are the same and we can prepare exactly what the business needs before the session. If you’re serious about getting good at generating sales and lead through social media, we strongly recommend social media training or consultancy from a social media specialist.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot going for being able to learn how to use social media from your living room at your own pace. If you’ve started doing any shopping around, you’ll probably have found a bazillion online courses ranging from the completely free to the almost inexplicably expensive and from the worst to the seemingly professional and comprehensive. So how do you know which one to go for, what should you expect and are they worth it?
So this is the most important thing:
Knowledge is power
Firstly, you’re completely right to look for more information on social media marketing. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not something you can hand over to a 15-year-old who will suddenly generate hundreds of followers and triple your sales. In fact, hundreds of small business owners make the mistake of spending hours each week on their social media ‘being busy’ without making any real progress. Having a grounding in the basics of social media will aid productivity and help save your brand from sharing any detracting content.
Consider an online social media course if you:
- would benefit a basic understanding of social media
- want to learn in your own time, at your own pace and wherever you like
- want to improve yyourskills to use social media in a commercial capacity
- need a tutorial on how to use a certain platform particularly effectively
- need to stop wasting time and effort and make progress towards your business goals
Here’s the big problem though:
The truth is that even expensive online courses will have their limitations when it come to helping you and your business.
A one-size-fits-all approach will not address the specifics of your industry, your business model, target audience and the voice and style of your brand.
A little managing of expectations here. If you’re going for an online course which covers a number of social platforms then you will only gain a grounding in the very basics. This is because even the basics take a long time to get right and each platform requires different images and text for optimisation as well as having various functionalities to get to grips with.
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Whilst a solid grounding in all of the basics is incredibly important for the beginner and everyone should make sure their profiles are optimised for each platform, often these online social media courses can move a little too slowly for the intermediate. In fact, the course may never reach a level of content that helps you improve your existing social media activity. Unless you are a complete beginner, we recommend you look for a specialist course rather than something covering ‘general social media’. Good online courses will also come with exercises to do outside of simply watching and acting on the information in the videos to help you tailor the information to you and your business.
More specialised social media courses cover the basics for the beginner but move through to complex functions of the platform which will help virtually every business. If you’re really looking for advanced training for your business, you’ll be far better off having a face-to-face training session with a social media consultant.
Don’t make this common mistake:
If you’re confident you want to enrol on an online social media course and you’re now making a decision about which one to choose, be clear about what you want to achieve from the course. Most will list the things you’ll be able do once you have completed the course and make sure there are testimonials to show this is the case! Will the core features of the course be valuable to you? Is it pitched at the right level for your understanding?
Are you looking for guidance in creating a strategy? Content ideas? Other tips and tricks to help you efficiently run your social media presence? Perhaps you want to know more about third party scheduling apps or other management tools.
If you don’t have a clear idea of what you need from the course, you’re likely to waste your time and money.
Price should also be a consideration. Remember that if the price is rolling into the hundreds of pounds or dollars that you could equally get a bespoke social media training session which would be far more effective. Is there any element of a follow up or personal help included? This can be incredibly valuable. Another tip is to make sure you watch a sample or introduction video to make sure you like the style of the presenter and the course, itself.
Here’s the bad news:
It won’t all just happen for you
More expectation management here, but also some encouragement!
Just simply watching some social media webinars, no matter how good they are, is not going to make you a social media guru overnight. Nor is it going to make your business hundreds of sales and leads in the first week. You’re going to have to put in some serious hard work in getting to know your audience, how they respond to your posts and how to work towards your goals. As with pretty much everything in life, there are no quick fixes and there’s no magic trick to getting hundreds of followers and link clicks on your posts.
Once you’ve decided on what you want the course to cover, you should decide whether you want to do it online, in your own time at your own pace; or if you wish to have training days at the business, with all the staff involved and a speaker presenting the course. Each has its pros and cons and comes down to whatever you feel is best suited to your business.
At JC Social Media we offer bespoke training which we tailor to you and your businesses’ needs. If you’re keen to keep social media management in house and under your control, you and your team should certainly consider a training session to really make the most of social media.