The UK social media training market

The phrase “social media training” covers a huge range of requirements and abilities. If you’re looking to accelerate your use of social media for your business, there’s a huge range of assistance available – from online “teach yourself” courses, to free seminars, to multi-day courses costing up to a thousand pounds.

We’ve seen demand for our own training services soar over the last few months, and many individuals we work with are on their second or third course, having found out the hard way that all social media training is not the same!

So, we thought that a quick blog post on getting it right first time might be useful. If you have a think about the areas below before choosing the type of training to invest in, you’re much more likely to come out of it with what you need.

Your learning style

Do you prefer to be in a large group, or would you prefer to be taught one to one or in a small group where you can ask questions as you go? Generally, the larger the group, the more inflexible the schedule – the trainer will have to cover all the stated topics in order to keep everyone happy, so may not be able to go into more depth on a specific area of interest.

Understand where you’re at

Without making an honest assessment of your knowledge about social media and online marketing in general, it’s easy to end up buying training that’s either completely over your head, or takes up a great deal of your time on areas that aren’t relevant to you. For example:

  • If you’re a comfortable, regular user of one or more social media sites in your personal life (usually Facebook or Twitter, but you may have a lively personal blog or Tumblr account for example) then you probably need to focus less on what the sites do, and more on how to use them specifically in a business context, including strategies for your particular marketplace.
  • More advanced users who’ve got some understanding of running an organisation’s social media presence might need help with content planning and how to develop, execute and monitor a campaign, or how to use software tools to make their work more efficient.
  • At the other end of the scale, if you’re not familiar with social media sites, you almost don’t know what you don’t know. You need a general overview of social media to understand what’s out there, what the pros and cons of social media are, how it differs from existing marketing channels, and how well it would sit within your company culture and existing marketing. After that, you can begin looking at individual sites in more detail.

Your schedule

If you’re already maxxed out in your job, or are looking to get a campaing up and running for a tight deadline, a tailored course (where you set the agenda to cover exactly what you need) will save time, because you won’t be going over areas which aren’t relevant or which you already have a good knowledge of.

You should also consider courses which include followup support or mentoring. Having someone checking up on your progress might be the difference between putting the training notes in a file on your shelf and not finding time to use what you’ve learnt, and successfully putting your new learning into practise.

Your business sector / confidentiality needs

In a mixed training  group, you may be taught alongside people from very different business sectors, or even competitors from your own sector. This may not be an issue, but could be if social media isn’t currently widely used in your market, or  you need to be able to discuss challenges in your business openly – in which case a private session for your organisation might provide a better experience.

Social media training costs – your budget

If you have litle to no budget (under £50), an online course will be your best choice. We’re firm believers that capable people, with dedication and enough hours put in, can teach themselves almost anything (Kate’s attempting this with the guitar as we speak!).  This will always be the cheapest way to go, but you have to be realistic about your chances of seeing it through.

There are also free seminars available in many areas, often provided by business networking groups or support organisations. These can be great for getting a very basic introduction to social media and being shown its significance, but don’t expect to come away knowing exactly what you need to do to make social media work for your own business.

Basic, larger group sessions tend to run from £75/head for an hour or two up to £600-800 for a day or more, depending on the expertise of the provider and the depth of detail in the course.

Private, small group training can often provide a good balance between value for money and efficiency, because you should be able to have more input into what’s covered and can send a few trainees from your organisation – also great for holiday backup because you’re not relying on only one person with social media training!  Costs for this will vary depending on the number of trainees and topics to be covered, but should be in the region of £100-£200 per trainee.

Provider background

Social media training providers on the whole tend to fall into two groups – professional training providers, and social media agencies and professionals.

The former will be providing training as their core business. So, on any given day they may be running courses on anything from Health & Safety to Twitter.  Because they are set up for nothing but training, their facilities should be good (in terms of training rooms etc) and the standard of training fairly consistent.

If you’re using a social media agency for your training, you should be being taught by someone who spends the rest of their time planning and executing real world social media campaigns. You should expect them to be very much aware of the latest developments, and  the practical challenges of working with social media sites, and be able to share examples of social media strategies with you.

We hope that’s helpful. We get great feedback from our training clients, but we know that our approach won’t necessarily be optimal for all situations – so good luck, and we hope that you’re able to use some of this guide to get the best training for you!

If you want to learn more about our training approach, and how it’s worked for some of our clients, click here.