A social media course is a social media course, no?


In the last couple of months we’ve been particularly busy with social media training, as more and more organisations realise the value of developing in-house skills in this area. And I can confidently say, that even after years of putting together training materials, we have never delivered two sessions which are exactly alike.

In the last few weeks alone, we have developed social media courses for the marketing team on a large event for young people, an NHS training and conference provider, and an author looking to promote her most recently published novel. Each was genuinely unique in terms of the culture they work within, and therefore every aspect of their communications from the language used, to the behaviour of their target market online.

In each case, they came to us asking for “social media training” – but of course, social media is a very big place. Without help to identify where social media is relevant to their work, they could have spent a very long time on classroom or online courses without much benefit to the organisation at all.

Two contrasting examples

If you’re still not convinced, let’s look at a short case study for the Event team and the Author in a little more detail.

The first organisation needs to connect with young people aged 14-25 (the target audience for the event itself), but also exhibitors and sponsors. They have good in-house skills around using Facebook and Twitter, and a presence on LinkedIn, but need to build their audience more quickly in a limited time period.

Before we began developing their training, we reviewed their existing social media presence. We always do this, to gauge the level of reach and engagement the client already has, and ensure we’re not teaching them to suck social media eggs, as it were.

Based on our own experience of delivering campaigns and building audiences, we identified activities that would help them. That included tactics- online and offline – as well as functions within the social media sites themselves, and free third party software and apps.

Their training was then focused around the strategic thinking behind this, as well as introducing them to the new functions and software. We also looked at fine-tuning the match between the different audiences they need to reach, and the way they were currently using the different sites.

Finally, we gave them a detailed plan for maximising the impact of social media before, during and after the event.

The Author was a complete beginner with social media, but had been advised by her publisher that being active has a large impact on visibility and book sales.

With no personal experience of using the main sites, she needed to understand the fundamental principles of each, and the kind of activity which would appeal to her readers and get them talking. We also helped her get a “head start” on finding her online community with examples of great author Facebook pages, key Twitter hashtags and more.

Again from our agency experience, we showed her some niche sites and forums which would also make a difference.

Can social media training be standard?

So in both cases, the clients needed to find the right people to talk to, and the community where the action was – but in each case, the right people were different and to be found in different ways. Multiply that by *every* social media course we’ve developed, and to create a single, standardised course would either involve days spent in the classroom in order to cover everything, or a very narrow core course. And it’s those elements which are totally unique to a particular client that really deliver the killer value!

Training¬† individual organisations allows us to work much more consultatively, identifying for them which aspects of social media will be most important to their communications or sales strategy, and showing them exactly how to put those skills into practise. Those “all the same” off the shelf courses are great if you already know what you don’t know, and can choose the exact right one to meet that need. If you know you need to learn but aren’t sure what, this can be a really time consuming and expensive path.

For more on this subject, try our article on finding the best social media training for you.