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.
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.
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.
“Well I’ve been on three courses already but I still don’t get it”, or words to that effect, is something we hear fairly often from our social media training clients.
Especially when they’ve been to a number of large group sessions, many people struggle to get from what’s commonly provided as standard training, to being able to develop and deliver an effective social campaign.
Here are our Top 5 reasons why this happens.
A social media presence never exists in isolation. If you’re learning one or more of the social media platforms, it really helps if you know in advance what you want to achieve from it. This means that you need to have at least a high level understanding of your organisation’s online and offline marketing strategy.
Hopefully, that will then inform your choice of course – you have some idea of what the site you’re being trained on can do, and why that’ll be helpful for you, right? If you arrive on the day not knowing this, and the course itself doesn’t cover it, then it’s difficult for you to make that leap of how you can use what you’re being shown.
Social media sites change constantly – there are new functions introduced, or even as happened recently with Facebook, the entire user interface is redesigned.
This is a pain for training providers as it means that course content has to be updated, but a good trainer will ensure that’s been done. It can be really disorientating to get back to your office and find that when you log in to the site you were trained on, everything looks different from the screenshots in your training.
Going on a training day can provide a seductive opportunity to regress! Our brains become twelve years old again, with the mentality that we just have to be in the room and it’s the trainer’s responsibility to ensure that we learn. A good course will include questions and exercises to help prevent this, but it’s so easy to do. Make sure you participate actively in your learning, and that you’re able to ask as many questions as needed during the session.
This is probably the real killer for most people. They find themselves in a room with twenty other people, being shown how to set up a Facebook ad campaign or use Hootsuite to schedule Tweets. This may be essential stuff, but if the trainer doesn’t relate it back to how it’ll work for your business (or simply can’t on a practical level, because the types of business in the room are too diverse), you’ll struggle when you’re on your own.
The devil really is in the detail here. Being shown which buttons to press is a bit like teaching an aspiring novelist how to use Microsoft Word – they have the basic tools, but not the strategic skills to make good use of them. Good novelist training will demonstrate how the tools help achieve real-world goals, and social media training is no different.
It’s true of almost any training that new knowledge will disappear from your brain at a rate of knots if you don’t start building on it right away, and especially so with social media where you may be learning skills which are very different from what you’ve done in the past.
Make sure you have some time set aside within a day or two to put what you’ve learned into use, or when you do get back to it you’ll be confused and it’ll all seem like a lot of hard work. Then your social media campaign slips to the bottom of your “to do” list again, and in a few weeks you’re back at square one.
Post by Kate Rose
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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