It’s no secret that to get ahead in any market you need to use all of the latest tools available. And while social media is excellent for connecting with friends and family, it also has the benefit of reaching a large number of potential customers when utilized as social media marketing (SMM).
Every day, companies and individuals use social media to share content that pushes their brand or products. To optimize results, they utilize social media marketing strategies to ensure their product or service reaches a wide, relevant audience.
Do you want to keep up with the future of marketing? Learn social media marketing by looking into what’s behind the ads you see on Facebook and Instagram. There are quite a few useful resources you can take advantage of to learn valuable social media marketing skills for free.
First, let’s get familiar with the basics of how to use social media channels for digital marketing.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing, or SMM, is the use of various social media platforms to promote products and services. All of the Facebook ads you see each day are part of a carefully constructed social media marketing plan.
What Is Social Media Marketing Used For?
While putting up a one-time ad for your lawn mowing service is all well and good, there is much more technique to SMM than just pasting a blog post link onto Facebook or Twitter. Marketing professionals use social media to their advantage in multiple ways.
- Advertising campaigns. This is the central aspect of social media marketing. Running an advertising campaign in the digital world is a fairly recent challenge for content marketers and tech gurus alike. It involves knowing your audience and picking the perfect time of day to publish your promotional content.
- Promoting products and services. Companies promote their products through a variety of social media marketing strategies. They do this through effective customer outreach by listing Facebook and Twitter ads and partaking in other social engagement strategies.
- Marketing a personal brand. This type of marketing has boomed in the Internet age. People want to buy products from brands they recognize. The more successful your social media marketing is, the better your brand recognition will be.
- Listening to Customers. Social media is particularly useful because companies can use it to engage with customers directly. It can be used to gather customers’ opinions and insight more quickly than would be possible in the real world.
Types of Social Media Marketing
There are a few critical aspects of SMM. Although social media marketing can seem as simple as someone pushing a product or service in a post, it is actually a lot more nuanced.
Influencer marketing is when a company hires a noteworthy person to endorse its product or service. Influencer marketing is an extremely effective SMM strategy. It is different from the more traditional form of advertising in which a famous person endorses a product.
Influencer marketing is more refined because the person endorsing the product is usually an expert in their field. For example, although some people may experience the urge to buy a bottle of Dr. Pepper if Dr. Dre advertises it, it would be much more effective for Dr. Dre to endorse a piece of musical equipment.
Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform. While not everyone has a Facebook profile, Facebook itself boasts well over 2 billion users. This makes it an excellent platform for content marketers. Social media managers use Facebook to send out coupons and limited-time offers, host giveaways, and more.
What’s a great product or brand without a stable following? Managing a community can be challenging, but it is well worth it for any company. Brands like Wendy’s, Starbucks, PlayStation, Netflix, and Nike all have huge followings on Twitter.
On social media, content marketers and companies can directly interact with their customers to ascertain their opinions on products and services. A brand’s Twitter account also doubles as a customer service outlet.
Learning Social Media Marketing
So, where do you begin if you want to take a stab at learning social media marketing? You can’t just suddenly declare that you’re a social media marketer. So, let’s take a look at the process of becoming a social media marketing professional.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Social Media Marketing?
It takes around six months. However, this will vary by person, depending on your availability to study.
How to Learn Social Media Marketing: Step-by-Step
What steps should you take to become a social media marketer? You have a few different choices when deciding what path you would like to take to learn the intricacies of SMM.
- Choose your social media platform of choice. While you can always add more later, it’s best if you focus on one platform to start. Facebook is a good choice.
- Read up on the subject. Although you probably use social media every day, you might not know much about data analytics, advertising campaigns, and marketing strategies. Find books, blogs, and other resources that can help you understand the basics.
- Take a social media marketing class. Since social media marketing is everywhere, you have tons of learning outlets to choose from. Accredited universities, massive open online courses, and certificate programs are all available to you for accelerated and practical learning. These classes vary in length from a few hours to a few weeks.
- Apply for a social media marketing position. This should be the logical final step in your process of becoming a social media marketer.
After you complete your course or certificate program, you will be ready to apply for a job. Most companies aren’t too demanding when it comes to degrees, so having some job experience and a certificate is a great way to get hired. Next stop: the job interview.
The Best Social Media Marketing Courses and Training
With SMM more popular than ever, there are many different options to pursue training. The main choices are online courses and certificate programs.
Social Media Marketing Courses
Luckily, there are quite a few notable SMM courses offered by universities, colleges, technical schools, and companies. Let’s see which ones you should explore.
- Location: MIT Sloan School of Management – Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Time: Six weeks
- Prerequisites: None
Studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is impressive, so it can’t hurt to sign up for this certification course in social media strategies. Students will complete six modules on the importance of social media in our world.
Students will learn the benefits of high-quality content, how to utilize Twitter ads, and how to understand customer behavior. Equal parts psychology, sociology, and technology, this SMM course is the perfect way to build your social media marketing background.
- Location: MIT – Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Time: Two days
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $4,100
This short but intensive social media marketing class offered by MIT is excellent for beginners. Students will learn about the diverse and demanding social media marketing landscape and how to create content that will lead to increased engagement.
Instagram and Facebook will be addressed, but participants will also engage in lesser-explored social media marketing areas like mobile marketing. This class is ideal for marketing professionals, but anyone interested in SMM can apply.
Online Social Media Marketing Courses: MOOCs
You may be familiar with MOOCs, or massive online open courses. Coursera, Udemy, and edX are all major MOOC providers that offer online SMM courses.
- Provider: Coursera
- Time: Seven months
- Prerequisites: None
Offered by Northwestern University, these courses taught by Randy Hlavac are notable. The collection of courses aims to make up for other schools that lack an excellent social media marketing concentration.
Over just a few hours per course, students will learn the significance of effective social media outreach and how it can help a business.
After taking these courses, 50 percent of attendees reported starting a new career, and 33 percent received a promotion or pay increase.
- Provider: Coursera
- Time: Five months
- Prerequisites: None
This course covering the ins and outs of social media marketing is offered directly by Facebook. In the third module, participants will familiarize themselves with Facebook Ads and how it can be used to implement advertising strategies.
Students will engage in hands-on projects and applied learning techniques. To finish the course, students will utilize Facebook Ads Manager to create their own advertising campaign.
- Provider: Google
- Time: 40 hours
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
This free online certification program is brought to you by the SMM professionals at Google. This accredited course, endorsed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University, is for anyone curious about how social media affects digital marketing.
This course consists of 26 modules with videos and instructions from Google experts and ends in a 40-question final exam.
This certificate will boost your resume and increase your chances of landing a great job.
- Provider: Constant Contact
- Time: Varies
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: Free
This social media marketing training guide will walk you through every step of the process. Participants will complete lessons related to each major social media platform, learning the unique aspects of each. This includes a glossary of terms, how to set up a page, and how to increase customer engagement.
This site should be one of your first stops if you’re a beginner. It outlines the central concepts of SMM which you can explore further by taking other courses.
Social Media Marketing Books
These books give readers valuable insight into why customers behave the way they do and what you can do to get your message out to potential customers. These resources are also excellent introductory materials to browse before taking a class in SMM.
Likeable Social Media, Third Edition: How To Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, & Be Generally Amazing On All Social Networks That Matter By Dave Kerpen
In his book, Dave Kerpen plainly states a stark truth: If you aren’t in the social media marketing game, you’re not in the game at all. He explains what you can do to drive customer engagement, build your personal brand, and retain customers.
Kerpen also gives tips on how to deal with online criticism. This is especially useful on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Freakishly Effective Social Media for Network Marketing: How to Stop Wasting Your Time on Things That Don’t Work and Start Doing What Does! By Ray and Jessica Higdon
Social media has appropriately been called the “Gold Rush” of the 21st century. You’ll see why, with the help of Ray and Jessica Higdon.
This short book outlines the steps you need to take to fulfill your social media marketing potential. This includes emphasizing certain types of posts, reaching out to customers, and how to use Facebook Ads.
The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More By Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen
This fantastic book focuses on B2B or business-to-business marketing. Bodnar and Cohen give the reader valuable B2B marketing strategies, methodologies, social media analytics, and outline ways to ensure a good ROI on your social media marketing plans.
Online Social Media Marketing Resources
Other than books and classes, you may also want to peruse some of these other social media marketing resources.
Social Media Explorer is a comprehensive social media marketing agency blog. It gives practical advice on topics like the best times to post a picture on Instagram and how to increase Web traffic.
It’s an all-around great site for introductory information to the many different types of social media marketing. The site’s creators include experienced marketing professionals who have written extensively on the subject, and it consistently ranks as one of the best social media marketing resources available online.
The social media content calendar template is a useful tool for beginners and experts in the field. It aims to help boost productivity, scale social media marketing capabilities, and ultimately increase growth and followers.
This free online resource for social media marketers is perfect for anyone trying to understand Instagram’s algorithm. This is a set of 16 templates specially designed to help businesses increase engagement. It also includes ways to take advantage of the Instagram story function to reach more people.
These SMM training templates are entirely customizable to your own ideas and business.
Scott Monty is a social media marketing expert who knows his stuff. His blog is a resource for rookie and expert marketing professionals. Every week, he offers a tremendous collection of posts called “this week in digital,” which covers everything important happening in social media and technology.
Should You Study Social Media Marketing?
Are you interested in analyzing social media analytics? Are you fascinated with the way people respond to Facebook and Twitter ads? Then learning social media marketing may be right up your alley.
A significant draw of working in SMM is that social media is only going to get more popular. It is already a part of our daily lives, and pretty soon, taking an SMM course could be a prerequisite for every marketing job.
Why not get ahead of the curve by learning this skill now? You will be sure to reap the benefits in your future career.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.