The modern era of social media began in Mark Zuckerberg’s university dorm room back in 2004. Since then, the functionality (and userbase) of social media platforms have increased exponentially, transforming tools such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok into vital channels for brands to reach their target customers.
As such, many digital marketers seek out social media marketing courses for training on how to use social channels as part of their brand's digital marketing strategy. Numerous such courses exist, but it’s important to do your research: a truly thorough social media marketing course will cover all the areas outlined below.
1. Planning a social media strategy
Before jumping straight into social media marketing, it’s crucial that a brand’s digital marketing team establishes what they hope to achieve, and how they intend to achieve it.
A social media strategy should be carefully planned out, and ideally captured in some form of document. This involves a brand’s digital marketing team answering a series of questions:
- “Where are we now?”
- “Where do we want to go?”
- “How are we going to get there?”
- “How will we know when we’ve got there?”
A social media strategy, by its very definition, will be implemented over the medium to long term, so it’s important to establish this foundation as it will:
- Provide clear goals
- Identify the target audience
- Determine the choice of social networks to use
- Shape content creation and engagement tactics
- Decide on the balance between organic and paid posts
Put simply: a strategy will set the tone for the entirety of your brand’s social media marketing.
2. Creating content
Just as social media marketing courses exist to help with strategy, there are many courses dealing with content creation (producing material to post on social media). Naturally, this content will be shaped by:
i. the brand’s goals
ii. the target audience’s needs, and
iii. the restrictions of the social networks being used.
Hence the importance of first establishing your brand’s social media strategy!
There’s a general rule that only 1-in-5 of your brand’s organic posts should be promoting its products and services. The remaining 4 should be designed to benefit, inform, and/or entertain its followers, with content such as videos, imagery and infographics. The thinking here is that this shows your brand cares about the world of its audience, whereas a brand that is constantly self-promoting can seem out of touch.
But take this with a pinch of salt! For certain brands, the 1-in-5 rule doesn’t apply (such as eateries, which receive high levels of engagement on images of their food). A good social media marketing course will be sure to highlight this tension, and will equip you to identify the most appropriate balance.
3. Devising engagement tactics
If your brand’s content is good, this should help to drive engagement (interactions with your brand’s posts). Engagement can take several forms:
- “Likes” on your brand’s posts
- Comments on your brand’s posts
- Clicks on links in your brand’s posts
- Shares of your brand’s posts
- Mentions of your brand’s username
However, engagement isn’t about having one-off interactions with a customer. It’s about having a dialogue with a customer in order to foster a relationship between them and your brand.
As a result, good social media marketing courses should help you to identify tactics to drive engagement and fuel conversation (including how to handle negative comments in a way that strengthens and safeguards brand perception).
4. Tracking performance
Although it’s not the most glamorous aspect of social media marketing, it is important to measure performance against the objectives that were set out in your brand’s social media strategy. Armed with this information, you can evaluate the performance of your posts, calculate return on investment (ROI), and determine what to improve going forwards.
It’s important to note that the choice of social media metrics to track will be directly related to the objectives set out in your strategy. For instance, if your goal was to improve brand awareness through social media, you’ll want to be tracking post reach, impressions, and page followers. In contrast, if your goal was to generate more sales, you’ll need to track metrics such as click-through-rate on your posts, as well as website sales generated through social media.
The good news is that there’s a wide variety of analytical tools for tracking social media performance. Some networks have their own integrated analytics packages (such as Facebook Analytics), while a number of subscription-based social media management platforms (such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social) are also available, providing an even deeper level of insight.
But be warned: many of these analytics tools can be bewildering to newcomers; so much so that there are whole courses dedicated to simply using these management tools!
Looking for an all-encompassing social media marketing course?
If you’re searching for a great overview of social media marketing, QA’s Level 3 Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing includes off-the-job training modules covering everything detailed in this blog article. The apprenticeship combines this with coaching and practical tasks (to be completed in the workplace), enabling you and your staff to quickly develop and apply the latest social media marketing skills.
So get in touch today, and find out why we're the UK's leading tech apprenticeship provider.
Sam WrightSam is a dynamic and versatile digital marketer, with over 10 years of experience working with agencies, B2B engineering companies, and not-for-profits, specialising in SEO, social media, email and content marketing.