In 2021, more than 4 billion people were using social media—4.62 billion to be specific. That's more than half of the global population using social platforms to not only stay connected, but to also sell various products and services. This is where the important role of social media marketing (SMM) courses comes in.
As you read further, you’ll learn if social media marketing courses are worth the time and money, the benefits of this education, and how to choose the best SMM courses for your unique needs and proficiency. Online and in-person, there is a large number of social media marketing courses available and this can be a bit overwhelming when researching and choosing the best one.
What Is Social Media Marketing?
Before we look at how to choose the right social media marketing course for you, we need to first explore what social media marketing is and why it matters. Ever since Mark Zuckerberg created his first version of Facebook in 2004, social media platforms have become ubiquitous, and social media marketing started to play a growing, pivotal role in marketing and business.
Over the years since the internet began playing a significant role in everyone’s lives, the definition of social media marketing has changed. Currently, it can be defined as the practice of leveraging existing social networks to achieve marketing strategy as well as branding, communication, and business objectives. This of course can include boosting sales but also increasing brand awareness and products/services with a real-world audience.
Can I Learn Social Media Marketing On My Own?
Tackling these objectives may seem simple on paper, but the real social media marketing skills required can be dynamic and complex, requiring instruction you would receive through a social media marketing course. Marketing your business on social can be done by anyone and that’s what's so great—it levels the playing field. Anyone with a social media account, such as LinkedIn or Facebook, can market whatever they want to sell or communicate.
However, social platforms are constantly evolving, resulting in an increasingly challenging environment to promote your business. The change in algorithms, different content, and types of data can make any head spin, no matter how experienced. Social media marketing courses can help you navigate this, showing you how to use various tools and channels to their fullest potential.
Are Social Media Marketing Courses Worth It?
Because these courses can help you reach major business goals like increased sales, using social media correctly can be incredibly valuable. If you do the coursework and perform the planning beforehand, you'll see improvements in your social media marketing skills that will ultimately pay for themselves.
Benefits Of Social Media Marketing Courses
So how valuable can social media marketing education be? If you spend your time researching courses and following the steps below, the benefits are many.
Build Your Skills
One of the biggest benefits of taking a social media marketing course is that it can help you develop a wide range of valuable, fundamental industry skills like:
- The latest, most-advanced social media strategies
- Current trends in social platforms and algorithms
- Content marketing optimization for each platform
- Development of audience-targeted copywriting
- Paid advertising such as Facebook or Instagram ads
- Impact and ROI measurement and calculation
- How to manage social media campaigns on social media platforms
- E-commerce and how it can be leveraged through social media platforms
Network with Your Peers
On top of the many potential skills to be gained, these courses are also fantastic opportunities for collaboration and connection with other marketing professionals. Connecting with colleagues is an incredible resource for marketing knowledge and experience, a unique occasion to access years of first-hand lessons learned. Take advantage of these opportune circumstances to ask questions and bounce around ideas with your peers.
Another huge advantage for your career is that these courses often certify or accredit you in social media marketing. This effectively demonstrates your qualifications and validates your capabilities to a potential employer, earning you a seat at the table or higher income than someone without. Additionally, certification brings professional reputability to the team and organization. When you are certified, make sure it is communicated on appropriate platforms such as LinkedIn and possibly a page on the company site.
Maybe even more important than accreditation, attending a really good social media marketing course can increase confidence, improving both the work and wellness of the marketing professional. A good class or instructor can help you to grasp some of the complexities of social media marketing, helping build your confidence to implement what you learn, successfully. Also, the support of your classmates will boost your confidence to try new strategies and ideas.
How To Choose A Social Media Marketing Course
With so many out there, how do you choose the right social media marketing course for you? When you begin your research, first determine if you would like to attend an online/remote social media marketing course or an in-person class. Then, make sure you allocate plenty of time to look at what the best options are for your marketing and professional development needs.
When exploring course options, pay attention to the following important fundamental factors:
How much the course will cost is obviously important, regardless of whether it's your employer or yourself covering the tuition fee. In many cases, the skills developed and knowledge gained in these courses are of benefit to the organization and therefore it is in the organization’s interests to cover the course’s cost. Education is an investment that has long-term benefits, and most organizations want to invest in their most valuable resource: their people.
Costs for social media marketing courses range depending on the length and breadth of course material. Try performing a cost-benefit analysis to help you with the decision. While not immediate, the benefits and ROI of a social media marketing course makes the costs (financial and time) completely worth it.
Level and Content Covered
When looking at the breadth and type of content covered in the course, pay attention to the level of the material. Is it for beginning marketers or advanced and professional? Some courses are more geared towards areas like development of social media ads, content marketing specifically for social media posts, media and video content creation, brand building, social media marketing strategy, as well as building social media communities.
On the other hand, some courses are more focused on specific social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook, so determine which of these channels are a priority for your organization and personal career growth. In this case, it is imperative you know who your audience is so that you can focus more energy on the social media channels used by the people you want to connect with.
With all of the networking and professional connections that you can make in a social media marketing course, there’s a wealth of guidance when it comes to your career path. But in addition to your classmates, this course and its instructors may provide professional career guidance and advice, which is incredibly valuable, no matter what stage you are at in your profession.
Even if not stated in the course description, most digital marketing course instructors are open and willing to provide career advice and thoughts on specific digital marketing strategy challenges. Particularly if you’re beginning your career as a marketer, picking the brain of an experienced instructor is an incredibly beneficial experience on multiple levels.
Duration and Time Investment
Another important factor to consider is how long the course is and how much time will be required. Don't only look at the entire course length, but narrow in on how much coursework there will be and how much time you will need to spend each week. Will you be able to overlap coursework with your day job? In many cases, students will complete assignments that can be incorporated into their marketing work and company objectives.
In addition to weekly workload, look at the deadlines for assignments and projects, making sure they are realistic and achievable with your current schedule. Because of personal and family commitments, you might need a course that’s flexible, allowing you to work in a self-paced environment. On the other hand, if you work better with some structure, maybe look for courses with more deadlines that you need to meet with specific tasks and projects.
If possible, determine how you will be assessed in this course. Will it only be based on projects, or will grades also be based on other measurables such as participation or testing? Will your employer require a minimum passing grade? When you look at how you will be assessed, think about the skills you want to develop and how you want them to benefit your work. While not a piece of information potential students usually research, assessment is very important.
Also, look at whether the course is mentor-led by instructors or dependent on individual initiative and time management. This is an opportunity to look inwards to see what types of educational environments you learn best in.
The surge in online learning has resulted in larger classrooms with more students for the instructors to educate. While this format has created more opportunity for participation in social media marketing education, it has also created more limited time between the teacher and each student. In some cases, online marketing courses have a classroom size cap or limit, which you can learn about in the course description. If not, ask the class administrator.
As we talked about earlier, the certification you receive through social media marketing courses can benefit both your career and skillset as well as your company and its credibility and reputation. Before you get excited about a possible certification, be aware that only some social media marketing certification courses are recognized by the industry. Some of these include courses from reputable platforms like Hootsuite Academy, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, eCornell, BrainStation, and Hubspot.
The type of certification course expected should be discussed with the employer beforehand, reiterating the objectives of completing the course and how they align with organizational goals. If you’re unsure, talk to fellow social media marketers about their thoughts on the best certifications.
Lastly, it's worth looking at the instructors for each course to get a feel for their teaching style and whether it's a good fit for your needs. Particularly with educators working in social media marketing, there is usually an abundance of background information and social media accounts that you can learn a lot from. You may realize that some instructors are social influencers themselves.
Some instructors invite the students to connect with questions prior to the course starting. If so, take advantage of this opportunity so that you can have any pressing course-related questions answered. Also, building a relationship (even small) with the instructor will help you navigate the course material easier and more comprehensively while growing your professional network.
Why Invest Time And Money In Social Media Marketing Courses?
With so many variables to look for in a digital marketing course, there are a number of great options for different learning and personality types. This allows you to find a good fit for the social media marketing fundamentals you need to learn and how you will grasp and retain it.
As you read earlier, there are several benefits to spending valuable time and money on social media marketing education like bolstered marketing and social media skills, a larger professional network, and possible a boost of confidence in your work and job. It’s an exciting time to be working in digital marketing with major advances in areas like social media marketing automation and social media analytics tools to measure the impact of your various channels.
But ultimately, it’s about you continuing to develop your skills to work with platforms that will help your organization achieve its marketing goals. Taking a social media marketing course is not a one-time event. As our social media platforms continue to change at a rapid pace, we need to keep up by taking in-depth courses that help us adapt to the current commerce landscape.
Yes, taking a social media marketing course will benefit your work and career, but it will also create some great, lasting relationships—I still keep in touch with some past SMM classmates on LinkedIn! If you’d like to join our community, be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter for the best tips and techniques straight to your inbox.