5 practical ways to gain real social media skills

The social web continues to proliferate and impact every area of our lives creating a demand for social talent that will grow as organisations recognise the impact at every level of the business from Boards (which will want oversight on governance to manage market impacts for example) to marketing, customer service, and recruitment.

Right now there’s a skills gap that some have sought to fill by adding the words ‘social media’ to their CVs as if this could provide the insight, experience, or tactical skills needed to execute social strategy.

But social media is a skill that can be learned and it’s easy to gain the legitimate skills that will increase your confidence, your value, and put you in a better position to lead through digital change.

Although you can now do a social media degree (which demonstrates how mature it is) there are other, more practical ways to learn on the job that better suit busy professionals.

1. Use it

The first and most obvious way to learn social media is to use it. But like any on-the-job training you need guidance from someone who knows more than you.

Although social technologies are intuitive you need to learn the technical ins and outs.

For example, many people on Twitter don’t know that the real action is in the Notifications section because it allows you to engage in chats. They tweet links but don’t talk with people who are trying to reach them contrary to the spirit of the platform, not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t know it’s there.

– What tools do you use to identify and engage with influencers?
– How do you search for relevant content?
– When is the best time to post?
– How many people did a post or tweet reach?

There’s plenty of data.

Turn to the experts both for thought leadership and practical tips. There are far too many to mention but some individuals include:

– Ekaterina Walter.
– Trevor Young.
– Kim Garst.
– Ian Cleary.
– Ted Coine and Mark Babbit .
– Mari Smith
 – Jeff Bullas.

And some companies include:

– HubSpot
 – Buffer Blog
 – Marketing Profs

2. Social Media Quickstarter

Social Media Quickstarter

Often senior professionals with excellent strategic, hard and soft skills do not have basic social media skills — not because they don’t have the smarts, but because they have not had the exposure.

This imbalance is easily addressed through learning but some people feel embarrassed by what they perceive as overly simple questions. The result? A lot of bluff.

You may think you’re the only person in the world who doesn’t know what a QR code is or how to use it but you’re not.

Social Media Quickstarter will give you the ABC of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, YouTube, and Ratings and Reviews, and a firm foundation on which you can build.

3. Diploma in Social Media Marketing

Diploma in SMM

This is another quick and easy course by Alison that will take around 20 hours and covers topics like:

– Websites
– Auto responders
– Email and affiliate marketing
– Social media marketing
– Podcasts
– Blogging
– Twitter
– Facebook

4. HubSpot Academy

Hubspot Academy

HubSpot understands that people are short of time and offers a free inbound marketing certification course with eleven classes under an hour each.

5. Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business

Search and Social Media Marketing

The University of Salford course Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business focuses on how personal branding can be used for international profile and to improve trade prospects.

They’ve extended the learning experience online with #SSMMUoS hashtag on Twitter that allows people to engage around the course.

Salford Twitter

That’s walking the talk.

The course covers:

1. Personal branding online
 2. Twitter
 3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
 4. Use of social media for international business development
 5. Facebook
 6. YouTube
 7. LinkedIn
 8. Google+
 9. Copywriting online
 10. Legal implications of social media
 11. Monitoring and reporting
 12. Blogging

There are many other great ways to get real social media skills but because one of the biggest issues of digital life is dealing with overwhelming number of options we have available, I have narrowed them down here.


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