Would you like to use social media to market your business online and get real business results? Do you want or need to understand how “social media marketing” works, before you start shelling out real money for someone to do it for you? Whether you will DIY or hire / train / assign someone to do the work in the future, wouldn’t it feel better if you understood the moving parts and how they go together?
If you’re like most of the business owners, marketing managers, and government agency staff we see in our program, you’ve been told that “social media is free” so you should save money and use it. But you don’t know how. Figuring out the different platforms gives you a headache, and it sure seems like a waste of time. That’s okay. It’s not what you wanted to be when you grew up, and it’s not what they pay you to do at work.
And then you hear about the Ice Bucket Challenge and how the ALS Society raised $15M and you think, “What if we could do something like that?”
By now, either you or someone you know has tried “hiring the nephew.” Whiz kid. Grew up tweeting. Knows everything. He set up a couple of accounts; forgot to share the passwords with you, posted a questionable picture on the FB page, and that was the end of THAT marketing effort.
Maybe you’ve talked to a few marketing agencies, and they tell you they can maximize traffic and get exposure, and they want $1000 or $2000 or $5000 a month, and they’re not really clear about the results you’ll see.
Going by price isn’t the best idea. What will you get for your money? What do they know about your business and industry? How do you find what’s best for you when there are so many variables?
So: What would it be like if you could “make sense of social?”
Making sense of it all is what happens when people take the Social Media Management Certificate Program at NCSU’s Technical Training Solutions (aka “McKimmon Center”). When they complete the course, they have a plan and an understanding of which platforms work best for their situation, how to make use of those platforms, and why it’s ok to leave some of the other social media sites alone.
Here’s what some of our students said when asked, “what did you like best about the program?”
- Lots of coaching-type stuff: Merlin, StrengthsFinder, Vision, etc.
- I loved the combination of Martin & Karen. Each brought something important
- Facebook for Business, Linkedin Tips, Google+ (had no idea what that was!)
- To set the clients’ mission, vision, and values as a basis for their social media platform
- The mind map was very useful and after a long class, it was like a great dessert after dinner
- Google and all of its parts and functions including Drive, SEO tricks, reviews
- Reviews and Facebook Business
- Learning about all the helpful tools, and the avatar
- The templates, the conversion triangle, and Timberlake presentation—being connected to the community
- My client’s product is way ahead on competition; wide-open opportunities
- The 80/20 rule! This will help me immensely
- The Merlin experience. Start from where you would like to be and work backwards
- 360 Audit was super valuable in seeing / comparing side by side. It forced me to review my / our online presence and weaknesses
- The fact that we learned that we will never be experts
Let’s take a look at the 14 week Social Media Management Program:
We meet for three hours every Monday, for 14 weeks, 1-4 or 6-9 pm, with three sessions scheduled around the calendar starting in January, May, and August/September. During this time, you get classroom instruction, Q&A time, the complete set of project planning templates and additional resources, and PDFs of the presentations. Each student receives a PDF of the class workbook.
NCSU provides PCs with internet access (you can also bring your own). Some people chose to work on their assignments during class; others prefer to complete their work outside of classroom time.
In the course of the program, YOU create a social media marketing plan for your organization, step by step, learning what you need to know along the way. (You need to have basic fluency with the major social platforms before the class; it’s possible to take the Social Media Business Basics class concurrently.) It’s that simple.
You start where you are. If your business or organization already has a marketing plan, great! You can use that as the basis for moving onto the social platforms. If you’re just beginning, or are facing a new marketing challenge, you can start from the very beginning as well.
Each student receives a one-hour, one-on-one session with the instructor of their choice, scheduled as available during or shortly after the 14-week session. (Additional coaching may be purchased outside of the class.) Students have used this time to talk about their social media projects, comprehensive marketing questions, entrepreneurial plans, and other career questions.
The course is organized along three tracks. The first is the 9 Stage Social Media Plan. The second is the “extras,” as many of the tools, ideas, and ways of thinking as we know that help you understand, navigate, and market effectively on the social platforms.
The third track is the homework itself, creating your individual plan with as much feedback on documents as you need.
The Nine Step Plan
- 360 Audit
- Plan (including Policy, Risk, Cost, Configuration, Stakeholders, and Quality)
- On-Going (content creation and management)
- Close-Down. (Close-down isn’t shown on the diagram because we teach it as “Launch in reverse.”)
Templates, guidance, helpful questions, and step-by-step walking through of each of the stages, and lots of review time to address questions as you and your classmates work through the stages for your individual organizations.
The “tools and methods” track includes such topics as using automation (Buffer and Hootsuite), aggregators (Flipbook and Google Alerts), how to think about content creation so that a month’s worth of Facebook posts can be created in an afternoon, taking advantage of Google authorship, basic pricing algorithms, and improving your own images so that you don’t have to rely on stock all the time.
In week 13, each participant shares a five minute presentation about his or her project, answering these questions:
- What was the project
- What you hoped to achieve / strategy
- What you did achieve
- What you learned
- What you would do differently
- What you will do next
One student said, “I came here to learn how to use Twitter for the (veterinary) practice, and I learned that Twitter wasn’t the right answer for us. So in that sense, the project was a failure. Except that learning that Twitter wasn’t a good use of our time, and that increased activity on Facebook Business and Google+ was, made the entire course a VERY good use of my time.”
Some students provide slides; some simply discuss; others bring props and samples. Every time we teach, Week 13 turns out to be our favorite class!
Integration with your current marketing. Social media will teach you the “high cost of free” if it doesn’t support and connect with your existing efforts to find clients, develop leads, and convert people to lifelong customers. Throughout the 14 week program, we repeatedly return to using each of the platforms in conjunction with your website, email marketing, and other client contact systems to further business objectives.
On-going support. As we move through the material, the instructors listen for sticky and stuck spots. We are continuously updating the presentations and support material, as well as creating how-to videos, to help explain and guide people in the program. In addition, the staff at NCSU TTS are adding more courses about using social media for business, based on what our graduates are requesting.
Martin Brossman posts some of his how-to videos on his Youtube channel. More how-to videos and blog posts live in the password-protected part of this site, for current students and graduates.
Here are some of the requests for additional content we received at the end of the last class:
- Wish we had learned more about:
- WordPress—how to create sites, what sites to use for hosting domains and themes: NCSU TTS offers an 18-hour WordPress class. We are not able to include any more information about creating or managing WordPress websites inside the current 42-hour syllabus.
- Google and FB ads; Deeper look into FB advertising: NCSU TTS offers a 6-hour class about Facebook advertising and a 12-hour class about Google PPC ads.
- Dictionary to help with some of the terminology I didn’t know before: Will add.
- The only thing would be more Google+, but honestly, this class is awesome as is.
- Looking forward to Google Analytics: NCSU TTS offers a 6-hour class about using Google Analytics.
- More detailed information about metrics and aggregator tools: In process.
- Understanding google drive / docs; still don’t really understand how to use them: NCSU TTS is offering a new 3 hour class on Google Docs.
- More discussion on setting fees: We may a break-out group for participants working in marketing agencies.
- More about how to gain followers: We’ll share what we know, and we love to learn from what’s working for our current students and alumni.
- Instagram: Covered in the Social Media Business Basics class (18 hours).
- More on email marketing strategies: Two 6-hour classes about email marketing, one for B2B and one for small businesses marketing to consumers.
While we are addressing the requests above, we also want to share that other students said:
- I think it was just enough—a lot to digest.
- Nothing; everything was great!
- The information received was awesome!
- Everything was great.
- The class surpassed what I was intending to learn
Additional Support. Each class is taught by Martin Brossman and Karen Tiede, who are available before and between the two classes to answer questions. In addition, each class has a teaching assistant who has taken the course at least once, who actively uses social media marketing in her own day job, and who attends each class and is available to answer questions by email and before and after class.
All class participants are members of the Google+ Community for the class, where everyone posts questions, thoughts, and observations. Graduates who receive a certificate (complete course work and meet NCSU’s attendance standards) are also invited to a Google+ community for graduates.
Knowledge You Can Use. Rather than just theory and strategy, we cover tactics, action steps and how-to. Our goal with this 14 week program is to help you create a social media marketing plan for your business, and to show you how to implement that plan. Whether you will do your own social media posting or supervise people who do it for you, what you learn and create will be tailored to your situation.
Social Media in Real Time and in Real Life. Over the time we’ve been teaching these courses, we have seen many real-life stories break across social media. Michael Jackson and Robin Williams died. Raleigh got slammed by a snowstorm. Russell the cat lived through a house fire, and had his vet care funded by a social media campaign. The Ice Bucket Challenge showed people how much money could be raised when a campaign goes viral. Google+ was killed, and then it wasn’t, and Google Authorship changed.
An in-person class is the best way to see how other people are responding to the new challenges of marketing and managing their businesses in a world of instant communication. Do you know to handle a bad review on a platform you didn’t even know about? Chances are, someone in the class will have solved this one. Follow each other’s business pages and get out of the “under 30 likes” black hole. It’s a great way to learn!
The Social Media Management Certificate Program is by far the most complete way to make sense of social media marketing in a relatively short, and remarkably enjoyable, amount of time.
Bring a friend, or make a friend and carpool. While we can’t promise you’ll find a new best friend in class, we know that many professionals are business-lonely, because it’s hard to find other people who understand the challenges of running a business. Simply being in the company of people who are solving marketing challenges similar to yours is one of the unexpected benefits of an in-person program like this one.
A significant proportion of our class participants come to this program after taking several of the free classes offered in the community college system; they realize there is a limited amount of information that can be mastered in three-hour chunks of time. Others have tried to learn social media from fully online courses, and found that the lack of structure and feedback makes learning very slow going.
This program gives business people the greatest support, the most effective teaching, the deepest guidance and the most comfort at really understanding what can be achieved with a social media marketing program.
So how much does the Social Media Management Certificate Program cost?
One of our neighboring university extension programs charges $2500 for one year of online access to its social media education materials. No guidance, all self-paced; no peers, no consulting.
At NCSU TTS, the 14-week program, with 42 hours of classroom time, feedback, sharing, and commiseration from fellow students who work and live locally, on-going access to tools and materials on both the Google Drive and on a password-protected part of this website, membership in the Google+ community, and one hour of individual coaching, is:
(OK: we have a group dinner every session, and you have to buy your own meal if you attend. That’s extra. We invite everyone who has ever taken the class. It’s lots of fun.)
How do I sign up?
Do you have any questions?
If this sounds even remotely interesting and useful to you, sign up now. The course fills quickly and starts May 11, 2015. If you have questions, drop us an email. Let us know the best way to contact you and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.