9 Tips Training Professionals Need to Know About Social Media Marketing
In our recent Training Industry Benchmark Report, we revealed that the biggest challenge facing training professionals is successfully marketing courses in an increasingly competitive industry. Little wonder, when you consider that reputation and referrals are still thought of as the most effective ways to market courses, while digital marketing tools like Google Ads and SEO are woefully under-appreciated.
Social media marketing fits neatly into that bracket – and there are two primary reasons for that:
- Social media marketing takes time to grow and plenty give up before making an impact.
- Most of the tips out there are so bland and general that they don’t feel relevant to your specific industry. Sure, you can have a ‘presence’ online, and you can tweet out your blog all day long, but there’s a lot more to successful online marketing.
Nearly 90% of marketing teams say that social media helps to increase their business exposure, just why reason you need to get your social media strategy implemented effectively.
So, once you’ve got your website sorted, complete with online course booking facilities and personalised marketing emails, it’s time to get out there and market it – and yourself – on social media.
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7 Tips For Successful Social Media Marketing
Read on to find the 9 key steps to social media success.
1. Know why you’re on there
First things first, you want to get a handle on why you’re posting on social media. Your goal should probably be raising awareness of your training company through engaging content.
Sales are exceptionally hard to make on social media alone (people aren’t visiting Facebook with the express purpose of buying; they want to share funny cat pictures and like the statuses of school friends they never talk to) so if sales are your end-goal, it’d be better to put your efforts into marketing your courses via other channels.
Recommended read: Marketing Techniques Your Training Business Needs to Implement
2. Select your channels wisely
Social media will almost certainly be a port-of-call for visitors to your site. It allows them to get to know you a little more and legitimises your training operations – unless you haven’t posted for a while, in which case, your would-be learner may well think you’re no longer in business. But managing a plethora of social media channels is time-consuming. What you need to do is simplify. Sure, post to all platforms (there are applications that will allow you to schedule posts automatically), but put your heart and soul into a single channel.
For most training companies, sites like Instagram used to be a no-go – however, times have changed and end-users want to see what your company is really like and choose a supplier that aligns with their values. Instagram now has 1 billion users - that's 1 billion potential clients.
The simple advice is this: Go where your learners are. If you’re training high-level execs and professionals, LinkedIn is probably your go-to; for attracting lower-level learners, you might find Facebook or Twitter better suited. If you offer more creative events such as yoga courses and culinary training then Instagram would be a great place to go. Join groups, create lists, use hashtags and you’ll cast your net even wider.
But then, what do you post…
3. Show your personality
Who are you? Whether you’re posting as an individual or a company, a personality is crucial for standing out from the crowd (and boy, is it crowded on social media!). So, ask yourself this: Why should anyone follow you?
To get the latest company news? To read your wise words? To obtain interesting industry information?
Post for your potential learners, not your peers. And that doesn’t mean swamping their timelines and news feeds with sales messages; it means being, well, sociable.
Social media master Gary Vaynerchuk suggests the ‘jab-jab-jab-right-hook’ method – reel your followers in with plenty of engaging content before delivering a single, simple sales message. Then back to the engaging content. Rinse, repeat.
Recommended watch: Marketing Techniques Training Companies Are Using Right Now [Webinar]
4. Go beyond training
If you had a friend who only talked about themselves, or only spoke on one specific topic, how long before you tuned them out (or never went for coffee with them again?). Well, the same applies to social media. You can’t market a broken record, so you’ll want to start considering a wider range of associated topics to discuss online.
The training world is ripe for this. Just think of the related subjects you can discuss: Leadership, self-development, inspiration, education, technology… And that’s before you even touch industries specific to the training you provide.
5. Engage with influencers, but don’t be cynical about it
Engaging influencers is one of those pieces of advice you’ll see in social media and content marketing guides all the time. You know, send your tweet to the big beasts in the industry. Just don’t expect miracles (or even a retweet).
If you’re trying to catch the eye of industry influencers, do it because you want to engage with them, because you want to hear their thoughts, or respect their ideas. Tag them in relevant posts, perhaps including a quote from them. But don’t do it in the futile hope that they’ll help promote your training and courses to a wider audience. It’s so nakedly opportunistic that it comes off as insincere. At best, you’ll be ignored; at worst, you’ll get called out on it. Either way, you’ll have wasted time and a golden opportunity.
6. Be smart with your hashtags
Hashtags can be a really valuable part of your social media strategy when used correctly. Hashtags allow users to browse content that they know is related to their interests so you have instantly got a more engaged audience.
However, social media novices don’t always play smart with their hashtags. The top three sins are:
- Littering posts with so many that the text becomes unreadable
- Tagging words no-one’s using
- Not hash tagging at all
Whatever topic you’re chatting about, do a quick search for relevant keywords to see what other users are hash tagging – #learning, for instance, is generally used by more industry professionals than #training, which is far broader in application.
The recommended number of hashtags to use varies across different social media platforms. For example, it's been found that Instagram posts with 9 hashtags perform best whereas Twitter suggests one or two relevant hashtags work well.
7. Don’t base it all on likes
When social media marketing first rolled around, the major metrics were likes, retweets and other low-level engagements (or even ‘impressions’, which simply notes how many people probably saw your post). Those metrics are a false measurement of success. A retweet might help raise awareness of your training company if the retweeter has a wide enough following, but that doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed sale – and that’s what really matters.
Sure, it’s simple to track how many people ‘like’ your Facebook post – but how many of them are realistically going to get their training from you? One in ten? One in a hundred? A more important metric is the click-through rate (CTR) since this shows how many of your followers are truly engaging with your posts and visiting your website.
8. Write what you know, then share it
‘Write what you know.’ Sage-like advice, that. And as a training professional, you’re going to have some real insights that need to be shared and stories to tell. Whether it’s a relatable tweet or an article on LinkedIn that positions you as an industry authority, they show your followers two things: That you really know your stuff and that you are, behind the screen, a real, actual human being (we hope, anyway).
Social media is the prime place to lift the veil on yourself and your training company. That’s kind of the social side of social media. But it doesn’t have to end there. You can also use this platform to offer ‘social proof’; testimonials from past delegates, which shows a potential learner what they can expect. And, of course, if those delegates are on Twitter, find out if they’re happy to be tagged in your post – that’s the sort of honest social media marketing that money can’t buy.
Recommended read: 10 Ways To Promote Your Training Blog Content Online
9. Never forget the ‘path to purchase’
Consider this: On the path to purchase, people typically go to 10 places before buying (that includes hard-core Googling and discussing potential purchases with friends and family). Your social media will definitely be one of the pit-stops potential learners will make before choosing your training services.
Make sure the platform you’re on is engaging enough to stick in their minds and offers them a reason to return because it’s all about turning your followers into a fan-base. It’s better, after all, to have 100 followers who love your training than 1000 who just give you a shallow like or a retweet
3 Takeaways For Your Social Media Marketing
If you take anything away from this post to implement into your social media strategy, let it be these 3 takeaways:
- Don't just focus on a single platform
- Be bold, be you, be the go-to authority
- Don’t seek social media sales; build a fan-base – give them a reason to come back
Download our Marketing Guide for Training Companies here.
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Published 8 Jun 2017, updated for freshness 30 Nov 2018.