The 5 Free Marketing Classes You Need to Take

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death” — Albert Einstein

If that quote doesn’t motivate you, what will?! For many people, marketing and social media feel like overwhelming tasks that are just too much to learn. But don’t let that stop you from growing your skills. Albert Einstein said so!

There is no better time to grow as a professional, especially since quarantine is keeping us from doing much else. There are a million marketing classes out there — so how do you decide which ones to take?

We compiled some of our favorite WHIP-intern-tested-and-approved marketing classes to help you step up your marketing game from home. Not only will this further develop your skills, but it will help you build the brand that your business needs to succeed in a crowded digital landscape.

WHIP Communication’s Beginners & Basics

Download: free

Okay, so it’s not technically a class, but our Beginners & Basics series is a collection of information, tools, and tips that are designed to help beginners with social media.

We created this to help anyone — including you — understand the basics of communications, social media, and marketing. In this booklet, we explore the basics of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Hootsuite Platform Training

Class: Free / Certification Exam: $99

Hootsuite is a popular social media management tool. It offers a range of services from scheduling posts to monitoring engagement, Hootsuite can act as your one stop shop for social media organization. Their platform training class provides an in-depth understanding of the resources and services the site provides in only 2 and a half hours.

The class itself is free, however there is a fee for the certification exam. While having the official stamp of approval never hurts, the knowledge that you hold is far more valuable. If you feel confident in your skills, don’t stress about taking the actual exam.

Pros:
  • Hootsuite is a well-known platform used by many companies
  • The class dives into all aspect of the program providing a broad and applicable well of knowledge
  • You’ll learn how to schedule out social media content ahead of time
Cons:
  • The certification exam is not free

HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification

Class: Free / Certification: Free

This might be one of the most popular marketing classes out there, and for good reason. HubSpot is a software company that provides tools for marketing, customer service, and sales. One of their best resources, however, is their team of employees dedicated to educating professionals with an interest in marketing.

Inbound marketing is a strategy used by businesses to develop a marketing plan that is based on human connection. It uses content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding to breed connections with consumers. The experts at HubSpot break this technique down part by part to prepare viewers to build their very own inbound marketing strategy.

Pros:
  • Provides great examples to enhance understanding
  • Makes you think about how to apply this strategy to your own professional endeavors
  • Completely free!
Cons:
  • This is a lengthy course, so you have to prepare to dedicate about 5 hours to learning. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all at once —  breaking it up over a few days is a great option. Professional growth cannot occur without a little stretching (no pain, no gain!), so we promise that the time is worth it.

Hubspot Social Media Marketing Course

Course: Free

This next course offered by HubSpot, again, is a bit lengthy but is totally worth it. Social media is at the forefront of nearly everything we do these days. We love it, but we know it is not everyone’s cup of tea.

This class explains how effective social strategy means, effective marketing, which will in turn boost business. It also piggy-backs off of the inbound marketing course by explaining social media’s role within your inbound marketing strategy.

Pro:
  • Connected to other HubSpot courses, allowing you to deepen your knowledge
  • Provides a mix of videos, quizzes, and lesson overviews to keep you engaged
Cons:
  • Again, a little lengthy but it is worth it!
  • Slightly repetitive if you take the Inbound Marketing course as well

Udemy Social Media Ethics Course

We live in a world where you can Tweet whatever you want — whether it’s true or not. This course does a great job of summing up ethics in terms of social media. It explains some of the laws that apply to social media as well as describing how ethics policy relates to social media content and engagement.

This will help you understand social media best practices so you can continue to build your business in a way that is accurate and ethical. “Just because you can tweet it, doesn’t mean you should. Learn to do the right thing on social media” (Udemy).

Pros:
  • Free
  • Explains legal concepts in a way anyone would understand
Con:
  • Little to no interactive aspects

These are a few of the marketing classes you can utilize to master social media marketing at home. All of these websites offer a number of other courses and programs we didn’t feature, too! You are never too old or too far along into your career to learn something new. Take time to invest in you!

Facebook Audience Vs. Instagram Audience

Cohesiveness among social media platforms is key for brand establishment and recognition. However, effective use of social media content can look very different from one platform to the next — which is why it’s critical to know the difference between your Facebook audience and your Instagram audience.

Understanding who is most likely to view and interact with your content will lead to the greatest marketing success using social media.  Who is viewing your content on Facebook vs. Instagram may actually be a bit more different than you think.

Keep reading to understand the differences between the Facebook and Instagram Audiences and how-to best tailor your content to each!

HOW TO KNOW WHO IS VIEWING YOUR CONTENT

Identifying your audience is a key first step when creating content. The base layer of that identification includes age, gender, and interests. These core factors however can differ from platform to platform. So, what really is the difference between the Facebook and Instagram audiences?

First, the age of users is different. Instagram users tend to be younger than the Facebook audience.  The percentage of people who use Instagram in younger age groups is significantly higher than for older groups. Instagram usage drops by 1/3 when comparing usage by people 18-29 years old and 30-49 years old. It drops an additional 50% when comparing groups aged 30-49 and 50-64.

Facebook usage however remains fairly steady until around age 65. So, if you are choosing between one platform or the other, and your audience falls into a specific age category this is very important to consider.

Looking at our second key point, gender, both Facebook and Instagram have more users who identify as female than male. So, when comparing the two platforms gender does not have a large impact on what will be more effective

Third, we consider interests specifically, the content the users are interested in viewing on the different platforms. We have found that Instagram users prefer eye catching blurbs or visuals as well as content that fits a visually pleasing aesthetic. Fun graphics and unique pictures will have the most clout for your Instagram audience. 

UTILIZING CONTENT DIFFERENTLY ACROSS PLATFORMS

On the other hand, Facebook content has the opportunity to be a bit more informational. We don’t recommend full length blog posts as captions, but accessible bulleted lists will help provide information to an audience who wants more than a photo. To learn more about what we do and don’t recommend for reaching your Facebook audience, check out our Dos and Don’ts of Facebook.

The final point that shows the difference between users is level of engagement. While this can vary from account to account, Instagram users tend to be more consistent likers making them more likely to engage with your content. 

An article from the journal Computers in Human Behavior reported that individuals who prefer Instagram are more likely to share personal information than users who chose Facebook as their preferred platform.

Are you looking for responses to a post? Or are you simply looking to get your message out? If you are looking for a response maybe try an Instagram poll. If you want to provide details on an upcoming event maybe try a longer form Facebook status.

Identifying your audience may seem like a daunting task, but it really comes down to key demographics about your current and prospective customers. Understanding your audience then allows you to take your social media game a step further by using each platform to best adapt content for the audience it will reach.  

Who Is Your Audience, Anyway?

When figuring out what content to post, there are three basic things that you need to know about your audience. They are: age, gender, and interest. Here’s why those demographics are important for creating content for your audience.

communications consultants providing social media management, content creation, public relations, and media pitching

Age

One of the most influential factors to consider when it comes to creating content for your audience is their age. From Baby Boomers to Gen Z, preferences and communication styles vary greatly and it’s important to be aware of what appeals most to your target age group. Like the saying goes, “one size does not fit all!” 

Just like there is a variety of age groups, there is also a large range of content types. From videos to blogs, and print material to mobile apps, the strategies for talking to each age group are endless. Different social media platforms have drastically different user bases.

So what type of content fits each age group? In general, marketers are able to turn to general generational preferences for content.

CASE IN POINT: That’s not how any of this works!

So what types of content does each age group relate to the most?

  • Baby Boomers
    • Print media
    • Radio
    • Video content (long)
  • Generation X
    • Newsletters (direct mail & email)
    • Blogs
  • Generation Y (Millennials)
    • Social Media
    • Mobile content
    • Blogs
  • Generation Z (iGeneration)
    • Social Media
    • Memes
    • Imagery
    • Videos (short)

Keep in mind that these generational preferences are broad — and not always totally accurate. Age, however, is a great place to start when segmenting audiences and narrowing down how to reach your audience where they are.

Gender

Today, gender-based marketing seems to be dwindling due to shifts in gender roles and traditional gender identification. But being aware of gender in your audience has a great impact on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. There are very different ways to connect with different genders.

CASE IN POINT: Carl’s Jr. vs Kraft ads — and this wild Jekyll/Hyde situation going on with Hugh Jackman. 

communications consultants providing social media management, content creation, public relations, and media pitching

“Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” is a saying for a reason: women and men oftentimes respond to content with different emotions. (We doubt any of our fellow ladies enjoyed that sexist Carl’s Jr. ad either.) For this reason, content should be created carefully, with an awareness of the potential for different responses in men and women.

What are some examples of general differences between men and women’s emotional responses?

  • Men
    • Less variety of emotions
    • More likely to view content based on positive emotions
    • More suggestible
  • Women
    • Greater variety of emotions
    • More sentimental
    • More emotionally complex

Keeping gender in mind, while remaining inclusive is ideal and positions your content to have the edge it needs for success.

Interest

At the end of the day, your audience needs to have an interest in what you’re saying! 

With the prominence of today’s digital and social media, we marketers are able to keep tabs on the interests of people and more specifically, our target audiences. People’s social interests can be interpreted and used to create content most relatable.

Case in point: Aerie’s #AerieReal campaign and inclusive modeling strategy

communications consultants providing social media management, content creation, public relations, and media pitching
Photo credit: Metro.UK

Did you know that Facebook can target you based on your income level, interests, job title, and even marital status? As a consumer, that can be pretty terrifying, but as a social media strategist, it’s a key part of the job! 

Interest-based targeting engages audiences through relatability and personalization. For this reason, relevant influencers and celebrity endorsements have revolutionized marketing, especially when appealing to Millennials and Gen Z consumers. 

Another example of interest-based targeting is highlighting brand transparency and using “real” people to market. When customers believe that they are represented in advertising, they’re more likely to buy whatever you’re selling, whether it’s literally or figuratively. 

There are so many ways that interest-based marketing can further narrow down content creation and successfully reach target audiences. Let us help you figure it out! 

Beginners & Basics: Facebook 101

Our Beginners & Basics series is a collection of blogs and tips that are designed to help beginners understand the basics of communications, social media, and marketing. Welcome to Facebook 101.

Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms worldwide. The platform has revolutionized how we network, connect, and interact online. This Facebook 101 will teach you everything you need to know about the world’s most popular social media platform.

What is Facebook?

It’s hard to remember a time before Facebook. While it began as a college-based network in 2004, the company has now grown to dominate social networking.

The platform allows users to post comments, share photos and videos, share links to news or other content, and chat live. Facebook is able to appeal to both individuals and businesses, which is the reason for its rapid success and growth. It is user-friendly, appealing to any and every type of person or business around the world. 

Who uses it?

So why do you need this Facebook 101? Facebook takes the lead as a social media platform reaching over 60% of internet users.

In 2019, Facebook had almost 2.5 billion monthly active users and 1.6 billion users daily. With billions of users monthly and daily, its users consist of a wide variety. Young adults continue to incorporate social media into their everyday routines, with Facebook being a continuous, dominant platform within the demographic.

Why is it helpful for businesses?

With its user-friendly features and prominence in our culture, Facebook is going to share your target audience. Whether your audience is younger or older, male or female, from a different part of the world, Facebook has something for you.

As a business, a Facebook page can be a great place to engage with your customers, share your messages, and build your brand. A business Facebook page is more similar to a website than to a person Facebook account, and will serve as a resource for people who want to learn more about what you do.

A Facebook page will not only increase your business’ online presence, it will also be key to reaching your target audience and connecting them to your purpose. 

Brands that are killing the Facebook game:

  • Samsung: 159M followers
  • Coca-Cola: 106M followers
  • Youtube: 90M followers
  • McDonald’s: 79M followers
  • Netflix: 64M followers

We hope that this Facebook 101 was quick and easy so that you can get the hang of how social media can help your business. If you’re still not sure, or if you feel overwhelmed on where to start, get in touch! That’s what we’re here for.

Dos & Don’ts of Facebook Posts

Some people say there is, but we think there’s no one “right” way to post on Facebook.

Whip Social Media and marketing

In personal relationships, you have to change your outputs based on the person – you wouldn’t act the same way with your boss as you would with your best friend (we hope)! Just like you know your audience for in-person relationships, it’s important to know your audience for online relationships.

Some posts may be longer because they’re explaining something complex, telling a story, or giving tips. If your followers are engaging with the post and liking it (both literally and on Facebook), that’s a valuable type of post.

Some organizations, businesses, or individuals may have very short posts if they don’t have as much to say. Sharing an article, for example, should only be a sentence or two summarizing the article – not two paragraphs.

It all depends on what your followers like, engage with, and want to hear from you. What works really well for one company may not work for another at all.

So while there are no hard and fast commandments for creating “THE best Facebook post,” there are some ground rules. Read below for tips and tricks on how to make your Facebook posts even better.

WHIP Social Media and marketing

1. DO make sure your grammar and spelling is correct.

It doesn’t matter how compelling your post is – if there’s errors, it distracts readers and makes you look not-so-great. Mistakes happen sometimes, but proofread, proofread, proofread to prevent them at all costs. You want to look polished and professional on your Facebook page at all times.

2. DON’T post things that are totally irrelevant.

A think tank shouldn’t post clips of Jersey Shore, and a fun, young boutique shouldn’t post a New York Times article about global warming. Facebook content should be diverse and non-repetitive, but it should also be relevant to your audience.

3. DO include a picture if you can.

You know what they say: a picture is worth a thousand words. If you can include a compelling image or graphic to go with your post – or even stand alone as a post itself – do! Seeing a relevant photo with your post is generally more likely to draw readers’ eyes than just a big block of text.

4. But DON’T include just any photo.

The key words from the last tip are “compelling” and “relevant.” Don’t include a blurry photo that your 5 year old took – that’s not compelling. Don’t include a photo of a donkey in a post about a unicorn – that’s not relevant. Find a good image that’s high quality from a site like Unsplash that offers free images.

5. DO keep it simple.

You may know a lot about your product/services/politics stance/topic/expertise, but assume those reading your post don’t. Avoid using jargon and explain any phrases or acronyms that outsiders might not understand (KPI, USAID, RBI, LARC, etc). A good rule of thumb (for most places) is to keep content at an 8th grade level. If a 13 year old would be confused, you should probably tone it down a little.

The major takeaway is that you should always be thinking about your audience when crafting Facebook posts. If you don’t know your audience, figure out who they are so you can cater to them! That’s the best way to create meaningful Facebook posts.

5 Basic Stats About Social Media

communications consultants providing social media management, content creation, public relations, and media pitching

There’s a lot of information about social media out there nowadays, and it’s hard to keep track of what’s important and what’s not. Different things matter to different people (ie: what’s important to Coca-Cola is probably not as important to a small bank), but here are some statistics about social media that are relevant to pretty much everyone.

  • Internet users have an average of 7.6 social media accounts. Some of the most popular and recognizable are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, but other sites like Snapchat, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, and Google+ also draw users.
    hi 
  • Facebook has the most users of any social media site. By far. Facebook has more than 2 billion users, followed by YouTube with 1.5 billion and Instagram with 800 million. Overall, there are more than 3 billion social media users. That is a heck. of. a. lot. of. people.
           hi         
  • According to a 2011 study, 27 million pieces of content are shared every day. This is both good and bad for companies. There is a lot of opportunity for your content to be shared, but there’s also a lot of competition. Content has to be compelling in order for people to share it, so make sure it’s good!
     hi     
  • 500 million people visit Twitter each month without logging in. Add that to the 330 million users with accounts, and Twitter can be an incredibly powerful platform. There are 6,000 tweets sent every second — which is more than 500 million per day.
    hi     
  • 60% of Snapchat users are under the age of 25 and in 2016, $90 million was spent on Snapchat ads. While Snapchat draws a massive amount of young people, it doesn’t perform nearly as well with older demographics, who are more typically heavy Facebook users.