Learn Social Media Marketing Basics With These 5+ Free Online Courses & Guides

Learn the basics of social media marketing for brands, startups, and individuals with these free online courses and guides.

A strong social media presence and a clear digital marketing strategy are essential today for any brand, whether it is a large business, a small business or an individual. Whether you are just starting out or have already run a few social media campaigns, marketing is a game where you are a lifelong learner. From the best articles to free templates, use these tools to improve your game.

1. Buffer Academy (Web): Best Articles To Learn Social Media Marketing Basics

Buffer Academy is a handpicked selection of excellent articles on social media marketing, presented as a reading course

The Buffer content scheduler is one of the best ways to automate your social media posts. The same team is behind the Buffer Social Media Academy, which curates articles from social media marketing experts.

Articles aren’t just from Buffer; they cover other product blogs and LinkedIn publications like Moz, Canva, QuickSprout, and Harvard Business Review. The value here is finding the right ones and putting them into a cohesive playlist that walks you step by step through improving your marketing game.

As a first step, you will need to choose the topics that interest you, such as social media strategy and analysis, Facebook or Twitter marketing, image and video creation, etc. Then, each subtopic generates its own playlist, which you can browse at your own pace. Lists are saved to a unique URL for you, with a simple checklist format for marking what you’ve read.

Learn the basics of social media marketing with Eric Schwartzman's free courses on Udemy

Eric Schwartzman is an expert in social media strategy and marketing with training seminars, books and top clients to his credit. You can now access his knowledge for free in a series of free online courses for social media marketing on Udemy. That’s quite a library you can learn from, but be sure to check out these:

  • Social Media Management: This is great for beginners and a starting point for most Schwartzman courses. You will learn how to use social media for business outreach, the benefits of other media such as blogs and podcasts, and major social media tools.

  • Social media monitoring: how should you track the keywords and phrases that matter to your brand and use them to promote your image online.

  • Social Media for Special Events: How to use Twitter and other social media to generate buzz for an upcoming event and increase reach.

  • Social media crisis prevention: If your brand is struggling on social media, how do you protect your reputation and ensure the safety and security of employees.

You can read more about him on Schwartzman’s website, including several free how-to guides on social media marketing. He also hosts several podcasts on the subject.

SproutSocial teaches you and your team how to create a personalized social media plan in 30 days

If you’re new to social media marketing and aren’t sure where to start, check out SproutSocial’s Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Social Marketing Strategy. It’s a 30-day guide where you complete a task every day to come up with a clear social media plan for the future.

Through this guide, you will learn key social media plan concepts such as auditing content, creating a posting schedule, determining your brand’s voice, engaging with audiences, competitive analysis, etc. The article includes a brief description of each task and a link to a larger article on the topic.

And no, you don’t need to be using SproutSocial to implement this. You can use any social media management app or your own set of tools to create your own plan with the tips in this guide. At the end of the article, you can download a spreadsheet (in Google Sheets) to share with your team as you go through each task in the 30-day plan.

HootSuite's Free Weekly Social Media Report Template is a Simple PowerPoint Slideshow Anyone Can Update

The social media report is a must-have arrow in the quiver of any social marketer. In short, it’s a progress report that tracks all your stats, includes analysis and strategy and future plans. However, too many marketers spend too much time unnecessarily on this exercise. That’s why we’ve rounded up three of the best free templates for social media reporting in three different formats.

  • Hootsuite Social Media Report (PPT): With a simple prompt indicating what to fill out in each slide, Hootsuite’s PowerPoint slideshow template is a great tool if you need to present your report to others. Read the full blog post for a complete guide on what to include and exclude from your reports.

  • SproutSocial Social Report Template (PDF): If your report is likely to be printed and distributed, use the SproutSocial template. It includes built-in slots for placing snapshots and stats. Not only does this simplify what you need to do, but it’s also great for readers.

  • Socialinsider Monthly Reports (Excel): Most social media report templates you find online focus on presentation. But data geeks know the real power is in the spreadsheet. Socialinsider offers an Excel template for social media reports, perfect for anyone who appreciates data.

5. School of Marketing (podcast): Short episodes on Marketing FAQ with brilliant information

In 5-7 minute episodes, marketers Neil Patel and Eric Siu deliver insight and answer common social marketing questions

If you’re looking for social media marketing podcasts, one name appears list after list: Marketing School hosted by Neil Patel and Eric Siu. While it’s not just about social marketing, it’s a topic that comes up often in episodes. Plus, since Patel and Siu have spent several years as marketing leaders, their general advice is worth listening to.

Perhaps the main reason for the podcast’s popularity and its dedicated fan base is its length. Each episode is approximately five to seven minutes long and addresses a question or sub-topic. For example, what if your social media posts have low engagement or if it’s too late to develop a number of Twitter followers? These are available as descriptive titles for each episode, so you can quickly find a topic you care about and listen to it in 5 minutes.

Patel and Siu don’t beat around the bush and give practical, actionable advice. Several followers note how they not only solve the problem, but their discussions serve as an inspiration to take the day head-on.

Engage, don’t just broadcast

By going through the advice of these different guides, courses and experts, you will get a complete training in social media marketing. But there’s one common piece of advice they all agree on: Engage with your audience, don’t just broadcast.

You see, when you do a social media campaign or a content plan, you think outside and into the future. It puts you in a mentality of talking to people rather than talking with people. It is a potential trap that anyone can fall into. But the beauty of social media is in the number of interactions it allows and the way it gives voice to your audience. You need to listen to them and engage with them, not just talk to them if you are ever to become a social media marketer.

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