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Social Media Marketing is a broad term that refers to any and all aspects of the process of gaining traffic via social media.
It encompasses blog writing, website content creation, email marketing – basically anything that you can find on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram or other social media sites.
It’s a massive growth area so, with some expertise, you can work for yourself from home (or anywhere in the world) or go in-house so you don’t have to worry about finding clients.
Whatever your aspirations are, we’ve bundled together some free resources that you can use to kickstart your career, or up-skill to move into a new market:
Udemy hosts a variety of free and paid courses on a wide range of different topics. On the day of writing, Udemy had 99 free courses in 11 languages relating to digital marketing.
Of those courses, 37 were dedicated courses for beginners and there was a wealth of content available for intermediate and expert users as well.
The great thing about Udemy is that you can access paid courses that build upon the knowledge you gain in the free section. There are more than 2,200 paid courses relating to digital marketing at the moment and this number is likely to increase in the future.
You can learn about cracking a new client base – like the enormous Chinese market. You can undertake Blogger Training or learn about Instagram Marketing Automation, you get the picture – the marketing world is your oyster.
It’s a great resource for those who are just getting started and for those who want to upskill, develop expertise in a particular area or branch out into a new field.
You can check out our review of Udemy if you’d like to find out more.
2. Google’s Digital Garage
Google has created the Digital Garage for those hoping to upskill in the digital marketing field. It’s a self-paced program and you can earn a certification from Google if you complete the course.
The course itself has received praise from the likes of the European Commission, UK Digital, MarCom and Digiday.
The topics throughout the course range from hard skills, like connecting via email, SEO, content marketing, and analytics, to soft skills, like time management.
There are also bonus materials that cover topics like productivity, machine learning, learning to code, and security. These won’t help you gain the certification, but they will improve your web and life skills generally.
The course is a great place for beginners to get their head around marketing jargon. There are resources that will help beginners land their first clients and to grow their business as well.
3. Grammarly Blog
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Grammarly, it’s an online tool that helps users to edit their writing. Some might consider it to be a better version of the spell check tool that comes with Microsoft Office.
It isn’t a complete replacement for the human editorial eye, but it is an excellent resource for writers.
What makes it even better, is that it has an accompanying blog that hands out free advice for social media marketers.
It’s not a complete end-to-end guide, so beginners: I’d suggest you start elsewhere. But it’s perfect for those who are looking for some easy tips here and there to improve your social media marketing skills.
It’ll also help you to stay up-to-date with current best practice.
It’s really quite a handy resource. You can sign up to receive the emails to your inbox and there’s a search function within the blog as well, so it’s a great place to have a quick look for tips and tricks.
The blog has been going for some time and seems to publish social media specific advice about every two weeks, so there is a lot of content available.
4. Copy Hackers
Copywriting is the process of creating ‘copy’ – the advertising content for websites. It’s described as being the art of encouraging users to take action via words.
It’s different from content creation in that content creation (for blogs and the like) garner followers who enquire about the products that are suitable for them. Copywriters, on the other hand, want users to take a specific action – such as signing up for their newsletter or purchasing a product.
The free conversion copywriting course run by Copy Hackers covers a breadth of copywriting-related topics. It’s suitable for beginners, but there are doubtlessly a few tips and tricks for experienced copywriters as well.
The course covers content such as the difference between conversion copywriting and older styles of copywriting and how to write successful drip campaigns, headlines and AdWords.
The course is self-paced and you get lifetime access to it.
5. Hubspot Academy
Hubspot Academy markets itself as the leading trainer for inbound marketing, sales and customer support. The site hosts a range of courses and lessons and even provides certifications for specific skill sets.
Their lessons target areas like aligning sales and marketing teams, converting leads, closing deals and growing website traffic.
The lessons go for anywhere from 10 minutes to about half an hour, with most falling in the 10-15 minute margin. This means that you can quickly upskill on the commute to work or while you’re waiting for your tea to steep.
Their certified courses cover particular skill sets and tend to go into a bit more detail than the courses that target absolute beginners.
The courses tend to go for 45 minutes to 2 hours, though most are closer to the 1-hour mark. They often feature an expert presenter, including the likes of bestselling author Daniel Pink (who takes the Business Writing Course).
The site has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.
Skillshare is a marketplace where ‘teachers’ can run classes on whatever they are passionate about and good at.
There’s a paid version of the platform that provides you with access to over 22,000 classes. There’s also a free version that has more than enough material to get you started in the world of marketing and social media management.
The free classes are provided by teachers hoping to gain a following of students who turn into subscribers, so I can’t guarantee that the content that’s available for free today will remain free into the future.
You can always use the free classes filter however and simply hone in on the marketing classes via the free business class section.
I recommend the following courses for beginners hoping to get their foot in the door:
There are tons of resources about specific platforms like Pinterest and Twitter, as well as specific skills, like email marketing and SEO optimization.
This means there’s plenty of material for those of you who are already intermediate marketers but are hoping to expand your client base.
7. Salford Business School’s Pilot Program
Staff and students at the Salford Business School created a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) for those hoping to develop their personal and professional online marketing skills in an international context.
It’s free and available online for you to undertake at your own pace. They ask that you complete a survey (not a test) when you enter the course and when you exit it.
The course covers 12 topics: SEO, personal branding, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, international business development, copywriting, compliance, monitoring and reporting, and blogging.
The range is pretty comprehensive and it’s a great starting point for beginners who need to get their head around the marketing lingo. It has averaged 9 stars out of 10 from its reviewers (although there are only 3 reviews so take that with a grain of salt).
You’ll need to bear in mind that the course is targeted at those marketing in an international business context. So for those of you who rely on word of mouth referrals from local businesses, there are more relevant options for you to upskill.
DS106 is a site specializing in free ‘courses’ for digital storytelling. It’s a little quirky and includes an ongoing ‘Headless DS Experience’ that’s more like a community forum than a course.
In fact, the entire program has more of a community feel to it than an educational feel. People share tips and tricks that they’ve picked up along the way and collaborate on projects.
The ‘course’ offered via the website is based on a syllabus that was previously taught at the University of Mary Washington. It’s open to all and you can come and go from the forum as you please – there’s no commitment to stay.
It is designed to give users the skills to critically examine the techniques used online for digital storytelling and to develop the user’s skills in this sphere.
Honestly, it’s a little ad hoc, although I’m not sure what else you’d expect from the course that advertises itself as a ‘not-course course’. There are heaps of collaborations that you can use for inspiration and tidbits that you can draw on.
You’re encouraged to participate in an ongoing conversation about the digital storytelling landscape. If you’re on Twitter, the #ds106 seems to have a heap more traffic than the actual forum posts, so it’s worth a look.
9. Social Media Quickstarter
Social Media Quickstarter is a dedicated website for beginners to Social Media Marketing. They have an email subscription service that delivers hints and tips to your inbox, as well as a bunch of easy to follow videos that allow you to learn bite-sized bits of Social Media Marketing at a time.
If you’re wondering about the quality of the content, I think it’s pretty great.
I’m an experienced content creator and am across marketing on Facebook and Instagram (it’s usually recommended that you specialize in just one or two platforms FYI). I had a quick look through the content for Snapchat and was blown away by the suggestions.
So even if you’re across the platform, it’s a pretty good place to get some tips if you’re looking to develop skills in a new area or you’re new to this style of marketing.
10. Quintly Academy
Quintly Academy hosts a reasonably in-depth (free) course about Social Media Analytics. SM Analytics refers to the process of gathering data from users of the website.
It can be used to gauge what works for your website and what doesn’t, what content the users want more of and what they don’t care for, and much more.
The course is designed for beginners to analytics, but is also suitable for intermediate users who are hoping to brush up their skills.
The course is made up of an introductory lesson, three educative steps, and a summary lesson. Within the three steps, you’ll learn new skills, apply the knowledge and then take a quiz.
The course covers analysis of your findings, goal setting and reporting. The great thing about the course is that it’s easy to see where the knowledge could be applied! So it’s easy to stay motivated to complete the course and the information you receive is relevant and usable.
After you’ve successfully completed the course, you can email Quintly and get a certificate of completion.
11. The Left Bank
The Left Bank offers a free Social Media Fundamentals Course. The comprehensive course runs for about 8-10 hours depending entirely on how long it takes you to get through the content.
It’s a pretty comprehensive introduction to social media marketing designed for in-house beginners and aspiring marketers.
It’s really easy to see how you can apply the knowledge that you gain throughout the course. It teaches you how to choose which social media networks to target, how to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and how to engage your audience.
Once you’ve signed up, you can log in at any time of the day and access the material. They do only give you access to the material for six months after you’ve signed up, however.
You get a certificate for completing the course.
12. Skyline Social
The blog covers specific topics about lead generation, social media strategy and lead conversion. The topics are better suited to someone hoping to add some new skills to their already established repertoire.
Their webinars cover topics like building trust with clients, building successful ad campaigns and generating leads without spending money on advertising. There are tons of tips in the videos that you can use when developing marketing strategies for your clients.
Their podcast ‘Good Morning Marketing‘ delivers tidbits in episodes that usually run for less than 15 minutes. There are occasional episodes that go for almost an hour.
It has recently finished, but all the content is still available online. It covers topics like “How to track your top performing content on Google” and “How to build a successful Facebook ad campaign to generate leads and clients (for beginners)”.
13. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is actually a website plugin that you can use to assist with your WordPress SEO. There are free and premium versions of the tool. Both come with a range of features that are worth checking out if you are starting your own blog – or working on one for a client.
The reason that Yoast SEO gets a spot on our upskill post is because of its awesome blog. It’s one of the most comprehensive free SEO tools that I’ve come across and they update their content regularly.
In fact, I find it difficult to keep up with the new posts that are delivered to my inbox.
They market themselves as being the SEO tool for everyone. Their SEO basics posts are suitable for beginners to SEO. They acknowledge that SEO is intimidating and that there is an overwhelming amount to learn in order to master SEO. Then, they go on to approach the subject in a user-friendly and logical way – so that’s pretty refreshing.
14. Scout Digital Marketing Free Resources
I stumbled across this excellent resource courtesy of the .au domain ending. The site itself is for a Digital Marketing Firm in Adelaide, Australia – but their free resources contain some excellent advice and easy to use checklists that are relevant worldwide.
Their New Year checklist can unsurprisingly be used any time of the year to make sure that the content is looking spick and span. Their Digital Marketing Detox is more of a reminder to stay on track than an actual tutorial, but it’s always good to take some time to assess where you’re at and where you’re headed.
Their website has a page that details heaps of resources ranging from Google’s Tools to SEO assistance to Email Marketing.
They too have a blog with regularly updated content and helpful hints. Recent posts have covered topics like “Top 10 email campaign types for businesses” and “Identifying and Managing Seasonal Fluctuations in your Digital Marketing“.
These kinds of tips are more valuable for experienced users, so I wouldn’t rely on them until I’d gotten a bit of knowledge under my belt, if I were you.
15. GFC Learn Free
As you might have guessed from the name, GFC Learn Free is a website that offers free resources across a wide range of topics.
The Social Media selection is a great resource for beginners to social media and as a very basic overview of social media marketing. It doesn’t delve into the topics in great depth, so it’s not really relevant for intermediate or expert users.
There are helpful tips about compliance and bonus materials scattered throughout. There are also end of topic quizzes available for some topics.
The website also has helpful resources to help you improve your digital skills generally and a brief overview of digital photography skills. Developing these skills might set you apart from other online marketers.
16. Open 2 Study
Open 2 Study has a wide range of free courses on topics ranging from education to medicine and, of course, marketing. Currently, there are four free online courses available to would-be marketers, but the availability of the content is subject to change.
One aspect of this website that I really value is that it provides a ‘taster’ of sorts for Undergrad and Postgrad University degrees. The free content provided is comprehensive enough for you to gain some valuable skills, but it also points you in the direction of relevant further study options if you choose to go down that road.
Content creators, you can take advantage of their Writing for the Web course. It provides some insight into how users behave online and how you can create engaging content that they’re likely to engage with.
The Writing for the Web course also touches upon SEO and web page layout, so it’s a valuable resource for those of you who are hoping to increase traffic to your own blogs. SEO knowledge is also highly regarded by a lot of potential employers.
The site also hosts an Online Advertising course, which teaches you about the value of online ads plus how to plan advertising campaigns and measure their success, and a course that will help you create a user-friendly interspace online – the User Experience Course.