Social media marketing and blogging can be fantastic tools to help you grow your training business.
Both offer a powerful way to connect with potential clients, bring traffic to your website and build your reputation in your field.
The benefits of social media marketing
As you’re probably aware, social media marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or engagement with your business through social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
Some of the key benefits of including social media marketing in your overall marketing strategy are that it can help you to:
- Create brand recognition
- Connect with potential clients
- Learn more about your audience and improve your offering
- Build customer loyalty
- Direct traffic to your website
- Establish your expertise, authority and trustworthiness
Another benefit is that social media marketing can grow with your business.
If you’re just starting out as a freelancer and have a small budget, you can even use social media marketing for free. There’s scope to pay for advertising or even hire social media marketing services when your training business expands.
How to make your social media marketing count
Even the most casual user of social media will tell you how much time it can suck if you’re not careful. A quick look at Facebook and suddenly two hours of your life can disappear, never to be seen again!
For this reason, you need to approach your social media marketing strategically.
I’ve found there are three questions in particular that help me map out my social media marketing plans and content:
1. Which social media platforms do my potential clients prefer to use?
Yes, it’s possible to build up a presence on multiple platforms but do you really need to be on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others to use social media marketing successfully?
What’s the point if your clients aren’t using some of these platforms?
Instead of spreading yourself too thin, my suggestion is that you pick one or two social media platforms to start off with. Build your audience using those. You can always change to or add a different platform in the future.
2. What do I want to achieve by using social media?
This can be a tough question to answer but it’s all about setting goals that will serve your overall ambitions for your business and that you can measure (see question 3).
Your goals might be:
- Build brand awareness
- Create a community of potential clients
- Drive 100 more visitors a month to my website
- Grow my reputation within my industry
Once you’ve pinpointed your goals, you will want to think about the actions you need to take to achieve them and how you will monitor what’s working.
3. How well are my actions working?
When setting your social media marketing goals, look at the metrics and data available to you.
- You could judge the growth of your brand awareness by tracking the number of new likes, comments, shares or retweets you get; look at post reach too
- Assess the growth of your business community by monitoring how many requests you receive to join your LinkedIn or Facebook group; what did you post or share that prompted people to want to join?
- Check your Google Analytics data to see how many website visitors have come via social media
- Track who mentions or tags your business on their own social media pages, especially influencers in your field
As you can see, you will need to look at different metrics depending on your goals. By picking something that’s measurable, you can track your progress and work out the best uses of your time and budget.
I often revisit these questions to work out where to focus my attention.
For more general advice about effective social media marketing, check out:
- 5 tips to get better results from social media
- 7 social media activities to grow your training business
Choosing the right social media marketing platform(s) for your training business
As I said above, it’s usually more productive to focus on one or two social media platforms initially (or even long-term).
Your first step is to find out where your potential customers spend their time. There are several different ways you can approach this:
- Firstly, identify your target client – try to understand as much about them as possible, including their likes and dislikes
- Ask your existing clients which platforms they use and why
- Google information about each platform’s audience statistics – which best reflects your target client?
- Look at your competitors’ social media profiles – which platforms seem to be the most active?
- Search hashtags and keywords related to your business/industry/services on all of the platforms – which bring up the most relevant and engaged-with results?
If you’re building your audience organically (i.e. without paid advertising), it can take a while to deliver results but those all-important metrics will help you gauge what’s working.
You can always swap to or add a new platform after three to six months if you feel that you’re not reaching your intended audience. Paid advertising can also help you to reach your potential clients.
Social media platform overviews
I’ve put together a brief overview of the main social media platforms to give you a starting point:
LinkedIn is often described as a social media network for professionals, a kind of Facebook for your career.
Because of the professional networking emphasis of the platform, many trainers and their clients seem to favour LinkedIn.
The platform gives you the opportunity to share what you’re up to, publish articles, share content, join or run a private/public group, feature recommendations and much more.
Over the years, I’ve written a number of blogs about using LinkedIn to grow your training business. These cover topics such as how to get found and how to convert your connections to clients, as well as the reasons to start a LinkedIn group and, most recently, publishing articles to boost your visibility and authority.
You might also find the following articles of interest:
- How to get the best from forums and groups
- Freelance Trainers: How can you get more value from LinkedIn groups
- How to get your first 100 members of a LinkedIn group
- 6 ways to get more from your LinkedIn network
Facebook is still the world’s biggest social media platform and most people expect a business to have a Facebook presence these days.
However, it’s no secret that Facebook is going through somewhat of a metamorphosis at the moment. In April 2019, the brand announced that it will be moving its emphasis away from the familiar newsfeed to events and groups.
Many people feel that it will only be possible for freelancers and small businesses to successfully reach their audiences via a combination of paid advertising and running a dedicated group. This is because organic reach for business pages has dropped substantially over recent years.
I’m still actively using Facebook as a marketing tool and love The Trainers Training Company page but I’m also experimenting with groups (and with Mighty Networks as an alternative) to see if this is a better way of connecting with my training community. Watch this space!
Like me, you may have to experiment with how to use Facebook to best connect with your audience.
One billion accounts are active on Instagram every single month and if your target client falls in the 18 to 34 age group, this photo- and video-based platform might be the place for you. Instagram is all about branded hashtags and businesses (in 2019, 80% of users follow business accounts on this channel).
Pinterest is a social media platform that allows you to visually share and discover interests by ‘pinning’ content you like to virtual noticeboards.
Currently, the platform has 291 million monthly active users, 79.5% of whom are female. If your target client is a woman in the 25 to 54 age bracket and you work with clients in more creative or visual sectors, this could be a platform you want to explore.
Twitter is best described as a news and social networking site where people communicate in short messages known as tweets. It’s a fast-moving platform that is quick and easy to skim read.
In many ways, Twitter has changed how we receive and create news. People can tell others about events as they happen and a huge number of celebrities actively use Twitter as a way to take back control of their own image from the world’s media.
Over the years, I have used Twitter extensively to connect with the training community. Features such as Twitter Lists and Twitter Chats are simple ways to connect with potential clients.
The benefits of blogging
I wanted to include blogging in this guide because it can and, in my opinion, should be one of the pillars of your social media marketing strategy.
A well-researched, high-quality blog can help you to:
- Build your business
- Grow your reputation and authority in your field
- Drive new traffic to your website
- Reach new clients
- Create the fresh content that Google loves
- Encourage conversations on social media
- Attract backlinks that help your SEO
- Target keywords related to your training services
- Engage industry influencers
Publishing a blog is a powerful way to communicate in-depth with your audience about the topics that you know inside out that affect their daily lives.
It also gives you content to post on your social media platforms.
What to include in your blog
Your blog should be a place where you publish high-quality content that’s unique to your business.
Think about the issues that really matter to your clients; address themes that you cover in your training; talk about what’s happening in your industry – these are the topics that you will want to write about.
By publishing in-depth articles, you can give your clients valuable knowledge and information they can use straight away, as well as showcasing your expertise.
It’s a win-win situation.
Plus, you can grab soundbites from your blogs to share on social media, as well as adding social media share buttons to encourage readers to share your content with their own networks. In turn, this can help to grow your audience, attract new website visitors (and backlinks) and build up a powerful resource base.
‘Hub and Spoke’ blogging
When I first started blogging more than a decade ago, many of my blogs were fewer than 300 words in length (now regarded by Google as thin content!) and were often quick observations of experiences at the time.
Looking back, I probably didn’t organise my blog in any specific way. Although one thing that hasn’t changed is that I wrote – and still write – with my target client at the front of my mind. This is the only way to create content that resonates.
I’m currently working through my old articles and creating new content like this post with a ‘hub and spoke’ blogging model in mind. If you’re new to blogging or looking at ways to strengthen your existing blog, then this might be something you want to explore.
With the ‘hub and spoke’ model, you have a long-form article like this one, which reflects the main category of a topic that matters to your clients. This post, for example, is a ‘hub’ for the ‘social media & blogging’ category on my website.
The next step is to link to all of the related ‘spoke’ articles that fall under the same category but cover individual sub-topics in more depth. Again, in this post, the spoke articles have included blogs about LinkedIn, Instagram, blogging to grow your business, and so on.
Each of the spoke articles should then link back to their hub.
The reason I like this approach is that it ties all of your related content together. Website visitors then find it much easier to read more about their topic of choice. By making sure all of the blogs in the same category are linked together, you can share the ‘link juice’ from Google and encourage people to stay on your website for longer and to read more than one page – these are fantastic ranking signals. It also gives a better user experience.
Content marketing strategy
Like social media marketing, blogging can be time-consuming so it’s crucial to have a plan in place.
I like the following approach:
- Make a note of the key topics/issues your training business covers.
My main topics are things like: branding & marketing, networking, productivity, how to find clients, social media marketing & blogging, money matters.
- Now jot down 12 to 24 sub-topics relating to some of these categories that you could write about it more detail.
For me, this might be things like making a great first impression at a networking event, using LinkedIn to find new clients, 10 ways to improve your cash flow, etc.
If you can come up with a list of 12 topics, this is potentially your framework for a year’s worth of monthly blogs. Note down 24 topics and you’ve got fortnightly blogs for the next 12 months.
- If you need some help identifying topics, have a look at your Google Analytics data or Google Search Console to see what search terms people are using to find you – these could be your next topics.
Another trick is to type your potential keywords into Google and see what auto suggestions come up.
Alternatively, once you’ve done a search in Google, you can scroll down to the bottom of the results page to see a list of popular related searches that other people have made. Who knows, the inspiration for your next blog topic might be there!
- Once you have a rough list of blog topics, it’s time to put together an editorial calendar so you know what you need to write and when.
- Another tip is to think about how you can use visual content such as infographics, presentations and screenshots as additional posts or to add a visually engaging element to your content.
More blogging advice
There’s so much more I could say about blogging and I’m sure it will come up in future blogs. For the time being, I’ve put together a list of articles that can help you to launch and grow a successful training company blog:
- Freelance trainers: Here’s your perfect blog post outline
- Photos and images for trainer websites
- Never run out of ideas for your training business blog again
- 6 tips to grow your training blog
- 5 more actionable tips to grow your training blog
Using hashtags can boost the visibility of your blog
Finally, I wanted to mention hashtags as something that can bring your social media marketing and blogging into closer alignment.
A hashtag is defined as a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#) that is used on social media to identify messages on a specific topic.
When you publish a blog, think about hashtags that would describe what the blog is about. For this article, I might use #socialmediamarketing, #blogging, #socialmedia, #OnlinePromotion or #DigitalMarketing as just a few examples.
There’s a great website – Hastagify – that will give you suggestions based on what keywords you enter.
You should then add these hashtags to your posts to help your content show up in searches for those topics.
I’ve written more about this in my two-part guide:
- How to use hashtags to grow your presence on social media (Parts one)
- How to use hashtags to grow your presence on social media (Part two)
Let me know how you get on
I’d love to hear more from you about how you use social media marketing and/or blogging within your own training business. And, if you’d like to chat with other freelance trainers about what works to them, why not join the Trainer Talk community?