Of digital marketing’s multiple facets, social media is probably the most vital for building brand awareness, connecting with customers, and promoting products or services.
But this is easier said than done! With so many platforms available (each requiring different strategies depending on your offering, objectives, and target audience), it can be hard to know where to begin.
One option is to take a social media marketing course online. Doing so can be a great way to gain the requisite skills, setting you on a path to success as you launch your digital marketing career. To save you some of the hassle of searching, in this post, we cover 12 of the top social media marketing courses online right now. Read on, or use the clickable menu to jump to the topic of your choice. We’ll cover:
- What is social media marketing?
- Why should I take a social media marketing course online?
- What are the best social media marketing courses online?
- Next steps
Ready to learn about the best social media marketing course online? First, let’s get some background.
1. What is social media marketing?
Interacting with customers online is a hugely effective way for brands to build relationships and trust.
Social media marketing, therefore, involves using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, blogging platforms, and forums to build relationships and interact with current and potential future customers. Brands also use social media to generate leads and increase website traffic and sales.
As an affordable, trackable channel, social media offers marketers a unique opportunity. They can deliver relatively cost-effective campaigns using strategies driven by in-depth data insights. And although social media marketing can come in numerous shapes and sizes, a few examples of it in action include:
- Sharing news and updates about your company or your products and services
- Running promotions and contests to engage customers and other followers
- Answering customer questions and addressing their concerns
- Building relationships with social media influencers and other industry leaders to help promote your products or services
- Offering valuable content that educates and entertains your target audience
- Sharing pictures and videos that offer users a behind-the-scenes look at how your business runs
In reality, brands use social media in widely different ways. Factors that impact how they devise their social media strategy include their internal objectives, the size, scope, and budget of their campaigns, and the platforms their customers use. And once a brand balances all the elements, social media can be a powerful digital marketing tool.
2. Why should I take a social media marketing course online?
Taking a social media marketing course online is a great way to understand what social media marketing involves and how to apply it. Online courses are especially beneficial if you like to learn at your own pace, fitting your study around existing responsibilities. Nor will you have to worry about attending class at a specific time or location.
Another positive of taking a social media marketing course online is being able to learn from experts in the field. Some paid courses include live mentoring from seasoned digital marketing professionals, which can really help contextualize how social media marketing works in the real world. Even free social media marketing courses online typically allow you to benefit from other people’s expertise as the content itself will (hopefully!) have been crafted by practicing professionals.
Finally, online courses allow you to be selective about what you want to study. If you want to learn about a specific aspect of social media marketing (such as how to generate leads on a particular platform) you’ll usually be able to find a relevant, targeted course. And if you prefer a more rounded introduction to the topic? There are lots of those courses available, too.
3. What are the best social media marketing courses online?
The best social media marketing courses online should teach you the basics of social media marketing and how to use it to grow your business. Ideally, this will include how to build a social media presence and strategy, develop content, build communities, and measure and assess the results of your campaigns.
Naturally, the course most suited to you will depend on your budget and what you want to learn. Our top picks include free and paid courses, general introductions, and specializations. Let’s take a look.
General social media marketing courses online
Price: $6900 (additional payment and discount options available)
Duration: Up to 4 months studying full-time, or up to 7 months part-time
While social media is key to digital marketing, it’s not the only skill you’ll need to thrive in this industry. With that in mind, CareerFoundry’s Digital Marketing Program offers a comprehensive introduction to everything you’ll need to become a fully-fledged digital marketing professional in as little as four months.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy tutorial that only covers the basics of social media marketing, this might not be the course for you. However, Achievement 3 of CareerFoundry’s Digital Marketing Immersion Program hones in on social media marketing and branding.
Among other topics, you’ll learn about social media marketing strategy, content planning, and community management, all topped off with a tutor-reviewed capstone project that you can add to your social media portfolio. In addition, you’ll pick up many other digital marketing skills along the way, including content marketing, SEO, and marketing analytics.
With one-on-one mentoring and career support, as well as a job guarantee, CareerFoundry’s program is well worth considering if you want to hit the ground running and get a holistic overview of digital marketing as a whole.
Not quite ready to commit to a full program? Why not try out our free, 5-day course instead? Check out the following video to learn more about it:
Before diving in with an in-depth online course, you might decide to check that social media marketing is really for you. After all, while many of us use social media in our personal lives, its uses in digital marketing can be quite different. For a quick and easy introduction, we recommend Constant Contact’s Social Media Quickstarter.
This free online resource is mostly article-based and not interactive, but it covers the basics of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Business. As a dip-in reference guide, it’s helpful if you have a specific question or want to get the broad lowdown on each platform’s functionality.
To be clear, this is very much beginner stuff, such as how to set up a profile and carry out fundamental social media functions. For instance, how can you use Facebook to grow your email list? What are lists on Twitter, and how do you create them? And what’s the best way to grow positive Google reviews? Nevertheless, it’s an excellent free resource if you don’t want to fork out right away for a paid social media marketing course online.
Price: $24.99 for a Udemy subscription
Duration: 2.5 hours of video content
Certification: Certificate of completion
Another excellent (and affordable) starter course is Udemy’s Social Media Marketing complete certificate. If you prefer learning by watching (as opposed to reading), this course offers a more visual intro. It includes two and a half hours of video tutorials, supporting articles, and additional resources for those using social media for business. Learn the foundations of social media, how to audit your existing social accounts, and apply this to planning, devising, and executing a strategy.
The course covers the core aspects of blogs, and platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While it’s pretty high-level in terms of content, its strength lies in outlining the broader scope of social media, including the risks and opportunities it presents and how content marketing feeds into social media strategy. You can check out the full course content here.
Since you’ll already have a subscription, we recommend browsing Udemy’s back catalog, perhaps following up with their Social Media Marketing Mastery course, which will teach you how to use social ads on 10+ different social media platforms.
Price: $49 per month (subscription-based content)
Duration: 7 months, studying 2 hours per week
When you’re ready to dive in with a more comprehensive course of study, Coursera’s Social Media Marketing Specialization is a great option and excellent value for money. Comprising 7 months of study (2 hours per week), this is a solid and comprehensive course.
Created in partnership with Northwestern University, learn about social media from the ground up. Start with an introduction to social media before progressing to the practical analytics tools you’ll need to become a social media manager. As you move through the specialization’s six courses, you’ll develop deeper knowledge while accessing the resources necessary to devise your own social media marketing strategy.
The course ends with a capstone project and certification you can add to your portfolio. If you want to forgo these, though, you can also access (or ‘audit’ in Coursera lingo) all the course content for free. Check out the full curriculum on their website.
Duration: 6 hours
Level: Beginner / Intermediate
Who better to offer a social media marketing course online than one of the experts? Hootsuite, which provides one of the marketplace’s most popular social media tools (of the same name) offers training via its dedicated Hootsuite Academy. Their Social Media Marketing Certification Course is developed in close partnership with social media strategists and other professionals in the field, meaning you can be sure the content is up to date.
Throughout the course, you’ll learn how to optimize your social media channels (on different networks) before progressing to intermediate-level content. That includes creating a social media strategy, engaging with influencers, building online communities, and how to produce content marketing strategies across different channels. You’ll also learn how to use social ads on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google.
To get a shareable certificate, there’s also a short exam based on the course content. Check out Hootsuite Academy’s full range of courses.
Duration: 4 hours
Another course similar to Hootsuite (but free!) comes from HubSpot Academy. HubSpot, like Hootsuite, also offers a popular social media management tool. Their Social Media Marketing Course is aimed at aspiring and existing digital marketers and contains four hours of video tutorials with quizzes. It will help you develop an engaging and effective social media strategy for your business, including developing an inbound strategy that meets customers’ needs while also helping boost your own profits.
For a free course, we would consider this one of the better options. It dispenses with the basics of social media, diving straight in with strategy planning. It also introduces the concepts of social media listening, content strategy advertising, and how to measure return on investment. While you won’t come away as a total expert, you’ll have a clear idea of all the different aspects of social media marketing, while the quizzes along the way break the content up nicely.
Duration: up to 24 weeks to complete
With a regularly-updated social media marketing module, in this course students learn the key social platforms for digital marketing, how to grow and engage an audience, data-driven insights, how to set up a social experience for a business, and how to create and optimize social media campaigns: all crucial skills for any aspiring social media marketer. Like the CareerFoundry program, this diploma is focused on digital marketing as a whole.
A digital marketing package popular with graduates, entrepreneurs, and small business owners with an eye on learning applicable digital marketing skills they can use in their own campaigns, Digital Marketing Institute’s Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing is an in-depth digital marketing course providing the skills students need to stay relevant in the field.
Targeted social media marketing courses online
Price: $26.99 per month (subscription-based content)
Duration: 1.5 hours
Once you have a broad understanding of social media marketing, you might want to dive deeper into certain topics, such as social media strategy. LinkedIn Learning’s Introduction to Social Media Strategy, led by Silicon Valley marketer Anke Audenaert, tells you everything you need to know to plan your social media presence from the ground up.
It includes how best to participate on different channels and—crucially—how to develop an effective content plan. The course offers plenty of practical tips, such as managing customer interactions and when, why, and how to use paid social media ads.
At 1.5 hours, this is still an introductory course. However, it focuses specifically on strategy, meaning you’ll have a clear idea of which areas you’d like to refine your knowledge in. And by paying for LinkedIn’s subscription, you’ll have to access their entire library of courses, including gems such as strategy for TikTok and Instagram reels or advanced advertising on Facebook.
Duration: 5 hours
An often-overlooked aspect of social media marketing is how heavily it relies on content strategy. In reality, content and social media are deeply interwoven. But how you develop content for social media may differ from other channels. In particular, social media platforms lend themselves well to content that is more likely to go viral. While nobody can ‘make content go viral’ just by willing it, you can increase your chances of this happening by using some tried and tested techniques.
This course, led by Professor Jonah Berger from the University of Pennsylvania, explores common features of viral content and how you can apply these to your marketing campaigns. It covers everything from product packaging to generating word of mouth and utilizing social networks to spread the word about your brand. If you want your content to catch on, this free course is well worth checking out (although you’ll have to pay a Coursera subscription if you want the certification).
Duration: 3.5 hours
Level: Beginner / Intermediate
Certification: Yes, but only with a subscription
An increasingly important aspect of managing social media is monitoring and tracking online conversations. This helps digital marketers understand what people are saying about a particular product, service, or brand. As tracking technologies improve, so is the prevalence of social media monitoring. This free course from Udemy explores core concepts and techniques related to social media monitoring, including keyword phrase filtering, finding and tracking influencers online, how to use Google Alerts and the basics of rich text analytics.
It also includes strategy tips for monitoring conversations on various social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Craigslist, not to mention blogs, forums, and news sites. At 3.5 hours it’s an achievable length and will introduce you to all the basics you need to know.
In digital marketing, data drives everything… or, at least, that’s the theory! Social media analytics involves gathering and analyzing data to track trends and engagement and to determine which campaigns are working. When used to its full potential, social analytics can even help predict future opportunities for social selling. And even if you don’t go this far, analytics remains a vital tool for basic strategy.
This free, specialized course from Quintly Academy covers the basics of social media analytics. Learn how different social networks use data and how to utilize this data to your advantage. You’ll learn techniques for supporting situation analysis, how to define your objectives, and identify key performance indicators for measuring the success of your campaigns. Although there’s always more you can learn about social media analytics (it’s a vast topic), Quintly offers everything you need to get started.
Price: Free to start
Duration: 11 hours
Certification: Yes, with a subscription
Digital marketing courses often focus on the practical techniques and tools you need to succeed. However, one key area that is often overlooked is social media ethics, which refers to the moral principles guiding how we use it.
In this course from Coursera, you’ll learn the underlying principles of social media ethics, including how online identities, social media communities, and their users impact one another and how easily they can be manipulated. You’ll learn how different organizations use social media and the most common ethical debates around the topic, including how to use data in beneficial ways compared to typical neo-liberal practices.
The course ends with a 30-minute practice exercise, which involves developing your own professional social media profile, defining your audience, and influencing them with the right content. Although this course is aimed primarily at individual social media users rather than brands, all of its aspects are easily transferable to a professional workplace setting.
Still have questions? Here are some common social media marketing course FAQs we often hear.
Should I take a social media marketing course online if I’m a beginner?
Absolutely! Most online social media marketing courses are designed with beginners in mind. We’d even say that the majority are aimed at providing an introduction to the various platforms, how to use them effectively, and the principles of social media strategy. But you should always review the course content before getting started to ensure it aligns with your objectives and career goals. Keep in mind that some online courses target more advanced social media practitioners, so it’s essential to check before enrolling.
How long does it take to learn social media marketing?
This depends on numerous factors, the most obvious being the length of course you choose. Those in our list, for example, range from a few hours to several months in length. But unless you’re going for a comprehensive digital marketing program, you should be able to pick up the basics quite fast.
Another factor to consider is your existing experience with social media and the amount of time you’re willing to dedicate to perfecting the craft. If you’re starting from scratch, it will take longer than if you’ve already used social media in the workplace.
As a general rule of thumb, a well-designed course of around 10-15 hours should be plenty to provide you with an in-depth overview of social media marketing. Courses shorter than this may still provide helpful content but are less likely to get into the practical aspects you need to devise and implement a comprehensive strategy.
How much can I earn working in social media?
The amount you can earn as a social media marketer is tricky to answer. Some digital marketers specialize in this one area, whereas others combine social media marketing with additional digital skills. It becomes even more complex when you factor in your geographic location, experience level, and job title.
What we can say for certain is that digital marketers are highly sought after right now. This includes those working in social media. By targeting the lowest end of the pay scale for entry-level social media managers in the US—just to offer a taster— the following job sites suggest you can earn the following:
Taking an average of these figures gives us around $43,000 for an entry-level social media manager role in the US. While it’s always a good idea to take estimates like these with a pinch of salt, it hints that you can earn a fairly comfortable salary as a social media professional! Learn more about how much you can earn as a social media manager.
5. Next steps
There we have it, the top 12 social media marketing courses online! In this article, we’ve explored what social media marketing is and why you might want to take a social media marketing course online. We’ve explored everything from comprehensive paid digital marketing programs to free tutorials, reference guides, and everything in between. While there’s plenty more available and the real course for you depends on your objectives, we hope this gives you a solid idea of what’s needed to get started.
Next, don’t be afraid to experiment with different social platforms and strategies. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this topic, so it’s important to find what works best for you and your business. Take the time to learn about the different features each social media platform offers and try out different strategies and content to see how audiences react to each.
To start forging a career in digital marketing, why not enroll in this free, 5-day digital marketing short course? You can also check out the following introductory guides: