Free Social Media and Digital Marketing Certifications: What’s Available and What’s Valuable?

Today, there are many online training and certifications to help you learn social media and digital marketing skills. If you are a professional, student, or a professor it’s hard to know which ones to earn yourself and which to include in your courses. Below is a guide and links to certifications and additional training resources. Most are free or have minimal costs and represent a short time commitment.

Free Online Social Media and Digital Marketing Courses and Certifications are easily displayed in your LinkedIn profile.
Professional Certifications award badges that can easily demonstrate specialized skills online such as in LinkedIn profiles.

Why are these professional certifications and online learning resources valuable? A Marketing Hiring Trends Report indicates that 69% of marketers are hiring and 59% want digital marketers, yet only 19% of people with those skills are looking for jobs. This represents a 30% digital skills gap creating high demand for people who can demonstrate those skills.

8 Recommended Social Media Certifications

Facebook blueprint is Facebook’s free online courses and paid certifications for marketing on Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Over 87% of U.S. marketers use Facebook and 75% use Instagram for social media marketing. Recommended certifications include:

  • Facebook Certified Digital Marketing Associate (8-9 hours) teaches entry level marketing skills and foundational advertising concepts on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. The online courses are free to prepare for the exam which is $150 and requires scheduling in person testing.
  • Facebook Certified Media Planning Professional (9-10 hours) teaches what you need to create, place and measure effective Facebook, Instagram and Messenger advertising campaigns. The online courses are free to prepare for the exam which is $150 and requires scheduling in person testing.
  • Additional Facebook blueprint certifications include Media Buying Professional, Ads Product Developer I, II and III. Note that Facebook blueprint is updating their curriculum including a new education portal available in May 2020.

Hootsuite Academy is an online education site offering free and paid training courses and professional certifications. This popular social media management software is used by over 18 million people at top brands. Recommended certifications include:

  • Hootsuite Platform Certification (3-4 hours) teaches you how to use this popular social platform to publish and engage in social media while tracking results with analytics. It is useful to understand this platform but also how many social management platforms work. The online course is free. The certification is $99 for professionals and free for college students when professors enroll their course through the student program.
  • Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification (6-7 hours) teaches social media marketing skills to grow followers and increase engagement. It teaches social strategy needed to meet and track business results through both paid and earned social media tactics. The online course is free while the certification costs $199 for professionals and free for college students through professor enrolled with professors who apply through the student program.
  • Additional Hootsuite online courses and certifications include Advanced Social Advertising, Social Media ROI, and Social Selling and require payment ranging from $249 to $299.

HubSpot Academy is an online education site offering free and paid training courses and professional certifications. HubSpot is a top marketing, sales, customer service and CRM platform used by over 15,000 businesses. Recommended certifications include:

  • HubSpot Social Media Certification (5-6 hours) teaches effective social media strategy to drive conversation, build loyalty and attract customers. The online course and certification is free.

Snapchat Explore is Snapchat’s free online course and professional certification. Over 33% of U.S. marketers use Snapchat for social media marketing. Recommended certification is:

Twitter Flight School is Twitter’s free online training courses and badges for marketing on Twitter. Over 66% of U.S. marketers use Twitter for social media marketing.

  • Twitter Video Badge (2-4 hours) teaches how to create video and run video ads on Twitter. The online course and certification is free.
  • Additional Twitter Flight School courses include Twitter Ads Manager, Audiences, Campaigns and Reporting.

Cision University Program is Cision’s online training program for college PR classes. The curriculum teaches this popular Cision PR software through college courses that apply for accreditation Recommended certification:

11 Recommended Digital Marketing Certifications

Google Analytics Academy is an online education site offering free training and professional certifications for Google Analytics. Over 88% of search traffic worldwide occurs on Google. Recommended certifications include:

  • Google Analytics for Beginners Certificate of Completion (4-6 hours) teaches the basic features of Google Analytics for creating accounts, tracking, basic reports, goals and campaign tracking. The online course and certification is free.
  • Advanced Google Analytics Certificate of Completion (4-6 hours) teaches advanced Google Analytics features for data collection, processing, configuration and more complex analysis and marketing tools. The online course and certification is free.
  • Google Analytics Individual Qualification Certification (3 hours) is the exam to become professionally certified based on skills learned in the two courses above. The online study guides and certification exam are free.
  • Additional Google Analytics Academy courses and certificates of completion include Google Tag Manager, Data Studio, and Google Analytics 360.

HubSpot Academy is an online education site offering free training courses and professional certifications. Recommended certifications include:

  • HubSpot Inbound Certification (2-3 hours) teaches the HubSpot Inbound methodology for driving customer acquisition from a marketing, sales and service perspective. The online course and certification is free.
  • HubSpot Content Marketing Certification (6-7 hours) teaches a strategic content creation framework for creating and repurposing effective content for search engines and customer engagement. The online course and certification is free.
  • HubSpot Inbound Sales Certification (2-3 hours) teaches specific skills useful to sales people. It explains inbound approaches to personal sales for identifying new prospects and connecting with them. The online course and certification is free.
  • Additional HubSpot courses and certifications include Inbound Marketing, Growth Driven Design, and Email Marketing.

SEMrush Academy is an online education site offering free training and professional certification for search engine marketing. Over 5 million marketers use the SEMrush online visibility management platform. Recommended certifications:

  • SEO Fundamentals Certificate (4-5 hours) teaches the essentials for search engine optimization. The online course and certificate is free.
  • Keyword Research Certificate (2-3 hours) teaches the basics of keyword research. The online course and certificate is free.
  • Mobile SEO Certificate (2-3 hours) teaches the specialized knowledge for mobile website visibility. The online course and certificate is free.
  • Technical SEO Certificate (5-6 hours) teaches the essentials for the technical aspects of search engine optimization. The online course and certificate is free.
  • Additional SEMrush courses and certificates include SEMrush platform functions such as SEMrush Site Audit, SEO Toolkit, Competitive Analysis, Keyword Research, Technical SEO, Link Building, Rank Tracking and Backlink Management.

Amazon Advertising learning console is an online education site offering free training and professional certification for Amazon Advertising. Over 54% of product searches start on Amazon. Recommended certification is:

  • Amazon Sponsored Ads Accreditation (3-4 hours) teaches Amazon Sponsored Ad types, targeting, strategy, reporting and optimization. The online course and certification is free.
  • Amazon Stores Accreditation (1-2 hours) teaches Amazon Store, benefits, features and how build and promote an Amazon Store. The online course and certification is fee.

10 Recommended Non-Certification Online Learning Resources

Academy of Influencer Marketing by Traackr influencer marketing platform. It offers courses teaching influencer marketing skills, strategy and measurement. The first course is free. Advanced courses are $495.

Adobe Creative Cloud Tutorials is an online education site offering free training for Adobe Creative Cloud software including Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere, After Effects, Illustrator, Adobe XD, and Adobe Spark. Over 90% of the world’s creative professionals use Adobe.

Adobe Education Exchange is a free learning program and community for educators to ignite creativity in thier classrooms and leverage Adobe software.

Canva Design School is an online education site offering courses from the popular graphic design platform Canva. Free online courses include Graphic Design Basics, Social Media Design, Branding Your Business, and Presentations to Impress.

Code Academy is an online education site offering courses that teach how to write code in popular program languages such as HTML, CSS, Python, JavaScript, Java and SQL. These program languages are useful for web development, data science and design. Basic classes are free. There a $19.99 per month fee for Pro support.

ConvertedU by Leadpages is an online education site offering free and paid training and professional certification for conversion marketing. More than 40,000 small business use Leadpages to build landing pages, pop-ups, alerts and websites. Free online courses include Email List Building and Leadpages Launchpad. Paid courses include Conversion Marketing and Drip Marketing Certifications.

Google Academy for Ads is an online education site offering free courses in Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, Google Ad Manager, and Google My Business. Google Ads Certification is available, but you must work for a Google Partner business and use that business email to take the exam.

Pinterest Academy is Pinterest’s online education site offering free training courses for marketing on Pinterest. Over 35% of U.S. marketers use Pinterest for social media marketing.

Social Media Examiner Training Videos is a YouTube channel by this popular soical media publication and conference. Their channel offers short training videos by social media experts. Videos are updated often and are usually 5 to 15 minutes long.

YouTube Creator Academy is an online education site offering free courses that teach setting up YouTube Channels, YouTube Content Strategy, Video Production, YouTube Channel Optimization, Money & Business, on YouTube, and YouTube Policies & Guidelines. Over 53% of U.S. marketers use YouTube for social media marketing. A YouTube Certification is available, but only for those with a YouTube partner manager or access to Content ID.

11 Additional Online Learning and Certification Options

Other online courses and certification options include AMA Digital Marketing Certification (Exam), Blogging University (WordPress), LinkedIn Learning (Wide Variety of Subjects), Marketo (Marketing Platform), Meltwater Masterclass (Social Management), Microsoft Advertising (Ad Platform), Microsoft Dynamics 365 (Microsoft Business Applications), Moz Academy (SEO), Salesforce Trailhead (Salesforce CRM), Trading Academy (Programmatic Ad Buying), and Yoast Academy (SEO).

Whether you are a professional, student or professor I hope you find these recommendations to be useful. Even though I’ve highlighted 40 free and low cost online learning courses and certifications I may have missed some. What online courses and certifications have your used that your find to be valuable?

TikTok’s 500M Users: What You Need To Know for Social Media Marketing.

Tiktok is a social media short-form video app for creating and sharing lip-sync, comedy and talent videos. TikTok first grew in popularity in Asia and then the app’s parent company bought Musical.ly and merged the two apps under the TikTok name. In two years, Tiktok has quickly grown to 500 million global monthly users. Unlike previous social networks that relied on organic growth, TikTok has invested in a huge advertising campaign on competing social platforms. Globally, TikTok users are younger than most other social platforms with 41% aged 16-24 years-old and 60% under 30.

Statistic: Most popular mobile social networking apps in the United States as of June 2019, by average session duration (in minutes) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

In the U.S., TikTok is the second most popular mobile social network app behind Facebook. Facebook users spend an average of 13 hours per month on the app, while TikTok users have risen to 6 hours per month over Snapchat’s 3 hours. Average session length is high with nearly 10 minutes per session compared to Pinterest’s and Facebook’s 5 minute average and Snapchat’s 2 minute average. This isn’t surprising when you learn TikTok is one of the first social platforms to use artificial intelligence to show users more of what they like with advanced interest behavioral targeting.

Yet despite the growth and active engagement, TikTok is a niche audience with just 2% reach among U.S. mobile users placing it 16th behind Facebook with 91 percent reach and Snapchat’s 26 percent reach. Even among Gen Z, Instagram (65 percent), YouTube (63 percent) and Snapchat (51 percent) are still the most popular social networks based on daily use compared to TikTok (11 percent).

Like other social platforms TikTok users have a profile that includes a photo, username and bio. Users follow other accounts to see their videos. Popular videos are liked with a heart counter appearing over the video and organized by hashtags that appear as trending on a Discover Page. Examples of trending hashtags include #whywebrokeup, #rocktober, #facetrackingchallenge, and #MosaicZoom creatd by TikTok to promote use of a new creative effect.

The For You page is TikTok’s front page as it is the landing page when users first open the app. The For You page is based on an algorithm designed to show you more content similar to what you have liked in the past from people you do not follow. At the bottom of the page users can find content outside the For You algorithm through the Search and Explore page. This is the opposite of Instagram where when you open the app you first see content from users you follow, then you can switch over the Explore tab.

Getting on the For You page is important to going viral and is a goal of many users to grow their followers much like brand trying to get into the newsfeed of Facebook users. TikTok has not released information on what goes into a video making the For You pages, but many speculate it has to do with engagement such as likes and more people watching all the way through (retention rate). Hashtags related to watch users have indicated they like also most likely matter, but many also include #foryou, #foryoupage, or #fyp trying to get on this page, gain more exposure and become TikTok famous.

TikTok enables users to create short music and lip-sync videos of 3 to 15 seconds and short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds. Videos can be sped up, slowed down and edited with filters and background music is selected from various music genres. Users can also create short lip-sync videos to popular songs. The react feature allows filming reactions in a small window over the main video. The duet feature you can film two videos beside each other. Unlike Facebook videos by default have the sound turned on. Therefore, subtitles are not has important.

Businesses can participate in the social platform by creating a brand channel and uploading and sharing relevant content. Brands can work with influencers to spread messages to a broader audience. TikTok offers social ads with some creative formats. TikTok ads include standard native in-feed video, brand takeovers that run full screen, branded lenses that use AR face filters and 3D objects. Brands can also sponsor Hashtag Challenges that encourage user-generated content such as the #JumanjiChallenge.

 

TikTok ads can be targeted by age, gender, state-level geo-targeting and custom audiences from CRM lists. The platform also boasts advanced interest targeting based on their AI technology. Marketers set campaign periods and budgets paying on a cost per thousand (CPM), cost per click (CPC), or cost per view (CPV) basis. Advertisers besides Jumanji include Grubhub driving app downloads and the NFL courting younger viewers. TV stars such as Jimmy Fallon have embraced the new platform. His #TumbleweedChallenge created 8,000 videos with over 9 million views in just 7 days.

This fast growing social platform is not without controversy. The U.S. government opened up investigations into TikTok owner ByteBance alleging the Chinese company may be censoring politically sensitive content and questioning how it stores personal data. Users have also complained that their videos are being used in TikTok ads on other social platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram without being asked for paid. Yet, everyone who signs up for TikTok agrees to their terms of service (whether it is read or not):

“You or the owner of your User Content still own the copyright in User Content sent to us, but by submitting User Content via the Services, you hereby grant us an unconditional irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully transferable, perpetual worldwide licence to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit, and/or distribute and to authorise others users of the Services and other third-parties to view, access, use, download, modify, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit your User Content in any format and on any platform, either now known or hereinafter invented.”

These terms are similar to what other apps and social platforms have included in their small print, but perhaps they have been noticed more with the high profile of Tiktok’s ad campaign. California’s new data privacy law (CCPA) takes effect January 2020 with similar privacy protection and disclosure requirements to Europe’s GDPR. Many companies will be changing the way they disclose and what they do with people’s data to avoid fines.

Despite these concerns brands have moved forward on the platform to reach its young user base. How will your brand leverage TikTok?