The ability to use social media to get people’s attention, build an engaged audience and express your personality is becoming an essential digital skillset in the 21st-century knowledge-based economy.

Whether you want to find a new job or create your own as an entrepreneur or freelancer, your personal website and social media presence give prospective employers and clients a window into your personality, skills, and interests.

If you want to improve your social media skills or start building a new career in social media and inbound marketing then these free social media courses will help you get started and learn the ropes.

Did you know? Over 80% of jobs are now found in the informal job marketing (meaning they are not advertised) so having a personal website, an active social media presence and a professional network (online and offline) that you can rely on for recommendations is more important than ever.

If you want to set yourself apart from the crowd and gain a competitive edge in your field you need a personal website (here’s my guide to how to create a website in less than an hour) and the knowledge of how to use social media to build an online audience.

1. Video Storytelling For Social Media

Video Storytelling For Social Media

A free online course on making high-quality videos with your iPhone or Android smartphone. Learn the fundamentals of video storytelling and how to build the habit of making regular videos by documenting your experiences.

Video is the most powerful medium to build a relationship with your audience members and engage people’s short attention spans on social media networks. This online course covers everything you need to make professional-looking and sounding videos anywhere using your smartphone.

1. Why Video Is The Most Effective Way To Engage People’s Attention on Facebook and Your Website.
2. Follow A Step-By-Step Action Plan For Building The Habit of Video Storytelling
3. How To Quickly Film and Edit Professional-Looking Videos On Your Smartphone
4. What You Need To Create A D.I.Y. Video Studio In Your Home or Office
5. Ideas and Inspiration To Start Vlogging Regularly With Your iPhone or Android.

2. DS106: Digital Storytelling and Social Media

DS106 Digital Storytelling Course

This digital storytelling course from the University of Mary Washington attempts to re-imagine how storytelling can be taught in the digital age. Based on a course taught at the University, the online version called Open DS106 is freely available online.

Open DS106 includes course outlines that include tasks for each unit, instructional videos, participant blogs, the DS106 handbook and an active online community. Overall, a good introduction to digital storytelling and using social media for building your network.

1. Bootcamp
2. Getting Through Bootcamp and Personal Cyber Infrastructure
3. What’s The Meaning of Digital Storytelling?
4. Listening to Audio
5. Telling Stories in Photos
6. It’s All By Design
7. Advanced Audio And Radio Show Production
8. Telling Stories Within the Web
9. Reading Movies
10. Making Movies
11. Timer and Mashup
12. Final Project and Wrap Up

3. Hubspot Academy’s Inbound Marketing CertificationHubspot Academy

Inbound marketing pioneer Hubspot offers a variety of free Inbound Marketing Certification Program. While their courses are aimed at people in digital marketing and social media industries, if you’re dedicated you can learn a lot about content marketing.

In the Hubspot Academy, you can watch the videos at your own pace and when you complete all the courses you can take an Inbound Marketing Certification Exam to get a certificate from Hubspot.

  1. Essentials of an Effective Inbound Strategy
  2. Optimizing Your Website
  3. The Fundamentals of Blogging
  4. Amplifying Your Content with Social Media
  5. Creating Content with a Purpose
  6. The Anatomy of a Landing Page
  7. Perfecting the Conversion Process
  8. Sending the Right Email to the Right Lead
  9. The Power of Marketing
  10. Taking Your Sales Process Inbound
  11. Cultivating Happy Customers

4. Social Media Marketing: How to Profit in a Digital World

Social Media Marketing Specialization

This new social media marketing specialization from Northwestern University is designed for business owners, executives and marketing professionals who want to develop a social media strategy to grow their businesses.

The specialization consists of 6 social media courses that you must complete along with projects that help you apply what you learn and a certificate from Northwestern University to highlight your new skills on your resume or LinkedIn.

While the full specialization costs $49/month for complete access, if you don’t want the projects or certification you are able to search for the individual courses and when you click the “Enroll Now” button choose “audit the course” to get access to the social media course content.

1. What is Social Media?
2. The Importance of Listening
3. Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies
4. Content, Advertising & Social IMC
5. The Business of Social Media
6. Social Marketing Capstone Project

5. Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business

Social Media Marketing for International Business

The Salford Business School in Manchester, England did a pilot for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) a couple years ago and they’ve posted the videos and course materials on their website.

Their Search and Social Media Marketing for International Business course will help you develop your professional online identity and use search engine optimization and social media marketing tactics and strategy to build an online audience.

  1. Personal branding
  2. Twitter
  3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  4. Use of social media for international business development
  5. Facebook
  6. YouTube
  7. LinkedIn
  8. Google+
  9. Copywriting online
  10. Legal implications of social media
  11. Monitoring and reporting
  12. Blogging

6. Educate Your Audience and Sell Your Expertise Using Social Media

Design Thinking For Social Media CourseLearn how to build a social media audience by sharing your expertise and create an offer that speaks directly to their needs and solves their core problem. This 4-part course guides you through this process of customer discovery so you can craft a Unique Value Proposition.

You will also learn about developing your ideas and brainstorming educational content that can help sell your offer. Then, you’ll learn how to get started right away by rapidly prototyping your offer so you can start selling it.

1. Empathize: Getting To Know Your Customer
2. Define: Defining Their Problem and Unique Value Proposition
3. Design: Ideation and Creative Brainstorming
4. Prototype: Rapidly Prototyping Your Offer

7. Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content Viral Marketing Course

This new social media course taught by Wharton Professor Jonah Berger and author of the best-selling book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” teaches you the key ideas and concepts behind viral marketing and crafting content that inspire people to share it with their friends.

You have the option to audit the course for free by choosing “Full Course, No Certificate” or you can purchase the online course and get a certificate from the Wharton School of Business.

1. What Makes Ideas Sticky?
2. How Social Influence Shapes Behavior
3. The Power of Word of Mouth
4. Social Networks

8. Social Media Courses on GFC Learn FreeGFC Social Media

The Goodwill Community Foundation provides short, well-structured courses at an introductory level on topics in social media, blogging and how to better use popular technological tools like Skype, Meetup, and Whatsapp.

Generally, these courses are a bit rudimentary but if you’re an absolute beginner and you need to get up to speed on the basics of setting up a profile, finding people and sharing content using popular social networks then it’s a good place to get started.

  1. Twitter 101
  2. Facebook 101
  3. LinkedIn Basics
  4. Pinterest 101
  5. Skype
  6. Beyond Email
  7. Blog Basics
  8. Networking Basics
  9. Chat
  10. Google
  11. Apple
  12. Digital Lifestyle
  13. Information Savvy
  14. Internet Basics

9. Writing For The Web

Writing For The Web

If you’re a blogger then you will find this course very helpful. helpful. The instructor Frankie Madden who is a User Experience Consultant covers how to engage online readers through web design, writing style, structure and search engine optimization.

It takes about 4 hours to go through the course materials and by the end of the course, you will be writing better content for the web with a content strategy, more scannable content and more focus on shareability and ranking in search engines when you write your blog posts.

1. Why Writing For The Web Is Different
2. Characteristics of Good Content
3. Writing Effective Content
4. Looking After Your Content

10. Social Media: How To Build An Audience

Social Media Canvas

This social media course from course platform Canvas Network has ended but you can still sign up and get access to all the course activities, assignments and videos to study at your own self-directed pace.

In this social media course you will get hands-on experience with popular social media networks and communication tools like blogs, podcasts and RSS feeds.  The focus of this course is using available social media platforms to monitor conversations online, engage online communities, identify influences and establish your thought leadership on the web.

11. Quintly’s Social Media Analytics Course (BONUS)

Quintly Social Media Analytics

In this online course from social media analytics and competitor benchmarking tool Quintly, you will learn how to track and measure your performance on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

You can’t improve what you don’t measure so this online course will teach you a useful set of analytical skills that will improve your social media campaigns and help you identify the content that is most helpful for growing your audience.

1. Introduction to Social Media Analytics
2. Social Media Analytics Cycle
3. Summary

Download my guide to Personal Branding Using Social Media to follow a step-by-step process to build your online reputation and stand out in your industry.

Build Your Personal Brand Using Social Media:

While these free social media courses are a good start, you can only get good at social media by regularly creating and sharing your own stories and content through blogging, visual content, and videos.

Most people just consume and share other’s people content but when you start making your own content you can build your own media platform. This allows you to develop a distinctive personal brand around your areas of expertise and become a recognized thought leader in your field.

The key to social media is building social proof for your expertise. It doesn’t matter what certificates you have or the courses you have taken, what matters is that you can demonstrate that you have built an online audience that wants to follow and engage with you.

I hope you take one of these social media courses and start sharing your own stories and content using social media as your personal media platform.