Larry BraunerAnother social media university, social media academy, guru or training program surfaces online nearly every day. Do we need these social media training programs? Are they worth our time and expense?

I’m old enough to remember the data processing boom of the seventies. There were more computer schools back then than social media gurus or social networking sites today.

Computers in those days weren’t as easy to use as they are today, and people were needed in companies that used them to program and operate them. Computer schools collected large sums to train people for potentially lucrative computer programming careers, but in the end, students were very lucky if they even got lower paying computer operator jobs.

Students weren’t aware that businesses much preferred college graduates with relevant degrees to fill programming positions over graduates of year- long programs. Computer schools were able to rake in large profits because they didn’t fully disclose the reality of the job market.

The same was true years later with medical billing. Schools and home study programs nurtured false expectations. The probability of finding assignments after completing a medical billing course was dismally low.

Making an Intelligent Choice

To determine whether a social media training program is worthwhile for you, answer the following questions as thoughtfully and honestly as you can.

  1. What are your needs and expectations? Stop and reflect. What are you looking for? To change careers? Broaden your marketing skills? Build your brand? Have fun? Earn extra money? Getting clear about what it is you’re looking for is a sensible place to start.
  2. Can you partially or fully meet your needs by completing the course? In other words, does the course match your needs?
  3. Do the benefits of the course justify your investment of time and money? Unless your goal is to turn social media into a hobby that pays off emotionally, not financially, your course needs to help you develop money making skills that justify the cost. Please be wary of courses or systems that promise quick or easy results.
  4. How qualified are you to pursue the path you wish to take? Do you have the prerequisites to complete the course and follow through on your plans?
  5. Are you motivated enough? I’ve stated before that the  social media learning curve is steep, and results aren’t quickly obtained. You need the mindset of a marathoner to succeed. Look at your track record. If you can persevere over a long period of time and follow through, you might succeed. Otherwise, resist committing to a long-term social marketing plan.
  6. How qualified and reliable are the instructors? Do they walk the talk? Have they demonstrated the ability to do what you yourself would like to do? Can they provide references?
  7. Can you afford to lose your investment? If the course costs more than you can afford to lose, discuss your options with friends and advisers before making a decision. Listen carefully to their recommendations.

You should be able to apply the same or similar criteria to evaluate affiliate marketing, network marketing, search engine marketing or SEO courses.

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13 Responses to “7 Questions to Ask Before Signing Up for Social Media Training”

  1. Marita Roebkes on October 1st, 2009 1:03 am

    The best way of making an intelligent choice before you sign up for a training, class, course - talk to previous and current students - connect with them, follow, get their experience, get the sentiments in the social world, read the students blogs, their comments and then decide.


  2. Larry Brauner on October 1st, 2009 1:14 am

    I agree Marita that much can be learned by speaking with current and past students when that’s possible.

    However, it’s as important to examine one’s own needs, capabilities and inner motivation to make a proper decision.

  3. Vance Sova on October 1st, 2009 2:03 am

    Hi Larry,

    The warning in your article is very timely, and the “7 Questions to Ask Before Signing Up for Social Media Training” or any training are excellent.

    We all would like to have the skills that will bring in big money, and we all want to believe that what we’re told and promised is true.

    I find that promises are often overstated as compared to an average student results, and the time and energy required to learn such skills are grossly understated.

    Since only 2% of people end up as a success months or years after the training it seems obvious that the caution you advise is needed.

    There are also the students who are not often committed or ready enough to do all that is necessary to succeed.

    That is why considering the cost is so wise before plunging in.


  4. Steve on October 1st, 2009 9:11 am

    Larry, thanks for the reasoned approach to this topic. These are some very helpful guidelines. I had to go through a season of signing up for things without thinking through my objectives. I’ve become more conservative since then.

  5. Debbie Morgan on October 1st, 2009 10:33 pm

    Hi Larry!

    Thanks for the thought provoking questions. My answers would be no, no and no. I enjoy it to the extent I’m involved, but I’m not interested in taking a course in it.


  6. The PRagmatist » Blog Archive » Is Social Media Training Right for You? on October 3rd, 2009 4:26 pm

    […] you decide of social media training is going to be beneficial? Social marketer Larry Brauner has a seven-question litmus test to determine if you will get what you need from a social media training program. I want to share […]

  7. I.C. Jackson on October 6th, 2009 10:53 am

    This is an excellent post - something all social media newbies should read.

    Social media training can be very helpful to online marketers and networkers, but only if the trainee is a proper candidate for online success. It takes skill and dedication to be successful at social media marketing and online social networking. Training courses can teach one the skills, but if the trainee is not dedicated to building a solid online presence and working continuously to connect with others, those skills will go to waste.

    Thank you for bringing this truth to light and helping your readers to “count up the costs” before plunging into social media training programs that they might not be ready for.

  8. carol on October 12th, 2009 7:15 am

    Thank you Larry for sharing this with us.

    I haven’t gotten as far as enrolling myself to a social media class, but I have had my fair share of these so-called “marketing gurus.”

    What I don’t like is that they keep on telling people what “something new” they have in-store for us only to serve almost the same type of dish every single time. Really, it amazes me.

  9. Larry Brauner on October 12th, 2009 10:16 am


    I have avoided calling myself a marketing guru, since I prefer not to be associated with the many charlatans selling their products on the web.

    Instead I have chosen to demonstrate my expertise by exposing my ideas to the public through my articles and by walking the talk as well.

    Some of the so-called gurus are legitimate and have a lot to contribute. I recently subscribed to Joel Comm’s TopOne Magazine, because I like to pick the brains of top experts in their fields.

    The important thing is to get beyond the hype. Figure out what you need to succeed, and ask yourself how well a particular training program or consultant will likely meet your need.

  10. Jeff Moriarty on December 28th, 2009 1:21 pm

    My biggest question has always been about the instructors. I am heavily into SEO and PPC, but haven’t had a lot of experience with social marketing and would want to learn from someone that does this actively and has been in the game for quite some time. Right now I just talk to people at the conferences.

  11. Magda on April 3rd, 2011 6:49 pm

    Excellent, common sense really but you know what Mark Twain said about that. I think the first commenter said it best - contact past students of the program you’re considering, and ask them about it. If you can get an employer to foot the bill, better yet!

  12. Ramiz on April 22nd, 2011 1:22 pm

    Hello, thankful to one and all those who are behind the success of social media networking. Now a days community sites like Facebook, Orkut, Hi5, LinkedIn, Twitter brought a great boom for the social media networking. Google plays an important role for the growth of social media networking by promoting the community sites. As a social media network student I found my way to build my career.. Thanks

  13. Bob Harvey on September 9th, 2011 12:02 pm

    Really good tips. For me, #5 is really worth remembering. It’s so easy to buy into the story and think “I should do this”, forgetting that just reading the material or listening to the MP3’s isn’t going to get it done. It’s the commitment and followthrough that gets it done,– and that’s the hard part, when there so many competing interesting things you could work on.

    I have to constantly tell myself to focus on what I’m already doing until it’s working as well as I want it to, before I go chasing some other good idea.

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