Social media marketing course at WMA World Media Academy Dubai

Last week I took a social media marketing course at the World Media Academy in Dubai. It was every evening over the course of a week and cost 1500dhs. I asked to be sent by my company as I am in charge of the PR and social media there. Having worked in social media since 2009 I’ve only been self-taught till now, as I’ve read tons about it and have looked after several different types of campaigns for brands, personalities, festivals and films on a contract basis. I’ve always wanted to know how others do it and grasped the opportunity when this class popped up in an email from a LinkedIn Dubai media networking group I’m part of (go figure). I was curious to see how this class would be and promptly began harassing the coordinator about the course content. I’ve seen plenty of ads for social media marketing classes around Toronto and Dubai, but I’ve been skeptical of being sold social media snake oil. Whenever agencies and consultants pitch to me on social media support no one answers my [endless] questions or tells me the HOWs to building a huge, thriving community online. So I was hoping this class could show me that.

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Ian Tonge was the instructor for our social media marketing course. He has experience working on social media and digital projects for brands in the UAE and in the UK, as well as experience working at the BBC. Over the course of the week he shared a lot of his insight and practical knowledge of social media with the class.

Starts with Facebook
He started with how to use the largest social network, Facebook, to the fullest. He showed us useful links and websites that would help us develop content and contests for our social networks. The course soon moved into how to write content using a unique voice, how to plan a calendar for our social strategy and how to support our content with advertising. Although there was a lot of focus on Facebook, he also touched upon strategically writing content for YouTube and using Twitter and Instagram hash tags to reach out to people. We looked at insights together and related them back to our activity so everyone could understand how much content dictates engagement.

E-commerce and Google advertising
E-commerce, creating your own payment gateway and using Google Adwords also took up one class. Although I don’t typically work directly with our brand’s Ecommerce team I found it encouraging to create within minutes our own payment gateway which could be linked to social. This made me feel I could easily start something up online if I link my PayPal account with my WordPress page and my social media networks. Obviously my wheels started rolling and I’ve begun looking for a guinea pig project where I can create a shop online and start promoting it. Just for fun. Since i get enough sleep as it is. I’ve also never worked on a Google Adwords campaign from the backend and think this will be useful in future digital projects.

Community Management
We also talked about online reputation management, which is where I saw the greatest divide in style and approach. Each person had a different way of dealing with aggression or unexpected interactions in communities and I learned new ways to communicate with mine. I guess I’ve grown set in my habits and it was refreshing to hear others’ reasoning.

I appreciated the class because I got to hear Ian’s valuable feedback to other students on how to improve their voices in community management and how to support their projects to the fullest through a combination of social advertising and content. Although I’ve run promotions and contests on social myself already I still had questions and wanted to know how Ian and the other students felt I should proceed on some upcoming projects. Ian had pretty solid answers to my questions and had done a lot of similar work to me so I felt like we were on the same wavelength. He really knew what he was talking about and I think this is because he is directly working in the field and not just talking about it like so many others out there.

I now feel my existing understanding of social has a little bit more structure and foundation thanks to this class, and I wholly recommend it to people starting out in social and seeking ways to tie up their communities. It’s a practical, well-rounded course with a healthy mix of hands-on learning. I hope they develop more classes in social media for other levels of understanding. Let me know if you attend any of these classes — I believe there’s one next month!

Here’s a photo of my classmates and I on our last day — we each took an online social media understanding test and got certificates…I know I’m a geek but you don’t understand how much fun this class was for me!

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