Digital marketing is a rapidly expanding segment of the marketing field; so much so that that the term “digital” has become somewhat superfluous. To successfully market any product or service in our "plugged-in" society, one typically needs to employ internet and social-media driven campaigns.
Consultant LeeAnne Berlinsky was aware of this cultural shift when she was looking to promote her experiential leadership retreats. As a modern entrepreneur, she was accustomed to promoting her professional endeavors online, but was unsure of the best avenue for each aspect of her business. Realizing that she needed to learn more about different social media channels, she enrolled in the Digital Marketing and Social Media workshop offered through the College of Charleston JobBridge initiative.
The Digital Marketing and Social Media workshop consists of a series introductory level seminars, offering students a general overview of online marketing and advertising practices. As with all of the programs offered through the JobBridge initiative, the boot-camp-style workshop is designed to give students a practical and immediately-applicable skill set, while also establishing a foundation upon which they can further build. “I felt like we touched on so many different topics,” says Berlinsky. “The [course] was a broad enough overview that it allowed me to understand what kinds of questions I needed to ask if I were hiring someone to help me. [Yet] in some cases, it was an in-depth enough experience that I could do [the marketing] myself.”
The workshop is one of the oldest and most highly-attended programs offered through the JobBridge initiative, and - although targeted to small-business owners and entrepreneurs - can help bridge a critical skills-gap found among both college students and marketing industry veterans. “The program has a mix of "digital natives" (people who grew up in the internet era), as well as people who have been in the marketing workforce for years, coming from a more traditional background,” explains Rivers Pearce, who serves as both program facilitator and instructor. “… [Digital natives] aren’t necessarily well-versed in how to leverage [social media] channels for marketing and advertising purposes. While the folks with traditional backgrounds have experience in general marketing principles, they may not know the general ‘how to’ of the social channels.” The workshop seminars have been tailored to meet the needs of both of the aforementioned groups, with instructors preparing curricula that meet the needs of students on both ends of the spectrum. Students have the opportunity to put the course material to immediate use, through exercises designed to help formulate a brand identity, and design a marketing strategy. Although the curriculum has had to evolve with industry changes, the basic components have remained static: in addition to a survey of digital marketing practices, local industry experts guide students through a range of methods and applications, including content creation, search engine optimization, and analytics. The workshop has evolved since it was first offered in 2014, with changes incuding the replacement of a previously-offered seminar on Facebook advertising, with a broader survey of social media advertising strategies. “Based on feedback from the students, we decided to expand it out to cover more of a general Social Media 101, and include other relevant networks like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.,” says Pearce. “The reason for this is that while Facebook is the most popular social network, it's obviously not the only one; … businesses need to reach their customer audience wherever they are online.”
Upon completing the Digital Marketing and Social Media workshop, LeeAnne Berlinksy not only learned how to best reach her customer base, but was able to create her own Facebook advertisement, and implement changes to her online strategy. “ The course was very clear on what types of things people can do with Search Engine Optimization, and the analytics and ad-words helped me to monitor my own website. Regardless of your tech-savvy, you'll come away with key learnings that you can apply tomorrow.”
Berlinksy’s experience illustrates what course facilitator Pearce hopes that students will gain from their participation. “I ultimately hope that students come away from the course with at least a few tactical things that they can implement into their business and/or marketing strategy immediately,” he says. On the School of Professional Studies' plan to develop more in-depth digital marketing courses, such as the Google Analytics and Google AdWords seminars held this past March, Pearce offers, “… I hope that [students] are excited enough about the subject(s) to want to dig into things further. I've found that with digital marketing, some people get really into it… Those are the "light bulb" moments we're trying to achieve…”
Spaces are still available in the upcoming session of the Digital Marketing and Social Media workshop. Seminars will be held at the College of Charleston North Campus location, May 17-18, 2017.