Has this ever happened to you in your small business? You want to get the word out about a sale or a new product, and you’ve heard Facebook is a good way to reach customers. You create what you think is a good post and then pay to “boost” it. Then, nothing. No sales. No new customers. Nothing.
Social media: used right, it can be one of the most potent platforms for targeted advertising. But it can be daunting for small businesses to use effectively. That’s why Facebook created “Blueprint” – a learning platform for small businesses. This week, Blueprint reached two milestones: one million enrollees in their online courses and launching a certification program for digital advertising professionals.
Blueprint is not just for small businesses. Not-for-profit organizations, such as Project Healing Waters, have used Blueprint to increase their social media presence. An innovative organization dedicated to helping rehabilitate disabled veterans through fly fishing and other outdoor recreation, Project Healing Waters wanted to let disabled and wounded veterans know about activities in their 21 regions. But while they knew a lot about tying flies, they were stymied when it came to how to use Facebook effectively.
“We recently used Blueprint to great success at our first National Program Rendezvous,” said Daniel Morgan, Director of Communications for Project Healing Waters. “The elearning courses, coupled with a series of breakout sessions, successfully helped more than 30 Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Program(s) not only create Pages but successfully manage them as well. This increased not only our footprint in these communities, but also aided in increased fundraising opportunities and veteran outreach to those who could benefit from our unique form of therapy.”
“Blueprint is particularly helpful for small businesses because it is straightforward on how to get up to speed and achieve their goals on both Facebook and Instagram,” said Katherine Shappley, Facebook’s Director of Small Business. “Blueprint is applicable to any business that is looking to achieve objectives in a digital way. If you’re looking to drive awareness of your brand, you can find programs to achieve that. If you want to focus on direct response and driving leads, you can focus on that.”
Facebook’s Blueprint now has three components:
- Blueprint eLearning center – More than 50 online video modules, in nine languages, covering topics including targeting your advertising, creating better ads, and using analytics.
- Blueprint Live – In-person training events, aimed at digital marketing professionals.
- Blueprint Certification – A series of lessons and two proctored exams, leading to the certificate of “Facebook Certified Planning Professional.” This costs $200.
Facebook Blueprint is aimed at three types of individuals and small businesses:
- Small businesses, not-for-profits, and their employees. These can use Blueprint videos and training to learn how to use Facebook more effectively. There’s no cost, and you can access videos any time. To date, 73% of the million enrollees of Blueprint courses have been small businesses.
- Advertising and communication agencies. Employees of marketing agencies can use both the online programs and, if available, Blueprint Live, to improve and certify their digital marketing capabilities. This can help them attract, retain, and better serve clients.
- Individuals who want to improve their social media marketing capabilities.
One of the most interesting components of Blueprint is the opportunity the Certification program offers. If you’ve been looking for a way to launch a business or improve your career possibilities – and you’re reasonably intelligent and not afraid of technology – this may open a path.
Today, a growing number of companies need help managing their social media presence. They have difficulty finding consultants or employees who know how to use platforms like Facebook and Instagram effectively. By mastering Facebook’s advertising tools and gaining the Facebook credential, you can improve your chance of being hired or launching a small digital marketing business. After you go through the Blueprint online training program and successfully complete two exams, you receive a verified badge you can post on your website, your LinkedIn page, put on your business card.
To get started on Facebook Blueprint, all you need is a Facebook account. You may want to start with the top five courses used by small businesses:
- Welcome to Marketing on Facebook
- Facebook Terminology
- Successful Campaigns
- Brand Best Practices
- Ads Create Tool
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2016
This article originally ran in USA Today on September 14, 2016