This blog post will seem out of context for the usual followers of Grow Lotty Grow, but it will explain why I’ve been so quiet on the Garden Blogging front for the past six months.
In September 2017, I began a course called the Digital Mums social media associates programme. It’s twenty-four weeks of hands-on social media strategy and community management training. I decided to do the course two years ago, while I was building social media marketing strategy for Andrex as a freelance. I’d been applying my generalist marketing expertise to social media and it was working, but I wanted to gain a real qualification in the field and prove to myself that I could actually run a client’s social media, rather than developing the birds eye strategic view and then standing back to let someone else write the posts and tweets.
So on the exact day that I had both my children in full time education for the first time, allowing me to concentrate and get the most from the training, I took the plunge and got started on the course.
I kept a record of my progress of the course via Twitter. I have second account, for my business life, and here I tweeted a weekly update in each and every week of the course. Below are those tweets. It shows what a rollercoaster the course was.
When I started the course I was very excited but I didn’t really know what to expect. In week one I didn’t yet know my peer group, or my case study client, or anything about the course material in the weeks and months ahead. The course is a bit of a black box, you only get access to the course material one week ahead of you. And at that point I decided to keep this week-by-week diary, as I thought it would be useful to potential and future Digital Mums, so they would have a heads-up on what to expect each week.
In week two, I met my peer group for the first time. Four fabulous ladies, without whom I would have literally have pulled my hair out at some point during the course. Having the support of a cohort was invaluable. We were on Whatsapp together pretty much every day for the six months and we enjoyed Google hangouts every single Tuesday, sometimes chatting until way past our bedtimes.
Week 2 of #digitalmums social media associate course. What’s been happening?
– I’ve heard “Hi, Kathryn from DigitalMums here” 15 times & have started replying
– I’ve met my peer group 🤗
– I know who my client is & I’m excited
– I have 280 twitter characters
– New allotment 🌼s pic.twitter.com/ofUGwTuSpm
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 3 October 2017
In week three, I met my “Programme Partner” or client for the first time. My client was Andrew G. Marshall, who claims to be the UK’s best-known marital therapist. I was quite shocked at first, as I’d expected a gift shop or sport-clothes brand, or a coffee shop or something. My first thought was: “Who is going to reveal their marriage problems on Facebook!?”
Week 3 of #digitalmums social media associate course. What’s going on?
– completed SM audit of client
– mandatory strategy call thwarted by EE network problems 😫
– received copies of clients books as inspiration 📖
– competitor audit & personas to write👩💻
– more flaars!😍 pic.twitter.com/ILtMSC0d4h
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 10 October 2017
Week 4 of #DigitalMums social media associate course. What’s going on?
– sickness bug struck 🤢
– competitor audit ✅
– strategy call with client ✅
– important user personas report with client for sign off 😬
– weekly update calls with client booked 📞
– massive flowers! 🌸🌺🌼 pic.twitter.com/cWkDhComZ9
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 17 October 2017
Week 5 of #DigitalMums social media associate course. What’s going on?
– Half term last week 👩👧👦💆🏼
– Tone of voice assignment submitted 🗣
– Learnt about gifs and emojis 😀
– Trick or treating for #halloween tonight
– Pumpkin vase for allotment flowers 🎃🌼 pic.twitter.com/xsi7zfdsxC
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 31 October 2017
Week 6 of #DigitalMums social media associate course. What’s going on?
– Argh! 😫😡😭having a tough week
– 1 ton of coursework read
– Working on draft 1 of social media campaign
– Campaign hook agreed with client 🎣✅
– Brain and desk a mess 🙇🏼♀️ pic.twitter.com/ZZIMoCiT0Y
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 9 November 2017
At around week seven I realised that social media marketing strategy and planning is not that different from what I had been doing as a marketing generalist in my 16 year career to date. There was nothing mind-blowingly new in the course material, it was just taking what I knew from marketing strategy from my career to date and applying it with a social media twist. Personas, hooks, marketing objectives – it’s all stuff I lived and breathed in my previous office-based life, but recognising the process and applying it to a real business purely in a social media context was refreshing and fun. This was my real a-ha moment in the course. It was a great experience to complete these assignments with such focus and I realised “I can do this!”
Week 7 of #DigitalMums social media associate course. What’s going on?
– Feeling more in control 👩💻
– Critiqued 2 x peer campaigns (fab hooks, well done ladies 👏🏻)
– Refined my campaign based on peer critiques (thanks for the great input)
– Helleborus & olive leaf posie 🍃 pic.twitter.com/dIrIKNn65K
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 16 November 2017
Week 8 of #DigitalMums social media associate course. I’m one third through! 😮
– Draft campaign plan submitted to @DigitalMumsHQ for review this week.
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 21 November 2017
Week 9 of #DigitalMums social media associate course. What’s going on?
– Draft 3 of social campaign plan sent to my programme partner for first time for review.
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 30 November 2017
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 8 December 2017
– Finally working on client social channels. Improved profile info (copy & images) for Facebook & Twitter
– 2 weeks holiday starting now 🎅🎄 pic.twitter.com/4l4AoPXt4I
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 15 December 2017
– Kids back to school, but I’m laid up with a migraine 🤕
– #workthatworks means I can do some coursework from bed!
– Completed assignment brand pie chart! Content themes segmented ✅ pic.twitter.com/OKud5ktH3G
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 5 January 2018
– Have got into the swing of 2018
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 11 January 2018
– Proposed 10 pieces of external content to client: 9/10 👍
– Found 20 extra influencers who post great content 📝
– Starting to schedule content for testing 🗓
– Tried out FB live video myself 🤳🏻 pic.twitter.com/ABd1EuPirs
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 19 January 2018
– Content creative signed off by client ✅
– Testing weeks start next week & I’m in scheduling hell! I’ve scheduled 30 posts for Twitter and 11 for Facebook.
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 26 January 2018
Week 16 was the week I finally revealed my campaign to the world. My campaign used Facebook and Twitter to help people in long-term relationships, who are feeling ‘I love you, but I’m not in love with you” to fall back in love. My campaign hashtag was #FallBackInLove, which was a direct link to Andrew G. Marshall’s book “Can we start again please: 20 Questions to help you fall back in love”.
– Programme partner campaign testing week 1 – it’s live!!! Check: @andrewgmarshall everyone!
– relentless content creation, curation, scheduling & some engaging
– measuring against baseline to set KPIs pic.twitter.com/bqF4feiKdw
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 1 February 2018
Around week 17 was when I hit what was the hardest part of the course for me. I found the constant need to curate externally produced content to be absolutely relentless. I worked every single spare hour of my week days and every Saturday morning for about five weeks solid. And when I emerged from the other side of that, I was exhausted. This was definitely the most challenging section of the course.
– testing week 2 underway, trying to pull out insights
– sourcing prize for campaign competition
– content creation, curating and scheduling continues to be relentless
– replaced my tea cup 🏆😂 pic.twitter.com/kz0BanJwQW
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 9 February 2018
– First live week of #FallBackInLove campaign
– Secured fab-u-lous prize for my upcoming competition: book bundle & award winning sparkling wine✨🥂
– Planning Twitter chat & FB Live for coming weeks pic.twitter.com/HbjlBblWtV
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 22 February 2018
– First FB live broadcast last night
– Competition is live: #GetTheSPARKLEBack
– Social advertising kicking off
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 1 March 2018
I think the Tweet-chat in week 20 of my course was the highlight of my campaign. I spent hours doing social outreach and networking with people who had written relevant content in the past and inviting them to participate in the chat. I met some lovely people via Twitter and lots of them turned up to my chat. I was really proud of how smoothly the chat hour ran itself, after setting it all up in Hootsuite in advance. And the results were amazing. Week 20 was my best performing week on Twitter, by far.
– Client & I hosting a tweet chat tonignt #ChildproofChat. Please join!
– Social ads are running.
– Assignment to critique a peer’s live campaign.
– Scheduling content continues a pace. pic.twitter.com/wdEgVeTO4z
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 7 March 2018
Week 21 of @DigitalMumsHQ associates course. What’s going on?
– 2nd FBlive planned this evening:https://t.co/0xiCJP4QC3
– I have now posted c.140 pieces of curated content, which means I read what, 500 articles on love?
– Reality of end of course starting to hit pic.twitter.com/E7vtuDW0nN
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 14 March 2018
– Penultimate week of campaign!
– Another FB live video planned for next Wednesday https://t.co/6r8LdzQpuj
– #FallBackInLove campaign summary post going on client’s blog next week
– Competition closed. pic.twitter.com/dLmioq2M62
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 22 March 2018
– Final campaign week. This is what 9 weeks of scheduling content looks like!
– Final FB live tonight at 8pm
– 2 weeks of Easter hols ahead, then just final report to write!
– Updating my LinkedIn etc pic.twitter.com/pGj48yIGP2
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 28 March 2018
– Written final report & client summary report📈
– Turning my weekly tweets into a blog post about my journey🎢
– Using 2 laptops now for efficiency 💻💻
– Excited about future!🤩pic.twitter.com/crXTtBHsf4
— Sarah at Sticky Bean (@sticky_bean) 19 April 2018
And then, all of a sudden, it’s over! I find out whether I’ve passed the course on Sunday the 6th of May.
I totally recommend the course. It’s been a fantastic learning experience and I’ve met some wonderful people through my peer group and other Digital Mums at other stages of their journey. I will certainly be keeping in touch with my peer group and I hope that we will continue to support each other as we start selling our social media skills in the real world. My confidence with social media strategy development and implementation has been boosted hugely and I have a great case study as a reference.
So where do I go from here? Well, tomorrow I hope to enjoy the sun at my allotment for the first time in yonks. Beyond that, I intend to apply my social media marketing skills to local businesses via trainings and short-term strategy development projects. I’d love to work in the horticultural space, but only time will tell.