How To Run a Social Media Marketing Workshop: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need

Workshops are a great way to tackle your most pressing social media challenges. Learn how to run an awesome social media workshop in this expert guide.

Social media is one of the most important aspects of a brand’s digital presence. It opens up dialog with existing and prospective customers, conveys brand values and personality, and helps to establish industry authority. 

It’s extremely important. And, if we’re honest, it can be a nightmare to coordinate. 

With so many different channels and moving parts to consider, getting it right is a huge challenge. Social media marketing has to be a truly collaborative effort—and it needs to be informed by a solid social media strategy. 

So how can you get stakeholders aligned and develop a sustainable social media calendar? Or generate fresh content ideas? 

Whatever challenge(s) you’re facing with your social media efforts, a workshop can help. In this guide, we’ll show you how to run an awesome social media marketing workshop, giving you everything you need to supercharge your social presence. 

We’ve got:

  1. Why you should run a social media workshop: The challenges and goals it can help you with
  2. An easy-to-follow 7-step guide on how to plan and run a social media workshop
  3. Additional resources to guide and inspire you

Let’s go!

What exactly is a workshop, and why should you run one for social media? 

Workshops are facilitated group sessions that bring different stakeholders together to solve a specific problem. They’re an extremely effective tool for filtering out busy work and focusing on a single issue to rapidly find solutions. 

Workshops bring many heads together for a diversity of perspectives and ideas. They foster collaboration and creativity in a way that regular meetings, Slack discussions, and email chains cannot. And, most importantly, they’re actually enjoyable to attend. 

That’s right. Workshops are pretty much unbeatable when it comes to getting sh*t done. 

We could go on forever about why they’re so great—and, if you’re not yet convinced, watch the video below where AJ&Smart’s Jonathan Courtney dives deeper into what a workshop is (and what it isn’t).

Why run a social media workshop?

You can use workshops to tackle all sorts of problems and challenges—be it defining a product strategy, smoothing out collaboration issues, or coming up with new content ideas. The list is truly endless.

When it comes to social media marketing, there are countless ways in which a workshop can supercharge your content and optimize workflows. Here are just some of the many reasons you might choose to hold a social media workshop:

  • To generate fresh topics and content ideas
  • To devise a social media calendar
  • To define or improve certain workflows or processes (e.g. to optimize how the social media manager, copywriter(s), and designer(s) work together to produce social content)
  • To develop an overarching social media strategy
  • To create a social media branding and style guide
  • To define success metrics for different types of social media content
  • To run competitor analysis

…and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. 

Ultimately, whatever challenges you’re facing around the topic of social media marketing, a workshop can help you to tackle them collaboratively and creatively.

So, without further ado: Let’s unleash the power of the mighty social media workshop!

Get an introduction to facilitation and workshops

How To Run a Successful Social Media Workshop: Your 7-Step Plan

Ready to run an awesome social media workshop? Follow these 7 steps and you’ll have it in the bag. 

1. Figure out the what, why, and who

The key to a successful social media workshop is to have a clearly defined purpose. Before you do anything else, you need to figure out the what, why, and who: 

  • What is the goal of your social media workshop? Think about what you want to achieve. What problem do you want to solve, and what outcomes and deliverables (tangible or otherwise) do you want to end up with?
  • Why is it important to tackle this particular issue? Why, how, and where will it bring value?
  • Who should attend the workshop? Whose ideas, perspectives, and insights do you need? Who should have a say in the matter? Likely candidates for a social media workshop include the social media manager, someone from the content/copywriting team, a rep for the design team, and the person responsible for the overarching social media strategy—but it ultimately depends on the topic of your workshop. 

As you answer these questions, aim to keep your focus narrow. Social media marketing is a vast and multifaceted space, so don’t fall into the trap of trying to tackle multiple things at once. Only with a clear, specific goal can you achieve concrete outcomes. 

2. Get stakeholder buy-in

You’ve scoped out the fundamentals of your social media workshop, and you know who you want on the guest list. Now you need to convince them not only to turn up, but to come engaged, enthused, and ready to get stuck in. 

Think of this step as your value proposition. You want to clearly and succinctly communicate the value of this particular workshop. What’s in it for them? What big wins can they expect, and in what timeframe? How will it help them achieve their goals and/or improve their day-to-day work? 

You can do this by sending a well-crafted email, sharing a brief presentation deck, or via a quick video call. Think about what style of communication your stakeholders will welcome the most; you want their buy-in, after all. 

Whatever approach you choose, just be sure to highlight the value and benefits front and center. 

3. Plan your agenda

Spend ample time drafting, revisiting, and refining your workshop agenda until you’ve got it spot on. Here are our top tips for writing a solid workshop agenda:

For more advice, check out this guide on how to write an effective agenda for your next meeting or workshop.

Learn how you can become a high-paid facilitator

4. Pick your workshop exercises

The exercises you choose for your social media workshop will depend on what kind of challenge you want to tackle. Whatever the goal of your workshop, you’ll need to incorporate the right exercises and activities to achieve your desired outcomes. 

If you’re not sure how to format your social media workshop, here are two of our favorite exercises to get you started. 

The Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)

This is AJ&Smart’s signature approach to workshopping, and it’s excellent for solving tricky problems without all the typical back-and-forth and inconclusive discussions. 

In a nutshell, the Lightning Decision Jam:

  • Is a group exercise which takes about 40 minutes in total
  • Offers a clear and structured process for making decisions, fast
  • Is broken down into 9 short exercises, starting with problem definition and ending with solutions and actionable tasks
  • Requires nothing more than Post-it notes, pens, voting dots (stickers or digital), and some background music of your choice

You’ll find absolutely everything you need to implement the Lightning Decision Jam on our LDJ resource page, including a handy video tutorial and a printable step-by-step guide. 

10 for 10 brainstorming exercise

For an even quicker brainstorming exercise, try the 10 for 10 method. This is an extremely lightweight, solution-focused way to generate ideas for pretty much any challenge or scenario. 

In a nutshell, the 10 for 10 exercise:

  • Takes literally 10 minutes!
  • Is broken down into 4 simple steps: Generate, Curate, Vote, and Arrange
  • Turns the topic you want to brainstorm into a “How Might We” question, keeping the group focused on solutions and outcomes
  • Requires just sticky notes, pens, voting dots, and a timer

You’ll find a complete guide showing you how to run the 10 for 10 brainstorm here

5. Tools & supporting materials at the ready 

Whether you’re running an online workshop, an in-person session, or a hybrid workshop, you’ll need the right tools to hand. 

For a remote social media marketing workshop, you’ll want a collaborative whiteboard tool like Miro or FigJam. Then, depending on your chosen exercises, you might need pen, paper and/or sticky notes, as well as templates for specific activities.

In terms of supporting materials, prepare anything your participants will need to take part in the workshop. For example, if part of the workshop involves reviewing past social media content, put together a slide deck with screenshots and links. If you want to use the workshop to review your competitors’ social content, have some examples at the ready. 

6. Keep attendees engaged and energized

The best workshop facilitators know how to keep participants engaged and energized throughout. It’s natural that people will get distracted, start to zone out, or grow a bit fidgety, so have some techniques at the ready to recapture their attention. 

Consider:

  • Shaking things up with a physical activity—for example, instructing everyone to move seats/position 
  • Playing a quickfire game which requires people to think on the spot
  • Putting something unexpected in your slide deck, like an unrelated photo or video
  • Interspersing a few upbeat songs throughout your playlist 

And, as we mentioned already, build breaks into your agenda. Workshopping is thirsty work, so give your participants time to recharge. 

7. End with clear outcomes and action points

The purpose of running a workshop instead of a meeting is to come up with actionable solutions. So, to ensure your social media workshop is a success, leave your participants with concrete outcomes and action points. 

Bear in mind that outcomes and action points doesn’t necessarily mean a finished product or the ultimate solution to your workshop challenge. It can also be the next steps that are required in order to move things forward and help the group progress towards their ideal state.

For example: Let’s say you’re running a workshop to kick-start the creation of a social media style guide. You won’t end the workshop with a fully-fledged style guide, but you’ll have reached a consensus on things like tone of voice and emoji usage. Possible action points for after the workshop could be for the social media manager to draft the “tone of voice” section of the style guide and share it with others for review. 

Every workshop is unique, and so are the outcomes. The most important thing is to make sure that what’s achieved in the workshop is translated into real-world action and impact. 

Follow those 7 steps and you’ve got yourself a productive, effective social media workshop. Woohoo! 

Additional tools & resources to help you nail your social media workshop

What else do you need for a successful social media workshop? Here are some additional tools and resources to guide and inspire you:

We hope this guide has given you a good springboard for planning your social media workshop. For more workshop tips and advice, check out the Workshopper blog

Emily Stevens