Nearing on 18 months ago, Twitter unveiled their training program for agencies called (cleverly enough) 'Twitter Flight School'. Flight School aimed to take the mystery out of the platform, covering everything agency staffers would need to know to develop Twitter marketing campaigns for clients, including best practices, case studies and other reference material to help guide them on the path. The program even came with a series of tests to help ensure users were across the essential details an understood how to utilize the platform to best effect. Initial participants included Starcom, MediaVest, WPP and Omnicom.
Flight School proved immensely popular, with more than 15,000 staffers from major agencies taking part and completing the online coursework. The program has proved so successful in fact that Twitter's decided to expand it, announcing this week that Flight School is now open to the people, with the platform offering the program for free, and in 16 different languages.
So is it any good? I'm happy to say that I'm now a Twitter Flight School graduate, and as such, I'm able to provide an overview of how it works and the education it provides.
Here's what I found.
Flight School's a standalone app that requires your Twitter log-in credentials to access - you allow it permission to sign you in and Twitter will keep track of your details so you can save your progress and re-visit as you need. The program's broken up into modules, all of which give you a time estimate for completion before you jump in - the first module, 'Twitter 101', for example, is estimated to take around 10 minutes to complete.
The program starts from the very basics, defining what Twitter is, how Twitter works, and the elements that make up a tweet.
The lessons then move onto how brands are using Twitter, what data shows about Twitter's capacity to influence consumer choices and the many different ways tweets can be used in the marketing process.
It's interesting stuff, but as noted, it really is Twitter 101 - there's nothing overly surprising or unexpected, and anyone with any familiarity with the platform at all will likely be able to skip these early lessons. And fortunately enough, you can do just that - Flight School gives you an option to jump right to the final test for each section (called 'Flight Check') so you can answer the necessary questions and move onto the next element.
And while the idea of a test is great as a means of confirming retention of the information you've just absorbed, some of the questions do seem a bit easy.
The answer's kind of obvious right? While this isn't the case in every question set, I did notice on quite a few that the correct answer would be easy to ascertain even if you weren't 100% sure.
But of course, it's not all about the test, cheating or guessing your way through it won't help - Flight School's designed to help you learn more about how to maximize Twitter, so it's in your interests to be paying attention and taking it in. The test is just an engagement and reminder device, it's not designed to give you a final grade, as such.
If you do happen to get one wrong, Flight School lets you know, then lets you continue on your way with the incorrect response removed.
Once you're done with the basics, Flight School moves into the depth of Twitter audiences and tactics, with a range of lessons looking at more advanced marketing and targeting, with examples for each.
There's some really good stuff in here, some great lessons that explain the many ways Twitter marketing can be utilized and maximized, and it's likely that at least some of it will be new info, especially to those less familiar with the platform. These advanced tactics are where the core strength of Twitter - and social platforms more generally - lies, in using the audience data and insights available to reach the right people at the right time. Even if you're just running through the test to refresh your knowledge, it's worth looking through the options and examples to ensure you're familiar with all the elements.
Flight School also includes questions embedded into the lessons to keep users engaged and put them in the position of a marketer to see if they're getting a grasp of the options.
At the completion of all modules you get a badge which you can display on your e-mail signature or LinkedIn profile, and a printable certificate, along with instructions on how you can fold it into a paper plane (?).
All up, Twitter says the course takes around an hour to complete, and it's worth doing, whether you just want to refresh your knowledge or ensure you're up to date on all things tweet. Of course, I like to think I know a thing or two about Twitter, so I tried to burn through it all as fast as I could, and it is possible to complete it in much less than an hour, if you're not trying to learn. Fun, but not really the purpose.
One other cool element of note - once you've completed all the coursework, you get access to a whole range of case studies and research to read through, providing some solid, in-depth data to help grow your understanding and better construct your own Twitter strategy.
Worth the Paper it's Printed On?
All in all, I'd say Twitter's Flight School is worth it, and definitely if you're not familiar with Twitter marketing and want to get a better understanding of the possibilities, the course is highly recommended. And while it does start out necessarily basic, it gets more in-depth - there are some strong and valuable insight here, some good lessons to be learned. The information is presented in an easy to digest, user-friendly format that works to keep you engaged and present the necessary information in a flowing, intuitive way.
The only thing definitely requires improvement is Twitter needs to update their certificates and badges - if you're keen on showing off your new tweet credentials, you might be disheartened to find that they show up with last year's date.
It's obviously nothing major, but for those that want to promote their new found knowledge, it'd be ideal to highlight just how up to date you really are.
Twitter's Flight School is now open all users here.