media update spoke to Digital Marketing Academy founder, Dylan Kohlstädt, about why the academy was launched, staying up-to-date with social media, and how she herself leverages YouTube for brand success.

The Digital Marketing Academy (DMA): When was it launched and for what purpose?

I launched the DMA with the sole purpose of educating South African entrepreneurs and marketing managers in the little known, and highly critical, skills of digital marketing and social media. We’ve found that there is a big gap in the understanding of these platforms, how to use them, which to use, when, and how to get them to generate results.

Because I also own and run Shift ONE, a digital and social media agency, we are able to take all the working knowledge that we’ve acquired in the six years we’ve been in business and teach our students all the shortcuts and tips and tricks to get your campaigns to generate results.

The other gap we identified is that people don’t want to be trained online, but that, when it comes to digital marketing and social media training, people are looking for a face-to-face training environment, where they can ask questions and learn at their level and at their own pace.

Our courses are all face-to-face at this stage. Next year, we will offer the option of watching videos online and learning the same content from anywhere in the world, but our specialty is always going to be face-to-face.

How prominent does social media feature in the course and what are some of the most important points you try to get across about it during the course?

It’s definitely the most popular course. Because it’s the newest discipline, I think people don’t understand how to use it, how to make it work, or how to make sales from it. We go through the top platforms in a lot of detail, covering do’s and don’ts, what works and what doesn’t, so students are left with a clear roadmap on how to use social media effectively, depending on their goals.

The world of digital marketing evolves at a breakneck pace. What is your advice to digital marketers for staying informed and keeping their skills up to date with the latest developments?

You have to read something every day, take at least 20 minutes to go onto Flipboard and read one to three articles. Without that, you won’t keep up.

You’re active on YouTube, with the #AskDK show and other clips. What do your YouTube activities include?

We recently started turning the Dylan Kohlstädt brand into an online influencer, with a strong focus on YouTube and Instagram. On YouTube, we have a few different shows. One where we interview top entrepreneurs and influencers (AskDK), one where you just follow me around (DKDaily), and then a mix of other things. The main thing with YouTube is to just start making videos, and to do it as often as you can. You don’t have to hire a video team, although that’s the way we went. You can do it on the cheap and for yourself. But YouTube is the way to go.

Your YouTube presence focuses on you as an individual, rather than on the company or brand. What is your goal with your presence on YouTube and with focusing on the individual rather than the business?

Social media is best when used for an individual, and not for brands. If you have a brand where you can build a profile around a person, then it will always have more connection, especially if it’s a service or B2B brand.

We’ve launched, a service whereby we turn CEOs into social media thought leaders, get them a following, and turn them into influencers. Once you have a following, they will buy whatever you sell, because they support and believe in you, so once we’ve profiled the CEO, their businesses also rise into the spotlight and, as their brand grows, so does that of their companies.

How effective is the platform in helping to promote Shift ONE?

It’s done wonders for the business – the more well-known I become, the better the level of clients Shift ONE takes on, so it’s a win-win situation.

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As noted by Kohlstadt, social media can be intimidating. However, there are techniques you can use immediately to add that digital edge to your branding on social. Read more in our article, Six things marketers should be doing on social media.