Why it’s time for businesses to get serious about social media training for employees.
With 75% of consumers saying that social media influences their buying decisions, it has now become a no brainer for businesses to invest in a long term social media marketing plan. In fact, an effective and well developed social media strategy is vital for ongoing brand awareness and revenue generation.
With this in mind and with the explosion of social media usage, the considerable benefits for businesses to invest and develop in the training of social media skills for their employees is vital if the social media strategy is going to work.
The fact is that unless you train the correct staff to use the correct techniques your strategy will fail, or at the very least your business will remain stagnant and left behind by the colossus that is the social media audience. In this article, we will focus on why and how social media training for employees is key to the long term success of a business.
There are also some key points and tips to help you as a business owner understand what you need to empower and train your employees so that they can leverage social media effectively for the overall growth of your business or organisation.
Social media training can empower and help your sales team generate leads; and that’s just the beginning.
More and more businesses are now investing in development and support services for social media training for employees so that their sales team can use the various social media platforms to get new business and develop sales through platforms such as LinkedIn, twitter and Facebook. Employers are also grasping the fact they can effectively and efficiently recruit new personnel through social media, hence it is making more and more sense to develop a small but effective social media team who can help develop your business and brand across social media.
Reputation management is one of the growing necessities of a business’s social media policy and here also it is becoming increasingly necessary for social media managers to train employees how to deal with social media negativity and indifferent comments regarding the company and its brand. Managers must also be sure that their employees are not only conducting themselves on social media in a proper and appropriate manner, but that they are representing the brand of the organisation or business in accordance with their operational ethics and company policy.
What employee social media training should include
With over 42 million people in the UK projected to be using social media by the end of 2019 it is important that employees are trained how to use social media without minimising the consequences and risks to both themselves and their employer.
A basic understanding of social media advocacy and social media policy should be provided to employees by their employers. Areas of coverage for effective social media training and practise should include appropriate social networking; understanding of privacy settings; using and optimising social profiles effectively; and understanding the company’s social media policy.
Employees should also be trained on how to communicate and talk about their company and brand and understand privacy and dealing with backlash from comments which could ultimately be harmful to their employer and colleagues.
Social media training needs to be consistent, thorough and manageable for advocates.
Social media training should be conducted as and when new employees come into the business and in any event on a six monthly or annual basis, so that the latest processes and procedures are best understood by both social media managers and employees.
Perhaps the best way to strategize social media training would be to look at the departmental needs of a business. This would mean that the HR staff could have social media training focused on the correct processes to find new talent and employees and as mentioned previously, the sales department would learn specific training techniques on platforms such as LinkedIn for the relevant networking.
The profiles of delegated staff need to be thought out carefully so that they are made attractive to potential prospects. In any case, anybody using the social media platforms of their employer must be trained both effectively and appropriately in the correct social media processes and techniques.
It is recommended that larger companies and organisations should instruct an elite group of highly trusted staffers who, in essence, become an elite social media team. These employees should be highly experienced professional users of social media. This team would be responsible for handling any fall out from negative comments to dealing with specific online projects for the organisation which require social media exposure. These could be new product launches, specialised press releases or new announcements for the company.
Social media training material that delivers results
Effective social media training cannot be implemented unless the correct tools of training are available to employees. Employees must have the required documents which outline how they are required to use social media. Staff can be educated with tools such as videos, blogging and guidance paperwork. Simplicity is key and material must be easy to follow and understand for potential social media managers or advocates.
Where social media is going to be used more regularly then it is common sense that employees will require much more detailed training material and guidance documents. Social media managers will again require material which is more detailed and focused around the overall daily operations of various social media situations. With social media being such a fast moving and unpredictable platform, managers must be prepared to deal with untold and unpredictable situations which may arise, often quite suddenly.
Reputation management: Training employees for social fall out and negativity
To prepare social media managers or the elite social media team of your company you could simulate a situation in real time they need to deal with, such as sudden positivity and negativity.A very effective way of doing this would be to initiate the setup of plastic or dummy accounts in a chosen platform and fill them with different comments or tweets which your social media staff will then have to deal with. This exercise would help them nurture their social media skills and provide the trainer with feedback on where improvements need to be made.
The creation of a pretend social media situation with various messages which reflect various degrees of emotion in a high intensity environment will help prepare your staff to become excellent social media advocates for your company should a real life and real time issue arise.
5 ways to make social media training work
It is all fine and well identifying the areas where training needs are required, however to make social media training work, a consistent level of communication and education needs to be regularly provided to your chosen social media advocates or designated employees and managers.
Here are 5 ways in which your social media training will remain relevant and effective to your staff.
- Keeping things fresh – Keeping on top of what your staff have learnt means that any training which they have undertaken for social media remains fresh and up to date. Ensuring that you periodically quiz them in areas such as social media crisis management, recalling relevant communication techniques and dealing with positive and negative feedback, will ensure that they don’t forget how important their role as social media advocate of the business is, and will ultimately empower them in their roles.
- Regular review and testing – Testing the ability of your social media advocates should be undertaken in regular but spaced out intervals. This will help refresh any techniques which they may have forgotten or become a little bit ‘hazy’ on. The benefit of this is that the sudden ‘jolting’ or ‘refreshing’ of what to learn can help them with an unpredictable or unannounced comment or situation on social media in real time which they will have to deal with. It could be otherwise referred to as a sudden ‘shakedown.’
- Foresee the problem for an effective solution – Understanding how to deal with a situation before it arises means that your social media advocate or social media manager can better deal with a situation when it actually happens. In simpler terms, the best form of testing would be to ask the trainee to respond to a particular comment or tweet in the way they deem appropriate. If their response is not the correct one, they can be educated and told what the correct response is.
- Understand your social media user – Getting into the mindset of your company’s potential customer or client is probably the best way to understand and learn the techniques in reacting to comments and communication regarding your brand on social media. A focused approach to understanding what your clients or community know and understand about you on social media communication and any benefits you are looking to achieve bare fruit.
Training must be interactive and interesting – An effective social media trainer will make sure that all social media training provided is consistent, informative, interactive and interesting. Social media training, just like social media itself, is constantly evolving, growing and maturing. To keep social media training relevant for your organisation, your training provider should be one step ahead of what is already considered to be best practise and up to speed in the commercial social media arena.
The writing is on the wall. With over 40 million users of social media in the UK alone, businesses need to understand, develop and implement a social media strategy and employee advocacy training which will ensure their social media operations are not only financially productive, but also efficiently handled and managed.
Article by Junaid Malik business digital marketer and entrepreneur.