Why is it in companies’ best interests to encourage the use of social media for business? Firstly, because a company’s reputation is largely defined by the people who represent it, so having all employees communicate about the latest news and activity adds not just one, but many faces to the organization. And secondly, social media presents opportunities to garner industry insights, network, engage directly with customers and share expertise, all of which better enable individuals to reach their business objectives.
Before anything else though, companies must ensure their people are in a position to make the most of social media for business, and that means providing the appropriate training. What exactly should be covered in training sessions and workshops? Here are a few ideas.
Back to Basics
The first thing to consider when launching a social business initiative is that not everyone will have a thorough understanding of all social networks, and some people might be completely new to social media. It’s therefore a good idea to cover the basics, for those who need it. The aim of “back to basics” training sessions should be to make the specific value and characteristics of each social network clear, and to clarify how they differ in terms of length of messages, target audiences, and appropriate tone of voice.
When looking to boost visibility and build a presence online, having a strong personal brand is key. An important point to convey when working with employees on their personal brand is that their activity on social media should reflect who they are as a person, as well as what they do as a professional. Online audiences are more likely to engage with people they can empathize with, which is why it’s important to combine company-specific expertise with wider industry awareness and individual interests.
The added value of social media differs for marketers, social sellers, recruiters, product developers and people in other roles. This is why it’s advisable to provide specific training for individual departments – training that digs a little deeper into key areas of social business. For example, how can your sales teams use social listening to stay adrift of industry trends? How can marketers make the most of LinkedIn group discussions? Are your event managers capitalizing on Twitter lists? And are senior management showcasing their experience through guest blog publications?
Implementing social media training that addresses the varying needs and objectives of employees is easier said than done, especially for large companies looking to establish a certain level of social maturity throughout the organization. Nevertheless, scalable social business is possible, and has been done to great effect by a number of companies. Sage, for example, launched global employee advocacy through #SociableDay: a company-wide video conference that engaged 13 000 employees in 23 countries, providing social media training while at the same time empowering employees as brand ambassadors on social media.