Online social media training is emerging as not just the most cost effective way of making social media courses available to employees.

As digital leaders in all categories continue to outperform their peers, beginners and conservative organziations are realizing that the promise of social media is much more than just social marketing.

Social media is, as other technological innovations have been, another productivity windfall.  A way to do more with less. And a way to extend the visibility of organization as a byproduct of doing your job.

Pre-Facebook and Twitter, when external communication could be contained to marketing or PR department, official company spokespersons were media trained.

Today, the entire organization needs to be social media trained.  For these 4 reasons, the Internet is the best pace to get it done.

  1. Speed – Forget about the cost of travel and lodging.  “Time off the job is the number one cost of professional training,” says Mark Lambertson of Certilearn.  The problem with instructor-led training is it’s linear. Everyone brings different knowledge with them to the seminar. They have to sit through what they know already to get to the good stuff.  Online social media training can be chunked up into bite sized nuggets and employees can focus on what they don’t know, and avoid sitting through what they know already. “A six-hour class can be delivered online in as little as three hours, and with better retention rates,” says Jim Recker, product specialist at Citrix GoToTraining.
  2. Retention – After 4 to 5 hours of new information, even the keenest mind shuts down. But since it’s not economical to send an employee to an off site training for 2 hours a day for 6 days, they get fire hosed with new information for 6 hours a day. None of it is recorded, so they have to write everything down themselves. Try that while you’re learning advanced online social networking best practices.  Online social media training is prerecorded, so they can focus on learning the key concepts, and if they miss something, they can rewind and watch again as many times as they like.
  3. Mentorship – There’s just no need to invest a subject matter expert’s productivity in delivering the same information over and over again when it can be recorded and delivered on-demand. ” When you’ve got a limited amount of contact time between instructor and student you want use it for the most meaningful purpose. And it’s not the presentation of information. It’s guiding people when they’re making mistakes, giving them feedback, helping them understand the consequences of their mistake, appraise their successes and know hoe well they’re doing,” says Michael W. Allen, Chairman and CEO of Allen Interactions.
  4. Convenience – Whether they’re virtual or live, instructor led trainings require the assembly of group. So when new employees are on-boarded, they have to wait until the next training before they can acquire those skills.  Online social media training can be delivered anytime, anywhere on any device.

After nearly ten years leading social media trainings and social media bootcamps for clients like Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, the U.S. Dept. of State, the United States Marine Corps and UCLA, I recently created 1o online social media training courses to make them available to a broader audience for a fraction of what they cost in the real world.

I’m also experimenting with the addition of virtual instructor-led sessions as part of my online social media training courses, so participants can get questions answered and receive live mentoring, after they’ve gone through the on-demand courseware.

What is your experience with online social media training? I’m not talking about social media marketing courses online, but rather social media training for employees outside of the marketing and PR departments. Are you using them to train your people?

What if you could count on your colleagues to like, retweet and plus one your shares?  How much further would your message be seen and heard?

And what if everyone in your organization used social media for all public communications?

If you could drive adoption on that scale, your organization would just naturally transfer public intelligence to the social web, where it could be discovered through search and shared by others through social.

That is the real promise of social media. Not just as a marketing channel. But as a communications channel which leaves behind a trial of digital breadcrumbs that leads back to you.

This post was written from interviews conducted with attendees of the eLearning Guild’s annual DevLearn conference, which occured Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 in Las Vegas.

Image by wafflesncream




It’s not easy to systematically maintain a consistent customer experience among hundreds of retail stores staffed by different people from disparate cultures across the globe. But that’s exactly what great retail brands do best.  They guarantee the same quality and standards worldwide.

Have you ever wondered how they do it? The answer is a well thought out, developed training program. They make sure everyone knows what is expected of them.

And like everything else, that learning happens more and more online.  Dunhill tapped Epic to build a custom mobile learning app that in-store associates can use to explore their stores in a virtual environment and the Nike eLearning team (pictured above) recently built their own API to leverage the best of Moodle and Drupal in one platform.

They’re using technology to guarantee a consistent customer experience.

So why not use eLearning to guarantee a consistent social media experience by advancing digital literacy? That’s what I’m doing.

In the industrial age we media trained our official company spokespeople. Today, we need to social media train the whole organization.

I’m headed to Le Web 2012 in Paris next month to explore that question with some of the sharpest minds in social business.

If you are a social media trainer interested in the use of eLearning modalities for online social media training, how do you think this development will play out? Is the future self-paced courseware, virtual instructor-led sessions, or some combination? Is it a flipped classroom, or something else?

I’m also on the look out for keynote speakers for the 2012 Digital Impact Conference, which is June 27 & 28 (new dates) in NYC. If you’re interested in presenting, follow me to get the call for speakers when it goes out.

Will I see you Paris?

When critics use social networks to focus negative attention on a company, brand, product or service, social media pundits call them social media horror stories

But before you assume that what you’ve got is an actual, bona fide social media horror story, use this litmus test for gaging the severity of an online crisis

What Are they Criticizing?
Outspoken criticism on Twitter is not, necessarily, a social media crisis. What are they criticizing exactly? Is it product performance or something else? The Motrin ads which offended a few, vocal moms and dads in 2008 got huge media attention. Social Media pundits lined up with case studies cataloging what they called the Motrin Moms social media horror story. But sales and the company’s stock performance was unaffected. Before you assume you have a crisis on your hands, ask yourself whether or not the criticism impacts the actual performance.

Are You Guilty by Omission?
Nothing gets under the skin of free speech activists more than a company that is trying to hide something. The reason people support such a controversial project like Wikileaks is because they believe sunlight is the best disinfectant. If your social media horror story is the result of a perceived leak, unless you acknowledge the problem, you may have a real crisis on your hands. But if your perceived crisis result of an errant tweet by a misguidedemployee, a sincere apology my be good enough. But don’t over react. Everyone makes mistakes.

Mountains and Mole Hills
Mistakes are part of innovation. Trial and error are the mothers of invention. You cannot innovate unless you’re willing to fail. Social business is innovative. So unless you’re willing to be tolerant of your own mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others, you’re not supporting innovation.

If your social media crisis is real, there’s plenty you can do, but only if you’re aware. So monitor social networks and respond quickly. And make sure your employees have social media training accessible so they know not just how to use social media, but how to use it responsibly for business. Social media policies alone are not enough. People need formal training on those policies as well.

I’ll be discussing Social Media Horror Stories with Marla Schulman @DvinMsM , Jen Mathews, @TopTierMedia and Cynthia Kahn, @cynthiakahn on a panel organized by Social Media Club L.A. next Tuesday at 6:30PM at The HubLA.

How do you judge what constitutes a social media crisis? What aspects of online crisis communications management are most important? If I use your comment in the panel discussion, I promise full attribution.

Last night, neither candidate shared a realistic vision for getting the economy back on its feet.  Because the only way we have a chance of recovery is through innovation. And that’s something, at least historically, the US has done very, very well.

How We Got Here
Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s failed monetary policy led to low interest rates, cheap money and an unsustainable spike in housing prices. Unfortunately, the housing crash not only put millions of homeowners in a terrible financial position, it also created millions of unskilled construction, retail and finance jobs.  When new home construction stalled and credit seized that unskilled workforce became unemployed.

Where We Are Now
One of every four young adults in the US is a high school drop out. During the housing boom, these young Americans were the construction and retail work force. And while workers over 50 in this country are among the most educated in the world, their knowledge is from the analog era, much of which has been made obsolete.

Revitalizing the American, and in turn global, economy will not occur by luring manufacturing jobs back from China. As the late, great Steve Jobs said, “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”

Our only hope is in innovating ourselves out of this economic malaise.  Education spurs innovation. Those who truly understand how digital technology can be used to innovate are best positioned to lead us out of this economic funk.

What We Need to Hear
As we have seen in Scandinavia, when the government sponsors reliable, cheap high-speed broadband internet access and secondary education, people innovate themselves into all kinds of new opportunities. Skype, Spotify and Path are all Swedish innovations.

But big business has become so powerful in the US that the public agenda often takes a back seat.

Consider telecommunications services in the US.  If your telecomm provider can’t deliver the services you’ve contracted, and you withhold payment until the service is remedied, you risk being reported to a credit bureau for delinquency, which in turns, drives up your borrowing costs. The deck is stacked against the little guy, and that’s a problem.

What we need now is a president willing to create an environment where big business cannot racketeer, where reliable, high-speed broadband is cheap and where everyone has a chance to acquire digital, not just analog, job skills.

The overwhelming majority of consumers expect to be able to do business with organizations online.  But most corporate websites are a brick wall, with Priority Passfew or no interactive features, and that’s because these organizations don’t have the skill to implement these innovations.  Demand for digital job skills outstrips supply.

Sunday at SFO I checked my mobile and learned that the United Airlines frequent flyer lounge accepted my Priority Pass card. But when I tried to actually enter, I was turned away. “We no longer take that,” I was told. When I tweeted @prioritypass.com, here’s what I was told.

Fifteen days later, this Priority Pass website is still out of date. And I’m sure they’re not alone. If you’re reading this, chances are your website’s out of date too! And it’s probably because you don’t have the skills to change it yourself.

— EricSchwartzman (@ericschwartzman) October 15, 2012

In the world of social marketing, only a dismal 12% of organizations employ these emerging channels effectively, according to Harvard Business Review.  Imagine how our economy would grow if our unskilled work force acquired the skills to become information workers. Manufacturing is not the answer. Building public works, while necessary, is not a long term fix either. Innovation is!  Because innovation improves productivity, which increases GDP and improves quality of life.

In my opinion, neither candidate articulated a vision for this kind of recovery, and that disappoints me.

What I’m Doing About It
Not everyone can afford to fly to a conference to attend a Social Media Bootcamp. I’m making social media training available online for fraction of what it costs in the real world by offering a half-price bundle of online social media training classes that teach key concepts, best practices as well as the actual mechanics of how to use social media for business applications.

But we’re still going to need a level playing field to ensure healthy competition between small and big business and we’re still going to need to bring the price and availability of truly high speed internet access down.

The level of economic growth we need will not be won through taxation strategy, manufacturing jobs or improving public works. It will be won through the web, a cyberverse where we’ve really only just scratched the service for delivering significant gains in perpetuity.

What will YOU do help us get there?

Note: This blog post was inspired, and many of the statistics were borrowed, from today’s column in the New York Times by foreign affairs corespondent Thomas Friedman.

Top photo is a pixelated version of an image by Flickr user Steve A Johnson

Also, I intentionally don’t capitalize internet, cause it’s no longer something special or proper.

Full House

Inbound links determine search, likes determine Edgerank and retweets determine reach. So if no one links, likes of retweets your share, no one hears it.

Egyptian pyramidsThose who aren’t new to social marketing have realized that social media is a team sport. It’s not what you say, but what the community says, that matters. Because whatever most people are liking rises to the top of the newsfeed, and whatever people are ignoring goes unseen.

Once you come to this realization, you begin to appreciate that your objective is not to get information out, but rather, to start conversations. When people talk back they bring their online social network with them.

We call this scaling engagement.

It’s about getting as many people as possible involved, so we can move our message through them to their friends, fans and followers.

This poses a conundrum to organizations which in the past were able to control their communications by using a public relations, public affairs or marketing communications professional to manage external communications.  These folks are trained in the business of public disclosure. They have experience creating a public record.

What happens when you invite those employees, volunteers and constituents to participate in discussions that automatically become part of the public record? How should those employees who are not part of your marketing and PR apparatus respond when their Facebook friend asks them a question about your products or services?

Hopefully you have a social media policy in place to govern that type of usage. But remember, few take the time to read your employee handbook. And you can’t expect someone to comply with a policy they don’t understand.

Social Media Training
Social media training programs are a practical way to scale engagement because they ensure everyone on your team has the same understanding of key concepts, best practices and the actual mechanics of the various social networks so they can work together to bring your message to a broader community.

Live social media training makes good sense for marketing and PR practioners, but is isn’t always possible to train everyone at face-to-face workshops.

Online Social Media Training
When it comes to teaching social media best practices, online social media training offers 4 distinct advantages.

  • All the material is recorded. So participants don’t have to retain it all themselves.
  • Content is broken down into bite-sized chucks, so they can laser in on what’s most useful.
  • Stop and rewind the demos as many times as they like and learn at their own pace.
  • Time-shift and place-shift their professional development where they want, when they want.


Unless you train workforce, even the best social media marketing programs are unlikely to reap significant rewards.

More than 85% of customers expect businesses to be active in social media but only 12% of them are doing so effectively. And this is simply because they lack basic knowledge and skills.  They suffer from digital illiteracy.

Be part of the 12%. Social media train your people. Train your clients. Train yourself.

 Online Social Media Training Classes

Learn how to use Social Media for Businessmore info

Learn Social Media Monitoringmore info

Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – more info

Learn how to use Facebook for Businessmore info

Learn how to use Twitter for Businessmore info

Learn how to use Linkedin for Businessmore info

Learn to Draft Corporate Social Media Policiesmore info

Learn how to Sell Social Media Marketing Servicesmore info

Learn Blogging for Businessmore info

Learn Event Marketing with Social Mediamore info


Online social media training is my focus these days.

I recently created a comprehensive curriculum of self-paced, on-demand social media courseware, all of which is currently available online.

Saturday I’ll be conducting the pre-conference Social Media Bootcamp, but I’m staying Sunday to connect with other PR professionals at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference looking for practical solutions for scaling social media engagement and managing risk by accelerating digital literacy company wide.

In other words, if it doesn’t make sense to send your entire call center or sales staff to a social media training workshop, you can now train them entirely online.

The Online Social Media Bootcamp, a bundle of the six most popular courses, will also be available through Oct. 19, 2012 for $299 (regularly $599). You can use it to bring your employees, coworkers and clients up to speed.

Unless it’s a profit center, focus on deliverying results instead if explaining what hashtags, embeds, SEO and live streams are.  Thiss an easy way to outsource education and bring your people up to speed anytime, anywhere, at a pace that works for them, without travel costs from the longest running, top-rated social media training provider.

I’m also going to be doing interviews on the state digital literacy in the workplace on Sunday between 10 and 1pm. I still have open slots so let me know if you’re interested.  I’d especially like to talk to past attendees on my Social Media Boot Camp about what’s working, what’s not and why.

And finally, I’m meeting with a few select pros who are looking to grow revenues by selling these new online social media training courses in bulk to clients or through new business development deals.  Reps who satisfy certain volumes will win geographic exclusivity in their territory and the arrangement is quite equitable. Six figure commissions are very realistic. I’m out Sunday night and my schedule is packed but if you’d like to talk about repping the courseware, text at me +1-424-272-l27O and I’ll make time.

Hope to see you there!

WordCamp Los Angeles 2012 t-shirt

WordCamp Los Angeles 201 was held Saturday, Sept. 15 at Loyola Marymount University, which hosts the event because the college and open source software share the common goals of faith and justice. If you want to learn WordPress, network with WordPress developers or find WordPress support resources in Los Angeles, this event is a good place to do it.  It was my second time attending WordCamp and a learned a bunch.

Most of the presenters shared genuinely useful tips and tricks, were engaging and even, in one case, adorable.  My favorite was Sé Reed followed by Ben Metcalfe, who I wrote about separately in their own posts. Useful WordPress tips and tricks from the other speakers I heard are summarized here.  On the downside, it was a hot day in Los Angeles, Seaver Hall was a sauna and the stubborn campus wi-fi wouldn’t move even the lowest-res JPEGs to Flickr.

But comfort can be over rated.  I try not to depend on it.  Here’s what I learned.

Kimanzi Constable kicked it off with a presentation on the importance of telling good stories that connect with people emotionally. The bread delivery boy turned best-selling author shared how he didn’t started selling books until he started connecting with his audience in an emotional level.


  • Tell a story about yourself that dovetails nicely with whatever it is you do on the About Us page of your website. Old school bios are boring.
  • If you don’t have enough traffic on your own site, guest post for bloggers you respect who do. They may not publish you the first time, but if you’re persistent enough, and your content is a fit, sooner or later they will. Everyone has to feast the beast and guest posts are one way they pull it off.
  • Entertain first, educate second. Cause if you’re not entertaining, you’ll never get the chance to teach. Never lead with benefits or a spec sheet of features. Connect with people on an emotional level first.

Here where you can keep up with Kimanzi.

Next we heard from Belsien Thomas of WP Power Guide on best practices for adding e-commerce for WordPress installs who shared some useful charts on how to decide what e-commerce solution is right for you.

WordPress e-commerce plug-in review by Belsien Thomas


  • If you’ve got fewer than 500 purchases per day and less than 1000 items in your catalog, WordPress solutions work just fine. There’s no need to build your own e-commerce solution for that kind of volume.
  • Templatic, StoreFrontThemes, SpalshingPixles, WooCommerce, MarketPress by WPMU and Themeforest.net are WordPress themes he suggests checking out.
  • Belsien did a very thorough analysis and says WP e-Commerce, WooCommerce and Shopp are the three plug-ins worth considering.

Belsien Thomas is a WordPress developer. You can find him at WP Power Guide.

Just like Wikipedia has a system by which editors review articles, WordPress has a process by which themes are approved and added the official Theme Repositiory at WordPress.org. Konstantin Obenland, a WordPress Core Contributor said there are currently 1,600 themes in the WordPress.org repository. Now there’s a theme review team which reviews child themes before they go live.

The goal of the theme repository “isn’t not to deliver every theme in the world, it’s to list the best ones,” according to Matt Mullenweg, who was quoted on a slide in their presentation.

So the themes in the repository are selected to give end users convenience, quality, reliability and freedom.

We’re living in an age where vendors are available on a global basis to support the development of online businesses. If you don’t outsource you’re limited to the people and skills you can find locally. But managing teams remotely requires new skills. Having success in distributed contexts is what Chris Lema spoke about. Managing freelancers remotely can be tough. Chris explained when outsourcing online development work makes sense.


  1. Constantly check the pulse of your team. Check in with them all the time.
  2. Put them in an impossible situation and try and get them to fail fast. You want people who tell you when they’re stuck and who ask for help when they need it, rather than waste your time and money trying to solve problems alone.
  3. Ask if things are done, done? Done, done means there’s no but after the question, “Is it done?” Manage the small stuff daily. Don’t send someone off for two weeks to achieve something big. Find out what’s going on as it’s happening.
  4. Check in daily, and use surpirse Google Hangouts to see if your team is actually at their computer working. If they’re in a cafe, they’re not working.

Chris’s favorite tools for managing teams remotely:

  • Google Hangouts for visual check ins
  • Basecamp project management
  • Asana for task tracking
  • Instant Messenger for conversations
  • Jing for screen captures
  • SnagIt for screen shots

At the end of the day, the person managing the project has to be the chief storyteller. She has to remind the team about the customer pain you’re trying to solve. You’ve got to tell that story over and over again. He’s got a book about managing virtual teams as well. He was a dynamic speaker. Well done.

I’m glad I made it out to this year’s event.  As an online social media training provider focusing on content, it’s important for me to not only stay abreast of developments in open source, but also to learn business skills related to working with teams in a virtual world.

Thanks Austin Passey for organizing the day’s events. Sorry  I snapped at you about the “live” blog.

Categories: blogging