Social media training was recognized as the best way to mitigate risk and scale social media engagement by none other than Altimeter Group founder Charlene Li, whose firm unveiled a new offering to help organizations effectively integrate social media communications into business practices.
Despite the success of first movers like Dell and Cisco, who were hailed as examples of companies with solid social media training programs, stamping out digital illiteracy remains a critical challenge, second only to developing a reasonable, enforceable and lawful corporate social media policy to inform specific training requirements.
Social media training is about not just teaching employees how to use Pinterest. Since we use social networks to build relationships online in public forums, what’s more fundemental, argued Charlene, is imparting good judgment in an area where the tools are continuously evolving. The easy part is telling people what they should and shouldn’t do. The harder part is training employees to develop sound decision making skills when they are confronted with situations that are not clearly covered in their company’s social media policy.
How do you actually pull that off? She recommended you start with:
- Clear goals
- Clear guidelines
- Differentiated trainings by role (executives, marketing/comms, social strategists and employees)
- Measurement baked in
- And a needs assessment with clear priorities
She also suggested that social media training not be a one-time event, but rather an on-going experience, since the tools and best practices are developing together, that the top of the organization be trained first and that courses be squarely mapped back to the company’s overarching objectives. Rather than focus on how to use the technology, the best social media training programs focus on how employees should use social media to achieve measurable business goals.
The new practice offering, dubbed Altimeter Academy, includes social media training program development, social media policy review and trainings for each of the four roles listed above.
With respect to social media training delivery, Charlene acknowledged the validity and scalability advantages of on-demand social media training but also said teaching good judgment is more difficult than the mechanics of a tool like Twitter for business with prerecorded content and warned companies not to entirely divorce the human element.
Having recently introduced a comprehensive slate of online social media training courses myself, which endeavor to teach both key concepts and best practices based on lessons learned from Sal Kahn, I was thrilled to see a reputable firm like Altimeter recognize the importance of employee education and validate its potential with the new service offering.
Image Credit: Slide from Altimeter Group’s “Training for Social Media Success” Presentation.