Recently, I wrote 5 Keys to a Successful Employee Advocacy Program. One of the points I touched upon is the importance of social media training for employees. According to a 2014 Pew Research Report, 71% of online adults are active on Facebook, however only 28% are active on LinkedIn and 23% on Twitter. With LinkedIn and Twitter being especially important social channels for thought leadership, it’s in your best interests to arm employees with the basics of these platforms and help them become socially savvy.

Helping employees become thought leaders on social channels in their respective fields (sales, marketing, engineering, etc) is a big win for everyone. What company wouldn’t want an army of social media rockstars to brag about?

But how do you begin training dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of employees with different levels of social media proficiency? It can be a daunting challenge, but implementing the following three components in your social media training program will cover the majority of employees.

Social Media Training 101: Teach Employees the Basics

As I mentioned, most online adults have a basic understanding of Facebook but not of Twitter and LinkedIn.

That means if employees aren’t familiar with the workings of Twitter then it’s your duty to teach them everything: the anatomy of a tweet, the difference between a mention, reply and direct message, how many hashtags are appropriate, the tools to use to curate and publish tweets, etc.

With LinkedIn, it’s important to show employees that it’s much more than just an “online resume”, and how to build out a robust profile. For instance, cover the benefits of giving recommendations (and not just receiving them) and what is and isn’t recommended for a profile photo, plus all the other gems of wisdom you hold as a social media professional.

How should you go about this?

I recommend hosting a quarterly, hour-long social media training workshop that covers one social platform and rotating them throughout the year. Be sure to keep these workshops fun and engaging – incorporate pop quizzes and offer prizes for correct answers.

Give everyone an opportunity to practice what they’re learning by using a hashtag to follow along and ask questions during a Twitter workshop (Bonus: you may trend! It happened to me). Help them look professional by hiring a photographer to take free headshot photos after a LinkedIn workshop.

If you’re dealing with a large, global group of employees then make workshops virtual while also hosting in person (two-birds with one stone). And if you can’t offer the workshop multiple times across various time zones, email the recording to employees and place it in a resource spot online for future access (or if someone needs to brush up!)

Give Marketing and Sales Specialized Classes

Once employees have the social media basics down, they need to continue building on their learnings and have access to the right social tools for job success, especially customer facing marketing and sales employees.

For example, helping your marketers stay on top of emerging trends benefits all. So offer classes on better blogging, SEO tips and tricks, and YouTube best practices on a quarterly basis (and if other employees wish to attend, let them).

For sales teams, create a three part social selling workshop series (the basics, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and offer it twice a year. Why? Sales professionals that engage in social selling out-perform their peers by 78%!

Educate your marketing and sales teams on the importance of social within the “funnel” and how they can effectively engage with prospects without adding to their already hectic schedules.

Higher sales is the biggest no brainer of them all – a bigger bottom line and high commissions makes everyone happy.

Help Leadership Build Strong Personal Brands

Last, but certainly not least, are the executives in your organization. Don’t forget your leadership always wants to be constantly learning and improving as well.

Take time one-on-one (or in small, executive briefings) to give your CEO, CTO, and VPs the tools to build their social brands. Why? First of all, 74% of customers look first to see who can give them added value and place great importance on name recognition: both on brand and people. Secondly, 66% of executives don’t receive outside coaching or outside advice.

Your executives know your brand’s vision and the industry landscape more than anyone else. Enable them to socially share their valuable experience by focusing on three buckets: industry, product, and company.

Teach your leadership team the social media basics as necessary and get them actively sharing curated content on Twitter and LinkedIn. Publish their writings on your organization’s blog (a monthly regular spot is ideal), on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform, as well as in bylines for relevant online publications. Ask them to participate on a Twitter chat. Once you help them find their social sweet spot, you’re golden.

Make Ongoing Social Media Training Manageable

Breaking down an educational program into these three components makes what seems to be a very time-consuming social media training program quite manageable. Follow the time tables offered above and you’ll be hosting an average of three workshops per quarter. And once a workshop presentation is created, it’s simply a matter of updating when necessary.

What’s the bottom line? You’ll find the time put into creating a social media training program is well worth the return.

Happy teaching!


Photo Credit: Spin Magazine