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Social Media Training is Important - and More Companies Need To Do It

Only 27% of companies in a recent SHRM survey reported that they provide social media training to employees who engage in social media activities on behalf of the company.

Posted by Joe Gerard on November 21st, 2011

Social media isn’t complicated, but when you mix social media with business, there are some things that employers and employees need to be aware of. As more people sign up to social media sites and businesses turn to social media as a communications tool, companies need to be prepared for what lies ahead.

SHRM Survey

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently released the findings of a social media survey they conducted. For the survey, 532 responses were used from a sample of randomly selected members in the SHRM database. When asked if any groups or individuals in an organization currently engage in social media activities to reach external audiences, 68% of people surveyed replied with “yes”.

Some other interesting findings from the survey include:

  • 31% of companies track employee use of social media services.
  • 43% block access to social media platforms on company computers and handheld devices.
  • [isight-ad]The three most likely groups in an organization to use social media are marketing (67%), HR (44%) and public relations (38%).
  • Only 27% of companies provide social media training to employees who engage in social media activities on behalf of the company.

In my opinion, these results prove that there’s still a lot of work to do when it comes to social media in the workplace. In the words of our friend Jon Hyman over at the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, “I’m begging you, have a social media policy.”

It’s great to see that more companies are using social media to engage with those around them, but at the same time, it’s startling that so few companies have actually trained the people who are the voice of their company on these platforms.

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Social Media Training

Even the savviest social media loving person can make a mistake. Just because you have employees who understand social media inside and out doesn’t mean that your organization is risk free. All employees should receive some form of social media training.

1. Tailor training to the various roles in your organization

Every employee won’t be using social media the same way, so tailor training to the various roles in your company. Teach employees how to use social media if they are publishing content or leaving comments on behalf of the company. Provide those who are in charge of managing company social media accounts with in-depth training so they know what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. If employees will be using social media for customer service reasons, make sure they know what’s expected of them. If your company encounters crisis, make sure employees know what can and cannot be discussed on social media sites.

A major component of social media training should be a focus on information security and confidentiality. Employers need to make sure that employees aren’t sharing protected or confidential information that might compromise credibility with investors or damage the company’s brand and reputation in the market.

2. Use social media in training sessions

If you’ve got a training session on social media, use social media to deliver the message. A written code of conduct isn’t going grab the attention of the modern employee. Use the power of the online platform.

3. Real life examples

Bring a real life element into training sessions and share lessons from the mistakes of others. Some employees need to be taught that no matter how fast you remove a wall post, delete a tweet or edit a blog post, the damage was done the minute you clicked post, send, share, etc. For example, think of the Chrysler Twitter mishap, where a member of the company responsible for managing Chrysler’s Twitter account posted a tweet that used profane language to describe some of the drivers in Detroit. Although the tweet was taken down right away, the blog posts, news stories and screen grabs of that tweet still remain.

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Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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