Social media training that means business

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Social media training for leaders and managers deliver a return on your investment in these digital tools.

It’s always struck me as ironic that organisations spend a small fortune on internal social media tools like Yammer, Jive and Chat only to find that no-one engages with them. So how do you maximise your return on investment in these channels and use them to help deliver business goals? Effective communication and social media training has to be the answer.

I find that all too often the icons for these social media tools appear on people’s desktops or devices without explanation. Perhaps it’s the modern equivalent of dropping a computer mouse on every desk overnight without showing anyone what to do with it or the benefits of using it. Famously in a Star Trek movie, when going back in time, engineer Scotty picked up a mouse and spoke in to it like it was a microphone.

The thing to do is properly launch the new social media tool with a clear explanation of why the business has invested in it and a compelling account (sparing the technical details) of what it can do for individuals and how it’ll help them get their jobs done better. And even if it’s too late for a launch, it’s perfectly acceptable to back-announce the new tool in a similar way.

In tandem with your launch or back-announcement, it’s also vital to train employees in how to get value from this shiny new tool.

Social media and employee engagement

In a social media training workshop we ran for line managers in one client organisation recently, we began with a general brainstorm of the things keeping participants awake at night. We then crossed out the challenges that effective employee engagement could not help with. The list stayed pretty much unaltered – the obvious conclusion was that the vast majority of line managers’ challenges could be tackled, in some way, through improvements or interventions in employee engagement.

Workshop participants were now bought into common challenges and energised to solve them. Enter some of the new tools at our disposal to improve employee engagement: internal social media. And that’s when the cynicism, negativity, even fear kicked in: “I don’t understand social media,” “What if people are negative online?,” “I’m too busy to use it.” And my all-time favourite in any change situation: “It’ll never work here.”

Such concerns are understandable. A quick Google search on “social media at work” returns results connected to discipline, grievance, being fired, policy and risk. Heady and motivational stuff, eh?

And yet nearly all participants said they were active on social media outside work. And most people love the collaborative tech I bring to conferences and events, such as the iPad-based activities powered by Crystal Interactive. So the appetite for interacting online with colleagues is clearly there.

Remove the fear factor

The next thing to do in our social media training session was some jargon-busting. The simple explanations we gave of frequently used social media terms were welcomed by those willing to admit they didn’t know what a hashtag was (and were probably even more welcomed by those who wouldn’t openly reveal their ignorance!) I like to explain a hashtag as looking like the top view of a box with its flaps open… #. See what I mean? Now you’ve got a box to store content about a particular topic so you and others can easily find it in future.

We also introduced some plain English guidelines on using social media inside the firewall. One of my favourites: “If you wouldn’t print it on a T-shirt and wear it in a public place, don’t key it into your social media platform.”

With the ice now melted in our session, I went on to share some case studies showing how internal social media can help address critical business issues. A good example is how British Airways used Yammer to drive innovation.

Build relevant case studies

In response to the familiar cry “Yes, but we aren’t British Airways”, the task was to create a bank of relevant case studies, based on participants’ own organisational issues rather than someone else’s. This is where our social media training gets really pragmatic. We get participants to vote for their three or four shared challenges and then create actual social media solutions and campaigns, to be led by participants, that address these issues. In other words, we help participants get to grips with how they are going to deploy social media tools – in their own business context.

We make sure we build measurement into the campaigns designed with participants. The aim is to end up with hard proof of the power of social media tools in that organisation. In combination, the case studies, measures and advocacy of those involved can then spark similar solutions and campaigns within that business.

Working with a global pharmaceutical company, we needed to reinforce some business change messages with an audience of 60 who last got together six months earlier for a face-to-face event. This time around, we had just three hours and needed to deliver the whole thing virtually. We combined WebEx with the social media tool Chatter to drive interactivity and action-planning through, for instance, getting participants to comment on content in real time, ask questions and complete quizzes.

Tellingly, the vast majority of participants had not so much as opened their Chatter account before the event. By the end of it, they were saying how much they had valued and enjoyed using the tool and how connected they felt with one another despite being spread all around the world.

If you’re serious about turning a social media icon on a desktop into an iconic case study of how social media can help deliver business goals, your social media training had better mean business. Contact us to find out more.