Ken Mandel
Aug 6, 2014

Social media education: Are custom programmes worth it?

The question is not whether you should train your staff in social media. The question is how to ensure you build an education programme that suits your company's size and objectives.

Ken Mandel, managing director, Asia Pacific, Hootsuite
Ken Mandel, managing director, Asia Pacific, Hootsuite

The dedicated “social media team” in a large enterprise may only contain a few more individuals than a similar team in a small to medium-sized business. However, social-media skills are no longer the exclusive domain of a single role, team, or department. Workers in nearly every business function can use social platforms to collaborate with their teammates and to communicate with customers, partners, investors, and analysts. Therefore, a larger organisation must scale up its education programme in proportion to its workforce.

A bigger headcount might also expand the necessary scope of your educational offering. Generally, the larger your organisation is, the greater the need for diversification and specialization within your social media education and training. If you have people spread across a wide variety of regions and roles, you will probably require a layered or modular programme. For example, some organisations choose to provide general employees with a foundational curriculum, which they supplement with additional training for specific teams such as sales professionals and customer service representatives.

Keep in mind that scalability is critical to any social media education programme, no matter the size of your organisation. Choose a social media education solution that is easy to deliver, manage, and measure.

Any decision you make regarding social media education should also be based on a firm understanding of your business needs and opportunities.

Contiki, a world leader in youth travel tours, focuses on building a content library of customer stories from which to curate and feature. “Our demographic—young travellers—aren’t interested in hearing from known travel industry experts anymore, but from the storytellers and shared experiences themselves,” says Lauren Howard, National Marketing Manager at Contiki Canada. “How better to connect with fellow travellers than with inspiring stories by youth?”

On the other hand, Toronto-based startup tech company Hubba uses its social-media networks as a portal for connecting tech startups and building a community of developers around its product.

“We don’t necessarily use social for direct lead generation," said Hubba’s marketing director, Emma Nemtin. "We primarily use it as a thought leadership tool for our industry as well as using it to monitor, listen, track and engage with the Canadian startup community. We are big advocates for showing off the talent we have in Canada, so we love finding great success stories from other Canadian startups and highlighting those, or retweeting/ posting that kind of content. We provide our followers with quality curated content on select topics such as retail and consumer trends, emerging technology, entrepreneurial advice, programming and development articles and industry events.”

Custom education programmes are tailored to support the unique mission of an organisation, department, or team. Such programmes should reflect corporate values and provide highly relevant training to employees. Companies typically select custom education programmes because they want training efforts to be fully aligned with their business strategies.

Custom education can be implemented company-wide or crafted for targeted groups, such as customer service representatives, sales teams, or the marketing department.

What are the key benefits?

  • Mitigate social-media risk with your company’s specific policy education
  • Develop general understanding of social media’s impact on your business
  • Ensure baseline knowledge of social-media best practices
  • Empower your employees to become brand advocates
  • Provide comprehensive training for specific roles, regions, and business functions

What should be considered when developing a custom education programme?

  • Collaborate with experts in online instructional course design. This ensures that the programme is not only attuned to relevant business needs, but educationally sound.
  • Combine proven, off-the-shelf courseware with bespoke content to create a comprehensive curriculum relevant to your organisational needs and challenges.
  • Use an e-learning platform with assessment capabilities to track employee progress and ensure a high level of knowledge retention.
  • Provide an accessible, easy-to-use e-learning experience so that you can confidently scale up adoption throughout your team or organisation.

Mandel will be taking part in an upcoming Webcast, "The Hashtag Syndrome: Building Your Social Media Brand", presented by Campaign Asia-Pacific in association with Hootsuite. The webinar will examine "social channels as pervasive and persuasive parts of the bigger brand picture". Registration is free.

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