Can someone have a job while boarding a flight and be at risk of losing it when it is time to land?
Indeed. In 2013, Justine Sacco, a communications executive, boarded her flight to Cape Town after sending out an offensive tweet at Heathrow. By the time she got off her flight after 11 hours, the tweet had gone viral and her employer was made part of the conversation. By the time she landed, she was in line to be fired in the next few days. This is just one of many scenarios in which the lack of social media training among employees can affect brand reputation.
By this point, it’s clear that the use of social media presents many untapped opportunities for brands along with considerable risk in the unforgiving digital world in which everybody on social media is a public figure, any content with a hint of controversy can go viral and nothing really ever goes away.
The blurred lines between social media use for personal and professional purposes have made social media training even more important. Among the gamut of strategies out there, using an employee advocacy platform is an excellent way to leverage the social connections of employees and thereby increase brand outreach, find new sales leads and even recruit new talent.
However, it is important to keep in mind that these gains can only be realized when employees are equipped to understand the pitfalls of the online medium. It’s one thing when employees are merely sharing content; it’s another when they are also advocating for your brand while doing so.
Here’s a primer on designing a social media training program for your employees:
Set expectations with a formal social media policy:
Your organization’s social media policy should reflect the vision for the online behaviour of employees. As a brand, you would obviously not want the social media behaviour of employees to reflect adversely on your organization’s reputation. Your social media policy can include guidelines on content that’s shared on different platforms. It should also make employees aware that there are only a few online channels that can be considered truly private.
Starting with the onboarding process itself, you can help set expectations from employees about what’s acceptable and what’s not. For example, sharing proprietary information can have serious repercussions and should be avoided. The policy should also address the sharing of offensive content.
Bring the social media policy to life:
Along with talking about your company’s social media policy, you can look at ways to illustrate the policy through examples. You can talk about real situations and gather views from employees if the situation in question would be a violation of official policy.
Underline the importance of personal branding:
Your social media training doesn’t have to be confined to making better judgments about online behaviour. Parts of the training can also educate employees on the best ways to leverage online platforms to create a strong personal brand. This approach can not only help the employee but also benefit the organization in the long run.
Understanding the kind of content that works:
Content lies at the heart of social media sharing and with a better understanding of what kind of content works the best, your employees will be in a better position to create engaging content. For example, employees can be told about the different types of content buckets and choosing the kind of content that will resonate the most with their audience. By using analytics, employees can be strategic about the frequency and timings of their postings.
Help employees understand the nuances of different platforms:
Not all platforms are created the same. Your training can help employees understand the nuances of different platforms and make better choices when it comes to creating and sharing content on their platform of choice.
Preparing for unwanted brand tagging:
At some point, all brands (especially consumer-facing brands), will be drawn into the vortex of negative mentions by a vocal dissatisfied client or customer. This is a reality of the digital age that all businesses have to grapple with. On business-centric platforms, this can be a cause of concern. Enabling employees to deal with such a situation can be helpful whenever there is need to put forth the brand’s point of view.
Given how crucial social media training for employees is, organizations should make it a priority and help employees become better brand advocates.