Program Plan: Developing a Social Media Learning Program at Your Company

Corporations must invest in at least five types of Social Media training for the corporation, they include: training for executives, for the core team “Center of Excellence”, for business units,  for rank and file employees and often for partners.

Our research has indicated that 37% of companies have indicated that internal training is the second highest internal priority, budgets for training remain relatively small at about $23,000 for the average annual spend in 2011. In some cases agencies and vendors are providing training at low or no cost as a loss-leader in order to gain additional business –savvy corporations eat up this free training as they’re hungry for answers.

Savvy corporations should develop a refined social business education curriculum that’s integrated with new hire orientation, as well as existing employees. The curriculum must incorporate at least five types of training for success:

Matrix: Five Types of Training are often Required

Type Description Curriculum What no one tells you
Executive Training This group can make or break your program. You must educate them early to obtain resources. Get an executive sponsor first that will champion your program. Tip: They talk a lot about customers. Use market data including customer adoption numbers, competitive benchmarking, and business cases with ROI formulas. Bring case studies and case examples, but keep the program focused on business objectives Focus on business goals –not technologies.
The worst thing you can do is get into a tools discussion and focus on follower and fan count.
Read Groundswell and provide each executive with Open Leadership, written by our founder.
Core team “Center of Excellence” aka the Hub This centralized group is a corporate functiona that enables business units to deploy social programs.  Learn more about the Center of Excellence programs emerging at many companies. They are primarily program managers but must be on the front line of emerging technology in order to educate BUs They require ongoing training on new technologies and should attend conferences, workshops, webinars. They should also learn from their peers in other companies by joining Marketing Profs, WOMMA, Forrester Councils, and This group requires ongoing training as the tools are constantly changing. Ask tech vendors and agencies to provide free training at least twice a year in a show and tell.
Business Units “Stakeholders” These groups are often located in the ‘Spokes’ of the corporation and can be HR, Support, Product, or Geos. They may not be experts at social media –but they know their business goals. They must be educated on the common resources provided by the Center of Excellence which includes policy, process, measurement tools, KPI frameworks. They should be educated on new technologies and should learn case examples. An easy entry to getting them involved is to start with them sharing what they’ve already done in a brown bag session. Tip: Don’t penalize them for failures or policy infringments, instead get them to teach each other.
Associates, Colleagues, Employees The rank and file employee can consist of any employee that may be using social media in their work lives. This can include sales, support staff, professional services, or even retail level employees. In today’s modern world, assume that even if Facebook is banned from your corporate network employees are using Facebook from their mobile phones. They must understand governance such as social media policies, legal policies, ethics policies, disclosure best practices. Furthermore they should know who to contact if they have immediate questions. Lastly, they should be aware of the social media triage process for customer complaints. Regular employees that use social on a regular basis must know policies, basic triage, and primary contacts within the Center of Excellence. Don’t forget your new employees, this must be integrated in new hire orientation.
Partners, Resellers, Franchise Owners This group of your suppliers, resellers, dealers, channel, franchise owners and beyond are responsible for your success in your ecosystem They must understand the rules and policies of what’s preferred and what’s not. For example can Franchiese partners create their own social media accounts and represent the brands? If so, what are the requirements? What content will the corporate brand provide to partners? Will content be syndicated for reuse and repurpose In most cases, education programs will start at basic 101 levels, provide them practical education on why social matters and teach them how to use SMMS tools and how to engage and dialog. Above all, provide scalable resources to them that help them roll this out in their already busy schedules.

Build a Long Term Learning Program –Not A One Off

  • Use the carrot –not the stick, provide certification programs. Start with simple brown bag lunches where various teams are invited to share and praised for being open and social.  Don’t shut them down, instead reward them for participating.  Sophisticated brands like Intel already offer a training program like Digital IQ that offer online training for employees, and a certification program.  Edelman offers internal agency folks a multi-tiered training program called a “Social Media Black Belt” program read interview with Phil Gomes.
  • Provide employees with remote access education to watch replays. While in person training and learning is a valuable process ensure that training modules are available online on the intranet and available to employees on a regular basis.  This provides employees with an ongoing internal content library.  Encourage employees who attend conferences to share their conference and trip notes in this centralized location growing the annotated knowledge base.
  • Provide a recurring learning program.  Social is causing a cultural shift inside of companies and as a result recurring training is going to be required. As a result, provide an ongoing learning program with regular internal and external trainers that can help move the corporation along quickly.  Slate dedicated program budget towards this program, and if you’ve an internal education academy tap into their ongoing resources.

Love to hear your tips on how companies are learning, kindly leave a comment below, these are just based upon my observations helping companies roll these programs out.