Run a social media training program — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Roarke Lynch of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

11:55 —'s Kurt Vanderah introduces SAS Institute's Kirsten Hamstra.

11:56 — Kirsten: This is a topic that's really important to me. I feel like training is something that is always on for employees. Our industry is constantly changing, there are things we're learning constantly, and we constantly have to get that information to employees.

11:58 — Kirsten: The first thing is to think about what you need to do, and who you need to reach. Then you start looking at the curriculum. Instructional design is a very hot topic right now. When I look at my team, none of us are certified in this currently. We know social well, and we've learned a lot from our employees about what they need and what they don't need.

11:59 — Kirsten: Lastly, rolling out the program is very important about how you do that. I don't know about you guys, but there's lots of training we have to take at our brand — compliance, ethics, etc. — it's e-learning and all you know is that it's mandatory and legal and HR had to check it off their list.

With social, sometimes it's mandatory but a lot of times it's not — it's often opt-in.

12:00 — Kirsten: Start at the very foundational level. Do you have employee social media guidelines at your brand? If not, you need to have these first. Employees need to know these guidelines exist and where to find them. They don't have to be very drawn out — we've had several iterations of our guidelines over the years. Our first was pages-long document, and I didn't understand some of it when I was introduced to it. And i thought to myself, if I was an average employee at this company and thought “don't do anything on social until you can follow these guidelines” I understood why a lot said, “Eh, I'm just not going to bother.”

Make sure you revisit the guidelines often and that they make sense to your employees, no matter how much they know about social.

12:02 — Kirsten: Next, focus on the immediate issues that you keep coming across time and time again that you need to fix right away. If you're noticing through listening that employees are talking about customers that you have an NDA with, for example; or, maybe they're sharing content ahead of time that are working on products that shouldn't be talked about in public yet — are there things like this that you need to address? Maybe you're covering it in your guidelines, but how often are employees really looking at those? Maybe some training can help.

12:03 — Kirsten: What chronic questions are you getting? Am I allowed to say I'm an employee in my Twitter bio? Can I add the company name in my Twitter handle? This helps you move from being the help desk to being an enabler of others as they participate.

12:04 — Next, what fires do you constantly put out? We all have fires. We noticed, for example, that some of our sales force was sharing a ton of social content, but some weren't sharing properly. We saw this happening, so we looked at which social training we could develop to stop this.

12:05 — Kirsten: Lastly, what does leadership want? Do you know where they want the employee base to be? Are you getting ready to launch a new product? Is rebranding happening? What do employees need to know and share through social?

12:08 — Kirsten: It sounds simple, but literally you need to ask employees what they want and what training they need. We just surveyed everybody. I came in and realized we'd never done a global survey about employees' use of social. We had an internal research group, and we worked with them to get a survey to get a lot of information without being too overwhelming for the employee to take. We asked:

  • How often and what channels do you use?
  • What are your goals in using social media at work?
  • What prevents you from using social at work?
  • What level of training is needed per channel?
  • What training topics are you interested in?
  • What is your preferred training format?

12:10 — Kirsten: Define your audience. Are you targeting creative employees? Or your marketers first, because they're on the front lines? Maybe your training is more specific for these audiences — or, are you looking at just working with your executive team? Right now we're working with ours on their LinkedIn profiles, how they engage externally, etc.

If you're global, you'll want to think about training for those specific audiences too. That's why surveying and asking more questions ahead of time can make your training more effective from the start.

12:12 — Kirsten: This is a big job. We have someone dedicated to this. Over time, we've found there are training needs needed around the clock. We're asked to lead workshops, train on specific platforms — and we realized we needed a little more formalization behind this. We want to start thinking about content holistically — including who's in charge, what format, and where it lives.

12:14 — Kirsten: You have options for tools. In-house, you can use Adobe Captivate, Camtasia, WebEx. Third-party, look at Lynda (lots of great existing training), Grovo, and Hootsuite). You can also use customized third parties, like social media coaches, Sales for Life, and Bootcamp Digital.

For live trainings, look at workshops, lunch-n-learns, office hours, classroom presentations, and webinars.

12:15 — Kirsten: When it comes to introducing the program, testing is important and finding advocates who can be your guinea pigs, give feedback (and make changes when they do). Internal communications will be your BFF — they can help people understand why this is important and how to get involved. Finally, encourage graduates to endorse the training — and don't forget to keep it updated, as much as you can, as social media changes a lot.


Q: How did you prioritize?

A: Kirsten: We started with the base level of 3 modules. What were the essential things you needed to know about social as a SAS employee? As we developed that, the team also triaged and helped with other training requests. Obviously when an executive is knocking on the door, you'll answer — but it's also a good thing because it shows interest, and if you train them well, you'll get more executive sponsorship to help the rest of the organization fall in line.

Q: Of all the formats you entertained, what did you find was the most connecting? And what was easiest to actually accomplish?

A: Kirsten: I love face-to-face — it's something I've always enjoyed, because I love seeing the light-bulb goes off. Everyone said they wanted E-learning because they're busy — but when I'm in person connecting, whether it's 1-1 or to a group, you get a lot more results. I wouldn't go all the way in any direction, but don't forget the importance of face-to-face.