Writecombination Social Media
by Andrew Knowles

How to choose the right social media training

From sole traders to national firms, businesses of all sizes across Dorset are investing in social media training. Networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are here to stay, giving firms the opportunity, and the challenge, of engaging with existing and potential customers in new ways.

Some organisations enjoy the benefit of staff who’ve learned how to use social media for themselves and, more importantly, understand how to apply it in a commercial context. But many others are racing to catch up, and the obvious place to start is by getting some training.

Issues to consider before starting social media training

The first stage of any training process is to understand what you want it to achieve. When it comes to social media it might be that you want:

  • An overview of what social media could do for your business.
  • Guidance on which social networks are most appropriate for your business.
  • Detailed training in how to set up and use a specific social network.

Business support organisations, such as WSX Enterprise and the Chambers of Commerce, have been running introductory or overview sessions for some time now, helping firms to assess the potential of social networking.

But these are quite different from the hands-on ‘which button do I press now?’ training, which is often needed once your organisation has decided that it really wants to press ahead with using one or more networks.

Who should be trained?

The mistake many firms made in the early days of using Facebook or Twitter for business was to leave it to the youngsters. They may be more familiar with the networks, but they often lack the commercial experience needed to build a meaningful strategy.

Another mistake firms have made is to limit social media to the marketing department. Yes, the marketers need to be involved because they protect and promote your brand. But social media allows individuals across your organisation to become ‘brand ambassadors’, people who help to tell the story of your business, putting a human face on what you do.

That human face can be hugely valuable, because ‘people buy from people’.

The first people to be trained in how to use social media for your business should be those who already understand the value of developing strong relationships with customers and suppliers, along with those who understand how to use social networks. That’s because a successful social media marketing strategy requires a good knowledge of both.

Finding the right approach to training

Social media training comes in many forms. These include:

  • Public training courses. These are offered by various organisations and individuals, including myself. These usually follow a fixed agenda.
  • Private or customised training courses. More expensive than public courses, but they do allow you to focus entirely on your own needs and issues.
  • Online training using either paid-for or free resources. This could involve following a course at your own pace, or be delivered interactively with a trainer using a system such as Skype or a Google Hangout.
  • Self-teaching using online resources along with trial and error. This can be a great approach if you have the time and the aptitude, but it can be slow and it’s hard to maintain momentum working alone.

It’s important to remember that we all learn in different ways. Some of us find it easy to learn by reading a set of instructions, while others need a more hands-on approach. Some like to understand the theory behind what’s going on before getting started, while others just want to jump in and have a go. Finding the training that matches your style will help you learn more effectively.

Click here to see how we can help you with social media training.

Learning the two sets of social media skills

For many, it’s relatively easy to learn how to use a system such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. The principles of how the network operates are not complicated and while at first glance the number of options looks enormous, this is misleading.

Where many firms fail with social media is that, while they understand the mechanics of how to tweet or to post on Facebook, they haven’t learned how to use the network to best effect.

I like to describe social media as a set of tools that can be used to build an effective online presence. Just because you know how to use each individual tool doesn’t equip you with the ability to create that presence successfully.

To get the best results from social media you need to know:

  • The mechanics of how to tweet, and post, and the other options available.
  • How to use those options in a way that gets the results that you want.

Training in which button to press in social media is relatively easy to find. Want to know how to stop seeing someone’s tweets in your timeline? Easy, just Google ‘how do I stop seeing someone’s tweets’ and you’ll be pointed to a host of websites telling you how to find the ‘Mute’ option.

Training in how to develop social media into a successful channel for marketing and customer service is harder to find. Googling a question like ‘How do I get more followers on Twitter’ will bring up lots of articles and ideas, but they’re unlikely to get into the depth that you need, and they’re unlikely to answer all the questions that you have.

Choosing your best approach to selecting social media training

The most effective training is that which meets your specific needs. It may be a public course or an online tutorial, reading a book or simply having a go.

What’s important is that, once you’ve decided to explore social media for your business, or expand on what you’re already doing, you determine which approach you want to take and follow it. Consistency is one of the cornerstones on which social media success is built.

If you would like to discuss social media training options with me, please get in touch. Call me on 07970 108191, email andrew@writecombination.com or reach me on Twitter at @dorset_social

By Andrew Knowles 

We're now publishing all new social media blog posts on the Dorset Social website

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