In late 2007 while working as a VP for the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, I was attacked by a very pesky virus: a newfound interest in the emerging world of social media. My younger sister – a Millennial (or “digital native”) who went to college with Facebook as the norm for communication – made fun of me appropriately and welcomed me (late) to the party.
I immediately set about pestering my CEO with the idea that our organization beat many others to the punch by establishing a strong presence on platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as launching a blog. He told me yes with one caveat: I had to convince his executive committee the following week – a room full of (with apologies) middle-aged white men. That seemed to me like a gauzy barrier, and very soon we had a significant presence online and began offering social media training sessions for our 2,000+ small to medium business members.
The participants were a delight: eager to learn, aware that the social media landscape was vast uncharted territory that might hold key opportunities for them to promote their businesses. I, in turn, loved the small group format ranging from 10 to 40 participants. Throughout subsequent years, I often had the opportunity to provide similar training for other groups ranging from internal Walmart supplier (CPG) teams to Main Street Rogers merchants and the team at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.
Frankly, I eventually expected the need for such training to fade as use of social media became the norm for businesses, nonprofits and individuals. However, it turns out that while it is now a commonplace marketing and communication tool, the rapid evolution of the digital landscape makes it tantamount to a full-time job to keep up with the frequent shifts, much less the birth (and death) of new tools and apps.
Happily, that early affinity has not faded, and I doggedly keep up with these shifts and trends with enthusiasm. Today, social media is the responsibility of widely disparate team members, and it is no longer sufficient to simply hire a young college graduate to manage a company’s social media presence if that individual doesn’t have a robust comprehension of the business, its mission, vision and values and all the intricacies (and politics) of business communication. Case in point:
For an older generation of employees, social media often remains misunderstood and underutilized. Even digital natives — younger workers brought up on a steady diet of Facebook and Twitter — need to be trained to use the tools in a business context. [Full disclosure: One part of my company provides this type of training.] “Business requires people with the skills and understanding on how to use … social media professionally in an integrated and strategic way,” says William Ward, who teaches a series of popular social media courses to undergraduates at Syracuse University. “[Using] it to connect with friends and family” is not the same thing.
~ Excerpt from The Social Media Manager Is Dead. Long Live Social Media. by Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, in CNN Money.
I couldn’t agree more with Holmes. It’s one thing to use Facebook to keep up with old friends or to use Twitter to keep up with athletes and celebrities. It’s a whole different ballgame to create a strategic approach to digital marketing to promote and amplify your business, product or service.
These days, the training is still going strong, and it’s one of my absolute favorite services to provide to companies, teams and individuals.
If I can provide a one-on-one session or customized training for your team, I’d be delighted – and I can almost guarantee you’ll be surprised to find that there is a lot of ground to cover, no matter how savvy you may be in the space. As a Millennial in one of my recent sessions said following a two hour team training:
“I came in thinking I knew about all of these tools. I had no idea how much I didn’t know.”