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Should your company have a formal social media training program?

2 min read


Today’s poll analysis post was written by Jeremy Victor, the editor in chief of For more of his writing, follow B2Bbloggers on Facebook and Twitter.

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues. Last week’s poll question: Does your company have a formal training process for employees before they’re allowed to blog, tweet or post other social media content on behalf of the company?

  • No — 70.66%
  • Yes–  18.56%
  • Not applicable — 10.78%

The data from this week’s poll question is at the same time both surprising and unsurprising.  Formal training has always been something that some companies embrace and others ignore. And when it comes to social media, that adage appears to hold.

Why It’s Surprising

  • Basic management principles teach us that training leads to better execution. Though some argue training creates a problem, in that once employees gain new skills they use them to find new jobs. This brings a quote from Zig Ziglar to mind, “The only thing worse than training people and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”
  • Nestlé. BP. Kenneth Cole. Need I say more. During times of crisis, more and more we turn to social media to get a first-hand narrative directly from the company(s) involved. Employees in these situations need guidelines (and training) to ensure they act and respond appropriately. With this in mind, it’s hard to believe these results weren’t flipped, right?

Why It’s Not Surprising

  • Most everyone remains in the experimentation phase of their social media marketing efforts. How would you “formalize” something when you don’t have a proven best practice?
  • Let’s face it, it is hard enough getting money justified for social itself, getting more money justified for training is even harder.
  • Finally, who has time for training today? With barely enough resources available to do your existing work, who is going to create and deliver “formal” training?

I believe training leads to better understanding. And better understanding leads to a commonly shared vision. Without educating employees on the why and how, organizational acceptance and participation in social media initiatives will be seen more as a burden than a benefit.

What’s your take on these results? Surprising or unsurprising?