A recent Russell Reynolds Associates study found that almost every industry expects to experience some level of moderate to massive digital disruption in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, today, only 12 percent of organizations believe they are using social media effectively.
Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes writes, “How social media is used in the workplace is fundamentally changing.… Employees (are being) asked to use social media in ever more numerous and unfamiliar ways.” It's natural to assume that if you use Facebook in your personal life almost every day, then you would also be able to use it for your work?
This is the presumption most executives have when hiring for social media roles, but there's a problem. While social media continues to evolve at a pace that far outweighs an organization’s ability to understand its impact, hardly any formal education or training programs exist. The result? A social media skills gap.
Universities may offer classes centered on public relations and marketing that incorporate social media best practices, but formal social media degrees and tailored curricula are seriously lacking. In addition, many organizations assume their younger employees simply understand how to use social media and choose not to implement formal training programs or provide helpful social media resources.
So what are the options available to organizations and their employees master the ever-evolving world of social media?
1. Attempt to learn by experience. Sign up for any and all social media channels that you read about, hear your friends talking about or even see being advertised on Facebook and Twitter. Once you sign up, start to engage with other users. Study how they interact with other members, what they write about and if they are engaging with brands and organizations.
2. Encourage your employer to invest in a social media training program. If they hesitate, propose starting your own training program and invite your coworkers to join. Hootsuite, for example, offers a free, social media marketing course called Podium, and HubSpot’s certification programs introduces the fundamentals of how to attract visitors, convert leads, close customers and convert delighted customers into promoters.
The social media skills gap may sound unbelievable, especially given that there are 2 billion global social media users today and the fact that more than half the world’s Internet users have a Facebook account — but it exists. And it’s only going to get worse with the emergence of new social media channels. While schools, universities and workplaces figure out how to train their employees to use social media as a business driver, don’t get left behind.
Do you have any other tips for organizations looking to become social media rock stars? If so, we'd love to hear them.