Social media training is important in the workplace

It's important to counsel employees on their online habits.

It’s important to counsel employees on their online habits.

In an era where anybody can say anything at anytime using a whole host of social media platforms, it’s important to counsel employees on their online habits. Unfortunately, most organizations fail to offer up any concrete advice. As a result, stories of individuals losing their jobs over questionable posts are ubiquitous, reported U.S. News & World Report.

Employers looking to protect their reputation and prevent turnover must save employees from themselves and provide the proper training. It’s not rocket science. In fact, most social media best practices are informed by a skill most sociable individuals display daily: common sense.

According to Hootsuite, the business benefits are obvious. Companies need employees to conduct themselves with class on social platforms, as their behavior – good or bad – reflects on the organization. According to Pew Research Center, 65 percent of all Americans use social media, which means you’re probably using these platforms to connect with customers in the first place. Offering training on a key operational apparatus never hurts.

Social media is ubiquitous in modern workplaces.Social media is ubiquitous in modern workplaces.

If you’re planning to implement employee social media training, there are few guidelines you should follow.

First, cover social media basics – tweeting, hashtagging, etc. – and run through any company legal policies that apply to social platforms. The legal aspect of this introduction is key, reported The National Law Review. Coach employees on how to address competitors and clearly outline any disciplinary policies related to careless social media use. According to Entrepreneur, you should have an employment attorney review these regulations before they’re publicized or published in a handbook. Overly harsh or restrictive policies can make you vulnerable to lawsuits.

Next, try to facilitate real knowledge absorption by organizing some hands-on exercises. Quizzing is a good methodology. Testing can pinpoint knowledge gaps and make information easier to recall. However, don’t hand out some boring paper test. Instead, make it fun by organizing a quiz game with real prizes. Experts agree that this technique – called gamification –truly works, reported Entrepreneur.

Additionally, try out some role-playing exercises. Ask your employees to take turns as casual social media users, customers and executives. Really help them understand the ripple effect even the briefest posts can make.

Once you’ve completed your initial training session, make sure to follow-up with additional courses to monitor progress and make updates. Despite its seemingly entrenched role in modern society, social media continues to evolve. For instance, a few short years ago, the text-only micro-blogging platform Twitter was all the rage. Today, its in steep decline and video platforms are now taking over, reported Fast Company.

Employers looking to implement an effective social media training program should certainly focus on follow-up and monitor developing trends.

Finally, the social media conversation can be tied into your organization’s ethics training. Ensuring your employees use ethical, innovative thinking can help them make appropriate decisions when they sign on to social media, or in any other area of the workplace. Tying the social media discussion in with a broader topic of ethics, may help employees see how what they say in a comment online can be just as damaging as making a rude comment to a customer or co-worker.

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