Social is something of an anomaly in that it is one of the few marketing tools that embraces both our personal and business lives. This could lull you into a false sense of knowledge and security by assuming your staff know how to ‘do social’, and therefore no formal social media training is required.
However, B2B social is very different to your personal social. And in an increasingly overcrowded space having a clear social strategy is crucial. Without a clear strategy, how can you measure your outcomes? And without formal social media training, how do your staff know how to behave?
Here is a guide to training your staff to use social media for business.
Set a Policy
Get social right, and it can boost your brand, draw traffic to your site and bring engagement with a broader audience than any other B2B marketing channel.
However, the damage can be catastrophic when social goes wrong.
Before you can set out to offer training to your staff, you need to establish a clear policy.
You undoubtedly have existing guidelines on email etiquette, phone use or business communications. Social media should be no different.
Marketing needs to work in partnership with Human Resources when developing the policy. HR may not understand social for business, and marketing may not understand training and employee engagement best practices. So, together you can ensure you cover all bases.
The policy should include a description of:
- each social platform your business has a presence on and what the benefits are to your company,
- guidelines for how you expect your employees to act and represent themselves on each network,
- best practices for how to respond in the event of breaking news, or a negative response on social.
A coherent and direct social media policy will not only protect your company, but it will protect your employees and remove any grey areas that may exist (Social Report Support).
Create Social Advocates
There is a danger in B2B social media marketing of relying too heavily on automated posts. You cannot just put social on autopilot and expect it to drive results. While there is a place for scheduling, you also need to learn to listen and to have conversations on social media (Nicky Kriel).
Creating social advocates throughout your business could be a powerful differentiator between you and your competition. If your industry is highly technical, for example, training one of your technical experts to answer queries live in your Twitter feed could be very impactful.
Train your advocates to consider how their statements and interactions on social media might ultimately reflect on their professional personas and, in turn, on your business. While you want your staff to be authentic, you also want to make sure they understand the boundaries and the consequences of wayward comments or poor sharing choices.
Include social in your induction policy
The perfect way to ingrain social into your company culture is to start from day one. Include social training as part of your new employee induction program alongside teaching about your business's brand, values, culture and goals. By explaining expectations, guidelines, and tools, you help new employees move seamlessly into their advocate roles (Schon Messier).
Provide formal training on social platforms
Do not assume your advocates know how to use the platforms correctly. How they might use Facebook for personal use is very different to how to use it for business, for example.
Formal training on how to post, add images and share content is vital for consistency and maintaining your brand image. Like with any other formal training, providing solid guidelines and proper support will ensure your social advocates flourish.
Include how to switch between their personal profile and your business profile to avoid any accidental or embarrassing mishaps; you don’t want your business Instagram account to gatecrash your advocate’s Nan’s birthday party, for example.
Ensure the training includes your social media strategy goals. Provide regular feedback, support and encouragement to the social advocates, and keep them updated with progress towards your goals. If you reach a social goal; say - 500 Facebook followers, celebrate this achievement with your advocates.
Make sure you are listening to your channels, and not just broadcasting to them so you can head off any issues as quickly as possible. This includes ensuring someone is continually monitoring your channels during business hours.
Even with all the best intentions, things can sometimes go wrong. As social is a two-way street you need to have a clear plan on how to deal with scenarios such as disgruntled customers, social trolls, or negative publicity surrounding your industry or brand.
Work with customer services to develop a coherent plan on how to deal with these situations, and make sure these guidelines are cascaded to all employees.
With clear guidelines, coherent social media training and a well-defined strategy, you can use social to communicate your business's culture, values and brand.
Adding personality and giving your prospects an insider's view of your business will build empathy and trust with your audience, and ultimately drive more visitors and leads.