In a nonscientific reader poll
conducted for SmartBrief on Social Media, leading marketers
(of all types) were asked:
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?
The responses were mildly shocking;
- 70.66 percent said NO,
- 18.56 percent said YES, and
- 10.78% replied "not applicable."
Frankly, I say, NOT training
all employees for social media engagement is equivalent to giving anyone in
the organization blind authority to speak to the
press/public/clients/prospects/partners/etcetera on behalf of the entity!
Have a Social Media Policy
You're probably already thinking-"We
don't need training, our law firm's social media policy clearly states that
employees or Partners engaging in social media must never speak on behalf of
the law firm without prior permission. They are required to state that views
expressed are their own. Further, we require everyone that puts our law firm on
their social media profile as their employer to abide by our policy and
guidelines. And...we monitor our firm name using Google Alerts. And...."
I have had the privilege of setting
up social media strategy, policy and programs in dozens of law firms over the
past three and a half years and I can assure you that simply issuing a policy
and/or guidelines without MANDATORY training for attorneys and staff doesn't
cut it. There is plenty of room for personal interpretation of guidelines and
PRACTICAL POINTER: In addition, I've seen many law firms skip over the FACT
that social media is a fluid form of communication. Why is this important to
keep in mind? Because rarely does the user take the time to review the
"guidelines" before posting anything, particularly when they have a tid-bit of
gossip that needs to get out to their network, pronto or they are reacting to
something said by another without thinking! This is often referred to as
SMAD-Social Media Affliction Disorder. One becomes so engaged in the medium
that it impairs their frontal lobe-that valuable part of the brain that
controls impulse. Look no further than some fine examples of social media
fail caused by SMAD in corporations such as Chrysler, Nestle, Red Cross, Ketchum, and Kenneth Cole. In most
cases the communications department made these mistakes or the social media
staff person responsible for feeding the social media beast, but in other cases
it was the CEO (see Kenneth Cole)! No one is immune. SMAD is real.
Leads to Better Execution or a New Job?
Long accepted management principles
assure us that training employees leads to better execution. Although law firm
dollars are being stretched further these days and fewer are devoted to
training, much less to something as dubious as social media, some types of
training can be vital to the health and welfare of the law firm-social media
training is one of them. At the very least your whole marketing team needs to
be trained by someone who knows the landscape very well and can tell the story
convincingly. Further, we're all still in the early stages of defining
best practices. So if you had that training a year or two ago, it's time to refresh
the memory as well as update it to keep up with the latest developments.
All Training Is Equal.
In my experience there are four core
groups that need social media engagement training:
- Senior Management/Senior Partners/and anyone that is
only marginally engaged in social media but needs to be aware of the
mechanics as well as the liabilities.
- Partners, associates, law clerks, and paralegals that
frequently engage with social media.
- Marketing personnel and particularly those whose job it
is to feed social media content and conversation.
- All other law firm employees, including receptionists,
file clerks, HR staff, secretaries, legal assistants and etc.
Each of these groups arrives to
training with different perspectives, needs, and precepts. Although I'm often
brought in for delivering a basic briefing on social media to key leaders or
training on tools for marketers, there never seems to be a priority on training
the whole organization. I've been preaching it since day one: guidelines and
policy tend to remain in the theory stage-stuck in a drawer or the firm
Intranet, until they are taught in a physical setting. I'm not saying law
firms aren't training beyond the boardroom level, in fact, in some cases the
marketing staff take my training and share it with the general firm population.
This is good. No matter who or where the training comes from, the critical
point here is to be aware that there are various levels of training and various
messages to be communicated in order to reach those four audiences where they
live, work and breathe if the training is to have effect. Still, some training
is better than no training. Don't you agree?
Jeremy Victor, the editor in chief
of B2Bbloggers.com on this topic for SmartBlog for Social
Media says it like this: (paraphrased)
Though some argue training is an
opportunity for employees to gain new skills and use them to find new jobs..."The
only thing worse than training people and having them leave is not training
them and having them stay." Zig Ziglar
So, readers of the VMO blog: What's
in your training room? Training sessions on appropriate social media
engagement? Or, lights off? Share your thoughts, success stories, and
challenges to training in the comments. We all learn more from shared insights.
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