Posted by Melissa Parrish on October 7, 2011
Over the past several months, I’ve been hearing a lot of clients say they’re ready for the next step in social media. Many marketers —probably most of you reading this post — have already established your initial social footprints and are ready to move on to the next phase of social media maturity. But as my colleague Sean Corcoran’s social maturity curve shows, the further along you move, the more people you need to involve to keep your social trains running — and that introduces more risk.
One of the most important ways marketers are avoiding problems as more colleagues start participating in social programs is to spearhead training programs in their companies. My latest research explores the spectrum of these training programs, which ranges from casual all the way through formal certification.
You can see from this chart that training programs are developed across four dimensions: content, delivery, participants, and measurement. The programs don’t always fall firmly and neatly into one level of difficulty across all these segments. Rather, training evolves as the company’s commitment to social media evolves, moving through formats till formalization is achieved. Usually:
- Casual training is implemented by companies entering the coordination stage of social maturity. It often revolves around established social media policies, adding color, and bringing to life the published guidelines. Casual training is a good tool for spreading awareness of those policies throughout an organization.
- Structured training is great for organizations moving deeper into coordination or on to the scaling and optimizing stages. This approach helps when consistency of strategy or voice is a concern. For that reason, structured training is more rigorous than casual training and is often delivered on a per-department or per-project basis.
- Formal training becomes necessary to become a truly empowered social organization. In a formal program, there are often several levels of certification depending on the employees' role in the organization and how deeply they're likely to engage in social media on behalf of the company or brand. This approach ensures that every individual has just the right skills and savvy to represent their companies responsibly in a social media context.
Forrester clients can read more about how content, delivery, participation, and measurement are handled across the spectrum of social media training programs, and about how Dell and Kimberly-Clark approach training, in the full report.
Do you have any thoughts, advice, or experiences to share about social training programs? If so, head to the comments section and tell us!