So what’s a small business owner to do with social media novices? Train them, of course. By giving your new recruits (and even your current ones) a quick social media boot camp, you can not only avoid embarrassing flubs by your staff, but they can quickly learn social media on their own and come up with new ways to bring your business to another level.
Here are seven important tips for smart social media training of new employees:
1. Consider writing guidelines or a social media policy: A policy can clear up confusion and help you keep employee focus away from what they shouldn’t do and towards what they should be doing. We wrote great guides on whether you should have a policy and 10 must-haves for any social media policy over at Mashable.
2. Make it clear you aren’t policing: The focus is on ways to use social media to promote the business, rather than ways to avoid embarrassment. Make that clear to new recruits and stress that you won’t be policing. Rather, you’ll be trusting in their good judgment and their ability to control privacy settings. The Associated Press quickly learned what happens when you become overbearing.
3. Test their social media knowledge: You’re going to have to individualize each employee’s social media training. While one may have 10,000 followers on Twitter, the other may have no idea what a blog even is. Don’t assume everyone’s at the same level.
4. Have them start their own blog: If your employees have writing-specific duties, give them a homework assignment: start your own blog. The practice of setting up a WordPress account, writing posts, and promoting them is real-world education.
5. Give them required reading: Give them a good book or two on using Twitter or pitching to blogs. Give them a set of blogs (don’t forget Mashable!) that they need to read. Have them subscribe via RSS for efficiency’s sake. Finally, encourage them to subscribe to other blogs and explore their interests.
6. Hand them the reigns: They can read and learn, but you have to trust them eventually with the reigns. Once your new employees are getting comfortable, have them tweeting, making videos, and coming up with initiatives. The more they submerge themselves, the faster they’ll learn.
7. Impress upon them the importance of social media: Yes, some employees simply won’t get it unless you put it into context. Explain how far your reach goes with a single tweet, or provide examples of how businesses were hurt by an inability to understand Facebook. Here are examples of social media blunders and 10 successful brands in social media.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, shironosov