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Creating a Social Media Training Program that Works

It’s daunting, exhilarating, and a lot of hard work, all rolled into one…that’s the day in the life of social media! Each day is different as this social communication channel continues to evolve and grow. So how do organizations keep their best brand ambassadors (aka their executives, employees, contractors, vendors, partners, and customers) up-to-speed with social media?

While it’s really a mix of components, including policies and guidelines, communication, and clear strategies, training is a key component. There are a variety of social media webinars, chats, workshops, and other learning resources out there, but often times, a more robust training program is needed to educate new users and enable those with an existing skill set.

With a collaborative effort, a common goal, and a set of focused training courses, organizations can empower these ambassadors to use social media effectively, build their own reputations, and bolster the brand. Internally our Corporate Social Media Marketing team has been working hard to build a robust training program for employees, contractors, executives, partners, and customers. Below is a summary of highlights from this expanded program, tips to creating a similar initiative, and an opportunity to participate in the upcoming @ciscosocial #smtraining Twitter chat on August 2, 2012 at 9am PDT. (Please note new date.)

Cisco Social Media Training Snapshot

After assessing internal company training needs around social media and existing resources, we looked for ways to expand learning, developing the following model and implementing it this past May.

Cisco's Corporate Social Media Marketing Training Program Snapshot

Courses are offered across Cisco both in live and on-demand session formats to accommodate different regions on an ongoing basis. And in the true spirit of collaboration, we work with Cisco subject matter experts (SMEs), global social media peers, fellow team members, and even a few guest speakers. Not only does this approach create a stronger shared investment across the company, but it also enables those interested in stretch goals, the opportunity to participate in a larger role. Lastly, the program includes special incentives including three levels of certification and gaming badges to earn along the way.

Since we launched the first course on May 29, 2012, we have seen a huge interest in the training programs with over 550 participants, with many on their way to the first level of social media certification! As the word gets out internally to more and more teams, we are seeing larger registration and participation across organizations such as engineering, support, marketing, sales, and several others.

Currently, we are also offering a smaller partner-focused set of training sessions. And at the end of this summer, we will launch the executive-focused track of this program, followed by customer training opportunities in 2013.

Tips to Create a Training Program

Creating a training program like the one described above takes resources, time, determination, and support. Here are some tips to developing this type of training program:

  1. Get to know the audience, internal and external.
  2. Assess the current training resources available to these audiences.
  3. Outline gaps in courses, materials, and other types of resources.
  4. Create a social media training strategy and get management buy-in.
  5. Look for ways to leverage existing resources, internal team member expertise, and external contacts.
  6. Build content that resonates with audiences, sharing a mix of best practices, techniques, and examples.
  7. Tie into the organization’s overall training programs and systems.
  8. Start out slow, evaluate course feedback and ratings, and build out program accordingly.
  9. Identify opportunities to gamify the program to further incent participants.
  10. Recognize those that reach milestones and acknowledge participant feedback and needs.

Over the course of the next several months, we will share more program details and best practices.

In the meantime, let’s meet up virtually for a @ciscosocial Twitter chat to learn more from each other regarding social media training and how different organizations are developing this type of education. Join us on August 2 at 9am PDT, following #smtraining, directly on Twitter or another Twitter application. (Please note new date.)

What questions are top-of-mind for you regarding social media training? Share your feedback with us using the comment section below and we’ll incorporate your questions into this special Twitter chat.

This post was developed in collaboration with Petra Neiger (@petra1400).

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