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Social Media Rollout: train or not to train?

For quite some time I’ve thought that having to train people to use social media inside a firewall is an admission of failure, in the sense that if training is needed, then the solution is too complicated. As I start to compile a preso on best practice enterprise social network roll-out, I’m starting to wonder more and more about this.

Full-blown training is I think not what’s needed. But as in so many familiar processes, there’s a lot unsaid that only gets articulated when a complete novice asks the show-stopping question of ‘why x rather than z?’ There’s more at stake than a joint learning exercise though. Lack of social media literacy amongst workers is for Dion Hinchcliffe No 1 uptake  issue.  Pointing to basics most of us take for granted, like netiquette, Dion also notes that old lags are going to be much more at home with social media than those who rarely or never use it.

Even the basics of netiquette as well as key techniques to get the most from social computing platforms such as encouraging the building of links between data, tagging information, or establishing weak ties over the network are often poorly understood even by frequent users of social computing tools. In short, social computing requires some literacy efforts in most organizations to achieve effectiveness, just like personal computing skills did a few decades ago.

Ten top issues in adopting enterprise social computing

Now if we add to this 2 salient facts then the picture becomes volatile. All the studies I’ve read tend to recommend that one ought to:

1) Get enthusiastic involved

2) Get leaders involved – (stakeholder support)

But, and here’s the but, we know that getting execs involved is difficult. Dion again:

Despite even the earliest Enterprise 2.0 case studies confirming that social tool adoption is greatly improved by an organization’s top personnel leading by example, these are often the folks that have the least time to participate and little practical experience in doing so.

Quite often in my experience there’s a willingness to engage with the technology, but I sense a distinct lack of comfort.  What I think is happening here is a fear of the new of feeling that they ‘ought’ to know this new fangled trendy 2.0 stuff but a nervous knowledge that they don’t. Add to this the presence of eager enthusiasts and the problem increases.

It’s essential for a successful Social Media Rollout I believe, to provide handy cheat-sheets, informal training and at times 1-1 sessions with key execs if you want to get them on board. The execs have potentially a great deal to offer in both their expertise and setting the lead, but may not come on board unless they feel comfortable. Even if it all looks easy to the digital native, it might not to someone who is unfamiliar with the online world.