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How to run a social media training program — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Don Vanderslice of SocialMedia.org. Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

11:55 — SocialMedia.org’s Kurt Vanderah introduces Social Arts & Science Institute’s CEO and Co-Founder, Liz Brown Bullock.

11:56 — With the launch of Dell’s Social Media University, Liz says she will explain 10 ideas from what we learned about taking your program forward.

Liz asks some big questions: What is the purpose of your training program? Why are you doing it? What’s the benefit for customers? For employees?

Liz: We discovered three years ago that 10,000 conversations a day were happening about Dell in English. Today it’s 30,000. So we asked ourselves, “How can we get more Dell employees active in these conversations (at the time only 400+ were active in conversations)?”

11:57 — Liz says executives are critical to the success of your social training program. She explains:

11:58 — 1. Identify active employees. SocialLook.com and FollowerWonk.com can help you do this.

11:59 — 2. Identify business objections. For Dell it was about risk mitigation. We needed to project employees. And it was about activation so that we could be a better business across the board.

12:02 — 3. Build training content tied to objectives. Employees have limited time. Figure out what content is most important for your employees to know and how does that ladder back up to business objectives.

12:03 — Liz: We wanted to change employees actions. We wanted them to listen and to engage. To help with this we created a lot of actionable content.

12:04 — 4. Balance between the “what” and the “how.” We are focused a lot on the “what,” but the “how” is equally important. How do we fundamentally change behavior and train employees to do this stuff? We did a lot of writing exercises and created dialogues for them.

12:05 — 5. Package your program. Most employees hate training. Package the program and make it exciting. Good examples of those who do it differently: McDonald’s and Hamburger University. Sprint Ninja Program. Dell’s Social Media and Community University (SMaC U).

12:06 — Liz: Dell gave actual certificates with certification. Employees loved getting them.

12:07 — 6. Tie the right metrics to the journey. Social media training is a journey: From awareness to adoption to results.

12:08 — 7. Use executives to drive program awareness. At Dell, we created an unconference. We unveiled SMaC U that day. Michael Dell participated along with CMO – this showed our employees that this was a big deal.

12:09 — 8. Continue the conversation and “ride the bike.” At the end of the day, the learning always continues after the classroom, so figure out a way for employees to continue the conversation. We launched a chatter group for them to talk to each other, ask and answer questions, write practice posts, etc.

12:10 — 9. Co-create with your best employees. Ask them the things they need to learn — where they have gaps. Use rockstar employees as examples in training content. Pilot training classes with employees.

12:11 — 10. Identify and reward small courageous steps. This is so powerful that if it’s done the wrong way an employee could be fired. So encourage them, award them, have VPs send emails to them. Celebrate them!

12:12 — Liz: Social is fundamentally changing the way employees and companies are behaving.

Q & A:

Q: How did you do this and scale it?

A: Liz: We started off in person first. It was so critical to have someone in person to answer questions and cheer them along. We realized it wasn’t scalable but we wanted to start in the right way. We then moved to online courses.

Q: What are the costs of your program?

A: Liz: In person was a lot cheaper than online training. When I came on the team, we had no budget, so we did the presentations and training ourselves. Online costs more because we wanted a different online experience for our employees. We wanted them to have a great experience. It cost us about $60,000 per session.

Q: Did you pilot your program and how did you select the first participants?

A: Liz: We opened it up to everyone, but we also went out and targeted who we wanted to activate (and those were the 400-ish employees that were already actively engaging in conversations on behalf of Dell). If you are going to go after a group, make sure it’s a group that has strong executive support.

Q: How do you integrate fun while lowering risk?

A: Liz: We do a lot of different scenarios, but some of the scenarios we picked were so ridiculous in nature they were funny. By the way, they were all true — We didn’t make any of them up! Employees loved it and it helped them learn how to respond.

Q: What was the hardest part of the process for you?

A: Liz: The executive piece — they were all on board. We noticed that our active employees were going to the management teams and the management team was saying, “no.” We had to create a different track for middle management and address unique issues that they faced.

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