I had the opportunity this week of running two social media training sessions for managers. The sessions covered the basics of social media, the strategy, the events that have shaped the last three years and what the future could hold. It was a reminder of how important face-to-face communication can be to include people and help them to understand change.
Middle managers are often forgotten as the focus is on getting the bosses to understand and agree the strategy. For many this is one of the most challenging things and getting senior staff to support the use of social media is not easy as they are incredibly risk averse. It was a point that was discussed at a meeting in Manchester about the first Social Media Apprenticeships being developed by Tangerine PR. (It is an interesting concept and I hope that there will be many young people keen to get involved.) Company bosses need to understand how powerful social media can be to developing brands and opening new markets.
The other group of staff that have been at the forefront of support to embrace social media are the frontline staff. For many they are the people who are trusted to develop online conversations and build communities. We invest time in training and developing them, ensuring that they understand the legal implications and encouraging them to be innovative in their use of social media.
It is a fast-moving environment and if we can often overlook some key groups of staff that need to understand the changing world. For managers whose staff are using social media it can be an isolating time. They often don’t understand social networks and struggle to comprehend why organisations are moving online to develop conversations. Many of them are also actively avoiding having anything to do with social networks. It is not a position that can be allowed to continue otherwise they will be increasingly alienated by the world they are not able to grasp.
Once there is a significant group that are using social media, discussing it and looking to incorporate it into daily business then you may find a willingness among those who have been actively avoiding it. At that point, when they are resigned to the fact that they need to learn more you can provide the support and training. Hopefully, it will lead to more people who can help innovate and become creative in developing networks.
In providing the training this week I was keen to provide real-life examples of how frontline staff are using social networks to do business. There were so many great examples of how social media, Twitter and Facebook, are being used to help catch criminals, encourage people to come forward with information to tackle crime and even help people to be reunited with their stolen pets. I was grateful for the support of officers from Rochdale North who have been building networks using Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GMPRochdaleNorth?fref=ts) . I don’t know how many of the managers will have gained something for the training but I can only hope that if they don’t want to use networks they will realise why the organisation is investing in developing online communities.