Note: The following is a guest post from Kaitlyn Wilkins, a vice president with the 360 Digital Influence Group at Ogilvy Public Relations Wordlwide who also leads Ogilvy’s global social media training initiative. She also authors The Catch Up Lady, a popular social media blog, and co-host of That Social Media Show, a weekly podcast covering industry news and trends. This is the third in a series of front-line perspective guest posts from social media thinkers working in agencies and firms around the world.

Previous posts are listed below.


Learn by Tatiana Popova on ShutterstockIt’s a testament to where the WOM industry is today that there is no longer a small group of experts (or douchebags, depending on who you talk to) evangelizing social media. Major agencies like Ogilvy have social media groups of significant size, dispersed across the globe – and iconic brands from Ford to PepsiCo are bringing people in-house to manage social media efforts. However, the rapid adoption and acceptance of social media creates a new challenge for agencies and brands alike – how do we spread the gospel fast, in a way that creates smart, nimble strategists and executioners at every level of an organization?

On the client side, there is recognition that the current organization model is not set up to accommodate social media and its real time cadence. At present the solution to this problem is to transparently allow agency partners to help co-manage social media campaigns (i.e. help run a Twitter handle, or community manage.) This is clearly not a long term fix for social media dialogue which is predicated on two-way dialogue between consumers and brands. While organizational re-alignment and new hires can take time, internal social media training efforts can help build capacity and increased understanding right away.

Clients aren’t the only ones who need to deepen the bench. Agencies are also moving quickly to integrate social media into the fabric of their business, and the way that their people think about communication. In short, this is not a fad and the agency as a whole must understand the basics of social media sales, strategy and execution so that the specialized team can focus on advanced campaign efforts and leaning forward with innovation.

Can you solve your social media program by hiring a new generation of employees? Um…. No. Millennials are digital natives to be sure – but their day-to-day knowledge of using Facebook to post study abroad pics in no way translates to a deep understanding of social media’s business applications. Are there exceptions to this rule? Brilliant young people who have used social to establish themselves as a brand, launch a business, or promote an issue – for sure. But they still need someone to help apply their expertise to the business. The solution is a hybrid of hiring social media experts (young and old), and training great thinkers you already have.

Social media can unlock a lot of potential in your organization, whether you’re an agency or a brand. I am spearheading Ogilvy PR’s global social media training program and our team has been creating and delivering market-specific trainings around the world this fall – from London to Mexico City to San Francisco. A few tips that I’d pass along to anyone delivering social media training:

  1. Find the Best Candidates.
    Not everyone who claims to be interested in receiving training is the best candidate, or truly has bandwidth to apply what they’ve learned. Provide all-office training opportunities on high level subjects, but use a screening process to make sure you have the right people in the room for high level immersions.
  2. Assign Homework.
    Waaa waaaa. You never get as much time for training as you’d like, and assigning your trainees homework can help make sure they walk in the door with a baseline exposure to platforms or ideas. One of my favorite things to do is to ask everyone to visit Peter Kim’s great wiki of social media campaigns and then write a paragraph case study to deliver to the group. It gets people thinking about social and forces them to visit a treasure trove of great examples, driving home the point that this is something almost every brand under the sun is engaged with.
  3. Make It Hands On.
    Could I make you a kick ass deck breaking down how Radian6 works? Yes, but watching me click through the slides would make you want to punch me in the face, if you were still awake. Go through the trouble of getting everyone laptops, and make sure your training is a mix of lecture and application. Structure the application time, and make sure you have enough trainers to help all the trainees in the room maximize the time you given to experiment.
  4. Use It or Lose It.
    Training a group of people on social media, having them walk out the door and not apply it for months (or ever…) is not a win. Make sure that the people you provide in-depth training to can immediately apply what they’ve learned on the job.
  5. Stay Connected.
    Create a big tent that people who have gone through social media training can come together under. A wiki, weekly calls, or ongoing training opportunities is a great way to keep everyone’s wheels turning.

Determine the right kind of training for your organization, and get it going today via internal experts or external counsel. The social media bus isn’t waiting.

IMAGE: By Tatiana Popova on Shutterstock.com

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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  • http://www.mattarney.com/ matt anrey

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  • MaryAnnHalford

    Kaitlyn, thanks for a terrific post. I agree that training a young troop of Jedis is mission critical to successful management of social media in an organization. I am also glad to see Ogilvy dedicated to hands on training – in fact, your tips sound like Social Media Boot Camp!

    At the same time, I also think that the Yoda's with the real business wisdom also need to be further enlightened on the power of social media so that they can better manage the Jedis.

  • echandler

    Thanks for the great post. I couldn't agree more. I've been working with a few people in developing our agency “training” program and so far the feedback has been great. One thing I think we'll try incorporating next is your wiki idea. We receive follow up questions afterward, but it drops of pretty much the day following the session I'd love to keep the conversation going.

    Thanks again!

  • http://www.sonnygill.com Sonny Gill

    Great ideas and tips here on conducting social media training for your agency/business. I think the biggest thing that I've seen overlooked is the follow-through. The now what. Everything that comes AFTER the initial training. Jumping into periodic refreshes and updates to what's happening in the SM space is as important as the training itself, and can have a huge impact on the overall culture – and whether that training will result in a domino effect on education/understanding with other would-be Jedis within the agency.

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  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ ryanstephens

    A lot of this feels pretty standard to me, though useful for those that might be behind the curve. The one I take issue with is the homework.

    Why give them something that they should already be aware of (or be able to discover on their own) provided they're a 'best candidate?' Then having them write a case study to deliver to the group feels like busy work to me.

    Why not challenge them to come up with ways they'd enhance Ogilvy's efforts (or a specific clients efforts), and then you can give them Peter's list as a resource to start with. I don't know that I'd even do that – I'd want the 'best' candidates to be savvy and resourceful enough to seek out and find those types of things. My favorite people to work with are those that create their own homework without it being given to them.

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  • http://filtrbox.com/blog arinewman

    I'm not sure how you magically find the “best candidates” without some trial and error. Some people just get social media and love participating in the conversation, and others may not get it at first but end up being phenomenal once they see it working.

    We are big fans of creating/developing social media ninjas to lead the charge. I'm not sure if a training class can turn a neophyte into a ninja overnight however. I tend to see them emerge over time as they work on SM projects or the light bulb really goes on for them. Its cool to see it happen.

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  • kaitlynwilkins

    Thanks for the comments all.

    @ryanstephens – the beauty of this approach is that it can be scaled up or down based on your audience. The examples I gave are pretty basic – but we use this model for even our most advanced programs. In those cases “homework” is much more advanced and provides a level-appropriate exploratory benefit. At Ogilvy we have a four track training approach for various levels and a clear system for identifying those that are participating *and* applying their learnings. Creating an organizational framework to lay an approach on top of is unique to every group – but a useful formula nonetheless.

    @arinewman – I agree with your statement, we have had a lot of trial and error in determining the right way to ID candidates and do end up with a mix of handraisers and those that we select. (To your point, giving people who might not seem like the most obvious candidate a chance to excel.) Agreed with your comment and Sonny Gill's that the real value comes with the follow up. Whether you create a wiki to stay in touch, or (hopefully) actively apply new trainees to work.

    One thing I didn't mention in my post that I should have is the importance of tying training to REAL work that trainees are involved with. We ask a team leader within the trainee group to fill out strategic briefs that apply to real client work that we can use as the basis for our time together – it's been immensely helpful and I'd recommend it to anyone doing training.

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  • helterskelter42

    After I've been hired as a Media Consultant by the company I am still working for, it took me a lot of time to convenience my boss that all the employers would need a short media training/presentation. These skills are well needed in any media/marketing company nowadays.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Won't get any argument here. I think all media training, even
      interview skills and more, are good for almost every employee. Thanks
      for the comment.

  • helterskelter42

    After I've been hired as a Media Consultant by the company I am still working for, it took me a lot of time to convenience my boss that all the employers would need a short media training/presentation. These skills are well needed in any media/marketing company nowadays.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Won't get any argument here. I think all media training, even
    interview skills and more, are good for almost every employee. Thanks
    for the comment.

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