Creating New Jedis With Social Media Training

by Jason Falls |

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

From The Front Lines Previous Posts

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls 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 Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).