The business world is experiencing a social media skills gap. For years, many businesses considered employee social media usage as something to be discouraged. At the least, it was thought of as a time waster and at worst, something that could gravely damage the business if done incorrectly. Gradually, the business world entered the social media realm. At first, companies typically had just one person or small team handling social. All other employees were to refrain from using it. Sometimes platforms like Facebook were even blocked on the office computers.
Toady, almost every department benefits from the use of social media. Just consider how it has enhanced the efforts of customer service, marketing, sales, branding and more. Employers now consider experience in social media a critical job skill and are desperately seeking employees with proficiency in this topic. Fast Company estimates that the current social media skills gap is costing companies billions of dollars in missed opportunities and lost revenue.
One reason for the social media skills gap is that social media for business has just recently begun to be formally taught in colleges. So there isn’t a big pool of social media literate candidates to choose from. It is also tough to find someone who is both knowledgeable about social and experienced in their job.
One big mistake is to just delegate these tasks to the youngest members of the team because they are familiar with Facebook. Professional usage of social media for business is very different from casual usage. Many candidates label themselves a ‘social media guru’ on their twitter bio—but usually, a closer look reveals that they have only used the platform to chat with friends.
Forward thinking companies are now taking steps to give on-the-job social media training to employees. They want to make sure that all company employees receive basic social media literacy and policy training. It is best to focus on concepts instead of specific platforms and features, since these are changing rapidly. Basic training should cover best practices such as: how to set up and optimize social profiles, guidelines for privacy settings and, most importantly, the specific company’s social media policy and guidelines. Additional training should also be tailored to the needs of a particular department.
Of course, the employees responsible for social media management need to know much more than the basics. These professionals need to have a myriad of skills including writing abilities, content creation, understanding of analytics, business strategy and more.
Making sure employees are well trained in social media will greatly reduce the risk of social media mishaps. It will also empower employees to do their jobs better, foster brand advocates and improve the business overall.