These days, growing a business is more complex than simply making sales. Brands need to demonstrate they are worthy of doing business with; Consumers want to know who and what is behind the business. They want to get to know its people, values and ethics before they make a decision to buy.
Greater emphasis is being placed on the way large corporates interact with their local communities, their commitment to the environment and the economy at large. This all means a challenge for businesses in getting information out to their audiences in a timely and authentic manner.
In a nutshell, simply focusing on making money is no longer enough to be a successful business. There’s an added responsibility to become a part of something bigger.
With this in mind, it would seem one of the best ways to reach audiences and become socially activate in a truly authentic way, is to harness the power of the collective employee voice.
In fact, according to the National Business Research Institute, having just 12% of your employees acting as advocates for the brand will double your revenue growth.
Revenue obviously remains one of the best measures of business success out the way we achieve it is no longer the same. Businesses are likely to experience slower growth if they are not present in the social media world.
Buyers are savvy and want to see value and credibility before they commit. 96% of buyers said B2B vendors could improve the quality of their content by minimising the traditional sales messages.
Delivering a successful brand to the market reaches more deeply and widely into an organisation’s culture than ever before.
And the key to this are your employees and their willingness to take part in this process.
Activating employees on social media.
Here, Tribal Impact we believe social presence and active employee voices are a fundamental element of business success. Because of this, we are passionate about continuously exploring the most effective ways on how to socially activate your organisation.
Activating Employee Voices On Social Media
Because we believe social presence and active employee voices are a fundamental element of business success, we’ve chosen to look at how to socially activate your organisation in the most effective way.
According to PostBeyond, average adoption rates for initiatives such as employee advocacy are just 53%. This statistic is important because in a social world, if your employees are not speaking out, you will lose ground against your competitors who have harnessed this powerful resource.
In order to maximise the power of your employees’ voices, you need to be strategic with the way you upskill them.
It’s not enough to simply continue offering training to your employees. Their education needs to be carefully planned and properly targeted.
In fact, well-designed and targeted training is key to increasing your percentage adoption rates when it comes to employee advocacy and, for the best outcomes, this training needs to be strategic and carefully managed.
Enter Learning and Development. Who better to devise and own a lifetime training program which will embed a new way of working and move the organisation from one which trains people to one which lives and breathes a learning culture?
Just by embracing this subtle difference, firms can drive growth for individuals as well as for the collective business. Individuals become more motivated as they are able to better themselves and this, in turn, creates more loyalty and mobility within the workforce.
Done The Right Way, Learning Is A Motivator
Learning is a motivator and research shows that a lack of career progression is one of the main reasons people leave organisations (ukrecruiter.co.uk) so the argument for a clear, documented training journey, which adds real value to individuals and the organisation as a whole, is plain.
Add to this the fact that upskilling existing employees is the most popular way to fill ’hard-to-recruit-for positions (CIPD) and there are plenty of reasons to invest in a menu of training that can be accessed across the organisation.
In fact, there are many business savings to be had just in these two areas, with the cost of bringing a new employee into an organisation now thought to be around £30,000. (BrightHR.com)
Let’s look at learning in the context of social media training. Training for social activation is a good case study as people tend to put their learning into practice straight away.
Because the results are also easily traced, in terms of clicks, engagement and website traffic, this skills area illustrates why providing bespoke, bite-sized training really works. (Plus, we also know that 31% of high-growth firms have an employee advocacy program so the link to success is real and proven – Hinge Marketing & Social Media Today study).
It’s too easy to simply purchase lots of licences for generic online training, which you hope will help people to understand the benefits of being socially active and acting as an advocate.
You could even run some workshops and sheep-dip the workforce through them. But would you really expect such a generic strategy to yield results?
Aligning Social Media Training At Point Of Need
At Tribal we have a proven training strategy which is to “train the masses, train the many, train the few”.
By taking this approach we ensure we think about the ‘why’ of any training we are delivering which immediately allows us to deliver tailored experiences to different parts of our clients’ organisations.
Taking this approach means we can appeal to all learning styles and ensure everyone is improving, whatever their starting point or their end goal. And it’s okay for these end goals to differ.
According to LinkedIn, just 3% of your employees sharing social content can deliver 30% of your total engagement so you don’t need to mould everyone on the payroll into a social influencer.
Training also needs to reach further than the main body of employees. There needs to be consideration given to the onboarding process for new starters.
To become a truly social business, the approach needs to be built into every process. People need to see it as part of the culture. It should be accepted as a way of working and have a clear home within the business in order for it to be driven, refined and measured.
We believe Learning and Development professionals are best placed to design, own and implement a business-wide learning culture.
The Complexities Of The Training Need
Training is a highly complex requirement and that’s why it’s really hard to get it right for everyone. Running company-wide workshops or rolling out e-learning to every desktop and/or mobile device is expensive and time-consuming in terms of downtime while training is being carried out.
Sticking with the social media theme, every individual has a different starting point in terms of social maturity, they have different motivations, and they have different learning styles.
If you take a strategic approach to training, you will not only instantly save money, you’ll get a better return for the budget you do spend.
That’s because a generic workshop will always be wasted on delegates who simply don’t value the skills being taught and are therefore disengaged, or those who aren’t wired to learn in a classroom environment.
When you take a strategic approach to training, all these factors are considered, along with where people want to end up, what their aspirations are and what their role requires.
The team best-placed to own this are Learning and Development who can then ensure that the budget per employee given for training gets a maximum return and is directly traceable to business growth.
Creating a learning culture is an essential step in the path to business growth. Sales may generate the revenue but placing Learning and Development at the heart of the company will enable your people to become the best versions of themselves and therefore maximise revenue.
In order to deliver the complexities of every individual training need, strategic planning and business-wide collaboration are key to providing good outcomes and good value for money.
This can only happen effectively if Learning and Development teams are empowered to operate as data-driven professionals who have the tools and evidence to convince the business of the case for investment in an approach known as ‘blended learning’.
A Strategic Approach To Employee Social Media Training
At Tribal, our strategy to training is focused on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of helping people learn to the best of their ability.
It enables us to personalise the training experience according to people’s initial level of knowledge, their ultimate goal and the individual ‘tweaks’ they might need during their learning journey.
When it comes to activating your workforce socially, to train the masses, you need self-serve e-learning sessions, perhaps tied in to prompts based on behaviour – “we see you’ve only shared once on LinkedIn – here’s a 5 minute e-learning module for you to take a look at.”
Your training platform needs to be mobile friendly as well – you might not be the sort of business where people can jump on a PC to take their training, so you need to consider this when building your program.
Training the many is about targeting advanced training at a certain selection of people. The best approach for this is webinars or workshops where more detail can be imparted because people are likely now starting to need education on more complex activity.
Training the few means delivering very targeted learning for specific individuals. These might be social champions who you want to grow further or senior executives who are struggling to be socially active.
The latter need to be coached to understand the benefits of the approach and to learn how to engage without losing too much time in their diary.
Therefore, when training the few, do so via one-to-one sessions.
For this blended approach to work, an organisation needs a pick-and-mix selection of training to be available. They can then identify different employee journeys and arrange bespoke packages of training accordingly.
The training needs to be engaging, easy to access and easy to digest. It needs to fit into individual routines to encourage people to take part and implement learnings without feeling overwhelmed.
Again, by involving experts from the Learning and Development team, these factors can be addressed by people with the right experience and knowledge.
Training Solutions And Choices
E-learning has certainly allowed greater flexibility in training staff, as well as saving the effort associated with putting large groups of employees through time-consuming workshops.
It’s more adaptable to different individual needs and can be delivered in a modular format.
However, it isn’t always the right medium for everyone, or at every stage of the learning journey. It is better in bite-sized chunks, so people don’t feel daunted by hours of time at their screen without any real interaction.
Plus, without a strategic approach to training, licences tend to be bought as and when there’s a need, leading to disparate offerings across the business and a lack of cohesion in terms of quality and cost.
Blended Learning will utilise e-learning when it is most powerful: to train the masses in the initial launch of a program or tool, for example. But there will almost certainly also be a need for webinars aimed at smaller groups and 1-2-1 learning for executives who need to become more socially active.
Allowing the Learning and Development team to have ownership of the learning strategy allows them to create consistency across the business and drive a learning culture where employees can follow a journey which also allows a detour for any specific needs.
Using data to set goals to achieve this is a powerful way to ensure everyone in the organisation can improve through training, regardless of their natural ability or requirement.
Training is no longer a tick-box activity, but instead, a true avenue to business growth and a much easier way to prove return on investment.
So, what are the optimum ways to deliver social media training across the organisation? Based on the differing needs of your internal audience, try the following approach:
- Leadership/C-Suite – a truly socially-activated organisation needs to have a leadership team who walk the talk. They can use social media to engage employees and attract talent to the business by showing a transparent culture.
- Sales – your sales reps can be at the forefront of a new way of working by using social selling to deepen customer relationships on social media (especially at a time where they can’t meet face to face) and creating referral networks in a scalable way.
- Marketing – it’s up to this team to understand the digital impact of engaging employees on social media and track their impact compared to other sources of traffic. They can do this by measuring employee reach, earned media value and existing digital metrics e.g. conversion by source.
- Subject Matter Experts – these people are the oil in the machine when it comes to sourcing and creating relevant content for your customers. They can also work alongside external influencers to create content that drives increased reach and engagement.
- Employees – all employees should be given the opportunity to find their voice within their business and understand the importance of building a digital brand in the context of their career prospects. They will move at different speeds when it comes to adoption and reach different levels in their social maturity, but this is all part of having a diverse and authentic social presence online.
Aligning Learning And Development With Other Departments
To establish a true learning culture, which then enables this frictionless approach to training, the Learning and Development team need to be able to operate from a business leadership position, not that of a support function.
They need to be aligned with each business department in order to truly understand the needs of the business before planning an appropriate training strategy.
Traditionally, Learning and Development would rarely have a regular interface with Marketing. However, consider an employee advocacy program. We know the data from the tool itself will provide detailed insight into behaviours which will, in turn, drive training needs.
The requirement will then be for micro-models which can then be targeted at users in order to correct behaviours – such as spamming, lapsed activity, or lack of value-add on content shared.
With training modules that are this focused, employees will be able to instantly activate their learning by trying out new skills immediately.
As a team, Learning and Development are then in a position to demonstrate the impact of training on tool usage and adoption, which is a far clearer line of sight to ROI than has previously been possible (another benefit from working more closely with marketing).
The Benefits Of Adopting A Learning Culture
Ultimately, the benefits of strategic training will impact many areas of the business and this is another argument for taking a joined-up approach, particularly when it comes to creating a social business.
By instigating conversations with their marketing, sales and operational counterparts, Learning and Development can:
- Save spend on generic training (which won’t achieve the same outcome for all delegates)
- Target training to get maximum ROI from each session
- Reduce staff turnover and therefore recruitment costs due to increased motivation and career progression
- Attract top talent to the organisation (in fact, social businesses are 58% more likely to attract talent according to LinkedIn)
- Effectively upskill internal staff to fill hard-to-recruit-for posts
- Help to drive a more innovative culture (learning drives innovation and innovation drives long-term growth) by creating an environment where people can find their areas of interest, establish a niche and become a known expert in it
- Drive ever higher activity levels which directly increase website traffic and brand awareness
- Improve brand visibility and perception to increase interest among talent, therefore reducing job advertisement and hiring process costs
- Create economies of scale, consistency and quality in training provided
- Provide clear line-of-sight linking people development and business growth
- Become a data-driven department with evidence and a strong business case for investment
From Learning And Development To Learning And Performance?
Commonly, senior executives are not interested in learning and development as much as performance.
But, by employing your Learning and Development professionals to deliver the solution they have trained and studied to understand, they can build a case for Learning and Development to be seen as the conduit to performance.
Learning cultures can transform organisations. We’ve looked at the ways high returns on investment can be driven and, in such competitive times, attracting top talent to your business has to be a priority for ambitious corporate leaders.
It’s proven that talent is more drawn to socially active businesses, not least because the employees themselves will provide a ‘from the horses’ mouth’ account of their working experience and may even directly introduce friends and acquaintances.
This not only puts money straight back to the bottom line by saving on recruitment costs and lead times, it also guarantees higher conversions from interview to new starter.
This entire process starts with taking a more strategic approach to training; giving ownership, and therefore consistency and better measurement and tracking, to your Learning and Development team; and flows through a motivating and rewarding business journey to result in bigger and better growth opportunities.
Might it be time we changed the description and remit of Learning and Development and called them Learning and Performance?