Social Media Education – Is it necessary?

To many people, being social is a natural behavior and using social media just an extension. Yet others feel they need to know more than just polishing their network profiles and using the new media to blast out information. In recent month social media education even became a prerequisite to get engaged in consulting projects or being hired – simply because there are too many wonnabe “experts” and too less people with a sound understanding how to leverage social media in business.

In order to develop a successful social media strategy, try and error is not enough. Experimenting with the new media is nice but the risk to make mistakes and burn connections is high. Playing with one or the other idea is interesting but the contribution to the overall corporate strategy most likely insignificant.

How can social media education help company teams to improve their business ?

1) Help understand how a cross functional engagement improves business results, reduces cost:

– Social media is ideally used to create a better customer experience and eventually grow the business through advocacy and customer engagement.
– Social media is used to develop better relationships with customers, partners and other market constituencies and reduce marketing cost as well as cost of sales.
– Social media is used to gather market information earlier than with traditional techniques and reduce risk of product failure.
– Social media is used to enrich the support experience, reduce support cost and increase the general best practices and knowledge base around a product or service.

2) Provide Methods, models and frameworks

In order to achieve the above objectives and results it is too risky and costly to experiment with tools, look what others did and just hope it will work out for you.

– A proven and well defined social media strategy framework helps to build a strategy from ground up. The objective must be to execute such a strategy with your existing team and at no additional cost – instead reduce current cost and increase market share and brand reputation

– A proven and well structured social media planning framework helps create and execute a social media plan. Such a plan needs to be the result of your strategy and not just a marketing campaign. The execution of such a plan need to be in collaboration with your market and not a “marble tower” based “campaign”.

– Tools selection is based on strategy and planning not what is emotionally interesting. A good social media engagement model selects tools and networks based on the strategy outcome only – not based on opinion of individual users.

– A network engagement model like the NCP model teaches ways to engage with a business purpose and objectives that lead to measurable results. Avoiding the social media time traps is key to an efficient engagement. Customers want to be heard – organizations need to learn to list with the resources they have.

– Increased brand reputation is not a strategy but the result of a well executed social customer engagement and well understood advocacy model. It requires a structured assessment in the first place to actually understand the needs and the wants from the market.

– Over 90% of organizations with no social media background make the same fatal mistake: Either create a small team or hire an agency that does the “social media thing” – while the rest of the organization does business as usual. A well defined organization model and responsibility model with a simple but helpful social media guideline need to be developed in order to generate the goals and objectives we discussed in the previous paragraph.

3) Provide hands on exercises and real world experience

The key to successful education is more than just theoretic learning about social media basics – it is about getting first hand real life experience. The majority of the Social Medias Master Class education is real world exercises and projects that are performed by the attendees of the class. The certification documents what an attendee learned and he or she can finish the program with first hand social media strategy building experience. The Academy invites businesses to provide their cases and develop a full featured assessment, strategy and social media execution plan with the attendees of the masters class.

How does education change in a fast changing industry?

The Social Media Academy curriculum was put together in 2008 with the first class starting in 2009. Only little has changed and here is why: The tools changed, the number of people joining the social web changed, the leadership list of the tools changed – but the behavioral and attitudinal aspects didn’t change. The methods, models and frameworks we developed over the course of the part 5 years changed only marginal and basically solidified over time – but didn’t change in its foundation. The faculty has over 7 years experience, starting to engage in social media in 2003 or 2004.

The future of social media consultants

There are tens of thousands of social media consultants who are able to create a fan page, have a few cool ideas to attract clients to join groups or retweet a caned phrase from a website – that is all cute but doesn’t even scratch the surface of a well developed customer engagement strategy. Whether consultants like it or not: a few reference cases of social media marketing engagements won’t be enough to win major projects in the future. Customers are getting more and more demanding when it comes to strategy developed and execution. Social media consultants need to have a rock solid toolbox of methods, models and frameworks to win engagements. An education like the Masters Class brings one additional benefit: A methodology standard that is used by consultants around the world that allows even global projects to be conducted based on that expertise.


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