For all of you in companies around the world who are wondering what place to give social media — you’ve heard about it, you know there’s quite a bit of hype, but that you should be “doing it” — here’s a piece of free advice: invest in training your staff and providing them with the “social media” skillset.
The trend I see these days is companies and organizations hiring social media consultants, strategists, and community managers. They want somebody to “do their social media stuff”, and often this person is external to the company.
Take a few steps back and think about computing. Nobody today would even dream of hiring somebody into the company to deal with the “computer stuff”. Instead, employees simply know how to do things on a computer. Some more than others, I’ll grant you that, but “working on the computer” is usually so much part of the job description for any office position that it’s not even specified in the job description anymore.
A few years from now, it’ll be the same thing with social media. Knowledge workers will know how to write a blog post (or even open a blog and manage it to some extent), use a wiki, create an event on Facebook and use their network to promote it, set up a Twitter account and put a video on YouTube — just as your average knowledge worker today knows how to create a Word document, send an e-mail, search for something on the web.
You can wait until people naturally learn how to do these things, or the younger, more social-media-literate generation invades the workplace — but you can also speed things up by actively providing your employees with opportunities to acquire these skills.
And yes, shameless plug: if you’re looking for somebody to train your staff, this is clearly something I do (I’m working on preparing proper marketing material for my services these days, so in a few weeks I’ll hopefully have shiny handouts/PDFs describing all the things I do).