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Social Media Disasters and the Importance of Employee Training

  • 3 Min Read

Here are seven strategies companies can use to give employees the skills they need to prevent social media disasters.

There’s been quite a lot of evidence in the media lately of why companies must tread carefully in this digital day and age.

Negative customer interactions (especially if caught on camera and video) can often spark social media brushfires. And with social platforms’ amplification powers, those brushfires have a bad habit of quickly turning into raging PR infernos that can badly burn a brand’s image.

Much of what is written about such social disasters is centered around managing the aftermath. We’ve read all the thought pieces and media analyses, but there’s far too little analysis around WHY they occurred in the first place and what can be done to prevent them.

While having a strong social media policy is only one piece of that puzzle, to make prevention efforts truly effective, companies need to address the root cause: the people who often find themselves on the front lines—employees. Here are seven strategies your company can use to prepare employees and prevent social media disasters.

Train all employees on the company’s voice and brand

Employees are a company’s best and most frequent ambassadors. Teach them how to “talk” about the company in all situations (with friends, family, industry groups, customers, external stakeholders, etc.). Get everyone singing from the same song sheet!

Set employee expectations with competencies

Develop and share leadership and technical competencies to support your company’s vision and brand. Competencies help employees understand the skills, behaviors, and attitudes they are expected to demonstrate in their role, as well as steps needed to increase their proficiency levels. They also enable meaningful coaching conversations between an employee and their manager with a focus on an employee’s strengths and areas for growth, and can guide conversations around suggested training, and development opportunities.

Competencies also allow you to:

  • Recruit and select employees to ensure both organizational fit and the ability to succeed in their role
  • Have a set of performance expectations and measure contributions objectively
  • Focus employees on what is critical to enhancing their contribution in supporting organizational objectives
  • Provide a roadmap for employee development and career planning
  • Ensure you have the necessary competencies to successfully meet organizational objectives

Nurture the right workplace environment with leadership competencies

It’s crucial to establish, communicate and reinforce leadership competencies (the competencies that are expected in people leaders) to reinforce many key aspects that can help prevent a social media disaster, such as: modeling the right behavior; clarifying and consistently messaging key goals and objectives; and supporting, paying attention to, and caring about employees.

Offer manager 101 training

Managers play a KEY role in supporting the company brand, a healthy work environment, and achievement of company goals. It’s often said that people don’t leave the company, they leave their manager. So, anything and everything a company can do to support the effectiveness of their managers will naturally trickle down to better support and engage employees, and hopefully, decrease the likelihood that an employee goes and does something completely counter to the company’s brand.

Help employees maintain wellness and mental health

Most people who are at the heart of social media disasters aren’t really monsters, they’re people who were, for whatever reason, at the end of their rope. The more an organization can offer wellness, employee and family assistance supports, and encourage people to take advantage of them to support their own health and well-being, the less likely it is that individuals will get to that point of no return.

Add excitement and clarity to onboarding

Make your organization’s onboarding process less about signing HR documentation and more about establishing excitement and a very clear understanding around things like who you are, what makes you ‘you,’ and what’s expected of employees. This shouldn’t be a one-shot deal. Onboarding should really be a long-term process through which the brand/culture/purpose of the company continues to be reinforced over time.

Gather Feedback and act

Offer up lots of opportunities for employees to ask questions and give feedback: things like monthly fireside chats with senior leaders, yearly engagement surveys, staff meetings and online suggestion boxes. Create the kind of working environment where employees know there are lots of opportunities to engage in dialogue around what’s going on in the company, there’s transparency and questions are answered truthfully, and feedback is acted on when appropriate.

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