Spirited Communication

Who Needs Training on Social Media, Anyway? (Part 2)

Commakazi was taught to prepare employees before launching a new business tool. But is social media different? Does it offer a 'new way' to roll out social media tools?

Commakazi was taught to prepare employees before launching a new business tool. But is social media different? Does it offer a ‘new way’ to roll out social media tools?

In Part 1 of this two-part post, I posed the question of whether the success of a social media implementation requires training and a formal introduction within an organization. I provided the context for a discussion that I had with a colleague from the company IT Department after a pilot implementation of the social media tool, Yammer, grew exponentially for a period of time, then stalled.

When I noticed that employees weren’t engaging on the Yammer site, I asked my IT colleague whether he had put together a plan to train employees on how to use Yammer. His response was to state that if an employee needs training on any social media tool, it is not intuitive enough to be successful in the long term.

Here are snippets of our email conversation.

 Do you think that people received training on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media sites?  If a user needs training and the interface is not intuitive, it will ultimately fail.  It is the responsibility of the provider (in this case Yammer or Microsoft), that has the responsibility to make sure that the user can utilize the site without significant training. — My IT colleague

My response:

Points that you are not considering are:

A large portion of our non-I.T. employee base do not have the interest in technology that someone in I.T. has—and may struggle to find software “intuitive.”

We are all time-crunched, and simply WILL NOT spend time “reading the online manual.” That boils down to: “If I cannot quickly understand the value of this tool, and feel confident in using it in a productive way, I will put it aside.”

The “training” that we should provide goes beyond what you describe. Most people understand Facebook, but I have heard several comments from employees who do not understand the business use of Yammer and Lync. THAT, along with frustration over the limitations of this free Yammer version, is what ultimately will limit uptake of the tool.

I was amazed that the IT colleague thought that NO ONE receives training on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites. A quick Google search returned millions of results for courses, webinars and other training just on Yammer!

As of the end of March 2015, only a handful of employees remain active on the company Yammer site. One area of the company regularly collaborates on the site, sharing questions, ideas and information. That is the only exception, save for a couple of people who regularly regurgitate company and product news that originates on other sites.


  1. Should employees receive training and introductory information prior to the launch of social media tools within a company?
  2. What has YOUR experience been with learning new social media tools?


  1. Carlos Valentin

    I believe employees should receive training and introductory information prior to the launch of social media tools within a company because it is a new way of branching out to your public. It helps connect on a new level because in our current world, more people are checking their social media feeds instead of visiting the actual website of the business. Not only will it get news out faster and for free, it helps the business see what do people like and get faster responses to post. All social media is different so training is definitely needed for all that you want to reach into.

    I have grown up with and without social media so I am lucky to bridge the gap for some people. On a personal level, social media has helped me stay in touch with family and friends all over the world. This has helped keep us all updated on what we are doing. Also I am an artist on the side so it has helped me run my sells by showing my photography, paintings and my poetry book. It is a quick and simple way to send out a mass blast of new projects I have finished or special discounts for any sale.

    On a professional level I have learned how to reply in a manner that represents the company I work for in a well-mannered way. I help manage the fan pages for four of our facilities such as arts, sports, administration and special contest. Knowing the right way to answer a question or who to direct customers to is key so that we keep our business running and improving. I have learned how to link our weekly newsletters and our main page to social media so that way customers have an easier time to find us and learn more.

    Social media is going to be around for a very long time and will help companies as long as people are trained. It will be new to some people at first but knowing simple tricks to ease their transitions is key. Also some of the trainings are free.

    • Tom Keefe

      Thanks for making some good points, Carlos! I enjoyed talking with you today at the PR Council of Lake County meeting, and I connected with your comment that employees may understand the basic mechanics of the social media tools they use outside of work, but training also provides them with the business context of how best to use social media within the company. That is not typically intuitive to employees.

  2. Tom Keefe

    Jeff, I appreciate that you shared your experiences with two Yammer implementations.

    It speaks volumes that the successful implementation was by the company that invested in communication and training as part of the roll-out.

    Larger companies might have more staff and budget to allocate to communication and training, but any company can do SOMETHING.

  3. Jeff Zwier

    Your IT person’s comment reflects a common conceit among those comfortable with technology (not just IT pros): That ANY tool or technology that intermediates between one person or another can be intuitive!

    There are some extremely funny (to us) videos of old movies online showing people how to use a telephone back in the early 1900s. Email, another “intuitive” technology still baffles and frustrates many. And no matter how much someone might use a social media platform like Facebook, using it in a work context is an entirely new use case, as the techies would say.

    I’ve been in two companies who have introduced Yammer. One rolled out the tool exactly as you described, by way of well-intentioned IT staff but with no follow-on support. The other, ten times its size, invested over ten months in executive, staff, IT and champion communications and training in advance of its formal roll out. Yammer is a vital part of the latter business, and has been abandoned by the former.

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