How To Conduct A Social Media Training That Works

Success BabyEven though Facebook, Twitter and other platforms aren’t exactly new, there is still a need for social media training in many organizations. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 65% of online U.S. adults use social media. Although that’s a majority, there are plenty more prospective users that have not yet jumped on board.

So, why do some social media trainings fail? Because they’re presented as a how-to session. This is the wrong approach. If someone wanted to use social media, they’d probably figure it out themselves. Let’s face it—setting up a social media account really isn’t that hard. However, I’ve given trainings in the past that have not resulted in increased social media adoption by participants. Upon reflection, I think it’s because I jumped into the nuts and bolts too quickly, failing to pay attention to the emotional and intellectual needs of the audience. Recently, I adjusted my strategy and was pleased with the results.

Here’s how I conduct a training:

  • Address misconceptions
  • Inspire and evangelize
  • Present a successful framework
  • Allow for discussion and ideation
  • Instruct
  • Offer follow-up resources

Address Misconceptions

More than likely, their will be some skeptics in the audience. They may be skeptical because they believe that social media is only for young people, or it’s unprofessional. An easy way to find out what misconceptions exist in the room is to ask. Possible questions include “Why are you not using social media currently?” or simply “Why are you at this session?”

You can address misconceptions by presenting data on social media adoption and telling stories about professional uses. If you can provide stories/testimonials from people similar to those in your audience, it helps them identify with the point of view you’re presenting.

Inspire and Evangelize

This portion includes even more story telling. I like to tell the story of how a disparate group of professionals converged over a two-year time period using social media. The resulting group is my “dream team” – the Thinking Social team. This is also another opportunity to present stories from people similar to your audience, but if you don’t have at least one personal story included you run the risk of simply reciting ideas rather than passionately advocating for the bonds created by social media.

Present a Successful Framework

Translate your inspiring stories to basic concepts your audience can embrace to replicate (as much as possible) the results you described. Basically, you need to tell people how to go from being a social media nobody to someone with a valuable, connected network.

Allow for Discussion and Ideation

By now, things should be going well. But, if you jump straight into instruction mode, you may lose the audience before they buy into the concept being presented.

Get people together in groups to talk about how they can implement the framework presented in their life/office/organization. Bring the small groups together to the big group to further share ideas. This is where people start getting excited. They should be begging you to jump into the final part of the presentation.


Now, and only now, are you ready to open up Twitter, Google+, or any other social media platform and give a step-by-step demo of how to create an account and use the interface.

Go slow. If possible, have the audience follow along on their mobile devices to create their own accounts as you go. Be willing to poke around in your own account to show the true functionality of the product.

Offer Follow-Up Resources

Your audience needs to know that they’re not going to be left hanging when you walk out the door. At the very least, provide handouts or links to online resources that they can refer to at a later date.

Even better, show them you care. Offer to connect online (by now, they should all know how to find you) and provide ongoing assistance. In reality, this won’t take up much of your time. However, it will give your audience a sense of security that their effort won’t be wasted if they get stuck.

My Method In Practice

I conducted a workshop today that followed this formula. You can check out the presentation below. SlideShare ruined some of the formatting, but the information is there.

Using Social Media for Professional Development[slideshare id=12521182&w=425&h=355&sc=no]

View more presentations from Liz Gross

How do you conduct a social media training? If you’ve participated in a training, what did you like or not like?

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9 Comments on “How To Conduct A Social Media Training That Works

  1. Liz,

    I recently presented on “Professional Development @ Your Desk” for an on-campus interview and your blog here is FANTASTIC! I am truly inspired with the work you have done – I wish I would have read this prior to my session to tell others to follow- you!

    Thank you for sharing your passion and knowledge on this fascinating topic of SM!

    Take Care

  2. This is really helpful, Liz! I’m hoping to get those in my division to begin using SM as a way to network and for professional development. This helps shape my mindframe as I prepare to teach them about it!

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  4. Hi Liz,
    This post and your session at the Wisconsin Association of Student Finanical Aid Administrators (WASFAA) conference were both fantastic. This is exactly what we needed to inspire a few more people to start engaging on social media. I’m excited to see where it goes from here. I heard nothing but good things about your session! Thank you again for everything!

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