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Building a Social Media or Digital Training Plan for Your Ad Agency

I have the pleasure of working with a number of advertising agencies on digital training.  As growth in social media marketing spending has exploded, and is expected to continue to grow, agencies are working to educate their staff in the art and science of digital and social media marketing.

An article in the Wall Street Journal said that the biggest advertising agencies are spending up to $1,000,000 (yes, that is a million dollars) on digital training this year!

While your budget may not be that big, and no matter how big or small your budget is, it is important to build a solid learning plan for your organization that can really get results.

After providing training to countless agencies, here are my tips to building a learning plan for your organization.

1) Assess the needs of your organization

Start at the beginning.  What are the actual needs of your organization?  What are your overall goals and objectives and what do you hope to achieve with the training.  The learning objectives should be stated in the context of the desired outcomes.  For example, “learn Twitter” is a bad objective.  “Understand and be able to apply Twitter for clients” is a better learning objectives.

Also, when thinking about your learning objectives and goals, don’t forget the strategy and general mind-set shift that is required.  Social media, internet marketing and digital marketing involve a different approach to marketing overall.  Include these topics in your plan.

2) Assess your current social media and digital fluency levels

Spend time at the front end surveying your organization to learn about where they really are in social media.  Most agencies say “our people are really beginner…. they don’t really know what Facebook is“!  Most organizations underestimate their digital fluency.

Survey your staff to ask them about the depth and breadth of their existing social media experience.  This will help you create a better plan.

3) Who should be involved in creating the training plan?

Make sure that you include the right people in the training program design and implementation.  Many times the execution of the training program is left to HR.  The problem is that HR often doesn’t fully grasp the needs of the organization, and they have trouble educating the training provider on the true objectives.  Additionally, they don’t know what should be included in the program – it is like playing broken telephone.

Consider having a team of 3 – 5 people evaluate and provide feedback on the learning plan.  This team should include participants and an internal person who has been championing the training efforts.  Don’t push everything to HR.

4) What Vendors Should We Use?

The next issue is selecting your vendors.  Look for a company that specializes in both training and digital marketing or social media marketing. There are lots of social media companies, but training is a different art form.

Our training programs consist of models and approaches to explain social media that have been tried, tested and developed over two years.  Make sure that your vendor is an actual training company.  You are investing a LOT in the training program, mostly in the time that your staff will dedicate to it.  Make sure it will rock.  Ask them about their scores from recent programs?  Do they collect and analyze feedback to improve?

5) What type of training should we do?  Live training? Webinars? Web-based training?

Consider the best training approach for your organization.  Live training generally gets the best results.  Participants are engaged and NOT multi-tasking.  You can also run longer-format training live vs. on the web.  On a web-based training segments should be limited to 2 hours.  Live training can last an entire day or multiple days.

Think about the best way to meet the needs of the busy people you are hoping to train.

6) How LONG should the training be?

A good training company should be able to recommend training lengths based on your learning needs and objectives.  It really depends on what you are trying to get out of the training.  If you are training an organization to sell and execute social media training you should plan on a longer format training session.  If you are building general awareness you can select something with a shorter format.

7) What is the going and continuing training plan?

Social media, digital and internet marketing all change quickly.  You need to keep your organization up to date with the latest and continue to learn and enhance your skill set.

In addition to an initial training session you should consider adding a going component.  Many of our clients opt in to our monthly webinar program to keep their skills fresh.

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