HR Management & Compliance

Lack of Training Could Doom Social Media Efforts

SHRM’s definition of social networking services and multimedia platforms includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and other video-sharing sites, MySpace, Foursquare, Second Life, and photo-sharing applications. 

The “Social Media in the Workplace” survey found that 68% of participants have employees who use social media to reach external audiences, such as current customers, potential customers, and potential employees.

And 73% of survey respondents do not provide social media training to employees who are engaged in social media outreach to external audiences, while only 27% do offer such training.

“The survey data show a disconnect in that most organizations use social media to reach audiences, yet few train employees to effectively do so,” said Mark Schmit, vice president of research for SHRM (

Few HR professionals surveyed said social media is a “very effective” mechanism for helping their organizations achieve certain outreach goals, and SHRM said the lack of social media training might be to blame.

Although many respondents said social media was a “somewhat effective” mechanism, a higher percentage of respondents said it was “neither effective nor ineffective,” compared to the percentage that rated it “very effective.”

For example, when asked about the effectiveness of their organization’s social media efforts as a mechanism for sharing content, only 19% indicated it was “very effective” compared to 48% who said it was “somewhat effective,” and 25% who said it was “neither effective nor ineffective.”

In the area of improving awareness of their brand, 16% said their social media efforts were “very effective,” while 54% and 21%, respectively, said their efforts were “somewhat effective” and “neither effective nor ineffective.”

The survey also asked HR professionals about how effectively social media helped organizations increase their website traffic (16%“very effective,” 53% “somewhat effective,” and 23% “neither effective nor ineffective”); engage with customers (15% “very effective,” 57% “somewhat effective,” and 18% “neither effective nor ineffective”); and grow their e-mail marketing list (14% “very effective,” 4% “somewhat effective,” and 34% “neither effective nor ineffective”).

Decreasing marketing expenses received especially low marks—just 4% rated social media a “very effective” mechanism for achieving this goal, compared to 31% who said it was “somewhat effective” and 51% who said it was “neither effective nor ineffective.”