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People do not often realize how important it is to learn how to use public social media platforms. Understanding how to effectively communicate to a social media audience is often conflated with having to share your private life on Facebook. This mindset ultimately prevents many people from learning a skill that will be crucial as Enterprise Social Networks and the likes of Workplace by Facebook slowly but surely grow their market share amongst available communication and collaboration tools in the work environment. Social Media Communication is not just a job, but a skill as important as knowing how to send an email, make a photocopy, or properly answer a phone call.

“I’ve never used Facebook before”

Recently, I had a discussion with a top-level executive responsible for the implementation of a complex Digital Marketing Technology environment. That person holds an MBA and has extensive project management experience leading teams of dozens of people in industry-leading companies. However, when asked to use Workplace by Facebook to share regular updates with key project stakeholders, she was suddenly lost and had no idea where to start.

I told her that she could very simply create a closed group in which she would invite the people she wanted to keep updated and leave open others to join on request. With this information, I assumed that she would know what to do next; however, this is when the shocker came. She replied, “Vincent, this is all nice, but I have no idea how to write a post.” She had actually never used Facebook for the very reason I mentioned above or even used LinkedIn for anything else than having an “online-CV”. She didn’t know anything about the content formats available to her to convey information, or even how to phrase a post to make it interesting.

Lacking the knowledge and skills to communicate efficiently on social platforms is very common among thirty to forty-year-olds in the workplace. They are not digital natives, and have known both the analog communication and digital communication worlds; however, many have never really embraced it with the same vigor as digital natives. Others were forced to learn it, similar to parents adopting the tools used by their kids in order to communicate with them.

An opportunity to learn

In this regard, Workplace by Facebook is the perfect platform to learn these Social Media Communication skills. It is allowed to make mistakes and learn by trial and error. It should actually be the role of the Chief Workplace Officer to guide them as much as possible when it comes to correctly formatting posts or using the right content to convey messages as efficiently as possible.

In groups that require moderation, such as those aimed at sharing information with the whole organization, CWOs can take the opportunity to ask people to reformat their posts before publishing them to the group with some quick advice. For example, I regularly ask people who share links to articles without any written introduction to share some context and why they believe it is an interesting read for everyone in the company. This serves as a sort of teaser.

The beauty of Workplace is that it offers all sorts of content formats, from simple images and document sharing, all the way to live streaming video via mobile devices. As people grow more confident with the platform and how to use it, they can use more and more of these formats.

At the end of the day, it is only about learning a communication skill to become as efficient as possible at sharing knowledge with co-workers. Similar to making phone calls, typing documents, or making photocopies, social media communication is evolving from being a job handled by a specific person in an organization to a skill mastered by any qualified employee.