New study reveals employees handling social media are untrained

We’re familiar with all the social media gaffes that have been committed recently by untrained employees.  Why just this week, a Fortune 500 company I subscribe to on YouTube inadvertently put up a Beavis and Butthead video — and alerted all their subscribers to the fact.

Wonder why these mistakes happen again and again?  Chalk it up to inexperience and lack of training (and cluelessness on the part of management).  When will it ever stop?  Not much hope there unless companies begin devoting attention to the problem and investing serious resources to resolving it, if results from the latest surveys are any indication.

A new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reveals that few employees tasked with social media duties are trained to do so by their employer.

Seems kind of basic, doesn’t it?  And yet…

The “Social Media in the Workplace” survey reports 73% of responding employers do not provide social media training to employees engaged in social media outreach to external audiences.

Only 27% of employers do provide social media training to the employees in charge of social media for their companies.  Isn’t that astounding?

Where is the problem?  Sadly, communications professionals account for the lion’s share. The departments that handled social media outreach were, according to respondents

  • Marketing, 67%
  • HR, 44%
  • Public Relations, 38%
  • Sales, 24%
  • Management, 20%
  • Customer service, 15%

This is a case where outside communications consultants with extensive backgrounds in public relations, marketing, and social media can bring real value to companies — in providing training, social media policy development, and even community management.

About the Survey

SHRM polled 532 randomly selected HR professionals from its membership.  The survey is the third in a series that examines the use of social media in the workplace. For details, visit the survey section of SHRM Online at


About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.

Posted on November 10, 2011, in Social Media in the Workplace and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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