Author Profile Picture

Melanie Dichtl


Senior Marketing Manager, Northern Europe & EEMEA

Read more from Melanie Dichtl

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

A social media skills gap will no longer wash


The UK is in need of digital skills. In fact, according to a government report, the UK is on the verge of falling behind on the global stage if we don’t address the skills shortfall.

We don’t need everyone to become a computer scientist overnight, but when you bear in mind that 12.6 million adults lack basic digital skills, it is a cause for concern.

Social media is the ground on which the battle can be won or lost. The reason we’re facing this knowledge gap is because the workplace has moved so quickly. Take Facebook for example – it’s now the biggest social network in the world. Who would have thought when the site launched in 2004 that it would grow to a base of 1.71 billion monthly active users?

Facebook themselves probably never anticipated it, let alone the marketers, the training providers and the educators. And in 2016 with social media an essential revenue stream for most firms, now is not the time to be playing catch up.

It calls then, for workforces around the country to assess the social media skills they have. Are they sufficient for today and can they bring you into the future where we’ll be become even more reliant, not less, on social for new business and customer engagement?

In some ways, even asking this question is progress, particularly when you think that 70% of companies are using social technologies, but only 3% are maximising the opportunity to derive substantial benefit from social technologies across all stakeholders; customers, employees and business partners. There’s a journey that many need to embark on to gain a leadership position online.

Changing roles

But even among those who are using social media, this isn’t just about paying lip service. Nor is it about segregating the social media functions of your business.

From an HR and training perspective, it’s about encouraging all staff to at least learn the basics.

One things that has changed in recent years is the fact that social media is no longer a job its own right. According to Indeed, job ads that mention social media in the description but not the title have grown by 89% - that’s a huge swing. The early years of social media, where hiring a junior member of staff or an intern to manage social accounts, are over.

Social media management tools have democratised social management. This switch coincides with businesses realising the potential benefits that social media can provide if it’s open to everyone – not just the select few. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is immediately comfortable with representing the company’s interests online. The point is, however, that not everyone should be expected to plunge into the world of corporate social media management without initial guidance and training.

There is a concern that although companies appreciate the importance of social, given the proliferance of social in our daily lives social management is sometimes assumed as an inherent skill, so other training is prioritised. However, even the often discussed Millennials who live in a social media orientated world, don’t always grasp the nuances of corporate social media management.

With a growing number of tools that make social media content more measurable, engaging and interactive, it’s easier than ever for workers to find the right education resources. From an HR and training perspective, it’s about encouraging all staff to at least learn the basics.

New type of training

We recently launched Hootsuite Academy to play our part in boosting social media skills. Hootsuite Academy is an online offering that provides hundreds of free social media videos, resources, and industry certifications to help professionals drive value from social media. It was created to fill a void that was very evident within the industry. Once addressed, more people than ever will be enjoying the advantages of being clued up on social skills.

We felt now was an important time to launch to Hootsuite Academy because social media is becoming friendlier than ever for those who are creating great content that resonates with users. But the innate ability to create, amplify and gauge the success of that content isn’t universal.

Social media knowledge is a job skill that is no longer a nice to have, but a must have. For everyone from marketers to salespeople to customer support there are incredible tools and techniques to explore. It’s time to become comfortable with them.

Where next?

In a world where web users are visually stimulated, video is being positioned by the leading social platforms as being central to their future. In the future, we’ll also see a growth in the number of platforms.

Mobile is now the preferred medium for content consumption, but who’s to say that virtual reality platforms won’t dominate in years to come? We also have to anticipate how consumers might change in the future. With virtual assistants providing immediate and insightful answers to their questions, will social media have to respond with content that is more personalised and current than ever?

Although the digital and social landscape is moving at great speed, we can be prepared by improving our social skills.

Although the digital and social landscape is moving at great speed, we can be prepared by improving our social skills. Yes, this includes technical knowledge but just as important is the ability to think entrepreneurially and consider how your company can grow its market share by using social media imaginatively. It all starts from a base of knowledge that grows and becomes more fruitful as time progresses.

It is vital that we give social skills the attention it deserves as our digital livelihoods depend on it. Although your working knowledge might be small now, it might not be too long until you are commanding attention online for all the right reasons.     

Author Profile Picture
Melanie Dichtl

Senior Marketing Manager, Northern Europe & EEMEA

Read more from Melanie Dichtl

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!