SOCIAL MEDIAOver 65% of adults and 90% of young adults use social media networking sites because of their ability to fit into work, politics, communication, health, civic life, communities, dating, and much more.[ii] Social media can be used for a variety of internal communications, especially in industries that focus on marketing and creative services. However, how does social media fit into the workplaces that don’t focus on marketing and creative services? There has been much debate about whether employers should allow social media usage during work hours for fear it could lead to declining employee productivity.[iii] However, some studies report that employees who have access to social networks are actually more productive than employees who aren’t, because employees in those firms consider social media access a reward[iv] and a real-time source of information. Social media can be a great resource for enhancing the overall communication experience between your business and its followers. With the ability to share videos and photos, interesting quotes, advice, blogs, and updates, social media can help expand your network.[v] Social media communication skills can be used internally for inter- and intra-departmental communications, and you can leverage social media communication skills externally on your social media platforms to increase brand awareness.
WEBCASTS AND WEBINARSIncorporating the Internet in the workplace has also led to increased usage of webcasts as a form of internal and external communications. Some benefits to internal communications using webcasts include capturing a wider audience, reducing costs, increasing revenue, connecting with your audience, increasing convenience, increasing engagement, and reducing your ecological footprint. [vi] Webcasts can be streamed over the Internet, on company software, or even on social media websites. Webcasts can enhance employee communication skills because they engage an employee’s visual and audio senses, helping to ensure the content is absorbed and understood. A form of webcasts called webinars has gained popularity. Webinars are “presentations, lectures, or workshops that can be transmitted over the web using video conferencing software.” [vii] Webinars can be used for training courses and are commonly used for off-site lectures. The difference between webinars and webcasts are that webinars are live Internet broadcasts and are designed to engage the audience. Webcasts are normally only presented over the Internet in a one-way fashion, but can be viewed many times. [viii] Webinars are generally used for a smaller group of people, such as to enhance the group’s effective communication skills through interactive engagement. Alternatively, webcasts can improve employee communication on a larger, less intimate scale at the employee’s personal convenience.[ix]
WEB CHATSAnother way to boost employee communication is through web chats, also known as instant messaging. Many larger businesses choose web chats such as Skype because it represents a best practice in allowing employees to send and receive quick responses. [x] There are many types of web chats that appear in places such as live tweets, Periscope, and live Facebook feeds. However, web chats do not have to be limited to internal communications as they can also be part of training courses, website customer service, and webinars. Web chats encourage experiential learning of effective communication skills because they allow employees to respond in real-time, and in the case of training webinars, without disrupting the lecture.
HOW TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE TRAINING COURSEThe Internet provides an effective and efficient channel for training of business-related communication skills. Here are three tips for creating an effective training course with videos, webchats, and webinars:
1. Decide What Media To UseA clear objective, such as improving a specific area of employee communication skills, should be at the center of deciding what platform to use. Some platforms are more user-friendly while others have a broader reach. If your purpose is focused on enhancing internal communication, installing web chats onto company desktops would decrease time spent on problems and encourage employees to communicate with one another. If employees may need to refer to the material on an ongoing basis as a refresher, such as compliance material, a video may be a good option.
2. Prepare Ahead of TimeLindsay Kolowich[xi] writes the following advice for webinars that can be applied to most methods of training courses:
- Pick an engaging topic
- Set a registration goal
- Set an attendee goal (evaluate the effectiveness of reminders)
- Give attendees something special
- Choose the right day of the week
- Chose the right time of day
- Create an informative landing page
- Send a thank you email and registration confirmation
- Send reminders
- Market your webinar on social media (and other appropriate channels)