So you’ve just hired a recent college graduate to handle your agency’s social media accounts. Congrats. Your Twitter account might get a few more followers, but you want more than that, right? The truth is that it takes more than hiring digital natives to make your agency digitally savvy.
Don’t get me wrong — hiring fresh, young (and less expensive) employees can add tremendous value to your team. But a lot of agencies only have one or two people managing the company’s entire digital presence; many times, those employees are younger and not fully up to speed on your overarching strategy. Your agency’s veteran staffers are the ones who understand the core business and how to think strategically.
To reap the full benefits of digital tools, you need to make sure everyone in your shop is comfortable in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Not sure you can get your more experienced employees to work alongside the young digital natives on your staff? That’s where a talented teacher might come in handy.
What a Digital Teacher Can Do for You
Hiring a qualified teacher to make sure all of your employees understand online platforms is a great way to get everyone on board. The 35-year veteran who hates the idea of Facebook can hardly argue with learning new digital strategies if everyone else (including the boss) is getting that same training, can he?
Great teachers will, of course, have their own methods, but here are a few things they should do:
- Develop individualized plans for each employee to identify gaps in his knowledge base and provide training to fill those gaps.
- Partner junior employees with veteran mentors so younger employees can become more familiar with the nuances of marketing and overall strategy and the veterans can start learning digital lingo.
- Conduct weekly meetings, and pose a situation or issue that will force everyone to think strategically and explore digital solutions.
- Work with employees to practice working on your agency’s digital presence or employing digital solutions for a low-risk client.
The latter allows the instructor to identify employees who are struggling and those who are doing it right. Make sure your employees understand that this is a dynamic learning situation that allows them to practice in a safe environment where failure isn’t the end of the world.
Who Is This Talented Teacher?
A talented digital teacher understands the hurdles you face when trying to bring old-school employees into the digital age.
There are a few qualities to look for when hiring a digital teacher — namely, patience. Social and digital platforms are often counterintuitive. Your teacher has to have the patience to give employees the time to absorb the information, put it into practice, and get comfortable with it.
Here are a few other characteristics to look for:
- A lifelong learner who can keep up with ever-changing and emerging platforms
- Someone with a strong digital footprint who knows his way around multiple social networks and tools and already has digital connections
- A risk-taker willing to try something new — even with the threat of failure
- Someone who realizes fame in the digital space is as fleeting as it is in the real world — while it’s easy to be a rock star online, it’s no substitute for getting results for your clients
A digital teacher will also help your staff understand that their digital education shouldn’t stop after exploring a few platforms. They must be curious, observant, and adaptable in an environment that’s constantly in flux. If Vine is all the rage today, tomorrow an entirely new platform with additional capabilities will grab everyone’s attention. Neither your teacher nor your team can prefer a single digital platform if you want to remain in the game.
Digital natives and veteran employees alike need to be grounded in your agency’s strategy but nimble in its execution. Hiring a teacher who is fluent in the current digital world — and ready to jump aboard the next digital outlet — is going to get everyone on your team up to speed, regardless of what the next big social network might be.
This post was written by Drew McLellan and was first published on LinkedIn.