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Survey Finds Employees of All Ages Suck at Using Social Media

Think you have the social media skills to pay the bills?

Maybe your company's social media manager does, but he or she might be too busy worrying about how to respond should our POTUS say something bad about the company on Twitter! Too bad a new study finds nobody else at work knows how to use social media very well yet. In 2017.


When it comes to social media use at work, we're still faking it until we make it to the end of the work day. Harvard Business Review research explored the gap between social media use on the job and the social media training employees receive. HBR surveyed people at 2,100 companies. What did HBR learn?

Hashtag this, everyone: only 12% of companies surveyed think they are using social media effectively, and it's leading to lost opportunities and lost revenue! HBR also found that employees of all ages (yes, even the Millennials) are having trouble using social media to best effect on the job.

Ugh. We're all just a bunch of Tripps and Tylers arguing over which platforms to use today, and what to say on them. Keeping up with social media trends can feel quite overwhelming for many of us, myself included.


Social media, of course, has become embedded in our jobs. Increasingly, we can't work without it. As we log on to the plethora of ever-more sophisticated career-ending social media platforms, we try to look like we know what we're doing as we ponder the right hashtags, figure out who to follow and who to drop today, debate how to respond properly to online messages from people we don't know, and decide who to like and re-tweet.

Next, we'll log into Facebook Workplace or Slack, where we'll try to collaborate with our teammates while politely dodging our co-workers' humble brags and side hustles. It's all in a day's work these days.

Social Media Use Without the Training
The real problem with social media at work, according to HBR's research, is that most employees are expected to learn social media proficiency on their own and become masters of their own online domains without any training investment from the employer. New hires are expected to arrive on the job as self-trained social media experts, but apparently it's not working out very well. There's a social media skills gap at work, and it's growing worse as more social media platforms emerge on the market.

With corporate social media budgets expected to double over the next five years, it's time for employers to take employee social media training seriously. If managers expect employees to use many forms of social media expertly at work, then it seems only fair that employees be trained in the expert use of the social media platforms the employer wants employees to use. And when you finally figure social media out, please let me know how it works, too.

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