The Connection Magazine The Connection Magazine | Page 22

SOCIAL MEDIA Overcome The Digital Skills Gap With Free Social Media DESPITE MORE of our everyday life moving online, many of us still don’t know how to properly use the technology tools available in the workplace. In fact, over 90 percent of companies say that their workforce lack digital skills, especially in areas like social media. With this lack of skills costing U.S. businesses an estimated 1 trillion dollars per year, education is becoming the most powerful way for businesses and individuals to begin closing the digital skills gap. According to Cameron Uganec, former senior director of social, community and education at Hootsuite, “These advancements mean that employees are being asked to use social media more often and in unfamiliar ways.” And without the right skills, work itself is bound to suffer. What’s concerning is that despite this potential dent in business performance, only 46 percent of companies are investing in developing their employees’ digital skills. A SOLUTION IN SOCIAL MEDIA EDUCATION THE SOCIAL MEDIA SKILLS GAP Basics like social media etiquette are already being taught in the classroom, and educational institutions are partnering up with businesses and social media professionals to develop the relevant coursework needed get students up to speed. Hootsuite’s Student Program, for example, offers free coursework and certification to help professors and educators bring social into their classrooms. “This program helps students master professional social media skills through hands-on practice,” Uganec explains. “As a result, they’re gaining a type of expertise that’s in high demand and they’re entering the workforce better prepared to work in a digitally connected world.” Within the digital skills gap, social media is one of the most important areas to focus on. As one of the most accessible forms of digital media, social is becoming an integral part of today’s workforce. Nine out of 10 businesses are now on social media, and they’re not only using it to engage with their audience or promote their products-they’re using it to transform the way they operate internally. Forward-thinking companies are using it for employee advocacy, recruiting potential hires and propelling internal communications. Workplace by Facebook, for example, is making cross-functional collaboration and sharing news across an organization a lot easier. 22 22