First 3 Hours: Mass Social Media Training Begins Well

This morning, we marched 350 EDF staffers through three hours of social media training, and we’ve got another 24 hours to go in the challenge.

Tomorrow, the entire staff will vote, and the winning strategy will be funded.

So far, things are going as well as I could have hoped…

Here was the schedule for the morning:

  • Everyone attended a 90-minute presentation by Eric Schwartzman on why we need to pay attention to social media, with cameos by EDF staffers sharing their successes.
  • We broke out into 6 teams of 40 to 70 people, based on the type of work we do here at EDF. Each team received a social media challenge specific to the topic they work on.
  • Each of the 6 teams divided again into tables of 10, which played our adaptation of the social media game by Beth Kanter and David Wilcox.
  • After each table developed a strategy, the 6 teams came back together to?  choose one strategy to share with the entire EDF staff tomorrow afternoon.

Things that went well

People were extremely engaged. Every EDF staffer had to do this. One of our biggest worries was that people wouldn’t find this relevant to their work and would check out. Breaking up into small tables definitely worked. As I walked through the rooms what I saw was table after table full of people leaning forward, standing up, gathered around flip charts. I’d have to guess that at least 90% of us were fully engaged, which was pretty amazing.

People didn’t get hung up on not understanding the tools. This was another concern coming in — people had to build their strategies by choosing from a few dozen tool cards, and no one becomes an expert form watching a 90-minute presentation. But we had “helpers” in every room and “think tank” time available later today. From the number of people asking me questions while I’m sitting here in the hotel lobby, they are definitely going to take advantage of the additional consulting time.

Lots of great ideas. Most importantly, people came up with some really interesting ideas. Not every table had a social media plan ready to execute (“handing out flyers” wasn’t one of the social media tools we offered!) but I’m pretty confident that as many as a dozen of them will be worth executing.

Things to improve

Narrowing down the audiences and goals. We wanted to give people enough room to be creative, but in some cases we gave a little too much room. One table got hung up, for example on setting the exact percentage of change in pollutant levels they were looking to achieve, which really wasn’t necessary to sort out for this exercise. We should have either given less flexibility or allotted much more time.

Our habits of deference weren’t helpful. People are used to deferring to the senior scientists and program leaders. However, that wasn’t necessarily the best way to come up with a good social media strategy. One senior staffer told me he realized people were giving more weight to what he was saying than they should have, so he found an excuse to leave the table for a bit and give others more room to talk. From another room, I heard, “There were a bunch of ideas, but everyone at the table just did what [VP’s name] wanted.”

The usual internal tensions came out. We tried to craft the scenarios to avoid triggering long-standing points of tension, but we weren’t entirely successful. To some extent, nothing we could have done could have prevented some of that — I swear that some of these issues would be triggered by a football game.?  But in other cases, we hit raw spots that we didn’t have to. Workforce diversity was probably too complex to incorporate into a 90-minute session about social media.

Next up — choosing the winner

Each of the teams of 40 to 70 are now hard at work refining their plans, and turning them into 4-minute pitches for tomorrow afternoon. Can’t wait to see what everyone came up with!