Brands looking to harness social networks like Facebook and Twitter to boost their online profile should be using regular, "message-based" training to ensure their staff are up to speed with these increasingly important marketing tools, according to one industry commentator.

Rik Ferguson of Trend Micro said many companies have already started or are thinking about using social media alongside their other online marketing services, yet many are "lagging behind" when it comes to teaching personnel how to get the most out of these sites.

"That kind of training is not the kind where you should call all your employees into a room once a year and give them a one-hour session," he said.

Instead, it should be regular and "message-based", possibly including tip of the day emails that will help to keep best practice fresh in people’s minds.

Earlier this week, Direct Marketing Association PR manager Tristan Garrick said social networks are becoming "phenomenally important" to online PR efforts as they allow consumers to discuss and examine brands on their own terms, rather than having information pushed on them.

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