How would you answer this question?
How do I communicate the value of social media as a learning tool to my organization?
Individuals and organizations gave their responses around the web this month. In case you missed it, here is a roundup of some valuable recommendations.
At Minute Bio, Jeff Goldman advises taking a unique approach for each group in an organization. For example, for the Management group focus on ROI and case studies. For getting Staff buy-in, make a prototype and keep the content relevant to their work. Get willing users to create buzz. An important insight is to make sure IT implementers are on your side. Identifying the IT social media users and doing some initial legwork for them could help.
Clive Shepherd recommends stepping back from the technology itself to consider whether “bottom-up” learning is appropriate for the audience and the organization. He makes a good case for developing independent learners and outlines the advantages of informal learning—it’s cheaper, more responsive, less controlling, less patronizing and more in tune with the times. But he also points out the downside—less certain, less measurable and less suited to dependent learners.
Jane Hart offers a practical and straightforward approach—show examples. She presents a matrix that shows the types of learning that can occur through the use of varied social media tools, such as blogs, presentations and podcasts. The types of learning she includes are: Intra-Organisational, Formal Structured, Group Directed, Personal Directed and Accidental & Serendipitous. This important resource is a rather convincing testament to the ways people learn through social media.
RK Prasad recommends the Diffusion of Innovations approach from the book by Everett Rogers. He encourages you to partner with Innovators and Early Adopters and points to research showing that people evolve through stages in response to innovation. Thus, individuals differ greatly in their readiness to adopt new technologies. By focusing your efforts on Innovator and Early Adopter types you can achieve a small initial success. Then continue to provide success stories to the next group on the continuum, moving along until you reach the Late Adopters.
In his blog, Karl Kapp presents ten strategies for communicating the value of social media. The most sound advice is to make sure it solves a business need. My personal favorites include renaming Social Media to Knowledge Media and to just start using it without telling anyone (beg for forgiveness later). A final compelling strategy from Karl’s list is to position media differently than it’s intended use. For example, you can change a micro-blogging social tool into a productivity tool by modifying the “What are you doing?” question to a “What are you thinking?” or “Can anyone help me?” question.
Clark Quinn suggests you avoid the word Social Media and instead, talk about the outcomes of informal learning, such as innovation, problem-solving, creativity and research. Focus on results rather than concepts, including case studies and how the competition is using informal learning to solve a business need. Implement as you would any organizational change initiative by starting small with a supportive group.
B.J. Schone advises that you go into this with your eyes open. There will be people who don’t understand, who fear the technology, who think the names are silly, and who feel threatened. To prevent your goals from being undermined by these perceptions, you’ll need to prepare by seeking out allies, communicating both sides of the issue, producing a real example and rebranding the tools with conventional names that make sense for your organization.
Kevin Jones also bases his recommendations on the Diffusion of Innovations, but focuses on the five requirements. These include: 1) showing the advantages in a way that people perceive the tools as better than what they supersede; 2) ensuring the new approach is compatible with organizational values and experiences; 3) making the new approach as simple to use and understand as possible; 4) starting out with a trial initiative and 5) ensuring the results can be observed by others.
The GoodPractice blog tries to understand the reasons behind common objections so you can offer intelligent responses to comments, such as, “Social Media causes people to slack off” or “My colleagues aren’t interested.” They also include a humorous Slide Share presentation about objections to new technology.
Real World Examples
What are your recommendations for communicating the value of using social media tools for learning?