Over the last number of years, I have been a major advocate of social media and how it can support your learning journey. As part of this journey I have come to distill my approach to the “Three Es” – three simple yet powerful concepts:
Embrace, Explore and Enjoy
The first hurdle L&D professionals need to overcome is their fear of social media and the platforms that are a part of the social media experience.
Gemma Reucroft and Tim Scott pushed the envelope on this issue in their book Putting Social Media to Work where they attempt to bust some myths surrounding social media and encourage all of us to embrace the mediums that can support our social learning journey.
Although three of the key myths they busted pertain to the technology component of social learning, they are well worth visiting as they confirm for me the barriers that I continue to hear and the ones that exist in attempting to embed social learning in an organization.
1. Twitter is all about what people are having for breakfast
2. It doesn't apply to me, my business or my organisation
3. It is for the younger generation
It is evident from the above myths, that as individuals and more importantly as a profession, we are still hesitant to embrace the opportunities that are out there.
Every year I conduct a brief non-sophisticated social experiment. I monitor the social media activity of one of Australia’s largest HR events. This convention has an average attendance of few thousand delegates. Interestingly though, only about 20-30 delegates tweet live from this event.
The other aspect of embracing social media is that it allows you to create a relationship and a familiarity, even before you meet face to face.
In my early days of embracing Twitter, I was astounded at the number of times people would say – “Hey I know you – I recognize your profile from Twitter”. The buzz and thrill of meeting a connection in real life was special and still is to this day.
So the first hurdle one must overcome is to Embrace – let social media into your world, look at how it can help you, think about how you and your organisation can benefit from it, embrace the various platforms that are available, get active and don’t look back.
Exploring is all about connecting, interacting, sharing, replying and being you.
Exploring takes courage and commitment. It needs you to be proactive and start to investigate social media - see what it can do for you and/or your organisation, discover what social media is all about, get your hands dirty and have a play.
When commencing you exploration journey think about the following:
- Find out where your tribe lives? Where do the people you wish to connect hang out? What chats are they part of? What hashtags are they using?
Connect with members of your tribe. Seek them out, let them know you exist and then connect with them. When connecting it may be nice to tell them why you wish to connect, what you liked about their profile and what you may have in common.
- Engage / Interact – actively follow people who you can relate to or you feel they add value to your knowledge base. Develop your own Personal Learning Network (PLN). Make your audience feel “special” – feel like they need to belong with you and you with them. Take time to respond to comments, answer questions, like posts and follow others.
- Create and/or share content – by contributing to the conversation you create awareness of who you are and what you have to offer.
- Set up lists (based on targeted organisations, industries or profiles) that allow you to filter the noise.
- Maintain a finger on the pulse of what is trending in the industry. Try and keep abreast of the latest trends and developments. Sharing, commenting and responding to current topics and stories relevant to your audience should be at the top of your to-do list.
A Twitter friend of mine had a regular social media vlog and she would end each episode with this by-line:
“If you are not enjoying social media then you may not be doing it right”.
Social media is about broadening and expanding your network. It is about having a laugh, participating in a conversation, sharing your expertise and learning from others.
Each interaction needs to be enjoyable and be enjoyed. If it is not, then you need to review what and how you are doing it and re-evaluate your network.
Don’t be afraid to “cull” your network. Ongoing tweaking and refining of your network is key to your ongoing enjoyment. Nurturing your network is also a great way of ensuring you continue to enjoy social media. Curating content and filtering through the noise will allow you to keep up and focus on what is important to you.
When you can focus on what is important to you and remove “the noise” you will realise how powerful social media is and how “real” learning via this medium can be achieved.
If you are looking to “enjoy” your Social Media experience, here are some pointers you can take away and start adopting today:
- Thank people and add context
- Ask and respond to questions
- Use images to convey your message or interact
- Talk about yourself as a rounded individual
- Tweet at events using the hashtags so other can share the experience
If you are keen to learn more about adopting social media and social learning in your workplace, you can find out more in our social learning guide.
This post is based on an article published by me on the ATD website in May.