Have you been getting an increased number of requests to join a business colleague’s network on LinkedIn or Facebook?
I have seen an enormous spike in requests during the past few months. I think the reason is simple: All of us are trying to figure out how to use social networks for our respective businesses, and the first step is to use these tools on a personal basis.
I started using social networking tools when I found out my mom was in the final stages of battling cancer. I uncovered a number of interesting health-oriented networking sites. My favorite is CarePages.com, a social networking site to help families and friends communicate when a loved one is receiving care. But you don’t have to wait until you are facing a crisis to explore using social media tools. You can start by following your passion online.
Now, let’s say you begin the journey from being an online spectator, reading blogs and watching videos, to actively creating online content. You will inevitably begin asking a number of questions about how to use these social media tools on the job, such as:
• How can learning be improved and transformed using social media tools?
• Which tools do I get started with, and how do I create a pilot for using social media for learning?
• What is the policy of my organization regarding accessing social networking sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, at work?
• Does my organization have a set of policies for creating, posting and using blogs and wikis at work?
• How are my competitors using social media for learning?
As you begin to address these questions, you’ll need to create a strategy for how your learning organization should move forward. One of the best models I have seen to address this question was created by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, analysts at Forrester Research.
Their model is called “POST” and stands for People, Objectives, Strategy and Technology. Essentially, the POST model poses key questions for you to consider before building a social media strategy for your organization:
• People. Understand the capabilities of your audience: Are they mostly spectators or active creators of content? What are the demographics of your employee population, and what are the demographics of your new hires? Many companies have older demographics for current employees, but almost 100 percent of new hires are in the Net Generation, meaning they are in their early 20s and have been active users of social networking during their college years.
• Objectives. Think about your business objectives in wanting to use social media for learning. Do you want to use these tools to attract new hires? Are you interested in using social media tools to keep Net Gens engaged on the job? Are you experiencing higher turnover among Net Gens? Or are you trying to have a discussion with your customers and channel partners?
• Strategy. Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you have achieved your business objective. In other words, do you want to increase the percentage of Net Gens who are interested in your organization? Do you want to lower turnover among Net Gens or do you want to build a robust online community of your best customers? Imagine the endpoint, and that will help you with how to begin on your journey.
• Technology. Are you interested in creating an online community, a wiki, a blog or several hundred blogs held together by a common theme? How does this match up with your organization’s policy guidelines for using these tools? Has any group within your organization had success using any of these tools? If the answer to the last question is yes, reach out to this group and use them to build your business case for using social media for corporate learning.