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How to market social media as a learning tool?

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How to market social media as a learning tool?

This month’s Big Question in The Learning Circuits “PRESENTING THE VALUE OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR LEARNING” is an interesting one for us, the professionals and votaries of learning, training and change.

How do we ‘market’ the use of social media as a new tool or avatar of learning?

First, are we sold on it? Many of us have mixed experiences and opinions about using social media in an organizational setting to learn and improve workplace performance. I think I find blogging and LinkedIn more useful than Facebook or Twitter. I am sure many of you have opposing views.

Social media represents universal wisdom, present on such platforms that are moderately accessible, despite most IT departments’ reluctance to open them up for lesser mortals like us :). Of course, it has its own negative features just like any other tool.

If you are convinced in principle that social media, with all its shortcomings, is still a very powerful medium that can really empower people with JIT (Just-In-Time) learning on anything under the sun, it is our responsibility to present it to our ‘customers’, so that they benefit from it and thereby benefit our organizations.

Let’s see how you can do it. Research shows that when any new innovation is presented, potential users go through five distinct stages of adoption:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Evaluation
  4. Trial
  5. Adoption

It is advisable to keep in mind that educating people on new innovation takes time and effort.

We should also keep in mind that, people vary in the time to adopt new things. This process of “Diffusion of Innovation” was first popularized by Everett Rogers (1962) in his text book, Diffusion of Innovations (Rogers 1964). He defines diffusion as “the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.”

It helps us immensely to take a quick look at adopter categorization on relative time taken.

The normal curve distribution above shows people differ greatly in their readiness to try new products or services. The graph shows that after a slow start, thanks to the innovators and the early adopters, an increasing number of people will adopt the innovation. The number reaches a peak and then drops off, as the innovators and early adopters rush off to try some new alternatives.

Research shows that:

  • Innovators are adventurous and take risks.
  • Early Adopters are guided by respect. They are opinion leaders who adopt early but carefully.
  • Early Majority are deliberate in their choice, though not leaders.
  • Late Majority are skeptical and wait till the majority have tried.
  • Laggards are traditionally the last set of people to adopt change.

How do we use this knowledge in popularizing Social Media as an innovation in learning methodologies especially in Corporate Training?

My suggestions are:

  1. First target the Innovators and the Early Adopters through free workshops and contests. They are risk takers and get attracted by anything new.
  2. Present success stories and case studies collected from the Innovators and the Early Adopters to the Early Majority.
  3. Once these groups are behind you, the others (Later Majority and Laggards) will automatically follow.

I think we should give adequate time to see results.

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  • I think it is the next big wave of marketing, what better way to get an immeadiate response from you product or advertisement?

    I went to such a “trainign” series and it was very insightful, I hope they do more…Steven MacDonald, http://www.practicalsocialmedia.com, he is full of information felt first hand

  • Jacque Haddad

    I am interested to know if you or anyone has found out how to accelerate the normal adoption curve. For instance are there common levers to “pull” which would get the early adopters to move to the left of the bell curve sooner?

  • Whilst I can understand your urge to market social media as a learning tool, and also I understand that it is better to be first on the market to catch the early worms, I would not spend my energy to stimulate the demand. I would rather look into new forms that would set the fire of the craze. From which end of the social media or networks will ignite ‘learning’? What are the essential ingredients missing today for the take off? Then I would position myself to be ready when the craze will catch.

  • @Jacque – Good question. I am sorry, but I don’t have an immediate answer on how to accelerate the process. Let us see if our readers will throw some light on it.

  • I tend to agree with Joseph on this one. I assume social media will be the next big move in marketing. It actually is now. At what stage of the adopter were at the innovators or the soon to be majority, I believe were some where in the middle.

    However this is not a phase or a fad. Social media will continue to replace the “old school way” of reaching our customer base. The question is how do we get in front of the wave and capatalize on its advance. Unfortunatley for the small business, capitol will become more and more of an issue as the larger corporations in typical fashion, out bid us and out spend us on every nitch available. My sugesstion keep your methods open, your ideas secret until ready and your corprate connections in the dark until you are ready to sell what ever innovation you discover.

  • very interesting graphic. can u add a time variable->timeframe (months, years)? are all the laggards here yet? if not will they be via facebook/twitter or will it take at least one more evolution before we can say everyone is on board with social media?

  • Pingback: How To Communicate The Value Of Social Media: The eLearning Coach()

  • Hi,
    I read your blog on How to market social media as a learning tool and i agree with your view that you shared in this blog. It’s really a learning tool for internate marketing and I think it is the next big way of marketing and peoples will be use it for increase your bussiness. Actually I have a site online Auction Script and i will be use social media for my site.

  • Thanks dear,
    this article help to increase my knowledge.

    Thanks a lot!

  • Awesome post!
    I appreciate the useful information that you discussed here. Social media is a learning tool that’s provide a good platform for internet marketing.

    Thanks for sharing such useful information
    Keep it up!
    Blitzpenny

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