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:
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:
- First target the Innovators and the Early Adopters through free workshops and contests. They are risk takers and get attracted by anything new.
- Present success stories and case studies collected from the Innovators and the Early Adopters to the Early Majority.
- 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.