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What L&D professionals need to know about social media for corporate training

Social media is one of the biggest shifts in the way we interact and communicate. While many blame it for a decrease in productivity, there’s much to be said about its benefits. There is an upside to leveraging the many facets of social media in formal and informal corporate training.

Top social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn bring together geographically dispersed employees and offer a way of interacting and many learning opportunities. Many organizations are already using the numerous perks of social media to their advantage for customer engagement and staff training.

Building expectations

Any seasoned facilitator knows that the more learners are interested in the subject of the learning intervention, the more successful it will be. With busy schedules and an increased preference for micro-learning, there usually isn’t much time to build interest in courses.

Read more: The Micro-first Model for business training

Promoting any upcoming corporate training program via social media platforms makes learners notice such initiatives in a way that is non-invasive and feels more self-directed (another preference).

It’s best to build interest and expectation, as well as demonstrate value before the learning program becomes available. For example, depending on the preferred platforms and the target audience – you can post gifs and infographics on Pinterest, have hashtag competitions on Twitter, short videos or testimonials on LinkedIn, or attention-grabbing posts on Facebook.

Evaluating learning outcomes

The question of evaluating the efficiency of a learning intervention has been a stringent one for a very long time. Tests deployed at the end of a module show only a glimpse of how much information has been retained. Corporate training is generally aimed at behavioral change, which is impossible to evaluate immediately after a training program ends.

Read more: What instructional designers need to know about behavioral change

Social media offers greater flexibility and the possibility to run assessments. The channels provide various interactive and entertaining ways to assess performance, both immediately after completion and later.

Competitions, contests, games, challenges, leaderboards, and rewards are amazingly effective motivators for learners to apply the new information they have acquired.

Reinforcement works well on social media

You know how you keep seeing the same ads and teasers in your feeds until they become extremely familiar? That’s because the AI behind the platforms is working. I will not go here into the ethics of this, but I will say that there is an enormous potential for reinforcing already covered information through social media.

L&D specialists need to get creative and be as little invasive and annoying as possible (let’s face it, those ads have high tick-off potential). However, they can still manage to be present in the learners' lives and help them remember, understand and apply new knowledge.

Again, it’s best to approach reinforcement by leveraging social media interactivity. People will internalize information successfully if they get to do something with it.

Read more: The first two principles of learning reinforcement in the workplace

SMEs are more easily approached on social media

Some fifteen years ago, when I was just starting as a corporate trainer, having a subject matter expert video in a training program was a gold mine. We used to run those repeatedly wherever the material was even remotely connected to the training. And sometimes, we did so even if they weren’t that relevant because expert talks had amazing motivational qualities.

Today, social media makes it so easy to connect learners to subject matter experts. The experts connect with a highly interested audience the learners get very valuable insight.

One of the benefits of social media is that you can literally learn how to perfectly fry an egg from Gordon Ramsey or how to be more persuasive from Robert Cialdini.

Read more: Harnessing the power of SMEs for successful workplace training

Learning interactivity

With most corporate learning moving online, one aspect of the traditional training experience is missing – sharing the experience with peers. Classroom facilitation, while it had many drawacks, did have the advantage of allowing employees to talk about their experiences, successes, and failures.

Community sharing is intrinsic to a valuable learning experience and social media is the perfect tool for adding that to e-learning programs. In the case of global teams who seldom (if ever) get to see each other face to face and work together, it's important to establish a social media venue where they can talk about their learning experiences, projects, and challenges.

Even if doing this takes the program more into the realm of informal learning, it’s still highly valuable and effective.

Read more: Why L&D should prepare for training global virtual teams

Wrapping up

Over the past decade, social media has proved that it is not a fad – it keeps growing and changing, becoming more and more a part of our lives. L&D can greatly benefit from leveraging the many advantages of social media for educational purposes, and embracing it may very well be the key to the future of effective corporate learning and development.