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Analytics, Learning for now, Learning Strategies, Performance, Social Media

Are you missing the conversation?

That is what “Social Media” (SoMe) is to me, an opportunity to create, provoke, and reflect on conversations.  However a recent discussion found me on the side against SoMe when my colleague was waxing poetic on the interactions, the threads, the discussions, the variety of topics, the breadth of people involved until I asked, “but what are they focused on?  What are they talking about?  How do you know?”  The look I got was priceless and I quietly listened to the advantages of SoMe that I clearly did not understand. 

I ask again, what are we talking about?  If we do not measure the conversation how will we find the insights about our people, their needs, and their wants?  Rather than ask why five times how about we analyze what the conversation is focused on, then we can begin to treat the group as individuals as we move from the discussion of their experiences into an opportunity for improvement.  Then I saw this commercial that brought it home for me, take 30 seconds and watch (disclosure: long ago I was an IBM’er and it was a great experience but this is not a plug for them or their products – the concept is what I am focused on).

In a prior post I quoted Gary Wise’s goal that we are trying to “get the right “stuff” into the right hands when it’s needed in order to get something done without screwing up.”  But if we don’t know what the learner needs then we can’t provide an effective and timely solution.  So this musing leads me to those who are intent on implementing SoMe tools, technologies, and systems – before you move forward I believe you need to define the following 3 items first:

  1. Define what you hope conversations will be centered on and prepare a backup plan to guide people on the path to conversations that will help you, the organization, and them in the long run – you can still have chats about the cupcake wars but focus on success first and that begins with defining it.
  2. Implement a SoMe analytics engine along with your cool system, measure what matters (and you will know what matters since you defined it above!).
  3. Ensure that you have the ability to integrate your knowledge management tools (LMS, LCMS, content repository, eLibrary, whatever you use to provide training and performance support information to your workforce) into your SoMe system.  If you know what the need is, and it is important to success, and then you find out you can’t get the help into the hands of those seeking it then you have put your T&L group out of business.  

The last point is a game-changer; here is where T&L can be the guide, the go-to group by using the data to engage with the learning community.  Once you know what the conversation is about quickly deliver an accurate response and become an active member of the community, participate in the conversation!  

One last fun idea, there is no standard I am aware of measuring SoMe success however if you define business and organizational success then tracking the data, the conversations, and the success metrics you can measure impact.  Here is another short commercial focused on the use of analyzing data to make good business decisions, truly the chance to “let them eat cake!”  

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About wjryan

Principal Consultant at Ryan Consulting, LLC. Please visit www.williamjryan.com

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