I’m finding out that the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” has some major significance when it comes to introducing social learning (specifically, social learning tools) at an organization. In fact, even worse things can happen if you don’t market your offerings correctly…
When introducing social learning tools and concepts, it’s easy to get excited and anxious to share our findings. We often see the potential of how these tools can impact our organization, and we can’t wait to tell everyone we know about it. But here’s the tricky part: A good portion of our audience may not see the same potential, and it’s important to understand their point of view. They may have these feelings for several reasons:
- They may not understand the concept(s)
- They may fear new technology
- They may be afraid to learn something new or change their current processes
- They may feel intimidated or threatened
In fact, some people may undermine your efforts by expressing doubt to others and they may refuse to use new tools. To be clear, I believe constructive criticism is always a good thing. I’m only concerned about the people who counter your efforts because of one of the reasons listed above.
On a sidenote, it doesn’t help that many of the social media and social learning tools have goofy names. Many non-technical people immediately dismiss the idea of using these tools because they can’t take the name seriously. (Personally, even though I am a fan, I think Twitter’s name is one of its biggest downfalls.)
Here are a few tips to prevent social learning backlash:
Communication and change management are key
Begin by explaining the basics of social learning and gradually work up to the benefits of using social learning specifically at your organization. Explain all benefits and be honest about possible shortcomings.
Seek out allies in your organization
Find people within your organization who can help you tell the story of how social learning can benefit your organization. This way you won’t be seen as the person trying to make all the changes on your own.
Don’t just talk – produce
I can talk about Web 2.0 and Learning 2.0 until I’m blue in the face, but it won’t do anybody good until I actually produce something. I would recommend staying light on the concepts and heavy on the examples. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
Carefully connect social learning to familiar external sites
Explain that most people already use social media and social learning resources outside of work, whether they realize it or not. For example, what tools do you usually use when you have a question, or when you need information? Wikipedia, Google, and social bookmarking sites like Delicious are a few simple examples.
Re-brand the technologies in-house to use more conventional names
If you install any social learning applications in-house, you may consider re-branding their names to something that makes sense within your organization.
Kevin Jones has done a fantastic job of covering all things related to social learning. Be sure to check out some of his posts below. You’ll find additional tips for improving the adoption of social learning at your organization:
- 5 Requirements of Social Learning Adoption
- Requirement to Social Learning Adoption #1 – Relative Advantage
- Requirement to Social Learning Adoption #2 – Compatibility
- Requirement to Social Learning Adoption #3 – Complexity
- Requirement to Social Learning Adoption #4 – Trialability
- Requirement to Social Learning Adoption #5 – Observability