The Rapid Elearning Blog

pros of social media positive

The training industry is changing rapidly and technology plays a big role in that change, especially social media. However, like any change, there are positives and negatives that come with it.  Today, I’d like to discuss a few pros of social media as it relates to our industry and then I’ll follow it up with a post on some of the cons.

What is Social Media?

Wikipedia has a good detailed definition of social media. I see it as technology that allows people to connect and share information.  To be more specific, it’s about being connected to a community that shares interests and has a desire to share expertise around that interest. The social media technology just facilitates the connection.

The Growth of Social Media Technology

Most people in our industry probably see the following three services as their core social media tools: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Many organization are also using internal social media services like Yammer and Slack .

However, everyday there seems to be a new tool and people in our industry willing to hype it up. Look at some of the recent raves about Pokemon Go by the same people who were peddling Second Life just a few years ago. New technology can be both positive and negative. New ways to connect and share are good. But if you use a service and no one’s there, what good is it? Remember Google Wave or even Google+?

Many of the new and novel social media tools will be gone soon enough or they’ll be consumed by larger organizations. Sticking with the three above is probably more than adequate for our needs today.

Does your organization use a social media service? What do you think about it? How have is it helped your job?

Pros of Social Media: Curated Content

One of the biggest values of social media is the content stream. There’s a lot of really good information being shared everyday by all sorts of people in our industry. The challenge is knowing what’s out there and then sorting it by what’s important.

  • Find content curators. Some people are really good at curating and staying on top of things. They’re the curators and you’re the beneficiary. For example, David Anderson is one of the elearning people I follow on Twitter. Even though I work with him, I’m always amazed at how well he curates and posts a lot of relevant links and lots of cool elearning examples—just the sort of practical content our community needs. The same can be said for organizations. Articulate does a great job highlighting it’s customers, free downloads, templates, and cool elearning examples.

pros of social media connected to content

  • Follow topics not people. Another way to stay on top of the good content is to track topics is via hashtag. Instead of following a person, or everyone in an industry (which can be overwhelming), follow topic-specific hashtags like #elearning or #training. You will stay on top of all posts relevant to that topic.

I use Hootsuite to manage what I do, but there are other apps out there, too. Do you use a social media application? Which one?

Pros of Social Media: Connect with Experts

Quite a few years back I wrote to a well-known author in our industry. I actually had to write a real letter, mail it, and then hope for a response (which never came). Things are different today because we have access to experts (and what they know) via a few clicks. And I find most of them to be responsive.

pros of social media lrnchat

A good example of access to experts is something like #lrnchat where people post questions, answers, and discuss learning related topics. Not only can you share your thoughts, but you get to dialogue with well-known experts in our community. This can lead to building your professional network and often meeting them face-to-face at workshops and conferences where you can continue the dialogue.

And on the flip side, social media allows you to establish your own expertise by curating content and sharing what you know. In the past you had very few outlets to build your professional reputation. But today, you can easily connect and contribute to build your reputation and expertise.

Pros of Social Media: Get Help from Others

Social media is powerful in the connections it can foster and in turn the help those connections can provide. Just recently, I got to witness an excellent example of how broad our social media connections can be and the access we have that we didn’t a few years ago without it.

Justus is a young boy who was rushed to the hospital with a very serious medical condition. As people rallied around the family, they used social media to keep everyone up-to-date. To do so, they created #TeamJustus as a way to share what was happening but also to pass on encouragement and kind words. It was amazing to see how the network rallied to support the family. They even received encouragement from unlikely participants like former President, George Bush, and NFL quarterback, Andrew Luck.

pros of social media

We may not all have connections to celebrities and famous people, but you can be sure that your connections are broad; and odds are that if you need something, there’s someone in your network who can help. And if they can’t, they’re connected to someone who can.

The good news is that we are members in an overly generous industry where willfully helping other seems to be the default disposition. I see this all the time in the E-Learning Heroes community. In a sense, being connected to a community of peers is like an expansion of your cubicle and there’s all sorts of help for you. Your team of one can become a team of many. This is a point I made in this post on why the community brings real value.

There’s a lot more to say about the pros of social media. It provides practical value that will help you in your job today and in your future prospects. The key is to get connected and then to participate. If you’re not currently active in social media, perhaps these tips will help you reconsider your participation.

What do you see as some of the pros of social media?


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3 responses to “The Pros of Social Media for E-Learning”

Thank you for this awesome post. I’m learning to much from.

With many organizations, external social networking (Facebook, Twitter, et al) are a no-no. What I’d be interested to learn is if anyone is successfully leveraging the enterprise social networking functionality of SharePoint within their organizations.