One of the frequently heard statements about social media is that “no one ever needed Facebook training.” The comment is meant to remind people how simple and intuitive Facebook and other social media tools are, hence the reason for their fast adoption.
Unfortunately, this assertion misses a critical point about the use of social software tools in the enterprise. Few companies employ these tools in a “greenfield” scenario. In most cases, the knowledge workers who use the tools are also required to use other applications to complete their work. The social software must interoperate with other already installed products. Typically, knowledge workers use between eight to 15 applications during a normal work week. So the ability to “play nice” with older applications is critical for the adoption and ongoing use of new social tools.
This is the issue that many social media implementation leaders miss when the plan their roll-out strategy. They focus on the intuitive nature of the tools and think that means they can spend less time on training. What gets left out of the implementation planning discussion is how to use social software in combination with all the other options available to workers, many of which are mandated.
So if you are planning to employ social software hoping to capitalize on a rich feature set and intuitive functionality, remember to provide guidance on how and when your employees should use these tools.
Once you have identified the major categories of workers in the enterprise – for example teams of sales reps, researchers or product marketers – develop some common use case scenarios. Then explain how social software fits into these specific work practices. Offer suggestions of how the various social software features such as wikis and team spaces can help workers make better progress in getting their work done, but then let the teams figure out what works best for them. Encourage the power users to share their tips with colleagues who are less adventurous. Based on our research, most organizations have a mix of “pioneers” and “settlers” and their approach to software adoption is different.
Although no one ever needed Facebook training, they do need advice to make the best use of the Facebook-like functionality available from social software in the context of your enterprise.
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