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If You Have To Train Your Users on Your Social Application, You’ve Done it Wrong.

by Anthony J. Bradley  |  January 29, 2009  |  1 Comment

I get a great deal of kick back from clients on this statement, as I did from one today, but I am sticking to my guns. How many of you have gotten facebook training? How many of you are Craig’s List certified? How about YouTube? The marquis public Web social environments don’t train. Enterprise externally facing social applications don’t train. Who could afford it. You shouldn’t have to with internally facing implementations either.

The simple fact is simplicity. A social application must have a near zero learning curve. Participants must know what to do and how to do it within seconds of registering. Oh, and it needs to be fun too. This is the way of the Web 2.0 world. If you feel the need to train you are most likely making one of two mistakes. Either the social application is too complex and you have broken John Gall’s Law (A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked) which can overwhelm users and create a learning curve. Or you have chosen the wrong target audience. If you feel you have to train your users on how to use a web browser and download from the Internet then I suggest you are choosing a high risk pool of people. I’m not saying ignore them but I am saying don’t start with them. And decouple basic computer and web training from the social application initiative.

However, don’t despair over how to spend that training budget. Turn it towards a Tipping Point Plan including a campaign to drive awareness and draw people to the social application. I’ll talk about tipping point campaigns later. Tipping Point is the “T” in my PLANT SEEDS framework of primary design criteria for social applications (subscription or fee required).

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Category: social-applications  

Tags: awareness  galls-law  tipping-point  training  

Anthony J. Bradley
10 years at Gartner
26 years in IT

Anthony J. Bradley is a group vice president in Gartner Research responsible for the research content that Gartner publishes through its three internet businesses (, and These responsibilities include creating and leading the research organization and infrastructure needed for the strategy formulation, planning, research, creation, editing, production and distribution of the content. He has four global teams of highly talented people who are advancing towards the world's greatest destination for content on how small businesses succeed through information technology.

Thoughts on If You Have To Train Your Users on Your Social Application, You’ve Done it Wrong.

  1. Sharon says:

    I could not agree more, I use Facebook over myspace because I feel there are too many adds in myspace and it’s just too much. Keep it simple!!

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