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The importance of social media usage for trainers in 2012


Have you integrated social media into your organisation? Ian Gibbins provides an overview.
As most businesses are now embracing social media to get ahead of the competition and reach their target audience, should the training and development industry ditch traditional learning methods in favour of networks such as Google+ and Twitter? Well, whatever your view, one thing is for sure - social media are certainly changing the way we run our companies, and if businesses within the training industry fail to engage and involve themselves wholeheartedly then they will undoubtedly get left behind. With regard to training and development in 2012 and beyond, future learning will no doubt become much more collaborative as new delivery methods that you can instil straight away become more prevalent.
As a whole, the training industry around the world is evolving into a social organisation. Learning is a social activity, so of course social media tools integrate perfectly to allow this transition to occur naturally. For instance, it is extremely easy to see who the main social influencers are in your industry. Who has the greatest 'Klout' score? Who in your company do you see as the biggest social influencer?
"Where are you heading with your social media plan and what are your goals? Set out a plan on how best to engage with your audience over the next few months."
As we embrace and begin to greater understand the power and leverage we can gain from implementing social media into the industry, it's also important to remember that you need to have a clear understanding of the overall objectives that you wish to achieve. Where are you heading with your social media plan and what are your goals? Set out a plan on how best to engage with your audience over the next few months. Social networks are a great platform for creating awareness and building credibility around our business, but they are also a great listening tool, enabling us to gain information on what our customers are talking about. What frustrates them? What would make their life easier? What subjects are they most interested in?
We can then use this information and address their need by providing relevant, valuable information for them through the social media channels that they're already present on. Once you begin to identify the information required, consider how the content will be developed and shared, and also how often, and think about who will be responsible for posting the content.
Measuring the return on investment of your social media plan is something that is one of the hottest topics in communications and marketing right now. There are many businesses employing many different key performance metrics to measure their success.
It's great gaining many followers and receiving 'likes' but this is not real business as such. As your strategy progresses, you can then begin to evaluate the data in greater detail to ensure you are achieving a good return on your investment. After all, if you're not experiencing improved results, then why bother?
Of the many social networks available, YouTube is being extensively employed in a variety of ways to deliver training as well as at the same time building your companies professional presence. YouTube channels are being created not only to demonstrate expertise, but to mentor employees by incorporating learning programmes enabling them to acquire new skills through step by step training videos available through the channel.
Many people are currently using Skype for training sessions. The basic free version has some limitations but even so this is a great tool we can take advantage of.
"As your strategy progresses, you can then begin to evaluate the data in greater detail to ensure you are achieving a good return on your investment."
Google+ was launched in 2011 with a great feature entitled 'Hangouts'. This is essentially a video chat room enabling participants on Google+ to participate in online video chats via their webcam. This feature allows up to nine people per session, so is ideally geared towards hosting training sessions online. 'Hangouts on air' is a new feature coming soon. This will allow Hangouts hosts to record the proceedings, edit them and then automatically publish them to YouTube, so something of a useful training tool for the future.
In summary, we mustn't ignore social networking channels as a communication and training tool. According to the American Society for Training and Development, informal learning is how upward of 70% of learning now takes place. It is no longer an experiment. New people coming into contact with this industry will begin to expect learning through social media channels, whether it is for new employee orientation or purely a process change. So, as seminar and conference participation becomes less popular, expect the big shift towards utilising social media in the training industry to grow throughout 2012 and beyond.

Ian Gibbins is a social media consultant, inspirational speaker, trainer and author of 'The New Guide to Social Media Profit'. He delivers private sector workshops on a 1-2-1 or group basis to help businesses understand social media and create their own social media strategies. This feature first appeared here

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