Social Media in eLearning

Social Media, as defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary is, “Forms of electronic communication (Such as Web Sites) through which people create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, etc.” But you didn’t need that definition to know what social media is, right? If someone asks you “what is social media?” What comes to mind? The pictures of your dogs in their new sweaters you posted last week? Photos from your family vacation? Or maybe you share valuable information with those that follow you. And since you are reading this article, I hope blogs come to mind. But what about networking, collaborating and learning? Typically those aren’t the first thoughts people have about social media, but in our day and age, it doesn’t hurt for those to be. In this post, I’ll cover a few reasons why you should start using ‘professional’ social media today.

Reach your users where they are: Take a look around any large crowd. What do you see? More often than not you’ll see more than a handful of individuals on their phones, computers or tablets. What better way to interact with your audience then to post on social media and connect with them right where they are. Don’t make them come find you, because very few will. Create social media accounts for your company, team, or group and start posting!

Gain a larger audience: I work for a university, so let’s say I have over 30,000 possible users I could reach, but only 10,000 even know about the team I work for and what we do. How can I change that? Post informative and relevant information on different social media platforms, again going to where they are. If someone doesn’t know you even exist they won’t know where to find you! So find them! Use relevant hashtags and tag other companies and users in your post. For example, I would tag @NAU to reach other users following my employer, or other eLearning companies or even companies like Adobe if I’m writing about their products. You can reach so many users far and wide and gain followers if you post enough informative information.

Example using hashtags on Twitter:

Twitter Post Example

Develop a reputation: Once you reach your users where they are and gain a larger audience you can now work on your reputation. Keep posting frequently. Keep your users engaged. When you develop your reputation your users will start seeking you out.

Maybe they’ll wonder

  • What else do they have to offer?
  • What other innovative trainings or ideas do they have?
  • Do they have any other websites?

Develop a reputation that makes your users interested in what else you have to offer.

Learn what they want: If you are able to connect with your users, you can start using that social media relationship to learn what they want to see. What types of trainings are engaging for them? Do they like short, quick videos? Do they like interaction? Would they rather see a process done slower, with more indepth explanation? If you build that relationship with your users you can start conversations with them and gain feedback you might never have the chance to get, had it not been for social media.

Networking: Social media isn’t a tool just for posting pictures of your dogs in their new Fall sweaters, or even for connecting to other users. It is also a great tool for networking, learning and collaborating with others in your field. You can use different platforms to reach out to others in your field and connect with them. Perhaps they are working on something you would like to bring to your trainings. Or someone has created something that interests you and you have some questions. Use social media to your advantage and connect with those that you can learn from!

There are so many uses of social media platforms, and in a professional manner I have only covered a few important ones. Social media is a great way to reach, engage, and connect with users and other professionals around the world. One crucial thing to keep in mind however, is if your name is attached to any professional posts, to keep your personal social media accounts private and avoid inappropriate posts there as well.


Do you use social media to reach your users? What platforms have you found work the best? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Reference:

Social Media. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/social%20media

Audrey is a senior Instructional Designer with the Learning & Professional Development team at Northern Arizona University. She has a B.S. in Electronic Media and Film with an emphasis in Entertainment Management and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology from NAU. With her experience as a newsroom weather director and on-screen talent, as well as multiple years of experience teaching in a university classroom setting, Audrey brings a unique perspective to the LPD team.

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