In its short, young history, social media has been referred to as a gimmick, a fad, a tool, a directory service and a meeting place. The problem lies partly in the semantics of the words but also the speed of its growth: new tools like Facebook have grown so fast to be part of our lives that we haven’t had time to properly ‘peg’ it. As it grows, however, I think we’re realizing more and more that the phenomena of social media is less of a distinct tool and closer to an extension of our personal relationships. And with that said, Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner leverage that insight to demonstrate how social media is going to be crucial to helping us teach and educate, because at the end of the day, these acts have a great deal to do with your social relationships.
The book is targeted at “senior executives, managers at all levels and the people rising quickly to those posts” and represents pretty much the definitive guide for managers to understand how these social tools can directly and indirectly result in efficiency and profitability. Having been in an industry for a while, I can say that The New Social Learning is a necessary guide within organizations that too often see social media as just a customer relationship management thing or an HR tool.
The first chapter discusses how social media is the first technology to bring people together since “the table” and goes on to talk about how managers should relax their opinions of the technology before they make up their minds. There’s a great list of what social learning is not, which explains that it’s not a replacement for traditional training, and not just for knowledge workers: it’s a flexible tool available to supplement any employee’s work. The duo conclude by discussing the roadblocks to actually getting social media into your workplace, and do a great job of identifying some common problems including the fear that “people will say inappropriate things”, which they respond by better defining social media.
The second chapter, Paving Online Community Roads, is where you’ll really get to learn about the more innovative potentials of social media, including the ability to create virtual teams and how to better customize your projects to your employees. They also touch on the inspirational bonuses of having a social media setup in your organization: employees that are better relating to colleagues will feel more a part of the team.
The book goes on to discuss several elements of social media that work, including tactical tips to ensure that your media sharing is optimized to increase productivity and an entire chapter on how social media helps your office culture. They also get into the concept of ‘Collective IQ’, which represents the strength of your organization and gives you the competitive edge, especially in information based industries like technology.
In any case, the book is a great read for those looking to inform their social media learnings. Read more about the book and get your own copy at The New Social Learning website.