"Oh, but anyway, Toto, we're home. Home! And this is my room, and you're all here. And I'm not gonna leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all, and - oh, Auntie Em - there's no place like home!"
When it comes to social media and my company, I feel a little bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Prior to August 2009, I was not really a social media participant. Yes, I had a facebook page and a LinkedIn account, but I was not really present or active in either space. In August, I simultaneously started this blog, opened a twitter account, and logged on to yammer at work. I made a decision that as a learning professional, I needed to embrace social media so that I could learn how to help others use it to capitalize on the informal learning that takes place through these tools every day.
I was excited that my IT department had recently made yammer available inside our organization. It made me feel that my company was being forward-thinking and innovative. But sadly, as I went on to yammer I discovered there were only a handful of users there, mostly from IT and Marketing. I invited others to join me as tried to make some connections and start a dialog around topics that were important for learning, but people mostly responded in ways that made me feel like I was annoying them. Much like Dorothy in Kansas, I felt unappreciated and misunderstood, so I clicked off yammer and went out in search of people who would listen to me. Dorothy left Kansas with a small basket and her dog Toto, and landed in Oz; I sat down at my computer with a cup of coffee and my dog Smokey at my feet, and landed on twitter.
When I arrived, I found it to be a strange and wonderful place. Like Oz, it was a little disorienting at first and it certainly had its perils, but after a while I found a few kind souls in the learning community to help me navigate my own yellow brick road. So for the last few months, I have been out there tweeting and bookmarking links with these fine folks. The list of people who I follow, and those who follow me, has grown at a modest but steady pace. I'm learning new things every day but lately a feeling of melancholy has set in. I have a longing to "get back to Kansas" and share these experiences with my own "family."
So today I decided to click on the yammer icon that has lately been sitting idle on my desktop. And there was Aneta from Marketing and Steve from IT (and not much of anybody else), just as I had left them. It was no glorious homecoming. Not much had changed since I'd been over the rainbow. But of course, now I am different. I've learned so much about the possibilities of social media on my trip through Oz/twitter. One thing I learned is that it takes patience to build a community. So I will yammer on, joining groups, posting quotes and comments, sharing links, and gradually I will build a community of learners - right in my own backyard.
I welcome any comments or suggestions on fostering informal learning and building communities through yammer.