Thursday, June 17, 2010

Learning vs. Recruiting: Who Would Win a Social Media War?

As someone who is focused on management development, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to capitalize on social media to promote informal learning inside my company. With many of the other learning people in my company focused on formal course development or delivery, I sometimes feel like I’m alone in this endeavor. This caused me to reflect on where the learning community in general is in the cycle of social media adoption. As a point of reference, I thought about this question in comparison to our HR counterparts, particularly those who are involved in recruiting. Here is what I’ve concluded:

"If learning people faced recruiting people in a social media war, the learning people would lose."

We would lose because we don’t have the numbers and because it is not in the forefront of our minds as we approach our work.

Although this is not scientific, here is the evidence on which I base my conclusion:

Point #1 - I recently attended the Technology Assisted Learning Conference in Chicago. It was co-located with the Social Media for Recruitment Conference. The conference organizers set up a monitor and a special twitter hashtag (#socialrecruitment) for the recruiter conference, but did not do this for the learning conference. Granted, the title of the recruiter conference was “Social Media for Recruitment”, but the title of the learning conference was “Technology Assisted Learning.” Shouldn’t it have at least been a consideration that a social media hookup would be needed or wanted by learning conference attendees?

Point #2 - I occasionally post questions on the Chief Learning Officer discussion forum. When I have posted questions about traditional topics such as learning metrics, I’ve gotten at least a few responses. But when I asked the questions, “Are you using web 2.0 tools for learning?” and “Are you using microblogging as a learning tool?” I got zero responses. I posed a similar question on an ASTD discussion forum. After five months the post finally garnered a reply. It was someone commenting how disappointing it was that I had no replies to date. He further went on to say, “The lack of response here seems to show that in general we as a population are a little behind the times.”

Point #3 - I am a member of several LinkedIn groups. On occasion when I write blog entries that I think will be of interest to members of those groups, I share the links to my blog posts. Two groups that I belong to are called, “Social Media and the Learning Function” and Social Media in Organizations” (which was formerly titled Social Media in HR). I get a lot of comments and traffic from HR group, but rarely if ever have I seen a comment on one of my posts from the Learning Function group.

Point #4 - As a final kicker, not long ago my local ASTD Chapter hosted an excellent and informative meeting on social media usage. Our guest speaker who led the discussion was… a recruiter.

I know there is a solid core of learning professionals who are active in social media who I would gladly follow into battle. But there are many others who have yet to take up the sword.