New findings have discovered that employees are using social media to learn new career skills. Lisa Masiello, CMO and founder of TECHmarc Labs, a marketing firm in Nashua N.H, has found that she can learn new things all the time by following specific Twitter hashtags. She watches out for more than half of a dozen hashtags such as #worktrends, which focuses on HR trends and talent management issues and #cloudcomputing, which focus on cloud computing issues. While other managers and HR leaders are not paying attention, Masiello is learning something new daily.
Social media is creating a new path for the future of learning and development that is social, collaborative and ongoing. Masiello claims that Twitter chat “really brings together a community of like-minded people around a topic. They share information and knowledge and you can really learn from other people.”
A Deloitte Insights article on corporate learning addressed this hot learning trend as well. These days employees can grow their career skills with the click of a mouse thanks to YouTube and large online courses. In addition, learners can take graduate-level classes online for only a piece of the cost. Director of HR technology and delivery strategies for the advisory from ISG, Stacy Cadigan says that many organizations encourage employees to increase instruction gained by traditional L&D platforms so they can learn at their own pace and on their own time.
For professionals like Masiello, social media provides the same, if not better, insight than formalized training programs offer. This is due mainly to the fact that people can choose the information that they want to consume. Also, since most of social media is free, there is nothing limiting individuals from visiting different sites until they find what they need.
Another successful example of this learning method is Joshua Feinberg, co-founder and vice president of SP Home Run. He watches YouTube and learns about a variety of topics while he works out on the elliptical every morning. Feinberg says that through the site he usually learns more about topics that help his firm and clients than he would "sitting in a hotel ballroom." (Joshua Feinberg, SP Home Run ) (Source: TechTarget)
What does this mean for professional development?
Not only should companies encourage employees to learn and grow professionally through social media, but they should also work on creating content and learning programs to improve the performance of their staff. In addition, professionals should take it upon themselves to take advantage of the learning resources at their disposal through social media platforms. Learning and development is transitioning and is no longer something that should be sporadic but a consistent part of people's lives.