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    Social Training for Social Software

    Socialtext active usage is way, way up–over 300% so far this year. There are many reasons for the growth, but in this post I’ll focus on one specific factor: our training approach.

    Some time ago, I had one of those forehead-smacking “Ah-Hah” moments about the way we were trying to train customers to use Socialtext: Traditional IT training doesn’t work for social software. Social software requires social training.

    When I talk about social training, I’m not talking about charm school, or teaching your collie how to play nice with the local poodles. I’m talking about a unique method of teaching employees to use social software at work.

    In traditional training, you interact with technology. In social training, you interact with other people by means of technology. The technology becomes a medium, like a telephone or a videoconference room, rather than the object of your interaction, like an MRI machine or a Boeing 777.

    Suppose you were trying to train someone who had never seen a telephone before. You could teach them how to dial, how to put someone on hold, how to work the mute button. But until they actually make a call and speak to another human being, they won’t get the point. And that’s exactly what happens when you use traditional training methods for social tools: they learn how to push the buttons, but they don’t get the point.

    Embracing a social approach for Socialtext training caused us to radically rethink the way we introduce new users to the system. In a Socialtext training, you don’t get told all the features of the system. You don’t walk through hypothetical use cases. You don’t get to sit back and watch a trainer walk through a system demo.

    Instead, you interact with your colleagues, in real time, using Socialtext. We cram lots of users on a conference call at the same time. Everyone logs in to the system.  We walk participants through basic functions like creating a profile, tagging themselves, posting Signals, editing workspace pages. We encourage them to ask questions–then answer questions that others have asked. We encourage them to tag not only themselves, but also their colleagues. We noodge everyone to upload a profile photo. We kibbitz, we cajole, we encourage people to step outside their comfort zones.

    The results are amazing. We can jump-start an implementation within a couple weeks, and engage even the most skeptical, change-resistant employees within an organization in a very short time. (Did I mention that active usage is up by more than 300%?)

    Why does social training work? Four simple reasons:

    • It creates a social dynamic from the start. The worst failure a social software tool can make is the sin of “crickets”: a user tries to engage the community and there’s no immediate reply. By getting many users on the system all at the same time, we guarantee that each of those users is experiencing a vibrant, active community at scale.
    • It answers the “why” question. For most business users, the big question in social software isn’t the “how”. The mechanics of social software are simple. Users don’t need a training course to know that they tag their profiles by clicking the “Add Tag” button, or post a Signal by clicking “Post”. However, many users do need help in understanding *why* they would want to tag a profile or post a signal. For those users, the whole thing suddenly makes sense when they see their colleagues tagging and posting in real time, and in response to each other.
    • It scales. The ideal size for a training session is anywhere between 25 and 100 simultaneous participants. They don’t have to be in a room together. In fact, it’s almost better when they’re *not* in a room together. That way the software becomes their exclusive mode of interaction.
    • It’s fun. When these trainings go well, they’re more like cocktail parties than training sessions. People meet new people, discuss interesting topics, and crack jokes all in the course of the hour. Many participants comment that it’s the most fun they’ve ever had at a training.

    So whether you’re using Socialtext or some other social software tool…give social training a try. The results will delight you. More important, they’ll delight your users.

    Learn How To Use Socialtext Effectively

    Are you ready to become a collaboration super hero? Your training is just a click away.

    hero.pngAs companies recognize the benefits of social software at work, products such as wikis, profiles, and microblogging are quickly becoming standard tools within enterprises.

    To help ensure that you get the most out of Socialtext, each month we offer a series of free webcasts designed to help you learn to use these new tools as effectively as possible.

    There are three classes:

    1. Getting Started With Socialtext – A Platform Overview
    2. Collaborate Effectively With Shared Workspaces
    3. The Benefits of Enterprise Microblogging and Online Spreadsheets

    These classes will show you how to move beyond the world of email and file attachments, and teach you how to create information that can be contributed to, and consumed by everyone in your company. You’ll learn how to get answers faster than a speeding bullet, break down the knowledge barriers between departments, and easily discover the colleagues that can help you get your job done.

    Are you ready to begin you training? Click here to register today.

    Become a Socialtext Pro

    Are you enrolled for this week’s class “Using Powerful Socialtext Features To Your Advantage”? If not, you can register now.

    pageexample.gif

    Some of the things we’ll be covering include:

    • Creating Links
    • Adding content from the web to pages
    • Tables
    • Templates
    • Tagging
    • Searching
    • Email integration, and more…

    Register now and invite your colleagues to attend as well.

    September Means Education

    desktopthumb1.jpg The kids are all back to school, so why not sign up for a little education yourself?

    Each Wednesday in September, Socialtext is hosting free online education sessions. You can register here, and make sure to invite your coworkers.

    • September 9: Getting Started – We’ll start with a general overview of the various components and features of Socialtext, and finish with examples of creating workspace pages, sending Signals, and more.
    • September 16: Using Powerful Features To Your Advantage – In this hour we’ll look at some of the more advanced features you can use to create great looking content in Socialtext workspaces.
    • September 23: Using Socialtext Signals and Desktop – This session will focus on using the Socialtext Desktop client, and highlight the use of micro-blogging (Signals) to communicate with your colleagues.

    Register today, and make September your Socialtext education month.

    If you have any specific items you want to make sure we cover, please post a comment below.

    It is webinar week at Socialtext

    I wanted to invite you to join the free Socialtext training webinars I am putting on this week. The sessions will be interactive, with time for questions. Come learn how to get the most out of Socialtext:

    Register Here>>

    Introducing Social Messaging and a New, Dynamic Desktop Application

    Wednesday, March 11th, 2pm Eastern Standard Time

    Learn how to use the new social messaging capability (Socialtext Signals) and the free new desktop app to to spread news and updates like wildfire, and keep up-to-date with everyone in your network.

    Please download Socialtext Desktop before the event (it’s free). You’ll find a quick video and screenshots on the same page.

    Feature Walk-through For New Users

    Thursday, March 12th, 12pm Eastern Standard Time

    If you’re just getting started with Socialtext, attend this session to learn the basics such as using your personal home page (Socialtext Dashboard); updating your profile with a picture and more; adding co-workers to your social network, and creating great-looking workspace pages.

    Using Advanced Socialtext Features To Your Advantage

    Wednesday, March 11th, 12pm Eastern Standard Time

    Have you been using Socialtext, and would now like to improve the appearance and usefulness of your pages? This session with teach you how to add rich content such as RSS feeds, Google searches, embedded videos, maps, instant messaging, and more.

    Register Here>>

    I look forward to see you there.

    Alan

    About This Blog

    Weblog on gaining business results from social software.

    On this blog, Socialtext staffers and customers explore how companies can gain the most business value from their use of enterprise social software, including microblogging, social networking, filtered activity streams, widget-based dashboards, blogs and wikis.

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