Social technology frequently tops lists of must-have features for learning platforms. However, they still leave many organizations questioning their value. Social is often painted as a distraction, spurring thoughts of idle chitchat and cat videos. Does social technology really drive measurable results?
The answer is yes. Dismissing social’s business value is a disservice.
Benefits of Social Technology
Social technology empowers companies to gain competitive advantages, like bringing new products and services to market more efficiently; responding to customer feedback and market conditions faster; or retaining more top talent.
According to McKinsey, 84% of executives say innovation is extremely important or very important to their growth strategy. Social technology can play a crucial role in the creation of profitable new products and services.
For software company Rite-Solutions, their social tools led to the development of 15 new products that account for 20% of their total revenue. Through their online “idea marketplace” and discussion boards, they solicit product ideas. They also quickly identify and mobilize teams of internal subject matter experts to help turn these ideas into viable solutions.
Not only can social improve communication and collaboration—it can increase productivity as much as 25%. Emails and other more traditional, one-way communication channels have a lot of value knowledge and information locked in them. But, only a couple people max benefit. Social platforms remove the barriers to institutional knowledge and expertise and make it readily and easily available and searchable for the entire organization. Reps spend less time searching for and gathering information, and more time selling.
Reduce Time and Cost to Go to Market
Cemex, an international building materials manufacturer, cites social as a reason behind their ability to launch new products faster. By using their internal social learning platform, they rolled out their new ready-mix brand of concrete in under four months—a third of the original estimated timeframe.
Social technology enabled the team to work and collaborate more efficiently. The company estimates they saved more than $1 million by cutting out phone and travel expenses associated with traditional meetings.
Best Buy, a consumer electronics retailer, has 1,500+ stores and 100,000+ frontline employees. They use social technology to capture, consolidate, and share customer feedback, and leaders use this information to inform business strategies such as sales promotions. Not only do they have an efficient way to collect user research, they’re also able to make decisions and pivot more quickly.
According to Best Buy, “the aggregate insights have proven to be cost-effective for the enterprise and fast and flexible in a high-speed and dynamic retail environment.”
Increase Employee Engagement
Amway, a direct sales company, has shared that twice as much learning happens between peers than through traditional training methods.
“For us to be a really nimble organization, learning needs to be driven by the learners themselves.”
Jon Brickener, Performance Consultant, Amway
Our clients have similar experiences using social learning tools. For example, after implementing our social learning management system, clients have seen a 4x increase in engagement compared to standard LMSs that don’t include these kinds of tools.
Employees want to share their experiences and help others out. Social platforms empower them to take ownership and contribute to their development. And when people are engaged, they learn more and retain information better.
Plus, engagement impacts turnover. Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave an organization.
Retain More Customers
Engaged employees are also more invested in the success of their organization. According to the PeopleMatter Institute, highly engaged employees outperform coworkers by up to 28%. Ultimately, this leads to better customer service and, ultimately, retention.
Shorten Sales Cycles and Increase Revenue
In a study called Enterprise Social Collaboration: The Collaborators’ Advantage, the Aberdeen Group found that, compared to companies not using social tools, those who embraced social technology achieved these results year over year:
- 55% greater increase in annual revenue.
- 245% higher percentage of sales reps achieving annual quotas.
- 116% greater improvement in shortening average sales cycles.
The culmination of other benefits—faster access to experts and information, better retention and application of training, better customer service—can ultimately improves sales.
Implementing Social Technologies
Before going all in on social technologies, organizations must first determine if such tools fit their culture and L&D strategy. Social technology alone won’t make an impact. People need to be empowered to participate.
There needs to be a spirit of openness, trust, and information sharing. L&D must emphasize collaborative, peer-led learning and not top-down training. Social cannot and will not survive or thrive in environments lacking these characteristics.
For many organizations, this is a huge shift in thinking, approach, and behavior. Organizational change takes time. To help gain buy-in, start small. Band together with evangelists to design and implement a pilot program to test the waters. Get user feedback during the pilot and use it to refine your approach. Share results from the pilot, as well as other research, to build your business case and demonstrate value.
As you scale your program, continue to get feedback, observe results, be transparent about wins and opportunities, and iterate and evolve based on what your team learns. There may be growing pains but the results your team will be able to achieve, like increased productivity and revenue, will be worth it.