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Seven Steps to Integrate Social Messages into Corporate Learning

Business leaders, employees, organizations, and brands have become more vocal and supportive in responses to social issues that affect their employees, customers, markets, and society. A critical next step is transitioning these social moments into organizational memory and learning within the workplace.

For organizations to transform social messages into this long-term organizational learning and knowledge, they must ensure the message is:

  •  represented in core values,
  •  personified in the conduct of leadership,
  •  storied in the culture,
  •  incorporated in people systems (learning, performance, development, and onboarding systems).

Step 1 — Be a Social Media Historian

Messages from leadership, whether inwardly focused on employees and managers or outwardly focused on customers, the marketplace, and society, offer perspective on the organization's stance and support for social issues. These statements enter the social media stream and communication platforms, joining the digital torrent of information based upon the collective understanding of the moment. These messages contribute to the social-historical record of the organization. In addition to organization channels, credible sources offer context — from thought leaders, directly responsible individuals, and organizations with informative perspectives on the events. TIP: Use advanced searches on social platforms to locate moments in the chronology (inflection points, points of perspective). These combined sources create the primary materials for moving social media into learning.


Step 2 — Moving Social Messages into Learning— Demonstrate Truths

Still, social media is on the live edge of history. While social media quickly chronicles the pivotal moments, inflection points, and perspectives within the social timeline, messages are often taken as an authoritative primary source. While social media chronicles events, it is also reactionary and provides an open discussion platform. The mix of these two can be fraught with issues when incorporating messages into learning.

For social messages to contribute to learning, they must include supporting truths and factual perspectives for lasting transformation. For statements to transition to learning, they must be supported by facts and stand with credible sources. Jon Meacham, noted presidential historian, recently said: "Facts and data shape human decisions because they are objectively true." By stating truths, amalgamating them to the social message, and articulating them within the learning, they establish the basis by which values, development, and learning can be built.

Expand your thinking of what a perspective can provide.

Authoritative sources can also be competitors. As an example, Adidas retweeted a message from Nike regarding social justice. For businesses that compete on every level, agreeing on a perspective is a powerful validation of universal truth.


Step 3 — Create Micro-Learning Paths to Curriculums

The first step is to move from a social message into a microlearning path. Many organizations have comprehensive curriculums for diversity, inclusion, and other social issues — training already residing in their learning management system for all levels of the organization. These courses provide rich, fully vetted experiences to employees. Recency affects learning, yet learning may not have been built for rapid and responsive changes. Creating micro-learnings of current events built around social media elements allow these foundational courses to stay relevant and shift as new events illuminate. It provides learning and development that evolves and responds faster to changing dynamics and provides a means of learning to respond more quickly.


Step 4 — Build a Social Message Library — Not Create, Curate

So much of learning may be stitched together from ample resources available to the learner on their device and network from both inside the corporate network and the outside. A social message library collects, preserves, and organizes social media and digital resources to become more productive and accessible. These learning assets provide overlapping means to acquire knowledge/perspective based upon the learner's ability and medium preference. This access creates a WRLD View — Watch, Read, Listen, Discuss — explaining and supporting facts to transform social messages into social learning. WRLD views libraries' importance is not in content creation but in curation, organization, and maintenance. Credible sources need to reemerge in training. Noted information designer Edward Tufte's maxim is "Don't get it original — get it right."


Videos from credible sources. These can be external resources: news sources and stories, posts from thought leaders, webinars, and ones that offer perspective. Or internal videos and additional messages from leadership and refreshers from pre-existing learning experiences that would lend context or may be seen in a new light. Here the curations of videos can present learning pathways (playlists) that build momentum and understanding.


Provide credible and authoritative resources that support knowledge acquisition, perspectives, empathy, emotional intelligence, and learning development. This is not limited to blogs, posts, and articles — reading books and even fiction develop cognitive abilities in the learners.


Podcasts, audiobooks, and other lecture and interview formats provide access to expertise and knowledge resources to extend the benefits and depth of knowledge at an individual level. The learner is immersed in a one-on-one conversation or has an audible seat at the table with others conversing. "Audio is one of the most intimate forms of media because you are continually building your images of the story in your mind, and you're creating your production."


Discussions with and among your workforce extend past the social channels they follow. It is assumed that conversation has to be in real-time. Too often, social media messaging platforms lend to instant asks and expectations for an instantaneous response. Thoughtful questions usually take time to craft thoughtful responses. Here learning can curate frequently asked questions — important questions and provide answers that are fully supported with facts, resources, and information.


Step 5 — Incorporate Social Messages into Organizational Culture

The importance of a social message extends far beyond the learning within the organization. Going beyond the learning experience to build connections to all people systems.


Link Messages to Onboarding

Tomorrow, next week, and ongoing new hires will join the organization. Incorporating social messages into onboarding programs more tightly links the messages to purpose with the core values the organization is carrying forward.


Link Messages to Performance

Linking social messages to performance, goals, and competencies elevates communication to core values that organize intentions to benchmark, measure, and perform to as an actionable means to bring forward action and change within the organization. 


Link Messages to Development

Development platforms enable employees, managers, and leaders to target social messages and developmental learning that can improve empathy, perspective, and behaviors that demonstrate the message's desired impact.

  • What key behaviors, empathy, and perspective are needed to embrace the social message?
  • What learning pathways can be developed to assist employees and managers in demonstrating this change or strengthen resolve?


Step 6 — What does Social Message Learning Pathway Look Like - Continual Renewal

Continually renewing focus by providing updates and actions, renewing messages and statements of support, contributing to social messages to the stream, and especially social learning. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once described the United States as 'a ten-day nation' — where the focus on a social issue was not sustained for more than ten days. Dr. King realized that in subsequent days the message must become transformative.

With so many truths and facts being challenged, dismissed, or lost to digital pollution, organizations should consider where and how knowledge and the truths of the organization can be accessed, learned, supported, and built upon to reach social goals. Social learning should continually be buttressed and renewed by including factual resources and supporting messages, stories, and knowledge.


Step 7 — Social Libraries and Equitable Access

Like all great learning institutions before them, organizations can create libraries, digitally or physically, that demonstrate and showcase the truths and knowledge they hold, the learning expectation they possess, and the goals they aspire to. A learning management system or enterprise network can become the social library for education and social progress within the workforce and community. Organizations must consider how every employee will access and utilize the learning equitably, ensuring they provide or support full access from the employees' devices.  


What to read next? 

Review the list of tweets to curated articles and resources from around the web.  Have additional ideas or suggestions — leave a comment and we'll be sure to add them.