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You Never Know Until You Try! November 30, 2009

Posted by cjescribano in experiments, social networking, Web 2.0.
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Sushi2
(Photo: Daniel St.Pierre / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Imagine trying to “communicate the value” of sushi to someone.

You could make a case for it as a health food. After all, it is high protein and low fat. But ultimately, you’re going to have to address the fact that sushi is basically raw fish, cold rice, and seaweed. It’s a tough sell, and yet there are lots of people who LOVE sushi. The only way to know about sushi is to try it.

The same is true for social media.

BigQuestion

And so, in response to this month’s Learning Circuits Big Question on how to communicate the value of social learning to people in your organization, there is one simple message:

You never know until you try!

Fortunately, social media software is easily accessible and typically free, so it isn’t hard to try it.

Rather than arguing with doubters and naysayers, tell them that perhaps they are right. Perhaps social media is just a waste of time—despite examples and evidence to the contrary. But they could also be wrong. And they’ll never know until they try. Then, get them to agree to do a 30-day Experiment.

The 30-Day Experiment
The 30-Day Experiment has been my personal learning tool for figuring out social media, how I can use it, and how it might help my clients. Basically, for 30 days, I commit to daily immersion in a specific social media tool or site, and I capture my observations about the experience and what I learned.

Here’s how you could use the 30-Day Experiment with clients, colleagues, and management to help them see the value of social media for themselves:

  1. Determine a critical business need that social media could address.
  2. Use social media to create a solution to meet that need.
  3. Assemble your test group and tell them:
    -How important their input is for determining how social media might help their organization
    -That you need daily participation and honest feedback
    -The value of an open mind
    -How to use the site
    -How to capture their experiences and insights so that they can send them to you (You can give them a feedback form for this, or better yet, use the social media tool to collect their feedback)
  4. Begin the experiment. Send regular reminders and suggestions for things the test group can try on the social media site. Stay as curious and scientific as possible. Demonstrate the value of an open mind.
  5. Collect the feedback, analyze the data, and put together a report of your findings.
  6. Assemble the group and share your findings and discuss people’s experiences during the experiment. Find out:
    -What surprised members of the test group
    -What they liked about the social site
    -What other ideas they have for using social media in the organization
    -What they found difficult or unpleasant and how to avoid those negatives in the future

There’s no guarantee that your 30-Day Experiment will sell the people in your organization on social media. But it will give you valuable information for overcoming objections. And my experience has been that getting people to try something and to think objectively about their experience can save a lot of time and energy that would otherwise be spent arguing, persuading, and “communicating the value.”

P.S. The 30-Day Experiment is also useful for groups who have already bought into social media. It’s a great way to get a group to focus on learning more about a specific tool or method.

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