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How L&D Can Use Social Media Principles to Drive Engagement and Performance

Steve Dineen
Mar 03 2021

I may not be my kids’ favourite YouTuber content-wise, but it’s a big thing to them that I’m the most successful YouTuber they know, and their favourite of course, because I’m their dad. My kids also understand that it’s no small feat getting to nearly 500,000 YouTube subscribers.

The journey to 500,000 subscribers for our k12 education channel has been really illuminating, whilst developing FuseSchool, which now empowers millions of children around the globe by giving them access to world class education for free. 

What is now clear from having a foot in both K12 and corporate learning camps is that there are huge and relevant lessons to transfer from running a successful YouTube channel to help create a culture of continuous learning within an organisation.

The principles of successful social media and in particular YouTube are a revelation of secret ingredients for corporate learning engagement success. What makes a given YouTube channel successful is actually not that different to what makes an enterprise learning strategy successful in driving engagement and performance, from the measurement we use, to the adoption, acquisition and engagement strategies we apply, there are 7 key parallels which I will run through now.

1. The most important metric

How social media companies measure active users - so daily, weekly or monthly active users - are some of their core metrics. Even something as straightforward as basic user metrics can have massive implications when you apply them to learning platforms, particularly if you can measure repeat visits. 

Why? Because in L&D, engagement is everything. If you can’t get a visitor to continue coming back to your platform, you’ve got a real engagement problem. Like social media platforms, one of the biggest challenges in L&D is creating engagement beyond that first visit, or making a platform ‘sticky.’ 

At Fuse, we have a lot of customer examples and data that prove exactly how powerful user metrics and repeat visits are for engagement and performance. The key results are easily digested: the more frequently people visit the platform to learn, the higher they perform. 

As a Fuse customer, Avon is a great example of the power of social media principles in actions applied to learning. The Avon team dug into its data surrounding both frequency of visits to the platform and interaction with it. It was determined that even an incremental increase in monthly visits to the Fuse platform - the difference between low frequency (1 to 2 visits per month) and medium frequency (3 to 4 visits per month) - had created dramatic uplifts of +320% in aggregate sales over a 6 month period. If you want to dig deep into the other benefits Avon, found, take a look at the case study here.

2. Ready, set, launch

Across Fuse and FuseSchool, we have over 10 million learners accessing the platforms a year, but that wasn’t a metric that was achieved immediately. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about user positioning strategies, which is another social media principle you see in attracting people to a channel such as YouTube. 

The acquisition techniques successful YouTubers apply are a bit like launch campaigns, which is very well aligned with the successful launch strategies we see across our Fuse customers. Typically, these customers launch the platform with leadership first so that leaders become engaged with learning, and pass on good practice to their teams. 

Take Scandic, for example. Scandic is the largest Nordic Hotel chain with over 18,000 employees dispersed over many locations. The company wanted to move on from its ineffective intranet to modernise its learning and culture, reaching out to every employee to create deeper connections between Scandic hotels. The company got leadership on board with the platform first, and by the time it rolled it out to its global base of employees, the platform was already an integral part of the organisation. 

Like any good social media channel, an L&D platform needs to launch with a strong unique selling point that is led confidently. This is ultimately what will create a culture of continuous learning, rather than a big splash that doesn’t span the test of time.

3. A Regular Drumbeat of Good Content

It goes without saying that a YouTube channel with crap content that doesn’t engage isn’t going to gather 50,000 followers. Everyone will have their own opinion on what is engaging of course, but it has to work for the audience, or they won’t come back. 

The same is true for learning. Vodafone has been a great example of content that has been successfully designed to engage, and this is entirely down to how useful the content is. The company regularly updates the platform with useful, bite-sized content. They understand that it is key to have quality content that is visually engaging, authentic and delivered with the right strategy and medium in mind.. 

However, they also understand the very YouTube-esque principle of micro influencers. Just as a person may have influence on YouTube, if you can find and create those individuals in your company who have great knowledge and who are seen as experts, you’re winning. Tapping into their tacit knowledge may be critical to your learning platform’s success, just as micro influence is on a social media channel. 

Case in point, when Vodafone launched its Fuse platform in the UK, it featured content from top retail performers from the business, which employees immediately recognised and followed on the platform. In fact, the engagement was so entrenched that Vodafone had 100% of its retail management team and 95% of its retail associate team engaging on a weekly basis, frequently outside of office hours as well. Over the past five years, Vodafone has maintained an 80% engagement with its Fuse platform consistently - you won’t find many learning platforms that hit those numbers. 

What you will find in Vodafone and other Fuse platforms is that if you keep in mind social media principles - from measurement used, to the adoption, acquisition and engagement strategies deployed, you’ll likely be on a journey to success. Ultimately, enterprise learning is designed to improve business performance and revenue, so when companies are starting out, they will want to measure the correlation between people consuming content regularly, and visit performance. 

But at some point, just like on YouTube, revenue simply becomes an organic product of use, and if we can be consistent with our channels and always work with increasing engagement in mind, L&D is well positioned to achieve the same positive results.

If you can’t get learners to continue coming back to your platform, you’ve got a real engagement problem and it’s time to look at your underlying strategy and content methodology. Contact us to chat!


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