Topher's the Senior Director of Learning & Culture and Ryan's the Director of Associate Experience at Alliance Residential (one of the largest real estate companies in the US).
I wanted to find out how they'd driven such great engagement.
So, as with all my curiosities, I had to satisfy this one. I reached out to Topher and Ryan who kindly agreed to let me pick their brain to find out how they design learning experiences that keep nearly all of their employees consistently coming back for more.
Like many of you, Topher and the team found themselves at a crossroads a few years ago.
They were using three tools for learning and communications:
An antiquated LMS
They could upload e-learning material and do all the things you’d expect an LMS to do.
But that was it.
No one ever visited the LMS other than to complete compliance training.
They hosted successful live virtual events, but the complimentary self-paced material just wasn’t moving the needle 😐.
They also had an outdated intranet which had tons of really useful information. But it wasn't easily searchable 🔎 and no one could find what they were looking for. Or worse, they’d just end up getting irrelevant results.
Imagine going to Google and typing in "How to use Google Docs for collaboration" and end up getting search results about how to make a pizza 🍕!
I know it sounds ridiculous, but from a learner’s standpoint, that’s exactly how frustrating it feels.
The third tool the team at Alliance relied on was email.
Their people were being inundated with emails and struggling to keep up to date with important information like urgent policy and procedure updates.
So, the learning team at Alliance Residential had a conundrum.
They needed a learning platform that would enable them to put the learner experience at the centre of their learning strategy.
They needed a platform that would enable them to:
Make learning exciting for their people
Make information accessible and searchable
Ensure that everyone receives important communications
So after evaluating about 20 platforms, they decided to go with Fuse.
But choosing the right platform for your needs is only the first step. The hard work starts once you've implemented.
Now, remember that 90%+ engagement? Here's the 7 lessons Topher and Ryan shared with me to hit that number!
7 Lessons on Driving Adoption and Engagement
Lesson 1: Start With the End in Mind
What are you trying to achieve?
This is the most important question you can ask yourself and your team.
Engagement is often a proxy for other key metrics. So it's important to unpack what the overarching business outcomes are and to define the measures for success upfront.
This is exactly what the team at Alliance Residential did. Performance was their key success metric. If people were performing and getting promoted, they knew what they were doing was working.
Engagement was a good leading indicator for this.
Topher, Ryan and the rest of the learning team at Alliance Residential use Fuse’s Universal Analytics to track engagement.
This is what Ryan said when I asked him what their key success metrics were when they implemented Fuse 👇🏼
Lesson 2: Just KISS 😙
OK, OK, it’s not that type of kiss.
I asked Ryan what his top tip was for learning teams trying to get that initial adoption on a social learning platform.
He said "KISS: Keep it super simple".
Don’t overcomplicate it.
Make sure your homepage or landing page is simple with one very clear call to action.
Resist the temptation to show and tell everything on the homepage.
You know how the ‘Buy Now’ button is always big and bright on any online store? It’s because that’s where the seller wants your attention.
I'm a big fan of kitesurfing 🏄🏽♀️ so I couldn't help but use this example. Where does your attention focus?
I bet it's on the green button.
It’s the same principle when you're designing the landing page of your social learning platform.
You’re trying to sell a new experience to your learners. If you ask them to do several things, they’ll end up doing nothing.
What' should be on your equivalent of a ‘Buy Now’ button.
What's the one action that your learners can take to reach that "aha moment" when they really get what the platform is about?
For example, that action could be to ask a question, watch a video from the leadership team or comment on a post.
Topher, Ryan and the team at Alliance Residential really nailed this. Have a look at their homepage 👇🏼
Their main call to action is to explore the ongoing learning and communication.
They also use different calls-to-action for different audiences (Fuse enables them to build personalised landing pages for each of their audiences).
This personalisation is a key driver of engagement.
So remember, when you're designing that learning journey, always KISS (Keep it Super Simple).
Lesson 3: Get Leadership Involved (Especially if You Can Get Them Between Two Cacti!) 🌵🌵
You know that song 🎶 "Follow the Leader"👇🏼? Never gets old!
It's what we inherently want to do. We want to follow inspirational leaders.
The team at Alliance Residential tapped into this.
Rather than just launching Fuse and expecting people to just come, they showed their learners that their leadership were 100% onboard with the decision to adopt Fuse.
How did they demonstrate leaderships' buy-in?
They grabbed a camera and started interviewing leaders. They would post the videos on their Fuse instance so their people could watch the interviews and ask questions.
But these weren't your standard leadership interviews. That's not how this learning team rolls!
Rather, they had the leaders sit between two cacti.
Well, because it was fun and open. And we’re all human beings and we're more likely to engage with content when it's fun.
Why do you think cat videos get so many likes and shares?!
Best of all it worked. Employees really engaged with the video content (of the interviews of the leaders, not the cats). It got people onto the platform, liking and commenting on the videos.
This was exactly the behaviour Topher and the team were trying to drive.
So, think about how you can involve your leadership to drive that initial adoption and keep learners engaged.
And don't forget, make your content fun and entertaining!
Lesson 4: Give Them a Good Reason to Come Back
Think about a website or platform you visit daily. Maybe it’s LinkedIn or Facebook. Or a certain news channel.
Now imagine if every time you visited that website it was pretty much the same content as the last time. And the time before that. And before that.
Would you keep going back to it?
So, why do we expect learners to behave any differently?
I asked Topher and Ryan how they keep their learners consistently coming back to their Fuse platform. They said the secret was to make sure the content on the platform was always fresh, engaging, useful, fun and timely.
Here are a couple of ways they put this principle to practice.