Social Networks Surpass Email:What’s The Impact On Corporate Learning?

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 04.10.09

According to the Nielsen Online internet marketing and research firm, social network and blogs have become more popular than email:

Social Networks Beat Email

As reported by eMarketer and CNET, after rising steadily in recent years, in this past year, social networks and blogs for the first time ranked ahead of email in the Nielsen Online study. This means that more people are now using interactive and open-user social networking and blog related interfaces than email. See the chart above for the specific numbers.

What’s more, time spent on social networks and blogging sites is growing at over three times the rate of overall Internet growth, according to eMarketer. Additionally reported this week in Business Week, growing your social network on Twitter can actually result in new business. Chris Savage, CEO of claims 12 new clients this year because of how he has used his network of followers on Twitter.

What does this have to do with corporate learning? A few questions for you to consider:
How does this growth in social networking lead to an increasing emphasis on social learning? As more learning happens in communities and with peers, what will be the impact of formal training programs? Will they begin to add “open source wiki’s,” as pre or post work? A number of companies are already creating their own “internal” versions of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. It seems to me this will only grow as more Millennials enter the workroce and demand these tools at work to increase their productivity.

Let me know in the comments or by emailing me at

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  1. Chris Savage, April 14, 2009:

    Jeanne, I’m glad you found the twitter story interesting. I think you’re right on that social networks are having a real impact on learning.

    The expectation of social networking is fueling the growth of more internal (and external) video, networking, and information sharing.

    I’m seeing companies better teach their employees and customers using social tools that they control. As social networking grows, the products and options available will better meet the vast array of communication needs across a company. The transition is coming and it’s happening fast.

  2. Lonnie Harmon, April 20, 2009:

    Social media has already impacted corporate training programs. Millennials have been termed “digital natives” due to the fact that computers aren’t “technology” to them - they grew up with computers; so, computers are as much a way of life for them as, say, microwave ovens. This generation spends more time on video games than they do watching TV. Millennials have moved beyond watching, reading and listening to doing, simulating, interacting and engaging. Handing these new employees “The Manual” will probably not be the most effective training delivery method. In our Intulogy training programs, we’ve found that Millennials learn differently than Boomers or GenXers. Even when delivery is in a classroom, the teaching methodology must be social, interactive and engaging. Also, the old pass-fail model of testing often does not apply to Millennial learners. Learning among “the Nintendo Generation” more closely resembles interactive gaming than logic; since losing at a game is the fastest way to master it, Millennials are accustomed to learning from mistakes. Furthermore, social media and interactive gaming has inured Millennials to nearly instantaneous feedback on performance, and they have little tolerance for delay. Training and development programs that don’t take the unique learning styles of their learners into account will simply not be as effective as those that do. Classroom,simulation, elearning or webinar training that includes interactivity and gaming aspects, social networks and social media as forums for discussion and community problem-solving, and immediate feedback on performance are all going to be important aspects of formal training programs for today’s, as well as tomorrow’s, workforce.

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