Twitter: Can We Use This As A Training Tool?

Twitter has made headlines in some amazing news stories; breaking the news of China’s earthquake and helping a student get out of jail when he was arrested in Egypt for nothing more than taking a photo. Both of these incidents speak to the growing popularity of Twitter, but you may have the same questions I do: what is Twitter, who uses it, and can be harnessed as a learning tool?

Twitter is a free social networking tool that keeps people connected with one another and with sources of information. Twitter users submit updates, called “tweets”, about what they are doing at the moment. Tthese updates cannot exceed 140 characters.

Now how many folks are using Twitter? Twitter traffic is currently at 1.2 million users per month. These users are mostly male, young, and profess to be heavy users, saying they go on Twitter at least 6-8 times per month. See the demographic breakdown of users below:

Twitter Usage

Now, can Twitter be used for learning & development and if so how?

Here are some ways for you to consider:

Provide real time learning nuggets to either current or prospective employees

When you look at the demographics of usage you see it is heavily weighted toward the 18-24 and 25-34 age ranges. These are the Millennials and Generation Xer’s that companies are interested in recruiting as next generation leaders. It seems there can be a host of applications for recruiting new hires as well as providing knowledge to follow-up a learning event.

Follow-up to asynchronous webcasts

Twitter is a great tool for communicating and asking questions on conference calls and other types of static asynchronous conferencing. The added benefit of this is that using Twitter to connect allows you to keep a record of all the questions and comments, in a manner similar to a blog post.

Reinforcement or reminder on learning a new process or procedure

In a saturated world of content where the shelf life of knowledge keeps growing shorter and shorter, we are always looking for ways to reinforce new content. Twitter can accomplish this because it allows you to see quick snippets of content.

However, it is also important to note that while real people write most tweets, some are using the service for blasting marketing messages. In the later case, I believe users quickly see through this and look for authentic content to help them be more successful on their job.

So how are you using Twitter? Is it a viable tool for learning and development? Share your thoughts with me.

Finally if you are on twitter, be sure to “follow” me at: http://twitter.com/jcmeister

[tags]social media best practices, web 2.0 enterprise 2.0, learning & development[/tags]

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About Jeanne Meister

Jeanne C. Meister is a best selling author of three books, internationally recognized consultant and keynote speaker. Jeanne is Partner of Future Workplace, a consulting firm dedicated to assisting organizations in re-thinking, re-imagining and re-inventing the workplace. Jeanne was recently voted by her peers as one of the 20 top influential training professionals in the United States. Jeanne’s name is synonymous with the establishment and institutionalization of global corporate universities. Jeanne is the author of three books, Corporate Quality Universities and Corporate Universities. Jeanne’s latest book is, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Collins, 2010) is in its 10th printing.No information is provided by the author.


  1. We have yet to figure out how to harness the power of Twitter as a tool to deliver training and development, but I still think the opportunity is out there.

    Right now, we mostly use Twitter to spread the word on new training articles or upcoming events.

    I think it has the possibility to become a valuable training tool. Whether it’s to deliver follow-up information or stay connected with seminar attendees, it’s a great way to help people stay connected when you only have a few minutes to spare.

    Great post, I’d love to hear how everyone else is using Twitter for training.

  2. Jeanne,

    I just sent your article out to Twitterverse to get thoughts and feedback.

    Well, we know the 140 character limit means that we’ll have to be really succinct and clear about our goals/desired outcomes for Tweet-based training! Not necessarily a bad thing.

    Sounds good for enrollment reminders and updates; possibly also for key theme/concept reinforcers for performance support.

    Follow me at http://twitter.com/Coach_Colette

  3. Whenever I interview someone for my blog, I encourage them to send out a tweet as well. It helps them gain exposure and drive traffic to my site. I also announce the interview to my networks. It’s a win-win!


  4. Jeanne -

    I’m the technology director for our local chapter of ASTD and we’re having amazing conversations right now on this topic and others (LinkedIn and Facebook). I’m looking forward to receiving your thoughts here and on Twitter (twitter.com/4thejourney). I’m also employed by one of your sponsors (glad to see us sponsoring quality discussions on the future of training) and I’m hoping to get in on some of the conversations about how we’ll use these technologies in-house for knowledge sharing!


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