Training is a commitment in terms of both time and money, which means it can easily be seen as a negative.
However, if we don’t spend time learning, acquiring new knowledge and ideas and feeding our brain, we tend to gat stuck in one mindset.
If this mindset says that we know all we need to know about a given subject, it is unlikely we will seek any further information. We will remain ignorant of developments in technology, regulation and environmental issues that may well affect our business.
When you know you are lacking information, you can decide that a) you don’t need that info, or b) that you do and will take action to learn.
If you only think you know what information you lack, then you can miss something that could be very important to you.
This happened to me only last night.
I thought I knew what I did and did not know about social media monitoring, but I had a rude awakening during a seminar on that very subject held here at the Colston Office Centre yesterday.
The seminar was given by Nigel Legg of Churnbar – they have developed monitoring models for social media activity to measure sentiment, brand references and social media engagement.
Now I use Hootsuite (albeit infrequently ) and Google Alerts (which come in daily). Both of these are free, as is Social Mention, Tweet Deck and Social Media Analysis. Two out of the last three, I had not heard of, but I did know there were more around – so I knew what I didn’t know.
However, the revelation for me was the different types of analysis between the free and paid-for versions. One assumes that paid for is just a bit more focussed and bespoke version of the freebies. But there is more to it than that.
The free sites don’t use anything like the sophisticated algorithms and checks that the paid-for models use. They are also less likely to be updated as frequently.
So what do the paid-for’s give you? For a start, much more work will be done to hone in on really accurate keywords for your business and these would be developed over time. With the free sites, there is no help. You just put in what you think is right.
Secondly, part of the initial sifting is also done by hand – the process is not entirely automated. This is because, in order to properly qualify the various mentions, context is important.
Say someone says ‘I like the new HTC phone, it is brilliant’? The meaning here is pretty clear.
What if they said ‘I like the new HTC, but it is not as good as the iPhone’? This would be counted as positive, even though it is qualified.
What about ‘I don’t like the new HTC, but it is better than anything else on the market’? This is a negative, but again, qualified.
And finally ‘I hate the new HTC because I can’t have it yet – I’m still in contract on my old phone’. This would read as negative, when in fact it is a positive.
Only an element of manual sifting would have any chance of returning an accurate measurement of sentiment. Of course, you can sit at your desk all day monitoring every blog, tweet or status update yourself. This would be the most accurate method, assuming you could find every comment, though highly impractical.
So that is what I didn’t know I didn’t know.
Because I was co-hosting the event, I sat down to listen. But had the event been somewhere else, I would not have thought I needed to attend. How wrong can you be?
Now I know I need to avail myself of Nigel’s services.
Training and education is important for all sorts of reasons: because it broadens our horizons, makes us more effective and increases productivity, it increases our worth and prospects. It also helps us identify the areas we need to improve and which can move our business forward; it helps us identify what we don’t know.