Social Media, the new learning campus for companies

Fgo    June 3, 2015

Social Media is evolving fast, but using its extensive and endless capabilities to your advantage is not an easy task. Social media is a powerful tool for employee engagement, Human Resources, and for other departments within a business beyond marketing.

New Ideas

With regards to employee engagement, The Adidas Group is doing a great job to support their 51,000 employees. (48,000 according to their official video)

The Adidas Group is training its employees through social media, and has become one of the pioneers in the world in this matter. Workforce development and skills training have always been priorities for them. In the past, they had a budget for training focused on a classroom-based format, in which they enrolled employees in a variety of programs focused on behavioural and job-related training.

They have taken the concept of a “corporate university” to a less conservative and more modern concept. Learning has to be fun, engaging, and sustainable, according to their new way. Adidas Group Learning Campus replaced classroom-only training programs with social and interactive online-learning offerings, which are open to everybody and accessible 24/7.

New learning ways

Matthias Malessa, an Adidas employee, and his learning team evolved their approach to blend learning with work. His approach is to recognize the little knowledge we achieve in classrooms in comparison with the big advantage of working with a mentor or a coach and the experience we get at work. Christian Kuhna, developer of the strategy of the “adidas Group Learning Campus”, thinks that 80% of our learning happens in an informal way.

Adidas Social Media strategy consists of a very authentic and fun blog, as well as a heavy presence on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Under Adidas’ program, the digital learning platform generates suggested learning courses for each training topic an employee decides to tackle. These modules take the form of videos, PDFs, quizzes, and include external sources, like TED or YouTube videos, blogs etc. following the model of MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses), and the platform highlights those which are either “most popular” or expert “recommended.”

As employees develop their skills, they rank and rate the training content as easily as they would a video on YouTube or a book on Amazon.

This new vision, which Adidas calls its “New Way of Learning,” requires leaders to become actively involved in learning and even to embed learning, teaching, and sharing, into all of their interactions with team members.  The vision is best summarized by Kuhna, as part of a philosophy in which commitment drives engagement, and engagement drives performance.

Why Adidas’ employees work there?

This is one of Adidas’ many ways to engage their employees in Social Media.

An amazing principle.

Kuhna says, “The Adidas Learning Campus is not focused on designing learning for our employees on campus, but on creating a consistent and compelling learning experience worldwide.”

This is a basic fact of social media and one of its core values. Every thought, idea, piece of knowledge, emotion, and anything you could share through social media, has a worldwide reach that benefits every human on this planet. That can only help individuals in your organization to have a wider and deeper learning experience.
Adidas created the following principles in order to convey their idea and get employees interested in their new approach.

Those five principles were:

  • Working is learning and learning is working
  • Shift to an open and collaborative, connected, “social” learning environment
  • Leadership means sharing, teaching, and learning
  • Innovation is part of everybody’s daily work
  • Create a new culture of self-driven life-long learning

The creators of this idea acknowledge the importance of creating the right marketing for this new way of learning. 50% of Adidas employees are around 30 years-old. Younger generations demand visual, fun and engaging learning experiences. Millennials have been raised on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram, so marketing to them must involve a heavy focus on video and infographics, two forms of media that help create the experience of high velocity and high engagement.

Adidas’ “New Way of Learning” challenges Adidas employees with the thought-provoking messages like “If You Think You’re So Smart, Why Don’t You Share Your Knowledge?” The promotion reads less like a traditional marketing copy for a corporate learning initiative and more like a headline that could have been created by the likes of Vice Media, the hip online news site full of viral content.

In the case of Adidas, the decision to re-imagine learning took advantage of several macro trends in the workplace. Those included the move toward using social media inside the organization, as well as the recognition that learning must be fun, engaging and hip. Most importantly, they included the move toward envisioning learning blended seamlessly with working.

Employee engagement examples from other companies

The executive leaders at Wells Fargo (John Stumpf and Carrie Tolstedt) host Town Hall meetings for employees. They have them in many physical locations but everyone can attend virtually. You can watch the stream either live or recorded and can ask questions. -“I love the Town Hall meetings” said one of the employees – “they really help me stay connected to our corporate focus, we also have team member networks, I  am a member of the Pride team member network. They host blogs where team members can share their opinion on topics impacting the interests of their network. For example, we recently had a great online conversation about Wells Fargo signing the amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court asking them to uphold gay marriage nation-wide”.

One of the most important questions a company should ask to themselves is: How can we take advantage of our professional pool and from those ones who have worked previously with the company? How could we engage employees to collaborate with each other regardless of their location? How could we convey our message and principles to future employees? Procter & Gamble, IBM, Nestlé, Best Buy and Capgemini are using social media to achieve these goals.

Social Media is the best way to achieve higher productivity. Burson-Marsteller, a public relations firm, says that more than 50% of the companies listed in Fortune 100 have twitter accounts. Two thirds of those companies use their accounts to improve productivity in areas like customer service. One of these companies is Best Buy: their Twelpforce system allows customer service agents to have twitter accounts to respond to customer questions or concerns in a faster and more efficient way.

Collaboration. According to a survey, more than 91% of companies in Palo Alto Networks in 2009 used social media to promote collaboration within their workforce. Virtual meetings, teams that work in different locations, and logistics that do not allow everyone to work from the same place, are common barriers that have been defeated by social media.

Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital (McGraw-Hill, 2008), affirms “Social Media will be the new operating system of companies.” Younger generations will need this approach. The ideal scenario for them would be changing the corporate approach to describe jobs for work objectives, using the right tools, freedom and orientation to do their jobs.

Capgemini, a consulting and technology firm has launched an ambitious project that enables the use of blogs and wikis to connect their 90,000 employees. Interactive web spaces have become a powerful tool for those with professional or personal interests in regards of specific topics. This can get together people with marketing ideas or pharmaceutical research.

Other ideas:

Directors can use social media to establish and improve a multidirectional dialogue with employees and stakeholders, sharing the idea of equality, stating that we all are on the same boat. This can also create a link for employees working in farther locations, achieving a better sense of belonging among employees.

Promoting social media activities makes employees better able to generate contacts, help clients, talk about their achievements, and improve creativity, by learning about new ideas constantly. Social media also allows employees to possess “good corporate governance”. A healthy network is a committed network. Allowing employees to accomplish and develop guidelines for a business may help to attract lethargic employees to social media, and enhance reliability with regards to established objectives and guidelines.

References: A new way of working and learning. Jeanne Meister

Adidas Group blog

Interview with employee at Wells Fargo

Interview with Adidas employee

“Twitter and social networks cost U.K. businesses.” Morse Plc. Press note.

Manpower Professional, Study about tendencies in Social Media

Manpower Professional, op. cit.

Manpower Professional, op. cit.

Burson-Marsteller and Proof Digital, Fortune 100 Social Media Study, 2009.

Palo Alto Networks, The Application Usage and Risk Report

“Capgemini adopts social networking tools for knowledge management,” InfoWorld, mayo de 2009.

Deloitte LLP, 2009 Ethics & Workplace Survey, 2009.

Burson-Marsteller, op. cit.

Manpower Professional, op. cit.


Submitted By: Fernando Gomez, SMBP student

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