Let’s talk TikTok for workplace learning

Which app has been downloaded more: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok? You’d probably never have guessed that - out of all social media platforms - it is TikTok.

Thankfully, Michelle Roodt, Learning Experience Consultant at Sponge, knows the answer and, as part of the Learning Technologies Digital Experience 2021, spent some time bringing us up-to-date on ‘Five things we can learn about learning from TikTok’ and how, in the future, this knowledge can be applied when creating workplace learning.

A relative toddler compared to the others, TikTok, was launched internationally in 2017. Since then, it’s been downloaded over 6 billion times on iOS App Store and Google Play as of December 2020. Ask any Gen Z or Millennial and they’ll tell you it is the number one place to go to watch short, creative pieces of user-generated content.

User-generated content applied to workplace learning

The main premise behind the platform is that your average upload for TikTok videos is no more than 60 seconds long. Content creators range from world-famous celebrities and mega-influencers to everyday people bursting with passion and enthusiasm for their hobbies and careers.

As well as being entertaining to watch, TikTok offers users educational videos and the chance to learn new skills. There are make-up tutorials, fitness drills, step-by-step dance routines, cookery lessons, and art classes – to name a few. Videos are often spontaneous, honest, and unpolished, and the artificial intelligence algorithm behind it all makes it easy to find, watch and re-watch more of whatever tickles your fancy.

Users are also incredibly active on TikTok. Micro-communities of like-minded people enthusiastically contribute to the ecosystem and their comments, likes and shares push content up the platform's trending and viral video charts.

So, what does this have to do with creative learning? Well, imagine that you could tap into the trends, conversations, and ideas circulating around yours or your client’s company. In this day and age, learners are fed up with run-of-the-mill training educational content that plays out in monotonous detail. They don’t want to see the same formula over and over again.

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TikTok "democracy" harnessed for workplace learning

Instead, they want something engaging and inspiring. Something real that reaches out of the screen and into their wheelhouse – but how? Michelle and the teams at Sponge think that the TikTok democracy of “anyone can teach anyone” could be harnessed for workplace learning.

Those in the know share knowledge and insight with their colleagues in the form of succinct messages and interactions. Short, user-generated videos are one way to do this, but there are many others, including animations, infographics, scenarios, mini-quizzes, and guided practice activities.

In fact, the evidence shows that multiple touchpoints, repetition, and spaced practice is what our brains need to support effective learning. So, try to diversify and differentiate your approaches to attract learners.

Create a community with the tone of voice

Just remember to select the approaches that are tonally in tune with voices of your target audience. TikTok creators consciously choose their tone of voice and adapt their creation and posting strategy, based on how content is performing and who they want to reach.

It’s a constant recalibration to ensure that they are making the most impact with their efforts. Learning professionals can adapt their tone of voice based on learner feedback and target messages by using insights garnered through data analytics.

Alongside snappy solutions think carefully about ways that you can create a community of learning through anecdotes and campaigns that get people talking and sharing their experiences, and learning a thing or two along the way.

Love it or loathe it, TikTok, if seen as a learning platform, has disrupted the traditions of content creation and delivery. Its meteoric uptake in such a short space of time has proven that learners are not only ready for a change, they are taking it upon themselves to show us first-hand how they think it should be done. Just follow the hashtag learnontiktok.

Download: Five things we can learn about learning from... TikTok.

Written by Mark O’Gorman, Learning Experience Designer at Sponge


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