Spreadsheets are now cool, thanks to TikTok

Author is the author of You’re the Business: How to build a successful career when you strike out alone

When Emma Chieppor, 25, started a new job as an actuary, she struggled with using Excel. Working remotely from her home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she eventually taught herself through YouTube videos.

After mastering Microsoft’s spreadsheet program, Chieppor was amazed at how much more efficient it made her work. In May 2021, she started posting videos on TikTok under the name @outstandingoffers help to those who Battle with spreadsheets.

Within a week, one of her videos – a 25-second tutorial on the Flash Fill feature – went viral and her account amassed 100,000 followers. Four months later, she was at 1 million followers tick tock and today she has more than 3.6 million followers on social media.

Chieppor is among a slew of “Excel influencers” who have emerged over the past two years teaching spreadsheet skills in bite-sized videos. The growing trend towards “micro-learning”, employees’ hunger for further training and the inability to learn software skills informally from colleagues because they work from home mean that Excel influencing is booming.

The #Excel hashtag has more than 3 billion views on TikTok. As Chieppor puts it, she wanted to “teach people Excel while doing something they’re already doing — scrolling through their TikTok feeds.”

One of the first Excel accounts on TikTok was Kat Norton’s @miss.excel Page at the beginning of the pandemic. In March 2020, the former management consultant was stuck in her children’s room and could not travel to work. Already teaching Excel as a side project, she decided to post tips on a TikTok account after a friend suggested it.

“I said, ‘I can’t do TikTok, I’m 27,'” she says. “Then I looked around there and saw that nobody else was doing it. And I thought there might be a market for it.”

Norton made videos of herself dancing to pop music, overlaid with a screen capture of her running Excel functions, and began posting them every day. She now has more than 700,000 followers on TikTok as well as nearly 600,000 on Instagram. In her bio, she calls herself Chief Excel Officer.

Norton says the videos that cover the best Excel features, like Flash Fill and keyboard shortcuts, perform the best. She also has a recurring skit in which she plays a boss who asks a worker to complete a tedious manual task, which they then complete in record time thanks to their newfound Excel skills.

“The average everyday Excel user is not an advanced user,” says Norton. “So when you get down to these basic things, the things that people do manually every day, these are those [videos] going viral.”

Not only independent content creators are making a name for themselves in the Excel community on TikTok. Mike Tholfsen is the Group’s Principal Product Manager for Microsoft education and runs a TikTok account (@mtholfsen) with 1.3 million followers. He shares what he calls MicroTips, a portmanteau of “Microsoft tips.” He says his Excel content is his most popular; A recent tutorial demonstrating the text-to-column feature has more than 270,000 views.

“TikTok is about ephemeral discoveries,” says Tholfsen. “You might go to YouTube to look up how to do something, but on TikTok you learn something you didn’t expect.”

Tholfsen adds that he thinks Excel Tips resonate so well on TikTok because it’s an ideal tool for microlearning. “The pandemic, and to a lesser extent TikTok, has started to teach people that this micro-sized content can really resonate,” he says. “Not everyone wants the ’30-minute sit down’ thing.”

Microsoft’s flagship spreadsheet program was launched in September 1985. The software company doesn’t provide figures on the number of Excel users, but as of August 2021, Microsoft 365, the software suite that includes Excel, had more than 300 million commercial paid jobs. LinkedIn has more than 1 million job postings worldwide for roles that require Excel skills.

Despite software being such an office staple, a survey of 1,000 UK workers by a London-based training company, Acuity Training, found that less than half of office workers (48 percent) have received formal Excel training. In addition, on average, the employees surveyed needed help from colleagues twice a week with an Excel problem, what remote work made challenging.

“I’ve always found the formal Excel courses very dry and boring — I don’t think there’s a better way to put it,” says La-Tequl Edmonds, 33. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based human resource specialist trusts Excel and found the TikTok tutorials much more useful. “What was entertaining for me was that people put their own spin on the Excel content by using voice overs and props. When I saw those videos I just thought, ‘That’s my speed’.”

Microsoft recently named Norton, @miss.excel, as one of its Most Valuable Professionals (MVP), an award given to “technology professionals and community leaders who actively support tech communities through unique, innovative, and consistent knowledge sharing.” She now offers a range of online courses, including an Excel course for $297.

Edmonds took one of these courses, which her company paid for as part of her training and development. She was recently promoted and feels that her Excel skills have helped her confidence at work. “All of my pre-promotion recognition came from meeting the metrics,” says Edmonds. “And I think that because of these newly acquired skills, I was able to do that.”

Meanwhile, Chieppor has partnered with digital media company Morning Brew and plans to expand their Excel Dictionary brand to new formats. One of the first followers of her account, Korrin Perry, a research and development analyst at NielsenIQ, says Chieppor’s videos enabled her to show her boss how to perform Excel functions. She says, “I feel more confident putting ‘Excel proficient’ on my resume.”

Spreadsheets are now cool, thanks to TikTok Source link Spreadsheets are now cool, thanks to TikTok

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