Social Media 101 & 201: My *Aha Moments*

I was flying between Facebook, LinkedIn, email, job blogs and other websites in January and thought, “If only I could do this for a living!” as I was posting an article to Facebook. Two weeks later I saw Bernie Borges present his “Social Networking for Job Seekers” at a Pinellas Professional Networking meeting. The updated Socialnomics video linked below really hit home. Bernie’s emphasis on the need for personal branding made me examine my own social media usage. I joined LinkedIn in 2006, Facebook in 2009 and wasn’t on Twitter yet. Even though I was on LinkedIn a long time, I didn’t fully complete my profile until 2010 after getting laid off. In examining my LinkedIn usage, I hadn’t been posting regular status updates or using Discussions, Events, Groups or Polls to their maximum. I had just been skimming the surface.

So I decided to do a crash course in how business and brands are using social media.  At a minimum it would provide a great answer to the question “What have you been doing to improve yourself?” and at most it might open doors to whole new world. I began by beefing up my LinkedIn usage.  Googled ‘Social Media Content Mgr. jobs in Tampa’ and the second listing was Social Fresh Tampa. Clicked on the Social Fresh link, looked at the agenda and the speakers and literally got shivers. I had hit the mother lode! It was exactly what I needed as a boot camp.  First learning: the position I was dreaming about is called a Community Manager (Erin Bury job description linked below). I registered, read many of the speakers’ blogs, joined Twitter and started following them before the conference. I attended Social Fresh Tampa February 21 & 22 and Bernie’s full program February 23, so it was an intense three-day social media infusion.

Since then I’ve been following SM thought leaders on Twitter.  I absolutely love Twitter in a way I didn’t understand before; it’s basically a very clean news feed where you filter what you receive by whom you follow.  It’s very easy to find great content.

Here are my big ‘Aha! Moments’ from my Social Media 101 & 201 studies over the past two months, which may be helpful to business people who haven’t yet delved too deeply in these waters:

  • It’s not really about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube. (No offense Mark, Reid, Jack or Chad, Steve and Jawed) What? How can it not be about them? Simple: Remember doing business before MS Office, the Internet and websites? Yes? No? Either way, these are the platforms for how business gets done since the mid to late ’90′s. They are the tools and vehicles we use to communicate and provide information. LinkedIn launched in 2003, Google went IPO in 2004, YouTube was founded in 2005, Twitter launched in July 2006 and Facebook became open to the general public in late 2006. Facebook and Twitter have not been accessible to everyone for 5 full years yet. Foursquare launched March 2009. In a short time, these social media platforms have taken over the world, helped to organize revolutions and are the new method for communicating. So whether your business is software, insurance, medicine, education, market research, property management or a yoga studio, it’s important to incorporate them now. My favorite line from Socialnomics is: “The ROI of Social Media is that your business will still exist in 5 years.” It’s easy to believe considering the launch dates of the businesses listed above. And who knows what their names will be, but there will be new ones this year and every year after.
  • Old School Business: Marketing decides the brand strategy and print, TV, radio and online advertising for all products and/or services. PR is the corporate-bot voice “Ms. Brand Girl has been appointed VP of Community effective March 21, 2011,” issues press releases and defends company pride and reputation during times of crisis. Both have traditionally been one-way communication, from the organization out. Customer service and sales have direct customer contact via phone or in person, which is where the real two-way communication between organization and customer traditionally occurs in a one-on-one fashion. Business with Social Media: Whether you appoint a Community Crusader (@PaulaBerg) or it’s housed under one of the traditional depts, the key is to understand that each play a role in a good social media strategy and not just one owns it. Top management has to champion social media and provide the resources for it. You are creating a community via these different platforms where all brand, PR and support streams come together. See link to Brian Solis blog post.
  • Social media are decidedly less formal, more casual and lighter than classic business communication. So the goal, be it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or any other site, is to engage, educate, entertain, converse, listen and ultimately strengthen the emotional bond with your brand followers.
  • Measurement: It’s business. Everyone wants to know the ROI of social media. While I believe it’s do or die, I’ve been in business long enough to know you have to show forward progress. There are ways to do that without equating it directly to sales or dollars. My personal caveat on measurement is: listen to and measure all platforms together, not just select streams, i.e. just FB or just Twitter. People still use the various platforms in different ways and your picture may not be accurate just analyzing one source. See links to personal social media policy and Mashable blog on ROI cycle.
  • At the heart of it, social media allows you to build a community conversation in real-time with an audience; by brand, a product launch, an event or conference or basically anywhere people group together (even locations @schneidermike).  You meet people where they are, connect and further their emotional connection to you by listening and responding.
  • I signed up for a free webinar the Social Media group on LinkedIn hosted 2/24 and received an email that a.m. stating, ‘Please call in early for today’s webinar.  5,000 people have signed up and we only have 1,000 ports.  Don’t worry, we’ll be hosting it again next week.’  The real message?  2011 is the year that social media goes mainstream!

What’s Social Media 301 & 401?  Being a Community Manager or Director for an organization; working with brands to move forward via social media.

Post-Grad:  The SXSW Interactive conference in Austin this weekend (linked below) where the best and brightest are gathering and the next SM baby could be born. The 5 day schedule is arranged A-Z and has more offerings than God himself could attend. I’m very happy to see yoga included; with all of the electronics present and natural electro-magnetic energy of the attendees, I’m fairly certain SXSW could light up all of Austin this weekend! Glad there will be some peeps deep breathing to ground the energy☺

Social media has made the world one big community.  I was on Twitter late Thursday night/early Friday a.m. when I saw a Tweet:   ‘Just rec’d word of a major earthquake in Japan from the earthquake app on my iPhone.’  I immediately went to CNN.com, which had the breaking news banner but no story yet.  Turned on CNN and watched the tsunami live in real-time.  Unbelievable?  Yes!  But ever since 9/11, the 2004 tsunami, Katrina, Haiti, etc. people want and need instant information about what’s going on.  Social media connect everyone across the globe; it may be around a tragedy, a brand, an event, a location or the hippest SM conference, but these platforms create community for both life and business.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzZyUaQvpdc

http://erinbury.com/post/3216688107/community-manager-job-description

http://www.briansolis.com/2011/03/social-media-and-the-need-for-new-business-models/

http://www.talentculture.com/social-media/whats-your-personal-social-media-policy/

http://mashable.com/2011/03/03/social-media-roi-cycle/

http://schedule.sxsw.com/?conference=interactive&lsort=name

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