If you attended this year’s NALC Conference, run by Diversity Best Practices, you’d undoubtedly agree that Social Media is bold and daring and here to stay as evidenced by the integration of tools like Twitter and Flip Cameras to engage the 400+ attendees. In addition, conference keynote speaker Carlos Dominguez, SVP at Cisco, drove home the message that we cannot be idle and we need to be in the space. Further supporting the hot trend and the need for higher education in this area, the pre-conference workshop on Social Media was sold out.
It has become imperative to further acclimate yourself with the Social Media space in order to gain competitive advantage. We cannot escape social media as its long become a part of the everyday landscape. As we watch television shows, we do not question the appearance of a Twitter handle nor do we balk at references to Facebook updates. Viewers watching the popular show Dancing with the Stars are encouraged to vote via mobile devices and visit the DWTS website which promotes their Facebook page for updates and opportunities to connect with other fans.
Remember the phrase, “you can run, but you can’t hide”? This is certainly the case. Newer technologies integrate quickly. Consider Apple’s launch of the iPAD on April 3rd. A host on the Inside Edition TV show integrated iPAD usage into his report on the show. He demonstrated a slideshow of a behind-the-scenes fashion collage at a celebrity function. There are lots of other examples of social media cozying up to us in our lives. The good news is that most of you are leveraging some of the more popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and YouTube. For those of you that aren’t playing in the space, I would encourage you to do so. If you still need convincing, please take a look at the following video on YouTube to gain an awareness of how quickly technology is evolving - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8.
Convinced? I hope so. Your Social Media education should be likened to taking one course versus getting a college degree. Declare yourself a social media major and you will find plenty of resources available to you.
Here are 10 tips to upgrade your social media education:
- Recognize the time has come for action and be willing to risk failure. Imagine what you and I would be doing right now if we both purchased google stocks when the time was right.
- Take action each day (no matter how small) to build up your social media expertise. Be a sponge! Being well informed increases the value of contributions that you make to your organization.
- As a novice, acknowledge up front that you will be overwhelmed by the plethora of tools and information available in the social media space. Admittedly, you’re on a journey and you will not be an expert overnight.
- Create an educational plan for your journey incorporating information such as timing, cost and method. What do you want to accomplish in 3 months, 6 months, and so on? Stay abreast of opportunities for learning at the college of your choice. There are definitely opportunities available and sometimes at a nominal cost. Strike now while the iron is hot. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to hear the news that social media is a mainstream major offering in colleges.
- Libraries are also offering workshops to build knowledge on social media tools. I just attended at 2-hour workshop at my local library that provided a great ROI of my time. The information was collated and I was exposed to books and tools that would have taken me a bit of time to research on my own. The best part is that it was free of charge.
- Follow the experts on Twitter. There’s a great amount of information already collated by experts like Pete Cashmore, Scott Monty, Kenneth Burbary, and Guy Kawasaki who will keep you in the know about the latest in social media.
- Network with other experts at conferences and follow them on Twitter. While there, take a peek at who they are following. You might learn something and find yet another resource to build your knowledge.
- The bookstore is swarming with materials available on social media. If you’re not sure what to get, tap into the experts and ask for recommendations. Heck, Oprah may even have a recommendation for her book club.
- Join a group on LinkedIn. Currently, there are 2,933 groups associated with social media. on the site. Undoubtedly, you will find a few that pique your interest and best of all will catapult you on your journey to Social Media Mavenhood. I recommend Social Media Today as a Resource.
- Get your hands wet with real life social media. Play with the different tools to get hands on experience. Set up a Twitter account and tweet regularly. Create your own videos (Flip cams are an easy tool to use) and experiment with uploading to the different sites (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). If you can’t find your own real life opportunities to play with social media, volunteer for an organization of interest and take on a role that allows you to play in the social media space.
Best of luck to you on your quest! One must increase knowledge in the social media space to gain competitive advantage by leveraging insights gleamed from consumers via the multitude of social media tools available.
Simone Morris works in the IS Department at Diageo as a Digital Technologist supporting the Marketing Teams with digital initiatives. Her focus area is Social Media. Follow her on twitter @jubileetown.