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Social Media Crash Course Highlights

June 8, 2009

In early May, Rene Siegel, president of High Tech Connect, and Brian Johnson, a social media guru with Internet Guide Services, invited me to join them on an ambitious project. They were organizing a seminar they called the Social Media Crash Course, which was intended to help marketing and communications professionals update social media and Web 2.0 skills. Although all three have are experienced presenters at professional associations and conferences, none of us had executed a full-day workshop. I accepted their challenge and immediately began some intensive weeks of planning and preparation.

On May 28, we presented to a lively group of 40 mostly seasoned PR and marketing consultants, along with a few small business owners and a U.C. Berkeley professor, at the Sheraton hotel in Pleasanton. The day was divided into three sections: Connect, Focus and Leverage. Each section included background, demonstrations, personal stories, hands-on exercises and Q&A. Here is a sample of some of the topics we covered:

Mine Your Connections: We demonstrated how to import contacts from Outlook, Entourage, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and other mail programs into Facebook and LinkedIn. Rene explained how she was able to reconnect with many former clients and friends going back some 20 years. Some of the attendees expressed reservations and fear regarding sending invitations to some of their email contacts or letting acquaintances into Facebook. One attendee asked if we recommend creating separate Facebook profiles for personal and professional use (we do not). A good dialog with the attendees on related topics ensued.

Keep ‘Em Updated: We showed how to send short status updates (a.k.a. microblogs) to all of your contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter—or all of them at once with We explained how this can reinforce your personal brand (or company’s brand), and what we feel are valuable updates vs. SPAM.

Get and Stay Focused: We showed how to use an RSS reader to view Facebook and LinkedIn updates, blogs, national and international news, corporate news, newsletters and much more using Google Reader (or any RSS reader). Brian demonstrated his well-populated RSS reader, which includes not only text feeds but podcasts and videos. We explained the advantages of using an RSS reader to stay on top of the news that is important to you without clogging your email inbox.

Blogging Strategy: We spent a considerable amount of time explaining the growing prevalence of blogs and how to develop a blog strategy tailored to an individual, small business or corporation. I discussed how Cisco maintains 14 separate blogs aimed at specific focus areas and how the blogs now include videos and photos to make them more appealing. Rene explained how she was initially resistant to blog because of the work involved, but later found how easy it was to keep the blog fresh with short entries and comments on articles and other things she found on the web.  We showed how to use WordPress and Blogger, two of the free tools to easily maintain a blog.

Tag It: Brian has taken his blogs one step further, showing how he uses ShareThis to tag articles and websites of interest and have them automatically fed into his blog page immediately.  His personal blogs as well as the blog he maintains for Trapeze Networks are quite impressive.

Be Authentic and Transparent: We discussed why authenticity and transparency are two key attributes of social media that make it a powerful tool—a point echoed by Joel Postman, author of SocialCorp: Social Media Goes Corporate. We showed some of the videocam-produced, humorous viral videos on YouTube that get this point across. We touched on why slick, highly produced marketing videos simply don’t have the same level of authenticity and transparency, and are no longer seen as highly credible anymore.

For me, co-leading the seminar was a powerful experience. It was a chance to show the practical side of leveraging social media tools for an individual, small business or larger organization. More importantly, we created a forum to openly discuss fears and skepticism around the adoption of social media. I look forward to learning, teaching and blogging more on this evolving topic.

For comments and testimonials from attendees, see the High Tech Connect fan page.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 8, 2009 9:36 pm

    Ron – thanks for posting this. I came into the seminar with an open mind. I left overflowing with information. I recently moved my EPR email to gmail ( is another venture of mine), have’d my Twitter, FB and LI accounts and am forging my way further into Social Networking. As I said in a recent email to Rene, “Hello 2009, goodby 1992.”

    Great seminar, great post, great work. Thanks. — Bill

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