A SMUG Tour of China

I’m excited to begin a new adventure today as I make my first trip to China.

I’m accompanying Kent Seltman, co-author of Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic. Kent was formerly the Marketing Division Chair at Mayo Clinic, and he wrote his book with Len Berry as his swan song as he approached retirement. It has been translated into Mandarin and has sold 350,000 copies in China.

China TourKent has previously visited China 13 times, always taking a current Mayo Clinic employee with him. I’m delighted to accompany him on his 14th trip. We’ll be there from now until June 27 and will speak at 9 hospitals in China (click the map to enlarge).

According to the Chinese Firewall Test, I probably won’t be able to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn for the next couple of weeks.

On the bright side, SMUG does appear to be available from mainland China.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 8.25.38 AM

I’ll hope to post updates here relatively frequently. Since my posts are tweeted automatically, SMUG will be my way of at least sending messages via Twitter.

Social Media: What’s all the Fuss?

Today I am starting a monthly series of two-hour sessions on social media organized through Rochester Community and Technical College. I hope the participants will find the series encouraging and empowering as they explore ways they can use social media tools personally and professionally.

Below are the slides from my first presentation, which will introduce many of the important social platforms and also sets the stage for sessions to be held over the next three months. Because I move quickly through the slides, I want to have them available for review here. Many of the slides include links to relevant sites or examples.

If you have questions or comments on any of the material, let’s discuss in the comments below.

It’s All Free (Or At Least It Was)

Chancellor’s Note: This is a reposting of the first WordPress Page I created, which was originally published on October 19, 2006. The original title was “It’s All Free (And Mostly Easy)” and it was my first attempt to keep some basic themes foremost on my blog, which was at that time called “Lines from Lee.” As you’ll see below, I had resolved that I wasn’t going to do anything on my blog that required me to spend any money. This page (now demoted to a post) highlights all the things you can do in social media for free.

Over time, that “It’s all free and mostly easy” theme morphed into the school motto for SMUG: Suus Non Ut Difficile, or “It’s Not That Hard.”

I’m going to be cleaning up some of the navigation on SMUG, and demoting some of the other Pages to “Post” status as well. This also will give me a chance to reflect upon things I wrote three to four years ago, and see how my thinking has evolved since then.

And how many things I saw in social media then really haven’t changed. It’s still mainly free. And it’s not that hard.

So…here’s a blast from October 2009:

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With 100 million blogs listed in Technorati, obviously there isn’t too much inertia preventing people from starting blogs, but among public relations professionals I have seen less familiarity with blogs, podcasts, and social media.

This ought not to be.

One reason for the reticence to jump in might be a lack of understanding and a misperception that it’s expensive, difficult or requires extensive IT support. That’s why I’ve decided that on this blog I will only use services that are FREE, such as:

Flickr, for photos:

Lee Aase

YouTube, for video (and audio):

(For the story behind that clip, click here.)

And, of course, WordPress.com is a free blog hosting site.

For social networking, I use Facebook (and you can friend me here.) MySpace is also free.
Many of these services offer paid upgrade packages that let you do more, and maybe you (and I) will want to do that in the future (e.g. to be able to upload more than 20 megs of photos per month). But the point is, you can start right now with a blog and have it up and running in about 90 seconds (and that’s if you take a minute or so to decide what you want for your username or domain name.)

So, I may blog about some services that have a cost, but what I incorporate in my site will all be free.

This is my first time creating a standalone page (outside of the reverse chronology of the blog.) I hope to add some related pages that would highlight other free stuff, and maybe a step-by-step tutorial on how to get started.

If you want to use another free hosting service other than WordPress, that’s fine. Blogger and others probably have some features that differ slightly. But for whatever tutorial I develop, it will be in WordPress, so my examples will be easiest for you to use on that platform. Besides, how much better can you get than free? And if you decide to wait and research which is the best free hosting service, that’s a recipe for procrastination. Just do it.

Also, to prevent inappropriate mixing of business and personal worlds from an email perspective, go get a free email account from Google or Yahoo!

Here’s another post where I have boiled this all down into a 12-step social media program for PR professionals. Follow this plan and you’ll be conversant with key social media tools and trends within a couple of weeks. Not expert, but at least conversant.

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By the way, I’m now up to spending about $80 a year for blog hosting. And the above post was published just six months after Twitter was created, well before it had gotten any kind of critical mass. Just another free (and easy) service that has become much more prominent in the last four years.

A New Look for SMUG

The SMUG campus has recently gotten a facelift, going from the dark, reversed-out-of-black look in the header:

…to the lighter, cleaner look you see today.

That all started when I upgraded to WordPress 3.0 and saw this message (click to enlarge):

But since I didn’t use the Child Themes option for the new version of Thematic, at first I had a really clean look:

…Like no sidebar widgets at all.

I thought for a while that they were gone, and that I was going to need to painstakingly recreate my sidebar. But it didn’t cause much pain at all, because all of my widgets had been moved to the “Inactive Widgets” section:

…and I was able to just add some of them back. So in a sense it was good, because it’s causing me to clear out some of the sidebar underbrush.

I also like how the new menu bar in this theme allows drop-down navigation, such as on the Curriculum pages:

I’m going to be refining some more elements of the SMUG navigation to clean up the look of the site further. All of this is coming (indirectly) due to a malware incident I had a couple of months ago, and that I think is now safely behind us.

More on that later…

Facebook 125: Creating Community in Your Facebook Group

A Facebook group is like a garden, to borrow an analogy from Chance, the Peter Sellers character in Being There. It will not grow properly without cultivation.

Because a group is so easy to create, billions have been formed. Facebook currently has 400 million active users, and the average user is a member of 13 groups. Do the math.

The vast majority of Facebook groups have precious little activity.

As a group administrator, you have tools at your disposal that the other members don’t have, and which are crucial to keeping the group vital and active.

First, you can Message All Members by picking this in the left navigation:

This enables you to send a message to the Facebook Inbox of all group members. A good time to do this is when there is a Discussion Board topic or Wall post for which you would like their feedback…or a new video that has been uploaded, or a new event created.

So when I created the Facebook Group Users Group, I used Message All Members to send this message (click to enlarge):

Which looked like this in my Inbox when I received it:

This is a way to keep your group top of mind among members. Don’t abuse it by sending too many messages; otherwise your group members will leave. But if what you are sending is meaningful and worthwhile to them, they will welcome it.

Your goal should be for the group to be useful to its members. If you are sending a message just to keep the group going, and not to help your members, that’s a sign you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And your members will sense it.

Remember, the group doesn’t exist for itself; it exists for its members.

You also may want to Edit Members of your group to designate some of them as Officers or Admins.

Be careful with your designation of an Admin; these individuals will have the same rights with the group as you, the creator, do. But you may wish to have at least one additional trustworthy person as an Admin.

Officers, on the other hand, can be multiplied. By designating officers with any range of titles you can enable group members to find the person who may best be able to answer questions. In an academic program interest group, for instance, you may have someone other than the group creator designated as Program Director or Admissions Counselor. Or if you were to use Facebook as an online newsroom, you could indicate what specialty beats a particular staffer covers. In this way, a member can send a private inbox message in Facebook to a designated officer, such as a journalist identifying the staffer who covers the cardiology beat.

Then when you look on the front page of the group, your officers will be listed, so interested members or visitors can know which person they should contact.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I did this originally; I can’t believe I chose “Czar” as my office instead of “Chancellor.” I’ve since fixed that.

In my opinion, having an active group in Facebook requires an Admin who is committed to regularly adding content that is useful to members, and who takes time to reach out and remind members of the new content (without overdoing it and causing people to leave the group.)

What’s your experience? How else do you create community in a Facebook group?