Is SMUG on your first page of Google results for smug?

When I tell people how to find SMUG, I usually tell them to search for Lee Aase in Google, or alternatively SMUG U. When you do that, SMUG shows up as the top search result.

Previously, when I just searched for SMUG, our beloved university seemed to show up on the third or fourth page of Google results which, as you all know, is pretty worthless. Between SmugMug and various Macintosh User Groups, we were far from the first page.

So last night I was surprised to see this when I entered the term smug in Google (click to enlarge):


So in my results (I wasn’t logged into Gmail, so hopefully it wasn’t just a case of Google relating the search to me), Social Media University, Global (SMUG) showed up in position #7.

I’d like your help with this. What position does this university have in your Google results for smug? First page? If so, what position?

Social Media 401: Vince Muzik Case Study

Vince Muzik
Vince Muzik

I’ve known Vince Muzik for nearly four decades, ever since I took piano lessons from his mother, Jan. (Yes, my piano teacher was Mrs. Muzik.) But it gets even better: Vince’s father, Conrad, was the Austin High School band instructor, so when I played trombone (until 9th grade) my instructor was… Mr. Muzik.

Vince’s love was photography, though, and particularly relating to sports. He got his first chance to shoot a big statewide event when he was a teenager, and the Austin Daily Herald got him press credentials for our basketball team’s trip to the state high basketball tournament in 1981. We were 22-0 going into the tournament, but faced the also-unbeaten (and defending champion) Minneapolis North in the first round. Here’s a photo Vince took at that game (can you tell which one is me?)

One of Vince's first published photos
One of Vince's first published photos

Although I didn’t get that rebound, we did come back to win the game after being down 31-24 at halftime. We beat another undefeated team, Chaska, in the semifinals, before losing to Anoka in the championship game. Here’s my admittedly self-serving highlight video from that experience, which is only available thanks to another friend whose brother was one of the few consumers who had a VCR at the time:

Vince has stayed interested in sports, and has gotten opportunities to shoot some much bigger events with much better athletes. We reconnected this year when he heard about what I was doing in social media at Mayo Clinic and about SMUG, and he asked me for advice about a really exciting project he had in mind. Now that he’s getting it off the ground, I want to highlight it as a great example of using social media tools to tell a story.

Vince lives in the Twin Cities now, and has made some good connections with Cretin-Derham Hall, where American League MVP Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins went to high school. Other notable alums include hall-of-famer Paul Molitor, 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, Baltimore Ravens All-Pro Center Matt Birk and current Notre Dame star receiver Michael Floyd.

This year, CDH has the consensus number one football recruit in the nation, Seantrel Henderson, and Vince’s great idea was to tell the story of what it’s like to be that guy, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the recruiting process.

Vince is a great storyteller, but his niche has been photography. And sometimes a niche can become a pigeonhole. But with social media, he can break out of that niche. He’s getting video of Seantrel talking about his experiences, and sending a Flip video camera with his parents as they go along on official visits. Here’s the video Vince posted of Seantrel’s Ohio State visit and his conversation with former Buckeye Chris Carter and with coach Jim Tressel:

This video has already been picked up by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and also asked Vince to send it to be embedded there.

I don’t know where this will end up, and neither does Vince, but one thing it shows is how the low cost and easy availability of social media tools make it possible for someone with a good idea to just make it happen instead of needing to pitch it in advance to a mainstream media outlet. As he says:

I suppose you could say this is part of a social media documentary project I’m doing on Seantrel about recruiting and his life as the No. 1 recruit in the country. If it works out, someday you’ll be able to download it and watch it on your computer or iPhone or Blackberry. Or I may just keep following him until he gets to the NFL. We’ll see.

When he was a teenager back in Austin, Vince had to get the local newspaper to bless his photography project before he could do it. Now he is using YouTube, Twitter (@VMuzikman) and a blog as his publishing platform, with a Flip camera as his main video source. His first video is up to about 12,000 views as of this writing.

Vince is a star SMUGgle who is putting the MacGyver mindset into action.

I hope you will follow what he’s doing and help spread the word about his #Seantrel project, and if you have suggestions for how he can improve, give him feedback.

More than that, I hope you will follow his example and just dive in and start using social media tools creatively in your projects.

Thesis 2: Social Media Tools Overcome Inertia

Note: This post is part of a series providing fuller discussion for my 35 Social Media Theses. I welcome your feedback and comments to challenge and improve them.

In Thesis 1, I discussed how social media really aren’t completely new, since air was the original social medium. This leads us, however, to what is new:

Thesis 2: Electronic tools merely facilitate broader and more efficient transmission by overcoming inertia and friction.

What these electronic tools like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter do is not different in kind from what has happened with word of mouth since the dawn of civilization.

They just make it a whole lot easier.

People have always talked with friends and family about their experiences, including those with merchants and service providers. From which blacksmith did the best job with horseshoes a century ago to which dentist is best able to prevent pain, a huge portion of our “purchase” decisions have been and remain significantly affected by word-of-mouth.

As I mentioned in Thesis 1, word of mouth from patients and their families has been the top source of information for people who prefer Mayo Clinic, and it’s been that way for more than a century.

Now that word just spreads a lot faster.

So when someone writes on our Mayo Clinic Facebook wall, it’s available for the world to see…

Shannon Swing

…but more importantly, it may show up in her friends’ news feeds.

Social tools just mean that people are sharing with a lot more people, with a lot less effort.

Offline word of mouth is still more prevalent and more powerful than online, even with the new tools. Hearing a friend talk in person about an experience makes a deeper impression. And if a person, let’s call him Bob, is telling his friend Carl about his mysterious illness and his frustration that it hasn’t been diagnosed, if Carl tells him right then, at the point of need, about his good experience and recommends that Bob try Mayo, that’s obviously going to have deeper impact than a wall posting on Facebook.

But social media can have a broader impact. In the example above, Shannon’s wall posting was potentially visible to 300 million Facebook users, and the sharing she did with her Facebook friends was effortless. The act of writing was the act of sharing.

Likewise, when Rhonda King told the story of bringing her son Trevor to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion on the Mayo Clinic YouTube channel:

…It was seen by many more people than she could have spoken with personally. As of this writing, in fact, it’s been viewed more than 4,400 times. And while nothing is as powerful as face-to-face dialogue, I would argue that the impression Brenda made via video is both broad and deep, for those who have taken time to listen to what she had to say.

So while social media really are as old as human speech, as Thesis 1 says, there is something new and exciting about the ease with which messages can spread with social tools.

I say “merely” in Thesis 2 to emphasize the continuity of social tools with offline word-of-mouth. But don’t think that “merely” minimizes their impact. As we will discuss in the next two theses, social media tools are revolutionary in what they are doing to the anomalous mass media era of the 20th century.

SMUG Textbooks

Despite the decidedly social media nature of SMUG (“social media” is part of our name, after all), I’m still a big believer in books. They enable authors to make an extended argument and deal with a topic in more depth than the blog format allows.

I’ve written several book reviews here on SMUG, but it’s time for me to catch up, based on several more I’ve read or listened to via And I thought it would be helpful to develop a more comprehensive list of books that receive the SMUG Seal of Approval. As soon as I’ve finished adding related reviews and links to this post, I will be using it as the basis for a remodeled SMUG Bookstore.

Of course, everything about SMUG is voluntary, and tuition is free, so I can’t really say these are “required reading” for SMUGgles. As I get the reviews done, I will add links to the list of SMUG textbooks below. And if you have recommendations of books I’ve missed that you think would be helpful, please add them in the comments.

Personal Productivity

Social Media Theory and Philosophy

Business and Innovation

  • The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen
  • The Innovator’s Solution, by Clayton Christensen
  • Our Iceberg is Melting, by John Kotter
  • Death by Meeting, by Patrick Lencioni
  • Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
  • Free: The Future of a Radical Price, by Chris Anderson. You can download this for free if you have an account.
  • Seeing What’s Next, by Clayton Christensen
  • Rules to Break and Laws to Follow, by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers
  • The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki
  • Selling the Dream, by Guy Kawasaki

The Gladwell Grouping

Malcolm Gladwell’s books defy easy categorization, but he has a wonderful writing style and has a thought-provoking approach to all sorts of topics. If he wrote it, you should read it.

The Seth Section

Like Gladwell, Seth Godin deserves a section of his own. These are all somewhat related to marketing, particularly as it is understood as designing delivery of your products or services in a way that enhances customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth.

  • Tribes, by Seth Godin
  • Purple Cow, by Seth Godin
  • Free Prize Inside, by Seth Godin
  • Meatball Sundae, by Seth Godin
  • The Dip, by Seth Godin
  • Small is the New Big, by Seth Godin

Back-to-School Thoughts on Creativity

As I was weeding my RSS feeds this morning (aiming to get down from 250 or so to a more manageable target of 100 that I can regularly peruse), I came across a post in which this excellent video from TED 2006, a quick talk from Sir Ken Robinson, was embedded:

It’s a great talk with lots of thought-provoking elements, and one particular portion reflects exactly what SMUG is all about. He says (in the conclusion of a story that begins at about the 4:15 mark):

Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go…They’re not frightened of being wrong. Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative, but what we do know is if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original…and by the time they get to be adults most kids have lost that capacity.

This is another way of saying what I often say in my presentations, in anticipation of the “I’m too old to understand all this social media stuff! The kids are the ones that get this, because they’re grown up with it!” objection:

You’re kids aren’t smarter than you are. They’re just not afraid to look dumb!

So don’t just take my word for it. Take it from an internationally recognized expert on creativity who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and who has his own entry in Wikipedia (as opposed to a guy who gave himself the “Chancellor” title.)

If you haven’t yet become a SMUGgle, I hope you’ll enroll now. It’s 100 percent free, and it’s your chance to get hands-on experience in social media in a non-threatening environment.

And maybe it will help rekindle some of the creativity that the educational system (and the industrialized workplace) has been driving out of you for decades.