SMUG Extension Classes

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Social Media University, Global (SMUG) is built on the distance-learning paradigm. And unlike traditional universities with on-line programs, we don’t have a requirement that some of the credits be taken on campus in a group setting.

Frankly, we don’t have room for all y’all. (I understand that’s the plural for the singular Texas “y’all.”)

Don’t get me wrong, we’d love to have you visit… one at a time. While you’re here in Austin, Minn. you can also see the world-famous SPAM museum. People have been known to come from as far as Hawaii and Guam to visit the birthplace of the canned meat that saved Western civilization during WW II.

So if they’ll travel that far for SPAM, maybe you’d want to do it for SMUG, right?

If not, and if you’d like to organize a group to have SMUG’s Extension Service bring an intensive session of classes to your community or company, let’s talk. Face-to-face dialogue is still the most effective way to learn.

We can do a Blogging Bootcamp. A Facebook Forum. A Wiki Workshop. A Twitter Tutorial. A Podcasting Program. Or we could tie it all together into a Social Media Summit.

Then you can continue your SMUG education through our on-line courses.

The map above, which is from my Facebook Cities I’ve Visited application, is useful in three respects:

  1. If you see a pin on the map for your city, I’ve been there before. Not for SMUG classes, but I know how to get there. I’d be glad to visit again.
  2. If you don’t see a pin for your city (or if your continent isn’t even shown!), it would be a new adventure for me. That would be fun, too.
  3. All blog posts should have a graphic or video of some kind to make them more interesting. Having the map accomplished that for this post.

If you’re interested in SMUG Extension, see the “Contact the Chancellor” box on this page.

Starting Day Two of ALI Conference

Day Two of the ALI Conference is about to start. Today’s agenda includes case studies from Cisco Systems, Rolls Royce, Best Buy, IBM and American Express. Chris Heuer from the Social Media Club and The Conversation Group will be leading a group exercise. And our conference chairperson, Michael Rudnick, will tie it all together.

I’ll be blogging again as an embedded report from the front lines. Look for dispatches throughout the day here and on Twitter.

Following Super Tuesday on Twitter

Sallie Boorman from APCO Worldwide mentioned in this morning’s session that her company has created a SuperTuesday account in Twitter to follow today’s electoral festivities. It’s also connected to their Virtual Vantage Points blog. Since I’m missing the Minnesota precinct caucuses, I’m going to check it out. You should too.

WordPress.com Increases Free Storage 6,000 Percent

As TechCrunch notes, my free blogging platform of choice, WordPress.com, has increased the amount of free storage it provides its users from 50 Mb to 3 Gb. Here’s what I see when I upload graphics or other documents to my blog:

wordpress.com free storage

Note that a few days ago that 3GB figure in the lower left was only 50 MB. I formerly used Flickr as a storage space for my photos and other graphics (since it offered 100 MB a month vs. 50 MB a year with WordPress.com) and just pulled the graphics from Flickr into my blog posts, but now it seems I should be able to upload graphics indiscriminately without even coming close to exceeding my WordPress limits. Especially if I’m uploading mostly 72 dpi screen captures.

As Erick Schonfeld says, this is a huge advance that puts significant pressure on competing platforms. WordPress.com has had the advantage of Akismet protection against comment spam (which has saved me over 34,000 spam comments.) By offering triple the free storage of Blogger, WordPress.com takes another big leap.

When I started this blog, I made it my goal to never spend a penny on any of the services. My purpose was  more than miserliness; I wanted to encourage others (particularly those in the PR field) that they can have blogs without spending  any money and without support from their IT department. As I say in my “It’s All Free” section, if you see something on my blog that you like, you can rest assured that it was completely free.

Why is free such a big deal? Because it helps to drive home the ridiculousness of spending several hundred to a few thousand dollars to attend a communications conference in which you learn about social media if you fail to take the next step and actually get hands-on experience. And it’s why I developed my 12-step Social Media Program.

Barriers to entry in blogging and other social media aren’t just low. They are non-existent.  Zero. Get started with your WordPress.com blog today. When you do, please leave a comment below to let me know how it’s working for you. You also can subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog, which will provide you with regular updates and pointers on issues you may find interesting and helpful. (If you don’t know what RSS is, see steps 4 and 5 in my 12-step program.)

You really should check out Facebook, too. It’s also free. Friend me if you’d like to stay in touch and learn more about social media.

If your work involves any communications, or marketing, or sales, or management responsibilities you owe it to yourself to begin to understand social media. And if you paid anything for college, or attend any career enrichment seminars for which you or your company pay admission fees, you’re seriously missing out on a great educational value if you don’t take advantage of the free hands-on education you can get through WordPress.com, Facebook, Twitter (you can follow me here), Flickr, YouTube and related services.

What’s holding you back?

The Frost & Sullivan Blogging Panel

Through a room mix-up (my fault) I was about 10 minutes late to this session, so I’m jumping in without a lot of set-up. I’ll plan to put it in context later.

Chris Heuer – The blog is the platform to create media. All companies are media companies. In developing the editorial calendar, look at the SEO plan and the keywords you want to own, and cover content. Understand the power of access; you have the ability to provide the “official” voice.

Bill from Intel – says a really big company can perhaps wait and monitor blogs instead of diving in, but for a second-tier competitor it’s a huge opportunity to have a voice much bigger than they would “deserve” from their relative place in the market.

Q: What are the top three reasons to blog? What are company objectives?

A: Cost of not doing it, and not having a voice in the conversation. Efficiency of marketing communications. Brand value. Connecting with people who care. The brand with the best storytellers wins. It’s also great for SEO. The market intelligence you get is the most raw, unfiltered information about yourself and your competitors.

Blogs provide brand advocates a way to speak out about how they feel about the product, not what the company is telling them to say. We’re not “using” customers, we’re empowering them. Not “leveraging.” The language is important because it can reveal a mindset that is antithetical to the social media world.

Companies don’t have to be in a glamorous line of business to benefit from social media. Fiskars scissors has “Fiskateers” for its word-of-mouth program. Intel has identified 50-100 bloggers who are most passionate about its products. BlendTec has the Will it Blend series. If those can become interesting, any product can…with some creativity.

Cara from H-P suggested linking to blogs that talk about your subject of interest.  The more you help bloggers’ voice to be heard, the more likely they are to write favorably about you.

You don’t necessarily need to have a blog to engage in the blogosphere. Commenting as an employee (always being transparent about your identity) in posts that are about your company.

Companies could consider having a directory of employee blogs that is linked to from the company blog. H-P has online, self-paced mandatory training for its corporate bloggers. Refresher on standards of business conduct. H-P is seeing more of its leaders set the example by starting their own blogs and encouraging other employees to do likewise.

Intel has bought video cameras for all of its PR offices, telling people to take the cameras to press conferences and events. Intel created a contest on who could get the most views on their videos. One employee got 85,000 views for his video and won bragging rights over a colleague who got only 500.

It’s important to look at social media tools for what they can do, and how you can adapt to your business goals. For instance, Dell uses Twitter for its Dell Outlet to sell refurbished units. They immediately sell out. Twitter’s 140-character limit also can be used to help focus your message. It’s a good way to impose discipline.

We closed by asking participants to list their favorite blogs. Here they are:

In honor of the presidential primary season, here are some political blogs (two from each side):

I know I missed a lot, so will appreciate any additional comments people may have. What points did you think were most important?