Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Using social media

Yesterday, I was talking to Kerri and Melissa about the need for continuously marketing their web site ( and in particular the new "Ask an Expert" feature on it. I told her, "if you are only going to rely on people stumbling across it, then you will only get a handful of hits". You have to tell people about it. And not just once, but continuously. Everyone know about Coke, but they still spend a ton of money in advertising every year. How can you do this? One way is to use the traditional methods that you are already using such as talking about it, mentioning it in your newsletters and other print media and if you have any radio air time, mention it there. But, that is only going to reach the people that already know about you and at a time when they are not at the computer, so they can't do anything with that information at that time.

The solution is to develop and use social media. Get other people to talk about you! Put your information out there for everyone to see!

Kelly Shibari of Hourglass8 Media conducted a great experiment to show the power of social media and wrote about it at: The Social Media ROI Experiment. A great quote from this article (and I recommend reading the whole article) is:

"I have to then try to explain to them that social media marketing is not a dollars-in, dollars-out equation. It’s not that simple. Social media is about visibility. It’s about how many people find you interesting enough to check out. It’s about how many people think you’re interesting enough to talk to you, visit your site, and contemplate purchasing whatever is there."
Are you using social media to market your product or yourself? HOW??? Share your methods by commenting on this post.

Are you making people think you are interesting enough or useful enough to talk to you?

Another recent article on Social Media ROI worth reading is at: HowTo: Measure Social Media ROI.

I found out about Kelly from Chris Brogan's newsletter where I also get a lot of other thought provoking reading. My favorite quotes from this weeks' newsletter is, "Your only competition is you. When you look to succeed, measure against yourself. It's okay to take a quick peek at someone else to get a gauge of where you stand in comparison, but then throw that information aside and measure where you are NOW and where you want to be..." and "No one ever wins a race looking sideways."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Invest time in learning

Often I hear "I don't have time to learn how to do stuff on the computer". My answer to this is usually "you don't have time to not learn how to use the computer".

Like the old saying "It takes money to make money. " The same can be said of time. It takes time to make time. Think of the time you spend learning how to become more efficient as an investment in time that will repay itself many times over.

For example, if you perform the same task 10 times a day and it takes you 2 minutes each time, investing 2 hours to learn how to do it in 1 minute - will repay itself in just 12 days. You will save more than 33 hours in the next year.

The computer is good for helping you do those things that you do more than once or twice. You just have to weigh how much time currently takes you to perform a task, how much time it would take you if you learned a better way and the frequency you do it to determine just how much time you can "invest" in learning how to do it more efficiently.

Keep in mind that often learning new skills will help you perform more than just one task. With computers, the skills you learn in one application usually apply to many others.

Once you learn something new, share it with others! By investing time in helping others become more efficient you will get repaid many times over. One benefit of sharing your knowledge is that usually you end up learning even more from your network of friends/coworkers.

Probably the biggest time saving tools I can think of in today's world are the collaborative tools available. Using sites like for managing and sharing your bookmarks, Google Docs or ZoHo for collaborating and remote access, Flickr or Picasa (or any of many others) for sharing photos, shared calendars (Google, Yahoo! or many others), wikis (PBworks among many others). For most of these the learning curve is insignificant. It is more of changing your mindset and changing habits than learning new things.

Open your mind to working differently!

Photo credit:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

County Government Gets Social

Good news.

In a posting on their website, Catawba County North Carolina the public information officer writes about, "Catawba County now using new social internet networks to reach younger, and more "wired" citizens" The NC Association of County Commissioners also included a story about it in their publications, "Tuned in or turned off by social media".

The bottom line is that the Catawba County government sees Facebook, Twitter, and blogging as good ways to reach their citizens. They've even created a Catawba County, NC Facebook page and have it linked from the lower right corner of the Catawba County website at:

I hope other counties (like Buncombe, NC) look at this and stop blocking their employees from accessing tools like Skype, Facebook, instant messaging, Blogger and many, many more. In my opinion, blocking sites like these is just cutting off lines of communications. They might as well remove the phones because someone might make personal calls during business hours. There are places where access to these type sites might be prudent to block, but in today's world, government networks are not one of them. These tools are the communications and information sharing tools of today. Not using them means you are not going to be communicating with significant portions of your clientele.

Along the same lines - in the county where I work, they removed all the games that came with Windows (or at least removed them from the Start menu). Do they really think that the employee who spends too much time playing games on the computer is going to stop playing games and work harder because they can't play on their computer? This is just non-sense to think that they aren't going to bring a book in or a hand-held device from home and play or figure out how to get to the games without going through the Start menu.

You can't manage people this way. You've got to address the real issues behind the problems. You've got to lead them, inspire them to achieve and do a better job. All that taking these 'distractions' away from everyone does is hurt the productivity of the real hard workers. Researchers at the University of Melbourne concluded that "surfing the internet at work boosts productivity".

Jacqui Cheng wrote in Ars Technica, "People who are able to spend 20 percent or less of their time surfing the Internet at work are more productive than those who don't, according to research from the University of Melbourne. Small Internet breaks help workers focus better, though Internet addicts still have a problem.".

Short breaks to handle personal business or just clear the head makes a worker more productive and creative the rest of the day.

Taking away the communications tools of today from your employees is putting you farther and farther away from the people they need to be communicating with and making them less productive, efficient and does nothing to help the image of your organization.

Way to lead the way Catwaba County!!! Let's hope more follow your lead.

That's my rant for the day... :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are you a 21st Century Learner, Teacher or Both?

Wendy Drexler created and shared the following video. In a 5 minute CommonCraft inspired video, she does an excellent job of explaining what connected learning is all about. Check out Wendy's blog to read about the Connectivism project for which she developed this and to read the many comments that she has already received.

While she is referring to k-12 school learners and teachers, I think everything she is talking about applies to anyone , especially knowledge workers - regardless of their student status. We are all learners and we are all teachers.

For a great example of how this 21st Century Learner/Teacher stuff works: I found this from an article on 's blog "Digital Down Low", which I found from a Google Alert about a link to my blog on Lori Sheldon's "Blogs I Follow" class wiki page. She and I have been following each other for quite some time in Twitter and have exchanged several helpful messages via twitter when I found that she was doing some really cool stuff with Web 2.0 in her K-12 schools.

I've shared the Wendy Drexler's Video via Delicious, Facebook and YouTube and now, hopefully, I've added a little to it in this blog. I'll also be crossposting it on the NCCE TechTalk.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

4 Steps to getting started with social networking

There are probably thousands of pages written about 'how to get started with social networking'. Recently, I read Floyd Davenport's "Adopting Social Media". In it he linked to Chris Brogan's article "If I Started Today". Anne Adrian wrote "Getting Started in Conversations" more than a year ago. All of these are good reads.

Being that my job is to teach knowledge workers how to use technology to make their jobs easier and better, I felt that I needed to (wanted to) write something to encourage anyone not already using social networking to get started. There are so many ways these tools can help just about anyone today.

Floyd wrote, "Desire has to come from the individual perspective of value. How I feel about and use social media doesn’t always translate well to my colleagues. At the same time, I interpret Knowledge not as how to use technology, but how to make the change within your own time-constrained and political environment."

If you aren't already using some of these tools, how can I get YOU to desire to use social networking? The ways I'm trying to do it include:

  • being there (in the social network) first - so when you are ready to join, you have someone to connect with
  • demonstrate its effectiveness
  • sharing my content
  • evangelize about the virtues of social networking
  • teach 'how'
What would it take to get you or someone you know to 'want' to start social networking? Please use the comments in this post to share your insight and advice (or comment in FriendFeed)

How to get started

If you are not already social networking, I'd recommend the following sites to get you started with social networking.

Use a Feed Reader to read content. There are many out there. I use Google Reader. Then, whenever you see the feed icon in the browsers location panel or button bar for a page you are interested in, subscribe to that page's feed. If you are using a home page for your browser that never changes, use your Feed Reader to be your home page.

Add your comments and opinions to blog posts that you read. Start by commenting on blogs written by people you know. A note to say 'good article' as a way to get your feet wet and to let them know someone is reading their post.

Use - a social bookmarking site - to share your bookmarks/favorites. (Pete Flores and I recently recorded a podcast about delicious.( Install the delicous buttons (if you are using Firefox or MS Internet Explorer) and upload the bookmarks/favorites from all the browsers and computers you use. Stop using your browsers' bookmarks/favorites and only use delicious. Then, start sharing the sites you want by not checking the "Do not share" box. To me, this is the easiest way to get started because it doesn't require that you join an existing network and you can choose to share what you want. Also, the benefits are immediately apparent.

Look for others delicious users that are tagging the type sites you are interested in - find people in your field or hobby that are using delicious and add them to your network. Then, subscribe to your network's feed in your feed reader. This way, you will know whenever they tag a new page.

Start growing your network - tell those who would be interested in knowing what you are bookmarking (colleagues, specialists, friends with common interests) that they can find your bookmarks in delicious and encourage them to share their bookmarks. Chances are, these are the same people you would want to know about what they are bookmarking.

Start your own blog. You have a unique perspective that others could benefit from knowing. Everyone has something to teach, so why not you? Even if nobody ever reads your blog, use it to improve your writing skills and help organize your own thoughts. You might be pleasantly surprised by who finds it interesting. I've talked to many bloggers who say it is great therapy.

Advice for social networking
  • Break down the walls between your personal and your professional life. Aren't the people you work with your friends? Getting to know them on a personal level will (in most cases) improve your working relationships with them.
  • Be willing to share in order to build relationships. Remember the first thing someone asks when you haven't seen them for a while? What have you been doing/reading/working on? Why wait between face-to-face visits. Let those that care find out as it happens.
  • Realize that you have something of value to add to 'the conversation'.
  • Have fun.
  • Be yourself.
  • Make friends.