I get a lot of questions about learning social media, digital, and breaking into the industry. With more universities offering diplomas, certifications, and courses for social and digital media, the question is whether it’s worth your money.
My advice is always to use extreme caution.
The nature of the digital space is such that its in a constant state of change. Social is new; Facebook is nine years old and Twitter six. What’s the next disruptive social platform?
The point is social and digital evolves quicker than any industry – formal education doesn’t mesh with this space.
Professors develop curriculum long before courses take place. It goes against the real-time nature which makes digital and social so unique and exciting. Any course becomes outdated before it is taught.
While formal education isn’t a perfect fit for the industry, there are specific use cases. I’ll rattle off a few examples.
Skill Acquisition: If you’re looking to add specific skills, ie photoshop, illustrator… etc, formal courses make a decent fit. The important thing here is utility. Ensure you are learning tangible skills that transfer and are directly applicable to your goals.
Networking: Professional network development. As much as I hate networking, it is necessary. You have to ‘play the game’ no matter how fake and phony it makes you feel. This is something i’ve personally struggled with before because I find it exhausting.
The beauty of formal education is how it provides a rolodex of connections for the future. This is probably the only reason i would consider an grad school down the line.
Keep in mind building these relationships takes effort and is only worth it if you attend a globally recognized grad-school program.
Learn yourself. I personally take pride in self learning… you should too, but how does one do this?
Expose yourself to the social space, experiment on different social networks and research who is influential and innovative on these subjects. These are who you should learn from.
An easy example is by making a Twitter list with digital “thought leaders.” Read not just what they write, but what they read as well.
Everyone knows the spiel about how everything is free on the internets, i’ll save it and instead, point you to some resources i’m using to continually learn. Same knowledge, but without the fancy piece of paper.
Continue Reading →
This is the first of a few posts on the relationship between social media and real life.
A question causing discussion is whether mobile social networking is sacrificing real-life relationships. The ‘mobilize everything’ trend is everywhere.
On days I ride the bus to work, I would say 70% of people are buried in their phones and/or have headphones in. I would guess that other 30% don’t have phones to begin with (this is a generalization).
Of course, I am as guilty as everyone else riding the chariot. I check news sites, emails and twitter; all with a podcast firing. I personally feel like this type of behavior can be acceptable in public settings if you are riding solo.
If this dips into more direct social settings, the slope gets slick. The extent to which we are foregoing face-to-face interaction for mobile companionship is a huge concern.
MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle makes a good argument (in her TEDxTalk) that we are sacrificing real life conversations by using social media. The way we interact online creates unrealistic and distorted perceptions social relationships.
Everyone is #Pinning these days. By everyone I mean women. According to Google, women make up 82% of it’s daily visits. Talking to people over the last few weeks I’ve come to the following consensus: Pinterest is a cult, those already pinning are super active and engaged in the site. Then there is the lay person not on the kool-aid, who either hasn’t heard of it (where have you been?) or perceives Pinterest as a cesspool for wedding ideas and interior decor.
The gender divide was a bit confusing for me at first given that men are thought to be more responsive to visuals. Thinking back to the amount of pointless garbage in the form of pictures that girls (not all) post on Facebook, the light finally came to me.
The only thing I can come up with to explain the gender difference is what I call the ‘scapbook syndrome.’ Have you ever seen a guy with a scrapbook? Pinterest is the hip new way for women to construct their visual scrapbooks on an easy to use platform. The bulletin board style layout of Pinterest makes it pretty easy to amass a visual highlight package.
Not just for the Martha Stuart fan club
For the bad rep Pinterest gets with the male population, I find it useful and fun. The food section is great for ideas and recipes, the humour section is decent and the sports section is a complete free for all. If you like infographics, the tech section is great. Stay away from the fitness section; I’ve yet to come across a page littered with so much misinformed crap.
Pinterest is growing on a massive scale and is already firmly established in the social media landscape.
Want to get started? Check out this beginner guide.
Do you think Pinterest can become as popular as the social media giants?
Throughout social media week, I attended north of 20 events at places all over Toronto. I love exploring new cities; walking and street-caring made it pretty easy to get my bearings. Transiting from event to event allowed me to fully experience the city of Toronto in all its grandeur. After five days, I feel that I know the city pretty well. I learned a ton, what I want to touch on today is networking.
Through experimentation with “networking” over the last month or so, I am starting to figure it out. Practice makes progression (perfection is a fallacy). I’ve found through a lot of trial (and error) that I no longer have that same level of apprehension to approach people, whether it be an acquaintance or stranger. Social media week was the perfect medium to meet people. I met some awesome people in the process and even made a few friends.
See what works for me below.
Find a way in
The way to approach someone you seek to network with is to establish some common ground. This should be easy if they share a similar vocation or hobby. If time allows, I will quickly research via twitter. Profile and tweets are a good way to gauge personality but their pictures are even better. This literally takes one minute.
In my case, I have no problem approaching strangers at Social Media Week because we all share a common interest. I’ve found that people are very receptive to help, all you have to do is gather the courage to initiate.
What is your motive?
Something to ponder before you approach. What are you looking to get out of the conversation? For me, I am hoping to learn from my peers about how they got started in the social industry. What is there story? I honestly believe that everyone is unique and has an amazing story to share.
This is where Seth Rogen comes in. Once you have found some common ground to initiate a conversation, start picking their brain with relevant questions. Whether it is about where they work, what education they have or how they got started in the industry. If you are genuinely interested in talking to someone, these questions should come easily.
Share your story.
People love talking about themselves; it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. Once a connection is established, don’t be afraid to tell your story. What are you doing currently? Where have you been and where are you going? Sharing a bit about yourself takes the engagement to another level.
Nothing to Lose!
I ask myself: what is the worst that could happen? We are hard-wired to develop relationships in order to build our proverbial tribe. Remember this. People are inherently friendly. A smile and eye contact go a long way.
Two way street
It is not all about you. Think how you can help them. Networking is about mutual understanding and benefit.
Upon watching this interview yesterday with Evan Greene, CMO of The Recording Academy, I was impressed with their outlook on keeping the Grammys relevant throughout the year. They are “social.” The Grammy team keep up to date with industry happenings and attend music events year round to keep their brand relevant. They achieve this by engaging with the industry community. Clearly these guys get it, or so I thought…
It is not about pushing promotions online and through other avenues solely for Grammy night. It is a mind-set of reaching out and interacting with the audience that you are juxtaposed to. The Grammy brand has done decent job conveying an interactive and friendly culture by means of their presence at other entertainment events. This is smart. When Grammy night approaches, it is not about a big ‘one and done’ advertising and marketing campaign. They have built a loyal community of evangelists that identify with their brand. The event promotes itself through its steadfast community via social media.
Tape delay on the Westcoast? Is this some kind of a sick joke?
Yet again, the Grammys will air on tape-delay for the west coast. Everyone from San Diego to beautiful Smithers gets the shaft. This made me angry and confused. After watching the interview yesterday, having admired the Grammy brass for their interactive approach to promoting their brand and their night; I am dumbfounded by this lip service. Peddling your brand as a social innovator and preaching the value of community in interviews then turning around and dropping a bomb like this on your community is fraudulent.
Grammys are clearly not social. The west coast audience will have a blast getting updates and gossip flooding through Facebook and Twitter while they twiddle their thumbs. The whole experience of sharing hilarious moments, awkward speeches, and embarrassing slip-ups with your friends is destroyed. People want to share mutual emotions together. It taps in to our need to belong and desire for affiliation.
Tape delay butchers the essence of audience engagement and conversation for the west coast. Real-time interaction is what people crave with social media; the Grammys are making a huge mistake. No doubt this will tarnish their rep with everyone from social thought leaders to casual fans. People like transparency, not deceit.
Rant over. Enjoy your evening.
Do people still care about the Grammys? Anyone else feel that this takes away from the experience?
The other day I shared some of the new age self-education options that are out there. This will be a primer on my trip to Toronto next week for Social Media Week.
Hilarious hipster video was put out by the organizers of Social Media Week.
Social Media Week is a global event that takes place in several host cities from February 13-17. It consists of dozens of presentations, speakers and conferences on all things pertaining to technology, communications and social media. After the great experience I had attending a couple of events at Social Media Week Vancouver in September, I figured what better excuse to skip a week of class than go to Social Media Week Toronto (SMWTO).
My primary concern with investing time and money into an event like this is the added value. I have no doubt the content will be great and I will learn some useful skills. The other part of the value in my opinion is the relationship building.
I plan on using my newfound networking prowess to meet some movers and build some connections. For those concerned about my past business card fiascos, worry not, they are in production as I type. No longer will this guy be answering business card inquiries with embarrassing excuses.
The budget is another huge concern. I am a student with no income. However, with careful planning and frugal spending, I can make it work. The major expenses are: the event itself, accommodation and transportation.
The majority of events at SWMTO are free, friends were gracious enough to let me crash on a pull-out bed in their apartment and my flights are booked on Aeroplan miles. So far so good. Aside from a $61 service charge which Aeroplan was nice enough to sneak in to my ticket transaction, I will not have spent a dime upon my arrival.
Food is another concern. I enjoy eating good high quality food. Most of the events at SMWTO provide “light snacks and refreshments” before and after the entertainment. Not sure what that means, but I plan on taking full advantage of any complementary food; getting appie happy as much as possible. Perhaps even schmooze my way to a few lunch or dinner meetings.
I look forward to the coming week in Toronto. Aside from SMWTO, I am excited to re-connect with some good friends.
No doubt there will be some great stories for the blog as I continue to experiment with networking.
If anyone is in Toronto next week, drop me a line so we can meetup!
This is a 500 word pitch on why you SHOULD get LinkedIn. Don’t be intimidated and don’t feel inadequate.
LinkedIn is a social networking site where you build connections (friends) and expand your network. I was late to the LinkedIn game, but am quickly realizing how valuable a medium it is for all aspects of relationships and networking.
It does not matter if you haven’t had a corporate job. My employment history consists of installing new driveways or lawns, and yelling at disengaged teenagers on a field. Doesn’t stop me (wait, can I call myself a blogger now?). I’m not granting permission to pepper your LinkedIn account with your Safeway shelf stocker job. Casually leave that part out of the equation for now.
Work the student angle. In the case where your vocation is non-existent, make sure the rest of your profile is stellar. Your profile picture should be a gorgeous headshot with the pearly whites on fine display. Think of the rest of your profile as a work in progress. Add one thing every time you log on, whether it is a new ‘skill’ or a new group. Try and log on once a day.
For the summary section, find a way to differentiate yourself from the riffraff; tell a story, display your autonomy and uniqueness. Complete the remainder of your profile in stages.
LinkedIn differentiates people by category (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc), denoting the degrees of separation between you and another person. When someone is a 2nd degree connection, it means at least one mutual friend. 2nd degree connections can be added by anyone. Extend the olive branch with a personal message.
LinkedIn does have a “get introduced by a friend” feature, where you can be connected to a second degree connection through a friend. This can be beneficial for scouting contacts and surveying potential business opportunities. It prompts you to send a quick message to your mutual connection, asking for an intro. This is like someone vouching for you. Be courteous and don’t outright ask for favours. The mutual friend must accept your intro request before the invitation is sent out to the scouted connection.
Don’t get caught up in adding everyone you may know as a connection. Unlike Facebook, absolute number of connections is arbitrary. I could have 1000 connections. It is useless if you haven’t built up a rapport and trust with each connection at one point or another. What good is having a connection that wouldn’t vouch for you? Meaningful connections where mutual benefit can be established are what make LinkedIn unique.
The average Canadian spends eight minutes per visit on LinkedIn, Facebook is triple. It does not require the real-time active interactions that Facebook or Twitter demand.
It will be interesting to see where LinkedIn fits into the greater landscape of social media. Some question the staying power. The fact that it does not command real-time interaction means less daily visits. Less visits cripples ad revenue and sponsored pages: two key revenue streams that fuel social media platforms. LinkedIn is going to have to get creative.
Perhaps you don’t need an account now, but in my opinion, you will at some point. Why not gradually familiarize yourself now, so you are not flustered registering later when someone asks for your LinkedIn info. Almost as faux-paw as a business card slip up.
Here is a good guide.
What do you think about LinkedIn? Can I call myself a blogger?
The other day I talked about the transition I am making from amateur athletics to a more career centered approach in social media. Today, I’m going to talk a bit about the cold reality of the application process.
The most important part of my self-education for a career in social media is an internship. While the idea of working for free is not something that I am particularly thrilled about, I am happy to do it in order to gain relevant experience and learn more about the field that I am passionate about and would eventually pursue a career in. That, and the fact that I have no formal education in marketing or social media and extremely limited applicable experience. Not exactly in a power position here.
Where does one find internship postings? Searches on Craigslist, Twitter and Monster gave me some decent leads as a starting point.
Next, I had to spruce up my resume. The fact that I had to scramble to even find it on my computer probably tells you the current state of said resume. The hectic training schedule associated with being an amateur athlete makes regular employment a bit tricky. While most of my friends went to school during the winter and worked in the summer, I took part-time classes at UBC year round in order to be able to balance school with the travel and training for Field Hockey. This is also part of the reason why I’ve only worked as a coach or in manual labour. Is that a cop-out? Nevertheless, I feel this is a common issue that many athletes face.
So with my resume freshly updated, it was time to start thinking about a cover letter. Much to my chagrin, my sister was kind enough to assure me that you need an entirely separate cover letter for each job you apply for. Cover letter’s are meant as an opportunity to make the ultimate creative pitch to an employer. AKA blow as much smoke as possible, but keep it to one page. Seems like a cocktail of corporate buzzword mumbo-jumbo with a dash of neuroticism is the recipe for success.
As a way to use my self-proclaimed social media prowess in order to write the best cover letter, I turned to Quora (awesome site) and Twitter. Quora is like the Google effect on steroids. You type a specific question and industry professionals answer. The Quora search gave me some great tips and info from supposed “experts”. Susan the ‘Career Counsellor’ got the highest rating from users for her spiel on cover letter secrets; she must be legit. Good enough for me. Armed with a template draft for a cover letter, I started applying for internships.
Then… I randomly found an awesome website through the UBC AMS Society. Apparently they have an internship coordinator for students… Who knew? I met with the coordinator and sent her my resume and a cover letter. She goes over your info and applies to internships on your behalf. Highly recommend this for students. Also recommend you follow @YouTern on twitter. They post internships to places all over North America daily.
Few moves made. Couple of developments in the works. The wheels are in motion as they say.
Any good resources for internships or writing cover letters? Holler.
The transition from a full time amateur athlete playing Field Hockey (guys do play field hockey) for Canada into a more career centered approach is tough!
As my never ending undergrad degree is finally coming to a close in April (victory lap… Van Wilder… all that), it’s frightening to think what my next move is and how I am going to make a living and find a career. I’ll be graduating with a “useless” Bachelor of Arts degree… Add me to the list of all my friends with these arts degrees that have no idea what to do next.
Social media could be my saviour. I’ve been Facebooking for a while. But other channels of social media have sparked my interest over the last year. Initially, I took a liking to twitter: saw a few friends on it and thought it would be fun to try.
I’m often reluctant to tweet things because it’s hard to convey your intentions; especially for those that may not know me very well. The nature of an audience reading one tailored message in black text is such that delivery, body language (wait you can’t see my smug smirk?) and the emotional valence of your message is lost. Having no immediate reply or validation for your tweet is somewhat daunting. Is this funny? Nope. Should I delete the tweet? Is Bill Simmons going to retweet me if say something funny? These are three questions that cross my mind daily. But… This is what makes it fun.
My interest in social media moved from twitter to just about everything else. My dabbling has extended to LinkedIn, Hootsuite this tumblr page and a few other random social media apps and sites. Judging by the reaction I got last weekend from a girl I told that I was on Pinterest, I’ve determined that I am just about the only guy in Vancouver using it.
How can social media promote or determine my career? Wouldn’t it be sweet if I could create an awesome website or app, market it and live the dream? Not very realistic given my current situation. I wouldn’t know where to start.
Social media marketing, building and developing a brand online is something that draws my curiosity. How do you declare yourself an expert in social media marketing? The lack of formal education out there makes it a bit tricky. Having reached out to a couple of people I see as experts in the field, it has become clear that real world experience sprinkled with self-education is the key.
I am now looking for an internship in social media marketing. I’ve started participating in several online webinars, listening to podcasts and reading e-books. I am making plans to go to Social Media Week -Toronto in February. I also started reading a great book on the subject by David Meerman Scott called ‘The NEW RULES of MARKETING & PR’. Looks like my undergrad classes are on the back burner for now.
Any tips or suggestions for my self-education? Lets hear it!