Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Listen Up

Your Reputation May Depend On It


It’s been a little over four weeks (five weeks and two days to be exact) since I posted and according to Kerry Rego, one of our instructors at the SSU Professional Social Media Certificate program, if you can’t manage to post once a month, then you probably aren’t quite ready to launch a blog for your business. 
Fifty lashes with a wet noodle for me.  I will try to do better.
Kerry has a lot more to say about social media than just talking about the appropriate regularity of blog posts (although she does have a great blog herself that can be found here). 
She’s a talented social media marketer who also specializes in protecting your reputation online.  It’s the sort of thing you don’t think about, harboring a false sense of security that you’re safe until one day you learn there’s a hidden Facebook page or Twitter account about you that is anything but flattering.  Her insights on Snapchat are positively terrifying!
I recently heard Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, speak at the Wells Fargo Center and someone in the audience asked her if she knew there was a “Drunk Ina Garten” account on Twitter. Apparently it’s wildly popular.
Ina had no idea.
And while the Barefoot Contessa brand is fairly safe—that evening her adoring fans just about wept with delight at her every pronouncement—a more fragile brand might not fare as well.  The moral of the story? Keep your ears peeled and know what’s being said about you.
There’s something else about Kerry Rego.  
She’s never, ever boring.  And on Thursday nights, as the hands of that standard issue classroom clock swing towards 9:30pm, this student (and I believe all the others, too) thanks the SSU Social Media Gods for bringing us someone who has important things to say and says them in a way that keeps us all awake.

Charlie Chaplin Photo credit: http://i2.wp.com/moviessilently.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/city-lights-1931-charlie-chaplin-silent-movie-review-image-23.jpg?resize=600%2C350

Thursday, March 6, 2014


 We're All Getting Along So Well...



The SSU Professional Social Media Certificate Program continues to be an enlightening experience although my favorite class thus far was the service learning evening a few weeks back.  We students were charged with explaining to volunteers from the SSU faculty about the social media channels we felt we knew the most about.
I felt pretty shaky about all of them but chose Linkedin and worked with Angela, a recruiter at a software firm, to help an SSU professor brainstorm about marketing tactics for his current and upcoming books, published papers and professional speaking appearances.
Angela had a very firm grasp of Linkedin and was exceedingly helpful to the Professor.  And surprisingly, it turns out I knew more than I realized and was able to take years of marketing experience and apply it to ways the Professor could use Linkedin to reach his target audience.  It was an outstanding experience and gave me a boost of confidence about using social media in general and Linkedin in particular.
Weeks ago, Merith set up a special Linkedin group just for our inaugural class and we’ve been posting and commenting ever since.  Angela put up an interesting piece this week about a woman who was publically exposed by someone who extended an invitation to connect and got an outrageously snarky and mean-spirited response.
My grandmother always said never write anything down that you wouldn’t want published on the front page of the local newspaper. Ms. Blazek should have been given the same advice.  Granted, the response could have been her reaction to a horrifying day in which she’d just heard some terrible news either about herself or a loved one.  In other words she could have been acting out—something that, let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty of at one time or another. But how she couldn’t have imagined her remarks might travel beyond the woman asking for the connection to, at the very least, her group of friends and associates, is beyond me.  Even more confusing, the Blazek woman was in the business of giving advice about getting work.  Isn’t that sort of like being in the business of selling shoes and reaming someone out for asking to see that boot in a size 7?
Bad manners aside, the story has stuck with me all week long and got me to thinking what social media really means.  Social doesn’t mean intimate and there was a "familiarity breeds contempt" sort of intimacy about Ms. Blazek’s response that I see all too often in comment sections on blogs and newspapers. Respondents often resort to personal digs and name calling (and much worse) when they read an opinion with which they don’t agree.  There’s nothing social about being mean but that’s where we are.  Sometimes it feels like while social media has given us greater access to our publics, our manners haven’t yet caught up.
Remember Rodney King?  Can’t we all just get along?
I'd love to hear what you think?  Is the "social" in social media misplaced?   

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mike52ad/4675715489/
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mike52ad/4675715489/">Michael 1952</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Wednesday, February 5, 2014



January 23rd marked the first night of class for the #SonomaState Professional Social Media certificate program. It's the first time SSU has offered the program, and according to John Kenyon, the SSU instructor slated to teach the metrics portion, there's already a waiting list for the fall semester. 

I'm not surprised. 

The first class was a bit of a jumble with all of us having to go across campus to secure our passwords but once that was taken care of, we got down to it, starting with getting to know one another.

The class is a cross section of age, career and gender, which makes comments and questions all the more interesting.

But different though we may be, we all seem to share at least two things in common: 1) a curiosity about how we can bring what we learn into the world; and 2) a genuine enthusiasm for the subject matter. 

I haven’t taken a poll (just yet) but it seems most of our shared interest comes as a result of the business world embracing social media—granted some earlier to the party than others (the wine business has been notoriously slow on the up take). And while our enthusiasm is organic, it’s definitely enhanced by the passion of the current instructor, Merith Weisman. 

An anthropologist by training, Merith really knows her way around this stuff and seemed to have an instant rapport with her students.  At the end of the first class, as many of us were clamoring at her all at once (I for one was foaming at the mouth about not being able to navigate around my Prezi), she remained calm and smiling.  All I could think was, “that woman has the patience of Job.”  The word unflappable came to mind.

As to the Prezi, I’d never heard of one before. Oh, what's a Prezi you ask?

It's a digital presentation platform that at least to my mind, makes Powerpoint seem static, ancient and boring.  Once I got the hang of it, I found it easy to navigate and dare I say…fun (all those bubbles remind me just a little of champagne).  Maybe most importantly, I was gratified when I asked the two recent college grads staying with me for the weekend if they'd ever heard of it and they both said no. 

Wow, something I know that someone under thirty doesn't know that has to do with technology? 

The class just paid for itself.

Among many other topics related to social media (too many to list here), during our second meeting we discussed the assigned reading.  I hadn’t thought about it before but it makes sense that weaker ties can be leveraged better than closer ties. I’m not as likely to trust an endorsement about your best friend, but I’ll trust what you say about someone you worked with on a project.  Did we just describe the Linkedin business model?
At one point, Merith said something that struck me; it’s called Social Media for a reason.  It's about being social, about joining the conversation, talking with, not at, a larger audience. 

I realize that my having to think about that might seem strange, but the fact is that what we're talking about here is social (warm) rolled up into technology (cool).  For those of us born (quite a bit) before Jay Leno took over the Tonight Show, technology still carries with it the slightest hint of "other."

Obviously I have a lot to learn.

So since I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a while, I thought it might be fun to blog about my journey through this course from the prospective of a writer who isn't yet comfortable using   social media in a professional capacity.

I thought I’d start a conversation and see where it goes.

What about you?  What are your thoughts on the #SonomaState Professional Social Media certificate program?  Leave a comment and let’s continue the conversation.