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.