Born to Blog author talks social media challenges, opportunities, and more!

I always learn so much from our guest speakers! This week we were very fortunate to have the author of our class text, Born to Blog, Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer) Skype with our class.


If you aren’t familiar with Mark, he is a very well-known name in the social media field, author of the popular Grow blog, a sought after consultant, and the author of Born to Blog (a book I’ve reviewed on this site and which inspired me to start this blog), and another great book I’ve read Tao of Twitter. I haven’t read his 2nd book, Return on Influence, but I hope to soon.

Here are some highlights from his presentation to this semester’s Comm 322 Social Media class.

Challenges and Opportunities in Social Media – Mark said that a major challenge today is information density. Today, we have so much information that people are reaching information paralysis. How do companies adapt and thrive in this space, with so much competing for our attention? Though not specifically about information density, the article “How the physics of social media could kill your marketing strategy” offers what I believe is a good look at the general issue.

Why do some businesses succeed on social media and others fail? Mark said it really boils down to corporate culture. Questions that come to mind after hearing Mark discuss this topic are: Does the company understand and embrace the social space? Are they agile and responsive? Do they want to adapt?

What Metrics Matter?: Since I’ve been seeking to teach my students basics of Google Analytics, the importance of, and how to track metrics, I ask guest bloggers what metrics matter to them. When asked what the key metrics he tracks are, Mark said there was one that matters: returning visitors. Are they coming back? If people come back, eventually they’ll bring their friends. Traffic doesn’t create business benefits. Returning visitors do.

We’re All Students – the media landscape shifts so rapidly, it is difficult to be an expert. We all are students. And we should strive to keep learning and adapting. As a professor, I loved hearing this reminder. I am always looking to learn, change, grow, and adapt and it is great to hear someone with as much experience as Mark talking about the importance of being a lifelong learner!

Tips and Advice for Students

The Power of Blogging for Students – Mark echoed another class guest, Nate Bagley, when he encouraged students to blog, build an audience, and create meaningful content. He said that it was a valuable tool to show potential employers that you can build and sustain an audience. He said that often times he finds students or grad students are not blogging, and was glad to see students in our class were blogging as a semester long project. I was, of course, very happy to hear this. 🙂 So students, if you’re reading this, keep blogging!

Know Stats – Mark said education in stats is important. Increasingly, data and numbers are driving online business. You don’t have to be an expert, but you need to be able to ask questions and the ability to think critically, and choose the statistical analysis needed to answer those questions. While many students were probably grumpy to hear this, I agree completely. Stats and research methods are more important than ever.

It is not often that students get to speak directly with the author of a class text, and it meant a lot to me for students to get this wonderful opportunity. So thank you so much to Mark for being so generous with his time and knowledge!

-Cheers!

Matt

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Must-watch interviews with social media experts (Snow Day!)

I should be sledding. Shepherd University is closed today and the views from my front and side windows are inviting.

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photo: Snow and our vintage typewriter

As I sip my morning coffee, glad I don’t have to shovel our long, steep driveway, I’m wondering if it is truly March 25th. No matter. Whether you’ve got the day off today for a snow day, spring break, or not, here are some great social media resources you don’t want to miss.

Recently, Don Stanley (@3rhinomedia), social media strategist and professor who teaches social media at the University of Wisconsin-Madision, conducted two great interviews with two social media heavyweights: Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe), founder of the Content Marketing Institute, and Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer), author of {grow} and a number of social media books.

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photo: out our kitchen window.

Thanks to Don for a wonderful job hosting these, asking great questions, and for sharing these on his class blog. I learned a ton from each. (if the embeds aren’t working, click on the title to go directly to the post on Don’s blog).

Content Marketing with Joe Pulizzi – founder of the Content Marketing Institute

Joe Pulizzi Video (Click the link to watch – WordPress will not allow me to embed. My apologies.)

A few things that stuck out to me from this interview:

  1. Blogging and social media in general is a marathon, not a sprint. Joe discusses how long it took him for his business to become successful through blogging. Many of us get discouraged when we don’t find immediate success.
  2. Don’t use a blanket approach to posting to social networks. Each social network is different. The culture and audience of each network is different and so we must .
  3. We don’t own our social networks. They can be gone tomorrow. It is important to get email addresses for your blog’s followers, so that you can stay in contact with your readers.

Mark Schaefer talks Twitter

Mark Schaefer Video – Click the link to watch – WordPress will not allow me to embed. My apologies.

Takeaway:

  1. Read Mark’s books. That’s what I decided to do after watching this interview. I got my hands on Tao of Twitter and Mark’s new book, which I am absolutely loving: Born to Blog. Both books offer great insights into the culture of social media and how to thrive in it. I will post reviews of each in future posts.

Ok, no sledding for this blogger. Its time to get back to work. It may be a snow day but the AEJMC deadline is fast approaching! Will I be seeing you in DC in August?

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Photo: View over our deck

Photos from this morning courtesy of my awesome wife, Kelin!