June 26, 2011

No Textbook Required: Use Social Sites to Gain Social Media Skills

We’re halfway through 2011 and social media has not yet gone away. It’s thriving, evolving, and changing the way we interact. So if you’ve been putting off learning the new social media tools that will help you connect and engage with customers and clients (as well as potential customers, clients, and contacts) there’s still time to resolve to make 2011 the year you start leveraging its tremendous potential.
While nothing beats hiring an experienced social media practitioner to help you or your business identify goals, strategize, and implement, there are many free resources and tutorials available online to help you learn and familiarize yourself with both basic and advanced platforms, tools, and techniques you need to create or upgrade a social media presence.
Social media enthusiasts are, first and foremost, social, and most of the best practitioners enjoy sharing their knowledge online. There are great videos, great slideshows and great blogs you can access that provide you with an expert – and free – social media education.
Here are some social sites with great resources and tutorials:

Why you should go there: Slideshare.com, which describes itself as “a business media site for sharing presentations, documents and pdfs,” offers a wealth of easily searchable presentations as well as features such as “Top Presentations of the Day,” “Hot on Facebook” and “Hot on Twitter,” and “Spotlight.”
How you should use it: Use keyword searches for access to presentations, how-to slide shows, and cutting edge thinking by top practitioners. A search for “social media getting started,” for instance, turns up 1645 hits. Many speakers at social media conferences upload their presentations so search for conferences by name. And use the “people search” function to find content generously shared by experts such as Chris Heuer, Chris Brogan, David Armano, and Beth Kantor.

Why you should go there: The second largest search engine in the world is full of great content, great talks, and great how-to videos. A search for “social media” produces 6,700 results.
How you should use it: Search for “how-to” videos, such as “How to Customize Your Facebook Page” (690 results,) video blogs by social media experts, and videos of speakers at conferences such as Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Summits or Toby Daniels’ Social Media Week to hear talks about new trends.

Why you should go there: If the web is Social Media U., Twitter is the course catalogue. Social media thought leaders, strategists and practitioners are constantly uploading links to great resources.
How you should use it: Identify a good Twitter List of smart social media thinkers, follow it, and click on the links they tweet. Or create your own list of resources. By following Tweeters like @Mashable, @SocialNetDaily, @SocialMediaComm, @SocialMedia411, @SocialMedia2Day, @SocialMediaWeek, and @TweetSmarter you are guaranteed a daily diet of links to great content, great how-to articles, and great blogs by top social media thinkers (you can find their content and others’ by following my Social Media News list: http://twitter.com/#!/CatherinVentura/social-media-news.)

Why you should go there: Mashable.com which was founded in 2005 and now claims over 30 million monthly page views is one of the single best aggregators of news about social media and digital trends. Updated constantly, it is a one-stop (if a bit overwhelming) treasure trove of the state of the web now.
How you should use it: Take advantage of Mashable’s lists, how-to, and guidebook sections to find lists of social media resources and trends, guides that range from to How to Build Apps, How to Use Facebook Insights, to using Social Media to solve the Global Water Crisis, and e-guides to Twitter and Facebook.

Why you should go there: A search for “Social Media Getting Started” yields 10,800,000 results.
How you should use it: Search for “How to,” “Tutorial,” or “Guide” and the specific topic you’re looking for (e.g. “Tutorial Add Twitter WordPress blog.”)

Not understanding how social media works is no longer an option. When you help yourself to the great resources on the social sites above, you’ll be “learning while doing” as you familiarize yourself with the exciting new ways businesses are connecting in 2011.

This post was commissioned by British Airways. The opinions are my

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