What Is Social Media?

What is social media?

I asked that question recently at the Higher Ed Web Association annual conference, and I got a variety of interesting responses. Here’s a look:

Thanks to everyone at #heweb11 for their help with the video.  I’ll let you know how it goes…


Crowdsourcing: Teaching Social Media for Business

I’ve recently been asked by a University of San Diego marketing professor to guest lecture on social media for business in her MBA class.  While other institutions dedicate an entire semester to teaching social media, I’ll be working with a little less time than that:  I’ve got one hour.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

I could probably start by showing Erik Qualman’s “Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh),” but I think they may have already seen that.  I could start with some mind-blowing statistics about the growth of social media.  I could “borrow” some great ideas from presentations from notable gurus, ninjas, authors, and experts I’ve seen over the past three years.  I could even dig up some Harvard Business School case studies on social media for business.  I could do a lot of things, but I have only one hour.

So I thought I’d reach out to you, my regular readers and random guests who stumble upon my humble offerings for some help.

Crowdsourcing:  a term that Wikipedia claims came about in 2006.  A term so new that WordPress throws the spell-check flag (am I spelling it right?).  A term that means asking all of you what I should do with my one hour in front of MBA students who perhaps know more about social media than I assume.

So what do you think?  What should I cover in a marketing class with MBA students in one short hour on social media for business?  Who knows, my best responses might even get a mention in class.

I’d like to be able to point to this blog post as an example of building a social network (that has been cultivated online, as well as in person), asking said network for a little help, and receiving tons of thoughtful, engaging and inspiring feedback.  Is that so much to ask?

Facebook in Argentina

I recently returned from a 2-week trip to Buenos Aires with the most interesting professor in the world and several students from the University of San Diego’s MS in Global Leadership program.  They were studying business strategy in the global environment and I had the chance to tag along.

As a digital marketer, I like to pay attention to how businesses are using technology in their marketing mix.  In Buenos Aires I wasn’t surprised to find that traditional billboard advertising was very prevalent.  I also wasn’t surprised to see that most (if not all) contained some sort of URL.  It was extremely rare, however, to see a Facebook URL or icon – or any other mention of social media – in traditional advertising.  I also don’t recall seeing a single QR code.  Not much of this came as a surprise, since the country is still considered to have a ‘developing’ economy.

What did surprise me was the extensive use of Facebook pages by the local government (of all people!).  In fact, “el Gobierno de la Ciudad” does a great job with Facebook pages.  In nearly all of the public spaces, plazas, monuments, and parks, I saw signs like this one that directed visitors to a Facebook page that included a map of the area, photos, and lots of information.

As a first time visitor to the Facebook page, I was directed to a “Welcome” tab, which had a prominent call to action – “like us!”

Since returning home, I’ve done some digging and found at least 55 different pages created by the city of Buenos Aires.  Many of these pages have quite a bit of activity from different visitors – well wishes, comments, and questions.  What’s great is that the community administrator does a nice job of responding and really being part of the conversation.  They’ve actually created 55 different online communities for these public spaces.  It’s interesting to note that these aren’t all huge parks and major attractions, but rather small neighborhood public spaces.  Additionally, many of the Facebook pages include links to SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos, and other rich content.

So the city government in Buenos Aires has Facebook pages dialed in.  Maybe private industry will follow.  What overseas ‘best practices’ in social media have you noticed?

Three Books I Hope to Finish Before 2011

I’ll admit it.  I don’t read as many books as I’d like to these days, but I’m able to plow through about one a month.  Because of my graduate school experience at USD and my professional interests, the books I choose to read have changed a bit over the past few years – but I’m still interested in variety.  Lately, I’ve been reading books on marketing,  social media, and technology to keep up with trends, and to help me process what I find daily in my Google Reader.  Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Googled:  The end of the world as we know it, by Ken Auletta
I’m only about halfway through this one, so I’m still getting to some of the good stuff.  Basically, Auletta opens up the hood on one of the most powerful and fascinating companies in the world and the result is an easy, fast read that provides lots of history on how and why Google is such a force in business.

Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business, by Erik Qualman
Again, I’m only part of the way through this one (noticing a trend here?), but it’s clear that this is a great book for marketers and non-marketers alike.  Using recent (2010) case studies and relevant examples, Qualman does a great job of explaining why businesses should embrace social media (just in case there are any holdouts left these days).  One item that jumped out at me was the subtitle; notice he says “transforms,” as in, it’s constantly changing.  Read it now before this is all old news.  In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a powerful video that was created along with the book.

Of course, I still like a good biography now and then, especially if it involves musicians.  Since I’ve seen CSN in concert twice now, I figured I’d give this one a go:

Crosby, Stills, & Nash: The biography, by Dave Zimmer and Henry Diltz
If you like old stories about old rockers, which I do – this one’s for you.  Endorsed in the preface by Graham Nash himself, this seems to be a pretty accurate, raw, and real version of the CSN story.  Again, only halfway through, so don’t tell me how it ends.

Photo credit: Robert Altman