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July 08 2010


The Influencer Project Showcases 60 Speakers in 60 Minutes

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Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

The world is flooded with multi-day web marketing conferences and other educational opportunities aimed at teaching people how to use social media. But this week the shortest social media conference ever lined up 60 thought leaders to speak for 60 seconds each.

The Influencer Project was streamed live on Tuesday, and each speaker was given the opportunity to tell listeners the most important thing they should do to grow their influence within the next 60 days. Headliners included Guy Kawasaki; online wine critic and co-founder of Vaynermedia, Gary Vaynerchuk, who I interviewed for my last post on social media training; Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger.com,; Mike Stelzner, founder of SocialMediaExaminer.com; Marshall Kirkpatrick, the vice president of content development and lead writer at ReadWriteWeb.com; and many others.

Some of the advice included tips on how to get yourself interviewed in order to build your brand, discussing what you truly know, and focusing on a niche in order to dominate it. Guy Kawasaki advised people to repeat their tweets in order drive clickthrough rates throughout the day. Marshall Kirkpatrick discussed getting involved early in the news cycle. Stelzner told people how to open up a Facebook fan page.


"Facebook has extended their feature capabilities to third parties," Stelzner said. "You could put stuff on your website, like your blog, and it allows people to click a button that reads 'Like,' and all of a sudden on their Facebook personal page there will be a link back to your blog."

That link will be spread to that person's list of friends on Facebook. Such exposure has helped Social Media Examiner's Facebook page get "Liked" by over 9,000 people. (Stelzner only launched the page in February of this year).

He has also written about how he has leveraged Social Media Examiner's Facebook page to grow its community.

The Power of Story

Brian Clark of Copyblogger argued that people need to know how to tell their story. And they also need to learn from other people's experiences.

"We need to learn from what worked in old media," he said. "Don't ridicule it or think that they're out of touch because sooner than you think the big guys are going to figure all this stuff out and they're going to be dominating social media."


People respond to narrative content, according to Clark. He argued that media producers, meaning everybody with an Internet connection, need to have a solid understanding of human psychology and what can influence us. He has built his blog to over 100,000 RSS subscribers by employing narrative pieces, and he'll soon be expanding to offer multimedia.

"We have this incredible technology to build websites, to do video, to do audio," he said. "You've got to really pay attention to quality and production values even while you bring a more personal and authentic touch that this social media thing is for."

Enterprise brands only see the use of social media as one part of their complete media marketing campaign. Large corporate brands employ radio, TV, and billboards, which Clark says is now all social because people will keep documenting their experiences with marketing messages on the Internet. However, he contends that smaller publishers, such as bloggers, can use social media to grow their businesses to the level where they can also communicate through mass media channels.

"It's not like mass media," Clark stated. "You don't have to reach the whole world, but you could still reach enough people to build a good business."

Attracting Speakers: A Case Study in Influence

Sam Rosen is the CEO of ThoughtLead, the online media and marketing company that organized the event. His use of social platforms to recruit speakers and help market the Influencer Project serves as a mini case study of how media companies can succeed in a digital environment.


Rosen worked with people in his organization's sphere of influence to help reach out to other people, thereby expanding his reach and attracting the participation of those from outside his immediate sphere. He invited up-and-coming marketers who are just starting to build their digital influence and then had them reach out to people that were influential to them and to whom they had a connection. As a result, more and more influential people signed on to speak. By communicating that this first batch of influencers were speaking, Rosen was able to attract even more influential people.

"The more speakers we got, the more other speakers were like, 'I have to participate in that, so and so is in that, I've got to be up there too,' " he stated. "It started to create a peer environment."

Liz Strauss, who runs SobCon, was enthralled with the idea. Strauss already featured a number of Rosen's targeted speakers at her event. So she had Rosen choose which speakers he wanted to speak at the Influencer Project. She emailed those speakers. Her influence helped attract additional speakers.

"In some cases we couldn't convince them to do it, but when the people who they considered to be influential and who they trusted said, 'You have to do it,' one person became the source of multiple contacts and a couple of those are really big names," Rosen explained. "We added those names to a roster used to attract bigger names."

Getting the 60th Speaker

Having some of the most influential names in the social media marketing space allowed him to also attract sponsors and media partners. He also had some speakers email their subscribers to let them know about the event. Email recipients had a link with an auto-populated tweet which allowed them to communicate that they were going to listen to the event. Then on Thursday, July 1, 2010, they sent out an email announcing their contest.

"We sent out an email that said, 'Will you be the 60th speaker?'" Rosen said. "'Tell us your thoughts about what it means to build digital influence, and we'll choose the best tweets.'"

They had their speakers send out the same email to their lists, too. People began to tweet what they thought was the best way to increase digital influence using the hashtag #influencer. There were a few hundred tweets posted using the hashtag. As a result Rosen says that most of the 3,500 registrants came from Twitter; 750 people viewed the podcast. They expect over a thousand more to read the PDF with the transcript of the event and listen to the MP3 recording. They have a similar marketing plan in store working with their existing media partners and speakers.

However, regardless of how efficient they are tactically, Rosen argued that content producers should have a good understanding of how to format a message so it can be easily shared by people. A lot of that came by coming up with a format for a conference never launched before to create what he calls an "idea virus."

"Repetition, upending convention, taking something we have an idea about already that means something to us then flipping it on its head," Rosen explained. "And then describing it in a way that's really catchy and in a way that people can pass on to others."

Neal Rodriguez vlogs on social media marketing tactics he has employed to his and his clients' monetary benefit on nealrodriguez.com. Subscribe to Neal's feed to stay abreast of his updates.

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Education content on MediaShift is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

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May 28 2010


Social Media Training: From Conferences to the Classroom

She sat in a chair signing an autograph, as the camera's flashes made the stones on her Ms. America crown sparkle. A man knelt about five feet in front of American royalty and drew a sketch of her on the iPad.

Caressa Cameron, Miss America 2010, was addressing the audience at the 140 Character conference in New York City last month. Cameron spoke about how she is using social media to support her duties as a social ambassador and Goodwill Ambassador for the Children's Miracle Network, which raises funds for children's hospitals nationwide.

"What I want to do this year is to keep people connected through causes; keep people connected through organizations; keep people connected through community involvement," she said. "It's my job out here to let you know that I am doing a job, and you all can be a part of it."

The 140 Character conference is just one of a long lineup of social media training programs offered by marketing professionals, celebrities, and mainstream headliners. Seminars and presentations educate thousands of people on how to use social media to reach out to their target communities. Attendees mostly learn the business applications of social media and ways to engage people using social networks to promote causes, job hunts and other initiatives.

The abundance of people and organizations offering social media training naturally means there's a wide range of quality. I recently attended different social media conferences and programs and spoke to experts to gather insights about social media training. Here's a collection of what I encountered.

140 Character Conference


Jeff Pulver, organizer of the 140 Character conference in New York City, said the way that people and organizations communicate has dramatically changed. He was master of ceremonies to a long lineup of people who have been able to leverage Twitter and other real-time social applications to develop their businesses and professional profile.

"Here at the 140 Character conference we are looking at the effects of the real-time Internet on business and also on people," Pulver said. "Four words: listen, connect, share and engage. If you understand what that means you have a head up on everyone else who doesn't."

He said that, regardless of the different professional backgrounds at the 140 Character conference, we are all people.

"This conference celebrates life," Pulver said. "It celebrates the humanity of it, and some of the amazing business opportunities that are becoming because of it."

One speaker at the 140 Character conference is a world-renowned entrepreneur by the name of Gary Vaynerchuk. He built his family's wine business from a $4 million brick-and-mortar store to a $60 million dollar business supported by a retail website, and a vlog where Vaynerchuk reviews a wide variety of wines. He's also a bestselling author.

I caught up with Vaynerchuk when he was back at home and conducted a video interview with him about social media training and the lessons he's learned. Two people also tweeted questions for Vaynerchuk before the interview -- Eric Sornoso and Rodney J. Woodruff -- and Vaynerchuk responded to both during our discussion:

Edelman's Program

Along with Vaynerchuk, I ran into Rick Murray at the conference. He's the president of Edelman Digital. He shared some of the logistics of Edelman's social media training program. The first phase is all about defining ethical behavior on social networks.

"The second thing we talk a lot about is community management," Murray continued. "[What] you could do to help our clients out whether it's either promoting their brands or it's protecting their brands, in either shape or form; the third thing...is how you craft the kinds of content that the audience which your clients are trying to seek is compelling."


The Edelman training program also covers how content can be optimized for social search. The classes cater to all the regions in which Edelman operates and are culturally sensitive to help employees appropriately engage people all over the world. Each online module is self-paced. Upon completion of each training sequence, a belt is awarded to a participant, as in karate. Employees must schedule the four minutes to take each module to be awarded a belt and be able to take the next training sequence.

"Once people are underway we've actually had internal competitions to get to various belt levels in office competitions," Murray explained. "We're not against public shaming as well; we have names on walls of people who haven't taken any of the modules at all."

Social Media Skills With Sree

Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs and digital media professor at Columbia Journalism School, started the institution's first public Social Media Skills course. The class is four weeks long and, as it states in the syllabus, aims to teach journalists how to "find new story ideas, trends, and sources; connect with reader and viewers in new ways; bring attention and traffic to their work; and help them create, craft and enhance their personal brand."

I took Sreenivasan's workshop called "Smarter Internet Surfing Tips" while in my broadcast journalism class in New York University. He has been teaching Internet Surfing Tips through his online directory since 1998. He helps journalists learn to use the social media tools that will help them do their job more efficiently. Sreenivasan carefully chooses which platforms his students should be using as journalists and media professionals.

"I'm not on MySpace but in certain industries MySpace is absolutely critical, like the music industry, entertainment, but it doesn't make sense for me at the moment," Sreenivasan stated. "I say that for technology to be useful it has to fit into our workflow and our life flow; when it does both, then its ready for use around the country, around the world."

sree.jpgSreenivasan said that training is necessary for everyone. "I know somebody who has 25,000 followers on Twitter but still wants help," he said.

Sreenivasan instructs his students to be active on digital communities before big events happen. He stresses that students should be in "listening mode" and participating in the digital communities they are engaging. "I tell people that when the plane lands in the Hudson, it's too late," he said.

Moreover, Sreenivasan teaches that social media is simply there to support your professional endeavors. Your skills and background should still be proficient.

Although Sreenivasan's class is designed primarily for journalists, people of all professional backgrounds have attended his class, such as marketers, publicists, and librarians. Sreenivasan said he has instructed people under the age of 15 and over the age of 80.

Tamar Weinberg

I first met Tamar Weinberg as a power user of the social news channel, Digg.com. Tamar has been working online as a social media consultant for 17 years and is also the author of "The New Community Rules," which teaches readers how to raise awareness for their brands using blogging, micro-blogging, and other social platforms.

tamarweinbergweirdness.jpgShe has spoken at numerous conferences and has delivered lectures for groups ranging from 30 to 2,000 people. Weinberg teaches people to participate by contributing to social platforms before trying to have them bear value. She discusses best practices and tactics, which attendees could use to expand their business presence online. Weinberg also discloses some tactics that she employs to continually learn how to engage target communities on digital networks.

"I would recommend finding influencers who are of interest to you; find out who influences them," Weinberg said. "It's very easy to do because if they have a Facebook fan page, if they have a Twitter page, they're often sharing links and tweeting about these individuals. Find out what they're sharing and use that as a guideline as to what to follow."

Weinberg said that she works with people in organizations large and small, who fill a variety of roles. Working with multiple-levels of hierarchy can sometimes pose a challenge in training. She notes that lower-level personnel usually adopt digital platforms, which can often lead to internal challenges in terms of pushing ahead new initiatives.

"Things don't happen quickly because of the need to go through legal red tape," Tamar said. "If you get the CEO on onboard things will happen a lot quicker."


Most social media training programs focus on managing and building communities on major social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Digg etc. Glen Allsop runs ViperChill, where he teaches his readers how to build social communities on blogging platforms.In six months Allsop has built ViperChill to reach 1,500 unique visitors daily and 70,000 pageviews monthly; the site has over 6,000 subscribers.

"As I make money online on other sites, I don't need to monetize it," Allsop said. "I do have a blog that makes over $10,000 per month which received 800,000 pageviews in March, with most of its traffic coming from Google."

Allsop built his first website at the age of 15 after he saw a friend build a site using Lycos Tripod Sitebuilder. Allsop built websites about his passions such as DJing and optimized them to receive more exposure from search engines by guest posting on other blogs and using other social media engagement tactics he teaches on ViperChill.

"Find blogs relevant to your industry by searching Google for phrases like "top [insert topic here] blog" or "best [insert topic here] blogs" to find relevant sites to engage with," Allsop said. "Once you've found popular blogs in your target market, start interacting with the author on multiple platforms like Facebook and Twitter to build up a relationship."

Allsop is among the few people teaching how to use social news aggregation channels, like Digg, but with a niche focus.

"For example, there is a social voting website for the IM [Internet marketing] industry, called Sphinn," Allsop said. "There are also ones for technology, sports like basketball, and even country specific sites like IndianPad."

Allsop's biggest challenge in teaching the use of social media channels to connect with their target communities lies in keeping people from always wanting to manipulate the digital networks. He also notes that convincing heads of management in large companies is harder because it is difficult to track results than when using search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising campaigns.

Neal Rodriguez features some of the brightest minds in cyberspace including thought-leaders in social media marketing and search engine optimization on nealrodriguez.com, where he offers his own social media and blog training program.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

November 10 2009


How to "Crush It" Like Gary Vaynerchuk: Follow Your Passion Now

Executives and employees alike at digital startups, media agencies, and television networks should still build their personal brands.

That's the advice of Gary Vaynerchuk, the multi-million dollar businessman, uber-popular video star, and now New York Times bestselling author. In his latest book "Crush It," Gary evangelizes his philosophy on how to build your own brand equity. But how can you "crush it" when you work for a TV network, advertising agency or media firm?

I caught up with Gary at a recent book event and asked him that question for the New Media Minute. He shared his thoughts on how employees can get executive buy-in to the "crush it" philosophy.

Daisy Whitney

Editor's Note:  Daisy's New Media Minute is produced and sponsored separately from Beet.TV.  We are pleased to publish her segment regularly here.  AP

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