Homework for My Social Media Students

As many of you know, I sometimes teach social media seminars through the local community education program (as well I do private social media “tutoring.”  I have classes coming up in 2011 in Twitter and using social media to promote your blog.)  Many people benefit enormously from seeing someone else doing it and explaining it, more than reading a book or any of the numerous blogs out there — but there are wonderful books and blogs out there.  This blog is part of my continuing education program and I frequently suggest other reading material.

So SMM alum, here’s this week’s homework.  Go find yourself a copy of Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman.  This is your vacation reading.  The book is a part of David Meerman Scott’s excellent series, The New Rules of Social Media.  (Any of the books in this series are excellent reading…I can’t say enough good things about Steve Garfield’s Get Seen for those wanting to get started in online video.)

My classes are usually for social media neophytes but even professionals benefit from reading, re-reading and marking up these excellently organized and inspirational books.  Most social media marketing gurus are self-taught to a large degree and you tend to find a way that works for you and continue using it, until someone else shows you how to do it better, or faster or cheaper.  Reading a book like this is just like sitting next to someone as they “do” and learning another way to accomplish your goals.  In addition, the case studies and examples always give me ideas…oh, oh, I could do something like that except I would change this, that and that…

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PEN AND PAPER NEARBY SO YOU CAN TAKE NOTES.  I also recommend highlighters and sticky tabs.  (Ignore the Mom voice that screams “Don’t scribble in your books.”) When inspiration strikes you don’t want to miss it,

My three favorite rules from the book:

  • Speak human — banish corporate speak.  (Harder than it sounds if you’ve been doing B2B marketing for many years.)  I often point to the wonderful ThinkGeek website for an example of excellent, consistent voice.
  • Reimagine; don’t recycle — the concept of content snacks is one every too-small marketing department should be well aware of (in other words, all of us.)
  • Be patient — it doesn’t happen overnight