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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Do I Evaluate A Blog?

Wordle "How Do I" by C.B. Whittemore
How Do I Evaluate A Blog? is a topic I address whenever I discuss the tools of social media and exploring what's out there.

First some basics that routinely come up in conversations.

What is a blog?

A blog is a web-log or an online journal with frequent articles on related subjects. A blog does not refer to the individual articles; those are blogposts.

You'll notice that the most recent blogpost or article appears first, that -usually- you can leave comments at the end of each post, making the content interactive and social, and that content is searchable.

Blogs are relatively easy to get started with. Popular platforms include Blogger [my favorite], Wordpress, Typepad and others. Some are free, some have costs associated with them.

Some blog URLs include a reference to the blog platform [e.g., the 'blogspot' in refers to Blogger] and some don't [e.g.,]. In terms of evaluating a blog's worthiness, where or how you publish the blog is irrelevant.

What does matter is the blog content, its quality and its credibility.

Which parallels an important reality: it doesn't take much time to start blogging. What takes time - and this is where and why many blogs languish - is determining purpose and strategy for the blog and its content: planning for it, organizing it, researching it and writing it in a compelling manner.

I often refer to a blog as a "self-publishing platform." By that, I mean it is your means for publishing content that you create. In other words, it's like having your own printing press.

And, as with any book or magazine or newspaper that a printing press generates, if the content isn't compelling or relevant, no one will read what you have to say. But, if it is, then people you have never met before will find your content and start to engage with it and you.

I love blogs. Blogs are where many ideas develop and cutting edge thinking takes place. They represent valuable resources for relevant information, inevitably leading you to other sources of inquiry. Via blogs, you also have the opportunity to engage in conversation with those who are passionate about the blog's topic. Blogs are vibrant!

Although many people tell me they've never read a blog, chances are that they have and frequently! You see blogs appear prominently in [Google] search results especially if their content is relevant to the original query.

However, not all blogs are created equal.

Here's how I go about determining whether I consider a blog credible and worth exploring. When I evaluate a blog, I examine the following:

1. The Sidebar
I look at the blog sidebar; that's the column alongside the main body of text. It can be on the left or right. Is there a photo of the author[s]? I really want to see an image of a person. If not on the sidebar, than in a post. I'm suspicious when I can't associate a person with a name and an image.

Is there information about the author[s]? Is there a link to more information? I want to know who this person is and how s/he connects to the subject of the blog. If there's information, I can trust that I'm reading the words of a real person and I get a feel for the perspective captured in the blog.

Is there an email address available for contacting the author?

I want to see archives, category topics and links - links to additional resources, books, information relevant to what this blog and author address. The archives give me a sense for how actively managed or nurtured the blog is. The categories tell me about the blog's themes and subthemes.

I also expect to see subscription options - both email and RSS [i.e., Really Simple Syndication for feeds you read in a feedreader like Bloglines or Google Reader]. I am astounded at the number of blogs that don't include a means for visitors to stay in touch and become regular readers.

2. The Content
When I examine a blog's content, I look for relevance. As I consider relevance, I also evaluate how well written the blog is in terms of idea development and flow. This is a conversational medium: does the blog read as such?

What is the tone of the content? Is the 'voice' stiff and distant or is it relaxed? Does humor come through? Does the content read like a marketing brochure or is it conversational and more like a letter from a great friend? The magic of a blog is that it allows an individual's or the people who make up a company's personality to shine. A blog's credibility is a function of how authentically engaged those writing it are and how relevant the content is.

Next, is there constant self-promotion or is this thoughtful observation or analysis?

The more self-promotional, the less appealing it is to others. I look to see if the blogposts include references to other resources and perspectives. The more generous the author is in sharing links to others, the stronger the signal that this blog welcomes a variety of perspectives.

I like to see at least one visual element per blogpost. Something that relates or adds an additional dimension to content. Often, if I can't find the right visual representation for the idea I am about to discuss in a blogpost, I'm stuck. That's how important a visual element is to my creative process and that's how critical that visual element is in helping convey the blogpost's message.

Comments. Comments are wonderful, but judging a blog's worth based on the number of comments doesn't always lead to the right conclusion. I've noticed a big difference in comments depending on the subject and audience a blog addresses, and how comfortable that audience is with online interaction. My personal blog - The Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog - generates lots of conversation via email and in person, but few comments. I've also noticed more comments taking place on Twitter. So, it depends.

To find blogs of interest worth discovering and exploring, I recommend these Blog Search Tools:

+ Google Blog Search
+ Alltop
+ Technorati
+ BlogPulse
+ and, in Flooring, the Social Flooring Index.

Once you find a blog you like, consider bookmarking it in your browser [e.g., Chrome, FireFox, Explorer] or subscribing to it for email or RSS updates.

What would you add to this list? What else do you look for when you evaluate a blog?

For more perspective, definitely read A Mack Collier Blog Review.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Press Release: DOMOTEX & Simple Marketing Now Launch DOMOTEX Blog

For Immediate Release: September 23, 2009

DOMOTEX and Simple Marketing Now Announce Launch of The DOMOTEX Blog
Focuses on how best to benefit from the world’s largest flooring trade show

Kinnelon, NJ – DOMOTEX and Simple Marketing Now LLC are pleased to announce the launch of The DOMOTEX Blog. The new weblog promotes online conversation about DOMOTEX: The World of Flooring and how visitors and exhibitors to this large, global trade show can benefit from the wide range of flooring possibilities.

The DOMOTEX Blog allows DOMOTEX executives to pro-actively address the mystery associated with a major international trade show located in Germany by educating those interested in the resources available and showcasing the benefits that many have realized from attending. As a platform for relevant discussion, the blog simplifies what doing business outside of the United States entails.

“DOMOTEX represents a very large international flooring trade show filled with a vast range of flooring products, innovations and opportunities,” says Rita Dommermuth, vice president of Hannover Fairs USA, Inc. “Our job here in the U.S. is to eliminate the hurdles that prevent attendees and exhibitors from feeling comfortable and getting the most out of the show. The DOMOTEX Blog enables us to address questions and concerns and highlight benefits.

“With its own self-publishing digital communications platform, DOMOTEX has the ability to make the world smaller, linking American readers to relevant global resources and eliminating angst,” says Christine B. Whittemore, chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now LLC, a marketing consultancy focused on bridging traditional marketing with new and social marketing to improve the customer retail experience and build brand. “Doing business in foreign countries can be intimidating and confusing given the range of languages, cultures and rules of conduct. Knowing what to expect ahead of time is a huge benefit!

Weekly blog postings will address the resources available to attendees and visitors such as those offered by the U.S. Department of Commerce to assist in doing business in foreign countries, what to expect at the show, what previous attendees and exhibitors have gained from attending, and other topics relevant to readers.

Rita Dommermuth and Jim Gould, president, Floor Covering Institute and advisor to DOMOTEX, are the primary contributors to The DOMOTEX Blog.

“This blog allows us to share with readers the positives associated with DOMOTEX. It truly is the largest and most global flooring trade fair I have attended,” says Gould. “It’s a source of flooring product innovation and an opportunity to build international relationships as well as answer questions about duties, logistics, importing and exporting.”

“In addition to bridging traditional marketing with new and social marketing tools, The DOMOTEX Blog bridges American floor covering professionals with the global marketplace, thereby ensuring that they discover what’s most beneficial to them before attending the show” adds Whittemore.

Exhibitors, attendees and all those wanting to get the most out of the DOMOTEX trade fair experience are encouraged to subscribe to the blog for updates via email or RSS feed. Simply go to For more information, contact Dommermuth at or Gould at

For more information about Simple Marketing Now LLC, contact chief simplifier Whittemore at or visit the Simple Marketing Now website and companion weblog & newsroom – Simple Marketing Blog.

# # #

About Simple Marketing Now LLC
Simple Marketing Now is a marketing communications consultancy that provides organizations with the right combination of traditional marketing and new and digital tools to improve the customer experience and build brand. For more information, visit

About DOMOTEX: The World of Flooring
For more information, visit

About Hannover Fairs USA
Hannover Fairs USA, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Hannover, Germany-based tradeshow organizer Deutsche Messe AG, organizes tradeshows, group exhibits and marketing programs at events throughout the world. Visit to learn more.

About Deutsche Messe AG
Deutsche Messe AG is owner and operator of the Hannover Fairgrounds and one of the world’s most active event organizers. Based in Hannover, Germany, the company maintains a staff of roughly 800 along with a network of representatives in 60 countries who each year plan and run approximately 50 trade fairs that host 21,000 exhibiting companies and attract 1.79 million attendees and 16,000 journalists from more than 100 different countries. Visit to learn more.

About The Floor Covering Institute
For more information, visit

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Marketing In A Recession - September Update

Marketing in a recessionAnd now an update on Marketing In A Recession 101, the Surfaces 2010 unlike-any-other, must-attend 3 hour workshop that three brilliant marketers -- Scott Perron from Big Bob's of America, Paul Friederichsen from BrandBiz, Inc. and I -- will present on Monday, February 1st, 2010 from 9am to noon. Be there!

We've just had a working teleconference during which we walked through a first draft of our workshop content. We're having fun with our hypothetical retailer. By the time we are done, I do believe that our fictitious 'Bob' will have come to life...

I'm finding the discussion thought-provoking: we each have unique perspectives on the marketplace.

We spent a good bit of time exploring 'complacency' in business. It's often a byproduct of abundance [sound familiar?] and leads to the attitude of "nothing's broken, so why fix it?" Definitely what got our 'Bob' in trouble.

That then led to a discussion about listening which dovetailed beautifully with observations about social media marketing.

It also inspired my recent post on listening titled "Simple Marketing Starts With Listening."

My section about integrating social media into our retailer's marketing strategy generated the following questions. I'll be addressing them here and in the workshop:

1. How relevant is social media to a category like floor covering with such a long purchasing cycle? If customers are in the market for a new floor on average every 5 – 7 years, what kind of dialog do I, as a dealer, have with customers and how does it result in additional business for me? Do I get a meaningful return for that effort?

2. How do I do all these things and still run a business ... and I can’t afford to hire anybody to do it for me?

3. What do I need to do, and in what order or priority?

4. What dealers out there are doing this and how are they successful with it?

5. Who should I follow on Twitter? What websites should I have bookmarked? Etc...

Great questions, I thought.

What others would you add to the list?

Stay tuned for more.

Previous posts in the series that tracks our progress as we prepare for our groundbreaking Surfaces 2010 3-hour workshop:

1. Connecting With Retail Consumers
2. Marketing In A Recession - Strategy Series

I was tickled to come across this article about a third generation carpet retailer: The Carpetman - A Family Business That Still 'Cuts A Rug' by Andrea Aurichio, whose business is in far better shape than that of our fictitious retailer!

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Simple Marketing Starts With Listening

Kahuna Luna as New RCA White Puppy Dog, Ear Cocked Listening to "His Master's Voice", Vintage Phonograph, Music Mascot originally uploaded by BL1961.

Simple, practical, effective marketing starts with Listening. Don't you think?

Listening comes up all the time - especially if you're listening for it. And, particularly in conversations relating to marketing with social media even though it's relevant to all marketing.

It's such a basic and critical activity, fundamental to building meaningful relationships, and yet think how difficult many brands, marketers and companies find it.

Perhaps listening took place at the onset of a project - maybe in the form of research or a focus group. But, once the data and insights obtained, we shut the exercise down and hear no more. And, then we get into trouble. No?

Listening came up during a Powered webinar titled "From Zero to Community: Practical Advice to Grow and Nurture an Online Community" with Rachel Happe from The Community Roundtable and Bert DuMars [who blogs at Exploring The Social Media Ecosystem] from Newell Rubbermaid.

From Rachel we learned about the Community Maturity Model and community management best practices. Bert discussed Sharpie - Uncap Your Creativity, Graco Baby - From The Heart and Rubbermaid - Adventures in Organization communities and social networking efforts. [Note: I've admired the Graco Baby program since hearing Lindsay Lebresco - formerly with Graco - discuss Graco Baby at 2008 BlogHer Business in NYC so it was wonderful to hear about it again.]

In listening [!] to Rachel and Bert, I was struck with how critical Listening is to building and nurturing a sustainable community. It conveys respect. It's a source of amazing ongoing insights, too. Intense, active listening never stops. It's also strategic and it goes beyond a specific product to understanding what the product enables.

Take Sharpie Uncapped which celebrates the creativity that Sharpies facilitate. By observing and absorbing [i.e., listening] what Sharpie users do with Sharpie products, the company realized that it could offer value by showcasing what fans do, and create a forum for that greater creative community.

Not too dissimilar from what Mike DiLorenzo from shared during the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing World Conference. He mentioned that 50% of NHL fans are 'displaced' [i.e., live in markets away from that of their favorite team]. Listening has allowed him to uncover ways of nurturing fans' enthusiasm regardless of how individual teams performed. [Read Shannon Paul's Very Official Blog Interview with Mike DiLorenzo.]

Listening also represents a critical theme in Social Media's Collective Wisdom: Simplifying Marketing With Social Media, my e-book based on the first 26 interviews in my social media series about Bridging New & Old. It's a requirement for participation in social media marketing. We can no longer assume that we know what the answers are to customers’ questions, or that our initial research remains eternally relevant. Rather, we must become keen observers, listeners and facilitators with customers always in mind and do so on an ongoing basis.

More specifically from the e-book:

Listen, listen, listen. If you are listening, you'll be ahead of the curve. You may even be part of "the next big thing" before it becomes big. [LoriMagno]

Listen. Most companies are pretty bad at this anyway, but they have to start being very good at it. It will make them much better at what they do. [RichNadworny]

Listen. [DougMeacham]

Listen actively:
After you start paying attention to social media, start monitoring online conversations to see if your company/brand is being discussed. Use tools like Google Blog Search and Twitter Search to see what the chatter is. [MackCollier]

Listen. See what bloggers and Twitter and other social media users are saying about you or your products or others in your space. To start, use and to monitor the conversation. If you want more, Andy Beals suggests eight free monitoring tools here. [AnnHandley]

First - Listen - what are people saying about your brand? If they are saying something negative about you, engage with them and try to turn this 'threat' into an opportunity! There are plenty of free tools out there to monitor conversations such as Google Alerts, Twitter Search or Tweetbeep to name a few. [LollyBorel]

Set up Google Alerts to start listening to what the market-place is saying about you. Read Chris Brogan’s “Grow Bigger Ears” post for other ways to effectively listen. The results may further arm you as you convince decision-makers that people are already talking about you, and it is better to be part of the conversation. [PegMulligan]

My last suggestion is that no matter what they’re doing, they need to listen. I’m still surprised when I learn that companies don’t have a Google alert set up. It’s not surprising at all that people don’t search Twitter and the like for their brand names. [DavidPolinchock]

Listen strategically:

Understand the limitations and the benefits of the tools, or tactics, before you consider implementing. Listen and watch the rhythms of the social elements (blogs, vlogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) you are considering before you create your social media strategy. [TobyBloomberg]

Place an activity moratorium on your staff as they enter the social media world. We use a 30 day No Comments, No Posts moratorium on our incoming people to give them a chance to listen and learn before they dive in and start posting. This gives them a chance to see how it’s done and avoid some of the common newbie mistakes. [ChrisKieff]

Listen some more. What do you hear. Are people talking about your brand? If not, then why? If they are, then what are they saying? Do they love you? Do they hate you? Are they helping you to increase your customer base or lose it? There is a lot of value in those conversations. Use it to your advantage. [DougMeacham]

What are your thoughts about listening? Do you consider it as critical a first step to simple marketing as I do?

Download Social Media's Collective Wisdom: Simplifying Marketing With Social Media. It's free and chock-full of wisdom.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Simple Gestures That Communicate Strongly

Envelope originally uploaded by KellyLWatson.
Envelope by Kelly L WatsonAs much as I love the web, technology and the tools of social media, I remain low-tech on many fronts. On clipboards I jot down preliminary blogpost concepts and keep track of projects. I delight in writing by hand on paper and then highlighting in various colors To Dos in my Filofax organizer; and I thoroughly appreciate hand-written notes which, to me, represent simple gestures that communicate strongly.

I can't remember not loving receiving and sending notes, not being in awe of the journeys that the envelopes took, and not being impressed with the precious bits of individuality and personality that the envelopes transported to their ultimate destinations.

[That's why the Round The World Envelope Race captured my imagination!]

While spending time yesterday with Jeanne Byington [her blog The Importance of Earnest Service is a thoughtful, intelligent must-read resource], we got onto the subject of letters and hand-written notes in the age of email.

In business, email has replaced written communications. It's faster, more convenient, more flexible and also more ubiquitous. It's also intense! After an afternoon in New York City, I came back to an additional 30 emails in one account and 40 in the other.

Here's another interesting observation: my mail volume has diminished dramatically! Gone are the useless duplicate catalogs and the mounds of 'junk' mail. Is it the same for you?

As a result, what's left attracts more attention, as did the handwritten thank you note from my cousin's daughter which communicated a strong message of personality and effort. Whereas the competition has increased for email based communications, it has radically decreased for old-fashioned mail. Real mail stands out. It's memorable. It generates conversation.

So imagine making use of a simple gesture in business - like sending a customer a handwritten thank you note - to communicate in no uncertain terms how you feel. What do you think the reaction might be? Especially when there aren't mounds of other stuff to mask or dilute the effect?

Are there other simple gestures that you've had success using to communicate strongly?

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Johnson & Johnson, The New Media Innovator

RonAmok! JNJ Does New MediaJohnson & Johnson, the "123 year old, $64B holding company, responsible for 250 operating companies that collectively employ over 118,000 employees... that ... sells products related to human health and well-being" is a New Media Innovator. So says Ron Ploof in his e-Book titled "Johnson & Johnson Does New Media. Lessons from a 123 year old, $64 Billion New Media Innovator."

The e-book caught my attention.

First, Ann Handley mentioned it as a must-read during last week's MarketingProfs Summer Social online seminar.

Second, I love hearing about large organizations, steeped in tradition, willing to explore new approaches to connecting with their marketplace. Fiskars the 360 year young company, is another that comes to mind.

Finally, back in January, Robin Carey, CEO and Co-Founder of Social Media Today LLC, invited me to attend Real-Time Communications: Conferences & Roundtables during which Johnson & Johnson's Marc Monseau participated in a Super Panel discussion about new media.

Marc is actively involved in the the J&J corporate blog as editor and writer.

Ron's e-book beautifully lays out Johnson & Johnson's history while exploring its digital journey including its first blog, Kilmer House, launched in 2006 to tell the story of the people and the company of J&J, its corporate blog, JNJ BTW, the JNJHealth Channel on YouTube, Twitter @jnjComm and the Johnson & Johnson network group on Facebook.

The book ends with 10 lessons that I find particularly relevant to marketing with social media, whether just starting out, reevaluating progress to date or simply appreciating other companies' approaches:

1. There will always be excuses
2. Write about your history
3. Learn from the experience
4. Build your home first
5. Talk about the problems you solve
6. Don't be afraid to experiment
7. Measure everything
8. Adapt your plan
9. Cross-pollinate
10. Keep moving

In other words, go to RonAmok!, download your own copy of Johnson & Johnson Does New Media. Lessons from a 123 year old, $64 Billion New Media Innovator and then let me know what you found most intriguing.

Thanks, Ron!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Small Businesses Marketing With Social Media: WiseGrass, Naked Pizza, Berry Chill

Barber Shop originally uploaded by Taborius Minimus.
Barber Shop by Taborius MinimusAs much as I love hearing how IBM integrates social media into its marketing, I'm also intrigued to learn how small businesses creatively blend social with traditional marketing to promote themselves and engage with customers.

Three examples come to mind.

The most fascinating is WiseGrass, located in Lancaster, PA.

I came across WiseGrass thanks to an article titled Century Communication by Suz Trusty. Subtitle reads "WiseGrass uses radio, networking sites and the Internet to get the word out."

What caught my attention was the seamless integration of traditional and social tools.

More specifically, owner Paul Stoltzfus discusses lawn care "365 days of the year on WROZ 101.3, a soft rock station. “We chose it for the amount of reach and the number of repetitions that would give us the best bang for the buck,” he says. “I want to hit each listener a minimum of four times a week so our message makes an impact..."

The radio spots drive listeners to the website where they not only get more information, but can read testimonials [I love the Twitter-like testimonial entry form], get directions on where to view show lawns [and information about how long the lawn has been under WiseGrass care], see Flickr photos of the lawns, and opt for more information via a monthly mailing summarizing blog posts, or Paul's blog itself.

WiseGrass is also active on Facebook and Twitter [Paul is @WiseGrass and his wife Marlena is @Mar2Mom].

According to the article - and you can check this out for yourself - Paul uses the blog to educate via mini-seminars. He uses lots of photos and videos to tell stories and the end result is fun, fresh and informative.

The blog and the website not only communicate believability and trustworthiness, but also support the message of 'No hassle.'

As I researched WiseGrass, I discovered other delicious details. For example, my very favorite Michele Miller from WonderBranding: news & views on the female customer has worked with Paul Stoltzfus and refers to him in 5 Things You Can Do To Improve Her Experience At The Cash Register [the 5 things include: clean off your counter and give her room to maneuver, tell her what a great choice she's made, let your packaging be a walking billboard, give her a little lagniappe, and invite her to join the club. Read the full post!]

And, then, I came across Kelly Watson's post about Womenwise Marketing Seal Of Approval: WiseGrass in which she mentions that Paul and Marlena have tweetups at their house [Tweetups are meetups organized via Twitter]. How cool is that?

The other two examples come from an AdAge article titled Twitter Proves Its Worth as a Killer App for Local Businesses [registration required]: Naked Pizza and Berry Chill.

Naked Pizza is New Orleans based and offers "healthful pizza." You can tell from the website - which offers educational information - that the action happens elsewhere: on BlogNAKED and Twitter @NakedPizza. There's naturally a Facebook Page, too. Notice the difference in tone, content and interaction from one medium to the other.

Naked Pizza markets itself Twitter focusing, interestingly, on people within a three-mile radius of the store location. A billboard outside the store even refers to the Twitter handle.

Berry Chill sells yogourt creations out of three Chicago locations. It, too, uses Twitter @YogiJones [to send out "Sweet Tweets" promos], Facebook and the Berry Chill blog.

Both Berry Chill and Naked Pizza track how their promotions generate business. But, they're also using the platforms to develop relationships with their followers.

The AdAge article offers Five tips for local businesses looking to use Twitter:

1. Track every sale.
2. Twitter is not Facebook [i.e., Twitter is for real-time communication].
3. Create a conversation.
4. Sell last-minute inventory.
5. Alert followers when your' on the go.

How do you blend new and traditional tools? What have you found works best for getting the word out about what you do?

Added 9/21/09: from the NYT Pizza With a Point about Naked Pizza.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Press Release: Whittemore Publishes “Social Media’s Collective Wisdom” e-Book

For Immediate Release: September 3, 2009

Whittemore Publishes “Social Media’s Collective Wisdom” e-Book
Simplifies marketing with social media for corporate marketers

Kinnelon, NJ – Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier of Simple Marketing Now LLC, has published “Social Media’s Collective Wisdom: Simplifying Marketing With Social Media” in which 26 prominent social media practitioners answer the question “what suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?

The wisdom collected in this e-book originates from a social media interview series about Bridging New & Old that Whittemore launched in December 2008 on her blog Flooring The Consumer. This first volume of “Social Media’s Collective Wisdom” captures responses from the first 26 participants in this ongoing series.

“Social media is here to stay,” says Whittemore, “but the tools and approaches aren’t yet fully understood particularly as it relates to organizations. How better to jump start the process by absorbing the collective wisdom of these insightful social media professionals.”

Responses from the following social media experts are included in “Social Media’s Collective Wisdom: Simplifying Marketing With Social Media” - Book I:
The e-book - Social Media's Collective Wisdom: Simplifying Marketing With Social Media - is available for free download.

For more information about Simple Marketing Now LLC, contact chief simplifier Whittemore at or visit the Simple Marketing Now website and companion weblog & newsroom – Simple Marketing Blog.

# # #

About Simple Marketing Now LLC

Simple Marketing Now is a marketing communications consultancy that provides organizations with the right combination of traditional marketing and new and digital tools to improve the customer experience and build brand. For more information, visit

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Education & Social Media

School Room originally uploaded by Rob Shenk.
School Room by Rob ShenkHave you considered the educational ramifications of social media marketing and communication tools becoming fully adopted? [See "Blogs are now mainstream media."]

I hadn't - not really - until I came across this article about the UK school system titled Pupils to study Twitter and blogs in primary schools shake-up. It got my attention.

Imagine. Primary school students would need to learn about Wikipedia, Twitter, podcasts and blogs "as sources of information and forms of communication."

By formally exposing students early on to the tools of social media, they are better able to effectively incorporate them into the workplace later on. Makes sense especially since we know that the concepts of social media marketing and communication aren't going away.

For those on the opposite extreme of the education and social media spectrum, the solution has been learning-on-the-go as these examples illustrate: Mayo Clinic's Lee Aase, the DC Goodwill Fashion Blog, and IBM's Sandy Carter.

But, what about those not yet in the workforce, but beyond primary school? How do they become educated about social media?

PRWeek published in its August 2009 issue an article titled Lessons for the future: universities and social media which describes how universities are integrating social media into the education program, not just to facilitate collaboration and communication, but also to teach strategic skills making use of the tools. The range of concepts implemented is truly exciting.

The schools mentioned in the article include Auburn University, Georgetown University [where Rohit Bhargava teaches a course titled "Global Communications in the Age of Social Media"], Syracuse University's SI Newhouse School of Public Communications, Boston University, The University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications, and Howard University.

The educators, though, come from the industry.

And, the overriding lesson has to do with learning how to apply the tools of social media marketing and communication strategically and practically.

What do you think? How are you becoming educated about social media? How do you teach those around you? How to you ensure that social media tools are implemented strategically?

Added 10/7/09:
Social media skills to to head of the class from PRWeek.

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