It's Not Too Late to become Social Media Savvy ...
Or are you the marketing manager for a business, perhaps a business who has a complacently comfortable owner who is deply stubborn around innovative ideas, so you're looking to brush up your own skills because you sense that even if your boss is rolling in revenue now, if he or she stays off social media, it might be a very different story in a year or two's time?
Or maybe you're someone who wants to start a business very soon, and you're aware that you need to get a heightened sense of the opportunities that SEO (search engine optimisation) and social media can create so you can get past that dangerous first year by working smarter as well as harder!
If so, then you've come to the right page.
In comparison to the returns that SEO and social media bring to your business, social media workshops are a highly affordable way to get your feet wet without drowning in all the wrong ideas.
Sydney-based presenters Stewart Dawes and Nicole Greentree in fact met via twitter when both had established their own businesses, Stewart after 18 years of magazine publishing alongside 12 years as an online publisher and five years as an SEO specialist, Nicole after running her own successful acupuncture clinic for seven years, followed by two years as a mum and then three years as a freelance social media manager.
Within a short period of time after meeting and working out who would present what, they found themselves in demand from many small business owners who were hearing about their work via word of mouth from their existing clients.
"We've been blessed because all of our workshops have ended up being booked out," Nicole says over coffee in Broadway Shopping Centre, near the corporate suite where they run many of their workshops for businesses. We've had private companies ask us to present workshops to their staff, and what was just as exciting was when universities contacted us about doing workshops for their students."
"While it's great getting very down-to-earth with business people and answering their many questions about their ROIs (returns on investment), it's also extremely rewarding seeing students get excited about twitter, for example, which many of them had avoided, and suddenly seeing the appreciation about how it can shape their careers and life paths as social leaders way into the future."
For Stewart, being a 46-year-old bloke may not fit the stereotype of what a hiptronic social media guru should look like, but as a "late adopter" who got going on it just three years ago, he's not only met and interacted with scores of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s who are brilliant at social media, some with hundreds of thousands of followers, but he understands how business owners hesitate to get involved and are sometimes afraid of what Facebook and Twitter might hold for them as far as privacy issues and even the risk of being sued should your in-house social media manager have one drink too many and defame someone in front of thousands of people.
"It's risky employing someone who is immature to be your social media manager," he says. "While I have a few carefully-chosen staff who look after the youth-focussed social media activity, it's a fact that my typical social media manager is in his or her late 30s or 40s, and I even have a social media manager in her 50s onboard. Typically these staff members not only need to have perfect spelling, but they need to be world-wise so that the calibre of tweets or status updates is journalistically rigorous, thought-provoking and constantly reflects the ethos of the company they're representing," Stewart reveals.
"A lot of fascinating issues get raised by attendees of the workshops, including the other day where a 40-something businessman asked if he should tell his insurance company that he tweets because they may have to factor that into their premiums in case he gets sued," he laughs.
"I'd never thought of that before," Stewart adds. So I tweeted his question and got a stack of fascinating replies.
"Well they were such things as 'yes you should tell them' to 'don't tell your insurance company anything they can use to manipulate more money out of you'."
To find out more about Nicole & Stewart's social media workshops in Sydney, email Stewart: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0413 276 780 during business hours. Or there are some dates of their most forthcoming workshops in the right-hand column above.
What Else will be Covered?
Springboarding now off their grass-roots day-to-day experience of being social media managers, their social-media-for-business workshops will see a wide range of topics covered including Facebook for Business, Linked In for Business, how best to use Facebook's Branch Out and of course the ubiquitous Twitter for Business, including important business-related social media strategies (many common sense but easily overlooked) like the below:
1. Be yourself. If you’re writing about the company, its products, or its competitors, use your real name, and identify that you work for, or own, a company. If you have a vested interest in what you’re writing about — as a shareholder, a paid consultant or employee, a board member, or the spouse or family member of one of the above, say so clearly and directly.
As for the cost, this was bugbear for Stewart, who as part of his research ran the gauntlet of over-priced social media events which deliver kindergarten-level information.
"I went to one two-hour event which cost $250 and had advertised it as "Twitter for Business". However when I got there I was handed their workshop notes which were titled "Twitter for Beginners". It was a slick presentation but I only learnt one thing in the session, and that proved to be useless by the third week," he says.
"But there were 70 business people in the room, and clearly most of them felt like they'd turned up on another planet for the day."
"I've also been to Facebook workshops at $400 a day which again spend most of the session delivering education on the absolute basics. Still very necessary for a lot of business people, but you can't help but feel that people are getting ripped off."
"A lot of the beginner-level ideas presented generically to a group turn out to be useless when business people apply them because they need to have far more advanced strategies custom-tailored to their business ."
"So we run through the basics but specialise in providing daring ideas which move business people to an advanced way of thinking about social media."
Social media is ... Image Conscious ...
After a few months of emailing out his resume, he'd not been invited to a single interview. Eventually one recruiter levelled off the record with him - the businesses who were advertising for social media staff ranging from $40,000 to $150,000 had a very clear idea of what they were looking for - a female aged 26 to 36.
Just as the fashion world has its preference for stick-thin models, so the social media world, at least as far as the corporatised interpretation, has its preference for the type of social media employee it desires - definitely not a forty-something bloke, even though twitter is littered with over-achieving virtual supermen with followers above the 100,000 mark.
Even old-school media, suspicious if not often terrified of online democratisation of news, has a shallow view of what a social media professional is - in the same way that they're quick to determine that a geek is nine times out of ten someone wearing glasses, apparent by the Sydney Morning Herald's recent Definition of Famous Geeks, who include:
Archetypal Geek: Job Heder as Napoleon Dynamite
"Most business people are not blessed with Hollywood looks, if they were they'd be in Hollywood or maybe a B-grade Sydney TV identity," Stewart theorises, "but it doesn't mean you put a photo up of one of your staff who has a significant double chin on a twitter profile which is designed for selling weight-reducing infrared saunas, as one of my clients did."
"However nor does it mean you put a fake image up of some glamorous anonymous starlet as that turns people off even faster - in that case you'd be better off going with the double-chinned staff member as at least it's someone real."
"There's no question that iPhone, Blackberry and Android users are going ballistic on Twitter and Facebook in unprecedented numbers," Stewart adds, yet many business people still have their websites in Flash which iPhones simply can't read," he warns.
Currently Stewart's business divides its attentions between the serious business of SEO, and the supposedly not so serious business of being social media managers to clients from Sydney to Perth - with a particular hit being his outrageously priced $35-per-week social media package which is causing heart palpitations among other social media companies and providers - and there will be a direct presentation of just how a "10 minutes per day on Twitter" package works, so that business attendees can either do it themselves, or take up the option of having it downe for them by social media professionals.
Other subjects covered will include much of the inspiring information included in this page: 50 of the best articles on social media.