Socialnomics – Why Social Media?

Today, I am attending a great Social Media Marketing Conference produced by Fred Pryor and hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn in Oxnard, CA.  For me,  it is a great refresher course about a very complex process and a reminder of how to use social media appropriately for greater marketing.  It is almost counter intuitive to one directional messages as the social two way aspect creates a more tailored and loyal audience.  This is also a great time to reflect upon my social marketing successes and failures, and to explore the concepts of Socialnomics and the social sales cycle.

One primary goal of social marketing is to find your audience and to create your audience through the social marketing tool.  You want to find/establish an audience that knows, likes, and trusts what you are saying so that when you advertise something your audience knows, likes, and trusts what you are advertising.  You need to be genuine, and you need to create atmosphere of learning, informing, and providing.  It is extremely beneficial also to let others shine.  You don’t have to create all the content.  You can be a collector of recommending content.

Second is to simply watch this video about why this is so import today.  Hey, you may even want to watch it twice.  This video provides some great definition in why this is so important.  It even provides purpose for encouraging your organization to use this process for increasing customers in my case enrollments in distance education.

Thirdly, examine the social sales cycle:  Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, and Purchase.  The cycle gives control to the buyer, and the organization needs to be honest and transparent.  It needs to be personalized.  It needs to be consistent and it needs to communicate to the individual.

Quote: “Any business that you are getting because of price you can lose just as easily because lack of trust, like, or knowledge. How do you get the customer to stay and remain loyal?  In my case how do you retain the enrolled student?”

Fourthly,  Tools are simply that.  Whether you are using a blog, microblog, social message, photo sharing, multimedia sharing, review, or any other social site.  It is a tool.  How you use it is more important.  Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, WordPress, Periscope, Digg, Instagram . . . they are just tools.  You want to turn strangers into friends, friends into customers, customers into evangelists.   That is the return on investment.

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How is a kitchen remodel like distance education?

I have to admit that when I came up with this topic that I was thinking it was an interesting title but that it should not take too long to make the connection.  I then said to myself this needs to be about my most recent kitchen remodel and that the readers need to understand that I just remodeled a kitchen at a rental property that was at a distance (some 140 miles away to be exact).  Now, of course, everyone would get it.

Not Quite!

Then I thought explain to them how you remodeled the kitchen without stepping one foot on the property until last Saturday to review the completed work.  Yes, right now they would understand.  Well, OK, I need to explain a little more.

So, during the most recent kitchen remodel, I knew I had one big problem.  Time and Distance.  The costs are real so I started using the Internet for resources.  First stop was Angie’s list where I found a great kitchen remodeling company with good reviews.  I contacted them and asked them to give me a quote.  I compared the quote to other companies, and I decided it was reasonable based upon comparisons over the internet.

Next I had to coordinate and settle upon a contract with the vendor.  The details were discussed, a contract was sent via text, signing occurred, and a four to five week wait was needed while the factory took the measurements and created the counter tops.

Also during that initial contract time I needed to visit Home Depot (one mile away) to pick out the Formica brand counter top number and style as well as sink, faucet and drawer options.  All information was communicated via text images and writings via a smart phone.

Obviously payment plans were easy over the phone and I set up a before, during, and after completed installments.  It was even nice to use the Bank of America 3% back on all purchases credit card.

I then reached out to my tenant to coordinate a convenient time for final measuring and future installation.  The installers waited for the counter tops to be built at the counter top factory then on two quick days (that were clearly communicated to all) it was installed.  During the installation process, I received timely photo updates from my tenant and communicated constantly with both the company and tenant via cell phone and email.

Then just this last Saturday I visited to see a wonderful kitchen remodel that has improved the value of this distant property.

Oh yes, so how is this like distance education?

To me, this series of events is similar to design of a distance education project.  I knew my subject matter ( a kitchen in a house that I have lived in previously for many years ).  I researched a company on a service that provided checks and balances, coordinated a clear project design document, and established a payment plan of checks and balances.  I communicated via email, text messaging, and phone calls with the project manager and the tenant at various phases during the project.  I was involved with the project, but I let experts do their job and gave ownership to key constituents.  I was at a distance so I never met or communicated with the installer but there were checks and balances in place to make sure it was done well (payments, project company, tenant).  Finally, I checked in, and  I followed through on the project.  And Yes, I recorded on iPad video the final project for documentation.

The kitchen is great, and so are distance education projects.  Project based learning really is the way to go to prepare students for a complex world that could easily give them a project that needs to be completed remotely.  Checking in with your students at various stages is extremely key in distance education as it promotes regular and effective contact, insures that students are following the rubric, helps you teach at a distance, and models what distance education is about for your students.   Always create checks and balances in your projects while leaving room for student creativity, engagement, research, and problem solving.

Thanks for listening to my crazy comparisons and as always I appreciate your positive feedback.  I am glad this did not end up the The Goldbergs kitchen remodel!

Using the Internet as Your Network

Good Morning Readers!

I have discussed within the past year or so the importance of considering a change to Google Apps as a way to run your school, and while I have seen schools adopt its usages to some extent, I am not seeing the full implementation by any school yet.  I have seen schools implement the email systems with some shared documents here and there, but by and large I am not noticing policies that reflect a complete movement toward them or an entire community shift in how it communicates its information.  And whether Google Apps, Outlook.com, Dropbox, or iCloud is your preferred platform, it is vital to make a move to using the Internet as your network now.  Here is why.

Tablets are going to continue to grow as a choice in computing for many users, and tablets by design are making use of the Internet as a network already.   Server speeds, connections to servers, data storage, and your accessibility to the Internet are making it easier for experts in server administration to provide low cost services to the tablet market via the Internet.  You have heard that the desktop is dying out, and well the local network is dying out too.  As these tablets become better and faster more people will choose them for the cost, accessibility, and portability.  Yes, there will still be a need for laptops, servers, and desktops, but the average user is going to want this low cost solution of pay as you need it; and therefore, your network should service it via the Internet.  And why not do that for free?

Services via the Internet are also growing by at an incredible rate.  If you are are a Microsoft Office enthusiast, you can get a free version of Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint via outlook.com for your school.  Google offers its own version of documents, spreadsheets, gmail, and presentations, and it is even offering a way to connect your printers to your own virtual print servers to print from any device including iPads.  So think about that for a minute, the best network administrators in the world (Google, Microsoft, and others) have created a virtual school system and server for you for free.  That sounds like a great deal for me and less headaches.

Even if you simply start your email system, you should start implementing it today.  These services will only continue to grow and to improve as the market dictates the move to tablets.  You will need to support it, and why not do that for free.  A network on the Internet can reach more people, and a safety guarantee from Google or Microsoft security experts is better than any government policy to protect our kids on the Internet.

If you have any concerns or questions about this week’s writing please submit your comments below.  I am also absolutely learning.

NECC 2009 Reflections

I recently returned from the NECC conference in Washinton D.C. , and I was pleasantly surprised at the array of choices for technology coordinators, teachers, and administrators. There were simply too many seminars to enjoy, learn from, and sample, and I am glad that I used the NECC planner as my guide. It kept me on track and focused as it is easy to get distracted with all the wonderful choices. As for my reflections, I am sure that there are many different perspectives from visiting ISTE members, but I decided to create a list of the top ten reasons that NECC was beneficial for me. There is no particular order.

  • The bag of goodies from the exhibit hall provided some motivational content for my students, the classroom bulletin board, and possible lessons for one of our history teachers back at home.
  • A recurring theme of how we use technology and not what technology we use was evident and a positive reminder for all educators.
  • This is a great place to get 2GB USB drives for free. If you did not get more than four, you really were not trying.
  • Alice is a very cool computer programming environment, and the teachers who presented it were very well prepared.
  • It was very appropriate to bring your own laptop this time. I found in the past there was not enough to do, but this time seemed highly accessible and relevant at least for me.
  • Toshiba and Acer laptops are worth everyone’s time. Even MAC user would like them.
  • If you have not heard how to use Google’s Sketchpad then you need to see the presentation notes from the BYOL session. This guy really knows how to teach.
  • You might run into Bernie Dodge who taught you a lot of really important teaching methods and strategies that make your life easier around technology.
  • Learning from what everyone else is doing really helps you with that next great task and challenge back at home. The colleagues and friends made by going to various sessions is priceless.

Well, I really am just reflecting upon a great three days in D.C.. The conference was great; there are some great books that I am ordering from ISTE’s books store; brick and mortar classrooms with blended technologies still rule; and I almost got a picture with the President of the United States. Oh yeah, I do have a picture of Sen. Joe Leiberman which was taken a week later when I went back to D.C. to see the Capitol Building.