On Social Media Education

Today, we will cover Twitter techniques of the 21st century Europe
Today, we will cover Twitter techniques of the 21st century Europe

One of the most interesting threads of 2009 sort of blew up this past week over at Marc Davison’s place when he posted a heartfelt mea culpa about his past cynicism about social media.  Various heavy-hitter commenters came by and a full blown debate erupted.  Oh, it’s good stuff!

But there was one topic within those dozens of comments that I think deserves a bit more examination, and as I don’t want to hijack Marc’s thread, I thought I’d talk about it here on Notorious.

I’ll admit to starting it, since I asked in the comments:

I’m extremely torn on this “reason to provide courses and education” on Social Media… since the core essence of social media is to be yourself. You need lessons for that?

And Bill Lublin of SMMI (who incidentally personifies the word mensch) responded:

@Rob: People can always benefit from training that teaches them how to more clearly communicate – too many messages don’t have the intended impact or result – and that’s part of what our training does. We spend a really long time on some theory because we believe that while McLuhan was right about the medium being the message, the medium is not the purpose – the message is, and working on how to deliver the message better is important. You’re an amazingly articulate man, and perhaps from that perspective its hard to realize how much goes unsaid, or is misspoken by well intentioned people. Because of the differences in the “psychological bandwidth” of the various SM tools, it gets even a little more complicated and frankly there are a huge number of people that create unintended consequences. I agree with you that a lot of SM information is not applicable to every situation but that doesn’t dismiss the need for people to reach a level of ‘conscious competency’ in their SM interactions so that the response they actually engender is the response they intended. But so far, our students have responded really well to the course material and presentation – and as I said earlier in this too lengthy response, I think it makes them better at communicating outside SM as well. [Emphasis mine]

Bill always makes me think, which may be a dangerous thing actually…, but it’s a good thing. And here’s where my thinking leads me.

Social Media: USENET or Media?

I have written in the past about social media, and my personal beliefs about what it is, and that thinking has evolved over time as well without changing any of the original beliefs.  As I see it, social media is merely the latest iteration of “networked communications” that Cluetrain Manifesto first talked about.  Here is Cluetrain on the origin of the Web itself:

Well, OK, a few things did happen in between. One of those things was that the Internet attracted millions. Many millions. The interesting question to ask is why. In the early 1990s, there was nothing like the Internet we take for granted today. Back then, the Net was primitive, daunting, uninviting. So what did we come for? And the answer is: each other.

The Internet became a place where people could talk to other people without constraint. Without filters or censorship or official sanction — and perhaps most significantly, without advertising. Another, noncommercial culture began forming across this out-of-the-way collection of computer networks. Long before graphical user interfaces made the scene, the scene was populated by plain old boring ASCII: green phosphor text scrolling up screens at the glacial pace afforded by early modems. So where was the attraction in that?

The attraction was in speech, however mediated. In people talking, however slowly. And mostly, the attraction lay in the kinds of things they were saying. Never in history had so many had the chance to know what so many others were thinking on such a wide range of subjects. Slowly at first, a new kind of conversation was beginning to emerge, but it would achieve global reach with astonishing speed.

The quiet revolution that was not televised when the Internet took hold was a fundamental shift in distribution of knowledge and information from one-to-many to a many-to-many model.  Veterans of the Web saw this back in the green phosphor days on Usenet newsgroups, on IRC, on BBS’s.  Facebook and Twitter haven’t changed that.  Slick iPhone apps haven’t changed the essence of networked communications.

Hey, Im social too!
Hey, I'm social too!

There is, however, an alternate vision of social media — one that focuses on the second word in that name: media.  This vision does not trace social media to the days of Usenet and bulletin boards, but to previous technological advances in media.  What predates Facebook is Television, and what predates Television is Radio, and the printing press before that, all the way back to smoke signals I suppose.  The idea then, is that new technology requires new talents and skills.  What worked on radio does not work on television: the Nixon-Kennedy debates proved that decisively.  The skills of the newspaperman does not translate to radio disc jockey.  And the marketing skills of the pre-Internet days are not adequate to social media.

One has to make a choice here.  Either one believes that social media is the latest iteration of networked conversation a la Cluetrain, or one believes that social media is the latest marketing channel like television before it, radio before that, and newspapers before that.  You cannot have it both ways.

On Training and Education

My question about needing lessons on social media comes from the background of believing that social media is Usenet in a different form.  Because every semi-adult human being converses all the time with other human beings.  Watching my four year old constantly ask me questions, or constantly pipe in to talk about how cool is Spiderman shoes are, even when his mom and I are trying to have a conversation, I am really struck by how fundamental this need to talk to other people is.

In my worldview on social media, a social media training session would last a maximum of five seconds: “Just be yourself.”  The rest of it is learning the tools — the technical details of WordPress, of Facebook, of Twitter.  In this worldview, if the social media stuff that you’re doing is making you look bad… then the problem isn’t with your messaging — it’s with you.  I’ve become rather fond of saying “social media isn’t what you do, but what’s done to you” because more and more, I believe that the truth of a product, of a service, of a person shines through in the end.

This here is the messaging calibrator valve...
This here is the messaging calibrator valve...

In the mediacentric worldview, however, extensive training and education — coupled to natural talent — are necessary.  Nowhere is this more evident than in our dying journalism industry as reporters and editors struggle to adapt to a medium that doesn’t obey the rules they learned and grew up with.  In that worldview, one might have to go to school for years to learn how to do social media properly.  Messages have to be tailored to Twitter; a refined voice has to be found for blogs; just the right note of seeming personal without actually being yourself has to be struck.

Bill appears to embrace this latter worldview, because his focus (and the focus of SMMI) is on the message.  He speaks of desired impact or result, and working on how to deliver the message.  It makes sense since SMMI is the Social Media Marketing Institute, and marketing is essentially concerned with shaping an image, shaping a brand, shaping a message, to drive sales and revenues.  Another way to look at it, I suppose, is to call SMMI the Social Media Marketing Institute.

Note that I am not knocking marketing — hell, I make my living doing marketing and advising other folks on how to do marketing.  I <3 marketing. 🙂  But the different worldviews result in vastly different focus.  To use the 4-P’s of marketing, I believe that social media (as a new USENET) emphasizes Product; Bill and SMMI emphasizes, I think, Promotion.  Both, of course, as marketing, are subject to evaluation, to demands of showing ROI.

The Challenge of Metrics

The proof will always be in the results.  So let us take for granted that social media education and training is extremely valuable and useful, that it helps people who don’t understand the particulars of the medium to adapt their messaging to it.

There should, then, be a measurable difference between the Before and After.

Social media training, according to Bill, should lead to ‘conscious competency’.  Okay, how shall we measure the result and impact?

Say I’m a newbie, and my messaging sucks ass; I’m throwing up blogposts and tweets left and right that are doing me real harm.  How should we measure such harm?  I now go take the SMMI course (or some other social media training course).  How is the improvement, the conscious competency, to be measured?  Is it in “engagement” metrics of Facebook friends, followers on Twitter, or readers of the blog?

In other words, what is the difference between someone who has gone through social media training and someone who has not? Is that difference meaningful in a business sense (higher revenues or lower costs)?  How will we know?

In my worldview, being yourself in a networked environment, putting yourself (or your product/service) out there warts and all, and engaging in meaningful conversation should lead to an improvement in the Product.  There is no attempt to massage the message, no attempt to shape opinion — more of a Show and Tell, followed by Listen and Fix.  That’s what I would measure: Is the product superior today compared to yesterday because of social media?  Can we support that improvement via sales or cost efficiency?  I say yes to both.

For the mediacentric worldview, I’d like to know how we might evaluate the effectiveness of the message formation, messaging techniques, and the like.  That would tell us how to evaluate the effectiveness of social media training and education.

-rsh

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20 Comments

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  1. Social media is more than a channel as I originally thought back in 2004. It is a culture all of its own. We in marketing / PR are all trying to identify quantifiable metrics that make sense to measure its “real” value for business. I came across this http://bit.ly/8pkwbM on MediaPost which identifies 100 ways to measure social media. Bill Lublin is a mench and an outstanding C21 professional, I agree with much of what was said in this post; however, if you are not a talented writer to begin with and don't have the writing / marketing / communication training to go with the social media training, it is like putting a champion go cart racer in a formula one race. Learning how to write is an essential to being an effective communicator in any channel. Customizing your message for the infinite number of Web 2.0 channels is a skill set that comes with time, but only after you learn how to write effectively.

  2. Thanks Matt 🙂 Bill is indeed a mensch, and you guys at C21 should highlight the dude more. Actually, have Bill and me at your annual conference debating this topic — it'll be fun for all. 🙂

    In any case, the only place where I differ with you is this: “social media is a culture all of its own”. My point is that the INTERNET is a culture all of its own; the ability for many-to-many conversation is enormously transformative, and created the culture of the Web. Trouble is, that culture at its very heart is uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Any attempts to do so ends up sounding fake and hollow.

    So yeah, good writing skills are useful on the Web. They're also useful everywhere else, and was useful back when Homer was writing on papyrii with octopus ink. And with the many-to-many environment of the Web, I think anything other than being yourself will get sniffed out and in a hurry: far too many critics. 🙂

    Which leads to… value of social media training. I can see it being useful as a way of deprogramming realtors who have been brainwashed into being realtors 24×7 — I wonder if single realtors go on dates and try to get listings. But apart from the decrypting, what is the value of such training? How will anyone measure the value?

    If I go and pay $250 to be trained on how to do REO's and short sales, at the end of that session, I should know how to do a REO transaction. What should I know how to do after a SM training session, that I didn't know how to do before it?

    -rsh

  3. Rob,

    A couple of points:

    1) You said: “.. realtors who have been brainwashed into being realtors 24×7 — I wonder if single realtors go on dates and try to get listings.”

    Being a 24/7 pracititioner is about my clients calling me or emailing me or texting me most anytime with real estate related questions. The reason agents have been primarily 24/7 is because we are prone to be busiest when people are using their free time. Many of my clients email me between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.,after the get home from work, have dinner, put the kids to bed and before they themselves go to bed. Your statement that I quoted leads me to believe you think “being a realtor” is boiled down to working at getting more business. That is not the case with the 24/7 label. 24/7 is when my client calls me from Lowes asking which washer and dryer, which refrigerator. 24/7 is when my client gets an alarming thought the day before closing at 10 p.m., and texts me in a panic with a question they need answered, or they won't be getting any sleep that night.

    2) Effectiveness of Social Media education

    You cannot measure the effectiveness of social media or education on social media if you don't understand who is to benefit from social media. A person who is thinking about buying a house who is able to google questions at 2.a.m. in their jammies,is the person who benefits from social media. When the consumer can access real info and discussions on how to approach buying a house or what actually happens during escrow, then social media will have “succeeded”. At its best, social media has a blog post outlining the topic, and many comments from people buying homes who are talking about that experience in the comments, with the post author addressing the questions of many home buyers REAL questions in the comments.

    Until agents understand that the net result of “good” social media is not about them at all, the discussion is tilted in the wrong direction.

  4. @Matt Thanks for the kind words, but with all due respect, you aren't acknowledging the difference between social media for PR/Marketing professionals and large corporations and social media for the small business or professional.

    Large companies have different needs. Marketing/PR professionals working for those companies are held accountable for corporate goals and have to fit their activities and the application of social media into the larger corporate goals and objectives. Because of the need for the corporation to justify the expense of the staff required to participate in those fields, there is a demand for measurement though the metrics have not yet been fully developed. As a result, the debate on corporate ROI rages on with little or no clarity yet. For the broker or agent, the investment is usually simply time – time which they are already spending in other activities, some of which are not providing them a good return. And frankly, most real estate professionals have no real measurement of ROI or all of them would spend all of their time working on FSBO's and expireds where the absolute highest ROI in our industry has always been.

    Further, though there is some similarity in the tool sets, the application of those tools is vastly different for the corporation and the individual, as are their goals. A franchise corporation's social media program furthers the perceived social media strategy of a company that sells franchises and wants to direct consumers to their web site. The real estate broker or agent who wants to utilize social media has an entirely different set of goals and abilities to bring to the application of social media. Their goal is to become a trusted influence or adviser to the community of consumers they wish to serve. They want to be the first choice when those people think about hiring a real estate professional. And that goal is readily attainable using social media.

    Our course is designed to allow brokers and agents to utilize their long term life skills in the social media arena. The course was designed by people who are active in the social media space and understand it from the perspectives of the small business owner and professional. Its not just theory, its what we know works because we've done it. We designed the course recognizing that everyone is not a writer, let alone a good writer, and that people won;t do what they don;t like. Our course addresses that by showing our students ways they can participate in the space in a meaningful and sustainable manner, connecting with their desired community. The course provides substantial marketing and communication training along with training on reputation management monitoring and measurement. We also discuss copyright issues, fair use, the impact of the Code of Ethics on their actions and how to find the time to utilize these tools without loss to their other business efforts (among other things).

    Anyone taking our course will find that they understand the concepts that form the basis of successful engagement in the social media space and are well prepared to participate in social media in an effective, ethical, responsible and sustainable manner. And they are clear that their completion of the course is the start of their journey, which their membership in SMMI should assist them with through their participation in a community of people who are prepared to support each other through peer to peer suggestions and interaction with our advisory board.

    I may be immodest to say it, but there is no other course as comprehensive and thorough as the one we developed offered anywhere (not too mention its very inexpensive in comparison to any other alternative) 😉

  5. Ardell,

    “Until agents understand that the net result of good social media is not about them at all, the discussion is titled in the wrong direction”.

    I could not agree more – thanks for cutting to the chase!

  6. I am so looking forward to seeing you in NYC with @100wattmarc (what a good human being he is!) and the amazing @JoelBurslem – I value every conversation we have, both on and offline (and I am still upset I missed you in AC last week)

    As always, you are articulate and thorough in your writing – but I don't know that I agree with your bifurcation of social media , or perhaps I just don't think that one concept precludes the other.

    The Cluetrain Manifesto talks about the development of the many to many communication channels on the web, and our desire as individuals to communicate through any means necessary. In our course we discuss how technology isolated people and how people (clever little monkeys that we are) found ways to utilize that same isolating technology to interact because of our innate desire to be “social”.

    Unlike McLuhan I don't think that the medium is the message – though I do believe that it moderates the message – each form of communication has a different bandwidth and impact and that therefore needs to be considered when using each tool. I also use the Kennedy-Nixon debates as an example of the media overwhelming the message because of a lack of appreciation for the demands of the medium and the impact – as a result Nixon, the very smart incumbent – lost heavily to the newcomer who was fresh and inspiring instead of sweaty and sneaky looking – the message was completely lost. So we agree that each medium needs attention to the “delivery system”. In that case, and in the case of Obama's use of social media , the distribution system allowed for a new method of delivering messages that was utilized by one side to the detriment of the other. But in both cases, the messages had to be clear and compelling as well.

    I would suggest however that these two approaches are complementary not exclusionary- Why can't the need for communication need some thought about the medium? – The desire is not moderated, but the effect of the conversation is more important than the Cluetrain segment you quote would indicate. That section really talks about the need we have to communicate, and how we will do so by “whatever means necessary” (ht Malcolm X) – however as we satisfy that need why shouldn't we pay attention to the manner in which we respond?

    I recognize your social media training session “just be yourself” is a wonderful idea – Just as the advice “Be Here Now” is an easy course on living life to its fullest – but both are easier said than done – And if someone is not a smart, well educated, articulate individual like the Notorious ROB, then saying may be easier than doing it – and that's where the training comes in- we try to help people adjust for the bandwidth, make allowances for the media, and work on assuring that the image they paint of themselves, the reputation they create, and the messages they send are the ones they intended to send.

    Remember that every communication between individuals is comprised of three things
    1. What the sender wanted to communicate
    2. The message they sent
    3. The perception of the communication by the recipient.
    There is always some variance between the three – the trick is to minimize that variance so you get what you were trying to send – and that's where the training comes in.

    Anyway – great post and as always, great interacting with you! BTW though I appreciate your suggestion to Matt, Century 21 won't be asking us to come down to discuss it at the Convention next year – they're going for regional events – so maybe they'll ask us to do a road show (I like the idea of that – we can bill it as The Notorious R.O.B. & B-Lub Hip Hop Extravaganza) or maybe we can have the conversation at ReTechSouth – or at that Korean BBQ with Marc & Joel – no matter where it will be fun and interesting!

  7. I think the little Korean BBQ jaunt is going to turn into something more akin to the Symposium 🙂 You, Joel, Marc, and dozens of others I can think of all drinking and eating and talking this stuff? 😀

    Let's set the groundwork for some of the discussion we may be having there.

    1. I think it's a grave error on the part of so many social media partisans to look at the Obama campaign as a success story for social media. If anything, I regard Obama campaign as the crowning testimonial to the power of mainstream media who did everything possible to suppress all of the news, info, and revelations coming out of social media. I wonder if the 2012 elections will be different; if it is, then we'll know that social media has truly arrived.

    2. At the heart of our disagreement is this:

    Remember that every communication between individuals is comprised of three things
    1. What the sender wanted to communicate
    2. The message they sent
    3. The perception of the communication by the recipient.
    There is always some variance between the three – the trick is to minimize that variance so you get what you were trying to send – and that's where the training comes in.

    To me, Bill, this is public relations 101. And it goes counter to the grain of Cluetrain and the culture of the Web, which calls for the natural human voice, as it actually sounds when people are un-self-consciously chatting. I fear that this sort of conscious, intentional focus on “what you want to communicate, perception thereof, etc.” is taking a few steps down the path of the corporate voice, the sales pitch, the ad jingle. And quite frankly, that's how so many realtor social media efforts sound — quite like a sales jingle and quite unlike a normal person talking.

    If the purpose of social media education is to train individuals how to be “more professional” in the chaos that is the Web… okay, I can see the value in that… but I also can't see it being all that successful in the end because the resulting work product will be closer to what Publicis puts out than what a free individual puts out, and people will feel it instinctively.

    Furthermore, if the focus of social media is on the message and the crafting of the message and the perception of the message, then I think it will end up ultimately doing more harm than good because it necessarily detracts from the much harder and much more valuable work of creating the better product. Would it not ultimately be more effective for a realtor to spend the limited time she has on becoming the best damn agent she could be, and being herself free of worry about what message she is sending out? I argue that it is, and your take on social media training, I'm afraid, takes the focus away from actually BEING the best to messaging to SEEM like the best.

    -rsh

  8. So Ardell,

    “2) Effectiveness of Social Media education

    You cannot measure the effectiveness of social media or education on social media if you don't understand who is to benefit from social media. A person who is thinking about buying a house who is able to google questions at 2.a.m. in their jammies,is the person who benefits from social media. When the consumer can access real info and discussions on how to approach buying a house or what actually happens during escrow, then social media will have “succeeded”. At its best, social media has a blog post outlining the topic, and many comments from people buying homes who are talking about that experience in the comments, with the post author addressing the questions of many home buyers REAL questions in the comments.

    Until agents understand that the net result of “good” social media is not about them at all, the discussion is tilted in the wrong direction.”

    Would you then say that an agent who spends 4 hours a day blogging and doing “social media”, thereby benefiting numerous consumers, but generates exactly ZERO inquiries or leads or transactions from all of that effort is engaging in a successful social media practice?

    And that is what you would advocate in your training sessions?

    -rsh

  9. Rob:
    Generating leads is not necessarily the purpose of social media engagement for the professional or small business owner (though it may be a by-product of their actions) – its engaging people in a genuine manner so when they are ready to use your services or product they choose to contact you. Its more about making connections with your desired community than it is to sell to them.

    In the real estate business, we always taught that new agents had a greater challenge because they didn't have a sphere of influence to help them in their business through word of mouth recommendations and referrals – social media allows agents to build these relationships on a grander scale than we were previously able to – and those relationships were never about people being leads – but they always resulted in more business – perhaps through a member of the community who recommended you to their cousin or friend (who was not part of your community) –

  10. Rob,

    In many ways Social Media has become the new Open House as to being an effective tool with multiple purpose.

    1) Open Houses

    a) Held primarily for the seller's benefit to provide more exposure for their home (pretend it's 15 years ago for this one) and possibly sell that home to someone who comes to the Open House.

    b) A secondary consequence is that the agent may interact with a home buyer who doesn't want that house…but does want that agent to assist them in buying a different house because they were impressed with his knowledge and skill level.

    On Any Given Sunday, some agents will repeatedly and consistently return after 3 hours work with either having sold the Open House to one of the visitors OR acquire a new buyer client. I was one of those agents. 2/3rds of my business came from Open Houses back in the 90s. Yet you will hear over and over again sad tales from agents who never, ever acquired clients via “sitting” Open Houses. The difference is the agent in the room and what they do in that room for 3 hours…not the tool itself.

    Still…I would say education regarding how to do Open Houses, and how to do them more effectively, is a warranted activity for any Brokerage Office when training agents. Part of that training is how to be the agent who does get chosen, vs. the ones who do not. Clearly the agent watching the football game for 3 hours during the Open House, may go home with his Sunday paper having been read, and not much else to show for his 3 hours of time.

    c) A smaller % of the time a neighbor comes to the Open House and is so impressed with how the agent is representing the seller at that Open House, and the agent's knowledge in answering questions, that the neighbor hires that agent to sell their house.

    2) Social Media

    For any agent who would have been chosen by people at an Open House, Social Media will produce the same result. For any agent who is never chosen by anyone at an Open House, Social Media will likewise produce the same result.

    Agents who “hard sell” at Open Houses rarely return with any clients who actually end up buying a home with that agent. Same will happen with agents who “hard sell” using Social Media.

    Interacting with people, and how to do that effectively, is NOT a new concept in real estate. We are simply moving the Open House (often sans house) to the web where people can come at their convenience vs. 1 – 4 on Sunday. The agent can write posts every Sunday from 1 to 4 as their total weekly effort to social media, vs sitting in an Open House or even while AT a quiet Open House.

    Some agents learned after doing many Open Houses how to conduct themselves more like the agents who did a mega business from Open Houses…others simply said “Open Houses don't work”. Social Media will be the same.

    Social media is not different, except that your 3 hours of writing blog posts (vs. sitting in an Open House) will likely produce many more clients than 3 hours at an Open House ever could (though 3 times ZERO is still ZERO). Your work product from the 3 hours spent will live on the web for years to come, and possibly bring you clients over and over again, and years later.

    Social Media training is clearly MUCH better time spent by both the trainer and the trainee than Open House training. The net result will be the same. If the agent does not convey at that Open House that they are knowledgeable, and have something to offer, and only say “I can help you buy ANY house!” they will not do as well as an agent who has something to offer. Agents who write blog posts saying BUY THIS! BUY NOW! YOU MUST USE A REALTOR! will have the same result as having said that in an Open House.

    Back to the Sunday football game. Agent is in Open House watching the football game until he sees a car pull up. He shuts the TV off. Couple comes in. wife is all over the agent and the house, and the husband is looking pretty darned grumpy. Agent says to the husband “the Hawks are up by 7”. Husband perks up. Agent says, would you like to watch the game while your wife and I go through the house? Husband LOVES that agent 🙂 That's the “social” part of Social Media. It's OK to tweet that the Hawks are up by 7 🙂 ONLY being social is just as bad as NEVER being social, be it at an Open House or on Social Media.

    No result at all, ZERO result, is never about the tool used, Rob. It's about the agent “in the room”. The “of value” is NOT that he IS simply AN agent. The “of value” to the consumer is the “take-away”. The agent's ability to GIVE something…and by doing so convey their knowledge and skill level, is the same art of communication whether it is via Social Media or an Open House.

  11. Bill,

    I beg to differ with you on this one. The #1 activity a broker has given new agents, repeatedly and consistently, is to write down the names and addresses of 100 people they know. The ONLY thing a new agent DOES have is “a sphere of influence to help them in their business…” What they don't have is the experience and skill level to walk the walk. Brokers know that likely the ONLY people who will hire them with no experience is someone on that list of 100 people who do it FOR the agent, vs choosing the best agent to assist them in the real estate transaction.

    Those agents that acquire skill and knowledge while helping their friends and relatives in the first year, go on to be good agents. Those who simply run out of favors and make no effort to learn anything during and in between those personal sphere transactions…quit the business.

    This is HUGELY important to new agents and social media. Those that use the word “ROOKIE” in the blog title (not post title but the actual name of the blog that lives on for years and years) OMG! Please train them NOT to DO that. New agents who blog about the disasters that occur in their 1st and 2nd and 3rd transactions…OMG! Train them NOT to do that.

    Tweet: I felt badly to tell my clients today that the one house of the 5 we saw that they liked, was overpriced by $100,000 🙁

    Tweet: YAY! Writing an offer from 5 houses I showed today! I think it's WAY over-priced, but I didn't tell them because they liked it so much.

    Which agent would you hire? Social Media training may not be the silver bullet to the agent who always tweets in the latter sentiment and format. They need to learn that, and someone needs to teach them that. I think that someone is you.

  12. I was one of those early BBS users and as far back as in 1993 (when I was majoring in English) realized that education should teach electronic communications. I still advocate people understanding electronic communications, including social media. The giant mistake that is commonly made is that the common author is not addressing their communications (posts, emails, etc) to a person in front of them; they are writing as themsleves, to themselves. As much as you can be yourself, you must have your imaginary recipient in your mind. Consequences of these self-conversations can be comical or severe. An associate's casual, flirty comments with a co-worker across the state led to a scary stalking incident which he precipitated by not thinking of the person on the other end of the communication in a business format; he composed to himself. Real Estate agents using social media, as well as all of us, can benefit by keeping that mental audience in front of us when composing. My general advise is if you use a social media channel as part of your business, make every post a professional, personal communication with your clients and colleagues. That is the social aspect that I think everyone should be aware of.
    The media aspect is exciting and young. The inclusion of true media in the online conversation opens potential which is just being explored. I believe true innovation of these capabilities is just around the corner and will require the Real Estate Community to shift perception, stop thinking about websites and listings from the historic online model. Just my two bits.

  13. Rob: Sorry that the press of business and an upcoming trip for the holidays prevented my responding to your comment earlier, but it is, in fact, exactly the problem I was talking about – that the process of accurate communication between individuals is not necessarily intuitive for all people – even articulate well educated smart folks like yourself –
    In your response you say:

    To me, Bill, this is public relations 101. And it goes counter to the grain of Cluetrain and the culture of the Web, which calls for the natural human voice, as it actually sounds when people are un-self-consciously chatting. I fear that this sort of conscious, intentional focus on “what you want to communicate, perception thereof, etc.” is taking a few steps down the path of the corporate voice, the sales pitch, the ad jingle. And quite frankly, that's how so many realtor social media efforts sound — quite like a sales jingle and quite unlike a normal person talking.

    I completely disagree with you – its not at all about “sales jingles” – it is about the problems we all face when we are normal people talking. If that were not a problem, no relationship would ever suffer from mis-communication, and we all know that's just not the case. What you call natural I would call being genuine – in other words, a message without artifice expressing your true feelings, emotions or position. But that doesn't mean that intending to send a natural message without proper thought or training will result in sending the message you intended to. People in general have difficulty communicating because of the three things I mentioned in the earlier comment – What they mean to say – What words they use to try to say it clearly, and the interpretation of those words by the recipient of the message. It isn't counter to Cluetrain's “natural message” to choose your words to accurately convey the message you intend to convey – for example, a Mom who tells a child that they are bad may not have intended to tell the child that they were bad, but they have done something bad. Their choice of words may result in the child getting the wrong message (wrong because it was unintended) So yes, I believe that we can train someone to communicate more accurately with their intended audience without becoming a 'spin doctor.

    You go a little further in your statement

    If the purpose of social media education is to train individuals how to be “more professional” in the chaos that is the Web… okay, I can see the value in that… but I also can't see it being all that successful in the end because the resulting work product will be closer to what Publicist puts out than what a free individual puts out, and people will feel it instinctively

    Our course is designed to assist people in becoming valued members of the communities they desire to interact with – and to become such they must be true to themselves and to the community or it won't work. Not only will the members of any community quickly identify people who seek to prey upon them for commercial purposes, but the individual who tries to sustain a false position will eventually tire of taking a position which they cannot support from their very core. You and I agree that people want to interact with people in a very genuine manner – but I also believe that combining that with some understanding of how social interaction works and what effect different venues might have upon your communication will increase the effectiveness of your efforts. Not everyone is a natural networker, or a great writer, or compelling speaker, but everyone can learn how to share their skills and talents with their community – and everyone can learn how to be better at anything they do – even you and me 😉

  14. If you were here I would hug you right now – But I'll have to owe you one 😉

  15. I'm a Social Media Maven, Bill…I can feel virtual hugs…no raincheck needed. (((HUG)))

  16. Thanks Bill – I'm already looking forward to the F2F on this one.

    So bottomline, boiled down to the essentials, what you and SMMI are teaching is simply “Communications 101”. Together with some technical review of the various tools. I can see that being valuable to a lot of folks.

    Is that, in fact, what we are talking about?

    -rsh

  17. Sorry Rob, that is not what we are talking about. The course is way more complex than “Communications 101” but that is one part of the course – When you try to define our course through one response or a potion of the response I feel like I'm in the fable about the 5 blind men who touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one touches a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk and when they describe what they felt, they learn that each of them perceives a different animal (none of which are the real nature of the animal since the information is incomplete)

    Our course spends two days taking people through a thorough learning process which discusses a lot of different topics (including communication skills) all aimed at enabling the student to engage in social media in an ethical, responsible, effective and sustainable manner. We worked for months to develop content that would be transportable from social media tool to social media tool, while enabling the student to have a firm foundation on skills that would serve them in good stead as the social media landscape evolves and changes. If it could be taught in less than 2 days, we would have designed a shorter course. If it was so simple as to be unneeded, we would not have designed a course at all – and we are not focused on just teaching tools – for a variety of reason, not the least of which is that the tools have been and will continue to evolve on a regular basis. However at the end of the course the student is familiar with the tools of social media, and has developed a basis for determining how they will use them to engage the community they wish to participate in. We cover a lot of ground from marketing theory to copyright law to social capital, contracts, objects, and proof, the Realtor Code of Ethics, reputation management, monitoring, and measurement, as well as a variety of other topics.

    So I don't know that you can boil the course down a one line essential except to say that we have developed content to enable students to create a strategy for their business that enables them to engage in social media in an ethical, responsible, effective and sustainable manner.

    Look forward to seeing you in a few weeks – Hope we have a chance to continue talking over the holidays (but only when you have spare time) 😉

  18. Thanks Bill – I'm already looking forward to the F2F on this one.

    So bottomline, boiled down to the essentials, what you and SMMI are teaching is simply “Communications 101”. Together with some technical review of the various tools. I can see that being valuable to a lot of folks.

    Is that, in fact, what we are talking about?

    -rsh

  19. Sorry Rob, that is not what we are talking about. The course is way more complex than “Communications 101” but that is one part of the course – When you try to define our course through one response or a potion of the response I feel like I'm in the fable about the 5 blind men who touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one touches a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk and when they describe what they felt, they learn that each of them perceives a different animal (none of which are the real nature of the animal since the information is incomplete)

    Our course spends two days taking people through a thorough learning process which discusses a lot of different topics (including communication skills) all aimed at enabling the student to engage in social media in an ethical, responsible, effective and sustainable manner. We worked for months to develop content that would be transportable from social media tool to social media tool, while enabling the student to have a firm foundation on skills that would serve them in good stead as the social media landscape evolves and changes. If it could be taught in less than 2 days, we would have designed a shorter course. If it was so simple as to be unneeded, we would not have designed a course at all – and we are not focused on just teaching tools – for a variety of reason, not the least of which is that the tools have been and will continue to evolve on a regular basis. However at the end of the course the student is familiar with the tools of social media, and has developed a basis for determining how they will use them to engage the community they wish to participate in. We cover a lot of ground from marketing theory to copyright law to social capital, contracts, objects, and proof, the Realtor Code of Ethics, reputation management, monitoring, and measurement, as well as a variety of other topics.

    So I don't know that you can boil the course down a one line essential except to say that we have developed content to enable students to create a strategy for their business that enables them to engage in social media in an ethical, responsible, effective and sustainable manner.

    Look forward to seeing you in a few weeks – Hope we have a chance to continue talking over the holidays (but only when you have spare time) 😉

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