Tag Archives: Social Media

Four skills every college graduate needs

I was shooting the breeze with a college professor friend of mine the other day because his son is getting married this coming June. We were musing over where the time goes and the topic turned to “kids today” as he was also trying to entice his nephew to an unpaid internship in his department. He is set to graduate after six years of pursuing a degree in journalism… no change that to communications… no, wait English.. oh, what I meant was education.

His mother — my friend’s sister — called him in a moment of panic, pleading with him to give her son an internship so he could build a reel or book of work. She does not want him sitting around the house, unemployed and unemployable for the summer and the following year. Worse, she does not want to foot the bill for grad school.

All of this led to a discussion about the core skills that every college graduate needs — regardless of the degree — but especially those with a Liberal Arts degree. They are; photography, videography, writing and social media.

The technical challenge of building web sites and containers to hold things has already been solved. Anyone can waltz into WordPress or Tumblr and set up an online presence in minutes without any coding skills whatsoever. You can set up a brand page on Facebook and Google+ without any design skills as the format is already handled. If there is anything more complicated, chances are you can buy a plugin to handle the task.

If you really wanted to branch out and customize your basic site, there are thousands of templates and skins to slap onto your site. While it may not make your site entirely unique, it comes close enough.

But what these sites need most is good content.

Photos. Videos. Blog posts. Social media engagement.

Learn these skills and you will never be unemployable.


White Room

The white room

White Room

I once saw this design makeover show on HGTV where the designer tried to get the family who was in the house to think about all design possibilities. She started out by removing all the furniture and painting everything white. The theory, as she explained it, was to start off with a blank canvass to illustrate that anything and everything was possible.

As I predicted, the family froze in the sea of possibility and lack of direction. The designer ended up guiding them into color combinations, design choices, etc., until they could see how everything was fitting together. Then, they came alive and started participating in the design of their makeover.

Very few people can see possibilities when presented with a blank canvass. Yet this is what happens time and time again with web sites and social media channels.

“You need to create content,” says the social media expert who has created the company’s new Facebook page, blog, Twitter account and Google Plus channel. “Y’know, stuff like videos and photos. Graphic content is always hot.”

And the client tenses up as if he is staring into a white room.

Unless you are prepared and skilled to provide the script, shooting and storytelling for the video or the art direction and shooting for the photos or crafting the blog article framework (or actually writing them) you may want to steer clear of advising a company to get into social media.

Simply setting up the social media channels and walking away is just painting a room white.

Five blind men, an elephant and social media

I was reading this blog post from Mitch Joel and his first paragraph reminded me of the old joke about the five blind men describing an elephant.

I think a lot of companies are so busy trying to figure out if social media is communications or customer service or advertising or –insert function here– that they do nothing and miss the opportunities social media would give them if they just DID something.

Social media is that elephant. If you feel comfortable with it being advertising, start there and do advertising. Then, when you have another blind guy in your company that claims social media is engagement, add him to your mix. Then customer service, then public relations…

Keep adding blind guys. The social media elephant is large enough to be all these things.

But don’t do nothing simply because you can’t all decide on what the elephant is. You’re always going to be somewhat blind to what social media is to the guy who is touching it most intimately.

Is social media for retail the chicken or the egg?

I was running through some stuff with a colleague on how retail is being shaped dramatically by social media. I threw out a few ways at-retail is changing on smart phones and how POP should be keeping up with the various ways people are weaving their virtual selves into their in-real-life selves.

“Isn’t this a chicken or the egg kind of thing?” he asked.

It’s actually both.

Social media is forcing retail change so fast that I think the chicken and the egg are in a photo-finish race with each other. If you are betting on one or the other, the only sure thing is you will lose. (unless you are Eggland’s Best or Tyson, of course)

Don’t worry about whether you have to develop a program first to attract followers or attract followers before developing a program.

Do them both together.

How to make yourself irrelevant in three years

In this faux case study, we’ll look at a restaurant’s adoption of social media tools like blogs, twitter, facebook, yelp and foursquare. I’m not picking on the restaurant industry but it is just the latest that will be undergoing this transformation.

By the way, we are already in Year Two.

Year One:
There are some winds of change happening in your industry, but you don’t know exactly what they are. Some of your slacker wait staff and idiot cooks in the kitchen are saying things like “I think we should be getting more involved with social media in some way” but you don’t have time for nonsense that is just a trend anyway. Yelp? What the heck is that? Sounds like the sound a chicken makes to complain about being roasted, you joke. Meanwhile, the crazy Italian-Asian fusion bistro guy down the street is twittering and blogging and doing stupid videos and the YouTube. “I don’t understand how he is still in business,” you muse to yourself. “He’s always doing goofy stuff.”

Year Two:
This is when tech blogs and some experts start hypothesizing about the use of some tech tools for your industry. You begin to see some of the industry leaders join in and experiment around with the tools with no clear direction. They are experimenting. You find yourslf saying things like, “We really need to see the ROI on that activity first” and “let’s wait and see what so and so does” when you should be saying, “where is that crazy cook who was talking about twitter the other day? Get him in here now!” A few more of your competitors jump into the fray, a few more marketing and tech people start calling you to sell you some of these services but you don’t return their phone calls. After all, you’ve got a busy restaurant to run. People eat in real life. They just chat and giggle online.

Year Three:
You open up the Wall Street Journal and they have done a special section dedicated to the restaurant industry and how some eateries are using social media to showcase their chefs, turning them into local folk heros. The crazy Italian-Asian fusion bistro guy down the street is shown smiling in a full-color, full-page story on how restaurants are using social media to connect with their customers and generating return business with almost no traditional advertising. “Twitter and Yelp,” he replies when asked about his success. Tomorrow, you read a story in the Sunday New York Times about the restaurant business and social media. Again, that crazy Italian-Asian fusion bistro guy is beaming at you. On Monday, you start looking for a web guy and a social media guru who can help you put a social media program together. You find some freelancers and they hastily set up a blog on Blogger, a twitter account under @FoodGuy665 and a Facebook fan page. They also help scan your menus and paste into your web site as PDF files.

“That was cheap,” you say. “Glad I waited until I realized how to use all this social media stuff.” And the newspapers ignored your press release about your blog and social media. The story has already been done, they have moved on. Since you are now just one of the me-too crowd, you don’t see any additional sales as a result of all your hard work. The social media marketplace has become crowded and it is harder for your voice to be heard. Besides, you were just tweeting out your hours and how busy you were.

“Social media. Big deal,” you mutter to yourself as you lock up the restaurant for the last time.

You can always buy a food truck and go on the road. That trend is just beginning. Oh, wait, didn’t that appear in the WSJ last summer?