Category Archives: Resources

Social Media Resources for Educators

There are many ways that social media can be used in education, and I’ve found myself fielding more and more questions about this particular space. As a result, I decided to write this post assembling some of the best resources for learning more (and participating!) in social media for academia:

Education Blogs

Henry Jenkins is one of the leading thinkers on digital education, and his vast network provides a constant stream of interesting insights, new discoveries and thoughtful commentary on the many ways social media is changing education and learning.

Howard Rheingold is an educator who claims credit for coining the phrase “virtual community.” He not only updates his content frequently, but will show you all of the different ways you can use a blog to communicate with your community effectively using video, audio, images and text.

Ethan Zuckerman is associated with the Berkman Center at Harvard, but it’s worth reading his blog to get a more global perspective on a wide range of topics, including digital natives and empowering people from around the world to connect using social media. He is the founder of Global Voices and one of the most engaging speakers I have ever heard.

Finally, I recommend reading the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Learning blog for news and updates on the impact of digital media on learning.*

Social Networks for Educators

This social networks in education wiki has an exhaustive list of resources around education and social media. This wiki offers a great overview as well as some explanations of the different ways social networks are used.

You can also start with the social media in I recommend PBS Teachers Connect as a good place to start. It breaks down conversations between teachers working with children at different age levels. TeachAde is another social network geared towards teachers that is sponsored by the NEA.

If you decide to build your own social network for educations, this Ning group is a great place to start. Ning is a social networking platform that allows you to build your own social network from the ground up using their tools and platform. As you can see, there are already a large number of Ning social networks around education in which you might be interested.

Technology Teacher has a great post listing ways that educators can use Twitter in the classroom. Here’s a post with 100 Twitter tools for teachers.

SlideShare Presentations on Social Media and Education

Here’s a great overview of social media in education from Paul Ayres in the UK. Paul provides an overview of some of the most common social media tools and couches them in terms of education. He explores blogs, social bookmarking sites, podcasts, YouTube and more:

And here’s one from Dean Groom who works at Macquarie University in Australia. Dean gives a fantastic overview of Web 2.0 as it relates to education and discusses how educators can build a strategy around social media :

Finally, I really like this one from Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins that she presented at Educause08. The slides have enough text to narrate you through, but Sarah is a pioneer is the use of virtual worlds and other new media platforms. In this deck, she discusses how higher education is changing and some of the tools available to help navigate that change:

Conclusion

Remember that the appropriate type of engagement depends upon a number of factors:

What is your objective? Consider WHY you want to use social media. If your answer is because “everyone else is telling me to,” then perhaps it doesn’t make much sense yet. Spend some time reviewing the above articles and resources and make sure that your engagement platform is best suited for your objective.

Who is your audience? Depending on whether you are trying to facilitate communications between your students or to connect with other educators in your space, you will find different social networks already exist for these communities. It makes sense to conduct some research into how these audiences are already communicating before you embark upon setting up your own project.


*Disclosure: MacArthur Foundation is a former client | Photo credit: NMC SecondLife

The Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Communicators

ultimateguide.jpg Today I’m leading a webinar for the IABC on Twitter for Business . As part of that process, I created a handout for participants with some of the most useful Twitter resources I’ve discovered in the last few months.

I’m going to share an expanded version with you. I’ve included a some great introductory videos, my favorite applications for brand mention monitoring, participating and graphing data. There are also links to some blog posts and mainstream articles discussing corporate adoptions of Twitter.

Here’s a list of the categories:

  • Videos
  • Getting Started
  • Desktop Tools for Updating Twitter
  • Create Your Own Twitter Background
  • Applications
  • 90+ URL Shortening Services (via Mashable)
  • Listening/Finding Conversations
  • Twitter Directories
  • Tutorials
  • Twitter on other social networking sites
  • Other Microblogging Platforms
  • Case Studies
  • Journalists on Twitter
  • Following Conversation Threads
  • Statistics
  • Recent Articles/Posts Worth Reading

Ultimate guide to Twitter for Communicators

If you have any feedback on these links, please share them in the comments. And any links to examples of companies using micro-blogging in an innovative way are certainly encouraged.

An Introduction to Search Engine Optimization for Corporate Blogs

Photo credit: elblogdeffuentes

Photo credit: elblogdeffuentes on Flickr

If you’re not yet thinking about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when you’re writing your blog posts, then you’re missing a simple way to help promote your content in search engine results.

It’s something I didn’t give a lot of thought to until recently, and I can see it makes a difference.

The use of SEO often falls to the marketing and web teams, who, among other tactics, buy Google AdWords to boost the visibility of a company’s website when users search for certain related keywords. I’m simplifying here, but stay with me.

A whole industry has developed around the use of SEO for advertising and marketing, and much of this is now employed in the blogosphere as well. Since PR wasn’t part of this process in the past, it’s not necessarily something we think about when we launch a blog, but it should be a priority.

A Few Quick Tips

If you’re going to invest the time to create great content, you should make sure people can find it as well. Blogs with dynamic content are indexed by search engine bots much more frequently than static webpages, and these bots are looking for certain clues in your posts to tell them what’s important on the page.

Here are a few quick ways to boost your blog’s page rank in search results:

  • Hyperlink to relevant text: “This post is about SEO for corporate blogs.” The way many search engines work is that as they index a blog, they give more weight to the words that are linked via hypertext. So let’s say I wanted to link the previous sentence to another popular blog about SEO, which words should I choose to hyperlink? Either “SEO” or “corporate blogs” would be good choices since that’s what this post is about, but words like “post” or “about” would not add much value. The best advice is to make sure you’re linking to the meat of the content (a blogger’s name, the title of another blog post, etc.) and not the more generic words in the sentence.
  • Link to other blogs in your industry/niche: if you want to raise your blog’s profile in your niche, then make sure that you’re linking to conversations on other blogs in your industry. Search engines look for related content, which is why it’s important that your blog posts stay on topic and focus on one subject as much as possible. If you’re talking about your weekend plans in one post, the economy in another and your company’s product in another, it will take a lot longer to build up your ranking in one area. This will also help keep your blog focused on one topic.
  • Link to more popular blogs: The more you can link to posts from blogs with more traffic than you, the more likely you are to receive traffic from that blog. Also, search engines will count this as an endoresement and boost your ranking as a result. Remember, you need to link to more popular blogs in your niche to achieve these results.
  • Make your headline count: Search engines give extra weight to the titles of each post. The logic here is that if you are emphasizing those words visually for your visitors, then those words are probably key to your site’s content, too.

Tools

I’ve found these tools useful for determining how to structure posts using SEO:

  • Google Keyword Tool: make sure to click on the “website content” button on the left side, then search your own blog or that of your competitor to get a sense of keywords based on the content of the webpage/blog. You can use this to then make sure you integrate the right words in your post to return improved results.
  • Google Insights: this is my favorite new tool because the options are just limitless. Play around and find out interesting information about your niche, including where searches for certain words originate, historical statistical data or even keywords within your own industry. Google has a useful tutorial to get you started.

SEO Blogs

The two that I’ve learned the most from are Search Engine Land and SEO Chat, the latter of which is more of an aggregator of SEO conversations where I’ve found a tremendous amount of useful information lately. In the PR/Marketing space, I recommend reading Lee Odden, who posted a bunch of SEO case studies last month.

Free SEO Webinar and Podcast

This podcast posted by Eric Schwartzman from On the Record Online features an interview with Russell Wright, where he offers some quick tips on SEO. If you have an hour, it’s worth the listen. Otherwise, you can skip to the parts that you’re most interested in via the notes Eric provides.

Finally, Nathan Gillatt points to an upcoming free webinar hosted by Visible Technologies titled, “Is Your Search Engine Reputation Helping or Hurting Your Brand? Why Online Reputation Management is Critical for Brands and Individuals.” The webinar is on September 30. I don’t know anything about the presenters, but the topic sounds like it’s on target.

If you have more questions about how to optimize your blog using any of the above SEO techniques, please include them in the comments. And if you have any other resources you’ve found useful, please share those as well!

Social Media Statistics Galore

Statistics are persuasive, which is why you’re going to need them to help persuade the holder of the purse strings to invest in a social media strategy. My Mashable post today titled “how to find statistics on social media” offers a selection of key stats and resources to round out that PowerPoint deck you’ve been waiting to present.

I’ll summarize some of them here:Social media is rapidly becoming a core channel for disseminating information. Fifty-seven percent of this group of early social media adopters reported that social media tools are becoming more valuable to their activities, while 27% reported that social media is a core element of their communications strategy.

- Society for New Communications Research, “New Media, New Influencers & Implications for Public Relations

Social media can have a dramatic impact on your brand’s reputation. “34% post opinions about products and brands on their blog and 36% think more positively about companies that have blogs.

- Universal McCann’s Social Media Research Wave 3

Just over one quarter of the Inc. 500 reported social media was very important to their business/marketing strategy in 2007. That number has increased to 44% just one year later.

- University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research

Social networking use grew 24% year over year worldwide, with notable increases in Europe and the Middle East.

- Comscore, August 12, 2008

And here are a few compelling statistics not included in the post:

image

Over one-in-five (20.9%) of reporters said they spend over an hour-a-day reading blogs. A total of nearly three in five (57.1%) reporters said they read blogsat least two to three times a week.

- Brodeur Reporters Survey, January 2008

If you have any other statistics you find useful (along with their source), please share the link in the comments section below!

Going Offline: 5 Books on Corporate Social Media

image I’m trying to take a social media vacation, and it’s not working out so well. I’ve found it much more difficult to unplug than I imagined. It’s hard to let go of something that you’re passionate about, which is why I’ve been doing a lot of reading on social media during this downtime.

My Mashable post today includes a list of books on corporate social media. It includes:

There are a lot of free ebooks and white papers out there if you don’t want to cough up the money for one of these (cough, cough CHEAP cough, cough). However, if you’re tasked with formulating a corporate social media plan or you just want to learn more about how it can impact your business, any of these are well worth the investment.

Alright, I’m going to try unplugging again and see if it sticks this time.

Stumbled Upon: Three Media Monitoring Resources

I’m a big fan of Stumble Upon as a social media tool to discover new bloggers, websites and resources to enrich my online experience.

Today I found three websites and add-ons I want to share of particular interest to communications professionals, especially the members of the account team responsible for monitoring:

- Morning Coffee: If you monitor the same websites daily, this Firefox add-on could be a valuable companion to your RSS reader. You can schedule browser tabs to open as part of a daily routine and even customize it to open different tabs each day. So if one of the websites you’re watching still doesn’t have an RSS feed (like one of mine), make sure to download this extension.

- Indekx: My company has offices all over the world, so a list of foreign media isn’t too hard to come by. But some companies don’t have that luxury. Although not comprehensive, I could see this site being useful for top-tier media snapshot while planning for major product announcements, executive briefings, media tours or RFPs. I’m sure there are better ones out there, but I didn’t stumble upon one (pun intended).

- Journalist Express: I’ve saved the best for last, I think. Designed with journalists in mind, this site lets you pick the topics you’re most interested in and receive all relevant stories from a variety of mainstream media on one customized page.

So what do you think? If you have any feedback on these tools, please leave them in the comments. Or if you disagree, share some alternative options.