All posts by Alison Myers

Social Learning through 70 New Coursera Courses

Coursera, a booming platform for delivering free college level courses, announced yesterday that another 17 universities around the world are joining the collaborative effort.  This move will bring an additional 70 courses to Coursera’s top notch curriculum bringing the total to 195 course offerings. The new classes largely represent the fields of music, medicine, and the humanities.

Social Learning and Coursera

I am currently a member of Professor Werbach’s Gamification class from the University of Pennsylvania, and I highly recommend taking any classes on Coursera. The social learning experience on a global level is very meaningful and the material is both thoroughly covered and thought provoking. I have connected and shared with many students on Twitter and through the course wiki. A couple of days ago I was chatting on Twitter about Gamification with a classmate in Venezuela. Learning concepts and then being able to discuss them with peers around the planet is an enriching experience that a typical college class can’t provide.

Coursera and global social learning

There are many signs around us that the world is changing now even faster than ever. Coursera is a bright light in a promising future for mankind where the only barrier to a college education is an internet connection.

List of New Courses from Coursera

In Coursera’s new curriculum there are some really cutting-edge and globally relevant new class offerings. Check out the list below and take a class. It can’t hurt. It doesn’t cost you a dime and you could meet a new friend, your next business partner, or employee.

Here is a list of the Universities joining Coursera and their course selections:

  • Berklee College of Music
    • Introduction to Guitar
    • Introduction to Improvisation
    • Introduction to Music Production
    • Songwriting
  • Brown University
    • Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets
    • Coding the Matrix: Linear Algebra through Computer Science Applications
  • Columbia University
    • Financial Engineering and Risk Management
    • Natural Language Processing
  • Emory University
    • AIDS
    • Immigration and U.S. Citizenship
    • Introduction to Digital Sound Design
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    • Introduction to Tissue Engineering
    • Modern European Mysticism and Psychological Thought
    • Synapses, Neurons and Brains
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    • A New history for a New China, 1700-2000: New Data and New Methods, Part 1
    •  Science, Technology, and Society in China 1: Basic Concepts
    • The Science of Gastronomy
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine
    • Dynamical Modeling Methods for Systems Biology
    • Introduction to Systems Biology
    • Network Analysis in Systems Biology
  • Ohio State University
    • Generation Rx: The Science Behind Prescription Drug Abuse
    • Introduction to Pharmacy
  • University of British Columbia
    • Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Conversations
    • Introduction to Systematic Program Design
    • Useful Genetics
  • University of California, Irvine
    • Algebra
    • Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning
    • Introduction to Biology: DNA to Organisms
    • Microeconomics
    • Pre-Calculus
    • Principles of Public Health
    • Science from Superheroes to Global Warming
  • University of Florida
    • Economic Issues Food and You
    • Fundamentals of Human Nutrition
    • Global Health Cultures
    • Global Sustainable Energy; Past, Present and Future
    • How Music Works
    • Sustainable Agricultural/Urban Land Management
  • University of London
    • Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps
    • English Common Law: An Introduction
    • Malicious Software and its Underground Economy: Two Sides to Every Story
    • The Camera Never Lies
    • Why We Need Psychology
  • University of Maryland
    • Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies
    • Exploring Quantum Physics
    • Software Defined Networking
    • Women and the Civil Rights Movement
  • University of Melbourne
    • Animal Behaviour
    • Climate Change
    • Discrete Optimization
    • Epigenetic Control of Gene Expression
    • Exercise Physiology: Understanding the Athlete Within
    • Generating the Wealth of Nations
    • Prinicples of Macroeconomics
  • University of Pittsburgh
    • A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology
    • Accountable Talk ™: Conversation that Works
    • Clinical Terminology for International Students
    • Disaster Preparedness
    • Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health
  • Vanderbilt University
    • Data Management for Clinical Research
    • Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations
    • Nutrition
    • Health, and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights
    • Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative
    • Pattern-Oriented Software Architectures for Concurrent and Networked Software
  • Wesleyan University
    • Passion Driven Statistics
    • Property and Liability: An Introduction to Law and Economics
    • The Ancient Greeks
    • The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color
    • The Modern and the Postmodern

 

Quite an impressive course list! I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of my fellow classmates who are helping to grade my writing assignments, connecting with me on Twitter, and on the course wiki. I am really amazed with how social media is enriching my learning experience.

If you haven’t yet, connect with me on Twitter @DecidedlySocial.

 

Types of Facebook Pages – What You Need to Know

Why it’s Important to Pick the Right Types of Facebook Pages

 

Determining which page category to choose when creating a Facebook business page is a source of confusion for many small business owners. When setup incorrectly the Facebook page can lack information and functionality that would be useful to your fans. On many occasions I’ve seen businesses with an inappropriate page category. Of particular concern is a local business not using a local business page and unfortunately I have seen this time and again. Once you have chosen a page type it can’t be changed, so choose wisely!

To shed light on the ideal Facebook page type for you, I have explained each below.

Facebook Page Types Start with Your Business Goals

 

The most important part of choosing your page type is to know what your business goals are and how Facebook fits into achieving those goals. Just as placing an ad in a newspaper without a particular campaign goal would be ineffective, creating a fan page in Facebook without a clear strategy is also ineffective. Your business goals and strategy should guide your choice of page type.

Types of Facebook pages

The Six Types of Facebook Pages

 

  • Brand/Product/Service page – ideal for promoting products, services or brands that do not have a physical location such as Coca-Cola, a particular book, or a freelance massage therapist
  • Community/Opinion page – best for promoting a cause or idea like not buying plastic water bottles, overcoming anxiety and depression, or health advantages of meditation
  • Local Business/Place page – ideal for businesses that conduct business in a particular location such as spas, psychology clinics, or hair salons
  • Celebrity/Public Figure page – works for professionals who promote themselves as their brands such as authors, business consultants, life coaches, or actors (Facebook personal profiles are capped at 5,000 friends so if you are a well-known public figure or are aiming to be one then this is the page for you. Also keep in mind that it is against the Facebook terms of use to “use your personal profile for commercial gain”.)
  • Entertainment page – best for magazines, theatrical performances, concert tours, radio or television shows
  • Company/Organization page – meant for large organizations like Ford, United States Postal Service, or the American Mental Health Counselors Association. This page serves as a place for corporate messages from headquarters. Entertainment page – best for magazines, radio stations, and concert tours

 

A question we get often is whether to pick a product/service page or a public figure page. Think about your business goals and ask yourself this question, are you more promoting a service that you offer or yourself? If your goal is to promote your massage therapy practice, then a product/service page is more appropriate. If you are building awareness of your business abilities and knowledge to become a speaker on the national circuit, then a public figure page is well-suited.

Multiple Facebook Page Types for One Business

 

Some companies are best served by multiple Facebook pages. For instance, Ford has several Facebook business pages including a company/organization page (called Ford Motor Company) to deliver messages about corporate concerns, brand pages for each of its brands (like Lincoln), product pages for each of its vehicles (including Ford Mustang or Ford Fusion + Hybrid), and a community page for fans of the brand (called Ford community page). Of course, Ford has a large marketing budget and a team of social media managers to run all of their Facebook pages. The average business generally only needs one page to have an adequate presence on Facebook to achieve business goals.

 

So pick the page type that’s right for you and your business, and go get connected to your fans and customers on Facebook!

How To Create A Facebook Business Page

How To Create A Facebook Business Page

Knowing how to create a Facebook business page correctly is essential when promoting your business. The most important part of making your Facebook page for business is selecting the business type that best fits your business (click for detailed description of Facebook page types). Choose wisely! The type of page chosen can’t be changed after the fact.

Step By Step Instructions for Creating a Facebook Page for Business

To begin, go to Facebook.com and on the bottom right you will see a link “create a page”. Next you will need to choose the type of page that best matches your business type. Once you have chosen the type of page you would like to create, Facebook will ask you to specify the category of your business. If you click around you will see that the only type of page that allows you to put in a local business address is the Local Business or Place page. If your business goal is to get more customers to your store then this is the page type for you.

How to Create a Facebook Business Page

Be cautious when typing in the name of your business, as this will become the title of your page. When a fan, friend, or potential customer is searching for your business the title of your page enables them to find your business. Facebook does not allow pages to be created with generic term only names such as “pizza” or “cars”. If you create a page with a generic term Facebook can change the page type to an un-editable community page which will no longer promote your business.

If you don’t have a personal profile, Facebook will create one for you in the process of setting up your business page. A personal profile is required for the use of many Facebook applications. Keep in mind that you can only have one personal profile and you must use your real name according to the Facebook terms of use.

Facebook will step you through completing the rest of the profile for your brand new business page, including choosing a profile picture, writing the About section, inviting your friends, and writing your first post. I recommend skipping inviting your friends and writing your first post until you have uploaded a cover photo (detailed below). The About section is particularly important as it will be the description of your business and its products or services. Keep in mind that the about section can only be 255 characters long. Complete all of the fields in the About tab.

You will also need to upload a cover photo to complete the look of your page. The Facebook cover is an opportunity for you to promote your brand identity and add visual impact to your page. Here is our Facebook cover photo for Decidedly Social. The optimum size for the cover photo is 851 pixels wide, 315 pixels tall and less than 100 kilobytes.

Facebook business page cover photo

Once you have uploaded your cover, profile picture, and completed your About section you are ready to start posting updates and inviting friends. The next level of Facebook customization is using apps such as videos or contests to increase engagement with your fans. If you want to wait to begin posting updates until you have your apps in place, then I recommend changing your page visibility setting to Unpublish Page. To do this, click the edit page button at the top of admin panel and put a check in the top box and hit save.

A Mistake to Avoid When Promoting Your Business on Facebook

One mistake that many businesses make on Facebook is that they use a personal profile to promote their business. Don’t do this! It’s actually against the Facebook terms of use, which state that for personal profiles “You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain”. Facebook can delete your page for this behavior so I recommend against using your personal profile as your main channel of marketing on Facebook.

 

13 Types of Social Media Platforms and Counting

When I talk to people about social media marketing, the overwhelming majority of people only think about Facebook. They think social media equals Facebook. Although that makes sense given the ubiquity and widespread adoption of this social network, it is NOT the only lemonade stand on the block! Social media has proliferated and evolved into many new shapes and forms and there might be some hidden gems waiting for you and your business.

Social media platforms

So what is social media?

 

Since the term “social media” was first introduced into our lexicon in 2004, the rapid changes in technologies and fragmentation into various forms of social media has been beyond belief. This evolution makes defining social media a bit slippery. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of social media is “forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content”. Alright, that makes sense so let’s take a look at all of the different types of social media platforms that fit this definition.

List of social media platforms

 

  1. Social networking sites– Facebook, Google Plus, CafeMom, Gather, Fitsugar
  2. Micro-blogging sites– Twitter, Tumblr, Posterous
  3. Publishing tools– WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace
  4. Collaboration tools– Wikipedia, WikiTravel, WikiBooks
  5. Rating/Review sites– Amazon ratings, Angie’s List
  6. Photo sharing sites– Flikr, Instagram, Pinterest
  7. Video sharing sites– YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler
  8. Personal broadcasting tools– Blog Talk radio, Ustream, Livestream
  9. Virtual worlds– Second Life, World of Warcraft, Farmville
  10. Location based services– Check-ins, Facebook Places, Foursquare, Yelp
  11. Widgets– Profile badges, Like buttons
  12. Social bookmarking and news aggregation– Digg, Delicious
  13. Group buying– Groupon, Living Social, Crowdsavings

 

Consider social media tools for business

 

As a small business owner you may feel overwhelmed with all of the options. Take a deep breath…and know that you should NOT be active in all of these social media platforms for your business. Consider your business objectives and develop a targeted social media marketing strategy while being realistic about the time and energy you are willing to expend in your social media efforts.

social media marketing platforms

The main message is that there might be social media marketing alternatives to Facebook and other social networking sites that could give you a considerable business advantage. With Facebook moving to the Facebook Timeline format for all business pages (which many consider a disadvantage for small businesses) looking at alternative social media marketing platforms may be more important than ever. Before you launch your presence on any platform consider the options and what works best for your unique business. Remember, strategy before technology!

Can you think of any social media platforms that I’ve missed? Thanks for commenting!

 

 

5 Reasons Why Google Plus Is Great For Small Business

Find New Customers

Many small business owners are asking if they should use Google Plus and my answer is absolutely! I know you are already feeling overwhelmed and spread thin by the proliferation of social media platforms and an ever mounting daily task list, but if growing your business and getting more clients excites you then so should Google Plus.

Google Plus for small business
Image by Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net

1. The increasing visibility of Google Plus

Larry Page the CEO of Google recently announced that Google Plus has 90 million users across the globe, over double the figure from October. The visibility and exposure of Google Plus is skyrocketing with the integration of Gmail & Google Search Plus Your World. Gmail users can easily add friends and colleagues to their circles right in the Gmail interface while Google Search Plus Your World includes your circles’ profiles and posts in the Google Search organic results. Likewise, on January 30th, President Obama is participating in a Google Plus Hangout resulting in big buzz for the platform.

 2. Search engine optimization and marketing

Perhaps the best reason to join Google Plus is SEO rankings. Google is still the name of the game in search and Google Plus improves your search rankings. Many bloggers have even noted that Google indexes and ranks Google Plus pages faster than a blog post. In this world of digital noise being the first to get your message heard is invaluable.

 3. Beat your business competition

You might be thinking: 90 million users on Google Plus verses 800 million Facebook…looks like Facebook is still the winner and I’ll keep waiting to see what happens with Google Plus. To that I say, it’s better to be a bigger fish in a small pond. It’s common knowledge that early adopters of a social media platform have the greatest potential for gaining an audience and employing successful social media marketing campaigns. If you wait until Google Plus has reached full saturation than you have missed a huge opportunity to gain ground on your competitors.

4. Unique content for content marketing

With the same ideas and content being rehashed continuously in social media, Google Plus provides a breath of fresh air. I have found unique ideas and discovered new personalities on Google Plus that would have previously been drowned out. So if you are looking to engage an audience with curated content, Google Plus is a rich resource.

5. The future is bright

Many experts are saying that Google Plus will continue to be integrated with other valuable Google platforms such as Google Places making Google Plus a mobile marketing jackpot. Small local businesses take note! Local search optimization is essential to acquiring new clients.

Local Social Media Marketing Is Big Business

Local business marketing and social media statistics Local business marketing

Right now, many small businesses are successfully using local social media marketing strategies and more are joining every day. A recent study conducted by Zoomerang found that close to half of the small businesses surveyed are already using social media marketing, with 86% of those having a Facebook page. Over 70% of small businesses that utilize social media noticed more traffic, while over 60% experienced improvements in search rankings (Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2011).  Nearly half (48%) of the small businesses saw an increase in sales from using social media.

This is just the beginning! These figures are sure to increase over time due to the long-term investment required to engage an audience and build community in social media.

 

Local social media marketing projections

Inside the advertising and marketing industry, the statistics are compelling. Marketers are increasingly placing more importance on social media marketing: from 64% in 2009 to 90% in 2011 (Social Media Marketing Report 2011). Locally targeted advertising in social media is projected to increase at a 33% annual rate jumping from $400 million in 2010 to a whopping $2.3 billion in 2015 (BIA/Kelsey). A significant portion of this spending is from large national corporations that are increasingly moving into local social media spaces. Now is the time for small local businesses to get in the social media game before they are drowned out by bigger players.

 

How is big business using local social media marketing campaigns?

Large corporations are starting to employ local social media strategies to achieve business growth. A great example is REI’s (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) recent local strategy launch. REI is a cooperatively owned outdoor gear and outfitter with over 115 stores across the United States. They recently launched a local social media marketing campaign (using Facebook and Twitter) by breaking up their stores into 53 regional areas. They trained over 300 practitioners from their retail stores and are looking to grow local social media communities by searching for and connecting to parks, outdoor groups, and other relevant local influencers. Check out REI’s Jordan Williams’ presentation below.

 

With many other national retailers soon to follow suit, there’s no time to waste. Now is the time for local small businesses to get into social media, especially as larger companies look to compete in the same local social media spaces.

So, what big businesses have you seen playing effectively in the local social media space?

Why Small Businesses Need a Social Media Marketing Strategy

We have all heard the jaw dropping statistics on the massive proliferation of social media. 800 million Facebook users, millions of tweets per day, Facebook would be the fourth largest country… By now you should know that social media is not only here to stay, it is a crucial part of any marketing strategy. And small, local businesses in particular have a tremendous amount to gain on social media platforms. The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report showed that when using social media, small businesses are twice as likely to discover qualified leads over other business types.

Social media marketing plan

[pullquote style=”right”]Small businesses are twice as likely to discover qualified leads over other business types.[/pullquote]

 

Word-of-mouth marketing builds local business

Local businesses have always thrived using word-of-mouth marketing and generating referrals from happy customers. So it’s not hard to understand why using social media’s power to amplify word-of-mouth marketing messages is a must for small businesses. However, social media has had slower adoption in local small businesses mainly due to lack of resources, hurdles with technical know-how, or uncertainties about effective usage or social media ROI. I’ve also heard business owners say that they tried social media marketing and it was a waste of time.

 

The biggest mistake in social media marketing

The biggest mistake many small businesses make when implementing a social media marketing campaign is not having a strategy or plan. The “if we build it they will come” mentality is ineffective and will leave you bewildered and coming up with mistaken ideas like “social media marketing just doesn’t work in my industry” or “there is no advantage of using social media in my market”. Putting up a Facebook fan page and then waiting for users to appear is the same as making jewelry and then trying to sell it out of your front yard hoping that the right customer strolls by. Unfortunately this is what many small businesses do and then they declare that social media marketing doesn’t work.

 

When hearing other people’s negative experiences with social media marketing, please keep these questions in mind:

    • Did they have a robust social media strategy and implementation plan?
    • Was it aligned with their business objectives?
    • Did they stay committed to their plan long enough to build meaningful relationships with their community?

 

Failing to plan is planning to fail

As a wise man once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Don’t let another business’s lack of social media planning sabotage your social media success! Don’t miss your opportunity to meaningfully connect with your customers. Develop a social media marketing strategy and leverage the social media platforms to achieve your business goals.

So, has hearing other’s negative opinions about social media marketing impacted you and your success? Please share your experiences.