Social media home schooling: Create your 2010 lesson plan

December 2, 2009

As social media continues to grow and gain significance, business leaders are increasingly concerned that PR professionals do not know how to use social technologies effectively.  For instance, these leaders have accused agencies of neglecting social media in favor of accumulating more billable hours.

While some organizations probably do need to correct this mindset, most agencies and practitioners are making positive contributions to social media and passing this value on to stakeholders. Furthermore, their insights and efforts are revolutionizing the profession. Whether we’re affiliated with organizations that invest in social media training or not, we are all responsible for educating ourselves on the job and after hours.

Last month, I recommended periodically evaluating mature and emerging social media channels to gauge their viability and ensure that you’re aware of all the options. The next step is to implement the tools that best support your personal brand, your business and your clients. Here are several tips that you should consider when assembling your social media lesson plan.

Create a hub
Whether it’s a blogging platform such as WordPress, a blogstream like Posterous, an online community created with Ning, a Facebook page or your Web site, you need a home base where people can find you and link to all of the content that you’ve posted elsewhere.

Connect the dots
Your other social channels, sometimes called outposts, usually focus on a specific type of content such as Twitter updates, Flickr photos and YouTube videos that can stand alone, but become part of your larger footprint when linked to your hub.

Use a social bookmarking tool like Diigo or Delicious to index and promote your most interesting content, while helping others spread theirs. Social bookmarking helps accelerate your inbound marketing — or how your content attracts people to you or your hub.
Manage your outposts

Use a manageable number of outposts to support your communication goals. Be clear which ones you’re committed to by linking these to your hub and keeping them up-to-date. Meanwhile, continue learning by experimenting with other platforms and features.

Also, look for tools that automate how you manage your content. can help you post a message to multiple channels simultaneously. HootSuite is a Twitter tool that your team can use to manage multiple accounts, group followers and schedule tweets in advance.

Monitor and measure
Begin with standards like Google Alerts, Google Analytics and Technorati. Become familiar with their basic functions and challenge yourself to study their advanced features.

Remain in the know
Using social media is an ideal way to learn from each other. But there’s a lot of relevant advice available and not enough time to absorb it all. Creating a short list of social media-themed blogs, podcasts and video feeds offers manageable variety that can keep you focused and engaged.

Suggested sources include: the “For Immediate Release” podcast by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, the YouTube Reporters’ Center and Lee Aase’s Social Media University Global.

Following Twitter hashtags like #pradvice and #PRBC, and participating in Twitter chats like #journchat and #PRStudChat are helpful too. 

Regarding this column as a community resource, please share your comments, questions, successes and ideas. I’m interested in hearing from you about more examples of social media in action to highlight next year

Ryan Zuk, APR

Ryan Zuk, APR, is a media and analyst relations professional, Phoenix PRSA Chapter member and Sage North America representative. Zuk can be reached @ryanzuk on Twitter. He also blogs at

Email: ryanzuk at gmail dot com


MommyBlogExpert says:

Ryan, As a mom who is mommy blogging on my own blog, in addition to doing non-competing social media consults, and also homeschooling my 4 kids, this post really hits home. Social media can consume you very easily if it's not managed with panache. All the tools you mention are everyone's lifeline to managing the deluge of frenetic energy (and work) that social media visibility done well tends to generate. Your story covers the resources needed from A to Z to handle the potential bottleneck traffic we in this business find ourselves stuck in. Whether, practicing as a blogger on the media side and/or agency or corporate social media manager, services like ping.FM and posterous are useful resources that I think are essential to keeping our workflow running efficiently.

Dec. 4, 2009

Ryan Zuk, APR says:

Thanks for reading and commenting Janis. Social media minus management can quickly become an issue of too much information, that's for sure. Not necessarily bad information. Much of it is useful and simply requires some organization and prioritizing - likewise content creators should take the necessary tagging and linking steps to ensure their information is always just a Web search away. My best to your efforts and an efficient workflow in the new year.

Dec. 7, 2009

Shari Weiss says:

Hi Ryan, I applaud you for trying to offer a roadmap for managing one's online presence -- I've tried to talk about the same subject on my own blog. But, from what I've gathered, we are preaching to a choir. If people are genuinely "Social Media Newbies," they will probably get lost after "Create a Hub." If they are not Newbies, then I suspect they know everything that you have written about. I've just finished reading Tamar Weinberg's really detailed "The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web" which I will be reviewing in my own blog SHARISAX IS OUT THERE. But it is so "dense" and "complete" that one must have a decent amount of knowledge to even want to read through it. So why am I even writing this . . . perhaps to think out loud how "we" who are learning great things about this Social Media Revolution can be of great help and support to those who don't know where to start. Just some thoughts. Shari Weiss

Dec. 19, 2009

Ryan Zuk, APR says:

Thanks Shari. True, we can't address everyone's unique situation in one swoop, although short-listing some methods among many available has value. I agree - people have varied levels of social media knowledge and interest. How can people who want to write about it benefit everyone in some way or, more likely, narrow in better on an audience to serve? I like that learning and applying social tools is, by its very nature, a conversation (even though some people may tire from hearing about "listening" and "conversations" frequently). We can all join in with our specific bits of knowledge, whether basic or sophisticated, and this is the intent for much of my writing. Thanks for adding your perspective! Let's encourage more folks to do the same.

Dec. 21, 2009

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