How to Leverage Learning with Social Media, Blogs, Podcasts, Images and Video

If you teach, coach, train or offer learning in any way – for customers, co-workers, emerging leaders, volunteers, donors, board members or project teams, you have an invaluable set of tools at your disposal for little or no cost. So, don’t be a dinosaur! Leverage social media, blogs, audio podcasts, images and video to extend your learning using these tips below. (They are also the basis of a free PDF booklet I’m writing on this topic.)

Social media, content development, training tools to leverage learning

Assumptions We Make About Social Media Tools:

  • Pul-lease! We are serious business people who must focus on more important matters than playing around online
  • I don’t have time for this nonsense
  • It’s only for kids who live in their parents’ basements
  • It’s dangerous because I might say something wrong and lose my job
  • I’m a private person and don’t believe in airing dirty laundry with the world
  • I’m not a tekkie – I don’t “get” this stuff
  • No one’s taught me how to use these tools
  • It’s just a fad and will soon die out
  • What I had for lunch is nobody’s business
  • There’s no return on investment (ROI)

Benefits of Using Social Media Tools:

  • Will help you stay relevant with your learners
  • Has been embraced by ALL age groups (over 50 crowd are biggest adopters)
  • It’s another way of communicating – just like Gutenberg’s printing press
  • Makes you more marketable – job candidates are expected to have this knowledge
  • Connects you with those who won’t normally speak up in a classroom
  • Expands your “reach” beyond the organization and geographic boundaries
  • Helps you promote your training class or conference session to put “butts in seats”
  • Provides a platform to share your position
  • Reinforces traditional, formal learning methods
  • Is an effective listening and feedback tool (often, people only tell you what they think you want to hear)
  • Sends learning straight into their mobile device so they can “get it on the go”
  • Can replace or supplement more costly learning and communication methods
  • Because it’s public, it will help establish you as a subject matter expert
  • Maximizes “Personal Learning Networks” and the informal learning process
  • It’s easy to share the learning across platforms via share buttons
  • …and much more!

Social Media and Content Development Tips

There’s SO much that can be done with content creation that you may easily get overwhelmed. Help yourself stay organized and use the “grid” approach. Block by block, module by module, develop content that can be used multiple ways rather than a scatter-shot approach. You don’t have to recreate the wheel. Leverage something you’ve already created.

Create an Editorial Calendar. Plan out the learning topics you’ll feature each week, perhaps to coincide with your training calendar. Break your curriculum down into bullet points, organized by learning objectives. These bullet points can be used as video topics, tweets, Facebook posts, a starting point for articles, tip sheets, PDF booklets, etc. Research links to online articles and/or videos to reinforce/supplement your learning objectives.

Collect images that are NOT stock photos – especially avoid the highly diverse crowd in suits with arms folded. Take pictures of things that reinforce learning points and insert into blog articles, tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates. Pictures of people’s faces, babies, animals and food seem to be more popular than anything else.

Create a “community” page on Facebook. You can make it closed/private or open to anyone, then invite students to join. Post useful information daily. Invite students to share their discoveries and insights with the group and ask questions. Invite a colleague to help you manage this otherwise it will consume your life. Put some guidelines in place regarding acceptable behaviors and things that could get someone banned from the group.

Set up a blog. Purchase a domain name ($15/year via Godaddy), then download the free WordPress software available with any hosting service (about $90/year). Use this blog as “home base” where you can publish articles, tips, etc. to supplement class content. With a blog, you own that real estate, whereas with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, they could change the rules and pull the plug on you anytime. If your organization has a blog, find out if you could be a regular contributor with a learning column.

Embrace Video. It’s projected that 70% of online traffic by 2017 will be video.

  • So, set up a YouTube Channel now. Make sure it has YOUR name on it. Why? Because you may change jobs and some organizations will limit/prevent you uploading video to their Channel. You may put a lot of work into building it up and attracting subscribers and you certainly don’t want to have to start over again.
  • Create “playlists” of other useful, relevant videos and title them according to subject category.
  • Upload short videos (2 minutes or less) you shoot with your mobile device or camcorder. Insert your blog URL into the video description, along with what people will learn. Make the title of the video descriptive. Use YouTube to teach you how to set up the channel.
  • Uploading video to YouTube takes time: about 40 minutes for each 2 minute video depending on your internet connection speed.
  • Videos can be segments of your classroom training, interviews with students about key learning points, a Q&A format (they ask, you answer or the other way around), a demonstration, etc.

Post updates on LinkedIn vs “Pulse” articles. Unless you’re a celebrity or CEO, Pulse articles don’t seem to capture as many eyeballs as in the past. You may get more views by publishing a link to an article on your blog which features a video. Use LinkedIn to connect with students and other subject matter experts. Avoid re-posting the same old stuff (SOS) that everyone else recycles. While Forbes and Inc. articles are great, we see them shared over and over again.

Create an audio podcast. Choose a theme for your “show” and be clear on the interests/needs of your audience. Spent $100 on a good microphone with a USB connection. Sign up for a service that will “host” your audio shows and will generate a link you can embed into your blog or social media posts. Why? Audio files are big, as are videos. I use Libsyn, which costs about $5-15/month. Have a graphic designer or use Canva to create “show art.” Get details about image specifications here or on iTunes.

Summary

Focus your content on information that is useful, actionable AND entertaining. People don’t spend time on boring stuff. Your goal is to engage them so they keep coming back for more! Take a risk. Make ‘em laugh.

We have the greatest learning tools at our disposal now more than ever before. And the best thing is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or become a technological whiz to extend and enhance your training. Take it one topic and tool at a time. I promise, you’ll soon establish a rhythm and spot new ways to apply the learning as you get used to how these tools perform.

It’ll take some time, but the payoff is huge! And if you get stuck, send me a note

25 Blogging Tips You Have to See

I started blogging in 2006 and have learned a few things that helped my business over the years. So here are 25 blogging tips, how-to’s and lessons learned for writers, non-tekkies or newbies!

 Blogging Tips by Laura Benjamin

Blogging Tips, Lessons Learned and How-to’s

  1. You don’t have to consider yourself an “expert” in order to have a blog. You know something that would benefit others. Just start. You’ll learn as you go. People are drawn to your unique “voice” much more so than the topic you choose.
  2. The more personal you make it the better people like it. Avoid boring, predictable “oh so professional”, corporate-speak writing.
  3. Get your own name as a domain name (Godaddy or Bluehost are affordable resources) I made the mistake of letting my name go when I worked for the City of Colorado Springs and they required I shut down my business. Now, it’ll cost me $900 if I want to get it back. Thus, the reason for my hyphenated domain name!
  4. Blogging adds depth and interest to your website. The good folks from Rainmaker.FM say to now focus on “the media not the marketing” as you build your site/blog.
  5. Your culture, branding or personality can shine through your writing. Be adventurous. Take a camera with you everywhere and take your own photos vs using stock images. In particular, avoid pictures of people in suits with their arms crossed. (You know the ones I’m talking about) Use at least one image in your blog post, preferably at the top. Don’t use pictures from Bing Images or other people’s blogs because of copyrights.
  6. If you’re serious about your business or cause, avoid setting up a free blog site on Blogger, Typepad or WordPress.com. You don’t own that “real estate”, they do. And your  domain name will reflect it. (MarySmith.wordpress.com vs MarySmith.com)
  7. Purchase a hosting package (about $80/year) at Godaddy, Bluehost, etc., connect it to the domain name you bought and then upload free WordPress software to the site. (It’s one of the options you’ll have once you purchase your hosting package and domain)
  8. Get a book on copywriting and write snappy, intriguing blog post headlines. Ex: 14 Strange Ways To…, How to Avoid Goofy People at Work, etc.
  9. Writing the blog is only part of the equation. Distributing it is the other important part. Sign up with an email marketing service (MailChimp, ConstantContact, Aweber.com) and put a signup form on your blog so people can add themselves to your list.
  10. Focus more on building your email subscriber list than spending time on social media. Again, because you don’t own any “real estate” on that social media platform. They can change the rules (Facebook), shut you down or start charging you at any point.
  11. Write regularly. Once or twice a week is good. Subscribers will soon anticipate getting your blog post. You don’t want people to tire of you and tune you out by blogging too often. Try to stick to a schedule.
  12. Make a list of the most relevant keywords your customers would type into a search engine to find you or your business and pay you money. (That last part is very important) Then use these keywords in article titles, subtitles, categories, “tags”, the text of your article, permalinks (what shows up in the URL) etc.
  13. Title your images using relevant keywords rather than IMG0227. Also use keywords in the “alt text” field after you upload the image into the media folder of your blog.
  14. Don’t add people to your blog subscriber list without their permission. There’s nothing more infuriating than having someone add you to their list and then expect YOU to opt out if you don’t want it. There are spam laws against that.
  15. To get subscribers, offer a signup form to people you meet at networking events, conferences, your speaking engagements, etc. Ask friends to forward your blog post to others if they find it useful.
  16. Insert social media “share” buttons on your blog so people can forward your articles.
  17. Use a larger font size. People now read blogs on mobile devices so tiny print is tough on them. It’s also hard on “mature” readers.
  18. You can set up your site so the home page IS your blog. Mine is set up that way at Laura-Benjamin.com OR you can set it up as MarySmith.com/Blog where your home page holds other content about you, the business, your cause.
  19. You could also buy an interesting domain name (Pistachio, LittleGreenFootballs, StuffWhitePeopleLike) for your blog and set it up outside your normal website. Some will do this to take advantage of a keyword rich domain name when their home website doesn’t contain any keywords.
  20. The longer your blog site is up, the better the search engines like it.
  21. Check out Problogger.net – his site is full of very useful blogging tips. His book is worth buying (I get no commission to recommend it).
  22. You’ll also want to take a look at this useful and free “How to Start a Blog” guidebook atFirstSiteGuide.com. I’ve already heard from one friend I sent it to that she now feels a whole lot better about launching her blog.
  23. Here’s another good resource from Mike at StartBloggingOnline.com. His home page is full of useful tips.
  24. StartABlog123.com offers a number of helpful posts as well as a blog platform comparison guide so you can evaluate them all at a glance.
  25. And finally, another useful resource from Matt Banner on how to start and grow a blog.