101I’m blogging today from the Social Media 101 workshop at the neo-hip aLoft Hotel in Minneapolis (a Starwood concept that I don’t completely get, but it’s a cool space), being presented by Kane Consulting in partnership with the Geek Girls. The social media wildfire (I don’t even think we can call it a trend anymore) has become absolutely fascinating to me. I think we are in the midst of a transformation of the way we communicate, work, learn, sell, buy, ___. This transformation is made even more profound by the fact that it happens to coincide with the deepest economic crisis in generations, record unemployment rates, and a political sea change. I see this new world of communication as a massive frontier of opportunity for communication designers who are interested in shaking up the way they work (or those who just want to stay relevant).

I’m excited for this event for a variety of reasons and I’ll be blogging and tweeting my thoughts and observations throughout the day. These will likely be pretty cryptic notes—a different way of writing than you will usually find on Merge—but I will try to circle back over time and expand on some of the key ideas later.

Observation number 1:
The girls are dressed much nicer than the boys.

The Cluetrain Manifesto

Your brand story
needs to be in order before you start going outward in social media.

Read the privacy policy for your social media sites. “It’s like you’re keeping your stuff in a friend’s car…they could just drive off someday.”

Why build your own social network?
Instead you must find a way to be  relevant in the existing networks.

The conversation is happening whether you are participating or not—yikes!!!

Fact and fiction travel at the same speed on social networks. At the end of the day, though, fact will win out—the community will check the facts and correct the fiction.

Urban legend database: Snopes

A good social media strategy creates a brand conversation that drives traffic and action. But it’s not about directly selling—it’s about connecting.

Social media is NOT FREE. It requires dedicated resources, strategy, research—or it will fail.

You will not have the same control over your brand in the social network space (logo placement, graphic standards, etc.), but you must control the voice of your brand in that venue. You must be authentic to your brand.

1 out of 5 emails and social media messages will be read on a mobile device. 80% of mobile social networkers are under 34 (you do the math).

Browsercam.com is a new subscription site for testing mobile sites as they appear on devices.

1% of websites are mobile-friendly.

Naked Conversations by Robert Skoble and Shel Israel

Common Craft — cool, simple videos to explain the world of social media

“Twitter from the outside looks completely stupid”

Twitter: an open and free invitation to a global networking event happening 24/7.

Jen Kane quote about Twitter profile photo: “Ladies, this is not the place for your boobie shot!”

More Jen Kane on how frequently to Tweet: “I Tweet as much as I pee.”

Organizations that are only pushing messages on Twitter (and not listening/participating) are missing the point…and the opportunity.

The magic of Twitter is what happens between two people—even though it’s happening in front of thousands.

Fastest growing demographic of Facebook users: 55-65 (marketers pay attention).

“Community manager” is an important position in order to really maximize Facebook groups, applications, pages.

What’s next for Facebook? Facebook Connect where other sites are able to use FB log-in profiles for their own site.

“What if someone says something bad about my brand on social media sites?” First: they will, so get over it. Second, take a deep breath…many times your online advocates (followers, fans, etc.) will come to your defense on your behalf, and that is way more valuable/authentic than you trying to defend yourself.

Huge round of applause to Jennifer Kane, the Geek Girls, Jennifer Bombach, and Lisa Foote for the outstanding, content-packed event today. I’m satiated! And I would strongly recommend this event for anyone (or any organization) feeling like a deer in the headlights of social media.