Cafe Witness

Friday, September 26, 2008

PodCamp Pittsburgh 3: Three Questions

Fellow PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 planner Dawn Papuga posted three questions aimed at social media people this week, as part of her weekly "Friday 5" series intended to provide bloggers with writing prompts. Here are my answers:

Q: What brought you to social media, and what keeps you hanging around?

A: I started creating web video in 2003 (and I still am) because I liked the idea of immediate feedback. I knew I could release an episode of Something to Be Desired and hear what people did (or didn't) like about it within minutes, rather than months or years. It's that sense of instant communication, and the interesting people I've met as a result, that keeps me involved in creating media for the social set.

Q: Which social networking tool gives you the shakes when it’s not updated or is experiencing down time? (Podcasts, Blogs, Micro-blogging, etc)

A: I'm pretty sure this question is a not-so-thinly-veiled primal howl over the Fail Whale sightings at Twitter, and I'll agree -- for a tool whose sole purpose is to connect people immediately, it's quite frustrating when that tool is down (and quite addictive when it's up, which is why none of us complainers have migrated away... yet... even though we idly threaten to do so on a regular basis...)

Q: What kind of insight could you offer to others on a topic at PCPGH3?

A: I'm already on the hook to host several sessions and moderate a few panels, so if you join us at PCPGH3, you'll hear my POV on such topics as:

* Creating serialized, sustainable content
* Avoiding social media burnout (and bouncing back when it happens)
* Using Twitter (and other social media tools) for business
* What constitutes "success" in social media?
* Feedback: The good, the bad and the ugly (and why we need it)

If you'd like to learn more about social media, or simply commune with fellow bloggers, podcasters and other content creators, you're welcome to join us at PCPGH3 -- and it's free! See you there.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pennsylvania Encourages Car Accidents

Ann was driving to work a few weeks ago when she encountered an old station wagon filled with lumber, driving slowly in the lefthand lane. She tried to pass it on the right, and while she was doing so, the station wagon veered into the right lane and hit her.

Since they were on a bridge, there were no other witnesses who'd stopped. The driver -- an older man -- got out (of the station wagon that had no damage), inspected the two dents he'd made on Ann's front fender, and proclaimed that she could get them pounded out for $15, so there was no need to call the police. Just to be safe, Ann got his license and phone number, and continued on to work.

There, she noticed that her driver's side headlight had also been dislodged, which would seem to increase the total cost of damages. Both I and her boss suggested she file a police report. Ann called the police, who came down, looked at her car, and said, "Why did you call us? You're wasting our time."

Apparently, with no witnesses and minimal damage, there was no need for Ann to have called the police. (I wonder what level of damage is required for the police to be necessary.)

The cop suggested Ann report the incident to her insurance company. (He also ran the other driver's license plate and found that it didn't exist in the system, but that's because the guy turned out to be driving on a temporary license / registration.) Ann called the other driver to get his insurance info, but when he learned the cops were involved, he became so belligerent that the cop had to get on the phone and tell the guy to calm down and co-operate. That was when the guy started insisting that Ann hit him -- which, if you looked at the damage done (or not done) to the two vehicles, would have been a physical impossibility.

Nonetheless, when all was said and done, Geico informed Ann that because the other driver disputed her claim, and because there were no witnesses, this would be termed a no-fault accident and, therefore, Geico would not be pursuing the nearly $300 extra Ann had to pay beyond her $500 deductible in order to complete the final repairs.

So, in essence, driving to work that morning cost Ann more than $700 because an old man who couldn't see out his windows because his car was overloaded with lumber veered into her lane and hit her, all because no one else stopped to claim witness.

The lesson? If no one else is around, drive as recklessly as possible, because they can't catch you.

This reminds me of an accident I had back in 1995, when I was turning left under a yellow light and a driver coming from the opposite direction sped up to beat the light and broadsided my car, forcing it onto a median. We had witnesses AND we had an admission of guilt from the driver directly to the police. And yet, in the end, it turns out that the accident was actually 75% MY fault because I was turning left. And in the state of Pennsylvania, the person turning left is always at fault.

Interestingly, that same driver who, at the scene, was apologizing profusely and telling everyone within earshot, "Oh my God, I hit you!" would later attempt to sue me for whiplash and other injuries suffered long after the accident. That case was later dropped, as far as I know.

(The lesson here? In Pennsylvania, you should always speed up and hit anyone making a lefthand turn, regardless of witnesses. It's not irresponsibility or road rage; it's called "a free upgrade" to your current outmoded vehicle.)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Social Media Etiquette of Facebook

After holding out for years, I finally joined Facebook last week for business reasons. (Namely, a client asked me to manage their Facebook account, and I couldn't do it without being a member.)

And now, only a week later, I'm ready to cancel my account.

It's not that I don't like Facebook. (I actually don't care enough about it to like it or dislike it.) It's that I already have other means to stay in touch with the people in my life, so Facebook seems like one more redundant outpost in an ever-thickening sea of social media distractions.

That, and I've already run up against the same experience-cheapening bugaboo that crippled my experience on MySpace -- the obligation to add friends. My girlfriend became flabbergasted when she learned that I hadn't added everyone who'd requested my friendship on Facebook, and she wasn't buying my excuse -- that I didn't see the need to keep up on a daily basis with every single one of them -- as a valid one.

Herewith, our argument:

Ann's Point of View

By joining Facebook, I've silently opted in to playing by the site's publicly-agreed upon code of ethics. Part of that code involves the automatic acceptance of anyone who bothers to send you a friend request -- at least as long as you actually know that person. As she sees it, why would you join a public site like Facebook and then suddenly become choosy about whom you "allow" to see your public information? NOT accepting every friend request that comes my way is incredibly impolite, and is a basic misuse of the service.

Justin's Point of View

By joining Facebook, I've agreed to nothing beyond the explicitly stated terms of service. The site provides an experience that I, as the user, am in control of, not an unspoken code of conduct. And part of that experience involves me deciding whom I need (or want) to keep in touch with on a daily basis. As mentioned previously, nearly anyone I interact with these days has numerous ways to already get in touch with me -- am I not then allowed to use Facebook as a more private version of a public space? Or must I bend to the will of anyone with the balls to request my friendship, because that's simply how it's done?

What do you think?

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Two Ways to Spend a Night in the Dark


The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra recently issued a call for bloggers to cover this year's season of performances, so I threw my text-based hat in their web-based ring. They took me up on it, and now I'm one of nearly a dozen bloggers who'll be offering "outside perspectives" on various PSO performances over the next 8 months. If you're a fan of classical music (or incongruous and occasionally insightful commentary about it), you can follow the PSO group blog here.

Meanwhile, a case of celestial irony: Shortly after attending the PSO's "sneak preview" concert -- at which new maestro Manfred Honeck was not in attendance -- I posted my first PSO blog entry, entitled "A Night Without Honeck". Suitably amused, the gods then caused a wayward tree branch to collapse on some electrical lines in my Greenfield neighborhood, resulting in A Night Without Power for me and about 30 of my neighbors. (Since Duquesne Light is still swamped with reports of outages, we're not expecting ours to get fixed anytime soon.)

As a result, four of my neighbors gathered on their shared stoop last night and listened to the end of the Steelers-Browns game by candlelight, on a battery-powered radio. I couldn't quite hear the details from my open window, so I wandered down and listened to the closing moments with them. Funny that it takes an act of nature (and NFL scheduling) to force people who live less than ten feet apart to actually make the effort to introduce themselves.

Lastly, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an interesting profile about the hard-fought rise of Maestro Honeck, who -- since he wasn't the apprentice to an established conductor -- decided to become one by starting his own orchestra. Talk about innovating your way to success...

Photo by Sriram

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Perseverance (Or, Succeeding Because You're Too Stubborn to Quit)

NOTE: This blog post is my entry in the 2008 Heart Kids Tweetathon, organized by Dr. Mani to help raise money for children with heart defects. His theme for this year's event is "Passion, Purpose, Persistence."

When I quit my day job in 2005 to live the luxurious life of a freelancer, I never imagined how difficult a life I was volunteering for. Instead of the sanity (and health insurance) that comes with a steady paycheck, I was opting to live by my wits. I was stubborn (or cavalier) enough to think that I could make at least as good a living on my own as I could from all the clients my day job had worked so hard to bring in and keep happy.

In short, I was wrong.

Not about the money part, but about how easy I thought it would be. I took the security of my salary, and the ease with which work fell into my lap, for granted. I spent the better part of two years struggling to make ends meet, paying credit cards with credit cards, and dressing five layers deep in the winter to save on heating bills.

I was a mess.

But I was also stubborn. I refused to blame anyone other than myself for my inability to live a comfortable life. (Well, at least in the end, after I tried a bunch of excuses and realized none of them were legit.) More than anything, I knew that what was separating me from success was my own attitude and motivation, not some karmic conspiracy to keep me down.

So I kept at it. I made new connections, pursued new clients, took chances. And, most importantly, I had support - from friends, from family, and from people who refused to let me sink too far to recover. (Perhaps not coincidentally, all of the business I currently enjoy comes from clients who were either acquaintances of mine or who recommended me to their friends.)

I'm not quite living the life of luxury yet, but I've also held fast to my promise to myself, that I would find a way to avoid having to work a 9-to-5 job again. I hated not having control over my own destiny -- and even though it took me several lean years to figure out exactly what kind of responsibility comes with that control, it's a lesson I wouldn't trade. In fact, I highly suggest it. There's no better way to learn what's inside you than to put yourself through incredible difficulties simply because you refuse to change your course without achieving success.

Just make sure you bundle up in the winter.

Photo by Evan Prodromou

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Baghead: Big Screen Social Media?

Ann and I saw Baghead last night, a pseudo-horror comedy love story docudrama thing. It was part of Pittsburgh Filmmakers' ongoing promotion with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, in which attendees of a film are invited to stay afterward at the Harris Theater and discuss the film over free food and drink.

Most of the folks in attendance last night enjoyed the film in the same way you might enjoy seeing your kid sister in a high school play -- at best, she did better than you expected, and at worst, it's a phase she'll grow out of. Ann and I, on the other hand, really enjoyed it, but that's because we recognize it for what it is: a big-screen version of what we're already doing.

Baghead is the story of four struggling (read: ne'er employed) actors in LA who, after sitting through a mediocre film at a film festival, decide they can do better than that. So they drive up to a cabin in Big Bear and set out to write their dream movie, the kind that will make them all stars. Of course, egos and sexual tension get in the way. And then there's the guy who keeps showing up at their window with a bag over his head...

It's a simple story that plays with genre conventions, but it's also a triumph of the DIY aesthetic, mining some of the same territory as The Blair Witch Project. But where that earlier film was groundbreaking in so many ways, Baghead is almost its direct descendent, proof that its conceits -- handheld cameras, shot on DV, improvised dialogue, self-referential awareness -- work even better in this age of videoblogging and microcinema.

Classical cinephiles might not place Baghead in the same category as Lawrence of Arabia, and they'd be right not to; it's a little movie about a (relatively) little thing. But we social media types should be rooting for the success of a film like Baghead, because it's a big-screen version of what we're all aspiring to create: it helps break down the barrier of expectation between film fans who only appreciate grandiose spectacle and those of us who believe you can still tell an engaging story on even the most meager means.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Liquid Sundays: How to Make YOUR Event More Social

This past Sunday, the minds behind Liquid Sundays, Pittsburgh's bi-monthly fusion of music / art / fashion, invited several bloggers and podcasters to attend their latest event at Olive or Twist downtown. The night featured music from:

* Central Plains (a Pittsburgh semi-supergroup)

* TheeAdora (femme-fronted pop rock)

* The Lost Sea (country folk rock, and my personal favorite of the night)

These performances were interspersed with a DIY fashion show featuring designs from local boutiqes Sugar and Pavement. Plus, discounted drinks, which is always good.

The upside? Decent bands, fashionable people, trendy-yet-functional locale, and a collective of artists and promoters who truly care about Pittsburgh and are endeavoring to help build out its social scene by bringing people from numerous artistic backgrounds together.

The downside? A few lighting issues (the first runway interlude was barely lit, which seemed to defeat the purpose) which were quickly corrected, and a few audio issues (like the space being ill-designed for multiple sonorous amplifiers), which couldn't be.

But my primary observations of the night have less to do with what WAS there than what WASN'T there:

* Apart from the drunk guy who tried a little too hard to get to know me, I didn't meet any people at this event that I didn't already know, and

* Live art / music events are still notoriously averse to the actual idea of connecting people, but they could very easily become better at it - and so can YOUR event.


Identifying the Problem(s)

Admittedly, the main reason I didn't meet anybody new at this event is because I didn't try. I already knew a dozen people in attendance, so I had more than enough conversation to go around. Plus, it was sonically impossible to hear anyone over the din of the speakers, so it didn't make sense to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger when I could barely hear myself.

On the other hand, this event -- like most concerts and performances -- wasn't designed to introduce people to one another. It was designed to showcase the work of the people organizing it, and in that context, it makes perfect sense to drive all of the focus toward the art on display.

But why invite bloggers and podcasters to an event that makes it a challenge to gather information about the people and personalities involved? If we can't divine your story, it's much harder to then explain your story to other people, and isn't that the whole point of putting yourself out there -- to generate a discussion?

Solutions: A Performance Isn't a Conversation - But It Could Be

The Lost Sea perform at Liquid Sundays

In no particular order, here's a laundry list of 10 ways all future art events / gallery openings / concerts / meet-ups / etc. can improve their social functionality.

1. Make nametags available, regardless of the type of event. Even if it's an ultra-hip shindig, give people the option to make their names or other info public. At all levels of conversation-dom, icebreakers are key.

2. Artists: post multiple contact streams. Email signup sheets are functional, but leave out full-contact postcards for visitors to take away: email, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc. Give people the option to contact you in the way that's most convenient for them (and therefore the most effective for you).

3. Liveblog each event. Posting handbills before an event is a necessity. Liveblogging / Twittering / Brightkite-ing an event should become one. This not only gives the live attendees another avenue to meet each other, but it allows people at home to enjoy the event without being there -- and they'll be more inclined to show up next time.

4. Announce your tags. Create search tags for your event / art / music, or hashtags for Twitter, so people will be able to find evidence of the event more easily. Then let people know what those tags are, so they can properly tag all their photos / videos / blog posts that they're creating on the spot. List the tags in all promotions, or call them out from the stage if necessary, but don't let people's media go forth anonymously - or else you lose out on valuable (free) promotion.

5. Schedule "quiet time." Dial down the "between bands" music for a few moments, and give people a chance to meet each other without shouting.

6. Give something away for free, just for coming. Bands: make an MP3 available for download -- maybe even a live cut from the show. Artists: make a photo or image available as a downloadable wallpaper for laptops or cell phones. Let attendees take part of your show home with them, and then they'll have something to show others. (If content control is an issue, post this free media in a secure part of your site, and give attendees directions / passwords during your social network follow-up; see below.)

7. Collect media your attendees have created. If people have tagged their media properly, you should have no trouble finding photos and video from your event. Repost the samples you think are the best on your event's groups / blog, and give credit to the people who enjoyed your event enough to celebrate it afterward.

8. Use Twitter to centrally connect your attendees. Twitter is promotional, but it's also functional. Multi-location or multi-day events can use it to keep attendees posted on schedule changes, location switch-ups, upcoming showtimes, etc. That means fewer questions for your volunteers to answer, and fewer opportunities for your attendees to miss something important.

9. Overlap with similar events AND completely different events. You can use social networks to find people who share interests similar to those offered at your event - armchair photographers, foreign film fans, etc. - but why not reach out to people who have NOTHING in common with your event? Mash up your fashion show with a beerfest, or your gallery opening with a rap battle. It may sound crazy, but how many new ideas -- or buzz -- do you see generated by people speaking strictly within the same echo chamber? (Hint: Not as much as you get from mixing it up.)

10. After the event, add attendees to your network. Include the URL of your event's group on Facebook / MySpace / LinkedIn / NING, etc., on all signage and promotions before and during the event. Encourage people to join / follow your event on the social network of their choice. Reach out to the people who did attend, or who join your network after the event, and thank them personally -- don't let your interaction stop when the lights come up.

In short: give people handles and they'll carry your story onward to others.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

10 Ways to Be a Social Media Asshole

You may have heard that social media is "all about the conversation." That may be true in some cases, but not all. In fact, for some people, social media is simply about finding new and interesting ways to be an asshole - it's Machiavelli's "The Prince," as applied to text boxes.

If you're finding it difficult to irritate people on a regular basis, here are ten tips you can follow to aggravate even more people - many of them strangers!

1. Insult people loudly and publicly. Bonus points if you don't know the person, but you do know enough to know that he / she / they must be horribly, horribly wrong. This will endear you to everyone else who shares your opinion, and will make you seem like a man / woman / composite persona that's not to be fucked with.

2. Leave scathing comments in public places. Nothing says "I've seriously considered your work / opinion and respectfully disagree" like personal attacks injected into one's thoughtstream.

3. Always be anonymous. Never say with public faces what's best typed hidden in private places.

4. Always ignore grammar / spelling / punctuation. Clear and legible disagreements are best left in the classroom. As a person with unbridled truth to share, you're free of the rules of class.

5. Steal other people's work. Creative Commons licenses never hold up in court, because Americans know that anything available to the public is fair game. If they didn't want you to take credit for their work, they wouldn't have made it public in the first place.

6. Talk endlessly about yourself. In a world of nearly 7 billion people, nothing is as interesting as you. Always find a way to turn topical conversations into conversations about you - especially when you don't know what people are talking about in the first place. (One great way to do this is to lead off with "Speaking of ___," and then immediately change the subject to that head cold you're not quite over.)

7. Namedrop like it's your job. Because it is. That's because people may not remember you, especially if what you're doing is redundant or unremarkable -- like, say, being a "social media expert" or "communications guru"-- but they'll damn sure remember who you had lunch with last week. (And by "had lunch," it's okay if you forget to add, "in the vicinity of," or "at the same conference as." Because even if you *didn't* technically "have lunch" with Seth Godin, he undoubtedly follows you on Twitter, so he might as well have been at your table when the server girl spilled all that water on Andrew Baron [at the next table].)

8. Pontificate loudly about why all new ideas will fail (or PHALE). And then, if they don't, take credit for their success by insisting that the creators of said idea must have taken your warnings seriously and changed their business plan.

9. Blame designers for your inability to understand their services. Because if it doesn't work exactly like Google, Flickr, MySpace or anything else you already know, it's new, and new design is bad and likely to fail (see above).

10. Make all private emails and messages public. Because if so-and-so had really meant it when they direct messaged you in confidence, or asked you to sign that non-disclosure agreement, they wouldn't have used the internet for such sensitive communications. As mentioned previously, if it's on the web -- even behind someone else's password-protected intranet firewall -- it's fair game. (The people have a right to know.)

Do you have a favorite approach that I've overlooked?

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Fantasy Football: Making People Obsessive About Your Brand

I'm in two Fantasy Football leagues this year, and if things go as they should this evening, I'll be 1-0 in both leagues. I won one of these leagues -- managed by Jim at Sportsorcacy -- last year, and came in second in the other, so I may know a thing or two about fantasy football, or I may just be quite lucky.

But one thing fantasy football forces me to be is obsessive.

In order to compete in a league with cash on the line, I need to know more than my opponents. This means that I, like people in every city in the US, will be paying razor-sharp attention to every play, every injury report and every news item, seven days a week for the next 16, in the hopes that some overlooked bit of information will give me an edge in my fantasy football leagues.

And this means your waiter at Chili's tonight probably knows more about the injury status of all 16 starting tight ends in the AFC than he does about his own nephew. You think the NFL isn't thrilled about that?

So... how obsessed is America with YOUR brand?

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Your Free 10-Step Social Media Diploma

I received an email from Full Sail University today, touting (among other things) their Master's Degree in Online Marketing.


Can an educational institution really offer a justifiable Master's Degree in a field that's barely five years old, with precious few documented and proven success stories?

Curious (if not incredulous), I read their program overview, whose 12 courses include:

* 1 class on New Media Marketing Analysis
* 1 class on Web Metrics and Analysis
* 3 classes on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
* A Final Project and Thesis, "in which you’ll create and produce an Internet marketing campaign for a company that you’ll select as your subject of study"

And, perhaps most interestingly:

* An Internet Consumer and Behavior class, whose description begins:

What makes people motivated to search, research, and buy products on the Internet?

That's the kind of insight you'll be getting for a "Master's Degree" in Online Marketing? You'd think knowing what makes consumers tick would have been covered somewhere in undergrad, no? Or is the internet really all that different from reality?

That's what the accountants at Full Sail would have you believe, I'm sure. But all a course like this really does is flood the marketing field with inexperienced hacks who'll be able to charge their clients Master's Degree fees while outsourcing the actual work to people like me, who know how to do it.

(Side note: does Full Sail list the names and credentials of anyone who designed their Master's Degree courses? I didn't notice it on their site. You'd think most of us who create social media for a living would have heard of anyone Full Sail claims is worthy of bestowing Master's Degree-level knowledge, no?)

So if you were considering spending precious tuition money on a Master's Degree program in Online Marketing, Social Media or any other current buzzword that schools believe they can make a quick buck on, let me suggest this cost-effective alternative:

Your Free 10-Step Social Media Diploma

1. Read Blogs. It really doesn't matter who you're reading, so much as that you *are* reading. For marketing types, try the Ad Age Top 150. For anyone, read Chris Brogan; he's the equivalent of a walking Master's Degree in all things social media, and his blog is free.

Reading blogs helps you understand who's talking, what they're talking about, and why -- plus, how (and when) they're doing it.

2. Comment on Blogs. It's not a conversation unless you're talking, too. Be polite, be relevant, be brief. Above all, be yourself. (Unless yourself is an asshole; social media already has a lot of those, so you're not cornering much of a niche.)

3. Start Your Own Blog. Once you know how other people are doing it, start one yourself. Maybe it's about you, or your business, or your city or fields of interest. Maybe it's about all of those things. Start with one, find your voice and structure, and expand as necessary.

4. Subscribe to Blogs. Use Google Reader or another RSS aggregator to create your own daily reading list. Again, what you're subscribing to is less important than the act of *actually* subscribing in the first place, and understanding how it's done. You can't expect others to subscribe to your ideas if you don't make the effort of subscribing to theirs.

5. Design Your Own Blog. Maybe you're comfortable mucking around in code, and maybe you'd rather leave that to the people who do it better than you. Experiment with WordPress, Blogger or TypePad, or ask someone with design experience to set one up for you. Trade your expertise -- be it in marketing, recipes or landscaping -- for theirs. (If you can't barter, you can't sell.)

6. Use Twitter. If the web has a water cooler, it's Twitter. The chief current example of "microblogging," Twitter is an endless stream-of-consciousness discussion, the cultural zeitgeist in a bottle. Ever-changing, it forces you to think fast and be brief.

7. Listen to / Watch Podcasts. A podcast is the (poorly-conceived) name for any web audio or web video. It can be embedded on a webpage or downloaded to your hard drive / mobile device. It can be corporate or independent, entertaining or informative, serialized or stand-alone. iTunes has a wide variety of shows listed, while Blip TV, YouTube, Sclipo and Podanza each appeal to a different crowd. There are others; experiment.

8. Create a Podcast. It can be audio or video, short or long, interesting or dull, bad or good. No matter how it turns out, you'll learn something in the process of trying to explain yourself to a worldwide audience of complete strangers. And your next episode will be even better. And better. And better. (Authors allegedly start out by writing 1000 horrible pages; bloggers and podcasters get up to speed a bit faster, and without having to recycle all those trees.)

9. Check Your Stats. Creating media and not observing its life cycle is like dropping a baby into a jungle and hoping for the best. How are you supposed to know whether it stands a fighting chance? Use Google Analytics, Lijit and other stat-tracking tools to see who's finding your media, how they're getting there and what they're doing when they discover it. Then, once you have a handle on the whos and whys, you can better execute the hows -- as in, how to create media people want to see, and how to help them find it.

10. Get Out of the House. A computer is a tool, not a destination. Social media implies "people," as does marketing, which implies "market" (which, in most cases, is comprised of people). You may meet people online, but you don't know them until you're in a room with them -- and they don't know you, either. Join a Tweetup. Attend a PodCamp. Ask when your local chapter of Flickr photographers is getting together, and tag along. The connections you make in the real world only strengthen your relationships online, while providing the kind of interpersonal experiences that create trust, friendship and honest interest in what others (and you) are doing.

Navigate your way through these ten steps and you'll already know more about social media and online marketing than the graduates of most pricey online degrees -- and it won't have cost you a penny. Save your money; start a blog.

UPDATE: Chachi pointed out that I can't very well offer a Master's Degree without a printable diploma, so he graciously created one especially for you. Download your Online Marketing and Social Media Master's Degree diploma here.

Photo by m00by.

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