Education in the Social Media Age

2010 - July - 27 - NodeXL - Twitter - birthconf

Facebook and Twitter encourage people to speak up.

Why?  Because text conversation is a safer way to get across what most people really think or have questions about.

Some people aren’t great speakers, or at least they think so, and fear vocal criticism.  Other people just don’t care to speak up at all.

Integrating Facebook and Twitter into the classroom  is sure to lead to a more insightful conversation.  No one really likes it when one brainiac or teacher’s pet dominates the conversation anyway.

Social networks, if used properly and teacher-controlled, can give the quieter students a voice, quiet down the voice hogs, and boost overall enthusiasm for participating in classroom discussion.

Photo:  by Mark Smith


Google Music

I’ve been waiting for something like this for years, a simple way for me to upload all my music into the music cloud and access it from anywhere.

No one wants to keep buying external hard drives and external drives to back up other external hard drives.

I want all my future music purchases to go right into my cloud as well.  I don’t want to upload after purchase.  I want the album or track(s) to go straight to my locker.

Cloud music is the future, if not the present.  Thank you Google.

Opting In

What’s great about Twitter is that you can subscribe to someone without having the email bombardment.

For me, Twitter is becoming my new RSS feed.

I just started to follow @SoundcloudLabs on Twitter.  Why?  Because I want to know when the latest and greatest widgets are created so I can test them out.

Is email dead?  Certainly not, it’s still the best way to capture your best fans privately and convert to sales.

But the habits of news publication change with technology, and that’s a good thing.

Why Wait? Get it Out There.

All these musicians and writers wait until the perfect moment to put their stuff out there.

Here’s a word of advice.  Don’t wait.

You don’t need a label and you don’t need a publisher to start building your tribe.

Digital distribution if easy.

If you’re a musician, throw your stuff up online and get some feedback, collect some emails as well.

If you’re an author, distribute your rants in a PDF through Amazon Kindle.  Build up your voice.

Don’t wait.  There’s no guarantee that even if the content is great that people will buy it.

My Marketing 101.

Will Smith: “The keys to life are running and reading.”

gif via milk studios

“The keys to life are running and reading. When you're running, there's a little person that talks to you and says, “Oh I'm tired. My lung's about to pop. I'm so hurt. There's no way I can possibly continue.” You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you're running. You will how to not quit when things get hard in your life. For reading: there have been gazillions of people that have lived before all of us. There's no new problem you could have–with your parents, with school, with a bully. There's no new problem that someone hasn't already had and written about it in a book.”

— Will Smith

Ship and Then Learn (Lessons From Music 4 Japan)

I’ve learned a few things from shipping my first product, Music 4 Japan.

1.  You have to make people care.  Getting people’s attention is the hardest thing of all.

2.  Adding more content to an existing package does not make it more valuable.  I’m at nearly 60 tracks now and not seeing any increase in sales volume.  Less is more?

3.  No one wants to hang your flyer unless it’s a relevant event.  Even then, there’s no guarantee.

4.  Some people are more generous than others.  Make sure to include donation options higher than the standard price.

5.  Build a scannable, presentable website with a clear buy button.  A solid checkout flow is also key, the less clicks the better.

6.  Use social networks as a way to reach new audience but don’t abuse them.  Over-marketing can get you ignored.

7.  Don’t lose hope, keep pushing.  One day can bring 5 orders, the next day you may see 0.

8.  Gift the product to a friend or key social influencer and hopefully that person buys more or gives you a retweet or shoutout.

9.  If you can’t get your mom to care and spread the word, then you’ve got a major marketing problem.

10. Have a stage 2 marketing plan weeks after the release.  This is where I’m at now.

Which Country Owns Mobile and TV Technology?

I remember travelling to Hong Kong when I was fourteen and being amazed by its technology, malls full of flat screen TVs that the United States hadn’t yet seen.

Same goes for Europe.  I went to London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Munich and everyone had a cool looking phone.

My roomate from Turkey sophomore year of college would bring home stylish phones that seemed to be more advanced than a regular cell phone.

And then the technology traversed continents.

Thanks to Apple, the United States now owns mobile technology.  The iPhone sparked a revolution because it was the first true phone to connect people to the Internet without having to log in through a browser.

Meanwhile, no company really owns the television space.  The television is still in development in terms of Internet connectedness.  And Apple is in that game as well.

Now that US firms are competitive in technology Americans get to test the cool gadgets first, instead of the other way around.

App Texting

3G needs to speed up.

I don’t want to use SMS to text anymore.  I want to use apps, like the Kik app.

The other night my brother was picking up Chinese food and I was waiting for him around the corner in the car.  You couldn’t park in front.

When he was done, he texted me to pull around and pick him up.  That text could have easily been an in-app text had the Kik app been able to open up quicker.

Plain and simple, the 3G network is slow.  Free app texting is to replace SMS but only if this so called ubiquitous Internet gets chugging.

Social Media Aggregating Platforms

I never saw the value of these social media aggregating platforms.

Tweetdeck is a sloppy mess.  You can have your Twitter, Facebook, and any other RSS feed watchable all at the same time.

However, I can see how Tweetdeck comes handy if you’re a big business and millions of people are talking about your company online.  You need to have the ability to retweet and respond fast.

But for me, simply logging into Twitter or Facebook is sufficient at this time.

The easiest way to search buzz about you in the web is to simply use Google and explore your key term, like “Music4Japan” and have it pull up real time Twitter feeds, blog and forum results, and obviously search results which is king.

I hope the day arrives when I have to use a platform like Tweetdeck.  But I’m just haven’t had a project or a blog with maximum volume.

Voice Recorder

I just downloaded a voice recorder app on my iPhone.

I’ve been reading lately that some of the best ideas we have come on the road, when we don’t have access to a nearby pencil or pen.

There’s been countless times when I’ve had an idea for a business idea or blog post that I simply forgot minutes later because I had no record of it.

So, starting today I’m going to try and record my brain farts.

Wish me luck!

Good Timing

Just when I had unsubscribed from the New York Times one of my favorite authors hits me up with another E-book.

I totally forgot I bought it a month ago for $0.  That’s right, it was free.

The new book entitled “Do the Work” by Steven Pressfield runs along Godin’s favorite theme of shipping good content.

I’m excited to read it as my Kindle was gathering dust on the shelf.

It just so happens that Amazon announced a library pact today as well so I can borrow books on the Kindle, for free.

I love the digital business.

Marketing on the Job

I didn’t go to business school, in fact the only marketing education I got came via my own research into the four P’s which I can never seem to recall.

But I’m pretty sure the best marketing education comes from real practice.

Create a product and try to sell it.  Along the way, you’ll figure what works and what doesn’t and where to focus most of your attention.

The first step is to have good content.  If you don’t have good content, your marketing is a non-starter.

Once you have good content, then comes the real challange, i.e. converting people into buyers.

Friends and family are easy to convince because they want to support you.  They are your first customers, use them.

But if you’re trying to hit mainstream, you’ll need a wiser marketing strategy.  Aim for your niche, online and off.

For me, I’ve been trying to get people to donate to my Music 4 Japan album.  I’ve done the online work via twitter, facebook, blogs, and forums.  I’ve done the physical stuff, flyers and word of mouth.  I’ve tried to hit niches in those areas, hitting up music sites and putting flyers in music-related places and local charity benefits.

Upshot:  minimal sales impact.

Sales and marketing are hard work.  That’s what it comes down to.

But when you get that first hit, it’s must easier to convince buyers the next time around.

Turning Attention Into Real Purchases

There are so many factors going into a marketing campaign.

Is the timing right?  Is the message clear?  Are the buy options readily available?

How do you get people to care enough to open their wallets?  Is your story convincing?

I thought building a music compilation which raised money for Japan to be fairly obvious.

The money goes to Japan in a time of need and you get great music for your donation.

The problem I’m having is converting buyers into promoters and social networking likes and tweets into sales.

I’m not seeing much conversion.

I’d say 90% of the sales have come through family and friends.

My goal would be for the project to hit mainstream.

I don’t know how to get there quite yet but I’ll keep pushing on all ends with my consistent message.  That message is simple: Donate at least $5 & get 54 tracks. Sick eclectic songs, which you can’t get on iTunes.  Done.

Do you have any marketing recommendations?  What am I doing right or wrong?  What should I be doing more of?  I’d appreciate your insight.

What I’ve Learned From My First Product

If there’s one thing about putting out great work, it’s that the marketing piece is hard.

I’ve done all the promoter outreach on Music 4 Japan myself.  No publicist, just good friends spreading the word, people with strong social networking influence, and me diligently reaching out to everyone from my old university to Soundcloud to even Seth Godin!

Sometimes you get a catch, sometimes you don’t.

On the sales side, I’ve had two major $100 donations so far, both of which came from my mom’s work friends.

These are people who kindly donated for the cause, not for the music.  To them, my story of raising money was enough.

But I’d also like to spread awareness through the music.

The music is excellent.  I’m sometimes surprised that I even got some of it.  Songs from bands like Purity Ring, Mighty Oaks, and Childish Gambino belong on major labels.

The music space is highly crowded.  There’s millions of musicians and just a handful that make it big.  Thank goodness the ones that keep producing and don’t make the profit, do it for the love, even if that means that they have a job on the side.

My ultimate goal out of this project was simply to get me started.  I’ve alway wanted to run a charitable campaign and use music as the hook.  I believe music has that special power to connect people and hit their hearts.

Again, thanks to all those artists and influences who’ve helped me out.  Your craft is a blessing.