By now we have all heard the phrase “There are no experts in social media, just students.” The world of social media is evolving so rapidly that even the “gurus” we have come to admire and respect today, are in a perpetual state of learning. Whether you consider yourself a journalist, public relations professional, or marketer; as communicators we must all learn to navigate the world of social media. But if the goal is to become, not an expert, but a student, how does that change your approach? Here are a few thoughts:
- Pay attention to kids in class. Just because there are no experts, there is a lot you can learn from users at all levels. Figure out who your role models should be.
- Raise your hand. Ask questions. Share your thoughts and opinions. Don’t be afraid to to admit you don’t know everything. You’ll be surprised how quickly you learn this way.
- Perfect attendance. Having a Twitter handle, Facebook page, LinkedIn presence, blog, etc., means little unless you are using these tools to engage on a regular basis. Improve your attendance and learn more.
- Study hall. Strive to learn something new every day. Make a conscious effort. It is easy to get stuck in a comfort zone with Twitter, or the blogs you routinely read. Don’t.
- Field trips. Get out there and meet people in person. Find a local Tweetup or attend an un-conference related to social media. You’ll develop stronger relationships with the people you interact with on line, and you’ll learn a ton.
Teachers are everywhere. While no one is an expert, I have found nearly everyone is a teacher (whether they know it or not). Some teach practices worth adopting; others teach you mistakes to avoid.
Do you consider yourself a student of social media? What steps do you take to further your social media education and what are the biggest challenges?
Valerie Merahn Simon writes a national public relations column for examiner.com and also blogs for BurrellesLuce, where she serves as a Senior Vice President. She can be found on twitter @valeriesimon.
(Image Credit: Final Exam by dcjohn)