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If You Teach Social Media You Need to Front It.

The Circle of No LifeSOMETHING I LEARNED as an instructor pilot: it's hard to have any credibility if you can't do what you say. The same rule of thumb applies with online social networking. I teach third level college students how to connect with people, brands and ideas online. I can't simply point those students at social media ninjas and say, "Read, follow and learn." That would be like pointing to the sky and telling a student pilot, "Go fly!" I've smart students and they know when they're seeing a chancer. To earn their respect, I have to show them samples of best practise in social media before I ask them for their own online work. And in Tipperary Institute's classrooms, that means I have to unpack my own online presence for those students to see that I'm doing more than I'm talking. But they want more than seeing how microblogging, social audio, cloud networking, shareable video, syndicated personal publishing, and open communal sharing works. Because half of my students are older than 30, they want me to prove using social media will gain them a business advantage. And since there's little business advantage in hiding behind a company account, it means I need to prove the essence of effective social media by showing metrics to prove its value. It's very illuminating to show them that their own personas--their open, collaborative, social selfs--can reap rewards online. I don't prove these points by myself. I don't have to show cost savings, marketing reach, effective reputation management, and search engine standings by pointing to things I've done online. Instead, I have evidence from six local companies with all these by-products of their lives online.

This academic semester, I'm bringing founders, promoters, directors and effective social media communicators into my Social Media classroom and letting them explain how they frame their online business dealings with a personal dimension. We will record and share most of those guest appearances through clips recorded through Online Meeting Rooms. Those success stories reveal honesty, passion and commitment to the extended online communities that I've used to good effect since 2004. In 2010, my students will have stories from popular social sites, social music sites, online collaboration, social visual, shareable video sites, location sites and an online audio community. If all goes to plan, my students will finish the month of April with clear-cut samples of doing social media right. And you can bet they won't be citing examples derived from locked-down private accounts.

David Armano -- "Do You Live Social?" in his latest contribution to Harvard Business Review, 30 Dec 09.

David Cushman -- "Using + Social Media = Fail" in Faster Future, 1 Dec 09.