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The Intern’s Perspective

“Am I just a very small fish in a big pond?” -- That is what I originally thought when I first joined Cisco as a Public Relations Collaboration Intern. Turns out no one bites here, which definitely has helped the process while I have been attempting to get settled in. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. Instead of “Hey intern, do this for me,” I am asked, “Corinne, can I help you with anything or do you have any questions?” It is reassuring to know that I am around genuinely good people beginning my, as I like to call it, “adventure” here at Cisco.

After getting settled in with all the gizmos and applications on my one of a kind ThinkPad, I finally have a routine when I come into work. My mornings consist of reading, lots and lots of reading. From press releases, to news articles, to tweets … anything related to technology or social media I will most likely know about it. I’ve noticed most conversations don’t involve people’s input on the Kardashians or how the next Twilight is going to play out, so Cisco’s Newsroom has become one of my new best friends here.

Once my brain has reached overload, I usually have meetings or my kind colleagues will invite me to meetings to sit in on. I’ll catch myself looking like a “deer in headlights”  at times because all I think about is, “Hmm…what did that acronym stand for, I better write that down” or “I wonder why Telepresence originally had an upper case ‘P’ but is now changed to a lower case ‘p’”. To be honest, during the first PR meeting I ever sat in on I thought they were talking about the show “Futurama” on Comedy Central for a half second until I realized they were referring to something else. Thankfully, I haven’t asked too many dumb questions because they keep inviting me, which has been a great learning experience in order to become more familiar with how the Cisco Public Relations team works.

After lunch, I’ll work on the projects I have been given. I am no Greg Justice, but I try to be as creative as possible when deciding how to execute these assignments without looking stupid. I’ve never made so many to-do lists in my life, but hey, it works! Stay tuned on what I’ll be working on throughout the summer. This includes more external and some internal blogs, strategic analysis presentations on our company and the dark side AKA our competitors, as well as some fun and informative videos.

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Creating a Social Media Training Program that Works

It’s daunting, exhilarating, and a lot of hard work, all rolled into one…that’s the day in the life of social media! Each day is different as this social communication channel continues to evolve and grow. So how do organizations keep their best brand ambassadors (aka their executives, employees, contractors, vendors, partners, and customers) up-to-speed with social media?

While it’s really a mix of components, including policies and guidelines, communication, and clear strategies, training is a key component. There are a variety of social media webinars, chats, workshops, and other learning resources out there, but often times, a more robust training program is needed to educate new users and enable those with an existing skill set.

With a collaborative effort, a common goal, and a set of focused training courses, organizations can empower these ambassadors to use social media effectively, build their own reputations, and bolster the brand. Internally our Corporate Social Media Marketing team has been working hard to build a robust training program for employees, contractors, executives, partners, and customers. Below is a summary of highlights from this expanded program, tips to creating a similar initiative, and an opportunity to participate in the upcoming @ciscosocial #smtraining Twitter chat on August 2, 2012 at 9am PDT. (Please note new date.)

Cisco Social Media Training Snapshot

After assessing internal company training needs around social media and existing resources, we looked for ways to expand learning, developing the following model and implementing it this past May.

Cisco's Corporate Social Media Marketing Training Program Snapshot

Courses are offered across Cisco both in live and on-demand session formats to accommodate different regions on an ongoing basis. And in the true spirit of collaboration, we work with Cisco subject matter experts (SMEs), global social media peers, fellow team members, and even a few guest speakers. Not only does this approach create a stronger shared investment across the company, but it also enables those interested in stretch goals, the opportunity to participate in a larger role. Lastly, the program includes special incentives including three levels of certification and gaming badges to earn along the way.

Since we launched the first course on May 29, 2012, we have seen a huge interest in the training programs with over 550 participants, with many on their way to the first level of social media certification! As the word gets out internally to more and more teams, we are seeing larger registration and participation across organizations such as engineering, support, marketing, sales, and several others.

Currently, we are also offering a smaller partner-focused set of training sessions. And at the end of this summer, we will launch the executive-focused track of this program, followed by customer training opportunities in 2013.

Tips to Create a Training Program

Creating a training program like the one described above takes resources, time, determination, and support. Here are some tips to developing this type of training program:

  1. Get to know the audience, internal and external.
  2. Assess the current training resources available to these audiences.
  3. Outline gaps in courses, materials, and other types of resources.
  4. Create a social media training strategy and get management buy-in.
  5. Look for ways to leverage existing resources, internal team member expertise, and external contacts.
  6. Build content that resonates with audiences, sharing a mix of best practices, techniques, and examples.
  7. Tie into the organization’s overall training programs and systems.
  8. Start out slow, evaluate course feedback and ratings, and build out program accordingly.
  9. Identify opportunities to gamify the program to further incent participants.
  10. Recognize those that reach milestones and acknowledge participant feedback and needs.

Over the course of the next several months, we will share more program details and best practices.

In the meantime, let’s meet up virtually for a @ciscosocial Twitter chat to learn more from each other regarding social media training and how different organizations are developing this type of education. Join us on August 2 at 9am PDT, following #smtraining, directly on Twitter or another Twitter application. (Please note new date.)

What questions are top-of-mind for you regarding social media training? Share your feedback with us using the comment section below and we’ll incorporate your questions into this special Twitter chat.

This post was developed in collaboration with Petra Neiger (@petra1400).

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It’s in the Mix Marketers

Sometimes it seems that if you are not incorporating blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Slideshare and a myriad of other social tools, along with geo-targeted search adversting, remarketing, and let’s not forget QR codes into your marketing strategy, you’re shamelessly behind the times and your marketing initiatives are at risk of being ineffective -- or so it would seem…

A Fall 2011 survey by Constant Contact, Inc. shows that while most small businesses now market online and utilize social media, more conventional forms of marketing remain an important part of the marketing mix. “Old school” marketing tactics are still essential elements of our marketing  tool kits. They may not be the cool kids on the block, but smart marketers know how to leverage under-utilized tactics to their advantage. Think about it. Read More »

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Ragan Conference: It’s not just about the technology anymore

May 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm PST

On May 8-9, I attended Ragan Communications’ 2012 Advanced Social Media Strategies for PR, Marketing, and Corporate Communications summit, hosted at Cisco. Unfortunately, there’s not enough space in a blog post for me to write about all 28 speakers. Instead, I’ll focus on some recurring themes, trends, and ideas that stood out to me.

The world is changing at an uncomfortable pace

Carlos Dominguez from Cisco said it simply: the next generation is reinventing the rules. Globally, more people own a cell phone than a tooth brush. This made me think—many companies are having trouble understanding and adapting to an environment with Millennials (born 1982-2000, like me!).  Are we prepared for the change that the “always on” generation (born after 2000) will bring? As children, they’re already having a huge impact. Carlos showed a video of a child that thought a magazine was broken because it didn’t respond to touch. It’s not surprising that the iPad is now the most popular toy for children.

Later in the day, Kim Celestre from Forrester Research and Jeremy Bromwell from Definition 6 spoke separately about a change from “media” to “social.” Technology is not always the star of the show anymore. It is simply a vehicle for interactions and communications. The focus has shifted from having technology to what that technology enables you to do.

Brian Solis from Altimeter Group continued the discussion with a presentation about Social Media Optimization (SMO) as the “new” Search Engine Optimization (SEO). He said that it is no longer his job to talk to you, but to talk through you, since in this new social environment, the audience has an audience of audiences that are all connected.

Content FTW (For the Win) Read More »

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5 Ideas for Leveraging LinkedIn for Business

I was recently asked by a Cisco partner which social platform was better for B2B marketing – Facebook or LinkedIn?  My response went something like this – We’re all using Facebook to connect and share with our family and friends and with 800 million users, Facebook is hard to ignore, but do we really want our professional networks and personal lives to intermingle to this extent? There is always the option to create a separate Facebook page solely for business purposes. However, these types of pages are more likely to be successful for B2C companies where the target audience is already a regular Facebook user and  the product or service they’re selling is a lifestyle fit.

On the other hand, LinkedIn is a social platform designed specifically for the business professional.  It’s used by over 160 million people worldwidewho did nearly 4.2 billion professionally-oriented searches within the platform in 2011 and are set to surpass more than 5.3 billion this year. If I only had $10 to spend on social marketing and I had to choose between LinkedIn and Facebook, I would choose LinkedIn. The audience is more targeted, more qualified for the B2B technology market we focus on and the platform offers many ways to engage with this audience.

Here are five thoughts on how to maximize LinkedIn for business:

Read More »

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