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Lifetime learning and how to get social

March 8, 2012 - 3 Comments

No one has to go it alone these days in learning social media as after all, social media is so social.  Especially as we get older, it’s often easier to pick up something new if we have some hand holding and inspiration.

Tim Ferriss, the famous author of “The 4-Hour Workweek”, just came out with a new book called “The 4-Hour Chef.”   His message in the book is how to use cooking to learn new skills.  He says once you learn cooking, apply that to inspire you to learn a new language, learn jujitsu.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbeg sets out a personal challenge for himself every year. Last year, it was eating meat only from animals he personally killed.  The year before that, it was learning Chinese. This year, it’s great time management skills (now that he’ll be CEO).

Social media often seems so overwhelming because there are so many apps out there.  But if you’re a Groupon or LivingSocial fan, apply your skill at scooping up deals to, a web site that offers deals on online courses for things like “Optimizing Landing Pages” to “How to use Google Plus in Business”.

Consider how many social networks there are.  Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are three of the most popular but there are many others.  Some are new to the scene, some aren’t.  Pinterest has been around a year and a half but just getting popular – seems like everyone feels they need to be on it! Then there’s Tumblr, Google+, Blogger, Instagram and ( a radio social network).

So how do you dip your toe in?   Consider these thoughts:

  • The reason you start may be more important than how. Think about what you want out of social media.
    If you just want to  post pictures, don’t choose twitter.
  • Learn about the concepts behind your social network.  It’s frustrating to learn about Facebook, for example, and then it changes a month later.  Learn the concept of a ‘friend’ because it’s on every social network. Same with an ‘update’.
  • Nowadays, check your privacy settings on whatever you sign up for.  This is important!
  • And social networks are ‘sticky’ …always trying always to keep you engaged with comments, postings etc.   Have that drive your usage.

And remember, learn with friends!  Social power will keep you going. At Cisco, we offer a mentoring program called the program where we match those who are great at social media with those who want to learn it.   See our blog here.  So far, 250 have signed up to be mentors in helping others to use social media in marketing campaigns, education and training, content sharing and collaboration, how to tie it to mobility, and experimenting with new apps such as Instagram and 4Square.

Lastly,  it’s never too late to learn. Author Gary Marcus of a new book coming out called
“Guitar Zero”, shares how on the eve of his 40th birthday, he learns to play the guitar and investigates how anyone — of any age — can become musical.

Lifelong learning is really all about what it leads you to.  As Marcus says, “quests like (learning the guitar) whether they succeed in the end or not, can bring unanticipated benefits, not just for their ultimate goals, but of the journey itself.”

I’d like to hear from you your examples of lifelong learning, and tips how to stay inspired!

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  1. One more thought when getting started… Pick a social network and one or two activities that generate value for you, e.g. posting pictures of your kids so your parents feel more connected to their grandchildren. By focusing on activities that you are likely to persist, you will eventually find other activities of value to you.

  2. Lifelong learning is a necessity in business. I practice law in Michigan, and when I first started my career I had a pager, and a small print advertising budget. I am not computer literate, but I needed to learn the fundamentals of website design to promote my website – Likewise, the legal research through books has completely evolved to online research, which I had to learn as well – even though my preference has always been books and writing briefs and pleadings longhand. I hope that one day I can set the curve, and my lifetime learning will become innovation, especially in the area of advertising to developing new clients.