Web 2.0 and Social Media for Business 2nd Edition

The 2nd Edition of the free textbook, Web 2.0 and Social Media for Business from Ventus /Bookboon is now available from this Website: http://bookboon.com/en/web-2-0-and-social-media-for-business-ebook

It includes a number of new topics with a full chapter expanding coverage of Twitter and a section on Instagram. This book is a great resource for anyone using Social Media in business or trying to decide how to best develop a strategy for using Web 2.0.

The book can be loaded on a e-reader for easy access. Take a look!!

Social Media for Business Image.


Blog Personality

Image from: PresenterMedia.com

Effective use of blogs in a business setting requires understanding several key attributes. Among these are: voice, frequency, style, and passion. Each attribute represents a component of an overall personality for the blog and will determine the types of audience that will find the blog useful or interesting. Blogs can be written from many different perspectives. A blog’s voice refers to the way the entries are presented and worded. For most blogs, this means a departure from a journalism type voice where facts and events are described, and instead creating an everyday conversation that makes the messages sound personal to the readers. Most blogs are not a collection of articles. Instead, readers expect to find specific opinions, and a representation of the person doing the writing. When comparing blog entries to newspaper writing, it is helpful to think of the blogs being more similar to opinion columns and editorials than to headline articles. A blog’s voice will embody the approach the writer takes for communication. Blogs often use humor, sarcasm, self-deprecation, irony, over-the-top seriousness, or other approaches to create a voice that captures the readers’ attention.

A second attribute of a blog’s personality is the frequency with which articles are published. Remember blogs are a form of technology that allows the writer’s material to be instantly available to the public. Timely material can be published and a sense of immediacy may be expected of the blog. So, when a significant event occurs, it is helpful to update the blog right away. It is also helpful for the readers if the writer of the blog never allows more than a predetermined time to pass without adding an article. Depending on the audience and the goals for a blog, this might be a day, a week, or some other time frame. Most people subscribe to blogs so your updates will automatically become available to them when you publish an entry. It can be a fine balance between too many entries and not enough. By monitoring your blog’s traffic statistics, you can eventually determine a good entry frequency approach.

Blog style can also be important to success and readership. A blog that looks amateurish will reflect on readers’ perceptions of your business. Most blog hosting sites offer themes which are preformatted configurations. Themes may be free or they may be premium and cost money. Thousands of customizable themes are available for use on WordPress.

Finally, blogs need to exhibit passion for the subject covered. They work best as direct-to-the-point entries that don’t get too wordy or long. The following suggestions can help a writer ensure their material conveys passion:

Read Fresh and Though-Provoking Material: Don’t limit your reading to current news and the same blog entries that everyone else reads. The writing in your blog will reflect it. It will lack freshness and fail to have a unique voice. Writing output directly relates to reading input. Absorb new and fresh ideas by observing the world, by talking to people working in related areas, by reading old and usual books, and by spending time reflecting and thinking. It is possible to discover useful subject matter not related to your blog that will add value because of the author’s style or way of approaching topics. It is possible to find unexpected inspiration and new ways of viewing your topics from these alternative sources.

Blogs Don’t Need to be Balanced: Blogs are useful in conveying an opinion. Remember, people reading blogs will read more than just your company blog. For a specific blog entry, it is better to choose a direction and make a strong case for it. Reader comments can provide alternative points of view and perhaps build a case for the opposing set of arguments. This is a good way to create a discussion online. If an entry is meant to influence readers, provide them with the best arguments for your opinion. This will convey passion.

Passion becomes the elusive but essential component to powerful and compelling writing. A blog entry with passion will unleash the opinions of others and compel them to reply and provide their thoughts to the community a business blog seeks to build. Passion will ensure a blog’s message is carried beyond the website. Good writing may challenge opinions, offer alternatives to the traditional, and even offend or scare some readers. A passionate entry may be proven wrong and perhaps ruffle feathers but it will change minds and help build a reader base.

From: Web 2.0 and Social Media for Business by Roger McHaney, 2012

Free Textbook: Web 2.0 and Social Media for Business

Web 2.0 applications and social media have provided new venues for businesses to inform, understand and connect with their customers. This book provides a general understanding of using blogs, podcasts, live streaming, wikis, social buzz, social media, and more to enable businesses to rethink their approach and leverage new digital media’s advantages. It covers theoretical concepts such as RSS feeds and practical examples such as constructing a WordPress blog  in detail. Other topics examined from a business perspective include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Klout, and others. This free textbook provides information about the changing digital environment and how it impacts modern business practices.

Download it here: http://bookboon.com/en/textbooks/it-programming/web-2-0-and-social-media-for-business

Facebook for Friends ** and Students **

Most people are happy to use Facebook without worrying about its more sophisticated capabilities. Others might want to take it to the next level and use it to communicate with more than one audience. For instance, a teacher might have personal messages posted but may also want to use Facebook to reach students. This is done using custom lists and privacy settings. For a long time, I didn’t realize these features existed. And as a teacher, I worried about mixing my personal life with my faculty role. Fortunately, Facebook provides a reasonable solution and once set up, managing more than one audience becomes easy.  Facebook permits profile owners to assign groups of friends to specific lists. For me, this means a Personal Friend List and a Student List. Privacy settings can be applied separately to each list so only certain material is visible to each group. For instance, I may not want my students to access photos and posts related to my family. Likewise, my personal friends really don’t want to see a student study guide. So how does this work? First, a list must be available. To create a new list, or add someone to an existing list, the profile owner can visit his or her group of Facebook friends on the profile page. Mouse over the name of the friend to be added to a specific list. When the dialog box appears, click on the ‘Friends’ button and a box with all available lists will appear (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Creating Custom Friend Lists in Facebook

You may have to click on an item that says ‘show all lists’ to see lists you previously created. If you haven’t created the desired list previously, it is possible to do so from this same dialog box. Click on the list or lists for this particular friend. A check will appear next to the lists you have assigned. Once a friend is added to a list, content can be screened from their view more easily. How do you do this? In order to post information restricted to specific people, first create a post, load a video or add a photo as you normally would. Then, use the drop down box associated with the content to select the list of friends as an audience. As an example, Figure 2 shows how a post about a power outage will be made visible only to my family members. My students will not be aware of this posting. After posting the content, the settings can be modified to include more viewers.

Figure 2: Screening Content from All but Family in Facebook

Figures 3 and 4 show how this can be done using a drop down menu then adding lists or specific friends to a particular post. This is a very powerful capability in Facebook that makes it possible to use one account for multiple purposes. And for teachers, this can be very helpful! Using one list for students and another list for everyone else makes juggling the two worlds just a bit easier!

Figure 3: Changes to Make Content Visible to Selected Facebook Lists and Friends
Figure 4: Example of Making Content Visible to a List and Specific Friend





Slovakia’s Digital Shoreline

As a scholar from a Midwestern university in the United States, it is easy to get caught up in local projects and forget about interesting work taking place around the globe. I experienced this recently when I took my first trip ever to Slovakia in Eastern Europe. I had the good fortune of attending DiVAI 2012, the 9th International Scientific Conference on Distance Learning in Applied Informatics. The conference took place May 2-4 at the Hotel Thermal Recreation Complex in Štúrovo, Slovakia. The map below shows Slovakia’s location west of Ukraine, sandwiched between Poland and Hungary. I have observations that I would like to share. First, the regarding people: the conference was run by academics who take their field of study very seriously. This being said, everyone’s hospitality to a visitor from the United States was first rate. My hosts were warm and friendly. The conference organizers took time to meet me and engage in interesting conversation. I learned about their universities, programs, research and distance learning practices. This was especially true during the conference receptions and a bus tour that took us to Vyšehrad, across the river in Hungary where an early Renaissance palace perches on top a spectacular hill. My wife and daughter accompanied me to the conference and were included in all the activities. Second, Slovakia itself is a beautiful country. The towns and villages are neat and quaint. The countryside is lush, green with amazing stretches of farmland. Life moves a pleasant, slower pace with time to appreciate the surroundings. The hotel complex was amazing with its natural thermal springs providing hot pools for swimming and soaking. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Slovakia is a place where academic practice and research is flourishing. I learned a great deal in the sessions and left the conference with new inspirations for my distance learning classes and great research ideas for the future. I feel that I came to Slovakia as an outsider but left as a welcomed friend. It was a great experience and I encourage everyone to take time to visit Slovakia. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you will find.

Roger at Vyšehrad

Free Higher Education with Udacity


The world of higher education could be on the verge of a major paradigm shift. Sebastian Thrun, a former professor of computer science at Stanford, has stepped down from his academic post to dedicate himself to running Udacity, an online university poised to offer high quality online education. At first glance, this might not seem like a big deal because there are literally hundreds of online universities. But here’s the catch: Thrun, together with cofounder, David Evans, formed the company with a goal of providing these classes to anyone for FREE. That might send a shudder through many cash-strapped traditional universities, working hard to survive in times of budget cuts and pressure to offer more services. Udacity has powerful backing. Thrun has already used the model to provide a highly successful free course through Stanford in 2011. He and Peter Novig (Director of Research at Google) developed an “Intro to Artificial Intelligence” as an experiment and ultimately ended up with 160,000 students from all over the world. It took a small army of 2,000 volunteer translators to eliminate language barriers. The end result was highly successful.

Thrun has also dispensed with the classic idea of assigning grades. In fact, he has stated: Grades are the failure of the education system. His approach is to allow students to continue working on material until they master it. He envisions an entire class finishing at an A+ level. His vision draws on something said by Salman Khan, founder of the online Khan Academy: “When you learn to ride a bicycle, and you fail to learn a bicycle, you don’t stop to learn a bicycle, give the person a ‘D’ and move onto unicycle.” A class is about teaching and learning, not about segmenting and categorizing achievement.

Udacity’s first official course begins February 20th, 2012 and people are already gearing up to be part of the grand experiment. The next course is titled: Building Your Own Search Engine. I for one, will be watching to see what I can learn from Udacity and its new approach to teaching and learning. These ideas will begin restructuring higher education on the New Digital Shoreline. For more see Udacity.

SOPA: Not Far Enough?!? Stop Subway Whistlers Too!

I usually don’t weigh in regarding my political opinions but when it comes to SOPA, I couldn’t resist. Keep in mind my perspective might be skewed because I am currently living in London where the US-centric view of the world is less predominant. So here it goes:

I am beginning to wonder if SOPA goes far enough. Here’s my case. I was sitting on the Tube the other day for a long time. The person next to me, a twenty-something fellow, well-dressed with stylish clothes, began whistling a Britany Spears song. I am sure his public broadcast was being enjoyed by more than just me. But then it occurred to me, has he paid the appropriate licensing fees to rebroadcast that material? If I had been at home in Kansas, I might have considered the prospect of a citizen’s arrest but as a foreigner, I wasn’t really in that position. Plus, for all I knew, maybe he had sent a royalty payment to Britany’s recording company.

This takes me back to my point….SOPA is NOT ENOUGH! I think SOPA needs a few additional clauses to cover whistlers, hummers, and, yes, even random chorus singers. They all should be required to display their license demonstrating their subscriptions are paid up before publicly (or even privately!) being allowed to reproduce the music in ANY form.

The US government could rely on citizen watchdogs first and then formally organize an enforcement agency to deal with violators. The enforcement will be tricky but that’s a detail Congress can organize later. Just think of how much better the world would be! As a tax payer, I would be happy to fork out the additional money required. An international enforcement branch could take care of overseas violators. And a Website could be maintained to let whistlers and hummers know what they can legally reproduce royalty free (e.g. old school tunes!). After all this goes through, no more unlicensed whistlers on the Tube in London…wouldn’t that be heaven?

One last thought, I mentioned this idea to a friend of mine. He brought up one more sticky point—singing in the shower. But, that is a no-brainer. Webcam enforcement could manage that for us easily! I am sure plenty of our congressmen would volunteer for that duty…Stop Sopa

Human Google

Human GoogleWhen in London it’s hard not to overhear what people around you are saying. You are surrounded by people on the bus, the tube, and sidewalk. Even in my flat, I can hear what the neighbors or people outside are talking about. Maybe that’s why strangers don’t go out of their way to greet you like someone in Kansas might—there are just too many voices all around and seeing one more person is not an event.

Yesterday, I overheard a conversation that included this:

“When I get home, I’ll ask my neighbor. The guy is a human Google.”

I had to think about that a moment. I had heard people use the phrase “human encyclopedia” to describe someone that seems to know a little about everything. But a human Google takes it to the next level—just another example of the changes influencing our everyday life and lexicon.

There was something just not quite right about a human Google so I continued to listen and the conversation added a few disclaimers.

“He’ll spit out a hundred ideas and maybe four or five of them will be worth looking into. He’s good to talk with but he’ll just go on and on… and he never knows what to do with his ideas.”

Aha! The human Google may not have the precision of a human encyclopedia. That does seem to be the direction we are heading—a clutter of information, some of which is useful and some, not so much. The human Google supplies the list but it is up to us to filter it.

Maybe the guy I overheard needs a new friend, a “human Wolfram Alpha”