Stay on Top in Social Media with These Learning Resources

Stay on Top in Social Media with These Learning Resources

self improvement social media learning

You don’t stay at the top of your game by sitting on the bench. We’ve all heard the pithy statement, “be a lifelong learner,” and everyone says they want to stay on top, out front, and in the know, but so few actually do anything about it. Social Media books are a challenge since the platforms change before books can even be published, and yet daily reading and learning on topics relevant to your industry is how you stay ahead of your competitors and your consumers.

[bctt tweet=”If you aren’t making today’s YOU obsolete, someone else is.” username=”GinaSchreck”]

Over twenty years ago, I was working with groups in the cable industry helping them put together a sales and marketing program to combat the “new competitor in town”… Satellite Dish! Before putting the program together, I went into several big box retailers who were selling satellite dish equipment and service to gather first-hand information. I got brochures, installation information, pricing, and heard what they told customers about cable companies. The managers at the cable companies were amazed at all I knew so much about this new and mysterious competitor. I had information they didn’t even know and yet this was THEIR INDUSTRY!  All I did was go into stores and ask questions. One person said to me, “If we need to know it, corporate usually sends us all the information.” This is such a sad statement!

If you want to be employable or stay in business today, you’d better take your learning more seriously and stay up on what is going on in your industry. Know who your competition is and what your customers are wanting. If you want to know why that is critical, just ask any Taxi driver about Uber!

Today I talk to people who say they don’t know anything about how to build  a social media strategy, how to build an influencer program, or how to create KPI’s (key performance indicators) in their marketing efforts, and yet there is more information available to us today than ever before.

Sadly when I ask other “social media experts” what they do to stay on top of their game, many say they don’t have time. I bet they have plenty of time for TV or other time-wasting activities. People say things like “I’d do anything to have a business like so-and-so,” and yet they really wouldn’t.

If you are wondering how you can sharpen your skills and truly be a lifelong learner, here are 3 ways to continually grow your social media and content marketing know-how:

  1. Read Social Media News Every Day

    Find a few industry blogs and subscribe to them. Add them to your account or other blog reader. I like using apps like Flipboard to pull in my favorite topics and bloggers. Then when I sit down to read, I simply open my app and it pulls in great relevant content to stay on top of things.


  2. Listen to podcasts in your industry

    You might prefer to spend your workout time or long walks listening to Adele whisper sad melodies in your ear, but line up a few podcasts that fill your brain with industry news and you can work both your brain and body at the same time. This is a free and very easy way to stay abreast of what’s going on, new tools being used, best practice stories, and more. I asked several people for their favorite social media podcasts and I was really disappointed to learn so many who work in this industry don’t listen to podcasts or read regular blogs.

    Here is a list of podcasts to help get you started and help you stay up on the latest social marketing news and information:

  3. Attend social media and content marketing conferences

    There are so many great social media conferences for people at every level. If you are committed to your career in social marketing, you have to invest in yourself and your education. Here are just a few of the top conferences

    • Social Media Marketing World – held in San Diego annually and put on by Michael Stelzner at Social Media Examiner.     
    • Content Marketing World  – Held in Cleveland annually
    • Social Media Success Summit – a virtual event held in the fall each year for those who are not able to travel to a conference.
    • Inbound – Hubspot’s annual inbound marketing conference held in Boston late fall.  
    • Look for local social media or marketing conferences and events as well.

What other things do you do to stay on top of your industry expertise? Do you have conferences or podcasts you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below–I’ll add them in here.

Remember, if you aren’t making today’s YOU obsolete, someone out there is going to do it for you!


Gina Schreck SocialKNX and DIY social         improve our social media, help with social marketing

Social Media Means Business – Time To Embrace It Once And For All

social media for business, social media marketing feeling left behind

Social Media Means Business

Have you ever been among a group of peers, clients or colleagues who are discussing a newsworthy or business related topic of which you know nothing about? It’s embarrassing and can undermine your credibility quickly. It can leave you wondering how you are the only person that isn’t in the know. Social media has taken hold as the modern form of communication. It hasn’t replaced our methods of the past, but rather, given us a faster way to receive and send information.

– Driving down the road – check for traffic up ahead.

– Want to know the news minute by minute – hop on Twitter for instant updates.

– Haven’t seen old friends since school – connect via Facebook and Google+

The list goes on and on…

So, why do so many still sit on their couches seeing hashtags referenced on TV and hope this ‘fad’ will just go away? Why is there an intimidation factor when it comes to using this hyper connected method of communication? Perhaps social media’s start made it tough for ‘adults’ to hop on the bandwagon. Platforms like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter originally attracted teens as a way to gossip, update their whereabouts or carry on about school crushes.  It could be because those adults were “people-people” and all of this technology was not for them.

But social media has grown up. It’s relevant. It’s so relevant, in fact, that without it, you aren’t. (TWEET THIS)

Social media means business, Social media, social marketing, managed services

Social Business is Here to Stay

Picture this: You are sitting around a client conference table as they discuss newsworthy alerts they just received, while you are still waiting to watch the evening news. Your coworkers are boarding your plane, having insight into the traffic issues you are still sitting in. Your networking contact at the company you hope to join just got promoted and is actively recruiting, but you don’t find out until the next time you two have coffee months later. The client you have been targeting for months via post cards and flyers, just hired your competitor that connected with them on social media sites. (Read, 6 Tips to Get You Ready to Flex Your Social Media Muscle)

Relevancy goes beyond being trendy. It reaches further than just knowing what social media is. Relevancy means getting you the information you need to be productive, make faster and more educated decisions. Social media helps you stay in the know as events unfold, letting you take advantage of opportunities the second they’re available. It’s an immediate path to anyone and everyone that is relevant to you.  Social media is taking hold and has become the new normal. Like the internet in the 90’s, you may not understand why you need it, but through continued learning and use, you’ll soon wonder how you ever lived without it.


Social marketing, community manager, outsourced social media


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36 1/2 Ideas for QR Codes and MicroSoft Tags in YOUR Business

QR Codes for business, QR Codes for learning, Social media for business, Gina Schreck, Technology Expert

QR Code

According to Wikipedia: A QR Code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scannersmobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. QR is the acronym for Quick Response, as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.[1]

I like to think of QR Codes as Hyperlinks on our physical world!  They are no longer just black and white and Microsoft Tag has come along and added a few more features that make the little codes even more flexible.

QR codes, Gina Schreck, TechnologyI have been seeing more of the colorful Microsoft tags on the backs of cereal boxes and around town.  These require a separate scanner app from Microsoft (free download on any smart phone-look for Microsoft Tag Reader) and can be customized into pictures that are very cool.

Microsoft Tag can provide data on how often and where the tag was scanned.  You are also able to change the data source without having to change the tag.

Here are a few scanner apps that people have voted as their favorites for QR Codes (be sure and share yours in the comments):

Android Platform: BarCode Scanner (I use this and find it to be the fastest); QuickMark for Android (Both FREE); Google Goggles works for QR codes as well (FREE)

iPhone: Optiscan for iPhone (known as fastest for iPhone -$1.99);  NeoReader (Free); QR Reader (Free); Google Goggles work for scanning as well.

Blackberry: ScanLife Barcode Reader (Free); QR Code Scanner Pro (vibrates when code connects AND Free); NeoReader (Free)

QR Code, Gina Schreck,

QR Code Made From Lego (by LarryStraining)

Here are my favorite QR Code Generators:

ZXing: I like this one because you can embed content (memo), a URL, Contact info, and even a calendar event!

Kaywa: Like above you can choose to embed a URL, text content or contact information, but UNLIKE ZXing, you have to choose one.

TIPS: The more information you put into your QR code, the more complex it will be. The geometric pattern will be denser, and could be more difficult to accurately scan and interpret.  Shorten your URL using a tool like to add some analytic features and see how many people are going to the site you sent them to.

36 1/2 Creative Uses for QR Codes or MS Tags:

QR codes for business, unique uses for QR codes, Gina Schreck, Technology expert, social learning, mobile

Sweet Code

1. QR Code on food products to take you to nutritional information.

2. QR Code on produce to tell you where the product was grown.

3. QR Code on items that need assembling taking you to a website with detailed instructions and a video!

4. QR Code inside a book taking you to a website where updates are available.

5. QR Code at zoo or museum to bring up videos or additional information on subject.

6. QR Code at conferences for handouts, exhibitor information and more.

7. QR Code on T-shirt taking prospective clients to your website, Twitter page or a video link for a fun surprise.

8. QR Code on business cards instead of cramming more info on there!

9. QR Code on health club door taking you to a site with great healthy recipes or trainer tips

10. QR Code on paper products with quick and easy recipes for families obviously on the go!

11. QR Code on sticker for laptops, phones, & other important gadgets that get left behind with your contact info.

12. QR Code on a rubber stamp for envelopes, stationary or even your forehead taking people to special promo pages on your site.

13. QR Code at the end of an article taking people to a bonus video.

14. QR Codes providing clues for a treasure hunt.

15. QR Codes around a school yard taking students to learning content (while they play!  SNEAKY)

16. QR Code on art piece taking you to artists portfolio.

17. QR Code at the end of a video on YouTube taking viewers to more fun content.

18. QR Code on wedding invitations or favors taking guests to online photos of the couple.

19. QR Code hidden in product or on raffle tickets – most go to fun content site and one goes to YOU’VE WON page!

20. QR Code on a bus stop bench with links going to car dealers website or eco-friendly sites.

21. QR Code on a grave site to take you to a page telling about the deceased.

22. QR Code on clothing tags taking you to designer websites or sites to provide styling tips.

23. QR Codes around an organization that take you to videos revealing the history or story of a company.

24. QR Code hidden in posters or marketing material that takes you to a special discount code.

25. QR Code on fingernail art taking you to a Facebook page or a nail salon website.

26. QR Code on dog tag taking you to a video sharing dog’s contact info or dog’s Facebook page :))

27. QR Codes on plant stakes to provide growing tips, plant origins, and coupons to fertilizers or gardening supplies.

28. QR Code on belt buckle taking you to your contact info or website.

29. QR Code on cupcakes or cake taking people to a special page with photos or videos featuring the guest of honor.

30. QR Code on car windows at dealer lot to allow shoppers to see video of car features when dealer is closed, or if they want to browse on their own.

31. QR Codes on menus taking people to a video of chef explaining the unique ingredients used.

32.  QR Codes on mailers that are sent out to take prospective customers to a video of you telling them why they should work with you.

33. QR Codes at the end of proposals that take people to a video of you addressing the potential client by name and giving the benefits of working with you.

34. QR Codes at the end of each book chapter with bonus audio or video content.

35. QR Code on business cards taking people to a white paper or free product to download.

36. QR Code on accountant’s business cards taking people to forms they need.

36 1/2. QR Code tattooed on your child…If lost, please return to… OK maybe not!

Now that I have your brain engaged here, what other ideas can you add?  What are creative places and uses you have seen?

5 Tips for Using More Video in Your Organization

5 Tips for Using More Video in Your Organization

(updated August 2016) Our society has an insatiable appetite for video.  It has grown steadily over the past 11+ years since the birth of YouTube and businesses are still behind in using more video in their marketing and customer education. According to statistics compiled by Website Monitoring YouTube has BILLIONS of views per day and people watch an average of 15 minutes of video per day.  I might be one of those “average people” since I do tend to watch videos that come my way via blogs, Twitter, Facebook and, occasionally, through an email.  If I add in the regular TED Talk videos that I watch, I can probably hit that average.

Kids and adults pass around more and more videos on Facebook and we even have Video Barbie, with a built in video camera, getting in on the action~(I do find this somewhat creepy to think little girls will be walking around secretly filming others through Bab’s camera that is embedded into her back and the lens in her chest.)  They could have named her Stalker Barbie! Warning to parents: Pick up those toys in YOUR bedroom before you go to sleep!

Video, Barbie video, Gina Schreck, Technology trends

Stalker Barbie

YouTube is now the second-largest search engine in the world, just behind its parent company…Google.  That’s right, people will go to YouTube to find everything from how to install a new toilet or how to speak with a British accent to finding deep intellectual messages through cartoons like Charlie the Unicorn.   So what does this have to do with business…besides EVERYTHING?

Take a look at some of these fun images from YouTube’s 5-year journey.

Businesses should be capitalizing on the fact that people are seeking information and learning from videos.  With video equipment getting smaller and less expensive, there is no reason why you and your organization shouldn’t be tapping into this insatiable appetite for video consumption.

Here are my 5 tips for getting your community tuned in to your message:

  1. Be Business Casual– When you over-produce or over-script a video, it feels like you are trying to sell us something.  When you turn the camera on yourself and talk authentically, we connect with you.  Look at some of the most successful videos on YouTube…they are not shot by a professional production team, they are simple and conversational.  What tips can you share via video? What’s on your mind that can be turned into a video blog post? You don’t need a professional set or well-written script. Jot some bullet points down and hit that record button. 
  2. Have Great Audio– There are many options now to boost the audio on many pocket video cams with Bluetooth microphones and even a simple lapel mic that plugs into your smartphone.  People will forgive bad video skills as long as they can hear you clearly.  Don’t forget that while doing simple editing after, you can adjust and boost sound as well. 
  3. Set a Fun Backdrop–  Look behind you before you start filming. I have seen videos with bright windows behind the person which turns them into a silhouette, or worse I have seen videos with pictures or lamps behind the person, creating a comical mashup of the person and the object.  Instead of sitting in front of a messy office, create a simple but interesting backdrop that will enhance your video. 
  4. Get the video creation into the Hands of the Community and Co-Create– Remember, YOU don’t have to be the star of every video, or of any videos if you’d rather stay out of the spotlight.  Put the cameras in the hands of your customers, your learners, your fans and let then tell the stories of your company.  Within your organization start a series of WINK videos (What I Now Know) asking everyone from the executive teams to the star employees, “What are 2 or 3 things you know now that you wish you would have known when you started here?” Have your customers create a “Day in the Life of a CUSTOMER!” People love seeing themselves be silly on video.  Create opportunities for participants to create content to use in a training program . Give teams the information they need and challenge them to create a fun, short (5 min in length) and content-packed video that will used to explain a new product roll-out to other teams or in a “Popcorn Learning Segment” in your next training program. Pop some popcorn and view the videos as a group with a debrief or quiz created by the same teams! 
  5. And….ACTION! Get STARTED! Don’t let the need for perfection paralyze you.  Pick something easy to start with like 5 tips on a topic you have expertise in and just push that RECORD button!  You will find ways to get more creative and better with each video you create.

Keep in mind that when you post a video on YouTube, every word you say is transcribed and those words become searchable through Google!  Be strategic if you are wanting your videos to become viral or at least be found by a bigger audience!  You can post your videos on your blog, website, directly into Facebook, or a series of video hosting sites (YouTube is only one of many).

I love to hear the creative uses people find to incorporate video into their marketing, their learning, or other informative uses for business.  How else can we all get creative with simple video?  Let us know in the comment section and let’s learn something together!

Happy Filming!


Virtual Events for Business: What are they and how are they different?

When you hear the words “Virtual Events” or “Immersive Environments,” what comes to mind?  Geordi from Star Trek? Perhaps a giant question mark since they sound so foreign?

Gina Schreck, Social Media for Business, Virtual events, technology speaker

I’m Attending a Virtual Event

Many of us participate in virtual events regularly via webinars and streaming video events, and if you want to get technical, even a conference call is a virtual event.  Now what comes to mind are probably visions of sleepy office scenes with participants multi-tasking while a speaker drones on and on in a monotone voice (no, I wasn’t on that call with you yesterday!).

Virtual events have become a necessity in business today, for meetings, learning and more. There are different virtual platforms for different uses and we tend to get stuck with one or two because it’s easier than learning how to use new technology.  I have used many webinar platforms such as GoToWebinar, WebEx, AdobeConnect and ReadyTalk.  While webinars do allow for participant chat, the platform is typically flat (few if any can run video clips without the possibility of hiccups) and we have all learned how to multitask during the webinar, only tuning in if we are called by name or asked to complete a poll or other activity.  I have found the platforms that allow for participants to use annotation tools and actually write or use draw tools on the slides can be more fun and engaging.  When I tell participants to “draw on the tech tool you use most” they go crazy, marking all over the slide.  It is fun to watch!  People will try to write with the freehand draw tool instead of chatting, which is GREAT because they are actually engaged.

I’ve also been involved using hybrid virtual event systems such as Unisfair, On24, and InXpo, where they combine video streaming with slides, audience chat, a few social engagement pieces, and some cool 3D conference entry points where you can see the different breakout sessions being offered.

Gina Schreck, virtual events, technology speaker, social media for business

Virtual Hybrids

These are extremely engaging for larger conference events where you have keynote speakers and breakout sessions.  Attendees can be both live and remote or you can host the event completely for remote attendees.  They allow participants to pop into the sessions they want to attend and skip the sessions that are not relevant to them.  These platforms are for one-to-many communication.  The speakers deliver the content and the attendees can interact via chat.

The most engaging, in my not-so-humble opinion, is the 3D immersive environments.  I say this for several reasons, one being the environments are so different from anything you have probably used, that your brain is trying to grasp what is going on.  You are hearing each person speak with 3D sound, which means the people on your right are heard on your right (if you are wearing a headset or have good computer speakers), and the person on your left is coming through in your left ear.  The person’s avatar who is standing further away sounds quieter than the avatars right next to you.  The avatars are gesturing when they speak and their little cartoon lips are even moving.   These avatars gather in conference rooms, open-air amphitheaters or possibly a build that resembles the inside of a computer as someone points out the changes that will take place in the new product roll out. Another reason 3D immersive is more engaging is the simple fact that there is so much going on visually.  Participants are not just looking at slides on a computer screen (although sadly many people load up boring slide decks in virtual environments just as often as they do at face-to-face events).  Participants are IN the environment.  They are moving their avatars around and taking in all the amazing visual surroundings.  All the other participants are avatars in the same shared environment and they are looking at the same documents, slides, or even white board.

Gina Schreck, Virtual Events, Social Media for Business, Technology speaker


There are many different 3D immersive platforms and not every 3D environment is created equal.  I have found Second Life, Teleplace and VirtualU to be some of the best for business and learning events (many will have other opinions and by no means is this list comprehensive so please chime in with more that we should check out in the comments).  Without going into too much detail, here is why:

SECOND LIFE– Most people have at least heard of this platform, but many have only heard the strange social networking or personal gaming side of the platform. I love the flexibility of Second Life; the ability to change and create your environment to enhance your outcomes.  Avatars are more realistic looking and can be customized until your heart’s content.  This picture here shows an education conference that was built around a desert theme and the creativity was MIND-BLOWING!

Some of the downsides to Second Life are the intense graphic nature of the program (gaming computers are ideal, but most of today’s PCs have great graphics to run the program) and the fact that this “world” is most like our real world, in that anything that you can think of, you can probably find in Second Life somewhere.  I tell people that virtual environments are event and destination driven.  You log on and attend an event or go to a specific location and when you are finished you log off.  If you start wandering around and looking to see what else is in this environment, you will find some strange places and people, just like you would in our real world. (Trust me, I’ve been lost in New York before!)

TELEPLACE– This is a great platform for people new to the 3D immersive idea.  It is great for business meetings and is most like a webinar than any other that I have seen.  You do have simple business avatars (or you can choose a lego-man body with your photo in the square head-see photo of green lego-man here) and you enter the business office or conference center.

Gina Schreck, Virtual Events, Technology speaker, social media for business


The choices and customization of avatars is very limited and your environment is less flexible as well, which can be a good thing for some businesses, who are a little tech-skiddish.  With Teleplace, you download a small program (much like GoToMeeting) and within 10 minutes you are ready for your meeting to begin.  You can share video, websites, documents and slides, which makes it great for small group meetings and corporate training classes.

The downside to this tool is they are not set up for event pricing (one event this month, two next month and perhaps none the third month). They require annual licenses and it is a bit pricier than other platforms.

I believe we will continue to see greater adoption of virtual events as travel becomes tougher and budgets become tighter, but also as technology becomes more and more engaging to use.  Dive in, learn about these virtual options, but then attend one for yourself in each environment to see how you could use them.

We host regular webinars and meet weekly in our Second Life campus for business discussions, classes and professional networking.  You can join us for FREE on Thursday nights 6pm (PT)/9pm (ET) by clicking on this link to begin setting up your account-it will place you in our campus when you are finished with the set up.

Gina Schreck, Virtual Worlds, Technology Speaker, Social Media Second Life, VirtualU

Gina Schreck


Gina Schreck

Let me know how we can help you and your organization use today’s technology to build your business or manage your brand.  Contact me on Twitter @GinaSchreck or email me

The Controversy Around the Digital Divide

Technology Speaker, Social Media Expert, Digital Natives, Digital ImmigrantsI grew up with 3 TV channels (not including the mysterious UHF channels which never had anything of value to a kid), I was the remote control.  I played records not MP3 files, on my Fisher Price record player.  The only phone we had was one with a very long cord that could be pulled into our bedrooms for privacy.  I am a digital immigrant.

I hear many people complain about the labels, “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants.”  I’m assuming what they really don’t agree with is some of the stereotypes that tend to go along with those labels.  Some will say ALL digital natives LOVE technology and ALL digital immigrants RESIST it.  Obviously that is not true, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are those born into a landscape of digital technology and those of us who have had to make that mental shift and MOVE.

I am a native to the United States, but that doesn’t mean that I know everything about our great country.  There are those who have immigrated over from other countries and I am amazed at those who know more about our history and landmarks than I.

Regardless of which side of the digital divide you were born on, it doesn’t change the fact that we must find ways to continue learning to use the tools of today.  My old record player won’t allow me to do all that my iPad will, I watch more videos on YouTube than shows on my television (unless it is in 3D -then our 3D TV delivers the goods!) and my Google Nexus One phone can do just about everything from helping me review restaurants online, making dinner reservations without having to call and be placed on hold. My phone can hail a taxi  or talk me through directions to get there all without having to drag my phone into a room for privacy…wait…PRIVACY…what’s PRIVACY?  Perhaps that’s yet another thing digital immigrants are struggling with understanding!