Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Day 254 - Attending a Social Media Workshop

I have never taken a social media marketing class. Admittedly, taking such a class has never been something I have wanted to do. Generally speaking, marketing has very limited appeal to me outside of clever or humorous advertisements, and as someone that doesn’t own a business, I have no real use for social media marketing skills. However, as readership of the “I have never...” rose as my year of new experiences progressed, part of me started to think it would be valuable to get more involved in promoting my stories via social media. As a result, I hopped on the Twitter bandwagon and used more targeted approaches to draw in readers through Youtube, Facebook, and blogspot tools about half way through my year of new experiences. As I attempted to use new and unfamiliar aspects of these social media tools, it quickly became apparent I wasn’t as well versed in the breadth of social media tools as I thought I was. In turn, I decided it might be a good idea to include a social media class as one of the new experiences in my “I have never...” journey.

The Dreambank
That perspective resulted in me doing some research to find some outlets for learning more about social media and its use in connecting with unknown people that might take interest in my journey. At first, this effort produced a lot of classes that required extended time commitments and tuition for in-depth training and academic resources. Although I wasn’t opposed to such a format for learning more about social media marketing, I realized the amount of time and money I would have to commit to such a class would be a restrictive in completing my journey. As a result, I set aside the idea of attending a social media marketing class and decided I would keep my eyes open for any opportunities that might offer another forum for learning such skills.

A little more than a month after I began my search for a social media marketing class, I eventually came upon an opportunity at the local American Family Dreambank that appeared to fit the mold for my desired “I have never...” event. When flipping through a variety of upcoming local events, I stumbled upon a workshop titled “Going Social with Youtube, Vine, and So Much More.” A brief description of the free event indicated it would focus on exposing attendees to the refined social media tools and strategies large companies like American Family use to reach more people more broadly, which convinced me it would be a valuable use of my time. As a result, I signed up for the workshop and marked the event on my calendar.

With the class scheduled for this evening, I made my way to the Dreambank after my workday and prepared to take in as much information as I could from the 90 minute session. When I entered the building, I was surprised to find the interior fixtures were entirely different from my previous experience with a life coaching session at the location. Equally as vibrant and warm as before, different concepts of personal development and identifying personal strengths covered the walls and displays throughout the building. After taking a few minutes to take in all of the new features, I found my way to the back of the building, where a man name Keith quickly introduced himself and welcomed me to the session. With that, I promptly found a seat among the few rows of seating in the meeting area and waited for the presentation to begin.

Time to learn
In the minutes leading up to the event, five other attendees entered the room and speckled the seats in the meeting area. Although the crowd was small, Keith eagerly welcomed everyone and began the event. Explaining his background in visual media and advertising with American Family, Keith guided us through the organization’s transition to social media platforms for advertising campaigns and described the power of social media in reaching new and different audiences. With that, he moved into several demonstrations of his work and laid out the marketing approach used by American Family in social media outlets. Paying specific attention to video services like Youtube, Vimeo, and Vine, he walked through a series of tools, dashboards, and features offered by each of the services that I was completely unaware of prior to tonight’s events. The scope and power of the insight provided by the embedded, and unbelievably free, tools offered by the social media platforms astounded me, which made me realize I wasn’t nearly as savvy with such resources as I had previously thought.

Keith kicking things off
Acknowledging many people in the room likely shared that perspective, Keith was quick to provide us a detailed walkthrough of each feature and dispel any assumptions about the available tools required advanced skills or expertise. The information he provided was comprehensive but concise, and although it was directed at small business ventures, it offered me plenty of ideas for how I could make the most of social media outlets during the rest of my “I have never...” journey. Basically, that meant I had to give up my tendency toward skepticism about social media tools, and I needed to stop being so reluctant to try new things. From Keith’s presentation it was clear those characteristics has resulted in me overlooking a lot of incredible tools and ways to connect with people that had been at my fingertips for years.

Social Media breadown
Eventually, the presentation drew to a close with a brief question and answer session, during which Keith provided some ideas and input on potential social media marketing approaches for some of the business owners in the room. Encouraging the ideas and input of others, Keith welcomed those of us in attendance to offer our thoughts on approaches for the businesses being discussed, which inspired a collaborative discussion among the group. Collectively, we talked about the application of the concepts discussed until the workshop drew to a close with a review of the tools and topics discussed during Keith’s presentation.

As the group slowly gathered their belongings and began streaming out of the building, we offered one another a few final ideas and some encouraging remarks. In those last moments of tonight’s experience it was easy to recognize my first social media marketing class had not been the most exciting new experience during my “I have never...” year, but and the ability to creatively collaborate with others and the insight offered by Keith’s presentation made the experience worth it. Honestly, tonight’s class was more than I expected, and it helped me realize the downfalls of my slow adaptation to new tools and new technology. That’s a good reminder of how my stubbornness can be a hindrance sometimes, which is a valuable lesson that will hopefully remind me to think twice before I dismiss something new out of hand in the future. That isn’t exactly what I expected to take away from tonight’s event, but it made me glad I decided to include this experience as a part of my 365 new experiences.


  1. Hello Caleb,
    Thank you for attending the workshop and your view.
    I really enjoy your blog and the 365 day journey. It’s a great prescription for anyone to get outside of a daily routine, broaden one's perspective, and reboot. Your work motivates me.
    Also appreciate your day 287 post from Apostle Island Ice Caves. Something I hoped to do.

    1. Thanks, Keith! It's good to hear from you. I appreciate you taking the time to catch up on my year of new experiences, and I thank you for your kind words.

      Breaking routines is what this year is all about! I have learned a lot, met many amazing people, and become a better person through the process. I thank you for welcoming me in and letting me make the social media workshop a part of the experience!