A fun activity for Christmas if you’ve failed to board the social media train so far — enroll in SMUG

Two-thousand-and-nine will go down as the year when social media and marketing finally moved beyond the fishbowl of early adopters and entered the marketing mainstream.

I first started getting involved with social media in lurker mode — that is, subscribing to blogs, listening to podcasts, digesting the emerging literature on the topic, but not personally writing or commenting — toward the end of 2006.  As my interest and knowledge grew and I began to breach the topic with colleagues and clients, no one knew what the heck I was talking about.  Even at the beginning of 2008, when I began this blog, there still wasn’t a whole lot of attention being paid to social media by mainstream marketers or the press.

In the meantime, every other article in Advertising Age touches on some dimension of social media, CNN and other traditional media outlets invite you to follow them on Twitter, my clients are experimenting and creating social media staff positions, Ford’s Scott Monty, who was virtually unknown outside the social media fishbowl three years ago, is a marketing superstar, and even my 86 year old mom is on Facebook.  If there’s anyone left in the marketing community who hasn’t at least thought there is something definitely HAPPENING out there, he or she must be living under that proverbial rock.

Okay — but what if you’ve come late to the train?  You’ve recognized something is going on, but for whatever reason — you’ve been buried under the weight of your anachronistic to-do list, your boss has his head in the sand (or worse places) when it comes to social, or 2009 was the year you finally got to the final round of American Idol — you just haven’t had the time to look into it.

Here’s what you do.  Go to SMUG — Social Media University Global.  SMUG — an unfortunate acronym, as there is nothing smug about it — was created by Lee Aese.  Lee is the manager for Syndications and Social Media for the Mayo Clinic and has been a pioneering innovator in the application of social media strategies in health care.  (I have written previously about the Mayo Clinic’s social media efforts here.)

Enroll in the SMUG curriculum.  That sounds kind of old fashioned and boring, but it’s anything but.  The SMUG curriculum consists of Lee’s own clear and concise explanations of social media strategies and tools, as well as links to articles, blog posts, etc. relevant to the topic at hand, authored by others active in the space.  Add to that a good dose of charm and humor that Lee brings to the party and you’ll find that getting up to speed on the new world of social media and marketing can be an awful lot of fun.  Best of all, it’s free.

So in between the figgy pudding, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and your annual viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, why not log in to SMUG this holiday season and give yourself a gift that will truly last the whole year long and beyond.

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