Social Sunday! It’s official: I’m Social Media Marketing Certified!

I received recently an email invitation to take an online course offered by Hootsuite’s Podium, and decided to go through the course materials before taking their certification exam. The curriculum consisted of six courses and some 40-plus videos.

Social Media Marketing Certificate, Cynthia LunaA few days after completing the course, I took the exam: A one-hour “social media marketing” exam to see if I could demonstrate “competency and proficiency in the tactical applications of the essential elements of social media marketing”.

And I passed. ūüôā

Were the online courses helpful?

Personally, I found the inside tour of each social media tool (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) most helpful. Some of the under-the-hood explanations about how each application can most effectively reach the widest possible audience helped me separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to discerning which communications strategy could be more effective with which social tool, without falling into a “copy cat” trap.

Podium Start Learning Now bannerSome of the content was easy for me, because the strategic elements of effective communications haven’t really changed since I received my degree in 2002. Communications is still about establishing measurable goals and objectives, understanding your audience(s) and creating messages that jibe with both.

A lot of the course materials included general lessons in communications strategy, which I still use today; so, it’s possible that I might have passed the exam without having followed the course material. But I’m a believer in life-long learning, so I don’t object to sitting through classes and taking in knowledge.

Overall, taking the course and the exam reminds me that my Master’s degree and what I’ve learned is not irrelevant, and is, in fact, the basis for the popularity of the apps we integrate in our communications plans today!

Ready to get certified? Or, at least, be certifiable?

Click the image and you'll be redirected to that looks just like this.
Click the image and you’ll be redirected to a website that looks just like this.

I think it’s important to note that Podium in no way encouraged me to write this blog post, nor are they paying me to endorse their courses. But I am more than happy to do so.

As I mentioned before, the course curriculum is free, so you can take the courses without taking (and paying to take) the certification exam at the end. The curriculum is divided into six content modules, which are further broken down into bite-sized videos (no longer than three minutes each). Each module also comes with some course materials that you can refer to for more detail–or for your own projects.

The way the course is structured, you can decide to go it slow and spend no more than 15 minutes on learning each day — or you can power through all the content in one weekend. I went for something in between. (My plate’s pretty full.)

You’re never too old to learn!

Press Release for VVAF Information Management & Mine Action Programs

Press Release: Strategy, Copy Development, & Editing

One of the programs at Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF)¬†was active in Afghanistan helping to create maps and rid its mine fields of unexploded ordnance. A cartoonist learned about VVAF’s iMMAP and included the organization in his story line. It was my job to collaborate with iMMAP, the cartoonist and his syndicator, to develop a press release.¬†Funky Winkerbean VVAF 1

  • Copy/ text development and editing. This was a collaboration with King Features to make sure we complied with their language requirements. The press release still exists on the King Syndicate website!
  • Communications Strategy. Along with the announcement of the comic strip, we organized for small “town hall” events where people could chat with our iMMAP program leaders and/or the cartoonist to talk about their process, what they knew about the situation in Afghanistan, and other things they knew.

Click here to see the full press release as a .pdf: Funky Winkerbean 28.06.2005 Cynthia Thomet

More Fun With Video: A Cross-country Journey

Around this time of year in 2009, my husband announced he wanted to cycle cross country. At the time, we were living in Northern California. I was freelancing and he had wrapped up a contract with a company there. So, we were free to choose any destination we wanted.

It so happened,¬†I had a bloggers’ conference to attend in Atlanta. The timing for arrival by bicycle was tight, but do-able. So we decided to make Atlanta our destination. Since I was heading into a bloggers’ conference, I figured, why not set up a blog of our own? So I set something up in minutes at and got to posting!

As a communicator, I love experimenting with media other than text. Don’t get me wrong: I love writing. But there are things you can communicate with photos and video that are a slog with words on a page.

Armed with a wi-fi dongle and a snapshot camera, he and I packed up all our belongings and headed east. He, by bicycle, and I, in our car. Together we traversed California, New Mexico, Arizona, and other states. When I look back on our blog now, I have to giggle and roll my eyes. We were nuts!

Working while relaxing

Here’s a little video clip I shot and edited in while on vacation in Mexico a few years back. It was a lot of fun. I scraped by with my Spanish to learn about the process, leaned over folks with my snapshot camera to get the shot, and then sat on the balcony of my hotel room editing the different shots. (Any video pro will note I used iMovie and one of its¬†templates to make quick work of the project. I think it took me about four hours to edit.)

My husband, a¬†cigar aficionado who stumbled on this factory in Canc√ļn, spent a day rolling cigars with some of the best. I remember them saying their best guys roll between 80 – 100 consistently good cigars a day. My husband managed to eek out 10 in eight hours. About seven¬†in ten rollers were Cuban–real pros who practically grew up in the trade. The others were Mexican. (In the video clip, only one of the four was Mexican–and he was competing in cigar-rolling events.)

My husband after "toiling" at the cigar factory. He managed to produce about 10 cigars in eight hours.
My husband after “toiling” at the cigar factory. He managed to produce about 10 cigars in eight hours.

What I love most about communications is the storytelling aspect involved. I like to share something I learned.

When I was working at Akaku: Maui Community Television, “How-To” videos were often used to teach the filmmaking process. Because it has clear steps, like a recipe, it’s easy to determine a beginning, middle and an end, much like a good story.

In journalism and creative writing, figuring this out can actually pose a bit more of a challenge, but it is essential to communicating effectively no matter what the medium.