I think I’ve mentioned before how useful I find the lynda.com online training library. It’s always been a great resource for learning web design applications, but it also has an ever-increasing number of titles on other software and broader web-related topics. I’ve recently been watching one of the more recent additions: Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter by Anne-Marie Concepción.
The title provides a great introduction for complete newcomers to either social networking environment, but the course is sensibly structured so the starter videos on basic account set-up can be skipped by people who already have personal accounts. Setting up business accounts on Twitter and business pages on Facebook is then covered in full, with discussions and demonstrations of all the available functionality. Useful caveats are also provided when necessary. For example, you’re shown how to automatically import your blog into your Facebook page, but also warned why you probably don’t want to do this and given a sensible alternative.
The really valuable part of the title for many people will be its advice on using Twitter and Facebook strategically for business marketing, with special emphasis on increasing viral effects via ‘word of keyboard’.
For me some of the most interesting advice here included:
- Ways to cross-promote blog posts, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages.
- Advice on measuring the impact of Twitter and Facebook use – vital in a lot of business environments where the tools can be regarded as time-wasters.
- Tips on using Twitter, Facebook and companion tools like Tweetdeck to search for business opportunites and ideas.
- A useful breakdown of all the differences between pages and groups in Facebook – something I’ve never very clearly understood.
This is a fun title which is definitely worth a viewing if you’re a lynda.com subscriber with any interest in social marketing.
Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter by Anne-Marie Concepción is available on the lynda.com training site.
Review of WordPress.com Essential Training – another lynda.com title.
I’ve been a subscriber to the lynda.com online training site for almost a year. I really enjoy the video training courses on offer there and find them especially useful for learning applications. Following along in books can quickly become dull and I find explanations which actually show the use of the product to be very effective. When I joined lynda.com, content management systems were at the top of the list of topics which I wished the site had more coverage of. I’ve therefore been very pleased to see recent training titles appear on Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress. Hopefully I’ll get around to looking at all these courses in time, but for now I’ve been going through the WordPress.com course hosted by Maria Langer.
Maria is a great host for the training and is very clear and enthusiastic. She uses a couple of her own blogs as examples through the course, which lends a nice personal touch. She also gives plenty of advice which sounds authentically drawn from personal experience. The training could easily be used by people with very little technical knowledge and starts from first principles: “What is a blog?” is the title of an early video. However, all the video lessons are free-standing and more advanced users could just skip to the later videos for the features they are interested in. The full version of the training has exercise files which let you develop the exact elementary school blog example built in the videos. However, unlike with some lynda.com titles, the files aren’t really essential and you could follow along easily enough without them.
Among the sections which would probably be most useful for a WordPress newbie, there is a clear description of the difference between categories and tags which people starting out with the package can find confusing. The section on working with comments is also very useful and contains some sensible advice for people new to blogging. The discussions at the end of the course on blog promotion and maintaining your blog are interesting and I would have welcomed it if these segments had gone on for longer.
However, the biggest issue for a lot of people with this course is likely to be that it only covers using the online service at WordPress.com and doesn’t include any specific training for the server install of WordPress. Although a lot of the subjects covered are still relevant for people using the standalone application, there is plenty to know about installing and upgrading WordPress which you won’t learn here.
If you want to hear Maria discuss some of the pros and cons of using WordPress.com vs a server install, there is a useful interview with her available on MacVoices which serves as a nice supplement to the training course.
MacVoices #8112: Maria Langer Talks WordPress.com Training and Why It Is Better on Video
The current WordPress.com training title is still a great guide for beginners seeking to start blogging and for people who’ve used other packages who want to get a basic idea of WordPress’s features. Maybe a good way for lynda.com to develop their WordPress training in future would be to keep this as the beginner’s level title, but also to produce an “advanced” WordPress course which includes discussion of the server installation, upgrades, backups and possibly further discussion of promotion and SEO for WordPress blogs. [Update (27/02/09) - I've noticed that an advanced WordPress course by Maria Langer became available on lynda.com in January - see Self-Hosting a WordPress site.]
WordPress.com Essential Training is available from lynda.com as a CD-ROM, or online via subscription.