Practical Usage of Social Media for Formal Learning

Practical Usage of Social Media for Formal Learning

Social media isn't for everyone, or is it?

I'm here at the 2015 Association for Talent Development international conference. This conference is presenting information for professionals in the instructional design and professional development space. Dan Steer believes social media is an important subject nearly everyone should be versed in. Steer shared a few reasons why someone would want to be active on social media, even if she or he isn't interested in participating in inherently self-promotional content. Social media can help people in the instructional design space:

  • Improve learning
  • Increase their professional longevity
  • Encourage more sociability
  • Enhance their student reach
  • Create engagement

Formal learning

Anything that is structured and intentional can be classified as formal learning. Dan encouraged people (instructors and content developers) to consider how we can use social media before, during, and after instruction. Here are a few of the ideas Dan and others came up with:


  • Create a pre-instruction video preparing students for instruction and setting expectations
    • Review learning objectives
  • Send out links to "pre-reading" videos
  • Consider LinkedIn groups
  • Consider YouTube playlists
  • Take a look at implementing inklewriter to combine many forms of content together


  • In-lecture instructional videos
    • Be sure to make sure private content is kept private. Check privacy settings to verify that they are appropriate for the content being shared
  • GinkoApp – group note taking
  • Socrative - class real-time feedback
  • GoogleDrive - file sharing
  • ChatterPix - an iOS application that allows you to combine short soundbites with a talking image. Dan suggests prompting students to record what they learned and then pairing it with a relevant photo. He then suggests sharing the created videos with students at a later time. 


  • Video summary of training for review (keep it short)
    • Space out the delivery of followup content over time
  • Utilize Aramsma. The technology allows you to overlay virtual reality on pictures of reality. 

Notes on tools

The conference session had several hundred attendees. Dan used a useful, free tool called Socrative and encouraged people to respond to prompts during the session. The tool was seamless, easy for participants to access, and required no annoying username and password combo.  

Other tips

  • When sharing content on multiple platforms, ensure each platform has links to related and important content on all other platforms. 
  • Padlet – collecting content

Twitter's new in-feed performance metrics

Twitter's new in-feed performance metrics

Measure the reach of your tweets in realtime

Twitter recently released in-feed metrics that are accessible to Twitter accessible by the Twitter app and traditional access to Twitter. Here's how it works:

#1 – Identify a tweet whose data you want to view

#2 – Click on the bar graph icon

#3 – View data

Data included

As you can see, Twitter provides data on:

  • Tweet views
  • Link clicks
  • Clicks to view Tweet details
  • Photo or video views

What's geo-fencing?

What's geo-fencing?

Per the definition in Techopedia, geo-fencing is: "a technology that defines a virtual boundary around a real-world geographical area. In doing so, a radius of interest is established that can trigger an action in a geo-enabled phone or other portable electronic device."

Hi-tech coupons

NBC's affiliate in Utah, KSL News, produced this video on geo-fencing. It shows some of the new techniques marketers can use to advertise certain products with opt-in smartphone apps. 

Facebook encourages advertisers to use video

Facebook encourages advertisers to use video

Video ad advice from Facebook for Business

On February 17, I received an email from "Facebook for Business" directed to me. I've done paid placements for Facebook video ads in the past and was given a number of tips from Facebook for Business on how to make those videos more effective. Here are a number of the tips Facebook shared:

  • "Directly upload your videos to Facebook to provide a better experience for people than videos linked from other websites"
  • "Use the video views objective to show your video to people most likely to view it on Facebook"
  • "Use our video metrics in Page Insights and Ads Reporting to see which parts of your video are most and least engaging to people"

It's clear Facebook is making huge efforts in taking a larger piece of the video pie in 2015. To see additional tips Facebook has provided for its video ads, click here

Brands using the word "bae"

Brands using the word "bae"

What's bae, anyway? 

Here's one of Urban Dictionary's many definitions of the word bae:

Brands using bae

Several brands have been spotted using the word "bae." I'm not sure what to think about this. It's fun to observe. The Twitter handle @BrandsSayingBae has captured some of these tweets over the past few months. 

Sonic drive-in

Dairy Queen



Mountain Dew®

Here's an excellent summary of what LinkedIn is

Here's an excellent summary of what LinkedIn is

The LinkedIn Potion

I stumbled upon this simple, yet fantastic, infographic of LinkedIn and how it differs from many other social networks. It's spooky theme can be attributed to the fact that it was initially shared on Halloween, October 31, 2013.

Key points that stand out to me include the fact that LinkedIn:

  • Is the largest professional network in the world
  • Is a place where professionals invest time – rather than spend time – building relationships with other professionals
  • Is a online place nearly any professional would benefit from investing time in. Whether or not she or he is an extrovert, LinkedIn's focus is not so much on one's social network as it is on conversations surrounding one's profession. 

Let's connect on LinkedIn

If we're not connected on LinkedIn yet, please click here and connect with me. See you on LinkedIn.

Ranking Utah's ski resorts on social media, then and now

Ranking Utah's ski resorts on social media, then and now

January, 2011 – baseline

I published this piece on The Hungry Hive in January, 2011. At the time most Utah ski resorts were testing the waters of social media with a few showing some established initial followers. Snowbird was named the 2011 top Utah ski resort on social media in the rankings. A new ski resort has taken Snowbird's place in the 2015 rankings.

Lots has changed in four years!

Nordic Valley and Cherry Peak didn't exist in January, 2011. Neither did Google Plus. Instagram was just two months old at the time of the 2011 report. Given all the changes, I made adjustments to the ranking methodology to better measure each ski resort's ability to connect with its community. I've included a methodology section toward the bottom of this post for those interested. Now, without further ado, here are the rankings: 

2015 Utah Ski Resort Social Media Rankings (and social media directory)

#1 – Park City Mountain Resort


#2 – Snowbird 


#3 – Canyons Resort


#4 – Deer Valley Resort

***Most Improved***


#5 – Alta


#5 – Solitude Resort


#7 – Brighton Resort


#7 – Snowbasin


#9 – Sundance Mountain Resort


#10 – Powder Mountain


#11 – Brian Head Resort


#12 – Eagle Point


#13 – Nordic Valley

***Up and coming Award***


#14 – Beaver Mountain

***biggest drop from 2011***


#15 – Cherry Peak



I had to use different methods to rank the resorts in 2015 than I used four years ago. Four years ago, I simply added up total Facebook likes and Twitter followers for each ski resort, ranked them on those two data points, and produced overall rankings. To summarize the 2015 rankings, I looked at every social media outlet Utah's 16 ski resorts are on. I collected a single metric for each ski resort for each social media outlet that does the best job representing how large that organization's reach is on said outlet; I then ranked each ski resort on each social media network; finally, I summed all rankings for each ski resort across all social networks to compare each ski resorts' aggregate ranking with each other. The result is the 2015 rankings. 

Ello Beta is up and running

Ello Beta is up and running

Video and Music on Ello

It appears that those who have requested to join Ello Beta are beginning to get invitations to set up profiles now. Ello is also announced the ability to share videos and music in its feed this week, but many writers believe Ello took to long allowing others to join. 

I'm on Ello

I'm still not going to give up on Ello. Its interface is so esthetically pleasing, and its minimalistic approach to functionality is intriguing enough for me, that I plan to play around with the platform for the next few months and see how people's use of the social network evolves in 2015. 

Sterling R. Morris' Ello profile

Let's connect

If you're on Ello, connect with me at @SterlingRMorris

The most popular searches in 2014

The most popular searches in 2014

What's trending on Google searches? 

Did you know you can see what the most popular search topics are at any given moment? Google Trends allows you to see all sorts of information on what's trending by country, on YouTube, and on smaller topics like popular vegetarian foods, global interest in Game of Thrones, etc. It's a really interesting site and a great way to stay up-to-date on what's buzzing. 

Social media implications of Google Trends

So why should anyone care what's trending? Why would a social media manager want to have access to this data? To start, trending content is:

  1. a sign of what people currently care about
  2. high-quality. Not always, but often there's something about it that drives people to want to discuss it, engage with it, and share it.
  3. helpful in identifying nuanced differences in the way people are searching for and subsequently speaking about content. Google Trends' visitors can figure out if people are searching more often for "kale" or "quinoa," see how interest in said subject has changed over time, and adjust their dialogue to better meet the current interests of their audience.

So what were the biggest 2014 search terms?

Google Trends put together this awesome video that summarized some of the biggest trends in 2014. The production is fantastic and inspiring. 

The most popular searches in 2014

According to Google Trends, here are the most popular U.S.-based searches in 2014. 

My Udemy workshop on polishing your LinkedIn profile is live

My Udemy workshop on polishing your LinkedIn profile is live

500 new students in less than 24 hours!

It's no secret that I love LinkedIn. I've been fascinated with the network for some time and spend free time studying it. I've even been offering free LinkedIn profile reviews here for some time now – advancing my knowledge of what elements top profiles consistently include. 

After getting several LinkedIn-related consulting requests along with additional offers through LinkedIn, I decided to launch a basic profile optimization course on LinkedIn to share some of the advice I'm sharing individually with people so I can help larger of quantities of professionals. I launched the course on January 6, 2015, and in less than 24 hours, I've seen more than 500 students register for it. I'm grateful and overwhelmed to see the rush of students who have joined from all over the world, and I'm looking forward to helping them improve their profiles in the coming weeks. 

Who's the course for and what will it cover? 

My Udemy course, "LinkedIn workshop: Polish your profile for a job search" is designed for LinkedIn users who have established a profile but are looking to improve it to improve their job search effectiveness or to increase potential opportunities they find on LinkedIn.

In the course, I'm teaching students how to optimize their profiles using techniques that have helped me to propel my profile to the #1 most viewed profile among more than 10,000 Intermountain Healthcare employees on LinkedIn. 

We'll talk about strategies students can use to identify their personal brand and communicate that consistently and systematically their their profiles. We'll talk about making the profile easily scannable and aesthetically appealing for viewers. We'll also work on identifying and communicating each student's strengths in concise, powerful ways to maximize impact. visitor 15%-off discount

You've made it to my website and you're reading my content. Thank you. I want to reward you with a discounted registration price for my course.

To claim this discount, click here to register for the course

Thank you for your support! I look forward to working with you and the learning community in my course to improve your LinkedIn profile.

Selecting a great profile photo for your LinkedIn profile

Selecting a great profile photo for your LinkedIn profile

I recently put together this presentation on selecting the perfect profile photo. Since producing it, I've thought of a few other things to avoid with your profile photo. 


  • A drawing or cartoon of you. Given how people can look through images of university alumni, colleagues within companies, etc., you want people to recognize you in your photo to maximize the chance they'll reach out and connect with you. 
  • A photo of you with family members and friends when they are also shown. If there's more than one person in your profile photo, it may be confusing to people; viewers must determine which individual pictured is associated with the connected LinkedIn profile. 

My presentation: Selecting the perfect LinkedIn profile photo

Polishing up your online presence

Polishing up your online presence

Your online presence is important

You may have heard the saying that although one's front porch is not the most important part of a home, it's the most visible. The same can be said about a person's online presence. In the area of a one's professional career, her actual work ethic, skill mastery, integrity, and a basketful of other traits or more important in determining professional outcomes than how she appears online. Still, it's important to smartly manage areas where we can be seen online – an area that recruiters are almost all using in increasing percentages to find and evaluate potential talent.

This week I wrote more about why your online presence matters and three steps you can take to audit your online presence on LinkedIn Pulse. Read the full article I wrote, here

Photo credit: "Computadora MacBook Air sobre la mesa" by Alejandro Pinto is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A kickstarter campaign for a hashtag keyboard

A kickstarter campaign for a hashtag keyboard

The hashtag key

A friend recently shared this Kickstarter campaign with me. HashKey is in its final days of its Kickstarter campaign. If you've ever wanted to have a go-to key for your hashtaging needs, look no further than the HashKey. No longer will you need to tediously hold down the shift key while looking for the hash sign somewhere there up in the hinterland area of the keyboard. Now, everything a socially connected computer users needs could literally be at her finger tips. This funny video looks like there's still a chance that it gets funded. You can reserve your key for about $27, here. Here's the video:


#UrbanSelfie and customer engagement

#UrbanSelfie and customer engagement

Engaging customers

This time last year a little clothing store located in South Africa was running an outstandingly creative customer engagement social media campaign. Urban Degree gave store customers an $8 in-store credit if they would try on clothing from the retailer and take a selfie, share the image online, and include the hashtag #UrbanSelfie

Broad application

There's a lot of opportunity for other industries to do this. Why can't restaurants provide a $1 discount for guests who take and share a photo of their food? When you provide small incentives for your customers to promote your products and services, they will. 

Photo credit: "People in motion" by Götz Keller is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Crowdsourcing fire recovery research with a hashtag

Crowdsourcing fire recovery research with a hashtag

An innovative use of a hashtag

The mountains on the edge of Morgan, Utah, caught fire in the fall of 2013. After the fire eventually burned out, ecologists wanted to track the damage and recovery of the charred mountainside. Hikers who visit the area might encounter the sign below which encourages those with smartphones to take a photo and share it to the #MorganFire02 hashtag. 


The #MorganFire02 caught like wild fire (excuse the pun). If you visit its live Twitter feed, you'll see one, two, or more images posted per week from the sign location. This concept is so smart. Think of the saved trips ecologists have spared themselves in launching this package. Think of the added awareness the presence of this feed provides giving onlookers unique insight on the healing processes nature goes through following a fire.

The concept of crowdsourcing documentation via smartphones and through the outlet of hashtags is not limited to forest fire recover observations. There's certainly myriad other options for this concept.  

What people are thankful for in each state

What people are thankful for in each state

Thanksgiving and big data

In honor of Thanksgiving, data scientists at Facebook crunched some numbers to identify the top ten things Americans are most thankful for. They looked at words people used in sentences that contained the words "grateful" and "thankful" to develop their findings. The scientists mentioned that their analysis was "conducted on anonymized, aggregate data by English speakers in the United States." Here's what they came up with:

Top ten things people are thankful for

Gratitude by state

Data scientists also broke down the top gratitude "thing" that was mentioned most in each state. 

Additional "Thanksgiving" data

Click here to view some additional graphs these scientists produced. It's really a fun read. 

Salt Lake City chooses to add regulation to Uber, Lyft

Salt Lake City chooses to add regulation to Uber, Lyft

Last week, I wrote about the upcoming vote regarding regulation of ridesharing companies. Since the date of last week's post, members from Salt Lake City's council voted in favor of cracking down on said companies; Uber and Lyft don't seem to be amused.

If the Council’s intention was to welcome ridesharing into Salt Lake City, these regulations clearly miss the mark. The Council is attempting to fit a square peg in a round hole by passing outdated regulations.
— Michael Amodeo, spokesman, Uber

A few changes have been made as a result of the vote: Ridesharing drivers will be required to pay for $1.5 million insurance policies, and drivers, once properly registered, will have access to Salt Lake City airport. Here's Utah's Fox 13's story on the vote:

Photo credit: "LYFT" by Alfredo Mendez is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Photo's sharpness reduced. 

Ridesharing and licensing: a case study of how disruptive innovation receives pushback

Ridesharing and licensing: a case study of how disruptive innovation receives pushback

Disruptive innovation

Taxi drivers must jump through extensive regulatory hoops in an effort to ensure that passengers are traveling in safe, reliable vehicles. The sometimes exclusionary expenses associated with getting a taxi license. Taxi drivers and taxi companies don't fully foot this bill. It's passed on, indirectly, to consumers in the form of higher rates, poorer customer service as the result of less competition in the marketplace, and potentially dirtier taxis, also a result of less marketplace competition. 

Ridesharing companies have emerged in recent years to solve some of the issues in this transportation market. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Rideshare have developed apps that allow individuals to reserve transportation from their drivers by simply submitting a request through a smartphone application and getting picked up minutes later. Consumers benefit from less expensive fairs, better customer service, and potentially cleaner cars using these systems. 

How it works


Still, some regulators raise concerns about the safety of this dynamic solution to the taxi problem. Efforts are being made to regulate these new companies and make them adhere to the same or similar regulations traditional taxi companies must adhere to. Safety concerns have been raised given some early issues some riders experienced although all said companies require thorough background checks before drivers are hired.

Others applaud the companies' efforts which may help people consume fewer resources and provide more options for those needing transportation.

Duke University's Michael Munger recently spoke about the benefits of these rideshare organizations in his presentation on the sharing economy when he visited Strata in September.

My guess is that rideshare programs are here to stay. They will grow and evolve in major metro areas where they'll naturally thrive best with limited regulations. 

Photo credit: "Taxi" by Moyan Brenn is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image was cropped, desaturated, and softened. 

Phonebooks and social media: One easy way to increase your social media budget

Phonebooks and social media: One easy way to increase your social media budget

 Photo credit: " Phonebooks galore " by  Tim Welch  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0.

Photo credit: "Phonebooks galore" by Tim Welch is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

With Facebook becoming more of a pay-to-play social network, and with the ability to pay for placements and reach on YouTube, Twitter, and other platforms, having a healthy social media budget at one's hands is a welcome and helpful tool in executing successful communication and social media campaigns. For many organizations, such a budget is a novel concept and other organizations still have no fiscal allocation for social media activities. 

How to increase your social media budget

There are many things one can do to increase an organization's social media budget, but I'm going to focus on just one way in this brief blog post:

Look at your organization's marketing/public relations/communications budget as a whole. A sample budget might look like this:

Company ABC's Marketing Budget

  • Outdoor ads: $10,000
  • Newspaper: $5,000
  • Sponsorships: $10,000
  • Phonebook: $10,000
  • Online: $2,000
  • Conference ads: $15,000
  • Event marketing: $5,000
  • Other: $3,000
  • Social media: $1,000
  • Total: $61,000

Company ABC has goals. Its marketing budget is put in place to help it reach its specific goals. A savvy marketer should monitor the performance of each tool the department uses to distribute content it hopes will help Company ABC reach its goal in an efficient and effective way. Let's say Company ABC is an high-end ice cream chain with five locations. Let's also say that since Company ABC began operations in 1994, its target audience has remained primarily in the demographic age range of 15-35 years old. A lot has changed since 1994. 15-to-35-year-olds communicate and behave much differently than that same demographic did 20 years ago. Perhaps the marketing group for this chain performs a bit of informal research and finds out that their target audience makes most desert decisions by talking with friends and by using their smart phones to perform searches for local dessert options. Given this generalization of the situation, do any items listed above seem to appear like they could be ineffective at reaching this target audience? 

One of the easiest ways to add budget dollars to one's digital marketing budget is to look out for the best interests of your organization and carefully consider its goals and weigh the performance of its spends against the goals to determine which activities seem to be the most efficient, effective ways for the organization to reach its goals. 

Let's say the results of your research show that Company ABC is only effectively reaching 10-15 customers for its annual phonebook placements. The cost to reach each customer would be $1,000 / 15 customers = $666.66 per customer. Can Company ABC reach potential ice cream shop customers more inexpensively with other means? Under this same scenario, you might find that the cost to reach 1,000 on social media is $5. One could effectively transfer $5,000 from the phonebook budget allocation to the social media budget increasing it from $1,000 to $6,000. Notice that the overall marketing budget, under this scenario, did not expand. On one had to approach the CEO and ask for more funds. Budget dollars were simply reallocated from one marketing category to another in an attempt to be more efficient and effective with allotted funds. 

In short, an easy way to potentially grow your social media marketing budget is to evaluate where current marketing dollars are being spent and how effective those dollars are in helping the organization reach its goals. Based on your findings, make reallocation adjustments to better meet your organization's goals. 

Feedback request: Sterling's LinkedIn profile photo

Feedback request: Sterling's LinkedIn profile photo

I recently updated my profile photo. I heard from a LinkedIn expert that she liked my previous photo better. Can I get your feedback on which profile I should keep?

My goal is for my photo to align with my professional headline and summary. 


Social Media | PhD student in Instructional Technology | Public Relations | Video Professional


◆ Driven, creative innovator; skilled in continuous improvement and implementing vision
◆ Extensive experience in sales, public relations, and marketing
◆ Expert in multi-media productions, social media, marketing, and external corporate branding
◆ Energetic idea leader; constantly developing new methods to improve processes
◆ Solid work-ethic; financed education with employment, scholarships, and personal savings
◆ Strong entrepreneurial mind, founding successful small business
◆ Broad international experience: served & studied for 2.5 years in 18 countries, 4 continents
◆ Writer and thinker covering social media, instructional design, triathlon, and video

Given this information, will you please vote below for the photo you feel best aligns with my headline and summary? Thank you!

Which photo helps me reach my goal?

Photo credit: "LinkedIn Chocolates" by nan palmero is licensed under CC BY 2.0.