Larry BraunerAnother social media university, social media academy, guru or training program surfaces online nearly every day. Do we need these social media training programs? Are they worth our time and expense?

I’m old enough to remember the data processing boom of the seventies. There were more computer schools back then than social media gurus or social networking sites today.

Computers in those days weren’t as easy to use as they are today, and people were needed in companies that used them to program and operate them. Computer schools collected large sums to train people for potentially lucrative computer programming careers, but in the end, students were very lucky if they even got lower paying computer operator jobs.

Students weren’t aware that businesses much preferred college graduates with relevant degrees to fill programming positions over graduates of year- long programs. Computer schools were able to rake in large profits because they didn’t fully disclose the reality of the job market.

The same was true years later with medical billing. Schools and home study programs nurtured false expectations. The probability of finding assignments after completing a medical billing course was dismally low.

Making an Intelligent Choice

To determine whether a social media training program is worthwhile for you, answer the following questions as thoughtfully and honestly as you can.

  1. What are your needs and expectations? Stop and reflect. What are you looking for? To change careers? Broaden your marketing skills? Build your brand? Have fun? Earn extra money? Getting clear about what it is you’re looking for is a sensible place to start.
  2. Can you partially or fully meet your needs by completing the course? In other words, does the course match your needs?
  3. Do the benefits of the course justify your investment of time and money? Unless your goal is to turn social media into a hobby that pays off emotionally, not financially, your course needs to help you develop money making skills that justify the cost. Please be wary of courses or systems that promise quick or easy results.
  4. How qualified are you to pursue the path you wish to take? Do you have the prerequisites to complete the course and follow through on your plans?
  5. Are you motivated enough? I’ve stated before that the  social media learning curve is steep, and results aren’t quickly obtained. You need the mindset of a marathoner to succeed. Look at your track record. If you can persevere over a long period of time and follow through, you might succeed. Otherwise, resist committing to a long-term social marketing plan.
  6. How qualified and reliable are the instructors? Do they walk the talk? Have they demonstrated the ability to do what you yourself would like to do? Can they provide references?
  7. Can you afford to lose your investment? If the course costs more than you can afford to lose, discuss your options with friends and advisers before making a decision. Listen carefully to their recommendations.

You should be able to apply the same or similar criteria to evaluate affiliate marketing, network marketing, search engine marketing or SEO courses.

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Larry Brauner

Mainstream radio stations such as WCBS Radio 880 and WQXR, the radio station of the New York Times, now air spots for money making schemes. I have heard them myself while driving down to my office.

This is a fairly new phenomenon.

Home businesses and money making schemes are very much more prevalent today than when I joined Excel Communications as a representative back in March 1997.

Why do I think?

For sure there is wider access to information today through the Internet than there was a decade ago.

There is also increased economic pressure due to offshoring, mergers, acquisitions and downsizing. More and more people turn to the Internet, often out of desperation, hoping to solve their financial problems.

I am bombarded by phone and mail solicitations for anything from illegal chain letters to gifting programs to legitimate direct sales opportunities.

This is not at all new.

What is new is that so-called “mainstream” media are looking to make a quick buck or two carrying some very questionable advertising.

I recall a time when these media wouldn’t accept ads from home businesses, even legitimate ones. They were unwilling to expose themselves to complaints and criticism.

Times however have changed. A decline in ad revenue has apparently led radio stations and other mass media to relax their standards and accept almost anything, even possible scams and rip-offs.

Here’s my advice to you:

  • Don’t believe any money making ads you hear on the radio.
  • Throw away the home biz junk mail you receive in your mail box.
  • Delete all spam from your e-mail or online social networking inboxes.

Don’t get ripped off. Only accept business advice from people you know, like and trust.

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Larry Brauner

My tongue in cheek April Fools post Alphabet Wars was right on. Owners of social networking sites are increasingly facing tough naming choices that strain the 26-letter alphabet.

One of the newest players on the online social networking scene is Wowzza. The name tells us little more than that perhaps somebody’s keyboard tends to stick on the letter z. Why another social networking site? What’s different about this site?

Wowzza is an exclusive members-only site, not a free social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or Yuwie. All members are premium members.

Founder Jim Vigilante’s aim is to attract serious marketers and entrepreneurs. Jim is also playing up the referral income potential of Wowzza’s 3×9 forced matrix payout.

In an upcoming post I’ll explain why I am not networking at Wowzza.

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Larry BraunerI was away yesterday with my family. About once a month we all spend a day in a group home for multiply handicapped girls. Our hope is that they will enjoy, at least for a brief time, a warm family environment.

When I arrived home I found three pleasant surprises.

  • Another reader had registered as a user of my blog bringing the total to 105.
  • My blog had moved up to #8 in Google for the keywords online social networking. I’m back to #51 today, but it felt good to receive validation, however temporary, from Google.
  • An envelope had arrived by Priority Mail with my very own copy of Mike Dillard’s Building on a Budget.

Today I’m feeling jetlagged from the advance to Daylight Savings Time, but I’m happy to report that I’ve already read Mike’s book cover-to-cover. Here is my feedback.

My book review of Building on a Budget is mixed.

The advertising promises to show network marketers how to leverage a one-time cash outlay of about $500 to acquire new skills and resources and generate a continuous stream of leads without further expense.

Building on a Budget outlines an excellent marketing approach and provides great tips that all marketers could learn from — not just network marketers. The Internet and social media marketing concepts presented in the book are explained very clearly and concisely.

The book discusses one pre-requisite and five marketing strategies which are more effective than the strategies that most marketers currently employ. There’s a chapter each for lead capture pages, Craigslist classified ads, video marketing, press releases, blogging and funded proposals. I feel that these are all excellent choices.

Social networking sites are mentioned but only in passing.

Here are my reservations about Building on a Budget.

I have the knowledge and the resources to implement Mike Dillard’s suggestions. I’m already using several of these techniques in my online marketing, but what about a newbie?

Let’s say that our enthusiastic new marketer decides to follow the book’s instructions. He or she sets up web hosting, domain names and an autoresponder, all absolutely essential tools, and purchases Magnetic Sponsoring, MLM Traffic Formula, Black Belt Recruiting, a camcorder, Camtasia Studio, and one or two other items. The $500 figure can very easily top $1,000, and paid third-party assistance might still be needed.

I have spent much more than that to educate and equip myself to market effectively in today’s environment, and I’m a former IT professional with more than ten years network marketing experience.

I don’t regret it at all.

What I object to is an unrealistic $500 price point established by Building on a Budget. And not only is it unrealistic, the book itself is a powerful sales letter — not an academic marketing text. It’s written to sell information and recruit affiliates. Mike points out that he’s a great copywriter. I totally agree. However, I don’t fault him one bit.

I will make good use of Building on a Budget. It’s a compact reference that I will want at my fingertips. You may find it useful too. However, please be careful about your expectations.

Oh, before I forget to mention it. I will schedule conference calls to help. So if you purchased the book, expect to hear from me.

I welcome questions and comments about the book, but please, keep them upbeat.

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