There are two resources/websites that are tremendously useful for everyone, but particularly social media executives. Quora is a question and answer site while Coursera offers courses online from top universities.
Quora is great for everything from getting supporting information for investor presentations and business plans to seeing how others have overcome difficult business situations. Quora works by encouraging people to post questions and then rewarding others for answering. People can up-vote and down-vote answers to drive the best or most accurate one to the top. You can also follow people on Quora if you are interested in how they would answer questions or of you think you would be interested in what questions they are following.
Questions can be about market information (or any facts you need to know), how people approach issues, what other companies have done to solve business problems, what trends or activities people are anticipating, etc. Typical questions requesting information can include how much revenue a typical Android game generates or how quickly is the tablet gaming market growing. In terms of approaching issues, you could ask how other companies growth hacked. I found responses to my question on best practices for improving retention an incredibly valuable resource in seeing how others addressed a business problem. With trends, information on Quora has shined a light on equity crowd sourcing opportunities made available by the JOBS Act.
Coursera is a site and app that allows you to take courses online from top universities worldwide for free. Its technology gives everybody access to the best professors in the world. Some of the universities whose faculty offer courses include Stanford, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, Brown, CalTech and Duke. Courses range from liberal arts to computer science to statistics to engineering and everything in between.
For those who read this blog regularly, you may have seen I recently completed a course titled Networked Life offered by the University of Pennsylvania, and am currently taking Think Again: How to Reason and Argue from Duke University. Networked Life was one of the best classes I have ever taken; it provided a deep understanding of the underlying mechanics that define networks, the importance of connectors and why the threshold/tipping point is so important for a network to reach critical mass. Looking back, I do not understand how anyone can thrive in the social media space without this knowledge.
Before signing up for courses, you should think objectively how they will help you. There are a lot of interesting courses and if you have unlimited time you can go ahead and take them all. Most entrepreneurs and executives, however, have very limited time and you need to select carefully which Coursera courses will have the greatest impact. Keep in mind these are classes from top institutions and the faculty expects you to be committed, thus you cannot complete them just by watching a 45-minute video. There is a significant commitment for each course, which usually includes multiple lectures each week, homework and quizzes (which you need to perform well on to earn a certificate). If you choose carefully, you can grow your knowledge and become much more successful.
Not only are the resources very useful for you, but they can help improve the productivity of your team. When associates come to me seeking information on industry benchmarks or best approaches to business issues, I often pointed them to Quora. It is a great tool to help everyone on your team to make great decisions. Coursera is a tool not only to improve yourself but make your team members stronger. In fact, I encouraged my employees to take Coursera classes by offering a free day of paid time off for every course they completed, enabling them to learn useful information, they become more fulfilled.
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