Social Media Presentation at Anglia Ruskin University

Last week I presented a three hour talk on social media for students on the MA Arts Management programme at Anglia Ruskin University.

It was quite an early start for me (one of the joys of working predominantly from home). When I arrived at Liverpool street station I suddenly had a panic attack that I’d come to the wrong station (luckily I was looking at Arrivals, not the Departures – someone needs to optimise those dang information boards):

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Last minute finishing up of slides on the train to Cambridge. Did I say “last minute finishing up” – I meant “perfecting”:

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Chris Grady, the course leader, handing out yearly evaluation forms for the course just before I start. No pressure then:

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Me in presentation mode. Not the best photo, but the lighting in the others made me look like I had a bald spot:

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I used the excellent Gecko theatre company as a social media example, Chris tweeted it while I was presenting, and then they retweeted. How meta:

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I split the class into groups at the last portion of the class to work on an exercise:

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Every now and then during the exercise, I’d spring a challenge on the groups to solve before progressing with the next stage. Challenge two – Don’t feed the trolls:

anglia ruskin talk 8It was a great day (but very cold up north).

Computer Malfunctions and Killer Insects: Sitting the Adwords Exams

Sorry to leave you hanging in suspense like that. So, did we pass?

The Fundamentals exam was, for me, the more nerve wracking of the two – mostly because I didn’t study for it per se (although obviously, I was training Christina on it, so I touched on most of the key points). For anyone who’s not sat an official Google Adwords exam before, you download a programme and when you start the test, the program takes over your computer, feeding you the multi-choice questions and counting down a timer (two hours). You can’t pause the timer – even if you need to go to the loo – which adds to the dramatics of it all. I was doubly nervous – for my own results, and also to know if I’d equipped Christina well enough to pass. I’ve always felt that studying for exams makes you better at the exams themselves, not necessarily what you’ve studied. I knew Christina was a great Adwords student, but I didn’t know how proficient she was with time-management, keeping cool under pressure and ticking boxes. Luckily, we both passed the first exam with flying colours.

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Christina concentrating. I like the writing on the flip chart behind her.

After a short break for lunch, we threw ourselves straight into the Advanced Search exam. I was maybe a little cocky now, having scored 98% on the first one and finishing 45 minutes early. And I’d actually studied for the Search Advanced exam. But it was harder. The questions were much longer and more complex. Here’s an example:

You are a CEO of a small e-commerce shop and your team is debating Adwords performance metrics to maximise profit. Budget is unlimited as long as ROI is positive. Whose recommendations most effectively position you for maximum profit?

A) Lou: “We get a CPA of $15 on our e-mail campaign. Let’s meet or beat the benchmark across all marketing platforms.”

B) Joe: “An MBA class once suggested ad-spend should always be 9% of revenue. Let’s use that as our target ROI.”

C) Jane: “A $15 CPA is okay, but if we could get it down to $10 that would give us more profit-per-customer.”

D) Pete: “Let’s start by verifying our campaign is profitable, then test different CPA targets to find which maximises total profit.”

Simple, huh? To be fair this does correlate with some of the Adwords training, but it takes a lot of unpacking to understand it, and when you’re under pressure, it just turns into a jumble of acronyms. They weren’t all like this, but I think the readability of some of the Search Advanced questions need to be looked at and the copy simplified.

There were some other distractions too. My computer kept disconnecting from the internet (we were taking the exams in one of Livety’s lovely bright meeting rooms) which meant I’d be thrown out of the Adwords programme. The computer froze and my heart stopped. Luckily, when I restarted the programme each time it opened on the question I’d been working on, the timer resuming from the moment it had frozen.

Then there was a very loud, very angry wasp. I couldn’t concentrate with all its buzzing, but as I was trying to scoop it out of the window as the wasp bucked and writhed – the exam timer ticking away – I realised there was a strong chance I might get stung. High stakes, indeed.

Fortunately computer failure and a swarm of locusts (well, one wasp) didn’t stop me from finishing. I only had a ten minutes spare this time. I’d stopped calling over to Christina in the first exam to ask how it was going – because I could tell it annoyed her. I submitted the exam and got the results immediately – I passed (the pass mark is 85%, I got 87%), and quietly waited for Christina to finish. She looked up. “87%” she said. We’d done it. We were both Adwords Certified Professionals (as you can see here and here).

I was over the moon for Christina. She’s really put in the hard work, and become a mighty fine Adwords specialist. I’m pretty finicky and a bit of a perfectionist, but I would definitely entrust her with any of my Adwords campaigns, and I look forward to working with her in the future.

How I Created a Free Adwords Training Course (and lived to tell the tale)

Three years ago, I had an idea. I was living in Bethnal Green – a relatively poor area in East London – and knew a lot of families would be struggling as benefits were cut and jobs were still hard to find. As a freshly freelance SEO consultant with some great clients already under my belt, I realised I had some spare time each week and wondered how I could give back to my community. I liked the idea of providing training, but I wanted it to lead to actual income at the end of it. Google Adwords seemed to be the answer; I could train people to pass the Google Professionals Exam and once they were certified, it might open doors for them at an agency, or to find work online. All the material for the exam was provided by Google – I’d only need to turn the info into an eight week course, find a location, get some computers, source some students…

Er, yes. It started to look a little more complicated than I’d first imagined. I put out some feelers locally and met with the guys at School of Everything who were encouraging and offered to lend me classroom space. Next, I spoke to Action for Employment in Hackney to see if they had any suitable candidates. The response from A4E was this: great idea, but a lot of our clients are struggling with basic computer skills – could you come and teach those instead? After some deliberation, I accepted: it might not be the vision of teaching I’d imagined, but if I could be useful, that was enough for now. I learnt a lot too. Many of the people I worked with were setting up an email account for the first time. It illustrated to me how much computer knowledge I take for granted, and how much harder it might be for someone to process all the Google Adwords course work. When I moved out of the area and thereby stopped volunteering for A4E, I paused the training plan – maybe it had been too ambitious to begin with anyway?

Then, in February this year, I had lunch with an old client of mine. He was now working for Google, and I mentioned to him my idea of providing free Adwords training. He liked it, and said I should contact the Youth Engagement Agency Livety as they might have someone suitable. And that is how I was introduced to Christina.

Each week for nine weeks (spread over about three months), I’ve met with Christina at Livety’s offices in Brixton, and spent two intense hours trying to make sense of Google’s learning material. Then during the week, Christina would fire over questions as she studied the next section. I also created a Memrise course to help Christina learn the key components of the Fundamentals exam (which would assist and frustrate her in equal measures, as Memrise mostly deals with language learning and so was overly pedantic about correct spelling). Christina is a great student: she’s smart and has excellent attention to detail, and working previously as a web editor for Livety she has strong computer skills in place already which, I’ve discovered, is paramount. She often worried she was asking too many questions but in fact, the level of feedback was perfect for me to see if my training (and my training style) worked. Although I manage active client accounts every day, there’s a lot of Adwords functionality I don’t often use. Christina has really pushed me to provide reasoning’s behind the sometimes frustratingly oversimplified learning material, and make sense of it all.

Christina and I will be sitting the two exams  – Fundamental and Search Advanced – on Thursday (the certification expires after two years, and so mine has lapsed). Christina has covered all the course work and has made major head way in her revisions. I, on the other hand, have not. Come Thursday, we could see a scenario where the mentee passes, and not the mentor. Hopefully this isn’t the case and we both pass with flying colours (*studies frantically*), but whatever the outcome, it’s been an amazing few months, and I’m so pleased that the original nebulous idea three years ago has achieved some type of fruition. And fingers crossed for Thursday.