You’ve probably heard of how social media is disrupting various industries. For example, some PR folks are adjusting the way they work and are now pitching blogs along with the New York Times. Social media is here to stay, and it’s changing the way we do business.

I’m guilty. I work with a company that’s developing social software which is disrupting the “learning” industry‚Äîfrom small business entrepreneurs, consultants, and thought leaders to corporate training and development departments.

If you’re on Twitter and you follow Kyle, you’ve tasted the future. Oftentimes, Kyle uses Twitter to point his followers to awesome articles‚Äîa form of peer-to-peer learning facilitated by social technologies.

At Bloomfire, we’re taking that concept to the next level, and you can check that out for yourself on our website. The current generation of our platform is already available, and you can Test Drive that for free. If you’re an early adopter and want to test out the alpha version of our next generation platform, you can join our Alpha Program by clicking here. Be quick though‚Äîhundreds have already signed up, and we’ve got limited spots.

So in the spirit of peer-to-peer learning, I’m going to share a list of resources that has helped me (and many others) get up to speed in social media, fast. Think of this piece as a makeshift syllabus for a social media course. I’ve created each lesson from the most popular resources on the Internet (according to retweets, social bookmarks, YouTube views, etc.).

Here we go‚Äîlet’s begin your crash course on social media! If you watch the videos and do the readings, you should be done in less than an hour.

If you find this useful, feel free to share this with clients/partners/friends who are constantly asking you social-media-related questions.

Introduction: What’s in it for me?

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably interested in how social media can build your business. Here’s the business case for social media: it generates revenue. Really.

It generates revenue for small- and medium-sized businesses—this TechCrunch article tells the story of several SMBs, including a Korean restaurant, dentist, and hotelier, who found tremendous success.

It also generates revenue for big brands. Did you know that Twitter generated $1 million for Dell? Did you know that YouTube helped Old Spice double their sales?

So if you’re interested in generating more revenue, then this course is for you. Onward!

What is Social Media?

Here’s the definition from Wikipedia: social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques.

If you’re the kind of person that enjoys textbooks, then you should read the entire Wikipedia article.

Don’t like that textbook? Here are nine more, courtesy of Google’s built-in dictionary.

But if you’re like me, then you don’t like textbooks. You like videos. So here’s the best one out there, courtesy of Common Craft. It’s called Social Media in Plain English, and it’s been viewed over half a million times on YouTube. It’s fun!

Bonus assignment: read Twitter 101 and LinkedIn 101, then submit a warm chocolate chip cookie to your nearest neighbor to earn yourself a pat on the back.

Quick Start: How to Get Setup with Social Media

There are a lot of social media sites out there, so I’m going to focus on what I think are The Big Three. Here are some great step-by-step videos for getting yourself setup on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Understanding Social Media Culture: Best Practices

In some ways, entering the world of social media is like moving to a foreign country. When I moved from Hong Kong to the United States several years ago, I needed several months to adjust to the new culture.

Which hands should I use to hold my knife and fork? When I’m having a conversation, should I look into my partner’s eyes, or avoid the eyes? Should I ask people, “How are you?” even when they’re complete strangers and I don’t really care how they’re doing?

It’s the same with social media.

How often should I retweet? Are auto-DMs rude? What should be on my LinkedIn profile?

There are ways to overcome culture shock quickly:

  • Find a tour guide
  • Carefully observe and take in your surroundings
  • Read a textbook

I can’t help you with points one & two, but I can recommend a great “textbook.”

When I read textbooks in college, I always preferred looking at the pictures instead of reading the text. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

If a picture-book could be a textbook, then this would be it. It’s free, but it’s not a physical book‚Äîit’s a great blog post featuring 35 infographics on almost every facet of social media.

Final Exam: How Well Do You Understand Social Media?

What’s a course without an exam? Alright, I know I can’t test you, but I can give you a fun way to test yourself.

Julian Smith is a comedian who created a killer standup routine about Facebook, and it’s been viewed over 2.5 million times on YouTube. For your final exam, watch his video, titled 25 Things I Hate About Facebook.

You see, jokes often rely on cultural context. That’s why Chinese jokes translated into English don’t always work. So if you’re laughing at the jokes, then you also have a working understanding of the culture.

Want to Learn More?

Congratulations! You’ve just completed Social Media 101.

If you want to learn more, here’s a calendar of over 75 upcoming social media events. If you can’t find anything there, try searching “social media” on

Nehemiah “Nemo” Chu is the Ambassador for Bloomfire, a social learning platform where employees, customers, or fans teach each other. Test Drive our software today, or join Bloomfire’s Alpha Program to test our next-generation platform (launching late September 2010). For fun, he inhales TED Talks in Kalamazoo, Michigan. You can find him tweeting @bloomfire, blogging at Bloomfire’s ePublication, and speaking at DevLearn 2010, an eLearning conference in San Francisco.