How Not to Master Social Media!

As many of you know I went to a Mastering Social Media Course a few weeks ago run by @thomaspower of Ecademy.  Some of you found that very laughable, but I genuinely wanted to learn.  I hummed and hawed about attending the session, mainly due to the cost as it was £420 inclusive of vat.  However, I was assured by a colleague of his that it would be well worth the money and I hold her in high-esteem.  I received the course outline prior to the course, there were one or two things I was happy with but I was very keen to learn the rest.

Hubby and I sat down and talked about it, as I would like to go in the direction of Social Media Training, we decided that it would be a good investment.  In the end, the whole day cost me in excess of £500, which we can’t really afford, once you factored in train fare, parking, and child care and I do appreciate the latter is not their issue.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel that they covered what was advertised, which contravenes the Trading Standards Act.  Below is the course outline as advertised.  I have highlighted in red what I ‘feel’ they did not cover satisfactorily.

  • How to grow your Twitter followers we only sent one tweet and were not shown how to use the search facility to find people.
  • How to blog and grow your blog followers I was surprised that you opted to use your own subscription blogging platform and not one of the more widely used ones (wordpress, blogger or typepad)
  • How to record and upload Youtube video and grow your video followersPenny did demonstrate how to take a video using a flipcam, however most of attendees had iphones and we were not shown how to upload them to youtube.
  • How to feed Twitter and all your social networks into Friendfeed so you can watch your own news channel and filter faster – you did cover this, but found it interesting that friendfeed is no longer popular.  In fact, I embarrassed myself mentioning it on Twitter.
  • How to distribute all your content across the web using managed feeds we did sign up to Google Profiles but it really wasn’t clear how to actually use it.  I was also surprised that 3rd party clients such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck weren’t mentioned.
  • How to set up My6Sense on your iPhone or Android to notice and share the right information to attract and grow your followers – have it on my phone now but haven’t used it since.
  • How to use location services FourSquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places to grow your brand prior to the course we were asked to register with these but we did not touch any of them.
  • How to build Facebook pages to grow your brand worldwide We didn’t even look at a Facebook Fan Page.
  • How to build your Linkedin network to find more clients faster prior to the course we were asked to register with LinkIn but we didn’t touch on it on the course.
  • How to use Quora and realize why Q&A is the hit of 2011I now have the app on my phone but clueless on what to do with it.
  • How to use Gmail to radically reduce your email time – yes, this was covered but it took about 30 seconds to show us how to use the priority inbox.
  • How to identify and raise your Klout and PeerIndex online influence score – yes, I have a good klout score but what do I do with it?

I was very reluctant to complain as they were a very nice couple, good presenters, welcoming and very successful as a brand.  Nonetheless, I’ve asked for a full refund unfortunately, they have point blank refused stating that they had overwhelming positive feedback (95%) from the course.

However, I’m having troubles believing this as two people spoke to me directly after the course saying that they were unhappy and I have had four others contact me privately via Twitter saying they too didn’t feel the course met their objectives either.  Is it 95% of the 14 attendees or 95% of evaluations received as I know I didn’t fill one out as I didn’t have anything positive to say?  My maths isn’t too bad but 6 out of 14 is a lot less than 95%.  I have now also learned that one other person has also asked for their money back.

However, he did offer to give me some feedback?????  The bottom line is they didn’t cover what was advertised, as you can see above and I would like my money back.

I would appreciate any advice on how I can take this further?  I will be popping into the citizen’s advice bureau tomorrow.  I did try to deal with this quietly and with dignity but they don’t seem to be listening.  I can’t help thinking if they had any business sense they should have given me back my money and I would have gone away quietly.

In addition, if you attended the course I would appreciate your feedback whether it is positive or negative.  If you feel the course was worthwhile, then please say so and I will drop my case.

Thank you in advance,

Chrissie

Please note: That the views in this post are my own, but the views in the comments section are those of the individual author and whilst I believe in free speech, I take no responsibility for their opinion. I will endeavour to remove any comments which could be deemed as libellous/racist/etc.

If you see any comments that you feel are inappropriate, I would appreciate it if you flagged them by hovering on the comment and clicking on the flag button.

 

 

 

 

 

143 comments
Howard Wooden
Howard Wooden

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Jim Wade
Jim Wade

ASA caught up with the buggers at last, eh? About time. I imagine they will now refund?

Guest
Guest

Call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or visit the consumer advice pages on Directgov. It's very straightforward and I have always found them v helpful in similar situations.

Adam Arnold
Adam Arnold

Is there any update on this situation?

Sarah
Sarah

Hello Mediocre Mum - What is the current state of play regarding getting a refund? Has Thomas Power or Penny Power of Ecademy offered it now? Or are you going to complain to the Trading Standards or the Advertising Standards Authority? I think it says a lot that an SM practitioner who will/should (as we all should do) be monitoring his own online reputation does not take immediate and effective action to counter what is becoming and industry story by engaging in dialogue to resolve the situation. Ecademy was a somewhat successful enterprise though when you look at eConsultancy which launched at the same time, it is very obvious which has succeeded and which has failed. Sarah

Laury Burr
Laury Burr

Ooooh Jim you are awful, but... To be honest, I suspect that a year at Oxford at £9000 would be rather more enlightening than four days at £7000 (and I write that as a Cambridge graduate!) Have you signed up yet? ;)

Simon & Seema
Simon & Seema

Hi Chrissie, I would carry on trying to get your money back, I have so far resisted courses on social media as I have a suspicion they are not value for money, then out of the blue, we got a letter from Business link with a free social media course it seems to have similar objectives. I will let you know if its any good. At least I know this one will be good value for money! Good luck with getting yours back. Simon

Chris Butler
Chris Butler

Greetings. We at WeCanDo.BIZ mansions have maintained quite a silence on this one so far but I will say that this whole subject will form one of our blog articles on the Social Customer and how to treat them (or not). We have run a few already on our corporate blog at wecandobiz.posterous.com. I am not going to wade in with a diatribe about the rights and wrongs of what has happened here...you'll have to wait for that :) but I would like to make a few points. Firstly, 'social media' isn't hard. To suggest that you need to spend hundreds or even thousands learning to use simple tools is frankly ridiculous. We have very few support calls for example from our members asking how to use our tools. We make it simple. To suggest that an individual organisation can somehow 'accredit' its own offering as an industry recognised qualification is equally ridiculous, unless you happen to be a Microsoft or a Cisco where your products are highly technical. Secondly, what I do have to offer however is this; My colleague Ian Hendry and I are happy to offer you a day of Social Media training in the London area....for FREE...well almost. We will split the cost of any venue hire between anyone who attends and do that on an open book basis. We want nothing out of this other than to show how easy it is to do all this stuff and to do that with interactive practical sessions. We are not doing it to promote our own tools and we are not interested in showing how to use our personal favourites...just giving some ideas that you can take away and use. This is something that we do for various groups. We don't regard it as precious knowledge for the privileged few. These things are just tools. So, if this sounds interesting and enough people want to do it, let me know and we will sort it out. I'll even make up some accreditation certificates if you really want but I'll check my Professional Indemnity Insurance first :) Chris

Belinda
Belinda

I don't know anything about these types of courses, I've just blundered through Twitter learning as I've gone along however, I do know a lot about business, about consumer rights and the overwhelming importance of keeping your customers happy. Your training provider's inference that because everyone else (allegedly) was happy with the course your complaint has no grounds is just idiocy and a total irrelevance. If they aren't prepared to cover the course content they omitted free of charge or to provide you with a refund they are not operating within the law - very simple. Furthermore, I'm certain Trading Standards would be very interested to hear more about their unique 'no refunds' policy.

Karen Hanna Kruzycka
Karen Hanna Kruzycka

Jonnie, with respect, I don't think most of what you said here is very relevant. I don't care whether the person who sold me the mis-advertised jeans is a family man, or whether every other customer is happy, or whether his other jeans are spiffing. I just want an acknowledgment of my complaint, and an attempt at resolution. It doesn't seem like Chrissie is getting either of those things. You may admire Thomas a great deal, but can you honestly say that he has handled this situation well? Has he handled it like an expert in social media would?

Andrew Crook
Andrew Crook

Is this what ecademy the platform for helping small businesses has really come to? Very sad. I realise the importance of social media, however, I left ecademy after all this digital coaching nonsense started. I don't think it gives small businesses the true picture, how can a company teaching online reputation get theirs so wrong.

Adam Sargant
Adam Sargant

Ecademy are the organisation who persist in using the identity of members/ex-members to advertise their services by using said identity in emails "So-and-so invites you to..."... without permission and despite communications from said members asking them to stop doing this. So I'm not surprised. I would like you to get your money back, but I won't hold my breath unless you get them in a position where it becomes financially unviable NOT to give you your money back.

peter syme
peter syme

Something not right here. You seem way way to online savy to be caught for a daft price for a SM course that is going to teach someone of your knowledge next to nothing. Everything about your online presence shouts that you know what you are doing so no basic simplistic course was ever going to teach you anything looking at your already considerable presence. That said obviously a course that gives money back statements has to stand by that otherwise as we are seeing just gets trashed. The fact that this course was in social media just makes it all the more ridiculous that the facilitators obviously do not grasp the medium and considering what they run and preach that is a bit laughable. Always ask the question show me the money. Not from running social media businesses or social media training businesses but from real day to day businesses who are making real money from social media. However, I am sure I am preaching to the converted so why did you go on that course in the first place? BTW I am not backing the course or the providers, I think it is a complete waste of time and cash for anyone with any online sense, something you seem to have in abundance. I have had various online discussions with TP over several years and always found him to be very aware and knowledgeable of future online trends. His ability to action them and his awareness of the online web of dangerous info he was weaving that was always going to bite back was lacking in the extreme. You are just one of many examples. That said I still sense something not right here? Still I am sure your cash back would help and for the amount surely any business would just pay up would they not?

Jon Stow
Jon Stow

I suppose in view of a comment already made I had better declare that I am a Blackstar and I know Thomas and Penny quite well. I should also say that I have not been “sent” by Thomas and I picked up on this thread from Twitter. I might have been interested in the course had I not thought that I was quite well versed in social media. I have written before several times that I don't believe there is such a person as a social media expert. Chrissie, there are good measures of activity in social media such as Klout and PeerIndex. They are not measures of influence as they suggest, but they are an indicator of how much you use Twitter and Facebook and PeerIndex also records blogging activities. I have higher scores than some of the Digital Coaches, so I do not think I would be a suitable candidate for the course. My klout score is at the time of writing 46, yours is 69, one more than Thomas (68). My PeerIndex is 59, yours is 41 (so perhaps you haven't linked your blog) and Thomas's is 70. Your klout-measured output is impressive. You have a premium theme WordPress blog. You really seem to know what you are doing. I don't understand what you hoped to gain from the course. As to the price, surely you went in with your eyes open? I wouldn't have paid that sum because it would not have had enough value for me, but if I knew nothing about social media marketing it might have been a real eye-opener. The course is clearly designed to touch a lot of bases but most of the different subjects would have needed at least an hour or so to be covered in detail. You already seem to have had the knowledge and the skills to run a social media course. Are you not just upset that you wasted your money on an inappropriate course, akin to someone signing up for an evening class in basic maths when they already have a GCSE in maths? Is that really the fault of the providers?

Simon
Simon

Anyone who has been on Ecademy for the last couple of years would know that Thomas has a religious type zeal for Social & Digital Media. Ecademy has turned into a cult, there are a number of blackstars there who think the sun shines out of his backside and unconditionally agree with whatever he says. If he came out and said the world is flat, I am sure at least 50% of Blackstars would agree and knock anyone who thinks otherwise. The Powers cannot deal with criticism, if you do dare to criticise they think you are bullying them online!! Everytime someone questions Thomas he avoids the answer and is surprisingly quiet. They are only offering this course as they see it as a way of boosting the quickly decreasing Ecademy numbers. People are leaving in their droves, although they were claiming something like 10,000 people a day were joining or some such nonsense which was shown to be a massive lie. I urge you to take this to the small claims court. Last time it cost me around £80 and they will need to travel to your local court to defend themselves. Let this be a warning to anyone thinking of doing the Ecademy Digital or Social Media course... go to a reputable provider!

Jim
Jim

Power and Power also do a four day accredited "digital coach" course - I'm not sure which official body accredits the course. I hear that lots of people are signing up for that at £7000 a throw (yes, that's seven thousand pounds). It also offers a money back guarantee. There seem to be several happy graduates. More here: ecademydigitalschool [dot] com/about

Dlong
Dlong

Try the small claims court and complain to the advertising standards authority about their new remit regarding web based adverts.

David Cushman
David Cushman

I've read through (almost) all the comments here. I do occasionally run social media training for orgs myself (usually less tactics focused) - and from that perspective I have to say you were somewhat over-promised. To get through all that in a day in any kind of hands-on depth was never going to happen. But what really surprises me is that Thomas Power has failed to engage in this thread. If anyone's case is good, engaging in public should be free from fear. If you get nowhere with your refund I'll be happy to help fill knowledge gaps FOC if you happen to be passing our offices In Holborn. I presented for EConsultancy on Location Based Services (Gowalla etc) in London, Leeds and Manchester at the end of last year, for example.

Faysky
Faysky

Oh dear, with advice from people like you Adam and Stig? this poor lady is not going to get anywhere with her claim. I am quite sure Ecademy would not do as you infer..the reference to Google was totally mine and I noticed it myself around 8 years ago...no one had even made an issue about it in those days. SEO is a fairly recent thing. But it is a fact that Ecademy is Google friendly...well it certainly was until one little queen of the night stuck her oar in! You are totally wrong, and always have been, inferring that Thomas or Penny would ask me to stick up for them...I doubt if they have asked any Blackstars either. Why should they? I certainly haven't received any information...mind you I have not looked in the Blackstar forum for about a month now, too busy. I am a little miffed at the suggestion that I may have been paid to reply, I suggest that you change that reference so it does not look that way. I merely read this blog because of another person, who likes to deride the Ecademy management and those who enjoy what they produce, who posted this juicy little tit bit. It is not an area of interest to me to attend digital media courses. However I have attended many events arranged by Ecademy with Thomas and Penny present and have always come away after a very enjoyable day learning something new and making some really interesting contacts. I do think that the author of this blog has become a victim of the sour grapes brigade and is being goaded into something not only futile but potentially expensive. Also they are encouraging a complete failure in communication so that no solution could possibly be offered in good faith. One thing I have learned about social media is that it is not wise to associate with networkers with a grudge. Not unless you are wearing anti flack jackets

mediocremum
mediocremum

Still no refund, I refused a 50% refund and now he is threatening to countersue me if I pursue it any further.

Jim
Jim

As it seems that several customers think the course was not fit for purpose, maybe the Sale of Goods Act applies? Anyway, don't give up. I've just persisted with Volkswagen UK about a fault on my Passat which seemed to me to be potentially dangerous and which I think should have been the subject of a recall. I've just this minute heard that they have agreed to pay 100% of the cost - about £2700. So - never ever give up if you think you are in the right. Good luck!

Jim
Jim

Not yet, Laury. I'm waiting to get some indication of just how much the initial twenty accredited and freshly certificated graduates make in their new profession. Yes, I know it's not all about money and that they are expected to do their pro bono bit to support Btitish industry. But I'm afraid I have a bit of a mercenary streak, so I'd expect to get a financial ROI. Meanwhile I expect to be going on Chris Butler's course. And on Steven Healey's when that eventually runs. Both look like excellent value for money.

Jonnie Jensen
Jonnie Jensen

You are not wrong to suggest that using any tool cant be learnt but to suggest that it is easy for a business of any size to slap up a twitter account and be successful is simply wrong. You take a broad range of businesses from self employed, through owner managed, Ltd Partnership and Plc and the needs and challenges are very different. More over there is risk from mistakes - this conversation highlights the point - and a company would be wise to invest in the skills and knowledge if they do not exist in the company. Why do marketing Agency's and business consultants exist if this point was not valid? Not everyone can afford them but that does not mean the service has no value to those that choose to make the investment. Your brand building gesture above is decent of you but be clear it is not made for nothing. You are a competitor in some way to Ecademy and you have a Pro account which I'm sure you would be keen to have more people register for.

Jonnie Jensen
Jonnie Jensen

Hi Karen. I dont think this has been handled particularly well - no. I have had conversations about it with people involved in the course so they do know it is going on. How they are choosing to handle it is I suppose their decision. There are two sides to the situation of course but I would have wanted to avoid this comment tree if it was me.

Adam Arnold
Adam Arnold

A very valid point, Karen. However, I do still feel charging £400+ for a basic social media course is a rip off whether or not the content was met. Based on the review provided above (and others!) I would say it constitues nothing other than daylight robbery.

mediocremum
mediocremum

Hi Peter, Nice to meet you. Just because I have several thousand followers on Twitter by no means makes me an expert. Prior to the course, as I said in a previous reply, I received a copy of the course outline and there were only a couple of things I was happy with. I'm not insane and wouldn't spend that amount of money on a course I didn't think I would get anything from. I thought about it long and hard before registering and was assured by a colleague that it would be worth every penny. Sadly, I think we are losing sight of the main objective. The bottom line is they did not deliver what was advertised. Hence why I have asked for my money back. You may not have noticed but 4 others on the course, with varying abilities, have also commented on this thread and they too feel it did not meet the objectives. I did not want to go down the route of publishing it on my blog and can assure you I had no idea it would receive this level of attention. I have written to them twice, detailing the shortfallls and asked for my money back but they have point blank refused stating that they had overwhelming positive feedback. Other than spending more money and time on CAB, small claims court etc I really felt I had no other choice. I'm sure they anticipated this happening. Cheers, Chrissie

Andrew Crook
Andrew Crook

>>My klout score is at the time of writing 46, yours is 69, one more than Thomas (68). Mr Powers tweets are nothing more than his social media feeds fed through Friendfeed, basically auto tweeted junk. This is where Klout fails on many fronts, one would expect to have a good Klout score would require an actual human and human interaction, however, this is not the case. Andrew

Adam Sargant
Adam Sargant

Hi Jon... given your closeness to Thomas and Penny, can you please ask them to comply with my requests to stop using my identity in their email promotions? I've asked twice and received no response to either request. The request included a request to have my data removed from their database which clearly has also not been complied with.

Kevin
Kevin

Hi Jon, having a premium theme wordpress blog doesnt mean you know what you are doing, I have loads but was fortunate enough to have someone set them up for me, it doesnt mean i know anything about them, same with twitter yes i use it but it was set up and tweaked by someone else. Why wouldnt people with these things go on a course to maybe find out more from 'experts' so they can progress themselves.

NikkiPilkington
NikkiPilkington

A balanced response Mr Stow, as I have come to expect from you. Glad to see you here :)

mediocremum
mediocremum

Hi Jon, Thank you for stopping by. Prior to signing up for the course I received the course outline. I must admit I thought it was a bit ambitious for a one day course, but was really excited about it. As I said in the post I was happy with a couple of the areas, mainly twitter and facebook. However, the rest was unchartered territory and I was really looking forward to it. I think we need to stay focussed on the issue. The bottom line is that they did not cover what they said they were going to. It was not a mismatch of my ability and the course content. If you have the opportunity, and read the 4 comments from other course attendees, some of who are new to social media, also felt that it did not meet their expectations. Thanks again, Chrissie

Simon
Simon

Oh, and Penny has claimed to have members from 234 countries. An amazing feat considering wiki-answers say there are 196 !!

Andrew Crook
Andrew Crook

>>I'm not sure which official body accredits the course. err I believe its probably none. £7000 a throw? bloody hell (sorry) I am in the wrong business. I could do that for a fraction of the price.

mediocremum
mediocremum

Good to hear they have happy graduates. It just seems like an extortionate amount of money to me.

Nikki Pilkington
Nikki Pilkington

"this poor lady is not going to get anywhere with her claim." :) I believe she got more than double her money back in the end.

Adam Arnold
Adam Arnold

I won't be changing my reply. It is clear from this review and others that Ecademy social media courses suggest signing up to an in house blog when really, there is more benefit from having your own blog hosted on your own domain.

Jim
Jim

Threatening to countersue you for what exactly? For the crime of being a dissatisfied customer? How very 20th century. But how typical a response from Ecademy.

James Coakes
James Coakes

Giving away a free day of time to a handful of people in the hope that they would upgrade to pro doesn't sound like an optimum use of resource. I'm sure Chris has better strategies to grow his business. I think the offer is made in good faith and I would take it up. I know a fair amount about the subject, self taught without too much difficulty with a fair amount of reading about what others are doing and some Youtube tutorials. I agree that you don't need to pay thousands, or even hundreds, to get on top of this parrticular strand of online marketing.

Chris Butler
Chris Butler

Jonnie Couple of points (in fact, more than a couple). Firstly I have never suggested that to 'slap up a twitter account' will achieve anything. Out own site has over 130 of them with a complex set of autofeeds etc. Secondly, the tools are simple. We know how they are used and we are happy to pass on that knowledge. Free. Thirdly, of course a company is wise to invest in expertise if they need it, I work as a consultant with my 'other hat' on so it would be hypocritical of me to suggest otherwise. Fourthly, to be clear and ABSOLUTELY clear; the offer is absolutely for nothing. I have already said we will not be training anyone to use our tools. We have no interest in doing that (and no need). We will not be 'selling' Pro accounts nor promoting the product. That would be disingenuous in these circumstances. Fifthly, I don't consider us to be a competitor to Ecademy for many reasons. I know Teep and Penny from Ecademy and we talk, mostly amicably too. We don't agree on everything but we do agree we don't compete in the same market. So I would suggest you read what I wrote again, don't make any assumptions and have an open mind about my offer. It is genuine and I have no hidden agenda. I don't do those, I always say if I want people to buy stuff. It makes life so much more simple.

mediocremum
mediocremum

Hi Jonnie, Thanks for taking the time to comment...if you follow me on Twitter I'm more than happy to DM you my mobile number. As you said there are always two sides to the story. I also have a plethora of emails to support my claims. Sorry if I sound abrupt...just getting a bit tired of it all and not looking forward to going to court, which is the next step.

peter syme
peter syme

Hi Chrissie Fair enough, lessons learned on all sides and for us all reading this so we should all thanks you for bringing it to attention. Online advertising rules changes recently you may want to have a look at them if your refund does not appear quick sharp. Looking at this saga maybe as well as getting your money back which should be a given, maybe you can get a free place on one of the longer courses and use this saga as a reputation management module? That would be keeping with the open and supportive nature of the social web, does not seem likely though if you cannot get back your initial payment. Good luck

Jon Stow
Jon Stow

Yes, Andrew, and despite that Chrissie has a higher score.

mediocremum
mediocremum

Sorry I shouldn't have giggled! But I am very happy with the outcome, however, I wish it wasn't such a struggle. Thanks again for your support.

Jim Wade
Jim Wade

"I would take it up." Me, too. What size of group are you looking to get together, Chris? Looks like you have the beginnings...

mediocremum
mediocremum

I would be interested depending on when and where. Feel free to drop me an email via the contacts page on this blog.

Trackbacks

  1. […] of the only good things that came out of the Social Media Course fiasco was crossing paths with the lovely and talented Nikki Pilkington, who’s been helping businesses […]

  2. […] for a refund on a couple of occasions but to no avail.  In the end, I blogged about it  ‘How Not to Master Social Media‘ and it received far more attention than I could’ve ever imagined.  The post went […]