(The following post is by Sarah Guinot, Oddpodz newest team member).

I was until this week, when I attended Social School in Tampa.

I just joined the Oddpodz team as an intern. I’m finishing my MBA at the University of Tampa and I am thrilled to be working with such an exciting, young social media company. To learn more about me and connect, my Oddpodz user name is sarenka. I’d love to hear from you.

Part of my contributions to the company will be helping the Oddpodz community members and attracting new ones through social media.

My first assignment, get in the social media grove fast.

Lucky for me, the Oddpodz offices are located in www.Walkerbrands.com, a super cool place to work. Not only is it a design-centric, creative environment, the office culture has also lots of means for collaboration and learning via our roommates, tools and events.

This week the office hosted Social School. It was lead by Nancy Walker, President of Walker Brands and a super savvy, branding and marketing pro, and Julia Gorzka, a social media enthusiast and consultant.

The event attracted a diverse group of business people, all like me, hungry to get on the social media train.

So what is this international phenomenon sweeping the media, business and people’s lives?

It’s the “world’s largest cocktail party where everybody is invited”, explained Julia.

Such a definition makes it clear that social media challenges the “old school” marketing thinking. As most of the audience, you might find social media intimidating. After all, there are so many social tools out there, where does one start? How do you find your markets in this new World? You heard about Twitter and might wonder who is this new animal. But have no fear. The good news is that it is completely possible to understand social media and, even better, to make great use of them in order to support your brand and its delivery- two essential components for business success.

Here are some of the highlights I took away from Social School.

1) The first step is to define your brand. A brand is not merely a logo or a catchy slogan anymore. It’s what customers think, feel and expect about you, which is earned at every touch points, every contact with your customers, from product and signage to employee training.

2) Then, once you have a coherent and strong brand essence, it’s time for delivery. You are now ready to hit the social media universe. What are your goals? Is it brand awareness? Discoverability? Finding new leads?

3) Remember that in the World’s largest cocktail party (social media), the communication style is very conversational, helpful and educational and definitely not about hard selling. If you’re focused on mere transactions, you will be quickly black listed and your efforts will be a waste.

Pain in the butt photo

As Julia explained, “It is not as much about advertising anymore anyway, when companies were pushing their messages. It is about giving your customers something to talk about”.

For more on how social media can help your business check back, we will be posting other gems gained from the class. If you are interested in attending a future social media class go to social school.

Also we’ve posted and reviewed some great FREE social media tools and resources in Oddpodz FREE Biz Findz.