Throughout this course, we’ve covered so many new concepts. I did have a few key take-aways that will help me improve my writing and my storytelling.
A few things that stuck with me
–Levels of readership: There are 4 levels of reader, ranging from those that simply skim, to those that can summarize your work.
–Inverted pyramid: This seems so simple but makes so much sense! Using a “hook” to reel in the readers and keep them engaged until the end.
–Assessing a target audience: Using demographics and psychographics, and what questions to gather that information.
–How to hone my writing: Making sure to tell the right story to the right audience.
Overall, the main thing I learned is that storytelling is the way to get people interested, to listen to or read through your content. A great story will get people hooked and interested in your brand or business, and keep them coming back for new content. You need to keep things personable and approachable, like most social media, instead of cold and one-sided, like old media.
If I were to start a blog, I would tell lots of little anecdotes about myself. I would keep the writings on the shorter side to give readers that “get in, get out” sense. Be it a blog about fitness, baking, or just ramblings of my life, the blog would be full of successes AND failures. Showing both sides shows the reader you are human, and capable of error, but also shows that you are capable of accepting failure and moving forward regardless. I find that I am more than happy telling people about the good and the bad – it helps develop trust!
Obviously, my story – the meat of who I am as a person – is much longer than one single blog post can contain. I’ve had 30 years to cultivate stories and weave that cloth of “Fiona”! Let’s start small then, one small bite-sized piece. What gets me out of bed in the morning? The short answer – my dog.
I have a soft spot for dogs. They don’t have their own voices, and can’t speak up for what they want or need. I try to learn Delilah’s “language” just a bit better every day. She and I work hard to overcome her anxiety and fear of new people.
The longer answer, as mentioned in my previous personal brand post, is that my dog is my whole life. Delilah is a potcake, a breed of street dog from the Caribbean. I absolutely love her to bits, and I aim to spoil her so rotten. Delilah and her siblings were born on the streets on Nassau, the Bahamas. She spent the first 3 or 4 months fighting for food and searching for a safe place to sleep, always vigilant for danger. She was rescued and brought to Canada, which I can only imagine was a traumatic turnaround – scooped up, put onto a plane, and then driven from Toronto to Ottawa.
(To top it all off it was winter here! Imagine going from the tropical heat to the dreary winter in Ottawa?! Poor thing!)
So, the reason I get out of bed in the morning? I get up knowing that Delilah needs to be taken care of. I get up knowing that she loves her morning cuddles. I get up hoping that I can get her the best food, the best toys, and the safest spaces to nap. I get up knowing that I am giving Delilah the easiest, happiest life that she deserves.
Do you also find it’s hard to brag about yourself? I find it hard to delve into myself and truly find my brand. Most of the time, we define ourselves by a hobby or two and a career, but we are so much more than that! Every decision we make (or don’t make!) all translates into our brand and how the world perceives us.
My family says that I am a social butterfly – and a loud one at that. My friends say that I am a great baker, have beautiful tattoos, and have a great sense of humour. Myself? I see an amateur fitness enthusiast who loves dogs, music, craft beer and people! In my career, I grew up training and coaching, and that has translated into how I interact with people. I am caring by nature, so being an instructor and coach helps me to fulfill that.
A big part of what I see as my brand is my tattoos. Each one has a meaning and took a lot of time and effort to bring to life. Plus, it is a short-term pain, long-term gain scenario; I feel proud to wear a tattoo, as if I’ve earned that ink. Another huge part is my love of dogs. My dog is my whole world, and I would do anything to make sure she is as safe and happy as she can be. This in part is because she is a rescue dog, and my heart aches due how she was treated in the past. My goal is to spoil her so much that she never remembers her past.
One last detail – I am a sap. I decorate my house for every holiday, and always way too early. I love it! I love the festivity of it all. Especially Christmas – I love having garlands and lights and snowflakes all over the house. It makes my house feel magical!
Are you even a real dog owner if you don’t spend your whole paycheck on your dog? If you are looking for another way to spoil your dog, why not look at BarkBox?
BarkBox is a subsidiary of Bark, and you can find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest. They don’t do a lot of advertising though – for products and pricing, you’ll either have to go looking on their website, or watch the deluge of unboxing videos that get posted on #BarkBoxDay! Carefully curated content on their “organic channels” makes for a “party atmosphere where an audience wants to hang“. BarkBox makes sure that they aren’t forcing ads and promotions down your throat – you have to seek those out.
Instead, what you’ll find on their social media is engaging, entertaining content meant to promote their fun, witty brand personality, instead of their products. For example, their Twitter is full of quippy little posts from the perspective of a dog-obsessed person, and their Instagram shows funny and relatable memes pertaining to owning a dog and their cute idiosyncrasies. They also staged a “PR crisis” on National Squirrel Day (which is January 21, for those inquiring minds) where they pretended their account was hacked by squirrels that hate dogs and the BarkBox concept. This “crisis” is now a yearly event and followers even look forward to it to see what will happen next!
BarkBox’s approach to social media is wildly successful, with almost 3 million Facebook followers and almost 2 million followers on Instagram. Their strategy to post relatable and entertaining content rather than ads shows that they care about their audience and aren’t solely sales-driven. Having such immense followings and such a colloquial tone in their posts has definitely lent to a successful campaign!
Who are you talking to? Who do you want to have listening to you? Who are you trying to impress? All of these questions relate to online communications and finding your target audience!
I chose a hobby of mine, fitness, to practice finding out who exactly you are talking to. I chose the Movement Union as my subject, a self-proclaimed “boutique physiotherapy and fitness experience.” I know from hearing the owner of the studio speak on it that the target audience is anyone looking to get fit and have a well-rounded fitness experience, with a focus on older bodies who need modified moves or more mobility exercises. I conducted further research by looking at who commented most often on the live video feeds, and going through the “top fans” of the Movement Union Facebook page to review information on their profiles (education, profile picture, kids, etc).
The demographics of this audience seem to be predominantly white, middle-aged mothers who attended university. There is a small population of elderly patrons as well. The psychographic seems to encompass those who like to travel or live abroad, a conservative (but not strict) audience and an outgoing and positive group, given that they come together online to workout and cheer each other on. One assumption I made was that the group is middle- to upper-class, since the workout classes are subscription-based.
The owner of Movement Union did a great job of maintaining the target audience when the pandemic hit by moving his classes online. This new online format actually benefitted some of the working moms by having the classes stay online for 24hrs instead of the classes being an in-person event. My suggestion to enable more audience communication might be to do email blasts on top of the Facebook reminder posts, since the demographic is predominantly older. The instructor already gives reminders via posts and in his Facebook Live workout videos, but perhaps a single video dedicated to updates or reminders so the audience doesn’t have to go digging in each video to find information!
Recently, we learned about storytelling and audience interaction. What this boils down to is finding your personal communication style – otherwise known as your online voice. Your online voice means portraying your personality through your writing. However, this doesn’t give you a hall pass to word-vomit onto the page!
Even if you are being colloquial, instead of professional, you still need to be concise, grammatically correct, and engaging. It is impossible to have a text that grabs someone if it is full of spelling mistakes and commas where they shouldn’t be! Another carnal sin of blogging is rambling. Just like telling a story out loud, you need to stay on track. If you go off on tangents, people will lose interest and stop listening!
The first tactic to bring in the readers is to start with something engaging – you need something to grab your reader’s attention and pull them into the story. Promise them something sensational, or some life-changing information. Once you have their attention, you can give them more details. Your audience needs to care before you give them the rest of the story.
One way to figure out what your audience cares about and will stick around for is to actually talk with them! Check in with the demographic or psychographic you are aiming for and cater to their interests. Find the group of people you want to speak to, or figure out what the interests are of the group of people you want to pull in. Your audience won’t interact with you if they don’t care about your content, so how do you make them care? You need find out what they like, or you need to be yourself (you do you!) and attract an audience who has the same interests!
Back in the day when we were allowed to travel without wearing a mask, I took a very lovely vacation to visit my boyfriend’s family in Brussels, Belgium. I was lucky enough to take two weeks off around Christmas and New Year’s. Let me tell you, Christmas in Europe is quaint as all get-out. The temperate weather means it isn’t as frigid as Canada, the traditions there are hundreds of years old (or more, depending where you go!), and best of all, you’re allowed to sip mulled wine while walking the outdoor Christmas markets!
On this particular vacation to Brussels, we visited the Christmas markets in Brussels, Leuven, and Valkenburg in the Netherlands. We were determined to get the most Christmas cheer into our vacation as possible! The market in Brussels spans multiple streets and neighbourhoods, and at its center is the Grand Place where an enormous, breathtaking, and beautifully decorated Christmas tree resides. This is also where you can watch the light show that is cast onto the buildings that create the square. On a more confusing note, the Brussels Christmas market also hosts a Christmas … worm. I am still unclear as to why this worm represents Christmas, but I still ask every time I see it. See below:
One of the most memorable things we did on that vacation was the unique and intimate beer tour. The tour featured bars around downtown Brussels that the average tourist would not find or go to, and we were tasting beers you would not find outside of Belgium (or sometimes, even outside of that specific bar!) The tour guide, a Brussels native, had lots of cool stories and anecdotes to give as our little group toured around the city. The beers were amazing (and very high alcohol content…), the group was lively, and as the night wore on the light shows started turning on – it was really magical (or maybe that was the beer talking).
The one thing I will say is I missed my own family that Christmas. Having the ability to message them anytime over WhatsApp of Facebook really helped with the homesickness.
All in all, it always helps to visit family when you go on vacation – it certainly helps not having to pay for a hotel. Brussels really is a magical and wonderful place to spend Christmas. Coming from Ottawa, it was a welcome change to the dreaded cold, however I did miss how much snow we get and how it changes everything into a winter wonderland. We will certainly return to Brussels for Christmas – when Covid allows.
This pandemic has forced us to stay inside and away from friends and family. The silver lining here is that it is a great time to learn a new skill! How many of us promised ourselves we would be productive during the “2 week” shutdown? Learning a new skill is the perfect way to keep yourself occupied!
I decided that I was going to keep my brain busy by using apps I could find in the Play Store. I decided that I wanted to focus on skills I had a basic knowledge of so that I wouldn’t immediately get frustrated and want to quit (hands up if you are also a slave to instant gratification!). Here are the apps I settled on, and my review of each one.
This is the app I’ve used the longest. I had originally started using Duolingo years ago when I was trying to improve my French skills. I find this app very easy to use. It is intuitive, fun, and honestly it’s kind of cute too. There is also an option to post your results on a leaderboard to compare with friends if you are more on the competitive side. It is easy to skip a specific learning task if needed (ex. speaking out loud to the app). It starts off very basic and easy, which is perfect for anyone trying to learn a completely new language. Being bilingual, French was way too easy to start with, so I tried my hand at Irish to see if a new language would be easy enough to learn (spoiler – it is!)
Mimo is an app very similar to Duolingo in the way you go through the levels and earn points, except you learn basic HTML coding! Coming from a computer-savvy family, I figured it was time to actually learn how HTML worked instead of just knowing how to use CTRL+B, I and U to change the style of my fonts. This app started out a bit quick right from the get-go, so I could see how it would be confusing for true beginners with no knowledge of coding or how computers “talk”. I have some basic experience in HTML already, so I knew the first lesson easily, but it could be confusing starting right off the bat with HTML tags! If the app experience isn’t for you, another great resource to learn to code is W3Schools!
I used to take piano lessons for years as a kid, but I “dropped out” once I got to high school. I missed being able to sit down and play, so I figured why not try an app to teach me since I can’t see an instructor in person. First thing, you will need a piano or a keyboard, or you will need a tablet. With no physical keyboard, you can learn to hit the correct keys on your screen, so having a tablet with a bigger screen will definitely help. When you start learning, you first have to create a profile and decide what level you want to start at. The app “listens” to you play, so it will tell you if you hit the correct notes and at the correct time! This app is fun and easy to follow along with. While good for true beginners, it may still be a good idea to see an instructor in person once you learn the basics. One word of caution, it is mentioned that it takes about 2 years to finish the entire Simply Piano program!
Yousician is a similar premise to Simply Piano. You learn an instrument, but Yousician allows you pick from a variety of instruments! I chose guitar, another one of the skills I wanted to learn during Covid. I was a little taken aback when I first started because after you choose what instrument you want to learn and what kind of learning you want to do (professional, for fun, etc) the app immediately opens a video for you to watch. Personally, I panicked and exited the app because I wasn’t quite ready to start learning – I had only opened the app to set up an account! This app is great to learn to play an instrument, but not so great if you want to learn music theory. The app also guides you quite a bit, so it is easy to become a lazy learner!
If you are looking for more apps that you can learn from, check out this site for 16 more options!
Did you find anything interesting to learn during the pandemic? How did social media and the multitude of apps help you in your quest for knowledge?
Facebook: Check out my post if you want to learn about how to use social media to your educational advantage!
Twitter: Wondering how social media has changed how we learn? Check out my thread!
Instagram is amazing. You get snapshots into someone’s life. Where they travel, their fitness routine, the cute little gift their significant other got them. It all makes it look so perfect, doesn’t it? A little too perfect maybe. And that’s the catch. Although Instagram can be so inspirational, it comes with a darker, fake side too.
In the words of an Instagram user, and friend of mine, “I find there is this balance with social media where it can be so inspirational. I get to see other [people] try cool things that give me ideas.There is also that social media ‘fakeness’. The video someone posts could be incredible and amazing and whatever… but that video also probably took them 20 or so tries to actually get.”
Inspirational content is Instagram’s bread and butter. It’s what gets the audience engaged and motivated. Inspirational content draws people in, makes them happy. Posting inspirational content “…celebrates the message, values, and vision behind your brand.” All in all, it’s what Instagram is for, right? Something inspirational can be a fitness enthusiast recording a personal record, a dancer doing an amazing new move, or a local artist showcasing their latest prints. All of these things can inspire viewers to do, move, or create more!
This journal explains how social media, specifically Instagram, is full of pictures and videos that users agonize over and redo and touch up and whatever else to get that idealized vision of themselves to show to the world. You can read the article to find out how the “fakeness” of Instagram can affect your body image!
With all the touch-ups, posed pictures, and only showing the good, happy content, an account, business or brand can end up looking disingenuous and inauthentic, and will usually get called out for being fake (especially if there is photoshop involved!).
The Instagram audience is definitely becoming more aware of how only the “good” content is being posted. Lots of Instagram users have started the “Instagram vs Reality” type of posts to show that yes, they posted a picture that looks perfect, but they also post what they looked like immediately after when they relaxed. There has been a movement to remind people that Instagram pictures are posed, not real, and not sustainable.
Sara Puhto shows the side by side of a posed, touched up Instagram-worthy photo and what she actually looks like in real life. She was posting photos of herself flexed and posed, and realized that might be sending her followers the wrong message about how a body is supposed to look, possibly instilling insecurity. She goes on to point out that only a certain body type was being glorified on social media, and she sought to change that on her own Instagram page. It may not have started with Sara, but it certainly became a trend to start posting more “real” photos and videos on Instagram.
So, reader, are you guilty of only showing the best angles, personal records, and tastiest foods? Or do you dare show the “real” you?
Facebook : Want to know the top Instagram no-nos? Check out my post!
Twitter: Check out my feed for 4 tips for the perfect Insta post!
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Twitch, Reddit, Snapchat… The ways to connect to social media are seemingly endless. It’s so easy to “just check Facebook really quick”! Suddenly, it’s been an hour – or two! How is it that social media has such a hold on us?
Ease of Access
The ease with which we can access any social media is astounding. It is so easy to find anything and everything whenever you want to! It becomes addictive to have the world at your fingertips; your every whim catered to at your every convenience. In Bo Burnham’s newest Netflix special, Inside, he sings a song about this topic exactly. As the song Welcome to the Internet puts it, you can have “…everything all of the time”!
A Canadian Mental Health Association researcher, Dal Mesh, notes that humans “… evolved to care about our reputation. In today’s world, one way we are able to manage our reputation is by using social media websites.” Social media has literally become the way that we get our validation from others, and how we perceive our self-worth. It is also noted in the article that social media triggers the part of the brain connected to impulsive behaviour – which makes sense when you can have instant gratification from logging on!
The Addiction Centre states that as many as 10% of Americans suffer from social media addiction and that the reward centre of the brain reacts to things like retweets and likes in the same way it reacts to cocaine. The article also states that social media can be addicting because people mostly post about and discuss themselves on social media, so getting a like or any positive feedback stimulates the brain to release dopamine.
-anger or irritability when social media is not accessible
-negative impacts on relationship, school, or work
Don’t worry just yet though, according to the Addiction Centre, you are only considered addicted if you have an all-consuming need to use social media, so if you still have the ability to put your phone down or close your laptop, you’re in the clear!
So, dear readers, are you a social media hermit, junkie, or addict? (No shame in any response!)
If you feel like you do, in fact, have an addiction, please reach out to the resources below. Addiction is not something you need to battle alone!