Com0014: Post 2- Communication Styles

In getting your message out in the Wild Wild West, in the Internet age, it’s important to not only have great content, but also have a style which can engage your readers.

For my analysis, I chose the renewable energy website, which ranks as one of the world’s top cleantech websites globally.

With thousands of readers daily, and ranked as the number one cleantech website globally by and, CleanTechnica in itself has become a brand. Launched in 2008, this blog has gained a following. It’s been referenced by major media outlets, including: MSN, Washington Post, and Reuters., and was a trailblazer in helping to establish cleantech media in the late 2000’s.

CleanTechnica covers all sorts of renewable energies, including: wind, solar, clean transportation, and energy efficiency. It has two goals.

  1. Inspire people and help them to take cleantech action in their lives;

  2. Share correct information on cleantech, including debunking widespread myths and horrible coverage in the mass media.

While it attracts many academics, and cleantech enthusiasts, like myself, CleanTecnica’s communication style makes it easy for readers to understand. Trying to communicate renewable energy and cleantech prior to Web 2.0 was a challenge. If you wanted to get your message out, you had limited Internet opportunities, or go through mainstream media. After all, renewable energy and cleantech is still young now. This is why much of why many within mainstream media have done a poor job communicating about the benefits of these industries. In the past, information relating to these industries were only confined to tech geeks in the University science lab. Through blogs, and social networking outlets, social media helped blow it out of the water. In the past 10-15 years, social media has opened up research, and news stories within new media. Now the challenge was to find a communication style which can relate well to enthusiasts, academics, novices, and those with a casual interest. CleanTechnica has a nice balance in finding a communication style which pleases all bases.

In lesson one, we learned the importance putting personality in your voice, in business writing can provide a more human element.  By allowing its writers to have a human voice within its writing, CleanTechnica pleases those causal readers, as well as the hard core techies.

Its owner and one of its writers, Zachary Shahan, adds lots of personality to his articles. For example, a recent article where he talks with Wang Chuanfu, the Chairman of Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, BYD. His own personal voice comes out in this article. Shahan uses “I’s” often to give his analysis with his discussion with Chuanfu. Shahan is also very clear about discussing what BYD is (namely giving a detailed description of this company) and its chairman.

This personal style reflects well to entice not only tech nerds, but also the novices, and casual fans.

COM0014 – Blog Post 1:What I (Not Necessarily) did on my (Extended Break)

This holiday season was uneventful. Yes, uneventful. There was no marriage proposals, no new Cadillac’s. No “Under The Mistletoe.” No New Year’s kiss from someone. No. It was a holiday of reflection.

Reflection on 2015: A year of stagnation. If 2015 had value in the stock market, it would have been flat. Flatter than a pancake. Nothing grew. Mediocrity at its finest. A dead end office admin job for a retail company for nearly two years ended up a disorganized circus.


Photo By Adam Johnston

Eventually, This holiday season began three weeks earlier than what I wanted: Three weeks before Christmas being laid off. A sense of bewilderment, anger, frustration came through me. Take those images of Canada men’s national soccer team getting pounded by Honduras 8-1 in October, 2012 during FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying. That was all of that wrapped into one. Yet, at the same time relief. Relief, because now, I had the opportunity to reload, retool for 2016.

During those weeks and during my holidays, besides looking for a job, I worked on many vision collages/boards between the start of December and January, 2016. Psychologists suggest this keeps people focus on the goals they want to achieve.


Photo by Adam Johnston

In a period of from 2012-2015 of dealing with abusive co-workers at one job, being dumped by my ex, quitting to start a part time business, working at highly disorganized and unsatisfying jobs places that made me NOT want to care, lead to this mediocrity. I figure I would get back on the path to where I want to go. During the holidays create many vision boards to help me get there.

Ironically, the best Christmas gift came four days after, when I got a job writing about technology.

So, 2016 was off to a good start before it even started.

I don’t know where 2016 will end up. I can’t say I will win the Lotto 6/49. I can’t say there will be some really down moments. However, I will say this: 2016 is going to be a better year.


Photo by Adam Johnston


Photo by Adam Johnston


Photo by Adam Johnston


Photo by Adam Johnston

Com0011- 2016: A Look Ahead in Social Media

The Holiday season is fast approaching and many top ten lists for this past year and predictions for 2016 are flooding in.

Social media is ever evolving. Nothing stays the same as new start-ups are always trying to be the next Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

While I am not a mind reader, and can’t predict everything on this world, I can perhaps offer a glimpse of what the next twelve months may hold in social media. As you enjoy your mistletoe with your loved ones, or some candy cane hot chocolate, or volunteering at your local favorite charity, here is where I see the social media landscape going in 2016, in terms of tech trends, influences on the economy, and society.


Image Credit via Flickr Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved


  1. Even more video social media content; creating new economic opportunities: This was one of the big things talked about in social media circuits in 2014 and 2015. This was the year where video content on social media outlets grew. Nowadays it seems there is almost a 45-55 split in video to regular posts (my own estimation here). Twitter is now bombarded with video tweets. Expect this trend to continue as more social media outlets, as video content slowly becomes the main source of posts. Don’t be surprised if there is new economic opportunities explored from new social video media content. I can’t say where it will happen, it just will.
  2. Mainstream media will fall further behind social media on big Breaking news: This is a foregone conclusion. While major news networks like CNN, and CBC News Network still run the TV media show, its social media that will break away from traditional media when breaking events occur. Tweets, video Facebook posts of the latest disaster, or ending to a major international sporting event will become to go to source for those who are not at a tv, or just want additional commentary on the event. This will only provide bigger headaches for traditional media who are scratching their head somewhat in taming the social media beast.
  3. Internet of Things and social media become more and more tied at the hip You know when you have the social media industries attention when one of the top social media authorities suggest “IoT devices will unleash a new wave of internet based services, in ways we can’t foresee- much like the way the smartphone came along and changed the world of computing,” is words to chew on. After all, a $19 trillion of wealth may come from IoT, and social media is going to cash in or, at least play a supporting role. I would expect to hear more social media companies investing into IoT, like Facebook, Twitter, or Periscope. Who will be the Facebook or Apple of the IoT industry in 2016? Stay tuned.
  4. Privacy Vs. Transparency: I could see this story further unfolding on two levels: The corporate and personal. On the good side, using social media and the Internet has changed the dynamics of how we look at many multinational corporations, making them more transparent. However, on the flipside, more and more we are seeing those same corporations using social media to “spy” on potential employees. While some of it is just, and people should have some basic common sense when using Facebook (i.e. Don’t put any dumb nut pictures of yourself from the bar the night before), its also blurring lines on what people should post in on their Facebook accounts. Personally, I can see this trend continuing as more and more possible job seekers will get angrier, wondering why they are not being called back for interviews. At the same time, corporation’s questionable practices will be put further to the test under the public court of social media opinion.

Well It’s almost been a slice this year. What social media trends do you see breaking out next year? What is one trend that may flop? Is video the wave of the social media future? As potential candidates should employers look at your Facebook page and dismiss your resume? Will IoT be further integrated with social media in 2016?

Those questions I leave you with. Have a great holiday.


Com0011: Blog Post 5- Social Media and Renewable Energy

We before our very eyes are seeing the transformation in how we communicate and how we get our energy. We are transitioning from an era of “dumb” communication” to one of smart, free flowing communication through social media. We are also transforming from a “dumb energy” period to a “smart energy”, otherwise known as renewable energy.

So it’s no surprise how social media is playing a role in building communities, customers, in helping this transition towards a cleaner energy future, while allowing marketers to learn where conversations take place with customers, analysts, supporters, and experts.

Take blogs for example. They have become a critical key in communicating to audiences on where we are headed towards this brave new energy world. In a span of less than a decade, sites like CleanTechnica, ClimateProgress, as two of the go to sites on renewable energy, and climate change issues

Writing for (3.5 years paid, almost one pro bono) for CleanTechnica, I have learned this first hand. Often, I would write, for example a piece on a specific company (i.e. SolarCity). Afterwards, there would be about 10 comments. Often positive, often critical, but there was always a conversation going on between, novices, experts and writers of the post discussing about the subject matter. Lots of learning happens in blog discussions, especially those from within the industry who look at blogs like CleanTechnica as a media leader within this sector.

Blogs have become very influential in getting influencers noticed. Zachary Shahan, president of Important Media (owner of CleanTechnica) made it on a top 20 list of important influencers on the fuel economy in 2013. He has also spoken at global sustainability conferences, also. Tech analysts like Don Tapscott would support this idea, suggesting, Internet innovations including social media via blogs have disrupted traditional media outlets, allowing average citizens and new industries to grow a platform and gain influence.

Besides blogs, Facebook provide great opportunities for companies to engage and build an audience. SolarCity’s Facebook page is a good example for how it builds community, and provides good customer service. SolarCity gives frequent lessons on how solar PV works (through infographs). They even tie it to the importance of renewables towards energy use within data centers and information technology.

Twitter also provides great opportunities for experts to share content, and have micro debates on where the industry has come, and where it’s going. The Guardian listed key renewable energy influencers on Twitter (ranging from the International Renewable Energy Association to UN Climate envoy Christina Figueres). Twitter alone has 320 million users, so it’s easy to see why any cleantech champions use Twitter to enhance their impact.

Renewable energy companies are using mobile apps to promote social media, as well as capture big data to improve their product. SolarCity (mentioned above) has a mobile smart phone app where customers can use social media networking to promote their love for solar energy (and SolarCity). This app also allows for SolarCity to improve energy efficiencies within customer’s houses, showing how solar is working for the homeowner.

A lot to chew on if you were a marketing manager at a renewable energy company looking to hire a social media coordinator. Well consider this:  Solar energy social media expert Tor Valenza in a 2012 Renewable Energy World article suggested its important social media managers within solar companies must know what is going on in economic and technological trends within the industry. I have to agree with Tor Valenza, who is often the go to guy in for all social media matters in solar energy. Afterall, would you want a social media manager to have no clue what solar prices are now compared to back when you were a child?

With renewable energy capacity to add more than 700 GW by 2020 globally, expect lots of new opportunities for social media jobs in this new industry.  In a world where renewable energy and cleantech companies do not have heavy financing like their fossil fuel counterparts, social media becomes a critical tool in enhancing their brand.

My questions are to you:

How have you seen social media helped the renewable energy industry since coming on stage in the early 2000’s?

Would renewable energy be gaining as much traction or attention without social media? Who gains more from social media? Fossil fuel companies or cleantech companies?





COM0011: Blog Post 4: Sidekicks: Social Media and Part-Time Businesses

In this day and age of economic uncertainty, one thing we are seeing more frequently is the rise of side businesses (often known solopreneurs).

“Soloprenuers” is a mashup for solo and Entrepreneur. BuzzWord defines it as “a business owner who works and runs their business alone.”

Image Credit: Social Media Landscape via Flickr by fredcavazza Some Rights Reserved

Image Credit: Social Media Landscape via Flickr by fredcavazza Some Rights Reserved

Part time business owners/solopreneurs, are like you and me. Many grind out 9 to 5 jobs at the office for which sucks the life out of them, only to work on their passions outside of work. Others, do the same thing during the day, but look towards their part-time enterprise as a way of gaining experience to boost their resume for what they went to school for initially.

Consider, in January, 2015, self-employment lead the way in Canadian job creation, with 41,000 new jobs, according to The Globe and Mail.

Freelancing is becoming the word of the day in the workforce. As full-time steady pay cheques become less frequent, declining technology costs through information technology offers new opportunities for people to wrap up their own brand and skills in a nicely minted small business package on the global stage. As Jeremy Rifkin Says in The Zero Marginal Cost Society the Internet has brought marginal costs of communications to near zero. Rifkin goes further to explain:

“The Internet, however, is a virtual public square here anyone who pays for an Internet connection can gain admission and join the conversation.” (P. 139).

Based on Rifkin’s ideas, social media is not only reducing those marginal costs for advertising for solopreneurs/part-time business owners, but is critical in promoting one’s entrepreneurial activities with minimal cash flow.

Kimberly Palmer, who wrote the 2014 book The Economy of You, the bible for part-time business startups, is a keen advocate of utilizing social media networks in getting the most bang for your marketing dollar. Palmer recommends having a dedicated Facebook page for your business; a Twitter handle for those who are prefer being “tech savy”, and a LinkedIn page for promoting professional services. She also recommends using social media in understanding future customers, and also for those side giggers who are not great schmoozers at networking events.

One participant at a Generation Progress workshop on entrepreneurship in the US last year, suggested having all the money in the world won’t end all concerns as developing solid networks, communities and local supply chains is critical for success.

Building strong networks through social media outlets, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can do this for all aspiring part-time entrepreneurs.

What other advantages do you see with using social media in promoting a part-time business? What challenges do entrepreneurs face when using social media to promote their products and services in a crowded market?


  1. Solopreneur Definition.
  2. Self-employed lead January job growth in Canada. February 6, 2015. Tavia Grant. Globe and Mail.
  3. What the Rise of The Freelance Economy Really Means for Businesses. July 1, 2014. Jeff Wald.
  4. The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, The Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. Jeremy Rifkin. 2014. Palgrave Macmillan. New York, New York.
  1. The Economy of You. Kimberly Palmer. 2014. American Management Association. New York, New York.
  2. Promoting Entrepreneurship Among Millenials. Sarah Ayres Steinberg. November 10, 2014. Center for American Progress.

Com0011- Blog Post 3: “Social Media For Machines”: The Internet of Things

Four words you will hear a lot in the near future is “The Internet of Things” (IoT). IoT is what social media was 10-12 years ago around tech circles: Hot, lots of buzz, and the “next big thing.”

What exactly is the Internet of Things? Webopedia defines it as:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.”

Cisco expects IoT will connect 50 billion devices by 2020. MIT Sloan Initiative on The Digital Economy’s Michael Schrage at the 2015 Milken Global conference referred to IoT as “social media for machines.” Schrage goes further by suggesting:

“What if machines were on Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn or Pinterest? That’s not as rhetorically ridiculous as you might think because going along with the Internet of Things is the data and machine learning and artificial intelligence to go along with it.”

Schrage is not completely out-of-bounds here, as we are seeing a transformation from a social media era connecting between humans, but a new “social media era” between machines. Take for example, Nest, a smart thermostat owned by Google. You can control your house’s temperature through smart phone app while you sludge through papers at work.

Consider SolarCity, The US’s top residential solar energy installer also has a smart phone app. While the app does have a social media component, allowing customers to share how great its product is with photos and videos, it also allows consumers to see real-time energy use. Not only that, but SolarCity will use data from panel installations to offer home energy forecasts.

IoT is going to be huge. IoT is going to provide the backbone for smart grids necessary for a clean energy economy. IoT is going to provide for smarter logistics for business. Consider by 2020, global investment in IoT will reach $7.1 trillion according to analysts. It’s a potential business opportunity for those who are looking to disrupt status quo industries.

IoT’s market potential is huge enough that social media companies are keen on getting a piece of the massive IoT pie. A Forbes article written by Michael Wolf points various social media companies who are creating IoT products in order to make our lives easier. WeChat maker TenCent is working with IoT cloud business Ayla Networks in developing ways to support their living environment, according to Wolf. This post also points to social messaging company Life360 has integrated its services in many other products including ADT Security, Nest, and Ford.

Wolf suggests why social media companies are looking towards IoT is because social media provides an excellent source of information and gives a good background of consumer patterns. Wolf said social media companies want to know how consumers interact with devices like tablets and smartphones on a daily basis.

On the flip side, what impact will IoT have on social media? Business2Community suggested five things where IoT will change social media in the areas of:

  • Privacy (Understanding privacy concerns better, as citizens become more aware of digital surroundings notes author Lawrence Ampofo).
  • Health (Getting the best health information possible through social media tools suggests Ampofo).
  • Community (Ampofo mentions IoT will allow the strengthening of communities by having a richer experiences).
  • Corporate Relations (Companies through data from IoT will allow them the information to provide better products and services, according to Ampofo).
  • Competition Between Companies (New opportunities will exist for businesses in completely different industries, as business models are disrupted, Ampofo said).

While it’s still very early in understanding where IoT is going, it’s not going to disappear. Expect to hear more about IoT in the upcoming days, months and years, and how social media will play apart in its evolution.

What other impacts do you see social media having on IoT, or vice versa?


  1. Internet of Things Definition. Webopedia.
  2. Seize New Product and Revenue Opportunities With The Internet of Things.
  3. Digital Future: The Internet of Things. Milken Institute.
  4. SolarCity Installed 34% Of All US Residential Solar in H1 2015. Breaking Energy.
  5. My SolarCity App Offers Energy Monitoring, Social Network to Customers. GreenTech Media.
  6. 70% Renewables by 2050? Its Doable with The Internet of Energy.
  7. The Internet of Things in Logistics. DHL.
  8. Internet of Things Market to hit $7.1 Trillion by 2020: IDC. ZDnet.
  9. Why Social Media Companies Want to Control The Internet of Things? Forbes.
  10. Five Ways The Internet of Things Will Change Social Media.

COM 0011: Blog Post 2: Hitting New Extremes: Social Media and Extreme Weather

Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, and floods. More and more, social media is bombarding us with the latest apocalyptic weather events around the globe. It’s becoming the go to source for rapid fire information, and (surprisingly) analytics for resolving problems.

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Calgary 2013 Flood by Keltek Trust from Flickr via Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved

From Hurricane Sandy in 2012, to Calgary’s floods, and Toronto’s flash flooding in 2013, social media brought these dangers into our homes (or mobile phones and tablets). Platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were helping citizens making them aware of what was happening in real-time.

Who will ever forget seeing those haunting images of the Scotiabank Saddledome being flooded or YouTube videos showing Toronto residents bailing from their condo during the flash flood?

To consider social media’s impact on both events lets look at Calgary’s impact first. Inbound Interactive did an analysis of social media impact on the June 2013 Alberta flood. It was quite astonishing.


  • There were 857,000 related tweets.
  • 1.6 million impressions of a photo showing a fire fighter rescuing a citizen from rising flood waters.
  • Calgary’s flooded Saddledome, home of the NHL’s flames got over 1 million impressions.
  • Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s Twitter handle, @Nenshi was tweeted 89,057 times.
  • Around 191,000 times YouTube video were viewed.

Collin Yabdonski of Inbound Interactive and who compiled research on this event told Huffington Post most related social media stories focus on positive community spirit, rather than devastation:

“However, when I conducted the research I discovered that wasn’t the case; the most shared stories were ones focused around community support, volunteerism and philanthropy.”

Meanwhile, Toronto had its fair share of its July, 2013 flash flood covered from social media. Some pictures showcased on Twitter where quite dramatic, including: Flooded streets, and police rescuing stranded passengers on the GO Train.

Social media also provided data for insurers in order to help make more efficient claims on insurance losses. Bright Planet used Twitter in showing where the most tweets happened during the storm. Then the web designing company used those tweets in creating a heat map to help insurers locate where they should effectively spend their time and money on insurance claims.

While social media unpacked the drama in real-time bringing awareness of what was happening in the Greater Toronto Area, it allowed a channel for criticism towards then Mayor Rob Ford who handled the situation badly, in comparison to Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi after their crisis.

Both Calgary and Toronto’s floods of 2013 showed many uses of social media. First, it created narratives, with heroes and villains from each event. It also was a source of critical information for local residents of what was going on. Lastly social media provided necessary data in order to make more efficient decisions on insurance claims in Toronto’s case.

As 97% of scientists agree climate change is coming from man-made global warming due to carbon emissions, the likelihood of more of these extreme weather events will happen is very good. Even My home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba has not been spared from these situations. Twitter and Facebook were key social media viewing points as Winnipeg got pounded numerous times this past summer, including in late August and early September.

I see social media’s impact growing in relation to extreme weather events. I see more emphasis on media networks utilizing social media on the ground from citizens to cover these types of events instantaneously where networks can not get to. I also see social media being more integrated further with Environment Canada’s weather warning system, as it strives to improve on its own fallacies.

But also, there is some unexpected benefits in social media’s relationship with extreme weather events. Big data used from social media analytics will make insurance claims faster. Social media analytics will also help advance smart grids through information technology, providing better information to utilities. This will help avoid blackouts and integrate renewable energy more smoothly into the grid.

What impacts do you see social media having on extreme weather events?

COM0011- Game On

Console video games is big business. Unlike its predecessors back in the Atari, NES days, today’s games feel more like a major summer blockbuster movie. With console gaming revenue expected in 2015 at $25.1 billion US, this industry is gaining major clout within the entertainment world.

As social media evolves, video game companies including Sony and Microsoft are now using the power of likes, shares, and tweets in order to effectively give gamers the most interactive experience with friends, while trying to out muscle each other for market share.Sony-PlayStation-4-PS4-wDualShock-4

Social Media Explorer in 2013 noted numerous ways how both Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s XBox One were maximizing social media capabilities, ranging from social media networks, integrated video, content sharing, and mixing off and online play.

In early 2014, Sony’s Playstation 4 lead over XBox One in online broadcasting of gameplay. By January 2014, nearly 20% of Twitch broadcasts were coming from Playstation 4 gamers. In comparison, Microsoft with XBox 360 did not have Twitch broadcasting for its gamers until later in 2014, according to Venture BeatKind of a bad start for Microsoft who fell behind Sony in 2014 sales. It also did not help the creative minds at Microsoft originally made XBox One $100 more than Playstation 4 in November, 2013’s launch.

While having a strong social media presence may not guarantee long-term success for Sony, allowing a place for gamers to interact with others, share their experiences within and outside the Playstation community does not hurt.

Venture Beat also made a great point. Social media tools, mixed with a vibrant online gaming ecosystem will help decide who wins this console war. A console that allows people to share their videos on social outlets (which is becoming the top social media content method) of online free-for all battles, or tweet about how many goals they scored as Christine Sinclair in FIFA 16 will have a good inside track. So far that’s Playstation 4.

From my own personal experience with a Playstation 4, having social media melded with video game consoles is great. It allows me to express myself, expand my brand as a gamer, and promote Sony, subliminally. I can share photos or short video clips from my own Mortal Kombat X victories on Facebook, to live streaming video of my combat fights in Call of Duty on Twitch. This was not possible 15, or even 10 years ago. Video game marketers now have an effective way in promoting their product. It’s these experiences that increase a person’s exposure within their own social media circles, while blurring the lines of becoming an unpaid corporate spokesperson.

We are now in the social media era of console video games. Those companies who may want to enter in future console battles will have to harness social media if they are going to reach dizzying heights of success. Now will future gaming companies will harness social media’s potential to its benefit? The battle between Playstation 4 and XBox One is giving some clear lessons on how to do be successful (or not) in this video gaming era.