Thank You Social Media!

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Question: When you think of social media… what are the first applications that come to mind?

For many, they are as follows:

  • Twitter (primarily for short messages and news)
  • Facebook (primarily for family)
  • Instagram (primarily for photo sharing)
  • Pinterest (primarily for information sharing)
  • LinkedIn (primarily for professional networking)
  • YouTube (primarily for video sharing)
  • Snapchat (next generation photo sharing)
  • TikTok (next generation video sharing)

Surprisingly, these applications don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what is available in terms of online marketing and social media platforms. The networking platform that has taken the world by storm in 2020/2021 is Zoom, an online team-share space for video conferencing. The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to close and employees to work remotely. Team share spaces such as Zoom, LinkedIn Learning, Smartsheets, etc. have all increased communication and collaboration with distanced employees. With the state of traditional offices being uncertain in the future, these applications will continue to be ever more prevalent. The pandemic has taken away all personal interaction in Ontario and left residents with only digital interaction opportunities. Social media, whether it be traditional platforms (such as Facebook and Twitter) or arising platforms (such as Tik Tok and Zoom) have saved Ontarians from a year of isolation by providing connectivity to friends and family. Today, social media is essential for personal, professional and philanthropic success. 

Question: How has social media helped you get through the COVID-19 lockdown?

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Personal Brand for Today and Tomorrow

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When you consider your professional network, the five ‘w’s’ immediately come to mind. While creating your brand identity, it is imperative to think about the following queries:

  • WHO – who am I?
  • WHAT – what skills and/or experiences do I want to share? What makes me unique?
  • WHERE – where will I expose myself (in which particular organizations or networks)?
  • WHEN – when will I expose myself (including the frequency in which I will choose to interact with the aforementioned organizations and networks)?
  • WHY – why is it important to showcase my brand identity to these specific networks and what may be gained by doing so?
  • HOW – how will my brand identity be strengthened by these networking interactions?

My strategies for developing my professional network will be different for online strategy versus in person strategy. 

ONLINE NETWORKINGIN-PERSON NETWORKING
Social media efforts will be focused on professional networking sites, such as LinkedInAttend as many philanthropic fundraising events as possible that promote growth in my city
All profiles on all social media sites will be set to private with commenting turned offContinue to contribute to the various charities for which I volunteer on the Board of Directors 
Continue to connect with alumni through various educational portals Work towards nourishing my extroverted personality traits (handshakes, eye contact, etc.)

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and province-wide lockdowns have really limited the number of in-person networking and philanthropic events over the past year. Some charities and networks have shifted focus to digital events, such as fundraisers and Board meetings. I still participate in three monthly Board meetings via Zoom. I also still participate in one quarterly meeting of a group called Gals That Give. Until the lockdown restrictions are lifted, there are limited opportunities for in-person networking. This lockdown has given me the time to specifically focus on my online networking. I’ve adopted new social media accounts to remain relevant and communicative with various network groups. 

Question:

How have you managed to achieve your networking goals during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns?

Pexels

The Best of the Best (Companies that have taken the Master Class in Social Media Strategy)

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In the world of social media, there are millions of accounts. Some users stick to one platform while others adopt all possible applications to broadcast their message to the world. Some choose to keep their profiles private while others adopt a public profile. Companies have chosen to leverage social media as an affordable new digital marketing medium to broadcast their message to a large audience. Some companies do this very, very well; while others seem to have missed the mark completely. Two examples of companies who I believe are utilizing social media to their fullest potentials are National Geographic and Wayfair.

National Geographic 

In my opinion, National Geographic, specifically their Instagram profile, has used a social media strategy to leverage the success of their company in the future. As many of us know, National Geographic began as a magazine to showcase nature through the eyes of photography. 

Here are some quick statistics on the National Geographic Instagram account:

  • nearly 25 thousand posts
  • over 163 million followers
  • average 5-10 posts per day

Additionally, the company has the following digital media platforms:

  • Twitter with nearly 26 million followers
  • Facebook with over 46 million likes
  • YouTube with over 17 million subscribers and almost 10 thousand videos
  • Website

In the twenty-first century, print advertising (such as magazine production) is collapsing. Instead of becoming a part of history, National Geographic modernized its delivery by using various social media platforms. Their objectives and content remained the same, they simply adapted their delivery medium. I chose to highlight their Instagram page specifically as Instagram is primarily a photo and video sharing medium. National Geographic intelligently used this to their advantage to reach a huge audience. It is also important to note that although National Geographic saw the added value of sharing photography content on Instagram, they still expanded their reach by using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well. 

Wayfair

Another company that is excelling by using a successful social media strategy is Wayfair. Wayfair is an e-commerce platform that offers home décor and furniture products. Here are a few quick statistics on Wayfair’s social media:

  • Wayfair Instagram has 1.6 million followers with over 3 thousand posts
  • Wayfair Facebook is liked by nearly 8 million people
  • Wayfair Twitter has nearly 78 thousand followers
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

One of the largest success features that has come from Wayfair’s use of social media is the use of Instagram and Facebook shopping. These integrated applications within the platforms allow for users to easily view and purchase the product that is being advertised in a post. This usability has increased revenues across the board. The second feature of their social media strategy is to promote their biggest sale of the year, also known as Way Day. Again, the digital promotion leads to heavily increased revenues over the course of the sale. Additionally, Instagram has also employed the use of influencers as a successful tool in their social media strategy. 

Room for Improvement…

Unfortunately, not all companies have figured out the formula to use social media strategy to their advantage. There are millions of companies that have either failed by not using social media to stay relevant or even damaged their brand beyond repair by misusing social media. The reality is that social media exists in the digital world and therefore requires 24/7 monitoring and maintenance. Unfortunately, this means that smaller companies generally are the ones to fall behind as they tend to not have the resources to stay relevant with platforms and trends. However, with that being said, history dictates some rather infamous examples of large companies making huge mistakes publicly. Some of these examples can be reviewed here.

Instead of pointing out one individual company that is not using social media, I believe there is more value in continuing to instill the significance for the future. I genuinely believe that all companies can benefit from social media. That doesn’t mean that every business should be on every platform, however part of detailing your social media strategy should include researching what platforms are right for your industry. I believe one of the first steps in creating an effective social media strategy is to begin the marketing process at the beginning, often this is done by analyzing the competition. Digital marketing is becoming more and more prevalent and it will be easier to adapt and learn as trends advance and change. 

Question

Is there a company that you feel either excels or has collapsed due to social media use? Let me know in the comments!

How do you listen when there is so much noise?!?

How do you listen when there is so much noise?!?

The internet presents users with an unlimited source of information. The amount of content that is created and published daily is more than any user could read in a lifetime.  With an unsurmountable amount of data, how do you know where to focus your efforts, personally and/or professionally? Luckily, among the advancements in digital technology, there have also been advancements in algorithms and programs that sort and file data for users. 

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In today’s digital world, there are hundreds of programs and websites that aid in social media listening, often referred to as monitoring and measurement tools. Personally, the tool I find most helpful in this area is Brand24. Brand24 is an application that helps brands boost their online presence by social listening. It collects all the data you require about brand mentions, tags, etc. and categorizes everything into one easily maneuverable interface. Although Brand24 is a paid subscription, which may deter some users, I find the data it provides to be invaluable. Brand24 is very easy to use and is not industry specific, meaning it can provide you with the required data regardless of what industry your business happens to be affiliated with. To date, I’ve only used Brand24 for my education, however, I am very much looking forward to continuing the use of this platform for both the corporate company whose social media I am managing, as well as the charitable organization for which I volunteer. 

The second social media monitoring tool that I believe deserves high praise is Hootsuite. Again, Hootsuite acts as an algorithm that collects, sorts and disseminates tracking information on a dashboard that is easy to interpret. It provides competitive analysis, customer engagement, reputation management, sentiment analysis and trend analysis. Additionally, Hootsuite has posting capabilities and allows you a platform to schedule and monitor your social media calendar. Again, Hootsuite is a paid platform which may deter some users. The only other pitfall with the Hootsuite technology is that it is not overly integrated with Instagram. Therefore, if you are a business that focuses on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any combination thereof, the application would be much more useful than someone who focuses on Instagram specifically. I’ve used Hootsuite for quite some time for the company I work for and I have been impressed by the program’s offerings for all platforms, excluding Instagram posting. I plan to continue to use Hootsuite in the future. 

Now I ask you…have you ever tried Brand24 and/or Hootsuite? Perhaps they’ve helped you grow your brand OR perhaps you have a newer application that you would recommend?

In regards to sources of news as opposed to social media listening; the Holy Grail (in my opinion) is Twitter. In my personal experience I’ve found Twitter to be both the most instantaneous platform and the platform with the largest reach. Twitter was inevitably invented as a news sharing platform and although it has transitioned slightly towards being more of a social platform in recent years, its fundamentals still hold true today. The news sharing capabilities of Twitter are strongly backed by those sharing the news. News stations, both big and small, as well as local government, police, etc. all quickly began to disseminate information via the Twitter platform. People began to get their news, traffic and weather in real-time. The only potential pitfall to the Twitter platform is the restricted character count (as it is a micro-blogging platform), however, with shortened hyperlinks to supporting websites and articles, 240 characters seems to be just enough to convey a news headline. Although I heavily rely on Twitter for business interactions, I do not personally use the platform; however, with each passing day, I am thinking more and more about creating a profile personally as well. 

The second source of news dissemination that I use the most often would be blogging. Blogging is an excellent way to publish the exact content you wish to share. Blogging is less instantaneous than Tweeting, however it is generally longer in content and more thoroughly thought out. Personally, I only blog as part of my education, however, I use blogging professionally quite often. Blogs are an excellent way to tell a story which can then be hyperlinked, quoted or revised to be distributed via other social media platforms. These two options combined (blogging and Twitter) create an excellent news sharing platform that can be highly effective, both individually or in conjunction with one another. 

Question: when you want accurate up-to-date news, where do you turn?

COM0014- Blog #7: The End, The Middle, The Beginning

The End, The Middle, The Beginning

Why is storytelling important to creating great digital content? THE END.

Picture walking into a bookstore with $20 – enough to purchase one novel. On average, a bookstore has thousands of options. How will you choose which one to buy? Now, multiply that bookstore by millions and millions and you have the amount of digital content available on the internet. If your content is not compelling and well-written (achieved via the inverted pyramid and following a who/what/where/when/why/how template to determine your voice), your content will be lost amongst the virtual sea of debris.

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How will your content by guided by story? THE MIDDLE.

After taking this course, my content will always follow the approach mentioned above. I will continue to write and brand with the end first and build upon that throughout the article. The content of my writing will continue to reflect the audience it is intended for. I will continue to use blog writing both personally and professionally. 

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What kind of stories do you want to tell? THE BEGINNING.

After significant exposure to blogging in this course, I intend to continue writing. I would like to begin my own blog that dives into some of my main hobbies and interests, including:

  • sharing the stories of my travels (from Canada to the U.S. to Europe and beyond and invite others to share their stories and provide recommendations)
  • reading (suggest books I’ve enjoyed and ask others to do the same)
  • recipes (for both cooking and baking highlighting the successes and laughing about failed attempts in the kitchen) 
  • raising my puppy (sharing photos and stories) 

This will be the beginning of something new for me to try. Who knows, maybe I will even be brave enough to give vlogging a try one day!

Thank you for all of your guidance and insights throughout this course. 

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Is Instagram all about the ‘likes’?

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In Canada in May 2019, Instagram announced it would be removing its public ‘likes’ feature. This meant that all users (or followers) would no longer be able to see the numbers of ‘likes’ a photo or video received. Moving forwards, only the owner of the account would be able to see the ‘likes’ received on a specific photo. This comes as part of a trial package in where Instagram has continued to test this algorithm in Australia, Brazil Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand before testing in the United States (Levental, 2019).  

So, why the change?

There has always been an ongoing discussion around the relationship between social media and devolving mental health. Some of the main concerns associated with social media usage include:

  • Inadequacy about your life or appearance
  • Fear of missing out
  • Isolation
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Cyberbullying
  • Self-absorption (Social Media and Mental Health, 2020)

In an interview, Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram stated “we will do things that mean people will generally use Instagram less if we feel they keep people safe or generally create a healthier environment” (Instagram Is Trialling Removing Likes on Some US Posts, 2019). Mosseri continued “the idea is to depressurize Instagram. We’re trying to reduce anxiety, we’re trying to reduce social comparisons” (Levental, 2019). 

Instagram received significant backlash when removing public ‘likes’, specifically from celebrities and Instagram influencers. As ‘likes’ were previously a quantifiable measure of success, certain influencers and businesses needed to adapt new ways of measuring their achievements online.  

Removing ‘likes’ was a bold move – one that represents great corporate social responsibility on behalf of Instagram. What is interesting, however, is that Facebook (owners of Instagram) has not followed suit. Perhaps that is because Instagram is still conducting trials as to its effectiveness. Nonetheless, what are your thoughts? Were you happy to see public likes abolished or do you miss them? Do you believe Facebook will be the next social platform to eliminate public measures, such as likes, comments and shares? 

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TWITTER: @Instagram says goodbye to public ‘likes’. Who will be next?  shorturl.at/dpsyC

FACEBOOK:  @Instagram abolishes public likes. Is @Facebook next? 
Read more: shorturl.at/dpsyC

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Photo by Cristian Dina from Pexels

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References:

Instagram is trialling removing likes on some US posts. (2019, November 11). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-50382311

Leventhal, J. (2019, November 25). How removing likes from Instagram could affect our mental health. PBS. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/how-removing-likes-from-instagram-could-affect-our-mental-health

Social Media and Mental Health. (2020, September). Help Guide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm

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#HASHTAGS #HASHTAG #HASH #TAGS #TAG… Wait, where was I?

#HASHTAGS #HASHTAG #HASH #TAGS #TAG… Wait, where was I?

#Hashtags are everywhere! Originally created in 2007 for Twitter, #hashtags quickly evolved on many social media platforms as a way for your post to become a part of a bigger community. 

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Daily #Hashtags are becoming more and more popular. Some examples of this include:

#ManCrushMonday or #MotivationMonday 
#TacoTuesday or #TransformationTuesday
#WackyWednesday or #WaybackWednesday
#ThrowbackThursday or #ThirstyThursday
#FlashbackFriday or #TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday)
#SaturdayNightFever or #Caturday 
#SundayFunday or #SelfieSunday 

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#Hashtags can be used an infinite number of times. Weaker #hashtags have been used fewer than 100 times. Have you ever wondered what #hashtag has been utilized the most? #Love has been used nearly 2 billion times! Below you will find the top ten #hashtags ever used:

Photo by Top-Hashtags

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#Hashtags have extended well beyond Twitter. In fact, Instagram posts that use at least one #hashtag gain a 12.6% increase in engagement compared to those without. Although Instagram allows you to use up to 30 #hashtags per post, studies have shown that the optimal number of #hashtags is 11 per post. Following the above advice, if I were to #hashtag this assignment, it would look something like this:

#Hashtag 
#SocialMedia 
#Twitter 
#Instagram 
#Facebook 
#Homework 
#Assignment 
#Student 
#BlogPost
#College
#Study 

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#Hashtags have proven to be great branding techniques for companies as well. One of the most successful examples of this is #BellLetsTalk. Every year, Bell Canada rolls out its #BellLetsTalk campaign. This year, the event was held on January 28th. On this day, Bell Canada donates 5 cents to mental health initiatives for every text message sent, phone call made and social post made using #BellLetsTalk. In 24 hours, there were 159,173,435 interactions creating a monetary donation of $7,958,671.75. This is one example that highlights how #hashtags can have a positive impact in 2021. 

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TWITTER: #HASHTAGS. How hashtags can help you be seen: shorturl.at/oAJPU

FACEBOOK: What is the magic formula for #hastags? Read more about the trends here: shorturl.at/oAJPU

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REFERENCES:

https://top-hashtags.com/instagram/

Smith, K. (2019, January 20). 50 Incredible Instagram Statistics. BrandWatch. https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/instagram-stats/

https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

COM0014- Blog #6: Who Am I?

WHO AM I?

I am different things to different people. To one I am a sister, to two I am a daughter, to one I am a fiancée and to countless others I am a friend, co-worker or classmate. 

Scholastically, I am a graduate of Steele Street Public School (with honours, French Award), Eastview Secondary School (with honours, Business Certificate) and Lakehead University (Dean’s List, Honours Bachelor of Commerce Degree with a major in Administrative Studies and a Minor in Philosophy). Currently, I am continuing my education through Durham College while completing a Social Media Certificate.  

Professionally, I am the Corporate Controller of Horsepower Sports & Entertainment Group Inc. and Barrie Colts Junior Hockey Ltd. having 7 years (and counting) of experience in accounting administration.

Philanthropically, I donate to Gals that Give (an organization that contributes $48,000 annually to local charities). As well, I sit on the Executive Board of Directors for the Barrie Community Foundation as the Secretary and am an active member of the Communications Committee. Lastly, I am one of the founding members of the Barrie Colts Foundation.

Personally, I am a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a fiancée, a mom to my dog and my cat, a friend, a classmate, a co-worker, an employee, a philanthropic and a neighbour. I am loving, empathetic, trustworthy and helpful. I am a mentor and a learner.

I am me. I am proud to be me.

COM0014- Blog #5: Hi! My name is…

Hi! My name is…

Hi! I’m Amanda. Lately, I have been extremely proud of myself for continuing my education at a (semi) later stage in life.
Throughout the global pandemic, I’ve also broadened my skillset by taking on additional roles in the workplace that I have no formal education or experience in.
The never-ending process of learning is filling me with happiness and self-confidence.

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Co-workers, friends and family often describe me as: 

A – authentic and approachable (empathetic and easy to confide in)

M – mindful (of others feelings, beliefs and opinions before expressing my own)

A – accomplished and professional (educated and experienced… representing myself in a way that would make my company and family proud)

N – nimble (willing to adapt to any situation life throws my way, professionally or personally)

D – devoted (to my friends, family, partner and career) 

A – attentive (to detail, very organized and focused on perfection) 

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W – warm-hearted (kind and generous in all areas of life, including focusing time and resources philanthropically)

H – honest (trustworthy and reliable)

I – independent (willing to lead when necessary, but equally as willing to follow)

T – thankful (for all of the experiences and connections I’ve had that make me who I am today)

M – modest (humbly accepting of others compliments as opposed to boasting my own accolades)

A – articulate (verbiage and connotation are two of my highest priorities at all times)  

N – noetic (actively pursuing ways to create a healthy, happy mind (and a healthy, happy body))

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Above all else, I am proud to say that I am a very helpful human, both personally and professionally. Whether you are a friend that is moving, a relative that is lonely and wants to chat, a peer that needs help finishing an assignment or a co-worker that requires assistance, I am always here for you. 

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Thank you for taking a little bit of time to read about me!
-Sincerely,
Amanda.

COM0014 – Blog #4: BC²: Barrie Colts as a Business to Consumer

BC²: Barrie Colts as a Business to Consumer

The business to consumer company I’ve chosen is Barrie Colts Junior Hockey Ltd. (a team of the Ontario Hockey League). The Barrie Colts were established over 25 years ago when social media did not exist. In today’s day and age (especially with COVID-19 creating additional boundaries to traditional interactions), social media is the only thing keeping people connected and keeping many businesses alive.

The company currently offers the following platforms of digital information:

Multiple sales channels are an excellent way to address varying audiences that may only be active on one specific platform. All of the above accounts post actively (almost daily). The posts are typically short with a captivating graphic that uses the teams recognizable branding. Most of the posts include a link, call-to-action or a question to engage customer interaction and to promote the two-way conversation that social media revolves around. 

Generally speaking, the Barrie Colts have an excellent online presence, however, there still remains room for improvement. They have dormant accounts on Snapchat, Tiktok and Spotify that are not producing or sharing any content, which could potentially damage a business’s reliability. 

The Barrie Colts have been successful in utilizing social media accounts as a business to consumer tool. As with any good B2C campaign, they are converting customer sales of their products in a short and simple buying process through their use of branded imagery to a large target market.