COMM0014 – Blog #7 – My A-Ha’s

I have found this course very interesting and thought provoking. Some of my key takeaways were:

  • A reminder on the importance of Storytelling and how it relates to branding. It is a great way to connect with your target audience and there are stories everywhere!
  • Understanding my target audience is critical. In my professional work in a B2B environment, undertaking the mapping of a customer journey will further support a better understanding of my audience. As well, utilizing social listening to better understand the intended audience will ensure the right/appropriate content creation.
  • Developing a writing style to support storytelling and the target audience. My hope is that my stories are relatable, and encourage action and thought from the recipient.

One activity that I found challenging but extremely helpful was the writing of a personal bio. It has made me confident to share guidance with peers and colleagues to do a similar exercise.

Thank you for a great course!

Photo by Nita on

COMM0014 – Blog #6: Do People Know My Story?

What do I do differently from everyone else that adds value?

I was recently nominated and received an award at my company. This award recognizes an associate across Canada within our organization who take actions to remove gender barriers and improve the working experience and engagement levels of others. I am filled with immense gratitude to have been selected to receive this award and be recognized in this way. Simply being nominated is such an honour. I know there are a lot of great individuals at my company across Canada who work tirelessly and are dedicated to building a positive, inclusive culture.

Photo by on

Receiving such an important award means so much to me both professionally and personally. As I look back on my career journey, prior to my current work I worked for two other major companies and during my tenure at both I did not have any female leaders, in fact leadership roles across were predominantly male. Close to a decade ago I joined my company and have had the opportunity to work with numerous amazing female leaders and role models as well as some outstanding male allies, they all have been and continue to be supportive, collaborative and have created a positive environment for people such as myself to grow and develop into leaders.

As I recall back to my job interview almost 10 years ago, as the interview was wrapping up and it was my turn to ask questions, I did have one; what is the culture like? I was happy to hear that this company provided a variety of opportunities to be involved and that there were different paths and ways to grow within the organization. While there is always work to be done to enrich our workplace culture, as a collective in our organization we have continued to evolve and I am proud to say that I work for a company that promotes a positive, inclusive and diverse workspace and provides opportunities for associates and encourages us to make progress in ourselves, our careers and our teams.

Access to resources, participating within the organization in activities, groups and communities of interest like Associate Resource Groups to support building positive workplace culture are keys to continuing to move the needle forward.

Outside of my professional work, as a mom of two amazing, strong and intelligent daughters. Who are becoming remarkable leaders themselves; it has been rewarding to be able to share and explain this award to them and have further dialogue on the topic of equality. My hope for them is a space where everyone has an equal opportunity to be heard and their contributions are valued.

This award will be a constant reminder to me of my responsibility to understand the differences between individuals, to support amplifying the voices of women to reach equality and advocating for inclusive leadership. My pledge is to continue to work on encouraging a positive and equal space and leveraging my influence to continue to raise awareness and pave the way for others.

COMM0014 – Blog #5 – Personal Branding in B2B

“A personal brand is a widely-recognized and largely-uniform perception or impression of an individual based on their experience, expertise, competencies, actions and/or achievements within a community, industry, or the marketplace at large.”

Definition of Personal Brand

For almost a decade I have been a marketing manager for a B2B company in the foodservice industry. In my role I take pride in my ability to foster relationships both internally and externally. With exceptional versatility and adaptability, I have built a reputation as a team player who is knowledgeable and listens and thrives on collaborating with my peers and integrating ideas into action.

What do my peers say about me when I am not in the room? Top 10 terms would be:

  1. Knowledgeable
  2. Professional
  3. Competent
  4. Trustworthy
  5. Kind
  6. Confident
  7. Helpful
  8. Reliable
  9. Supportive
  10. A Leader

To build my personal brand I have a goal to be a trusted and respected business partner. To differentiate myself from my peers, I utilize my thirst for knowledge to improve my expertise and support being a resource and confidante to my peers. Regularly attending online webinars, classes, and training to ensure that I am making myself better and able to share that knowledge with colleagues to better them as well. Encouraging diverse thought and opinions in my work on a daily basis is important. I am seen as a “go to” person to many in my work unit and feel my influence is widespread.

Currently I participate and engage as a board member of one of my company’s associate resource groups (ARG) that is focused on providing resources and support for current and future women leaders looking to broaden and enhance their leadership skills and self-awareness. In this role I drive the voice and message of the ARG within my duties on the board but as well as in in my day to day work. Through my own personal beliefs that I demonstrate on an individual level and my work with the ARG I help shape the culture in the workplace. I am passionate about gender equity and supporting and developing female leaders, dedicated to elevating female associates’ voices and experiences to break barriers and biases within my company. I am always willing to take on new projects to improve workplace culture and create a better work environment for associates.

What’s your passion? Does it shine through in your personal brand?

COMM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study – Starbucks

To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

Photo by Esranur Kalay from Pexels

I love coffee so think Starbucks is a fitting brand to evaluate for a B2C case study. I am not the only one that likes Starbucks. They have built a massive following….in the millions!!

  • Facebook – 35 million followers
  • Instagram – 17.7 million followers
  • Twitter – 11 million followers
  • Youtube – 349,000 followers

When you visit their social pages they have thoughtfully established their branding in their style of posts, colours, voice & tone and you can see their goals in all post across their platforms. Posts generate a lot of engagement through likes and comments and Starbucks does an excellent job communicating directly and authentically by responding to comments in a positive and playful way while building trust and credibility.

Their mission statement is brought to life in their activity as well. Utilizing user-generated content (UGC) is common on a weekly basis. Having the honour of your latest post of your Starbucks beverage of choice make it into their feed is tremendous, Starbucks followers are true brand advocates and the company does a good job engaging with them.

In addition to UGC, Starbucks content on social platforms is meaningful and authentic. They present their product in an experiential way and how it makes you feel, creating value. Starbucks customers are loyal and are committed to how they like their Starbucks coffee. Seasonal products have build cult-like followings and create buzz on social platforms. For example, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has a dedicated fanbase that can’t live without their PSL and love to share it on socials, the hashtag #pumpkinspicelatte has over 728,000 posts! In addition to activity showcasing their drinks, Starbucks also consistently shares content on diversity and inclusion further highlighting them as a top brand.


COM0014 – Blog #3: Target Audience in B2B Foodservice

Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

I have proudly worked in marketing for a large foodservice distributor for close to ten years. I have enjoyed this work immensely and working with our sales team to provide solutions for our customers. As a foodservice distributor, we provide food and non-food products to restaurants, cafeterias, industrial caterers, hospitals and nursing homes. Essentially we are in the middle and work to bring a wide variety of products and services from manufacturers to operators. Foodservice operators can consist of the establishment owner, chef, food & beverage manager or anyone responsible for purchasing food products for the business.

There aren’t any distinct characteristics of a foodservice operator. Foodservice operators aren’t defined by a specific gender or ethnicity. In most cases, foodservice operators are well informed through either education or life experience and are business savvy. A typical operator could be someone new to the industry after leaving a successful career, a second generation operator taking over the business from a parent or someone that has spent their entire career in hospitality. It is a wide variety of individuals that make up the foodservice industry, marketing efforts are aimed to fulfill a need or resolve a problem/pain point that is felt by most.

What are effective ways to connect and market to foodservice operators?

  • The number one way is the feet on the street, our sales team. These individuals meet with customers to consult on products and solutions to support their operation. An operator can use their sales rep to answer questions and provide guidance on products and services.
  • Email marketing is another effective way to communicate with operators. This method along with information in our CRM tool, allows for targeted messages to be sent out based on;
    • Time of Year – holidays, seasons…
    • Product Category – such as protein, produce, seafood or non-food products…
    • Customer Segment – i.e. golf courses, caterers, pizzerias or fine dining…
    • Product Segment – i.e. plant-based, breakfast, Italian…
  • Social media is effective in showcasing products/services and how they would fulfill a need or solve a problem
  • Events, either live or virtual, connect operators to products and solutions. Live trade show events connect them directly with products and manufacturers and seeing products in action. Virtual webinars offer a quick and low cost way to demonstrate products and set up the potential for the next meeting and have been especially significant during the pandemic while in-person interactions have been minimized to maintain safety.

COMM0014 – Blog #2: The Power of Story

 In business, those who tell the best stories win. In life, the most important stories are the ones we tell ourselves.

Kindra Hall
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Storytelling is a strategy that can be used in all aspects of your life; personal and professional.

Why bother though? Why not just bullet point facts?

Because it works!

Why does storytelling work so well?

People are attracted to them. It’s science really. A story changes our brain chemistry, creating an emotional connection and when that happens you get ACTION. Could be a reaction from your listener, a purchase from a potential customer or an engagement on social media.

Stories are memorable. So why don’t we tell lots of stores? Often, it’s because we are afraid to be vulnerable or don’t think we have a story to tell.

A story is not that list of bullets points put in a paragraph. A story that will engage has a beginning, middle and end, and contains emotions and something to care about.

About 6 years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Kindra Hall (quoted above) speak about storytelling at a conference I was attending. This session was extremely popular, I loved it as it was engaging, filled with story and over the years I have continued to use the strategies she shared.

Her simple steps were:

FIND     >    CRAFT    >    TELL

Find – in your personal life this could be any moment, one that makes you proud or one where you would do things differently. In business, this could be values or objections about your product or service.

Craft – here is where that beginning, middle and end comes in. Create the scene and include emotions which could be the struggle or the hope and offer a directive.

Tell – as you tell a story remember what you want them to think/feel/know/do as a result of hearing your story.

Storytelling can be used everywhere! Interviews, meetings, presentations, social media, websites, amongst family & friends.

What have been some of your favourite stories that you’ve told?

COM0014 – Blog #1 – COVID Camper

What COVID trends did you partake in over the last 2 years??

I don’t know about you but I hit a few of them!

  • Got a dog – check! Our boy Loki is the sweetest!
  • Made face masks – check!
  • Home Renos – check… I love my new bathroom!
  • Baked Sourdough – check…sort of, we did a lot of home baking and cooking, just no sourdough
  • Zoom Meet Ups with Friends – heck ya!
  • Buy an Air Fryer – nope! We haven’t taken that plunge…yet!
  • Join TikTok or other new social media – check, check!
  • Join the masses trying to find an available campsite on Ontario Parks – YES!!! We were lucky to secure 4 campsites throughout the summer.

Some of my COVID activities:

My love for camping was rejuvenated this summer. While it took a lot of patience and what felt like the wind blowing in the right direction, we were able to book and visit four different provincial parks this summer. BK (before kids), my husband and I did a lot of tent camping. Our honeymoon was actually a camping trip! When the kids came along it seemed to push to the wayside and camping trips were few and far between. Now with the kids older and the pandemic (not so many activities we were committed to) camping has been rejuvenated. In 2020, that first summer of the pandemic we did some tent camping in beautiful Algonquin Park. We camped with some friends and it was a great time, lots of hiking which we love. The unfortunate part was the rain. Our tent suffered some leaks and it put a bit of damper on things.

At the end of the 2020 season, we took the plunge and upgraded! We bought a new-to-us tent trailer. I don’t think I will ever go back to tent camping. The trailer is stocked and 90% packed, all we have to do is put together our clothes, food and the odd thing here and there. When the trip is over, all I have to do is unload a suitcase, coolers and wash the bedding for the next trip.

This summer we visited:

Algonquin Park – Lake of Two Rivers – a great site I could pull through with the trailer. The kids did a ton of biking and the hiking trails in the park are AMAZING!

Sibbald Point – this park was the least favourite of the year. It is located close to the GTA and had a lot of day visitors. When camping we like things relatively quiet. We keep to ourselves and play games, relax and swim.

Marten River – this campground was the farthest north we went. Located about a half hour north of North Bay, this was a great campground where we had lots of privacy at our site. The kids loved this one for the biking. We went a little farther north one day to Temagami to visit the Fire Tower and check out the views.

Rondeau – Our final trip of the year was to Rondeau which is close to where my husband grew up and he took us to places he went to when he was younger. This was a great trip for the water, amazing waves to jump in…the dog loved it! And the kids too! We visited the town of Erieau for some walking, the beach and a fresh fish lunch.

Family Camping 2021:

We have started to plan our camping trips for this year, so far it doesn’t seem as hard as last year finding sites. Perhaps the joy of camping has waned with some or those that jumped in during the pandemic have realized it’s not quite for them. We aren’t giving it up though!

What are your favourite camping spots? We are always looking for somewhere new to try!

Are You Being Seen? Mastering the Instagram Algorithm

Algorithm? What’s That?

Maybe you weren’t aware but currently Instagram uses algorithms to determine what content you see and in what order. They apply different algorithms for your feed, stories and explore portions of the platform. Prior to the adoption of the algorithms, users would se their feed in a reverse chronological order. Instagram claimed that “people were missing 70% of all their posts in Feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections.” Hence the development of the algorithm to allow you to see posts with content that you are interested in. Thanks to the algorithm. Instagram users have not been overly accepting of the way the algorithm works and recently announced that they are working on a new option to add back the chronological order that could be launched early next year.

How Does it Work?

Instagram employs a set of ranking signals to determine what your feed shows based on your usage and what it thinks you are going to like to see. The algorithm takes into account the following under these pillars:

Relationship – the interaction between you and the user. Are there frequent likes and/or comments on posts.

Interests – Instagram will show content that the user likes including post type as well as topics of interest. For example, liking and engaging in content related to food often, you will likely see more of that type of content.

Time – the algorithm will keep your content feed fresh, looking at whent he content was created. For example, we won’t see Christmas posts around Valentine’s Day.

Frequency of Use & Session Time – Instagram’s algorithm will take into account how often you use the app and your time spent on the app, for example if the user isn’t on the app often it will show content it thinks you will like however, if you are a heavy user your feed may be more chronological because it is showing you the latest and greatest content.

Followers – Instagram looks at who/what you follow to help prioritize the posts that appear in your feed and how you interact with them. More account that you follow, the more content to choose from and an increased chance you may miss some content from them.

Source: Hootsuite

How Do You Benefit from the Algorithm

To make the most of the algorithm today, there are simple actions you can take to support getting your content seen:

  • Post Type – consider the use of carousels or videos versus single images as this encourages more time spent on your content
  • Post Frequency – posting daily may not be feasible and it isn’t required however, being consistent in posting will feed well into the algorithm
  • Hashtags – a solid hashtag strategy will support reaching more people including those in your target audience. Check out my first blog for more information on hashtags
  • Engagement – employing tactics to encourage engagement such as effective captions to support likes/comments/shares or using some of the sticker tools in Stories like poll, emoji slider or ask a question are quick and easy ways to get engagement
  • Analytics – understanding what works and what doesn’t will support improving your ranking within the algorithm. As well, also understanding when to post will be beneficial

As Instagram make changes with new options like the return of chronological order, you will have to re-evaluate your approach.

Are you ready to take on the algorithm?

Facebook: Are You Being Seen? Mastering the Instagram Algorithm

Twitter: Are You Being Seen? Master the Instagram Algorithm

Build Authenticity with UGC

What is UGC anyway?

Source: Stackla

Any time someone outside your organization shares content that involves your brand, that is user generated content and its gold! In a study completed by TurnTo, they found UGC significantly influenced purchasing decisions and created more confidence and authenticity in the buying process.

Why would we want or need UGC? In the eyes of consumers, businesses market their products in the most positive and visually appealing way and often with photography tricks. As marketers we are hard to completely trust, therefore UGC is beneficial because it originates from someone else adding credibility and authenticity.

The great thing abut user generated content is that there is no cost and lots of exposure. Instagram is one social platform with huge opportunities to share UGC through reposting/regramming and Instagram Stories.

How do you get UGC? Ask for it!

At brick and mortar locations, post signs encouraging customers or guests to take pictures of their food/product or of themselves in a special spot in your location.

Consider a hashtag campaign. Give customers a hashtag to use in their posts; let them know which social networks you use (display on a sign, poster, receipt or sticker). Tracking the hashtag can also allow you to utilize social media contests or incentives such as offering rewards for UGC posts by running a contest for everyone who shares a photo with your hashtag. You can make customers feel extra special by sharing their posts on your profiles/stories and offering them something special for their awesome contributions.

One caution, ensure you ask before using and give credit. Contacting the poster through a DM (direct message) is the easiest way.

Have you employed the use of User Generated Content before? What benefits did you see from it?

Facebook: Want to build authenticity on social media? Look to your audience!

Twitter: Build Authenticity with User Generated Content

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail…

Why You Should Be Using a Social Media Content Calendar

That may be a little dramatic but the idea of having a plan for your social media content is a great way to contribute to a successful strategy. You want to avoid the “what will we post today” conundrum. It could lead to posts that are rushed and lack substance or to not posting at all. In research conducted by Hubspot, they found that organizations that post more than 16 times a month see higher traffic (3.5 times more) than organizations posting less than four times a month.

16 posts?!?!? That takes time, thought and planning to curate content that will be engaging and resonate with followers. Why do you want to go through this process? Taking the time to plan your content will support growing your business and increasing awareness of your brand and support engagement.

Benefits of Planning & Using a Content Calendar

  • Supports your overall marketing strategy and your brand standards
  • Encourages efficiency and time management
  • Ensures you have valuable, relevant content
  • Allows for flexibility throughout the month to make adjustments when needed
  • Provides an actionable list of needs for content (i.e. images and or video clips to be gathered)

What do you include in a Social Media Content Calendar?

To make the most of your plan, include the following:

  1. Post topic
  2. Image or video asset to use
  3. Post Caption – a best practice is to ensure it has a call to action
  4. Any hashtags to use
  5. What platform post will go on
  6. When to post

Best Times to Post on Social Media Platforms

Choosing when your post goes out is important to maximize opportunities for engagement. Each platform has key days and times for posting. You can even find data by sector but I have included the Best Times to Post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter based on global engagement from SproutSocial:

Source: SproutSocial

How to I Create my Plan?

Creating your social media content calendar can start with a simple piece of paper and pen or an Excel spreadsheet to a more sophisticated organization tool. Buffer suggests setting aside 1-2 hours to complete your planning for the following month.

You can find a wide variety of tools and templates to support your content planning. Hubspot has put together a great list of 13 options. Some are completely free, free for limited options or have nominal fees.

Check these out and get planning!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Facebook: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Implementing a Social Media Content Calendar to Make the Most of your Social Media

Twitter: Learn Why Using a Social Media Content Calendar Supports Your Success