COM0015 – Post 4: Out of the Box

This final post as part of my last social media class has brought me to a point of reflection.  Thinking back to when I first began my studies almost two years ago, my exposure to social media was limited and I found myself overwhelmed with the new territory I was about to explore.  In fact, my very first blog was about just that … my apprehension of returning to school at a mature age for a subject that I knew nothing about, and how I would require faith, determination, support and perseverance to succeed.

The past two years of juggling school with family and other responsibilities have been challenging to say the least, but thankfully, as I come to a close on this certificate program, I now find myself with a very different perspective on social media.  I have gained a much broader understanding of the fundamentals and the value social media can bring to an organization, and I am confident in my ability to implement the social media plan at my workplace this Spring.

Admittedly, doing well on my assignments has been my main objective.  With a lack of time, I really wasn’t interested in learning more than was necessary to complete my certificate.  But a discussion forum post from a fellow student about change management and social media apps for communication and collaboration within the workplace got me thinking “out of the box”.  (Thank you Janet Hunter!)  I started to realize that completing this course was just the first step for me and I needed to start thinking about the bigger picture …. how social media was not just about communicating externally, but also internally … how I could most effectively connect with my fellow colleagues around social media content and management …  how social media apps in the workplace can contribute to communication and collaboration.

So as I breathe a sigh of relief in knowing I have successfully completed my social media certificate, I recognize that there is much more to learn.  That overall, the journey is just beginning.

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COM0015 – Assignment 5: Event Participation

Professional development is an integral part of any organization, business or venture as it improves and increases people’s knowledge and capabilities, allowing them to further contribute to their organization’s goals and initiatives.  Last month I was able to participate in a webinar hosted by the Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC), which is “Ontario’s voice for community-governed primary health care”.  The AOHC represents 107 community-governed primary health care organizations, including Brock Community Health Centre, where I work as Executive Assistant and Communications Lead.

The webinar was entitled “Social Media 101”.  Having almost completed my Social Media Certificate through Algonquin College, I was well aware that this webinar would be a basic introductory presentation and simply a refresh to me.  However, being hosted by the AOHC, it was a very important industry tie-in and provided me with support contacts of AOHC representatives.  As well, with representation from other community health centres, there was a focus on strength in numbers through shared advocacy efforts.

The webinar was facilitated by three AOHC representatives:  the Communications Lead, Story Producer and Editor, and Communications and Events Officer, and focused on why we should use social media, differences between Facebook and Twitter, best practices, a step-by-step demo of the two platforms and a question and answer period.  Throughout the presentation, attendees were muted, so there was minimal interaction except to ask about policies and resources, which I was happy to hear would be provided to attendees in follow-up communications.  This webinar was the first of an ongoing series, and I suspect that as we explore more advanced tools and strategies for maximizing the impact of social media, the interaction between attendees and facilitators will increase.

Credit: Association of Ontario Health Centres

One of the quotes that was new to me, although not a new concept at all, was Flip the Funnel, which showed a slide of a funnel pointing downwards whereby all of your communications are put into the funnel but only a small audience is reached (traditional communications and outreach) to a funnel pointing sideways whereby it now becomes a megaphone (social media).  I found that slide in particular was a great way to show how your message is amplified with the use of social media.

The demos on Facebook and Twitter were interesting as they showcased how other community health centres are using social media to advocate issues on behalf of the AOHC.  This certainly got me thinking about how I would also share content from the AOHC and other community health centres to bring a united voice to issues related to health services.

I look forward to the upcoming sessions and learning how the AOHC and member community health centres can unite their advocacy efforts through social media.

COM0015 – Post 3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future

Networking comes in many forms and serves many purposes, and I’d like to think that it is less about making contacts and more about building relations.  In my own career and volunteer involvement, both of which are community-based, my personal connections have also played an important role in my professional networking.  From meeting new people at a neighbour’s open house, to connecting with key people involved in community organizations and volunteer groups, to joining professional boards and associations related to my industry and career goals, building and expanding on well-established networks has been fundamental.

Being so heavily involved in the community, much of my networking is done in person.  I prefer this method simply because I look for authenticity and altruism in my connections, and this is easier observed through face to face interactions.  My involvement in a community haunted attraction has required extensive in-person networking with the municipality and local schools, businesses, organizations and residents.  These relations have been further developed and expanded as many of those same people and organizations cross paths in my role at the community health centre.  Interestingly, what I have come to discover is that I am not tied to one organization or the other.  It is the personal branding (aha moment from past social media classes), that defines who Angela Canavan is, and that will build trust and authenticity in developing future connections and networks through both my personal and professional endeavours.  Some examples of my in-person networking activities include:

  • Attending Community Events:
    Attending community events such as open houses, AGMs and council meetings, as well as special events such as the Lions Volunteer Appreciation Night has introduced me to many key community members and has also shown my vested interest and willingness to advocate on issues relative to the community.
  • Volunteering with Community Organizations:
    My main volunteer commitment is with the Cannington Haunted Trail and Maze which requires networking with several other community stakeholders.  However, I also make a point to volunteer with other community organizations where I can, such as the Cannington Dog Sled Races and Winter Festival, Cannington Lions Club, Trinity United Church, and Girl Guides.  Although my intent is to help out in the community, the networking with key stakeholders in the community falls into place here as well.
  • Joining the Brock Board of Trade:
    Both the Brock Community Health Centre and the Cannington Haunted Trail and Maze have joined the Brock Board of Trade.  Although both memberships are fairly new, participation in this board of trade and participation at meetings will provide excellent networking opportunities with local businesses and organizations.
  • Attending Conventions:
    As part of the professional development for the haunt I am involved with, some of the organizers and myself have attended the Midwest Haunters Convention in Columbus, Ohio for the past 4 years, where I have met several like-minded haunt owners, vendors and industry gurus that I continue to remain in contact with through social media.  This type of networking is fantastic, particularly since the US haunt industry is much larger and more advanced than the Canadian industry, so there are many industry standards, trending ideas and props/supplies to incorporate into our planning.

One thing in particular I would like to focus on for further development of my in-person networks includes becoming more active in providing input and decision-making, including:

  • Sitting on Boards/Committees:
    Once I have participated in meetings of the Brock Board of Trade for a year, I would like to work towards a position on the Executive.  This will give me a great experience and will allow me to represent tourism and culture as part of the board of trade.  I would also like to become a community representative on the Brock Economic Development Advisory Committee, where I could provide input related to the culture and tourism sector.

From an online perspective, I have three areas in particular that I am currently developing networks in and making plans for committing to increasing those networks:

  • Brock Community Health Centre:
    The organization’s social media plan will be implemented this Spring, which includes building our networking with clients, local residents, businesses and organizations, and allied health professionals through Facebook and Twitter (to start).
  • Cannington Haunted Trail and Maze:
    Being a seasonal attraction, our Facebook account is very active in the summer/fall.  I plan to develop a content calendar that would keep our audience engaged throughout the winter/spring as well.   I will also plan to network with other haunts and haunt-related industries through Facebook.  A great opportunity exists to promote our haunt through Instagram and Twitter as well, and plans will be developed around that this Spring.
  • Personal:
    I currently have a LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram account which are all underutilized I must sheepishly admit.  The challenge is always time, especially being so heavily involved in volunteer work and family commitments.  However, recognizing that networking through social media has a valuable role to play in my personal branding, networking, career and volunteer development, I have committed to dedicating time to social media to further my personal networking.

Looks like a busy year ahead!

COM0015 – Strong and Weak Organizations

Staples is one organization that has mastered the use of social media to market what might typically be considered a somewhat boring product … office essentials.  I chose Staples because it relates to the typical office employee like myself, yet through original and creative marketing, the office retailer creates likable and sharable content that is clever and entertaining.

Staples’ use of contests, user-generated content, videos and original memes is nothing short of impressive.  They directly engage their end users through Facebook and Twitter posts, and can also be found on Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn.  Their social media content appeals to mass audiences.  For example, with the Christmas season upon us, Staples is capitalizing on gift ideas for just about anybody on your gift-buying list through a video campaign that sees bouncing Christmas presents open to reveal gifts such as technology, educational toys and office/school-related stocking stuffers.  Their Superpower Your School Contest markets directly to schools and school staff with the chance at winning $20,000 worth of technology for your school.  One post in particular from last year that I thought was brilliant was an entertaining photo relative to the Halloween season.

Photo Credit: Staples Canada

Like any company using social media, Staples has its share of negative comments (mostly regarding online shopping), and addresses these in a positive, supportive manner.  It also retweets content from well-known companies such as Cityline and Women of Influence, as well as random users of their products sharing posts related to their satisfaction with Staples products.  The company is well aware that social media is a powerful tool to market their products and services and engages their audience in a professional and entertaining manner.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, and still relative to the “office”, I have selected my place of employment, a rural community health centre that has been in operation for approximately 10 years.  Although we are close to implementing our social media strategy as part of our overall communications plan, the lack of an online presence to date has given the unwanted perception of non-transparency and disinterest in engaging with our community.  Because of this, it will be integral for our organization to garner the trust and support of our online community through listening before plunging in with content and engagement.  Thankfully, this step is currently in place.  Our overall social media objectives, once a trusted relationship has been established with our key stakeholders, is to better understand and address the needs and gaps in services related to health care in our community, communicate targeted and more effective messages to the community regarding our programs and services and the progress of our new facility, and establish new partnerships with allied organizations to increase services within our community and surrounding areas.  We have determined that Facebook and Twitter will be our initial tools, as these are the primary platforms used by our key stakeholders.  Staff are fully on board and ready to embark on our social media strategy to better engage with our audience and continue to provide programs and services that will best enhance the health and well-being of our community at large.

 

References:

https://www.staples.ca/
https://www.facebook.com/StaplesCanada/
https://twitter.com/StaplesCanada?lang=en
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-you-can-learn-from-staples-social-media-ahmad-al-jaroufhttps://lonelybrand.com/blog/staples-social-media/

COM0015 – Tools and Sources

Photo credit: Melvin Gaal (Mindsharing.eu) / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Two of my favourite social media listening/monitoring tools are Google Alerts and Twitter/Facebook searches.  Without having yet implemented the social media plan into our overall communications at Brock Community Health Centre, I have yet to fully explore other common platform management tools such as Hootsuite, although I imagine that will be something we look into as our social media efforts grow.

With Google Alerts and Twitter search, I can become aware of trends and announcements in health that are relative to my organization through industry leaders such as Health Canada and allied partners such as Durham Region Health Department.  Current health concerns, announcements and health promotion dates are examples of news and information that are of interest to me, as well as regional news and strategies, such as the recent forum that addressed the opioid crisis.

With Facebook search, I can discover what the community at large is saying pertaining to health concerns and needs, as well as anything to do with the organization’s programs and services.  I can also determine which groups are active and who the influencers are.  This has helped to gain a larger understanding of our audience as we strategically plan the launch of our social media presence and subsequent activity.

COM0014 – Blog #7 – Personal Reflection

Storytelling through social media allows us to connect with our audience in a very real and relevant way.  Much different than simply posting content, storytelling requires a focused understanding of how to share meaningful information in an authentic and resonating way, while knowing who our audience is and how best to communicate with them.

As the Communications Coordinator at a rural community health centre, connecting with clients, local residents and community partners through storytelling will be at the heart of our digital communications.  Through storytelling, we can share personal client testimonials highlighting the benefits of community programs and clinical services.  We can connect others to allied programs, resources and social services.  We can speak honestly about the challenges the community has faced without adequate health care provision in the past, and how the establishment and operation of the community health centre has been able to make a difference in the lives of so many.

In a rural township, it is necessary to be genuine and transparent when developing trusting relations.  The same would hold true to our digital communications.  The stories I want to share with our audience will be authentic, purposeful and compassionate and inspire hope for a healthier community.

COM0014 – Do People Know Your Story?

I cry at parades.  It doesn’t matter if I am participating in the parade or watching the parade, you can be guaranteed that I will, at some point, be crying.

It’s not a sad cry.  It’s not necessarily happy either.  It’s just an overwhelming sense of collective energy that builds up inside of me.  A sense of wonder and appreciation for each and every role, from the spectators lining the streets, to the marching bands stepping in unison, to the participants happily waving from their floats.  And witnessing these roles all come together in a shared, connected experience.

The Cannington Haunted Trail and Maze is an event that operates much the same way.  There are many different roles to be performed by many different people.  And in the end, we are all rewarded by knowing that the culmination of our efforts produced an amazing show.  I suppose that is part of the reason we participate each year in our local parade.  We believe strongly in  contributing wherever possible.  We believe that there is strength in numbers.  We welcome opportunities that unite and fortify our community.  We see first-hand what wonderful things can happen when we collaborate our efforts.

COM0014 – Personal Brand – GRIT

Grit.

It’s a word I honestly don’t think I ever had in my vocabulary.  I never really considered the word before.  I certainly never used it to describe myself or how I meet and overcome my challenges.  Yet, here it is.  Grit.  After much introspection and searching for a word that would pull so many of my thoughts, feelings, experiences and characteristics together, I have finally come full circle to the word grit.

Grit is what you pulls you through.  It’s a raw blend of passion and perseverance, of digging deep when you think there is nothing left in you to give or do.  It’s swimming when you are sinking.  It’s believing in yourself and your cause and never giving up.

I didn’t recognize it, but it’s been with me all along.  When I lost my mother at the age 11 and fumbled through my adolescence and adulthood, when I was dealt a life-threatening illness at the age of 36 with three children under the age of 5, when my marriage fell apart at the age of 40.  Heck, when I struggle through this Social Media course at age 48.  Grit is what gets me through.

Life experiences aside, grit has also revealed to me some new-found skills and positive qualities that I never dreamed of embracing.  In particular, with my involvement with the Cannington Haunted Trail and Maze, a community event that has grown in the past 9 years to become a professionally-operated haunt that is a signature event in the community, attracting over 1600 visitors and 120 volunteers each year, and growing.  Through this event, I have become a leader, an ambassador for the community, an event coordinator, a volunteer coordinator, a fundraiser, a marketer, a builder, a painter and a passionate haunter.  I have developed relations and collaborated with the municipality, the schools, local businesses and organizations, and community members.  And best of all, I have been blessed to see the true benefits of this event in the community:  the youth that are able to feel they are part of something, the collaborative efforts of others, and the funds we raise to donate to local organizations.  I am passionate about this event and the people involved, and devote my time and efforts to keep it going, despite the challenges it faces.  Because I have grit.

We all have dreams to pursue and goals to achieve.  We are all faced with challenges and setbacks.  And we can all overcome those challenges and find in ourselves the strength  we didn’t know we had.  Dig deep.  Believe.  Persevere.  Find your grit.

COM0014 – Blog #3 – Reaching Out to a Rural Population

Brock Township

A very diverse population exists in rural communities and they are faced with unique challenges and opportunities.  This is important to understand when determining a target audience for a rural organization and how to best communicate with that audience while recognizing these differences.

I have been fortunate to work with the Brock Community Health Centre since its inception.  As the “new kid on the block” ten years ago, the organization was no different than a newcomer just moving into the neighbourhood.  It took time and patience to gain the trust of the community, and it was clear that building relationships, being involved, and communicating in a very open, transparent and humble manner was the key to acceptance.

Our target audience is as diverse as the population – there are farming families who have lived in Brock Township for generations; blue collar workers who moved from the city to raise families; and an upswing of educated and trendy millennials.  They range in income, lifestyles, education and age, although seniors and youth are our priority populations.  Community health centres address the social determinants of health, so we aim to assist people who face barriers such as income, employment, transportation and isolation.

The advantage of connecting to a rural audience is that most people are well connected within their community.  Once the Centre gained the community’s trust, partnerships were formed with the Township, local schools, and allied organizations, and personal relationships were developed.  Connecting to and working with established groups such as churches, seniors networks, schools, coffee shops, Lions Clubs, etc., allowed us to communicate with our target audience.

Cannington Cafe

Currently, face to face contact, networking and print publications (newsletters, flyers, advertisements in the local paper) are our prime sources of communications.  We look forward to launching our social media presence in the very near future to connect more broadly with our target audience, to listen and respond, and to complement our overall communications strategy.  Our primary platform will be Facebook, as this is widely used in our community now to share programs, services and information and we will easily connect to existing networks.  We will also use Twitter to connect with our allied organizations and will explore YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest for our youth programs.  In this rural community, talking on the street still seems the preferred way to communicate, but social media will allow us to greatly expand our reach.

COM0014 – Blog #2 – Spinning a Social Yarn

Storytelling is a powerful way to share ideas, experiences and emotion.   It allows us to connect with others in a way that is engaging and meaningful.  Storytelling roots back to the beginning of time and continues to be an effective way of communicating, although we can now reach a much larger audience through the advance of technology and social media.

By harnessing the power of storytelling, your online content can move beyond a basic format of information, ideas and/or opinions to a clear and concise expression that is unique to both your target audience and your personality and communication style.  Whether that is personal or professional, opinion-based or factual, you can allow your true authentic self to be exposed in your story.  This, in turn, allows your readers to connect with you on a personal level and to feel inspired by your content and motivated to interaction.

When you build a personal connection with your readers, they are more apt to be engaged and take action.  Ultimately, your end goal is to encourage the reader to link to your webpage for more information, make a purchase or donation, or comment on or share your content.  By engaging with your readers, you allow them the opportunity to feel connected in a meaningful way, provide additional value and impact to your content, and better understand your own audience.

Resources:
http://ccol.algonquincollege.com/com0014/lesson-2/lesson-content/
https://gathercontent.com/blog/voice-tone-style-whys-wheres-hows
http://brainsonfire.com/2013/09/20/stories-currency-human-contact/