COM0011 – Blog Post #6 – Need Help Writing Your Blog?

writers block

My last couple of blogs have been a bit of a struggle as I try to come up with topics to write about.  Is this a problem for you too?  I struggle not only with the topic, but also with the writing.  I don’t find it a natural process for me, so the whole idea of a blog is an internal fight.  This is the last entry, at least for this course, so I thought that I would help with some ideas on what your blog topics could be.  I follow the Social Media Examiner on Facebook and they posted an article called 10 Ideas to Inspire Your Next Blog Post. This was perfect timing!  Here is the list of ideas to help you along and for the full description of each one, please refer to the blog post (link provided above):

  1. Answer Common Questions
  2. Create a “How-to” post
  3. Make an Announcement
  4. Host a Q & A
  5. Feature an Employee
  6. Review a New Product
  7. Compare Products
  8. Educate Customers
  9. Compile Top 10 Lists 🙂
  10. Re-purpose YouTube Videos

Social media icons isolated idea light bulb EPS10 file.

I really should have researched this right from the start, but I guess it’s never too late.  As I read through the list above and scrolled through Facebook and LinkedIn, I came up with a few other helpful ideas to get the juices flowing: give out Tips and recommendations, discuss current events, start a contest, talk about what you know and do an interview.

Do you struggle for a topic?  If so, what are your techniques or tips on finding your topic to write about?

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COM0011 – Blog Post #5 – Blue Monday

blue sad face

I find that I’m struggling to write another blog post.  When I struggled the last time I wrote about setting up a strategy – I still don’t have one!  My last blog I decided to add a personal touch to my writing and share my story – that helped me a bit in how I would prefer to write.  I lean a little more to the free form and a little less technical.  I have started to write 3 or 4 different blogs today, but get bored by my own topics and if I’m struggling with the writing than who’s going to want to read it?  So Google searching is what I’ve been doing trying very hard to find something that peaks my interest and might inspire me to write – it’s so easy to get lost in the internet as you go from one page to the next (hours have passes).

hours

Did you know that it’s Blue Monday today?  This is the first time that I’ve heard of it.  Blue Monday is a name given to the Monday of the last full week of January, purported to be the most depressing day of the year according to Wikipedia.  You can read more about Blue Monday here.

Blue Monday equation

Maybe that is my problem today – I’m unfocused, feeling blah and wishing it was April.  I would normally just call this the Winter Blues as we’re about half way through.  We normally go on holidays in February or March but this year it’s not till April so with 75 days to go till we leave ( I downloaded an app to countdown my trip) I have nothing to look forward to soon.  Christmas bills are coming in, my EI is running out in February, school is coming to an end soon, the list can go on….

You can find news reports on Blue Monday: CTV News and The Guardian.  There is no real science behind it, it was just an ad campaign by Sky Travel in 2005 to increase their winter sales!  It has hung in there and is still referred to today.  I tried to find the original campaign but was unsuccessful.

Do you find that you have the winter blues around now?  What is your plan of action to shake them?  I might try this drink 🙂

Blue Monday Cocktail

COM0011 – Blog Post #4 – A Reflection on the Past Year

reflection

My blog writings from the beginning have been about our lessons and the things that I feared and wanted to know more about.  In case you missed them, here they are:

COM0011 – Blog Post #1 – Fear of Social Media – How to over come it

COM0011 – Blog Post #2 – Positive & Negative Feedback

COM0011 – Blog Post #3 – Do you have a strategy?

So far, I have shared very little about myself, other than a few fears about social media.  Not very insightful to who I am or why I’m here.  As it’s a new year and like most people, I’ve been reflecting back on 2014 and wondered if I accomplished anything.  So for this blog, I’m going to share a bit about me and why I began taking this course.

Back in May 2014 my contract ran out and I began the process of collecting Employment Insurance.  This was a whole new thing for me as I’ve always had a job.  In the beginning I was positive that I would have a new job within a couple of months if not sooner.  I have worked in hotels for the last 20 years and knew that once the summer was here, there would be little to no hiring in my area of expertise.  I’m an Event Manager or Conference Service Manager and for us, the summer is quieter than the spring and the fall.  As time ticked by, I realized that I just might be “off” during the summer, not a bad thing, but definitely disappointing.  I did go on interviews, but I soon discovered that the competition is strong and that I wasn’t alone in this quest for a job!  Sigh.  As September  got closer I had a good feeling that something might open up and I would be in!  Think positive!  But my husband’s world and mine too was rocked by the sudden death of his mother.  As I had a little “free” time, I poured myself into helping the family with settling things with her estate.  I did what I could to help out and give them a little time to grieve.  Her death made me realize that life is short and you need to take control of life before it takes control of you.  Now was the time to reflect on my life – health and career being top of my list.

Weight-Loss

My health was the easier of the two to make a decision on.  I need to get a lot of weight off.  I’ve tried many times, but seemed to put it back on.  I’m in my 40’s now, so I needed to focus and make this a permanent change.  I started a program at the beginning of October  to change my eating and as of today I’ve lost 40 pounds.  I reached my first goal!  My second goal was to make it through the holiday season without gaining any weight – success!  Now, I’m back to starting to shed the pounds again and to introduce more exercise into my weekly routine.  I need to be bathing suit ready for April!

careers

My career.  I’ve had a hard time with this one.  Was it time to rethink my career plan, was it time to give up on it?  If it was, what do I want to be when I grow up?  I felt like I was in high school again trying to figure out my life at the age of 16!  I started to reflect on all the job sites and what jobs I saw come up again and again.  There are a lot, but not all of them where of interest to me and if I have to start over and at the bottom, I need to make a choice that I would be happy with.  This was hard.  Then it hit me, maybe I don’t need to give up on the career, I just need to tweak my perspective.  Maybe I need to be self-employed and offer my services as a meeting planner!  But there are a few small details that I needed to work out.  First my education, which is on a broader scope of Hotel and Restaurant Management with only one course on Event planning that I vaguely remember as its been about 18 years since I finished school.  I’ve worked my way up on the hotel side of things from phone operator to an Event Manager, but I have not planned a meeting of any large scope before.  I have helped my clients plan, but I only needed the details that pertained to the hotel side of things.  There are a lot of other details required to make and event happen.  At this point I realize I need to go back to school, but a classroom doesn’t appeal to me so I needed to find an online course that will give me a certificate.  Once I found the course I needed, I soon discovered that I needed to save up to pay for it.  I’m trying not to dip into my RRSP’s and to live solely on my EI income, but I do have bills to pay.  So I changed my perspective on what I would do for money.  I knew I wanted to work for a good company and with great people so I began my journey to become a seasonal employee of Costco – success!  As I save for this course, I also realized that to be self-employed I will also need to be on social media as my line of work is by word of mouth, networking and great customer service.  Engaging with the public on many different levels!  So as I save for the Event planning course, I decided that I need to learn more about Social Media and how to use it better.

Decisions-quote-Jillian-Michaels

So here I am working towards my certificate in Social Media at Algonquin College.  I’m trying to take it all in, one lesson at a time and not look at the bigger picture as I find it a little too overwhelming.  I think that’s why my blogs so far have been about the lessons and the things that I’m either scared of or trying to figure out.  Today I realized one of my fears is opening myself up and adding a personal touch to my blog.  I wanted to let people know that at 41 (as of a few days ago) I don’t have life all figured out and it’s ok.  I needed to tell my story and as it’s a new year, the timing was perfect. I’m still looking for a job and my EI will run out in February.  I can only hope that something comes up soon.  Maybe the 11th hour will be my saving grace.

Has anyone else been reflecting on their life?  What they want to do, the changes they need to make?  What are you doing about it?

inspiration

COM0011 Blog Post #3 – Do You Have a Strategy?

I’ve been trying to come up with a blog post for this week and I have to admit that I’ve been struggling with what to write about.  That’s when it hits me, I don’t have a strategy.  This is a problem, but it’s one of the reasons I’m taking this course – I need to learn how to use social media effectively and efficiently.  This is what businesses need to do as well.  With that said, this week I will explore how to set up a Social Media Strategy.

socialmediamarketingplan

  1. Set Goals  

You need to know where you are, and where you’re going so you can determine how to get there.  Without goals, you have no idea if what you’re posting is effective.

smart goal setting concept

  1. Know Your Audience

Identify_Your_Audience

– Who are your target demographics?

– What sites are they using?  This will help narrow down which sites to focus your efforts and time on

-When are they using the sites?  Timing your posts is important if you want them to be seen by all of your audience

– How are they using the sites?  This will help with your content

  1. Content

content_curation

Create content that is supporting your companies values and goals.  This could be introducing new products, posting videos on how to use your products, creating conversations around your values, post  links to articles that support your values or answering questions that your audience have, or ask your audience questions.  The possibilities are endless.  You need keep things fresh and different.  Engaging your followings can help create new ideas for more content as you are now giving them what they are asking for or talking about.  Remember to cross promote your sites as well so that you can increase your audience.

  1. Engage with Your Audience

conversation

Social Media is about being social, so engage in conversations with your audience.  Try not to push promotions on them all of the time, this can make them tune out instead of tune in.

  1. Consistency

3-branding-elements

If you have multiple sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) try to keep the look similar .  Use the same logo, colours, pictures and messages.  Your delivery might be slightly different as you need to use the sites to each of their own advantages, but you want your followers to know that they have  found you.

  1. Analytics

Remember to evaluate what content is making an impact.  This will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t.  With this information you can tweak your content to fit your followers and hopefully increase your traffic.  There are a number of sites out there that can help you with your analytic: Top 10 Free Social Media Monitoring Tools

Here are some articles that I found helpful:

10 Questions to Ask When Creating a Social-Media Marketing Plan

Creating a Winning Social Media Strategy

Why Most Social Media Strategies Fail

I still need to work on my strategy for my blogs, but I do hope that I’m providing you with informative content and tips. If you have some feedback on this blog for me, please share.  If you have a topic from our lessons that you want to hear more about, please let me know and maybe it will be the focus of my next post!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!

COM0011 – Blog Post #2 – Positive and Negative Feedback

Faceballs

Social media has opened the door for the consumer to give their honest opinion on your product.  How you respond to their feedback is very important, not only to the commenter but to the rest of the community who is reading your response.  All companies need to establish in their social media strategies a plan on how to respond to the community as this is the key to a successful social media life.  You need to have conversations and engage with the community, that is what is needed to survive and thrive in a social media world.

communication_feedback

I’ve recently been looking at going on a vacation in the Caribbean and would like to try somewhere new.  As you see the deals come up, you also start to look at the comments on sites like Tripadvisor.  You have to remember to take comments with a grain of salt as they are a personal experience and preference indicator.  But what I find that I’m now doing is also looking at how the resort responds to the comments and doing that with a more critical eye.  Most are standardized responses, which is fine and to be expected, but I’m drawn to how they respond to the negative feedback as you can’t give a standardized response as easily to those ones.  There are resorts who have not adapted to the social media world and don’t respond to any comments and there are some that respond to ONLY the positive comments and ignore the negative.  For both of those, I’m less inclined to even entertain going to the resort (depending on what the negative is about).  For the companies that respond to the feedback, I want to see that their response has content that is helpful and relevant to the comment.  That makes a world of difference.

Here is some advise and reminders I’ve come across that companies should think about when responding to positive or negative feedback.

thumbs-up

POSITIVE

Whoa! Whoa! You got great feedback on your product or post.  This is exactly what you wanted to happen now here is what you need to do to keep it coming.

–  use this as a tool to gain even more of their loyalty and to share your information with all of their friends and their friends friends, etc.

– Thank them for their feedback, it will go a long way

–  return the favour – watch what they are doing on twitter or Facebook and share their posts – become their fan too!

thumbs-down

NEGATIVE

Boo!  This will happen as you can’t make everyone happy.  But you need to take the time to turn this around and how you respond can make or break you.

– respond quickly as this has become an expectation (remember you are to be designating time each day for social media posts and reviews on comments)

– Thank them for their feedback and apologize.  I have a few sayings that I live by and here are 2 when dealing with the public:  1) if you don’t know that it’s broke, than you can’t fix it and 2) we’re all humans and make mistakes, admit to the error and move forward with the client in finding a resolution.  Keep in mind that all feedback is necessary and has a purpose.

– do not delete the bad comments.  First it isn’t realistic (bad comments exist and can also be found on more than one site) and second, you’ve just blown the opportunity to turn a bad situation into an extraordinary situation.

– keep your responses to the facts and constructive.  Remember it is how you respond that can make the difference.   You should always be prepared with customer service communications (standardized responses to common situations).  You can tailor them to the situation so that they seem a bit more personal, but the message should be the same.

– depending on the nature of the comment, it might be necessary to communicate with the person privately to come to a resolution.  Remember to let them know that you are trying to reach them privately in case they miss your private message.

Here are some articles that I found helpful in writing this post.

How to respond to feedback on social media positive and negative

5 Rules of Responding to Negative Comments in Social Media

How to Deal with Negative Nancy’s Comments in Social Media

How do you feel about comments that you read when you’re researching vacation destinations or a new product or store, etc?  Do you respond to the consumers views or how the company responds to the consumer?

I-would-love-to-hear-from-you

COM0011 – Blog post #1 – Fear of Social Media – How to overcome it

overwhelming

Writing this blog has me scared.  The fear of what to say, how to say it, do I actually have anything to say and what will people say about it.  I’ve been out of school for over 18 years now.  The most creative things that I’ve written in the last decade have been e-mails!  Most of those have revolved around getting details for meetings, conferences or social events – not too scary.  Their answers might scare me sometimes, but that I can deal with:)  As I read our lessons and search online, I see that I’m not alone in my fear of social media.  In fact, there are several people and companies out there that have a fear of social media too.

There are several anxieties to contend with, here are some of the top ones:

– What sites to be involved with?

– How to manage all the sites? (this is a hard one for me – you could be managing all day!  Who has time for that?)

– What content to post and how to say it to get an audience?

– Feedback (this is one of my fears too! People are not always constructive with their response so it can come across as an attack instead of as an opinion or valid points)

Here are some organizational steps to take to help conquer those fears.

social media logos

Step #1 – Choosing the social media outlets that work for you

With so many choices, you need to look at the your audience and where they spend their time.  Take small steps and venture to one outlet at a time.  Get comfortable with that site.  Too many sites at the start and you will become overwhelmed.

Step #2 – Audience and Strategy

Figuring out your audience will help you figure out your content.  In order to be heard you need to know how to listen!  Once you have your audience and content, you need a social media strategy.   This strategy will help you stay focused and relevant in your message.

Step #3 – Time Management

As stated in step one, start small, this will help you with your management.  Set aside a small amount of time each day, 15 minutes is recommended, to post your next comment, ad, picture, etc and to review any comments that people have left for you on your last post(s).  Once you start to add other social media outlets and 15 minutes is not enough dedicated time, than you can look at social media management tools, like HootSuite, to help manage your social media networks, schedule future messages and provide analytic data on your content and audience.

Step #4 – Feedback

Feedback is always scary.  You’ve put yourself and your hard work out there for the world to see and you want to hear from everyone, but some people are brutally honest, NOT in a constructive way, instead they are just mean.  Those are the comments that I find very frustrating and quite frankly useless to hear.  With that said, you need to respond to all comments.  Part of your strategy should be how to respond to the negative feedback.  Don’t kid yourself, it will happen, be prepared and nip it in the bud.  How you respond can have an impact on the individual and on all others who read the comments.

I hope that this beginners guide strategy can help conquer any fear you might have.  I’m not sure I’m over being scared, but I’m going to work on it.  These articles helped focus me and keep me looking forward.  At least I know I’m not alone in my fear and discomfort and I’ll keep that with me and continue writing blogs and listening to my audience (good and bad).  I look forward (?) to hearing what you have to say or advice you have to offer as I try to grow into this new world I’m venturing into.

http://www.ksmcpa.com/social-media-three-fears-how-to-conquer-them-and-why-companies-should

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/24/small-business-social-media_n_3991255.html