Blog 3 COM 0014: Target Audiences

Third Wave Coffee, or coffee treated as an artisanal foodstuff, has been growing exponentially in the last 40 years or so. Along with that growth comes the followers of the Third Wave Coffee trends and the patrons to the cafés that supply it. Those people are my target audience.

Being in a suburban town there are mainly seniors or young families comprising the demographic. Through the use of Twitter Search, Instagram, and Facebook I’ve found that my target audience is neither of those things. Womp, womp. Generally, they are 20-50 years old and male but there are certainly some females as well. A handful of them are running blogs around fashion, lifestyle and food which is an interest to keep in mind.

“Coffee Lovers” is the list I created on Twitter to organize all those that I found discussing Third Wave coffee topics. Since my demographic is not local my strategy is to expand my search parameters to surrounding cities like Toronto. I will hone in on the coffee lovers there while considering what Oakville might offer to the blogs they are running. I’ll need to listen to the conversations about events and interests for this audience and then recreate that genre of experience in Oakville for them to document on their blogs or partner with a business that can.

If there was an event about an interest of yours (knitting, painting, dancing, coffee etc.) but it was ~30 min out of town, what would it take to get to you to participate?

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Blog #2 Storytelling and Communication Styles

Keep it simple…

The most relevant information I gathered from this week’s lesson is to keep things simple. Let your writing follow a basic structure of beginning, middle, and end and your message will be clearer and more approachable.

Cut out the junk…

When readers are looking at content online, they don’t have a long attention span; they want quick information. The more we are able to simplify and organize our content the happier our user will be. If we remove lengthy words and sentences, information is easier for the reader to find.

Stay organized…

Laying out information very clearly with headers is another way of keeping your writing simple. There is no searching for topics when they are already labelled. I am used to the idea of introducing a topic before delving into it but this lesson taught me that pushing your more important information within the first component of the text is important. There is no need for building up to a thesis for example. Simply let the readers have the key points without much work.

After reflecting, what did you find stood out the most from this lesson?

Blog #1: What I did on vacation

Context is a funny thing. Every year, my family meets at the same house for Christmas, we eat the same meal and have small talk and laughs over movies. Within that communal context and an evening of 7 hours, my family is left with a small space for deep, one on one interactions.

 

Now, rewind 4 weeks to boxing day in the Dominican Republic. My family of 9 and I are all sharing one house, spending quality time for Christmas. This time for 10 days. We had no car, no TV, patchy Wi-Fi, yet a front row view of the Atlantic ocean. This Christmas, I bonded with my family the most I can remember.

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The view from the house’s porch

Don’t be fooled by the serene scene above though. Night 1 consisted of a large bottle of Dominican rum. Night one was also the first time I have ever seen my uncle dance with a smile on his face. Needless to say, our drinks, an ocean breeze, no responsibilities nor timelines, put us in a state of bliss.

 

This context was good for the soul.

 

As expected, there was a lot of dancing among the younger cousins, contagious laughter, and ongoing music. We had family dinners, explored, and kept each other busy.

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Daily strolls on the beach were a must. Blondie Garcia, the beach dog, was always sure to join.

 

Night 6 was one that pleasantly surprised me. It was New Years Eve and my family had settled into their proper routines: some reading, some swimming, others dancing. I approached the communal area to grab my drink and my uncle asked me “What goals do you have for the year Angela?”. I hadn’t thought about them yet so I took a seat beside him. Over the course of 30 minutes, my family joined to brainstorm and jot down our individual goals together. In a confined yet relaxed context, I learned a lot about my family. I’ve known them my whole life but this vacation allowed for new conversations, understandings, and much appreciated memories.

Summer “Hobbies”

It was my final week working at the summer high school camp up the road from me. I was drained from the sun and the demands of the job. I took a mental break and sat down on a bench inside the school. Alexis, one of the camp students, took a seat beside me and started a conversation.

 

“So Angela, what do you do in your spare time?”

In a semi-automated way, I answered, “I like to play music in my free time”

 

But when I thought about it, since this summer job had begun, I really had not spent much time playing music. The job had long hours and occasional 7-day workweeks. Not to mention, working outdoors with that unique sass of teenagers took a lot out of me. It ended up temporarily changing my lifestyle.

 

“You seem like the type of person to watch Netflix all night, episode after episode” Alexis remarked.

“Not really. I usually like to cook but I haven’t been cooking much this summer” I replied.

“So what do you do?” Alexis asked.

 

I could not think of an honest answer to Alexis’ question. Since I was not playing music or cooking like a usually do, what was I doing with all of my time when I was not working?

I took a step back and thought about my after work routine. Usually, I would lie down on my bed and check Facebook, since there was no access to Facebook in the school. Twenty minutes of Facebook led to something more productive; checking my e-mails. Then, I would check Snapchat, and then Instagram. Hmm… somehow, it was already 7:30 and I was still lying down on my bed.

I realized that for the past 5 weeks, I have been fooling myself into thinking that I was doing “something” if I was busy checking my social media accounts. Sure, I had dinner dates or a night of drinks sprinkled in there somewhere, but the majority of my time after work was spent in my room on my phone or computer.

In retrospect, this made me feel as though I did not make the most of my time off. Being on social media for personal uses (rather than professional) is often seen in a negative light. It deems you antisocial, attached, and at times, self-absorbed. When I could have been exercising, trying new recipes, going to events in the city and experiencing my summer, I checked social media instead.

But on the other hand, what if keeping up to date with social media is now a hobby? Is that too far fetched? What if that is just a new component to our daily lives and there is nothing so sad about it? The content that I would digest on my Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat managed to keep me up to date with the news, my friends and family, I read shared articles on various topics, and of course watched videos as entertainment. Although I was only on one device, in one place for the evening, I was able to reach multiple layers of my life in that time after work.

———-

What do you think:

Does social media provide enough quality content to be considered a hobby?

When can social media be considered a hobby and when can it not be considered a hobby?

How does social media play a role in your free time off work?

Going Solo

Last year, when the festival of India was running, I really wanted to attend since I had never been before. I first asked my partner to come with me, but he wasn’t interested in the event. So, I asked all the people that I thought would be interested in the event to come with me. Everyone was busy or out of town.

Later in the day, my partner asked me who I went to the event with and I told him I went alone.

 

“What do you mean you’re going alone?” he said

“Well none of my friends were free, so I went alone” I responded

“Let me come with you then. Are you going to be okay? I don’t want you going by yourself” he insisted

 

Why is it taboo to do things by ourselves? Why did I feel that I had to explain why I went alone?

 

I wanted to go to the event, no one was free to come with me, and so I went alone. I actually quite enjoyed myself; I went to the booths on my own time and I was more immersed in the event because my friends weren’t there to distract me. Yet, after explaining this to my partner he didn’t understand why I chose to go out alone.

Researching this topic comes with an abundance of guides on how to go out alone and responses to people asking if it’s weird to go out alone. It seems that we can’t enjoy doing things alone without questioning if we’ve made the right decision, or wondering whether others are judging us. The idea that others are judging us when we go out alone is probably the largest obstacle between people going out alone in public. But in most cases, I don’t think others notice that you are alone.

“Underlying our inhibitions about being seen out alone, I suspect, is the famous psychological phenomenon known as the spotlight effect, which describes the way we chronically overestimate how much others notice our social faux pas – or indeed notice us at all”

On the other hand most of the articles that I browsed were focused on encouraging people to try going out alone and in that sense, I think we are starting to rethink the entire idea, which is a good thing. I think that company or no company, I would have enjoyed myself at the festival of India, it just would have made for two different experiences.

 

What is your take on solo outings?

Why is going out alone seen as an odd thing to do?

Have you tried going out alone? Was it a challenge for you?

 

 

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go

As I returned to Canada after 3 months abroad in a foreign country, I looked at my surroundings. The streets, buildings, even the people were all things I remembered and recognized. I knew that the community centre and the church are up the street, but I was much more inclined to explore them after having explored abroad. I wanted to look at every avenue in my neighbourhood, attend events in my city, and meet the people in my neighbourhood. It took me flying all the way to Africa to become inspired to explore a little more of Canada and feel this way.

 

“We journey across the world to step out of our own tiny corners and experience all that foreign cultures can teach us. But can an education about people, lifestyles and cultures be found, to the same real and rich extent, within our own borders?”
(http://www.vagabondish.com/domestic-travel-authentic/)

 

I’ve been living in Ottawa for 4 years now and I would say that I could show a newcomer around the city. But this summer was my first real interaction with the Westboro, Hintonburg, and Little Italy areas. I think because the beauty of my neighbourhood was right in front of me and so I became used to seeing it. Not to mention, my lifestyle while in Canada is pressed with more duties and deadlines than when abroad so I’m distracted from what I could be seeing.

I walked home from Rideau Centre to Vanier the other night unintentionally (long story). Initially, it was so frustrating to have wasted time walking so far because it was late at night and I had to get to bed. But I put on my travel lenses and realized that I never walked these parts of the city this way before. What I heard was music playing on a Sunday evening, I saw what my neighbourhood looks like by night and interacted with some neighbours. These are things about my neighbourhood I usually don’t see because I’m on the bus trying to save time. But it was worth it.

This article gives three good reasons why we should explore our own countries more. I think most importantly it states that we are able to appreciate our countries more when we travel within them. I know that the Rockies are in Alberta and there are beautiful lakes across the nation; people travel across the world to explore them. And I’m already in the country, so why wouldn’t I explore them too? I think once I have experienced more of what Canda has to offer, I will feel and even greater sense pride in the country.

Do you have a desire to travel internationally more than within Canada? Or have you done your fair share of travel in Canada?

How do you compare domestic and international travel?

Why is it that we don’t explore the things that are right in front of us?

 

How Do I Adult? (blog 3)

 

Adulting merchadise promoting the adulting culture

When I return home every few weekends to see my family, I can’t help but think about how things are changing; we’re all growing up. I am the youngest of the children at 22 years old along with my twin, my brother is 24 and my sister is 26. We’re in this phase of having all adults or “transitioning adults” in the family.

Just last weekend I was home to see my dad for father’s day and he said that “At your older sister’s age I was married to your mom and the next year your sister was born”. Picturing my 26-year-old sister with a child at this age is frightening quite honestly (but also, we need a baby in the family because I need to squeeze one ASAP!). My sister is not at the stage of her life to be thinking about a family and that is not entirely out of the norm for many 26-year-olds. It seems as though what is considered to be “growing up” is now happening later in our lives. I think that a large contributing factor to this pattern is the culture that has been promoted online for young adults. That culture includes self-depreciating jokes and the denial of entering adulthood.

Self depreciating memes circulate the online world

Self-depreciating memes circulate the online world

I recently read an article by Cosmopolitan about the term adulting. Adulting is described on Urban Dictionary as “to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups” and it is a lifestyle that is promoted when students are entering university or living alone for the first time. The definition sounds like a good thing to be promoting but the hashtag is paired tasks such as showering and getting out of bed before noon. Adulting is a popular hashtag or topic on quite a few social media platforms and that’s a large reason why so many young adults have caught onto the trend. At the twentysomething age, there is a constant question of what we are doing with our lives moving forward and so naturally, we are looking for guidance. However, if the theme of adulting is giving us a pat on the back for eating breakfast, what do we have to strive for? The posts about adulting are shaping the way youth think about their future but more importantly, it is fostering a mindset for youth to put off responsibilities.

Brands are reaching out to Millenials by using the adulting hashtag

Brands are reaching out to millennials by using the adulting hashtag

The term has been so popular that companies are tagging on to the theme to reach out to millennials. The adulting hashtags, memes, and these adverts are what allow millennials not to feel the need to grow up. I think there is no harm in being proud of making yourself dinner, and feeling as though you can be self-sufficient, however, that should not be at the top of our goal list.

What are your views on the pattern of people growing up later in life? How do you feel that the adulting hashtag relates to this pattern, if at all?

What’s the Point of Social Media? (Blog 2)

One of my hobbies is playing music. It’s something that I do for myself mostly, but I do enjoy performing at events and open mics. I recently performed at an event in the market and the host gave me such great praise. I was proud of myself for landing this gig because it was a crowd of 200 people or so, the largest crowd I’ve performed in front of yet. But at the end of my performance, the host also mentioned that there was some media coverage of the event and that people were trying to tag me on Twitter and add me on Facebook. She told me that “I need to open up online if I want this [music] thing to work for me”.

 

Did I need to open up more online?…

 

Initially, I thought “Dammit. I need to reactivate it my Twitter account, delete any embarrassing tweets from 2009 and…maybe I’ll make my Facebook open too”. Truth be told, I don’t even know what I want to get from my musical performances, but I do know that I would not like to have anyone and everyone freely viewing my photos and posts. However, opening up on social media and being exposed to future gigs or shoutouts in a magazine were enticing thoughts. How did I want to use my social media platforms? I felt like I was either outside of the social media realm with my music and missing out on opportunities for gigs or I had to enter the realm and follow the rules and upkeep.

Having any presence on social media automatically creates a personal brand for your name

Luckily, music is mostly a hobby for me, so I can take more time to decide what path I’d like to take with it. But we’re all in this same situation when it comes to personal branding online and finding a job. We either enter the social media realm and try to follow the rules of what is appropriate or not, or we stay off social media and potentially miss out on employment opportunities. We are brands whether we like it or not.

Some claim that social media isn’t fun anymore. To an extent, I think this is true. There are more restrictions on what we should post now that employers have more access to our private lives.

Certainly social media can still be fun; you can keep in touch with family and friends, post photos and funny content, but what if I don’t want my employer to see that? Not because it’s inappropriate but simply for privacy’s sake. Sure, I can put on my profile’s privacy settings, but it’s said that even with privacy settings employers have their ways.  With this much monitoring, using social media sounds more like a delicate craft than anything.

Social media is more about behaving in case your employer does an online background check, and less about having fun and “socializing”. These days, an online presence is less authentic than ever; it’s tailored to possible employers when social media is typically used for friends and family.

 

What are your thoughts on how personal branding has shaped the way we use social media?

Should our employers use our online presence when considering us for jobs? Why or why not?

With such an emphasis on pleasing future employers, what’s the point of social media? To interact with family and friends or to create a good name for yourself?

Let’s get personal

 

Taco Bell responding to a customer's tweet.

Taco Bell responding to a customer’s tweet.

 

With social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, companies are now able to respond to the needs of their clients on a one to one basis and interact with other brands. 95% of marketers are on Facebook right now and companies are able to show their personal side while tending to the needs and concerns of their audience. Companies seem to follow a particular online etiquette when it comes to using social media as a means of customer service. In my opinion, this etiquette has more room for playfulness and social interaction albeit virtual.

I love that companies are able to show this personal side to their brand, however, I am not sure if it is always time efficient or necessary. There is one twitter exchange in an online compilation of funny company responses on social media that shows a series of puns delivered between a customer and Sainsbury’s:

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The exchange continued for about 12 tweets and the caption in the compilation says that research was done to find out that the particular customer loves puns. Then, for every pun that the customer sent the company would reply with another one. Sounds like a lot of work.

To me, as long as the banter is related to the concern of the customer and stays on topic, I think that this expression is great for enterprises on social media. I like to see the realness of companies being exposed; after all, businesses are made up of humans, right? I am also interested in reading about the strategies behind the online etiquette for enterprises. Perhaps companies wouldn’t view Sainsbury’s pun exchange as being time-consuming and unnecessary, rather it could be beneficial for the company.

What is your take on the playful interaction between customer and enterprise on social media? Is it necessary?

How could this online etiquette be better or worse for companies and customers?