COM0015 – Blog #4: Out of the Box

This is actually my last assignment over a 12 month period for this certificate program and I must admit that a lot of what was covered was new to me and might not have been considered SM in my eyes. Now I look at many different methods of communication and different platforms as SM and what I really see as trending or unexpected would be live streaming tools, webinars & employee collaboration online – See more at: http://www.socialbrite.org/2011/01/19/comparison-top-web-conferencing-services/#sthash.rm5G6B4T.dpuf .

socialmediatoday.com

socialmediatoday.com

I actually participated on webinars, Social Media Today, gained plenty of insight and realized that in the future this type of service could serve me well as golf instructor. If you are really going to make full use of SM as a tool for business you need to be a member here and just spend ten minutes a day (bet you can’t stop at ten) just reading one new article or finding an archive webinar of interest, beware those take an hour to watch and can be addictive.

It may not be out of the box thinking anymore but many of the SM focus is moving to the mobile platform and this also interest me for my future golf instructor business; I can imagine the day where a client sends me a video from the practice area or range directly to my mobile device, I analyze and send back tips and notes for the client to use during the same practice session. The possibilities, while not endless, are many; downloadable video lessons to your touch pad, possible interactive with two way live conversation.

Now is the the next trend can include the lowering of costs for all the data transfer on mobile devices it would me and many of you much happier…

 

Advertisements

COM0015 – Blog #3: Professional Networking

BI 2012 083

There are two faces to my networking strategy; my current profession (Royal Canadian Navy) and my hobby (golf instruction) which will become my retirement profession. It is difficult to have an online strategy for the first and difficult to have a current one for the latter. With some introspection it becomes clear that I actually do have one for both although they may not be as developed as they should be.

RCN Networking

Current – Oddly enough I believe I am doing a considerable amount of online networking, despite my assertion in my opening remarks. While the majority of the networking is internal to the department it still remains and it is as part of a very large organization (Department of National Defence). The majority of my networking is through email distribution lists and MS Share Point. As the DND budget shrinks it has become more important to find ways to communicate at a distance, which includes the sharing of massive documents in preparation for virtual conferencing. In the past many of these conferences might have taken place in person and while some business did take place they might have been more of an opportunity for a group hug, what we now call in-person networking. The in-person networking is now reduced to much larger conferences where virtual is not practical. I try and attend many of these in my current field (occupation) within the department, and as a senior leader at these forums I usually have a speaking part and that provides me with a great opportunity to network in-person.

Future – There is little to no plan to change the current construct of networking in the my organisation except that as further budget cuts are forthcoming I would think that increasing the number of collaborative pages such as MS Share Point will grow. This may actually become unmanageable if you become a member on too many groups. At least locally we still have the chance to meet in small groups and get to know some of the folks on the same shared pages and it is always good to place a face to a name.

Golf Instruction

Current – There is very little in place at this point for my hobby; while I do have a blog and a Twitter account they are not a focus in my day-to-day life but usually more of an afterthought. I also have a Face Book page but that is not related to my future business (although I do have a golf group inside my page). The reason for the lack of focus on this portion of my networking efforts would have to be the impression that this business is still maybe 2 or 3 years into the future. The work I am doing in this certificate program is part of my networking effort as I grow my SM knowledge and practice these tools. The in-person networking has also been limited to my interaction on the course with other instructors and in the clubhouse with club managers (mostly at my club).

Future – In the next 6 to 12 months it is my plan to become much more active on my own blog page and provide at a minimum 2 post a month with a goal of a weekly post. Twitter is a bit of a conundrum for me as I do post regularly and re-tweet some interesting posts but I do not spend a great deal of time reading other tweets so that has to be part of the future plan. On both counts I am not too concerned about followers or who I might be following as these are my introductions to the SM world for this business and developing a style and content are more at the forefront. As to the in-person networking I do intend to participate in the Golf Expo this year and start making some connections beyond my current membership in the CGTF.

COM0015 – Blog #2: Strong and Weak Organizations

I guess before I can actually move ahead with what is a strong or weak organization (within a social media construct) I need to define what that means to me, beyond the overtly obvious of having a presence on the SM front lines (Twitter/Face Book).

So what is it that helps me define this concept is simply my personal needs within SM at this point in time. I spend very little time on mobile apps (yes I do own a smart phone but…) most of my SM efforts revolve around either work (security limits SM to email, MS Share Point with some external efforts with twitter, Face Book and Web sites but these are not work related) or my personal addiction of golf; which means I spend most of my SM time on web sites, Twitter, Face Book and email. In a nutshell, when I am not working I really care about the weather, sporting events and golf in the Ottawa region.

So what is strong organization to me? Well it is an organization that brings me back over and over again to use it, see it and spread it to friends, family and co-workers; after all isn’t this what SM lends itself to in the first place? Communication!

We all have to admit that there are plenty of choices on where we can get our information, some more reliable than others and some not so friendly to use. I think that is what draws me to some of these SM platforms in the first place and keeps me there as long as the tools are useful to my needs.

Strong Organization

the-weather-network-logo

Courtesy Theweathernetwork.com

The Weather Network ranks up there for me as one of the top SM users with an effective platform. It has a web site with a wealth of information which can be geared to your specific needs such as a golf report, road conditions, weather maps and a trending forecast tool. The site can be personalized with your own profile (account set-up). The WN has apps for PC and Mac; weather updates and alerts can be sent via email, text, RSS feeds and Twitter. There are mobile apps, tablet apps and even a mobile web platform. If you want the weather, need the weather, they will get the weather information to you any which way you want it.

Personally I have tried many different options for this crucial golf weather information and this site (along with many of its apps) provides the best one-stop-shopping option for me; that makes it a strong organization.

The Sports Network is also one of my favourite platforms which delves deeply in the SM world. Setting aside the obvious that Canada is hockey nation, and this site does have as its main focus hockey, it is not solely a hockey news site. It is an outstanding sports news site with national and international sports coverage. The site includes a personalized daily e-newsletter (free account set-up required) for only the news you want on the sports and teams you want. This site is also an excellent blog site as well as a source of podcasts. This site also includes live broadcast feeds (including scoreboard), TSN Radio links, and highlight videos. One of my favourite parts of this site is the “It’s Your Call” feature on most of the articles. This feature lets the reader provide comments and interact with each other (although the content can quickly become off topic) on the news item. The feature also includes and interesting thumbs up/down option.

If you follow any sport you are more than aware that there are more sport sites than you can shake a (hockey) stick at so keeping your audience in this market requires an active SM platform and TSN does this in my estimation.

Weak Organization

irish-hills-logo

irishhillsgolf.com

Though it pains me (as a member of the club) Irish Hills Golf and Country Club does not do a very effective job with its SM possibilities. Nor do I believe it to have a strong SM strategy (through conversation with the club manager and pro-shop manager). In comparison to many other local golf courses this organization has a weak web site; no online booking feature, no reference to their Face Book page (you have to guess they have one), some pages still under construction, and very few pictures of the course or facility. No Twitter account.

With the current trend of golf in decline in Canada and with six courses for sale in the Ottawa region the fight for the golf dollar is at a premium and getting players out to the course is a must if any golf course is to survive. Speaking for myself and a few friends we love to book online and this is a feature that Irish Hills needs to address and soon if it wants to keep up to most of the competition. Another interesting tool could be the use of Twitter as an alert tool for the club members (or any other follower) to advise of current playing conditions (frost delays) or tee time delays due to tournaments or other weather related issues (Thunderstorm). These are only a couple of options that could be used to improve their SM presence.

With a short playing season any course needs to attract as many members as possible but those remain steady for the most part; the extra dollars come outside the summer months of June/July/August when the avid golfer is looking for tee times and especially early and late in the season when those same avid golfers are looking for an open course to just get out and play. Providing online booking (with a view of all open times), course conditions and open/closed status can only help in the fight to remain relevant in a declining market and get those green fee players who prefer to not be a club member but play on different courses.

COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools and Sources

The question is what are my favourite tools and sources? That is an interesting question because I do not believe I have dabbled enough in the social media realm to have favourites or that I have many different ways to source out my news and updates.
And yes that would not make for a great blog on the topic for this course…but the fact remains that had I not actually done this series of courses I might never have heard about many of the tools I use today.
Let’s have a look at my listening/monitoring tools to start; Netvibes and Twitter are for now my favourite and really one might say my only tools. As you can see from my front page for Netvibes I do not track that many feeds at this point. It is still in its infancy for me as a user, but it will grow.

netvibes

courtesy netvibes.com

I do hope it sticks around however as I can see how this platform can be a useful tool for getting updates in one location. This will be an ideal place to track the two blogs for this course, in a separate tab of course, which will also get me to become a daily user.

Twitter I must admit is one social media endeavour I never saw myself using; I have surprised myself and while my following is small (is two small…) it is relative to how many I follow (12).

Twitter11

courtesy twitter.com

Like I mentioned this is really new to me and I am sure as I venture further out there I will grow my following in many different areas. May not sound like much but I do have 77 tweets since Feb ‘13; that is 77 more than I thought I would ever have in Jan ’13 and I think I like it.

News sources would also be relative to my interest, golf, and for the most part I still rely on email new letters from different web sites. Like some, I have what I would call my private email (home address) that I send my more ‘important’ updates or news from trusted sites. I also have my web mail service which receives my ‘spam’ news. This would be the more fluffy material that might not really matter if I just deleted the email before reading but when I have time I would still be interested. This is also the email server I use to avoid getting the real spam that might be associated with signing with a news letter service from a not so trusted site…

I use gmail through google.ca but another extremely popular one would be hotmail.ca and/or hotmail.com. A quick search will reveal many other web mail options.

Now you are asking yourself where is he going with this and how does it all fit together? Interestingly enough this series of courses (this being the last of five) is my professional development for my current employer; that however means little to my employer as social media is not a big part of what we do nor is the individual social media presence expected, from a work perspective. If I consider myself as my own organization than I have an extreme interest in all of these tools for my future retirement job; all of this information that I am gathering and the limited social presence is a small beginning of what will become a self-employed golf instructor. So far my social media strategy is on target (although I have let my blog post slide and I really need to get back to that as I was enjoying blogging), maybe I will even share my blog…

COM0014 – Blog # 7: Personal Reflection

My one major take away from this course has to be that the story is about me. No matter where my next career takes me and should I continue with a social meetia strategy beyond my current one, it will have to be personal, intimate and honest. If I can keep that up front in my communication I am sure there will be more successes than failures in my endeavours.

I must create interesting communication catered to the appropriate audience and that is likely to be the biggest challenge; who is my audience? What is my true purpose for this communication?

I have the greatest story to tell, the story of me! If I care enough to tell that story in an interesting and engaging manner, one might say almost legendary manner, then people will care to listen and turn on the tap to the two way conversation that will develop.

Before this course I was stuck in the format now I am focused on the content but with the appropriate messaging for the audience. If I can get my audience to know me better and trust me then they will trust my message. I don’t think it really is much more complicated than that but like everything writing styles will evolve. With this evolution I will have to be careful not to stray away from my audience so I must be vigilant in my listening.

I honestly believe that everything I do has an influence on how I do the next thing and when taking on courses such as this one that there has to be a take away or as I call it ‘a new tool for my tool box’. I just never thought the tool would be me…

Your Narrator – Bowser –

COM0014 – Blog # 6: Do People Know Your Story?

What is your secret wish for your business?

What an easy question, retirement of course.

You are now scratching your head and asking yourself “He wants a business so he can retire? Really” What is this smoking?

There is always a back story and mine is not overly complicated; I joined the Royal Canadian Navy back in 1980 and frankly I’m tired of getting up everyday and going to work on somebody else’s schedule. I want to set my own schedule and if needed why even have a schedule. If you’re reading this you have the same thought I do…Love the idea!!!

So how am I going to retire by having a business, well simple, golf will be my business and golf will never be work to me; more precisely golf instruction will be my business with a dream that it will be mostly an autumn and winter business from my retirement (from the navy) location on PEI. A great self-serve training facility with a driving range, putting and chipping area, pay by the hour for use and have a dedicated winter facility with indoor electronic (on screen) driving range. Of course the part about my schedule being completely in my control will revolve around my timings for the lessons but rest assured that Feb will be my time to golf down south. Wait…I have a great idea now for that part of the winter…organised golf trips for students…one week in Feb with me coaching you through 18 holes.

Another great way to take advantage of the business and not feel like I have to work another day in my life, why not join me at the 19th hole or just leave me a comment of where you would like the first trip planned. Fore!!

COM0014 – Blog #5: Personal Brand

Who am I? What can I do for you? I am the greatest thing to happen to your golf game since the introduction of the over-sized driver. I will get you started with plain and simple instruction without the complications of understanding the pro-golfer and the swing mechanics.

With my specific approach of providing positive feedback and re-enforcing your strengths, your game will improve. More importantly your golf lesson experience will be a positive one you can bring to the course with you.

Be it with family, friends, and colleagues or even as an excuse for a business meeting I can gear your lessons towards individual or a group focused event. You will not find another golf instructor out there more determined to ensure you enjoy your golf experience.

Just want to avoid looking like it’s the first time you have touched a club? I can coach you through a round of golf, yes that’s right I will walk 18 holes with you and guide you through expected etiquette and playing situations.

Are you intimated by the golf course professional and all the fancy dress codes and the need to have the latest and greatest equipment? My specialised service is available in your own back yard and I will provide all the equipment needed to for your lesson. That’s right why rent or buy clubs before you experience the joy of golf, find out what works for you and get some qualified advice on equipment.

I Drive Fore U…to U…and with U!!!

COM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study

Golf Town, love or hate the big box store it is here to stay. This one might want to stick to the bricks and mortar or have an honest look at its online presence. Golftown.com, if you look way at the bottom you can find the links to its other SM ventures. It will be a short journey.

I fully realize the need for marketing and in the end social media might be the cheapest and easiest marketing tool for big business, but at what real cost to us the consumer, the C in B2C.

I have no problem with the web site, just what we would all expect from a brick and mortar foray into the web. Flashy colours (although very busy), interesting deal of the day feature with a countdown, and the whole experience is surprisingly not clunky. Great email newsletter feature which I receive daily.

The remaining social media experience is more flash than substance; Tweeter is tweet after tweet of the same web site sales pitch with the odd job post, not enough interest to even get this avid golfer to follow. YouTube is nothing more than an archive for TV ads, again did not subscribe.

Facebook is the only place where there is any considerable two way communication (most of the time) all of the replies to negative customer feedback feels canned (it was even noted on one comment, see post from Jul 30th you won’t forget this frank expression of frustration) and redirects the conversation to one-on-one email. While this may alleviate the complaint with the customer it leaves the remaining viewers (at least this one) guessing if the complaint was resolved; with no further customer comments on the post I can only assume it was resolved. Beyond the comments section the FB page was more of the same sales pitch. Don’t confuse this statement “I ‘Liked’ their page”.

This SM strategy does not work for me; nobody needs to get basically the same information from a web site, email news letter, tweeter feed, YouTube Video and Facebook. One is all I need and one is all I use, and FB, well I’m stalking that page for complaints.

COM0014 – Blog #3: Target Audiences

My target audience is the ‘would be golfer’ and some demographics reveal some interesting numbers (http://golf.adsglobalmedia.com/golf_demographics.php):

  • 2.6 million golfers in Canada
  • 600,000 are avid golfers (playing 25 rounds a year)
  • Average of 39 years of age
  • Average household income of $111,111.00

My audience would actually be the remaining 2 million golfers, plus all those below the age of 12 which are not part of these demographics. To drill even further down in these numbers, my interest being the beginner golfer, I would be targeting youth and the ever growing female golfer population. Surprisingly the beginner male golfer tends to avoid lessons and wait until they get ‘better’ on their own before paying for lessons. Of course no matter what level of golf, travelling to take lessons is not likely an option so my audience would also be limited to the Ottawa region which includes both English and French golfers.

Group lessons would be the best strategy to approach both youth and female beginner golfers, always less intimidating to start something new with a friend; compare notes and have fun with it at the same time.

The youth are key in this audience and today’s youth is tech savvy (as are most golfers, try walking into a big box golf store and you will see all the big screens and golf GPS tools). A basic blog with the correct tags and a catchy Twitter handle, linked together with a FaceBook page would target this beginner group; a more specific linkedIn account for the female population to capture the young professional looking to take lessons. Use these and other tools to provide feedback and free tips including golf drills would help cement my reputation, of course being bilingual is also and asset.  A good reputation, word of mouth (tweets, etc…), and staying current is all one needs to stay relevant in the golf instruction business.

COM0014 – Blog #2: Storytelling and Communication Styles

If all I do is get grammar, spelling and punctuation correct I won’t look stupid and keep your attention. This is as important as the message, since readers will focus on the mistakes and not the content. The credibility of the message is in question, as will be the facts presented. Think of it for just a minute…”well if he can’t spell what is to say he even knows what he is talking about”.

Setting the tone is also crucial to the message and while it will lend itself to your personality you should always keep in mind the reader. The target audience expects a certain communication style from the web, not too formal but casual enough to capture the essence of the message. A clear, concise and jargon free message will resonate sooner than a message that has to be read over and over again to be understood. Take another minute and think…”wow I have no idea what I just read, better move on”.

While not essential, develop a style and stick to it; make your style part of the experience and get the reader to want to come back not just for the topic but for the interaction with the words (written or spoken). Practise your style and read your own works to see if you are developing one, might not be clear at the start but it will come around. One last minute of your time…”Practise or Practice? Verb or noun? Did I use the correct word?”