COM0015: Applying Social Media in new and unusual ways

By: Bryan Thiel


This may sound silly, but before this course, I had no idea what a webinar was.

I had been to seminars, summits, learning lunches, and plenty of other things that the names of escape me, and I was a pretty proficient Google’r. But putting them together?

While the combination of the two didn’t surprise me, it was something that I hadn’t considered before.

The pairing is ingenious really. Beginning with Youtube, video sharing services are easy to come by on the web and it’s really no surprise that they took off years ago. If you can watch a video of a cat playing ping pong on the internet, why not use it for something practical and educational?

And as technology evolved and companies were able to embed video on their own website without the use of outside carriers, it only makes sense that something like this has taken off and is making people money.

The other thing that has surprised me throughout our work across five credits is the monetization of social media.

At its core, social media is popular for a very big reason: It’s free.

As I’ve found out, free is key when it comes to non-profits: they don’t have a lot of money to spend, and they need to find affordable tools that have an impact and can reach a wide audience. Social Media does both of those things.

But while that helps get the message out and raise awareness for events and anything else a non-profit might need, the fact that viral phenomenons like the ice bucket challenge and the no-makeup selfie have taken off and, ultimately, made money, continues to surprise me.

A lot of this is based on humanization and playing to peoples’ emotions and encouraging them to donate, but other companies have followed suit, integrating across other marketing campaigns and coming away happy financially.

Ultimately when I began this course, I thought I’d be expanding my vocabulary and toolbox when it came to marketing. Instead, I came away with a few money-making possibilities that could help speed up my transition from one department to another.

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COM0015: Instant Messaging is Alive and Well

By: Bryan Thiel


When I was growing up, MSN Messenger was an after school special.

You’d spend hours a day in class, go to practice or rehearsals, come home, and settle in for a couple hours of instant messaging. We didn’t know it then, and we probably wouldn’t have cared if you told us, but we were engaging in one of the earliest forms of networking and social media.

In the broadcasting industry, it’s still alive and useful today…just in different forms.

Within our studios, we rely on the Microsoft Office package. Word, Excel, and Power Point all have their uses within our environment, and we’ve learned to integrate them in different ways, but there’s one networking tool that helps more than all of the others combined: Microsoft Lync.

lync-connectsIf you’re unfamiliar with it, Lync is an instant messaging system. At its core it’s fairly basic, but it provides an opportunity to communicate in real time with anyone across the Bell Media landscape, while offering opportunities for scheduling further interactions, video chats, and phone calls as well.

Not only can you message somebody down the hall or on the second floor, but you can connect and communicate with someone in a different city, or even province so long as they’re a part of the Bell network.

For us, it has taken professional networking within our own constraints to a new level.

While there isn’t much beyond instant messaging and email that can be used for networking within my industry, I have been potentially presented with a unique opportunity to develop a networking strategy outside of my industry.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine came to me with a problem: They worked in an industry with so many regulations, rules, and codes, that it was difficult to keep track of all of them. Additionally, it was difficult to keep everyone up to date on the changes and amendments constantly being made, and they were finding many people had questions that didn’t have just one answer.

Because of this, I’ve been working on trying to develop a message board for their office. Not only will it be a place to organize the information into different threads, but it opens things up to inter-office networking and conversation over the different topics. It will initiate constructive discussion, and expansion upon previously built personal relationships.

Throughout our work with Algonquin, I’ve become increasingly interested in the potential of message boards. Free services like ProBoards and Boardhorst have given me the tools to explore that potential.

COM0015: The strength of one little peanut butter cup

By: Bryan Thiel


Who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter?

The popularity of that magical combination, introduced all the way back in 1928, proves that very few people can resist when it comes to the iconic orange and yellow packaging.

But what may be even more impressive, is what Reese’s has done on social media.

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This screen shot shows it all: an interactive competition, timely content, and a company willing to interact personally with consumers.

Capitalizing on the interactive nature of its platforms, the snack has found countless new and fresh ways to address their audience. When it comes to commenters, they are constantly sending out replies, whether it’s addressing complaints or concerns, re-directing consumers to Hershey’s suggestions page, or just initiating conversation among their followers. Their Facebook page houses a variety of content, including recipes, contests, and advertisements.

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On Twitter, it is much of the same, but they’ve also kept the content fresh and new. Some of their competitions and coupons are exclusive  to certain social feeds, and they understand the importance of being self-aware. Retweeting a celebrity mention, capitalizing on trending hashtags, circulating specialized video content, and promoting website extensions have all helped Reese’s build up their social media standing.

Another company excelling on Social Media that I was directed to by Social Media Examiner was Martell Homes. Their Facebook page is well organized, providing pictures of renderings, drawings, and finished homes, while also offering tours with specific albums. Their photo content is organized and well-maintained, and like any private business should, they have their reviews right at the top with their high scores benefiting them.

It goes beyond their Facebook page however, as their website digs even deeper into integrating their social feeds.While the standard social buttons, photos, and contact information are all displayed on their website, they’ve actually expanded their services to include a blog which can profile neighbourhoods, offer unsolicited advice to their customers, or even re-direct people to other social feeds. One of their most-recent posts is one of their employee’s five favourite pins of the week. This is a great idea that helps deliver a varied message, even if it could use some tweaking (An author with a link to their Pinterest page or embedded links to each of the pins would be a big help).

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There are some things to improve on (no author or links), but it’s a fresh and interseting approach to a blog from a company you might not expect to have one.

There’s things to improve upon, but it’s a fresh and interesting approach to a blog from a company you might not expect to have one.

They’ve also done a great job of identifying what their market is, and which feeds work for them with Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, avoiding any unnecessary social media forays.

Inspired by the choice we have to make for our next assignment, I decided to scour a list of Canadian non-profit organizations to see who could benefit from a  social media facelift. The thinking was very similar to the struggles of the Canadian Lung Association: These companies don’t necessarily have the most money to spend, so their plans may need some help.

After coming across a few business, I decided to turn my attention to my home town of London, Ontario and the Thames Valley District School Board.

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While most of the posts offer important information, some of them aren’t getting the circulation or reaching the target audience like the TVDSB would like.

While they’ve done a good job of embracing social media, there are places where they can improve. Their video content is a little lacking, and while some of it digs a little deeper into what is going on across the school board, some of the videos are quick clips without much in terms of content attached to them.

When thinking about how this is a school board that encompasses a city worth of schools, trying to integrate multiple schools into a single post (or multiple posts regarding multiple schools) would be a great way to drive interaction and keep bringing parents back to their social feeds.

Additionally, one of the key points brought up by the CLA was their failure in identifying their target audiences properly. There are few (if any) posts geared towards high schools and high school students on their feeds, and when  you consider who may be using their mobile devices to investigate Facebook and Twitter, it’s high school students.

That is, outside of school hours of course.

COM0015, Blog 1: Measurement is what you make of it

By: Bryan Thiel


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the past year at Algonquin, it’s how to measure my social feeds.

Admittedly, before I began this course, I thought Twitter, Facebook, and all the rest were easy: Post, get a like a comment or a retweet, and maybe interact a time or two. After all of that, if it looks like people enjoy it, wait for the followers to roll in.

I learned very quickly that a monitoring ‘strategy’ that basic won’t work if you want to be really successful in the constantly evolving online world. You have to know where you’re looking and what you’re looking for.

And if you aren’t specific at first, you’ll quickly learn to be.

The two measurement tools I gained experience using were Twitter analytics and WordPress’ statistics. As I gained an understanding of what to do and how to measure it, I learned how to find out where my posts were going, who was finding them the most interesting, and what my optimal times to post were.

newfrymoneySince that introduction, I’ve gotten more familiar with Feedly, Google Analytics, and Hootsuite, eventually finding Hootsuite to be my favourite (To the point that I’ve nearly caved and turned over my credit card).

In terms of news updates, I can’t imagine a world where I’ll never favour Twitter. Despite the 140 character limit (Which sometimes, although frustrating, I have fun embracing the challenge), I find it’s the fastest way to the news that I want. While you can let the list of who you’re following get out of hand, apps like Tweetdeck help to streamline the experience.

Additionally, I’ve found BuzzFeed to be a surprisingly convenient news source.

The reason why it’s surprising? Because I didn’t think it would ever get beyond random quizzes and lists that don’t really do…or tell you…anything.

But as it’s grown, I’ve found that BuzzFeed has started to incorporate actual news and events into it’s coverage, while also providing extensive recipes and DIY projects.

As someone who enjoys both of those things, you can see the appeal.

The other thing that has drawn me back to them, has been their use of social media. Granted the content or prospective titles makes some links more clickable than others, but their use of video on Facebook with links tracking back to the original articles and website has lead to plenty of exposure and circulation.

Overall, the attraction of a measurement tool is the same as a social media platform or news source: Is the layout clean and easy to understand? Does it present the information in an easily-digestible format?

If it meets those criteria, you may have a winner on your hands.

COM0014: Personal Reflection – Learning to Integrate Old Abilities

By: Bryan Thiel


Throughout the past three credits I’ve learned how to properly monitor  social media accounts and develop a successful strategy. When our fourth credit started, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

As things moved along week after week, I found that the content dealt more and more with concepts I was already familiar with, but never seriously thought about integrating into my social media practices.

Making sure the lead isn’t buried is something I deal with in my industry each and every day, but it’s something I never thought would cross over to the world of Social Media. Throughout my blogging career I’ve always made sure to construct my content in a manner similar to what I was taught, and through this credit I found that I can transfer that line of thinking across various social accounts.

Catering my content to the same target audience every day for the last six years allowed me to settle into a steady groove, but I quickly learned that’s not what social media is about. Learning about different audiences and how to effectively communicate with them changed my way of looking at the content I create, while helping me realize that I can generate the same content different ways for different audiences.

Overall, as a story teller, this credit has been mostly about vindication. Leading up to these past few weeks, I had learned the technical side of the industry. Over the past two months, I’ve found it rewarding to feel as if I was able to relate what I had learned to what I’ve been practicing the past few years. I have always wanted to tell stories, and as of December 27th, I feel as if I have the tools to do it successfully across any platform.

I can only look forward to what lies in store for my journey with Social Media in the New Year.

 

COM0014: Do People Know Your Story? Canada’s Big Two

By: Bryan Thiel


For a kid coming out of college that grew up playing and watching all kinds of sports, working in Canadian sports television would be a dream come true.

ReasonsWhyYourDreamJobIsPossible.jpegDreaming of becoming a reporter or an anchor, or even the next national play-by-play guy is a pretty high-end dream. But as everyone will tell you, you have to figure out a way to put in the work to get there.

You’ll move to a small market, work weird hours, and you won’t make too much (if any) money. Sometimes you’ll catch a break and sometimes you won’t. You’ll ask for help along the way and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a helping pinky or ring finger…a whole hand would be wishful thinking.

Maybe you won’t achieve your dream directly, but things can still work out for the best. Maybe you’re not at a national level when you step behind the microphone, but you’ll still find meaning in the sports you’re calling at whatever level it is. Maybe you’ll work hard enough and find a good-paying job behind the scenes at that national station, and you’ll hold on to it because you approach it with the same commitment and verve you bring to your on-air career.

Then real life will happen. Bills will start coming in, you’ll want to start a family, and things (like cars…and homes) will need repairs. The industry will shrink. You’ll keep your job, but every so often there will be a week where the hours are slim. You may feel like you want to move on in your career and explore your options. Maybe you can find something at another station, you think.

Here’s the problem: there aren’t a lot of jobs available in the industry…and there are even fewer networks to work for.

Two to be exact.

TSN or Sportsnet. If you like some of the specialty sports, then CBC dips their toe in from time-to-time, but if you want to work in Canadian sports television its one of the big two.

xtvstatic.jpg.pagespeed.ic.FD8yD8HdYS.jpegDon’t even bother comparing it to the market south of the border. It’ll drive you mad.

That’s the biggest flaw in my industry, and that’s why I’m here at Algonquin.

With the industry reshaping itself and shifting its emphasis, I wanted to expand my resume. I felt that I needed more skills and that, in an ever-changing landscape, I needed to make myself more valuable than ever.

The world is focusing more and more on Social Media, so it seemed like a natural transition to me.

With one more credit to go, I feel like I’ve done that…but time will tell if I’ve done enough to overcome the industry’s biggest flaw.

 

COM0014 – Personal Branding: It’s about Quality and Qualifications

By: Bryan Thiel


These days, describing your personal brand can be difficult.

Not only do you have to worry about what you’re saying about yourself and whether or not you’ve remembered to say everything there is to say, but you have to be aware of the voice you’re using, how you phrase everything, and whether or not you come across as sincere.

The most embarrassing day in the history of the Swiss army.In my field, things have gotten even tougher. Before I started in television, it was ok if you could only do one thing well; you would get really good at that one thing, and they would find a spot for you if they really liked you. These days the industry is defined, for lack of a better term, by multi-tools or swiss army knives.

It no longer pays to be good at just one thing. You can be good at one thing (you can be GREAT at one thing), but you also have to be able to fill a variety of other roles. If your personal brand is just “Bryan Thiel, video editor” you’ll find work, but there’s a good chance someone with more talents will come along and snatch up your job if you aren’t able to display the wealth of abilities you posses.

That’s where your social media descriptions can come in handy. Keep it quick, keep it snappy, and in 140 characters or less people can get an idea of your personal brand while they scroll through your media.

After all, doesn’t this:

Bryan Thiel: Scoail Media Marketer/Analyst, #TSN Video Editor, Freelance Play-by-Play Anchor, and aspiring home chef

Sound better (and a littler more personal) than this:

Bryan Thiel: Video Editor @ TSN

Or this:

Bryan Thiel: Freelance play-by-play anchor

While all of that looks good, you can’t just let yourself be defined by your accomplishments. We live in a world where people hire the professional and the person, so somehow you have to not only show your qualifications, but also that you’re a sometimes sarcastic, daring person who is constantly looking to improve, but may also have a soft side.

Maybe some of your tweets can convey that. Maybe a picture or two of your rescue dog or your crazy cat help get the message across about who you are away from work.

Either way, always remember that it’s the qualifications that get you hired, but people aren’t ignoring the quality of person these days.

 

 

COM0014: B2C and how Starbucks reaches out

By: Bryan Thiel


With Christmas right around the corner, it’s prime time for consumers. While there’s plenty of producers we can concentrate on that provide people with something to open up on Christmas morning, what about the ones that give you something to eat or drink while you shop for that special someone?

Starbucks and their holiday menu have quickly become a part of Christmas for many people. Whether it’s just the comfort of a warm beverage or an assortment of festive flavours, it seems like plenty go out of their way to make a pit stop for a Tall, Grande, or Venti while they’re out and about at the malls.

While their success is based on their product, one of the things that Starbucks has done well, is maintain their connection with their customers through their use of Social Media. As we’ve seen, many companies think of it as an afterthought and don’t use their social channels to their full extent. It seems that Starbucks is ahead of the trend socially, and have even made some interesting (some could call ‘experimental) moves to see if they pan out.

Facebook

One of the easiest places to humanize a company is Facebook. The reason why is because your interactions aren’t collapsed. People can go to your page and instantly see your interactions with your customer base, rather than having to open up individual Tweets and posts to see how you connect with your audience. Starbucks has done an excellent job of balancing both a professional and personal approach with this. They respond almost equally to fan posts complimenting their products, and customer questions and inquiries.

 

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A perfect example of Starbucks’ willingness to both casually engage in conversation and support their customers.

It’s their willingness to respond that not only endears them to their customers, but also takes the edge off of those negative instances. Many people will go overboard in their negativity online in an effort to get attention, but those that are active online see that Starbucks will listen to their criticism whether it is positive or negative, so they feel less of a need to be too extreme in their posts.

Twitter

If you think their Facebook presence is impressive, Starbucks has gone to all new lengths on Twitter to make sure their bases are covered in terms of what their consumers could want or need.

 

Starbucks has countless Twitter accounts including ones for the countries and continents they can be found in (Canada, Indonesia, U.K., etc.), one for job opportunities (Starbucks Jobs), and one for ideas (@MyStarbucksIdea). Not only do they use their accounts for corporate purposes, but they’ve opened them up with opportunities for you to join their team and to contribute to their menu.

While the @MyStarbucksIdea account is used sparingly, the mere appearance of it adds a level of credibility between Starbucks and its customers. It convinces buyers that the company wants to hear what you have to say about their products and any suggestions on what their menu should have. While the careers page is a simple approach, there aren’t many corporations that employ this strategy, and it continues to drive Starbucks-related traffic.

Starbucks has also made an effort to give a personal feel to their individual stores, re-posting photos from employees and owners, which in turn helps their prospects for their employment page.

Overall, the size of their digital footprint is impressive. At a time where people care almost as much about what you do online as what you sell, Starbucks has made strides in both, and have truly understood the idea that you can’t necessarily measure success online in dollars and cents.

COM0014: Target Audiences – Targeting the Home Chef

By Bryan Thiel


One of the joys of having a schedule dominated by night shifts, is enjoying day-time TV.

Ok, so it’s not really a joy as a lot day-time TV can be pretty tough to watch, but without it I wouldn’t have found a surprising passion of mine.

Cooking.

I was never really big on spending time in the kitchen as a kid…I was busier pretending I was a super hero, or a Jedi, or a dog (this happened). But as I got older and found myself with more free time during the day, or odd days off during the week, I discovered that I really enjoyed cooking.

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COM0014: Storytelling and Burying the Lead

By: Bryan Thiel


When it comes to writing, no one is perfect; as an old friend of mine says “that’s why all the greats drank”. There are so many things that we have to consider, and in the online world there are even more: Are we engaging the audience enough to keep them from just ‘bouncing’ away? Do they want to interact with us or share our content? While I’m lucky enough to have a background in many of the topics covered in lesson two, as I was thinking about what I’ve learned I came to the conclusion that it may be a realization rather than a reading: always be prepared to edit your work.

burying-the-lead-copy2I’m used to going back and fixing things. I work in a field where there are third and fourth (sometimes fifth) drafts, along with first cuts and final cuts. I have the benefit of going back and checking my spelling, or making sure I’ve kept things in context. In the real world, in real time, we don’t get to go back and fix things like things speeches or conversations that, on the record, show our true character.

The ability to fix things is an important one, because as you’re creating content you’re making big decisions that sometimes evolve over the life of your piece. Not all of our ideas stay the same over the course of our writing so we have to be on our toes, as if we were waiting for a foe to show a fatal flaw that we didn’t see at first: Perhaps the smallest detail (like what someone eats) can set them off, but we don’t know that at first. But as our work evolves we discover that information, and through our process we can work it back in.

Editing even helps with the crux of the lesson: burying the lead. When you write, you’re given all of the power and all of the information; it’s not voted on. And while people can change for the worst during a process like this as frustration, fear, and anger set in, information can only become more plentiful the more you research and write. Through research, maybe the narrative changes. Maybe what you once thought was a joke becomes real, and you have to change your approach. Maybe something people believed to be a spoof or a fleeting moment of poorly-timed self-appreciation was discovered as an authentic gesture with real repercussion.

Maybe Donald Trump becomes President.

And maybe, if I had edited this, I would have never buried the lead.

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Honestly I was stuck on how to approach this blog post, so I took a chance. When was the last time you took a chance in a public forum? Was it written? A speech in front of a crowd? And, most importantly, did it go well? Time will tell if this chance did! 🙂

**To be clear, this piece is not meant as a political statement; it is simply meant to show how one topic can evolve into another over the course of writing, how drastic that shift can be, and how valuable it is to be constantly looking over your content. It is not meant to insult or demean anyone’s views on the United States and the recent election.**