COM0015 – Blog 5: Out of the Box

Wow, I can’t believe it… my last blog post and assignment for the Algonquin Social Media program!  Now I only need to be concerned about keeping up my own blogging content, and social media accounts, and of course their monitoring and measurement.  When I started to program a seemingly long time ago, there were lots of things I didn’t know about online marketing and social media… mainly to do with metrics, measurement, and blogging.  But these have all become common place for me, and are all widely used and embraced by social media experts alike.  There are however, a couple of things that have come up in the past few weeks that I didn’t really expect to have applications in for online marketing.

The first one is Eventbrite (  I’ve used it multiple times in the past to register for conferences and other events, but had no idea that you could use it to search for events in a specific area.  Any time I have used it for registration, I’ve always gone directly to the registration page via a link from the hosting organization’s website. I plan on using the search function in the future to check out local events for both personal and professional interest, as well as using it to list the paid events offered by my company.

The other unexpected application I have found is Meetup (  I had first heard about Meetup a number of years ago, but it never really stayed on my radar.  I was always under the impression that it was geared towards leisure activities, and really had no applications in the business world… was I ever wrong!  This is a great platform for finding other like-minded professional, or ones that are in the same field.  Looking at it recently I found a number of events for individuals who are in the social media marketing field, as well as Career Development, and small business.  I’m excited to see what events I can be part of in the future, and convincing my company to host some free events to get out name better known.

This is the beauty of the social web, there are always new technologies presenting themselves.  Maybe they aren’t always used for their original intention, but web-based technologies are dynamic by nature.  I’m looking forward to seeing what is on the horizon, and how I will be able to integrate them with my social media marketing plans.

COM0015 – Blog #3: Professional Networking Now and In the Future

Networking has always been the bane of my professional life.  As someone who is terribly shy, the prospect of getting out and talking to complete strangers makes me die a little inside.  To add to that shyness, I’m also a true Introvert so networking in person literally sucks the energy right out of me.  All that being said, I’ve been getting better at it over the years.  The best advice I have come across for overcoming my fears of networking has come from the book Splash: An Introvert’s Guide to Being Seen, Heard and Remembered.  Definitely worth a read for any of my fellow Introverts.

Being the shy Introvert that I am, networking in the online world is my comfort zone.  I don’t need to worry about how I’m dressed, if I ate too much garlic at lunch, or have to keep up with the dreaded small talk!  While it may be within my comfort zone, after reading the lessons in this course, I’ve realized that I’ve got a lot of room for improvement, and need a good tune up in certain areas.

The Algonquin Social Media program has gotten me into blogging, and I am very thankful for that.  While I don’t maintain my own blog, I do maintain one for work, and my bio with attached picture is at the end of every post I write, and I slip my name into the list of keywords. This helps get my name more recognized, and people used to seeing my face.

While I seem to be doing well on the blogging front, my LinkedIn profile needs some serious attention. I went in to have a look at my profile the other day, and realized that my profile picture was over 10 years old!  I mean, it was a good picture, but was well overdue for an update.  My “resume” was also lacking in details, and didn’t reflect a bunch of my current activities.  When I updated it, I started getting a bunch of random messages from people in my network congratulating me on my new position, despite being in it for a few years already.  I guess it pays to stay current.

My other social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, are private accounts.  I don’t really like mixing my personal life with my work life more than I need to.  That’s not to say that I don’t have friends who are also colleagues, but I tend to get *a little* vocal about my political views around elections, and I don’t want to be putting off clients, or potential clients because their views are wrong.  I maintain the company Facebook and Twitter accounts, but my name is not associated with them.  I am thinking about creating a “public” Twitter account for myself that I can use in my professional life for networking purposes. Has anyone else done this for themselves?  I’d love to hear thoughts on it.

I have a handful of commitments for the dreaded face-to-face networking in the next year or so.  I typically go to conferences on Career Development about 3-4 times a year, mostly in Ontario.  There are also a number of other smaller professional development events that I go to about 5-6 times a year, again all in the Career Development field.  For these events I make sure that I’ve had a haircut recently, and have a stack of business cards on me before I head out the door.

My overall strategy is to make sure all of my social networks are up to date, with current bios and pictures so people can identify me when I am out at the in person events.  There is a definite uptake in the number of LinkedIn network requests, and Twitter follows that happen right after an event, so I will make sure to a few things to the content of these channels before I head out with my new haircut and stack of business cards.

COM0015 – Blog #2: Strong & Weak Organizations

It’s Canada Day, so I thought why not do an all-Canadian themed post for this assignment, and see how three companies based in this great country of ours are faring with their social media efforts.  Canada may be known internationally for some of companies like Tim Hortons and Lululemon, but I’ve chosen to look at some of our home grown gems in this post.


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One of my favourite retailers these days is Princess Auto; contrary to its name, they do not sell cars but instead specialize in farm, industrial, garage, hydraulics and surplus items… in other words, a do-it-yourselfer’s go-to for supplies.  Princess Auto is a 75 year-old Winnipeg, Manitoba based company that uses several social media platforms to engage with its customers.  Lately they are more active on Instagram, but are also active on Twitter and Facebook. In addition to usual post about new products and sales, Princess Auto also uses social media to show off their philanthropic efforts on a local and national level, encouraging customers to participate in the events, or contribute to the causes.  They also frequently solicit feedback from customers on products, and are very quick to respond to concerns and negative comments.  Over the past few months they have been running a contest called “The Ultimate Figure It Outer” where customers post pictures/video/stories to the Facebook/Instagram pages showcasing the best of their home-built contraptions that use materials from Princess Auto.  Subscribers have voted on their favourite creations, and have narrowed it down to three finalists for another round of voting; the winner gets announced later this month.


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One of my other favourite Canadian companies that has embraced social media is Joe Rocket Canada.  They are a twenty-five year old maker of motorcycle/motocross equipment and apparel based in Windsor, Ontario.  Since their company benefits greatly from visual marketing, Facebook and Instagram have been a natural fit.  They use both platforms to showcase their collection of merchandise, as well as their sponsorships for various motorsports/motocross events.  Joe Rocket Canada also encourages customers to upload pictures of them using their products, and share honest reviews.  When reviews are not favorable they act quickly to resolve issues, often going over and above to fix things.  In fact when I shared a picture of my badly damaged jacket from my accident they sent me a private message asking for my address; they sent me a get-well card, a bunch of swag, and a sizeable discount coupon.   Additionally Joe Rocket Canada have jumped on the “brand ambassador” bandwagon appointing artist, and motorcycle enthusiast Kristine Vodon.  She was introduced to the audience when they were running a contest where followers could submit pictures of their motorcycles to the Facebook and Instagram pages; the winner received an original drawing of their motorcycle by Kristine Vodon.


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While these two Canadian organizations have demonstrated great social media strategies, there is one in particular that is close to home that really needs to help.  When I say close to home I mean it quite literally as it is where I live, the Town of Newmarket, Ontario.  Their social media presence is less strategy, and more “we should probably put something on Facebook every now and then.”  Despite having a population of over 90,000 and growing, their social media efforts and the way they connect with residents really could use some help.  For example, every year on Canada Day they spend thousands of dollars putting on a great fireworks display; I wanted to find out what time they are starting, and if there are parking restrictions where they are.  I posted a message on their Facebook page this past week, which has no mention of the event, asking this… no response from anyone, just others asking the same question, or speculating on answers.  Really they are missing out on an opportunity to promote town events and provide real-time announcements.  The Town of Newmarket is used to one-sided communication, and needs to be open to accepting two way communication that is fostered by social media.  Their main objective should be interacting with residents – answering questions in a timely manner, directing to appropriate resources, and taking feedback to the right people.  Having just a couple people on staff that can do this regularly on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter would allow them to meet this objective.

COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools & Sources

adult chill computer connection

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The Algonquin College Social Media Program has presented me with a wealth of knowledge and different ways of approaching social media, and has shown countless ways to listen/monitor social media content that is important/relevant.  I have also learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and it takes some experimenting to figure out what works best. Because I work in such a specialized field, with comparatively little content available, some of the more popular tools haven’t been particularly effective, but I have landed on a couple of things that seem to do the trick for me.  The key tool that I utilize for listening/monitoring is Google Alerts, tied into Feedly to make it easier to review results.  I started utilizing this way back when I took Monitoring and Measurement; I created lists of keywords that I have tweaked over time, and continue to change as new trends emerge.  Google Alerts has been useful, not only because it is free, but once it is up and running, it needs very little maintenance.  It also allows me to filter out terms that are similar, but do not apply to my company’s products, or the industry.

After perusing and trying out a number of different listening/monitoring tools, it struck me that I was really just over-complicating things.  As it turns out, the easiest and least time consuming method is to manually search Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, using many of the same keywords that I utilize with Google Alerts.  While this may not work well for a large scale operation, my industry is small, and fairly specialized.  The area where doing a manual search really shines is in closed groups; to the best of my knowledge there are no tools that can do this.  I get a lot of information from the groups I belong to, and a lot of that comes from searching specific terms.

Speaking strictly from a work perspective, my absolute go-to for industry news and updates is Career Wise, put out by Contact Point. It is an aggregator of the top articles, blogs, events, etc. that is published weekly.  It covers anything and everything to do with Career Counselling and Career Development in Canada.  Contact Point is also a huge influencer in the field of Career Development in Canada, so being retweeted, or included in Career Wise is a great accomplishment.  The other source I go to for industry news and updates is LinkedIn; there are a number of influencers who publish content on a daily/weekly basis that I follow.  The one downside to this is that there is no filter, the content comes straight from the author, and it is up to me, and the rest of the readers to determine the content’s value.  Of course, being social media, there is the opportunity for immediate feedback and dialogue.

Overall, these tools and sources have been working for me for some time; while I do periodically revisit my keywords list when there are new products, programs, or legislation. I don’t really feel the need to change how I listen/monitor. I am however curious to see what others, who work in niche industries do for listening/monitoring social media. Let me know by leaving a comment below.

COM0014 – Blog 7 – Personal Reflection

What makes great digital content?  It certainly isn’t page after page of marketing copy, full of buzzwords like “synergy” or “optimization”; nor is it the incoherent ramblings of Grandpa Simpson jumping from topic to topic, boring the life out of his audience.  That’s not to say that he is completely wrong with his approach; storytelling is a great technique for connecting with your audience, as long as you do it right.

To make sure that you are telling your audience the right stories, you need to know a little about them first. This doesn’t mean just finding out basic demographics like age, income, gender, etc., but also lifestyle choices, hobbies, and other preferences. From a business perspective, you also need to know what type of clients you have; are you targeting consumers directly, or business/government clients?  Knowing this will impact your approach.

Even after you have discovered some of our audiences’ unique traits, there are some general rules to follow when it comes to great storytelling; always speak/write in an active voice; it is clearer, and by nature is more engaging.  It’s also important to write how you speak – keep the flow natural, and don’t be afraid to use colloquialisms, as long as it is appropriate for your audience.

Ultimately the story you tell is yours, but it is up to you to figure out the best way to communicate it to your audience.  However it may look, make sure the style, formatting, and message is consistent across platforms, and over time – Make sure you have your own identity, and communicate it to your audience.  Be it a personal blog, or a marketing strategy research is your friend.  Once you’ve decided who your audience is, and the best approach for reaching them, the rest is up to you to let your creativity flow.

COM0014 – Blog 6 – Do People Know Your Story?

What is your industry’s greatest flaw?

Without beating around the bush too much, I can easily say that my industry’s greatest flaw is lack of recognition.  Few people outside the industry actually know what Career Development is, and even fewer can actually describe what Career Development Practitioners actually do.  When I meet new people outside of my world of work, and they ask what I do, I sigh because I know I have to tell a story to get them to understand.  If I don’t have the time, or really don’t feel like getting into it, I say I work in an office, or I’m a paper-pusher.  Otherwise it goes something like this: “Remember when you were in school, and didn’t know what you wanted to do for a career?  Then the guidance/career counsellor gave you a test to take?… Yeah, I didn’t follow its advice either, but that’s essentially what I do.”  It’s usually followed by a few “ahs” and nods of semi-understanding.  I’ve even thought of changing jobs at many points just so I could say something like “I fix cars”, or “I breed and raise sea monkeys for export.”

Thankfully there have been a number of initiatives in the past few years to fix this flaw, and raise the profile of the industry.  One of our national associations has been spreading the use of the #careerdevelopmentmatters hashtag on social media, and provincial organizations have started instituting certification for Career Development Practitioners so we can have something to hang on our walls, and show off to our clients.  I am hopeful that someday soon, I will be able to say “I am a Career Development Practitioner,” and people will know what that means.


Much like Kelso’s father, no one really understands what I do either.

COM0014 – Blog 5: Personal Brand


Credit: Brad Whitehorn

I consider myself a Career Development Professional, despite the fact that I do not work with end-user clients, nor am I in management.  I specialize in resources for the career development industry, but I am not an agency information officer.  Within the industry I am kind of an anomaly; many of the jobs in Career Development have pretty clear-cut descriptions, but there are very few companies that offer the same things as the company that I work for that distributes, publishes, and conducts independent research.  My number one goal in my position is to find the most appropriate resources for Career Development Professionals to use with their clients.

What are some personal qualities or characteristics that set you apart from your competitors?

I like to have conversations; be it in person, over the phone, an email, or even in a blog post, I like to feel as though I am sitting down and talking over a coffee.  Personally I hate it when people start into a sales pitch without me actually saying what, if anything I am interested in.  When I write blog posts, I like to write very casually, and leave lots of room for feedback.  I’ve developed a lot of great business relationships this way, because my clients know that when they talk to me, I’m not going to push a product on them, and move on.  I have a competitor that is big into self-promotion, and comes across as a sales person.  I know that this attitude has just sent more people my way.

What have you done lately to make yourself stand out?

I have spent a lot of time listening on a couple of industry-specific social media pages, but now I am starting to get my name out there.  As well, up until fairly recently I have been using my company’s social media fairly anonymously.  However I have now started putting my name on things.  I have been blogging about areas and materials that I consider myself an expert at under my name.

What would your colleagues say is your best trait?

I work for a small company, so my clients are my colleagues.  I would say that they appreciate my honesty, and my willingness to follow through.  I will not sell them something because it makes me a more money, I will recommend what works best for them.  As well, when I they ask me something I don’t have an answer to, I will do some research.  Sometimes this means that I don’t make a sale, but it does mean that my customer will return in the future.

What do you do that you are most proud of?

Recently I wrote a couple of blogs on career assessments, and shared them on the Facebook group of a national organization; the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and it gained some new customers.  The posts were also picked up by yet another national industry group, and was included in their recommended blog posts.

COM0014 – Blog 4 – B2C Case Study

It is pretty much a given these days that large corporations have embraced using social media platforms to engage with their audiences. They also have entire departments that are tasked with running their social media campaigns, and are ready to interact with anyone at any time of day.  But what about small, local businesses.  Local businesses have it harder as they don’t have huge marketing budgets, and unless they are situated in an area with a lot of walk-by traffic, they need to find other ways to attract new business.  When talking about small businesses engaging their customers, I like to use my… or I should say my dogs’ vet clinic, the Newmarket Animal Hospital as an example.

There are a lot of veterinary clinics in Newmarket, Ontario… we’re crazy about our pets here.  The Newmarket Animal Hospital has taken to Facebook to engage with their audience.  They do a good job of posting fairly regularly with a good balance of posts about general pet care, and their services.  In February for pet dental health month they made posts about keeping your pet’s teeth clean, and had a promotion for discount oral health checkups.  This works well as their current clients can share these posts with their own networks and groups as word of mouth advertising.

During their regular business hours, they are very quick to respond to feedback, questions that arise from their posts, and feedback in the reviews section.  An incident occurred a while back where a dissatisfied customer left a very negative review; the person in charge of the social media account was quick to share their side of the story, without pointing fingers.  They even had other clients come to their defense because of their good reputation in the community.

For the most part, the Newmarket Animal Hospital does a decent job with the way they are using their chosen social media outlet; they respond quickly, in a sincere way that everyone appreciates.  They could however be posting a little more frequently, even if it is just picture of their clients… who doesn’t like seeing pictures of adorable pets?

COM0014 Blog 3 Target Audiences

Communicating effectively with your audience/customers is the cornerstone of any social media strategy; and working with diverse groups adds an additional layer of challenges to it. My company’s largest product line is Personality Dimensions – a personally assessment tool.  It is available in four languages, and is sold widely in international markets outside of Canada including: Hong Kong, Australia, and the USA.  When my company began development with the product, extensive cultural research was undertaken to make it as universally appealing as possible.  Having access to this research has made it easier for me understand our target demographics.

While there are geographic and cultural differences amongst our target demographics, there are a number of similarities between them.  Clients mostly work in social and human services, i.e. career development, HR management, family services, etc.  There is a fairly even split in age demographics, a little under half are baby-boomers, also a little under half are generation X.  This group is increasing in size, and moving into higher positions as the former are retiring.  There is also a growing trend of millennials entering as front-line workers.  About 85% of these groups combined are female, which does pose some challenges for me.  The group as a whole is widely educated, having at least a two-year college degree, and many have bachelor’s degrees as well. In Canada, Australia, and the USA, English is the most widely spoken, however other languages have a significant presence. In Hong Kong, Cantonese is most widely spoken, however most of our clients also speak English.

Maintaining a blog on Personality Dimensions has been instrumental in reaching out to the younger demographics in our client group.  I am able to reach out to different communities by posting on a variety of topics, feature guest bloggers, and get feedback through surveys.

In many communities, the advice of leaders and respected influencers does more than any kind of advertising can.  My biggest challenge now is how to reach out to these individuals to get an “endorsement.” Please comment below if you have gone down this road, and share how well it worked for you.

COM0014 – Blog 2 – Storytelling & Communication Styles

When I hear the word “storytelling,” I immediately think of Grampa Simpson spouting off nonsensical ramblings about wearing an onion on his belt during the war.  While this is a form of storytelling, it doesn’t translate well to a blog post.  In social media, storytelling is all about communicating a message in a concise, meaningful, easy to understand, and familiar way.  When using storytelling on social media, there are few important things to keep in mind…

  • Your writing needs to be clear and concise – You’re not Margaret Atwood. It is important to get to the point in your first few sentences, and be clear about what you want to get across. Make sure your writing is interesting, and always lead with your most important information.  Readers will skim titles, and the first few sentences, but will only read on if it is appealing to them
  • Make sure you check over your writing before posting it; read it out loud if you need to. Spelling and grammatical errors will turn off readers, and lessen your credibility in the subject area.  Remember there is always a keyboard warrior out there ready to pounce on your mistakes.
  • Keep your audience engaged by writing in an active voice, as opposed to a passive voice. Write as it comes naturally to you, and keep your tone positive; readers will respond accordingly.

After you have hooked your audience in with a catchy title, killer opening, and well written copy, you can’t just leave them hanging. Always include a call to action; this is the reason why you have written your piece, and what you want them to do next.

Concise writing has always been difficult for me.  It has become more natural for me the more I do it, but I often feel like I am not putting enough in.  Do the rest of you share this struggle?  How do you keep your word count down, and still get your point across?  Share your comments below.