Why Do We Tell Stories?

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Our lives are made up of stories that we want to share with others. When we don’t share our stories, it makes me think of that common question, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no-one around to hear it, does it make a sound?” But sharing our stories doesn’t just benefit us. Oftentimes, people want to hear your story. They want to be able to relate to it and use it to understand you better. This same premise can be applied to companies. People want to know your company’s story to better understand the business and what it has to offer. A business’ story may be made up of various storylines, incorporating the stories of its employees and founders into its own tale. The company’s story is what makes it special and gives it personality. That is why it is so important to incorporate stories into digital content.

How Stories Can Guide Content Creation:

Content can be guided by the company’s story in various ways. In general, regularly posting on social media allows the company to keep its story up-to-date. Over time, the posts will show a timeline of special events, business promotions, etc. It can be made more personal by incorporating the stories of employees (i.e. employee features). However, it is also good if content relates back to the root story of the organization. For example, if an organization was founded in a small town and grew nationally, they may consider incorporating information about their original town in their posts.

Storytelling doesn’t just have to be about sharing the business’ story, though. It doesn’t even have to be about the business’ employees and founders. In an article by Sujan Patel titled, “16 Companies That Are Killing It With Brand-Driven Storytelling“, Patel expresses appreciation for Goodlife Fitness’, which ‘ #shareyourstory campaign, which featured the inspirational stories of their customers.

In Conclusion…

When I tell stories, I want to be able to showcase special events and milestones that my business reaches, commemorating them in posts on my social media platforms. However, I would also like to make sure that the roots and inspiration of my company is showcased as well, by regularly referring back to my original story. Do you know of any companies with a great background story?

Unexpected Web Applications

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When I first began Algonquin College’s Social Media Marketing certificate program, I was relatively unfamiliar with most social media tools. I was mostly familiar with Facebook and YouTube, the two platforms I use most often. Because I had experience creating content for Facebook and YouTube, I was fairly knowledgeable of the built-in tracking monitoring features that they had to offer. I had used the analytics in the past to judge whether or not people were viewing the videos/images I posted. I had also attempted to work with Google Analytics, even taking an online training program through Google, but with limited success. Throughout the Social Media Marketing program, I have become more familiar with other social media programs for posting content and monitoring.


Brand24 Logo

Brand24 surprised me, because it was simple to use and allowed me to monitor a company that was not my own using a keyword search. I used Brand24 for my monitoring project in the Monitoring & Measurement class. Through the program, I was able to enter keywords and phrases related to Mirvish Productions and discover a large amount of useful data, such as mention reach. I guess it just goes to show you how the internet enables people to discover information about almost anything – even if you would think it was private.


Similarweb Logo

Similarweb was another tool I used for my Monitoring and Measurement class. When I was told that I should find out information about website traffic to the Mirvish website, I had been stumped, not sure how I was supposed to access such information without being an official website manager for the company. Similarweb is an excellent, free tool that enables me to view statistics related to website usage by simply entering the URL of the site I am interested in. Through Similarweb, I was able to view data related to topics such as traffic volume, visitor gender, etc.

Instagram, TikTok, & Twitter

Instagram, TikTok, & Twitter Logos

Although most people would likely have developed a personal relationship with Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter before signing up for a Social Media Marketing class, I had little to no experience with either platform. Through this program, I have learned how to use each site to locate content, search for topics using hashtags, etc. I think that this will be beneficial for me moving forward, since each of these platforms are very popular and can serve as excellent marketing tools.

Overall, I have learned a lot about social media throughout this course, and have found various tools that I believe will help me in my career and personal life moving forward (i.e. now I might be less lost when someone says, “Add me on insta”). Which tool do you think is the most useful for someone working in the Social Media Marketing industry?

The Summer of Dream Occasions: My Teenage Summer Company

Unknown Source – Dream Occasions Cotton Candy at the Buskers’ Festival

I recently read an article by John Jantsch titled, “Do People Know Your Story?” It discussed the benefits of sharing personal stories related to your business. It got me thinking about the summer I turned 16 and started my business, Dream Occasions. Dream Occasions was a party planning business which offered cotton candy, bouncy castle rentals, decorating services, etc. Jantsch asked, “What is your greatest achievement/disappointment?” The entire summer was a learning experience, so I had various achievements and disappointments. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Video Content Creation

I knew very little about social media marketing when I first started my business I really wanted to get the word out, though, so I started thinking of interesting content to create. I started putting together little videos/commercials. I really liked the way they turned out, though they were not professional by any means. Sometimes, I like to re-watch them like home videos – which is what they were, technically. Here is my favorite video:

Dream Occasions Facebook Ad – The Cotton Candy Witch

Although I considered this an achievement, I did run into a major issue. I shared the video on my personal Facebook page and my friends wanted to share it. Unfortunately, for some reason, they couldn’t share it. I guess it had something to do with my safety settings. That was a slightly embarrassing disappointment. I eventually managed to work it out by uploading the video to YouTube and sharing the link.

Working for the Mentor

Summer Company Graduation

For my program graduation, my mentor from the small business center hired me to handle decorations and the concession stand. It was a great achievement, being hired by a company to provide party services for a large event. However, I was disappointed to find out that I couldn’t actually use tape to hang decorations in the venue. This taught me to plan ahead for events by asking whether or not I would be able to use fasteners for decorations.

Dream Occasions Logo

I agree that it is important to show the personal stories behind businesses. What is your favorite business background story?

Workin’ The Network

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Building a professional network is extremely important, because professional networks help you connect with people who may benefit you from a business standpoint. Whether you are a job hunter hoping to connect with a potential employer, an Outreach Consultant looking for partnership opportunities for your organization, a Fundraiser looking for donations, or any sort of professional looking to make positive connections, networking is key. Thanks to social media, there are various ways to network online, in addition to in-person opportunities. Right now, my professional network is fairly small. Read on for my ideas for expanding my professional network.

Networking on the Net

The internet allows us to connect with anyone else on the planet who also has access to the internet. According to Earth Web, this equals a daily total of 4.95 billion. Here are a few of my favorite ways to locate networking opportunities online:

Facebook Groups – There are many Facebook Groups available that focus on specific topics. These groups allow members to interact with individuals who share similar interests. This common ground presents an excellent opportunity to strike up a conversation with other professionals in your field, if you choose groups that focus on topics that relate to your field that is.

Eventbrite – Eventbrite is a website that allows people to promote and distribute tickets to events. The events can be either virtual or in-person. There are hundreds of virtual events currently being advertised on Eventbrite, many of which are free. You can choose from topics such as arts, wellness, business, etc. Taking a class or joining a webinar presents a great opportunity to interact with other professionals and learn more about your field.

Networking In-Person

In-person networking has taken a bit of a hit over the past few years as a result of COVID-19. I believe that one of the most important first steps to take in networking is to make sure that the situation is safe and comfortable for everyone involved. Lately, I have been working on expanding my in-person professional network with the help of the internet. I located a new volunteer opportunity that allows me to make new connections while supporting the community through a simple Google search. Volunteering is great for building your professional network, because you are able to meet new people and demonstrate skills which could make you a desirable employee/colleague/business partner in the future.

In Conclusion…

Facebook groups, Eventbrite events, and volunteering are my main professional networking strategies right now. I think that each option will provide me with excellent opportunities that I must make sure to take advantage of by conducting myself professionally. What suggestions do you have for building a professional network?

The Catherine Martin Brand

My Facebook Cover – Painting By Thomas Kinkade

Less is more…

As far as personal branding goes, my strategy throughout most of my life has been “less is more”. My go-to social media platform is Facebook. I opened my account when I turned 13 and started out by friending family members and close family friends. Over the past ten years, my Facebook friends total has expanded to the whopping number of 43. I never add anyone that I have not met personally and spent time with recreationally or through work.

When I post, I project a professional, artistic image. I like my page to be uncluttered, and post relatively infrequently. When I do make a post, it usually showcases a project I have been working on or recent accomplishments. I think that posting infrequently shows my friends that, when I do post, the content is particularly important to me. I usually receive positive feedback on my posts, though there isn’t much engagement because I have few Facebook friends and maintain strict security settings.

September 6 Post – Sandcastle Contest Winner
June 6 – Graduation Announcement

…Or is it?

My “Less is more” approach generally seems to fit my personal needs. However, from a promotional/marketing standpoint, it is usually considered better to post regularly and keep up with current trends. This keeps your audience regularly reminded of who you are and what you have to offer, and will likely make you easier to locate through search engine optimization. As an employee, I have been responsible for creating social media content for a library two years in a row. For this job, I created multiple videos for Facebook and YouTube, which were made available to the public each week. Although they were created to promote the library, they featured hobbies and interests of mine, such as picture books I enjoyed as a child, stop-motion, arts & crafts, etc. When selecting materials, I did incorporate themes and activities that I knew would appear to the target child audience, such as video games and fairy tales. You can view a few of my creations below:

Three Little Pigs Claymation For Cramahe Library
Video Game Week Introduction & Mario Craft

So, In The End…

I don’t post very often on my personal social media account, because I like to reserve posting for topics that are of high importance to me. I also keep my friends list short, focusing on people I have connected with in person. However, this does not mean that I always believe less is more. When working for a company, I enjoy creating a wide variety of content that works to engage audiences while still reflecting my own personal style.

Do you think less is more when creating your personal brand, or do you believe it is more important to post regularly than to simply post on special occasions?

B2C Case Study: Netflix

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What is a B2C company? This is the first question which must be answered before we enter into a discussion about the social media promotion of Netflix, a B2C company. “B2C” stands for “Business To Consumer”. In short, B2C companies sell their product/service directly to the customer, as opposed to selling their wares to another business that will sell for them. When you hear this description, your thoughts may go directly to bake sales, quilt shops, and farmers’ markets. However, Netflix is considered a B2C company because they offer movie/television streaming subscriptions directly to their customers, although only some of their content is produced by Netflix themselves. Anyway, this gives you a little bit of information about the type of company Netflix is. Now, we can dive into their social media techniques.

Marketing Methods

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Personally, Facebook is the most effective marketing tool that Netflix has used on me. While scrolling through Facebook posts, I am constantly distracted by posts by Netflix. In addition to posting commercials, they also share clips of videos and tv shows from pivotal moments, such as dreamy-eyed scenes during romantic comedies or explosions during action movies. They also share movie trivia, countdowns to show releases, etc. I have actually ended up watching things in response to Netflix posts I have accidentally stumbled across while on Facebook. Netflix promotions show up in my feed. However, you can check out Netflix’s official Facebook page here.

Being a video streaming company, Netflix also has a very good YouTube page, with hundreds of trailers and behind-the-scenes videos. They actually have multiple channels, including a Netflix Jr. channel which can be found at the bottom of their main YouTube page.

Netflix’s Twitter page is set up similar to their Facebook page, with commercials, trivia, movie posters, and memes:

Netflix Twitter Post: Gray Man Meme

Overall, Netflix does an excellent job of assuring they have coverage on social media. Their company has become such a large part of social media that it has found its way into movies and tv shows:

Clip From ABC Studio’s Once Upon A Time Season 4, Episode 1: A Tale of Two Sisters

Communication with Customers

The tone of the posts shared by Netflix really stands out to me, because they read as though they are being posted by an individual, not a company. One example would be the Gray Man meme posted on Twitter shown above. Along with the meme, Netflix adds the caption, “me and my friends making plans every weekend.” Here is another example: On August 2nd, Netflix posted, “The Gilmore Girls title sequence is perfection, no one can tell me otherwise”, with a clip of the title sequence:

Netflix Facebook Post

This posting style makes it feel less like a corporation trying to market to you, and more like a friend is suggesting a good show for you to watch.

In order to see how Netflix is communicating with their potential customers, I checked in on a few conversations they have been involved in. Scrolling through comments on their Facebook page, I was surprised to find that Netflix appears to rarely join into conversations. Rather, they get things started with a post and allow people to enter into a discussion in the comments. It reminds me of the style of a book club, where everyone reads the same book and a host gets the group started on talking about a specific aspect of the story. This strategy seems to work well for opening up dialogue, although it doesn’t necessarily show off Netflix’s listening skills.

Overall, it would appear that Netflix’s marketing strategy is working. They connect with potential viewers through a variety of social media outlets. In their posts, they write with a friendly tone, contributing to their “Netflix & chill” vibe. They do not seem to engage in many conversations, rather, they post conversation starters that get people talking.

*Full Disclosure*

I was distracted multiple times while doing research for this post.

Growing Your Theatre Audience – By Understanding Your Target Audience on Social Media

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Knowledge about promotion in the theatre industry is of high importance to me this summer, since I am interning with a theatre company. Part of my job includes outreach. Many people consider theatre audiences to be particularly made up of upper-class society. This is the image depicted in movies and, in some cases, it is a fairly realistic representation. I did some digging into the demographics of theatre-goers.

According To Broadway…

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Broadway is a central hub for the performing arts. It is the home of large-scale productions, famous actors, and enamored audiences. So, clearly it is a good place to look for a picture of the theatre world. Here are some Broadway demographics, retrieved from a research report by The Broadway League:

1. The average age of audience members was 42.3

2. The average yearly income of audience members was $261,000

3. The average ticket price was $145.60

4. 81% of audience members aged 25+ had finished college

5. Most audience members did not attend the theatre alone

One interesting fact when it comes to the world of marketing is that, “twenty-two percent [of theatre-goers] said that they relied primarily on word-of-mouth from people they knew” to hear about Broadway plays.

*This information is from the 2018-2019 season

Overall, these statistics would support the Hollywood image of well-to-do couples attending the theatre with their equally rich friends. However, the world of theatre has room to accommodate all sorts of audience members.

Mixed Company Theatre

Image from Mixed Company Theatre Production

Mixed Company Theatre, the organization I am currently interning for, caters to a different collection of theatre-goers than Broadway. While wealthy patrons are welcome, Mixed Company Theatre focusses on serving the community. Each production serves to “inspire social change”. The topics they cover are sometimes controversial, such as how to handle the pandemic. After watching the show, audience members are able to join in and voice how they would handle the situation.

The current production explores the topics of suicide, mental health, and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). The target audience for this production is seniors. A major source of promotion for this production is connecting with community organizations that may have interested members/visitors, such as retirement homes and seniors centers. The event is also promoted through social media and an electronic newsletter.

In Conclusion…

Theatre audiences vary. Usually, they are made up of middle-aged and slightly older members of society. However, that is not always the case (I first started attending outdoor theatre as a toddler). People also tend to visit the theatre in groups, it’s fun to have someone to share the experience with. Word-of-mouth plays a large role in promoting performances. Social media is also crucial for spreading the word. The Broadway League states that Google Searches are often used to discover plays. Therefore, using Search Engine Optimization Strategies, such as using popular industry-related keywords, would make performances easier to locate. Overall, it important for theatre promoters to be aware of who will be interested in their productions. The demographics provide guidance, and the content of the play will play a role in who may be likely to attend as well.

Social Media Wins & Losses

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The world of social media is large, with people and organizations from all over the world wanting their piece of the pie. Everyone wants to stand out and receive respect for the content they create (through likes, shares, comments, etc.). When it comes to businesses, it is extremely important that they be able to create content draws in potential customers, and that they develop connections with potential clients by listening and communicating with them. Not every business succeeds, but a few organizations have done particularly well. Let’s take a look at some social media wins and losses.

Social Media Win: Sony PlayStation

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The brand names “Sony” and “PlayStation” are extremely recognizable. Though not everyone may realize that the two companies are connected (I did not realize that Sony owned PlayStation until I started researching PlayStation itself), most people would recognize both companies as being key players in the technology industry. Being a tech-based organization, it makes sense that PlayStation would make effective use of social media marketing.

According to this article on Econsultancy, PlayStation “is the most followed brand on Twitter”. During the pandemic, PlayStation chose to support the stay at home movement through their campaign #PlayAtHome. During their campaign, they allowed people to download a few of their games for free to play at home. Econsultancy says that more that 10 million people downloaded the games during the campaign – that’s quite the reach!

Being a regular Facebook user, I decided to take a peek at the PlayStation Facebook page. One of the first things I noticed was that the page said, “Welcome to the PlayStation Canada Facebook community. We want to hear from you and encourage comments, critiques, questions and suggestions.” So, PlayStation makes it clear that they are listening to what their audience has to say. As expected, PlayStation has posted multiple videos featuring their video games. They also seem to have worked with people’s love of sharing cat photos on social media with a campaign that had people sending in pictures of their cats alongside their PlayStation remotes. Overall, PlayStation seems to be succeeding in attracting people to their social media, developing a sense of online community, and connecting with large audiences.

Cat Photo Posted on PlayStation Facebook Page

Social Media Win: Dove

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Dove is a company that strives to promote wellness and natural beauty. One of the most memorable campaigns for me is Dove’s #ShowUs Project. For #ShowUs, Dove uses models that do not fit into the standard, stereotypical definition of beauty. For example, their models may have large beauty marks, bald heads, armpit hair, or a few extra pounds. I think the main attraction for these photos is that people are shocked to see models that do not fit into the “norm”. Once people are shocked by the photos, they realize that Dove is trying to advocate for appreciation of women no matter what they look like. According to Dove, “Project #ShowUs is changing the way media & advertising represent women.”

Dove also has other campaigns that focus on true beauty, such as #BeautyBias and My Beauty My Say which can be found on their website.

I headed to Dove’s Facebook Page. Right now, it seems that they are focusing on a new campaign called #DetoxYourFeed. They are encouraging parents to teach their daughters that social media can decrease self-esteem by showing unrealistic images.

Overall, through multiple campaigns that advocate for women, Dove attracts attention to their business and promotes wellness for women.

Images from Dove’s #ShowUs Campaign

Social Media Loss: IHOP

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Full disclosure: it is my personal opinion is that IHOP’s social media campaigns have a tendency to fall flat, so to speak. However, some may feel that IHOP is excellent at attracting attention and, so, their social media campaigns are successful.

One of IHOP’s controversial campaigns would be IHOb. This campaign was listed in Jose Angelo Gallegos’ article, “The Best Social Media Marketing Campaigns of 2019 (So Far)“. Expecting to be dazzled, I ended up confused when I read about the campaign. Apparently, to drum up business for their new line of burgers, IHOP changed their name on Twitter to IHOb. A few flaws that came to my mind were:

1. If I saw that a business had removed the “P” for pancakes from its name, I would assume that they no longer sold pancakes.

2. After IHOb was introduced, I would expect that there was a company by this name and may look for it to purchase a burger from in the future when, in fact, this was just a temporary marketing campaign.

3. Why is the “b” lower-cased when the “P” is upper-cased?

So, clearly, despite the fact that this campaign is celebrated for bringing attention to IHOP and their new burger product, I was less-than impressed by the marketing strategy. Upon further research into marketing campaigns, I came across IHOP again. This time, in an article by Purple Frog titled, “10 of the Worst Examples of Social Media Marketing Campaigns“.

In the article, a social media post by IHOP was shared:

IHOP Tweet

This Tweet is remarkably inappropriate, especially when it is being posted by a company you would expect to be serving brunch to friendly families.

In general, after viewing IHOP’s social media, I am left with negative feelings towards the company. Nevertheless, it is clear that they have received a great deal of coverage from their social media posts. Maybe coverage was simply all they were aiming for or, perhaps, other people do not find their campaigns as confusing and offensive as I do.

In Conclusion…

When a business is designing a social media campaign, they have to consider it carefully so that it will affect their target audience in they way they would like them to be affected. PlayStation has reached millions of people through their social media campaigns, and ensures potential customers on social media that they want to hear from them. Dove uses their campaigns to advocate for the appreciation of true beauty in addition to themselves. Meanwhile, IHOP’s campaigns feel a little poorly planned to me. However, they still do receive plenty of coverage. Different people respond in different ways to social media campaigns. Businesses just have to assure that they are choosing the right campaign for them and their audience.

The Stories of Our Lives

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Telling a story seems like such a simple, singular thing to do, however, just one person’s story contributes to a grand web of stories that connects people from every place and time. Therefore, it is important to consider what your storytelling goal is, and judge how to properly share your story with your audience. Sometimes, stories are personal, containing real life facts meant only to be shared between the storyteller and their loved ones. Other times, an individual designs a story with a main goal in mind. Perhaps the storyteller is hoping to persuade others to share the same political views as them. Maybe, they want to write a fantasy story that will enrapture readers throughout the world. No matter what the story, there are a few truths that apply to every tale.

Firstly, the storyteller must always be conscious of who is listening to their story and adapt their storytelling style to fit the needs of their audience. The storyteller should start with the most important information, to assure that their listener hears the message, even if they do not attend to the whole story. The storyteller should speak, or write, clearly, using appropriate grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Depending on the audience, vocabulary and language may also need to be taken into consideration. With so many things to consider when telling a story, it is important for the storyteller to think through their stories before they share them.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Yet another truth is that stories are best when they are shared. Stories have been being shared since the early beginnings of civilization and have increased in complexity over time. The emergence of technology has enabled stories to be shared in ways that would previously have been considered impossible. Not only can we share internationally using the World Wide Web, we have even attempted to share our stories with the universe by leaving a Bible on the moon and sending songs and images into space on the Voyager.

Another fact is that everybody’s story is in some way connected to someone else’s. When you are born you become a part of a family tree. Genealogists have been tracking family trees for generations. If possible, every member’s name, date of birth, date of marriage, etc., is included. Just by existing, you become part of the human story. Fictional tales are based off one another as well. An excellent example is the tale of Cinderella. While you may be familiar with the Disney version, check out Rhodopis (The Egyptian Cinderella). Various versions of the tale can be found worldwide.

In conclusion, ever person is either intentionally or inadvertently involved in a worldwide conversation, contributing to the story of humanity. I believe that people should take an active role in their own stories and be conscious of the way their stories are perceived by others (i.e. controlling social media accounts to assure that only professional posts are made). What are some methods you use for telling your own story?

The Tools of the Trade

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The internet enables us to connect in ways that previous generations would have considered impossible. Not only are there tools available for networking, people are able to track the success of their online interactions in various ways. However, having all these different options available can be somewhat overwhelming. Today, I discuss a few of my favorite tools for listening to what your potential customers have to say.

Listening With Facebook

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Facebook is one of my favorite tools for both listening/monitoring for conversations about myself and the pages I manage, as well as keeping up-to-date with the current news. I must admit that one of the primary reasons I enjoy working with Facebook is that it is the platform I am most familiar with. I opened my first account once I reached the minimum age of 13, and have been using it as my main social media platform ever since. Over the years, I have become comfortable with the layout and the settings. Because of this, I was able to quickly adapt once I began using their monitoring services (Facebook Insights/Facebook Analytics) to keep track of what was being said of a company page I manage. Though Facebook for business differs slightly from personal Facebook accounts, it was not hard for me to recognize how to use the site properly. Though my partiality for Facebook stems from a comfortable knowledge of what Facebook has to offer, I am not alone in my regard for Facebook’s monitoring tools. In his article titled, A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Insights, Neil Patel states, “Facebook Insights is a powerful tool for those wanting to track user interaction on their Facebook business page. Facebook Insights […] can provide a wealth of information about your content and audience”.

When it comes to Facebook as a tool for news, I generally receive information in my personal feed that helps me remain aware of current events. Several of my Facebook friends have large followings, and regularly post images, videos, and comments that relate to the news of the day.

Listening With Yahoo! News

Yahoo! News Logo from Google Play

Yahoo! News is another familiar favorite when it comes to discovering current news. It combines a variety of news topics in one place. The content is regularly updated, so the news is always up-to-date. When I am specifically looking for news, Yahoo! News is the first place I start. My consumption of news on Facebook is generally of a more causal nature.

Listening With Google Trends

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Google Trends is a listening/monitoring tool that I have recently become acquainted with. However, I have already recognized what an invaluable tool it can be. Google Trends allows users to find search terms that are popular. The website can be used to specifically analyze the popularity of search terms in certain areas (i.e. Canada, Worldwide). Users can further specify by topic, such as Arts & Entertainment, Food & Drink, Home & Garden, Business & Literature, etc.

So, the three resources I use for keeping up to date with media conversations are Facebook (for both monitoring and news), Yahoo! News, and Google Trends. However, there are a variety of tools available on the world wide web. Your tastes may be different than mine. Where do you turn to listen to social media conversations?