Tools of the Social Trade

Com0015 Blog 1, Tools & Sources

Following trends and listening for industry related news is important to be able to share current, relevant information with our audience. 

The easiest first step to accomplish this is with Google Alerts. Simply type in the business or keywords to monitor, and google will send us notifications if they pop up. This gives us the opportunity to quickly receive, review,  and if warranted, share the news in a timely fashion with our audience. 

Another option is RSS feeds. Whether through programs such as Feedly, this allows up to coordinate our news, blogs and updates so that we can gather everything in a single location to share out with our audience, keeping our accounts current and relevant.

Other options can include Reddit and the HuffingtonPost

News sources such as Twitter may not always be fully accurate. Sites like Snopes let you fact check a story if it makes you raise, or furrow an eyebrow.

Photo Jensen Ackles via AllMediaNY

My Tools of Choice

For the last few years my go to tool has been Hootsuite. It not only allows me to schedule posts, but also allows for listening with hashtags, keywords and mentions on certain platforms.

For local content within the Industries I follow, I rely on LinkedIn. As a professional network, most news posts are shared by experts in their field, which I find is a trustworthy source.

Most recently I discovered SocialBee. Similar to Hootsuite it has scheduling and monitoring options, but it also has the option to post evergreen content, and has its own RSS feed so it can be very all in one. Now I just have to become more proficient with it so that I can take full advantage of its uses and transfer my accounts over. 

Social Bee Overview via YouTube

Have you found a new tool to share? What makes it worth taking a look at?


Jensen Ackles Photo (date unknown) from AllMediaNY from…10506.19920..22921…0.0..0.117.740.2j5……0….1..gws-wiz-img…….35i39j0i67j0j0i8i30j0i24.nawBeidi5O0&ved=0ahUKEwiO24WT19jlAhXMu54KHe0zCh0Q4dUDCAc&uact=5#imgrc=KPxigmXxNzIZvM:

Social Bee Video (July 29, 2019) from YouTube

Com0014 Blog 7 Personal Reflection

Four down, one to go! What started as something to keep me busy after a new move, has turned into an amazing experience of self reflection and business set-up. A lot of what I have written as part of my Social Media Certificate is now being utilized as I set up my new website for Dandelion Digital. 

Although already experienced in social media for business the thing I really took away so far was about measurement and the importance of tracking what we do, and how it is received. Oh, and lets not forget…APA formatting. 

In this particular course focusing on Communication and storytelling, I truly enjoyed not only reading the work of my fellow “classmates” but reading the comments and encouragement we fed each other. That is the spirit of what we are striving for in our audience. So I guess, in this course my take away is the importance of our audience. 

Photo by Gioavana Thayane on Unsplash

Not just that they are there, but recognizing that we write, not for ourselves, but for them, so understanding where to find them, and what is important to them is how we should structure our content. 

 Storytelling is so important to not only to capture an audience, but to keep them. Our content should be focused to the audience we want to attract, rather then to the masses. Finding a persona, or an ideal client to direct our content to can help maintain a consistency that the entire audience will appreciate. It can also act as a funnel to rid those who are maybe not our ideal person, so that we don’t spend wasted energy on the wrong targets. 

My stories are a reflection of my personality. It’s the only way I can write; as the voice in my head. That voice can carry different tones depending on the subject and its level of seriousness. Fun vs formal. 

Stories will also change when writing for a client rather than myself, but now all I have to do is put into practise what I have learned, and develop their ideal client and the tone they want to portray.

I look forward to learning more as we start Applied Social Media for Business.

Com0014 Blog #6: Why I am Starting Over

New beginning can be exciting, but rarely easy. Hence the saying goes, nothing in life is ever easy. 

2019 was another new beginning. As a military family, starting over is not a new concept. We relocated from land locked Alberta, to coastal Nova Scotia. As a photographer this was a thrilling adventure, trading Canada’s canola fields and mountain scapes for her valley’s and shores.  

While my husband moved for his job, I had to leave mine behind. Once here, I can’t even say I decided to start my own business, it just seemed to be that I knew that was the path I was on. Over the past several years I had provided community photography and social media wearing both my professional and volunteer hats, so that was the focus of my job search. It was only half hearted though. Did I want to work for someone else’s ideas and vision? Did I want the commute? Did I want to work for less than my worth? Everything came up no.

I continued to find connections with local entrepreneurs in my niche. I continued to put out content on my own social media that aimed toward being my own entrepreneur. So starting my own business was the natural path. 

Although my idea has 3 prongs, it is very focused. I am a photographer, but rather than having a drop down menu for weddings and families, and babies, and head shots and… I want to be specific to corporate and community events. 

I also want to offer small business solutions for social media and photoshop. I want to help the little companies so they can have the time back for themselves without sacrificing their on-line presence. 

If there were a part of your business that you struggle over, would you not want to hand it over to a professional, to have that time to spend with your family?

That is exactly why I have a book keeper, and why you may need me! 


Driving map of Canada sourced from

Com0014 Blog 5 Personal Branding

Despite years of experience, and continued training, day jobs and a home based business all around photography, I have never had the confidence to consider myself “A PHOTOGRAPHER”. I mean I say I am when people ask, but I have never taken the plunge to allow myself to dive into it with both feet, and say “I am a photographer”. 

Until now. 

This week I signed commitment papers for a Self Employment Business plan with the province of Nova Scotia. It is a 40 week sponsored plan to help me build a business. I have the creative experience, but lack any experience running a full time, profitable business. This program requires monthly reports for networking and leads, assists with writing a business plan and provides courses from bookkeeping to selling.

I also have to build my brand. I need marketing material and a website, and I have slowly been transitioning my business based social media content to fit the new business concept. 

My business name is Dandelion Digital. As a base brat growing up, and raising 3 military kids, the dandelion is the official flower of the military child. Taking to the wind and planting roots wherever we may land. The logo has 3 seedlings, specific to my 3 services of photography, photoshop and social media. My primary colour is orange, conveniently representing creativity, adventure, enthusiasm, success and balance. (Vana, J 2019)

However, we have already discussed that a brand is so much more than a logo. So what qualities set me apart? The biggest attribute I need to play up is my experience. My new business will offer event photography and social media solutions for small businesses. Exactly what I have been doing for years for employers out west. I can highlight my accomplishments as a multi year finalist for the Chamber of Commerce Business awards, as well as winning for Marketing Excellence Award with the event services team I was last with. 

I asked a couple past employers back home about the attributes I should focus on. They came back with Diligent – Benevolent – Trustworthy – Creative – Involved – Community Minded.

Even if it just starts off as the description line on my LikedIn account, how does this sound?

An award winning creative, offering social media solutions for small business, and event photography for corporate & community events. 

I am open to suggestions, please offer your feedback.


Vana, J LinkedIn (October, 2019) What feelings Do Colors Evoke?

Com0014 Blog 4: I BLEED BROWN

Blog 4 – B2C case study

I had a hard time choosing a company to look at for a case study. I don’t really follow consumer companies in my own social media feed, and didn’t want to go to the big brands that are a household name. I am quite sure Pepsi knows I am forever faithful, but I am going with a B2C that has just as much of an impact in my life….Kicking Horse Coffee.

Today is the first time I have connected with them on social media, so it was an immediate visual audit of how they are doing.

Photo sourced from Kicking Horse Coffee


This was my first stop, and although there are only a handful of posts, all from within this year, I was really impressed by them. With only 22 posts they already have 18.1K followers. 

The how-to graphics are great and the product shots are rich and beautiful (like their brew!). 


This has been up since 2010, and has over 9K followers. That is half compared to their newer Instagram account, which says a lot about their audience. There last post was in June, compared to September on Instagram, so perhaps they are making a shift as many of the more recent tweets are repeated on Instagram 


The Page Transparency of this page states it was started in 2010 as well, and it has nearly 120K page likes and followers. I find it baffling however that the feed is very similar to that of Instagram, only going back to this past February

Overall, their engagement started off strong (see what I did there!), but it became inconsistent, and it doesn’t seem like they acknowledge comments that were made much later than the original post. 

They do address a few key questions such as requests for on-line merch sales, and environmentally friendly packages by directing followers to DM them for further conversation (social media 101). Other than that it almost seems like every now and then they simply go through and like comments, but have no dialogue. 

Photo sourced from Kicking Horse Coffee

My personal thoughts are, first, they need to have someone as dedicated to the social media as they are to their brew. The few times they do comment across their channels, can be rather entertaining, and their imagery is outstanding. Secondly, this was a good learning tool, giving me the opportunity to recognize how disingenuous a lazy thumbs up can be. 

Finally, I did not actually understand the difference between light and dark roast until today, but I love a rich dark hot coffee (454 Horsepower), ideally with a little stevia, and some cream. How do you take yours?

Com0014 Blog 3: Tipping the Scale at 50

COM0014 Blog 3

Understanding who my message is intended for, and ultimately who I need it to reach is a key component of establishing my target audience. Starting a new business in a new city, I have been struggling with who that may be. Then, I wrote a clarifying statement in last weeks Personal Story assignment. 

I will offer Social Media and Photoshop services for entrepreneurs. The intent is to give you back the time and freedom for your own endeavours, by taking off your plate the part of your business you may not have the resources or expertise to do yourself.”

In this one point, I clarified a key target audience. My target will be small business owners who have neither the time, or the resource to keep up with their own social media. That will most likely be those of us tipping the Gen X scale. The near 50:ish where social media is used more for personal than business. Typically, most people my age are either already well established with the technology of computers and social media, or they curse them. 

So in essence, my target audience is “Steve”. He is actually my husband, but the perfect example. Steve is a 49 year old Lineman. Like everyone, he has a tablet and a cel phone. The phone’s single purpose is for communication, be it text or calls. His tablet is used for Netflix, banking and facebook. That’s it. Even as he scrolls through Facebook, he has no engagement. He is a “skimmer” (Clark, B. 2008). Rarely comments or Likes a post, and has to constantly ask me how or where he can send messages. People with Steve’s lack of tech savvy are my target audience. 

If I consider myself, I would be the perfect target audience for a bookkeeper. I am a small business entrepreneur who hates anything to do with math and numbers, so I need someone who can take care of my business records and taxes. I have neither the experience, expertise, or desire to do it myself. Finding an entrepreneur with that exact attitude about social media, that right there is who I need to find.

So where do I find them? Step one is to run local, targeted Facebook ads for male or female ages 45-55, and then select specific interests to narrow that down further. Step two is find out their hang outs. Be it on line in Facebook groups, at the local pub, or … where? Where would you suggest I look in the Burbs of Nova Scotia?


Clark, B, CopyBlogger (August 27, 2008), How to Read from:

Unknown, Streampage (January, 2018), The ABCs of Marketing to Generations X, Y, & Z from:

Com0014 Blog 2: Shorter Stories for Storytelling.

Short is Sweet!

Confession time. The very first thing I do when I open a link to read a story is scroll to the end. No spoiler alerts, I’m not trying to see how it ends, I am trying to see when it ends. 

In today’s lesson I learned I am definitely an Inspectional Reader. On-line I am a “skimmer”, and even with my favourite books I am admittedly “superficial”. 

So here is the thing. I find the hardest part of writing is to be short and sweet. 

Our last assignment on summer vacations, I deleted entire paragraphs just to get it down to the suggested max word count. As a radio newscaster I used to have to write my stories for the website, and you’d have thought they were a newspaper feature.

The more blogs I read, the more I realize they are a collection of ideas and insight, rather than encyclopedias of knowledge. Several ideas can generate several good blogs, rather than 1 long one that nobody (especially me) finishes. 

So today I learned I need to write the way I read. 

Short and sweet.

Not simple. Concise. Entertaining. Engaging. Not just for that one story, but for the future ones I hope they return for.

Have you discovered your method? Realized your best path?
It’s actually quite enlightening. 

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

Clark, B, Copyblogger (August 27, 2008) How to Read

COM0014 – Blog 1 – When Home is a Tourist Destination

Recently taking a military move from Edmonton to Halifax, one of the great things about being a new resident in a tourist town, is I became the family vacation destination this summer. Being a base brat myself, our family moved around a lot, but never to the east coast, so this was my mom’s first trip to the Maritimes.

If you are ever travelling to Halifax, Nova Scotia and want my Best Tips on What to See in a Day, follow our tour!

Halifax Day Trip

Our next excursion was the South Shore to the fishing village of Lunenburg. Home of the Bluenose, and the quaintest shops and homes, it really makes you realize the history of our country settled right on these shore. 

Our best day yet was the Annapolis Valley. Nova Scotia’s wine country along the Bay of Fundy. Walking on the beach at low tide at Blomidon Provincial Park, we could literally go for miles, and we were all smiles. Having spent the better part of my life on the prairies, to see the red cliffs of the Bay, against the blue sky was amazing. Mom loved it too, feeling the connection to Europe around every corner. 

As we left the Valley, we took a calculated risk, and dashed from one side of the province to the other, hoping to catch sunset at Peggy’s Cove. The windy coastal road does not allow for passing, and of course we were behind a gentleman who was content to look around, doing exactly the speed limit. Well when you are racing a celestial moment, you don’t have time to do the speed limit! We watched the sun dip behind the horizon as we pulled up, but I knew the sky was still about to light up! 

Peggy’s Cove summer sunset

Since mom did not get a chance to see Peggy’s Cove in the daylight, we returned on her final day. This was 2 days after Hurricane Dorian had swept through, so I was cautiously anxious to see what kind of damage it had left. Fortunately those old buildings had weather many storms over the past 100 or so years, and all that I noticed was a few lifted board on the wharf. It was luckier then many others along the shores of the Atlantic.

My husband is originally from Nova Scotia, and this was my 8th visit to lady Peggy over the years, but I had never seen her from the water. For only $20 we took the boat tour that made a pass along the rocks and down the shore to a lobster fishing village, and back. It was amazing. 

We ended the day as every great day in Peggy’s Cove should end…at the Lobster Roll food truck!

Relatively new to Nova Scotia, I often feel like a tourist myself. I have a long list of photo hikes in the Notes app of my phone, and added more during this adventure with my mom.

If you were to take family on their first tour of your home town, where would you go? Have you discovered any new and exciting spots lately?

Sometimes a staycation can be the most exciting of vacations.

Photo Cheats for Social Media

Photo Cheats for Social Media

As a photographer, utilizing social media is a must. 

Must do. Must know how. 

Not all photographers use the same platforms. As content creators we pick and choose the platform(s) that is best suited to our audience. For instance, a business such as a law firm may find LinkedIn and Twitter works best for them to connect with the corporate crowd. A daycare may prefer Facebook Pages and Instagram. An artist or caterer may prefer Instagram and Pinterest. A fundraiser may use Facebook to take advantage of their Events and Groups. 

Businesses, entrepreneurs, and events will all utilize social media to find their audience, through one, or several channels. The common denominator of social media is that it is visual. You may have written the best story ever, but chances are it will get passed by if the photo does not catch the eye and make someone stop scrolling and start reading. 

Size Does Matter

Each social media platform has its own formula for image sizes.

My personal favourite reference is from Louise Myers, who posts an updated chart each year, with optimized sizes for the most popular platforms, and their various image options.

For a quick visual, I put together a quick chart to display the optimized photo sizes for some of the most used social media platforms. You can see that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are very similar, and really could use the same size image without issue. However, even at a quick glance, you can see the difference with Instagram being a square format and Stories and Pinterest being vertical, or portrait mode.

DSRL or Smartphone?

A professional photographer will have a DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera body that allows for interchangeable lenses). To post on line, whether it be a website gallery, on-line blog, or social media, that photo will need to be resized to offer the optimum display. Using photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop (as shown above) allows us to set the dimension exact.

Many of us use our smart phone camera to take pictures and videos so that we can immediately upload to our favourite site, or even go live! The main thing to understand is the dimension of the platform you are posting to. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube may have a variance in audiences, but they all have one thing in common. They are all primarily a horizontal, or landscape platforms. You can post a vertical picture, but it may not fill the space nicely, or you may not see the entire image as you scroll by. So be sure your images are set to be best optimized on each platform.

Video is the same. Are you shooting live for a Story, or to post later on Twitter?

When shooting video, think of a movie screen, and turn your phone horizontally! Shot vertically, this video on Twitter via @HockeyCanada can not be fully seen until you click on the video to play it.

For the casual user who is all about the selfies, and the Likes, being concerned with various sizes that best optimizes a picture may not matter. For those of us who look to social media to impact our business, or the business of a client, it is an important factor to understand.

Do you have a favourite social media platform, and are you using the optimal image size for the best results, based on your camera and the platform you are posting to?

Twitter: Are you getting the best performance from your picture posts? Be sure with these quick cheats via @louise_myers to showcase your best photos (infographic) #socialmedia #photography

Facebook: Are you getting the best performance from your picture posts? Be sure with these quick cheats to showcase you best photos. Understand the best size to post to your favourite platform. (infographic @louisemcom)


social media cheat sheet: Myers, L (2019, January 11) Social Media Cheat Sheet 2019: Must-Have Image Sizes! sourced

screenshot: Twitter for iphone @HockeyCanada (2019, June 18)

When a # Becomes a Movement

©Valerii Honcharuk –

It is Friday, June 14. I have spent the better part of my afternoon trying to research some articles for a blog that would normally be a simple topic for me (stay tuned next week!). However today I can’t do it. Do you know why? Because today the internet has only one subject. Because today 


Today the movement that captured the city of Toronto, has spread throughout Canada!

Today the Toronto Raptors are NBA Champs. Congratulations to them!

A movement such as #WeTheNorth captures the hearts of a generation, it becomes a movement. On social media it bands people together. It lets them share their stories via the hashtag on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Regardless of race, creed, colour, religion, or tax bracket, when a hashtag becomes a movement, everyone is invited. 

There have been other hashtags from the sports world that have brought people together. Not all have been celebratory. As reported by CBC News, on April 6, 2018, a bus carrying the SJHL (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League) Humboldt Broncos was hit by a semi, killing 16, including 13 players, their coach, trainer, and broadcaster.

From that tragedy, communities across the province, the prairies, the country had the hashtag #HumboldtStrong trending.

From sports to awareness, other such movements have made headlines in recent years.


“Beginning as a single event nearly ten years ago, WE Day has evolved into a series of 19 stadium-sized events held across the United States, Canada, the UK and the Caribbean. This past year, 200,000 students attended WE Day and left inspired to create change both locally and globally”


“In October 2017, the hashtag #MeToo made headlines internationally, prompting women from around the world to publicly share their experiences of sexual assault or harassment.”

The power of the hashtag has allowed people to share their stories in an unprecedented manner. Is there a hashtag you have contributed to, or follow specifically to be part of a movement?

TWITTER: From #WeTheNorth to #MeToo, hashtags that become movements. Join the conversation in our latest blog.

FACEBOOK: Does a hashtag hold power? Can it create a movement? Many powerful subjects, from the @TorontoRaptors to @MeTooMVMT are proof that a hashtag can become a movement. Read more here: