COM0014 – Blog Post #7: Personal Reflection

What is the best part of any great story?

Stories have the power of commanding our attention, not through facts, but through their very experience. What we take away from stories leaves a stamp on our memory because of the emotional ties that are created when we first read or hear them.

For digital content, as opposed to traditional word-of-mouth or print media, captivation is even more important because of the competing information we are fighting against. Social media is a great tool for information, but it challenges us to up our creative game when it comes to developing interesting, yet character-limited content.

In my own writing, being able to jolt an audience from their electronic coma is important. Being both authentic and relatable, while maintaining witty dialogue, gives my audience a reason to stay with me.

The main thing I want to do is create a connection from my side of the screen through to many others, opening a door for discussion and the exchange of ideas. This felt connection can then provide inspiration to those in the same boat as the storyteller, and insight to people viewing this boat from the shore.

Regardless of position or perspective, there is something for everyone to take away from a story, so we better make it a good one.

After all, great stories live on forever, especially when stored in cache.

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

What is your greatest achievement?

For almost my entire life, it seems, I’ve struggled with identifying exactly what I want to do in the future. Breezing through primary and secondary school with a tendency to do well in most disciplines, I wasn’t too sure where to go from there. My mother is a teacher and her father a professor, so I thought I could probably teach since volunteering at my mother’s school had of course been fun in the past.

Then university came, and majoring in English seemed like the predestined choice, a seemingly perfect match for the girl who loved to read and had a knack for creative writing. And although I enjoyed the people I met and the learning taking place, there was an aspect of excitement missing. I knew I could handle the road I was headed down; after all, it was in my blood. After convocation, began the months of limbo; I was neither inclined to work on my MA in English nor get my teaching certification.

Insert Google, my holy grail and information database. After pages (you know you’re getting desperate when you’ve past page 14) of links related to jobs for my degree, I found a tiny source of light buried under piles of uselessness. It was in that moment that I first felt excitement about public relations and all of the possible opportunities. Through my inability to settle, I found something that I could see myself doing for a long time. I think that this resilience is my greatest personal achievement, as it changed my whole direction and perspective on life from a simple state of being, to something with a greater purpose.

COM0014 – Blog Post #5 – Personal Brand

One of my most consistent traits is my exceptional ambition. As an achiever, I happily fill my schedule to maximum capacity. I am currently working full-time hours in retail; simultaneously, I am taking two courses with Algonquin and one separate course working toward a different certification.

I volunteer on my days off with social media at the University of Ottawa’s Alumni Association, while also working daily on my personal social media accounts. I just reached 3000 followers on my Twitter page I started posting regularly to this past September, which gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Socially, I continue to make connections relevant to public relations, my desired field, both online and in person. I love spreading knowledge, which I find social media incredibly useful for.

I also thrive with intense deadlines, finding the added pressure exciting and motivating. Fast-paced is the way I enjoy my days, and constant adventures, whether professional or recreational, give my life meaning.

Additionally, I have a talent for processing information, and sorting through piles of research rarely intimidates me. I enjoy the process, rather than just the outcome, of learning. Thinking deeply is a necessity for me and often leads to future insight.

For me, tutoring throughout high school and editing papers for friends in university provided a certain thrill, as I was seeing through complexities and finding the best path to understanding or more concise writing. I continue to enjoy intellectual discussion and see reflection as the solution to complicated situations.

Lastly, I am deeply strategic and consider every possible factor to a given situation. I also pay extreme attention to detail, as you never know what tiny bit of information will be crucially important.

All of these characteristics make up who I am and who I will continue to be in the future.

COM0014: Blog #4 — Maybelline B2C

When I think about a beauty company who is active on social media, I immediately think of the Maybelline commercials on TV with that catchy, Maybe She’s Born with it, Maybe it’s Maybelline slogan.

Not aware of their social media activity, I am glad to report that they seem to be doing well across various platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest. This immediately perked my interest into a short analysis as a B2C business.

I like their Twitter page, as it comes across as personable. Maybelline doesn’t just promote their products, but creates an entertaining story. They present funny quips about beauty, along with inspirational quotes on confidence. They also give surveys and engage in #TipTuesday hashtag campaigns. Additionally, they are quick repliers and use emojis, which is a fun touch.

Maybelline New York

Maybelline New York

They do not post too often on YouTube, and have a smaller audience, but they do have informative makeup tutorials. Snapchat extends the #TipTuesday hashtag from Twitter to create quick, unique tutorials through snaps.

Instagram and Pinterest both post pictures of their products in packaging and on models. They also do giveaways through Instagram that increases engagement with their audience.

Maybelline New York

Facebook, however, is slightly different. Of all their platforms, Facebook has the largest audience base, with just over 4.7 million followers. With such a large audience, they do not seem to reply to customer concerns authentically (as in, you can tell it is a scripted message) or in a timely (sometimes weeks later) manner. This strikes me as needing improvement.

Other than that, I love Maybelline’s online activity and am impressed that they carry across so many platforms! It really is important in reaching the largest audience possible.

Do you think companies should reply more personably in comments, or is the one-message-for-all approach fair?

COM0014 – Blog #3: Fashion Online

I have had an interest in fashion for as long as I can remember. Treats when I was a kid included the latest issue of Teen Vogue or Seventeen magazine. Now, as a young adult, instead of collecting pages of photo shoots on my wall, I have Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

On Twitter, I have curated content specifically for fashion and beauty lovers. I post all kinds of articles, from fashion bloggers to mainstream magazines. I think a large part of my audience includes the 18-30 age range of mostly female, middle-class individuals. I also have many followers from the UK (as I will be visiting in the fall).

Twitter is the best way to communicate with my audience. Lists are especially useful for organizing influencers and bloggers. Hashtag chats are another fun aspect of Twitter.

One successful and well-known fashion destination is Who What Wear. This was one of the first fashion content distributors that I followed on Twitter. Another is Oracle Fox by Amanda Shadforth. Lastly, Harper & Harley is a fashion blog that I started obsessing over on Pinterest and quickly followed on other social media platforms.

What do these three examples have in common?

  1. They are all streamlined
    • There are many sites out there that are filled with noise. De-cluttering the format and design of a website pulls everything together and makes for a more enjoyable experience.
  2. They are all monochromatic
    • Just my personal style—but I love greys, whites and varying shades (yes, it’s a colour!) of black.
  3. They are all chic and classy
    • Less is more, in my books. Minimalist style and clean lines really take the cake!

Well, there you have it! Have any of you taken your interests and applied them directly to your personal accounts? Do you separate them across platforms?

COM0014 – Blog #2: Clean and Clear and Communicated Effectively

Like any good story, the audience must feel a connection to the content. But unlike a traditional novel, digital storytelling must create this connection without the luxury of 300 pages to reach a climax. With today’s rampant information overload, it is necessary to get to the point immediately and elaborate later.

There are three major factors to consider for successful writing online:

Make it interesting 

  • Use the active voice in your writing. I once had a university professor tell me to remove all passive forms of “to be” when editing. You never know how much you use a certain tense until you Ctrl-F them.
  • Put your most important point at the top. We live in a time-obsessed community with only so many seconds to judge whether a post is worth reading.

Make it important

  • People only have so much time in the day; give them a reason to stay on your post with quality content that provides something new to your audience.
  • Details go here—expand on what you wrote in the beginning.

Make it easy to read

  • You can have the most interesting story in the world, but no one will want to read something that is poorly written. Take the time to edit your writing, say it aloud, read it backwards section by section—whatever works. Your readers will thank you for it.
  • Break up your writing with headings and small paragraphs. This makes it easier to read and more pleasant to look at.

Overall, it is not that difficult to create a captivating story. It is presenting it in a simple form that engages with an audience that is challenging. Is there something else required to write a good story? Do you think the process changes from print to online?

COM0014 – Blog #1: That One Time in Florida

Fort Lauderdale The year was 2010. Sun blazing, heat rising in our condo located off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. With a shabby, run-down air conditioner located in one of the windows in my parents’ bedroom, I could almost hear the drops of water escaping out onto the  crisp, white sand.

This was the place that my parents got through a relative who knew a friend going away for a undesignated period of time. Scoring an amazing deal on a place just off the beach—who could complain?

I went and found my brother, ten at the time, staring out into the hazy Floridian street. Our parents found us there, before letting us know we’d be leaving soon to go to dinner.

This was our first evening out on our vacation. The food was unmemorable, but what happened shortly after I will remember always.

As we were leaving, my dad went to pay up at the front of the restaurant. When he returned, we all followed him out to our car rental, it patiently awaiting our inevitable return.

This is when my dad discovered, to his utter astonishment, that he must have forgot his wallet inside. Cue panic! Now, fifteen-year-old Christina had no idea the ramifications of misplacing such a small piece of worn out leather.

Turns out the keys to our whole trip were in there! Say goodbye to Disney World, folks, we would be staying inside the four walls of that heat-ridden condo for the remainder of our trip.

The waiting staff checked and could not find any such wallet. The sadness and flickering disappointment that crossed both my mom and dad’s faces was quite something.

***

As we awoke the next morning, foggy on the previous day’s endeavours, we all resigned to spend the rest of our time on the beach. With no credit cards, payment information and booking validations, there wasn’t much else we could do.

That is, until the next day when my dad received a call from his brother (who lived in Ottawa).

In a peculiar turn of events, we found out that a stranger found a wallet in a dumpster outside a movie theatre down the street from the restaurant we were eating at the previous night. Cash? gone. All my dad’s cards and papers we needed? Still there!

Now, how on earth did this stranger get in contact with us? My uncle works for a computer company, and my dad happened to have his business card in his wallet—a card with a phone number tracing back to Ottawa.

Magically, my uncle received a call and got back to us, in Florida, providing us information that a man had my dad’s wallet and called the only number he could find. In the end, we got the wallet back and the rest of our trip went on as planned.

Stranger things have happened, I suppose?

Has anything unexpected ever happened to you while travelling? I’d love to hear!

Facebook Reactions – The Way to the Future?

Facebook Reactions Emojis

Social media can be great. But one of the more difficult aspects of this multi-faceted construction is that it is difficult to read emotion. We already see this in the transition from phoning to text messaging, where what is supposed to be more efficient lacks essential parts of human interaction.

With Facebook, many users were hoping for a ‘dislike’ button, a haphazard way to show one’s distaste for all those Kardashian posts in the media. To our dismay, we are instead left with Facebook Reactions, a liking option that includes six ways of reacting to any post.

There are now like, love, haha, wow, sad and angry ‘reactions’ we can have towards posts on Facebook. Is this revolutionary? Hardly, considering there are far more complex emotions to the human psyche!

However, this is definitely a step up from the previous liking system. The addition of sad and angry allow for some degree of negative commentary, and would be considered more appropriate than ‘liking’ a post about a tragic event.

In her show yesterday, Ellen Degeneres commented on these Facebook Reactions, humorously depicting how the better way of showing sadness, love or anger is through face-to-face communication, something we seem to be losing fast.

I believe that there is a limit to what should be portrayed through social media. Social networks are great tools for sharing information and connecting with others, but gauging how someone feels will always be hard through a screen.

Facial expression and intonation are great cues for how something is perceived, and without these we can expect to hit some road blocks when trying to understand how a person feels.

All in all, I like the new Facebook Reactions. They are entertaining! But how much emotion can really be expressed through the touch of a button?

What do you think? Should more social networks embrace this integrated liking system? Do you think it could be used precisely for gathering analytics, or is it simply more for amusement?

How to Turn Your Blog into a Career

make-money-blogging

Ever wonder what it takes to make a living off of a blog? Well, look no further. I’m here to hopefully shed some light into the mysterious ways that bloggers carve their digital careers.

It may help if we put a highly successful blogger under the microscope. Leandra Medine, creator of The Man Repeller blog and author of Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls.is one such individual.

In an article with the Daily Mail she mentions why she chose the name for her blog: “Good fashion is about pleasing women, not men, so as it happens, the trends that we love, men hate. And that is fantastic.” She even created a post defining, humorously, what the term means:

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 8.11.31 PM

Aside from the catchy name, Medine’s fashion posts generated a lot of views. Her blog was extremely popular a few years ago when she began, and its success will always change as readers determine its relevance. But even now her site is worth roughly CAD 1.081 million according to WorthyofWeb.com, an online calculator of website revenue. To put this in perspective, the blog would currently make CAD $293,375 per year. That’s quite something!

As far as tips go, Meghan Blalock, associate editor for StyleCaster, wrote a post on how to grow a blog, particularly one in fashion. She claims that these six elements are important to keep in mind when starting:

  1. Brand Partnerships
    • Start reaching out to small brands; not every opportunity will be paid
    • Focus on having a sleek, reputable website
  2. Exposure
    • You need strong photography skills with high-quality images
    • Grow web traffic with hard work and dedication
  3. Social Media
    • Instagram is often a gateway platform; easy to scroll through images
    • Connect your accounts
    • Pick the most relevant networks for you and stick with them
  4. Know Your Voice
    • Have a clear point of view and be unique
    • What can you offer that others can’t?
  5. Be Prepared to Invest
    • Everything costs money (photography cameras, clothes, makeup, anything you feature in your blog)
    • Don’t ever expect to get free products (from brands) until you have an established reputation
  6. Learn from Your Mistakes
    • Don’t strive for perfection, but for an authentic blog

I never knew about all of the behind-the-scenes action that takes place when a person decides to take blogging seriously. There are always so many uncertainties when we start something ourselves, but then there are also many rewards that can provide us with a lot of pride and joy.

With all of the tools we have now, from Google Analytics to ROI, we can monitor the growth of our creations from start to finish. It is truly an amazing thing when something online can produce so much tangible success out in the real world.

If you had all of the time in the world, would you ever consider running a blog full-time? What topics of interest do you think would make a blog successful? Have you read any posts from high-profile bloggers?

Social Media Preoccupations

tweet

You’re watching a TV show, remembering the thrilling plot development, when you feel a wave of distraction wash over you. What’s happening? This is your favourite show. The one you stop everything for. Alas, you glance at your phone beside you. You grab it—you’ve always been good at multitasking, or so you tell yourself. You’re sure you can check everything and still enjoy your show.

This is how a typical evening goes for me lately. I used to be quite the avid television consumer, but after recent growth attempts of several social profiles, I find myself in the zone of constantly checking my Twitter profile—similar to the primal need of ensuring the door to the house is locked and everything unplugged.

That’s the obsession of social media—once you start, it’s dizzying, overwhelming and exciting all at the same time. Looking at the numbers, and seeing if they are increasing, becomes paramount in your day-to-day lifestyle. It takes effort to remember that it’s about engagement and what you can offer others, rather than arbitrary statistics.

My experience has become so pronounced that at work I sometimes wonder whether I’m really experiencing occasional blurred vision, or am psychosomatically making it up. Regardless, staring at a screen hours-on-end can lead to some lovely issues, like Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Symptoms include:

  • Blurred/double vision
  • Eye irritation
  • Headaches
  • Neck/back pain

There is also the issue that with work related to social media, there really is no break. When it comes to tasks on a computer or phone, you almost always have access. Rather than commuting to a meeting or waiting until the next day to speak to someone, your social network is just a few buttons away. I guess it comes down to the strong-willed who can navigate with finesse both online and in person!

To see something grow right in front of your eyes is amazing to experience. You feel validated and justified; that what you like and consider important, others do as well; and that you are providing something positive to others through your posts.

It is only natural that you would want to increase this community you’ve formed, and start to read articles on how to increase your follower count. It’s like a song that you just can’t get out of your head: a never-ending cycle that must be followed through to gain any sense of relief.

After all of this online engagement, you get to the point where it’s weird interacting with people in real life and having to respond in realtime. Will it always be like this? I wonder. Then I remember that this is often the case with trying new things; maybe the fixation will die down and a sense of normalcy return thereafter.

Am I crazy? Have any of you experienced the need to check your social media accounts? How do you maintain a boundary between your online and offline personas?