COM0014 Blog #7 – A Reflection on Storytelling

One of the most significant things I’ve learned from this course is the importance of telling a good story. No matter what your goal is, or what you’re writing about, good storytelling will hook your readers and make your writing the best it can be.

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The importance of storytelling

There are so many reasons why storytelling is important for creating digital content. Telling a good story will keep your readers interested no matter what you’re writing about. A piece of writing that flows well and has a clear beginning, middle, and end will satisfy readers so much more than just dumping a bunch of information on the page without a thought. Storytelling also allows us writers to be more creative with what we’re writing; you can turn even a not-so-interesting topic into a compelling one if you just find the right story.

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Let the story be your guide

Sometimes it’s a struggle to find a good angle, or the right perspective on your topic. I’ve learned that you often have to take a step back and consider what’s already there. Every topic has a story of some sort – you just have to find it! Letting the story itself guide you through the writing process will make your work more authentic (and often easier to write). You don’t have to overthink things or make it too complicated. Just consider what you have to work with and go from there.

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Different kinds of stories

There are so many different kinds of stories in the world right now, and so many different ways to tell them. Personally, I want to tell stories that are meaningful and shed light on important issues or problems in the world. I love the idea of using storytelling as a way to help other people and make the world a little bit better. But no matter what goals you have or what kind of content you want to create, the ability to tell good stories is essential.

COM0014 Blog #6 – Starting my business

Being stuck at home this past year, I decided the best way to stay busy would be to throw myself into my hobbies. I love making art, but between school and work I haven’t always had much time for it, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to practice my skills and develop some new ones. With stores being closed, there wasn’t much opportunity to shop for supplies, so I had to make do with what I already had. Experimenting with the materials I found lying around at home helped me develop new ideas for creative projects, and I got to spend my abundance of free time making things.

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Pretty soon, I realized I had a problem. I had all these finished art projects – small canvas paintings, pinback buttons, macrame bracelets, and various other things – but I had nothing to do with them. I put magnets on my fridge and buttons on my jackets and purses. I hung paintings and drawings on the walls of my bedroom. I gave homemade gifts to friends and family members. But I’d been spending so much time making things that the finished products were still piling up. I only had so much space to store the things I couldn’t find a home for, and I hate making things just to put them in a drawer.

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Then I had an idea – why not sell the things I was making? I could create as much art as I wanted, without worrying about what to do with it. Making some extra money couldn’t hurt either. I’m currently working on developing more ideas for products and deciding what I want the shop to be all about, which has given me another fun project to work on in my free time. Next, I’ll move on to actually setting up a store on Etsy, developing a social media presence, and hopefully getting some orders ready. I have no idea what will come of this little project, but I’m excited to see where it goes!

COM0014 Blog #5 – My Personal Brand

Many people develop a personal brand as a way to market themselves to potential colleagues or employers, but it’s also a great way to get to know yourself a little bit better. For my personal brand, I chose to highlight a few traits and interests that are especially important to who I am as a person.

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First, I’m a hard worker. I always throw myself into whatever I’m working on, whether it’s a project for school, work, or fun. I also pride myself on being organized – I write everything down in a planner and I outline each project before I start. After four years of university, I’m good at juggling multiple projects and making my own schedule.

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One of my favourite hobbies is art – I’m always working on different arts and crafts projects and experimenting with different mediums. Although I’m not planning to become a professional artist, I think creativity is important in any aspect of life. It gives you the ability to solve problems and think outside the box. In my own life, I put my artistic side to use by coming up with new ideas and new ways of doing things.

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My skills as a writer are something I’m especially proud of. Writing has always been one of my strengths and it’s something I really love to do. I even keep a journal in my free time as a way to practice and develop my writing skills. I love the process of planning out a project, getting the words down, and then editing until it’s perfect.

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There are a lot of different benefits to developing your own personal brand. How would you describe your own brand? What are some qualities or characteristics that set you apart from others?

COM0014 Blog #4 – Glossier: A Social Media Success Story

When it comes to social media marketing, beauty brand Glossier is clearly doing something right. Started in 2014 by former Vogue staffer Emily Weiss, the brand’s easy-to-use beauty products, distinctive aesthetic, and active social media presence have created a passionate and dedicated following. Glossier currently has 2.7 million followers on Instagram, their most-used and most-followed platform, as well as 107.7K on Twitter and 373,313 on Facebook. So what makes them so successful?

Image via Glossier Instagram

“Glossier is a prime example of an online beauty brand that sets itself apart from traditional beauty retailers by embracing new digital marketing strategies for a new age of consumers”

Cercone Brown

They put customers first

Whether it’s responding to tweets, posing questions, or reposting from their followers, Glossier uses social media to form “direct and intimate customer relationships”. They go as far as to involve their customers in product creation, asking them what they want and developing products to meet their needs. For example, when many customers shared that washing their face involved two different products – makeup remover and face wash – Glossier created a new product, the Milky Jelly cleanser, that combined the two steps. They create products based on feedback from real people, which helps drive sales and strengthen customer relationships.

“Everything from their product to packaging is a result of crowd-sourced feedback and listening”

Kavya Ravi, Unmetric

Image via Glossier Instagram

They build on user-generated content

Much of the content on Glossier’s social media comes directly from their audience – they use brand-related hashtags like #glossierpink to collect user-generated content and frequently repost pictures from followers. In addition, their branding encourages audience interaction – the clean-looking packaging and signature shade of pink are both aesthetically pleasing and immediately recognizable. Customers want to photograph their products and share them online; their posts contribute to the online community around the brand and provide Glossier with content they can repost on their own accounts.

They’re authentic and relatable

“Glossier is a beauty brand that, from its beginning, has distanced itself from the typical polished luxury of other brands in the industry”

Lauren Moreno, Social Media Strategies Summit

Glossier’s audience is mostly made up of Millennials and Gen Z, two generations who value authenticity in the brands they buy from. The photos they use to promote their products are “raw and relatable” instead of overly polished or staged, while their captions and replies are friendly without being over-promotional. They also post “humanized content”: memes, quotes, and funny animal videos that are not always specific to the brand, but still resonate with the audience. Their approach to social media makes users feel like they’re “following a friend rather than a brand”, enforcing Glossier’s image as a beauty brand for “real” people.

Image via Glossier Instagram

There’s a lot to learn from Glossier’s social media strategies, especially for brands who want to market to the digital generation. If their success illustrates anything, it’s authenticity is key, and that an interactive social media presence will draw customers in and foster a sense of community.

COM0014 Blog #3 – Marketing to Millennials

Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of my free time experimenting with different kinds of art. I’ve ended up with loads of finished arts and crafts projects lying around, and lately I’ve been thinking about starting an Etsy shop to sell some of the things I’ve made. For this post, I decided to do some research into the target audience for my potential shop. I found out that the majority of Etsy customers are Millennials between the ages of 18-35, so I’ll be focusing on that demographic.

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“Between the ages of 18-35, Etsy customers make up a large number of Millennials, with outliers of older generations who love to buy their crafts from the online creative community”

Shelby Sullivan, Techpenny

One of the defining traits of the Millennial generation is that they’ve grown up online. As a result, marketers need to appeal to their need for instant gratification. Online, everything is available immediately, so younger people expect fast service when shopping online. Responding to questions and comments as quickly as possible will keep customers interested and engaged.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

It’s important for brands to use the same social media platforms their audience does. Studies show that Instagram tends to be most popular among younger people, so I would probably start there. There are a lot of benefits to marketing a brand on Instagram: the platform is image-based, which allows brands to develop a unique aesthetic. Creative or informative captions can also supplement the visual story you’re telling about your brand.

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“While millennials are digitally native they also crave authentic, real-life connection”

Steven Morris, Matter Consulting

Millennials also value authenticity, and they prefer to buy from brands they trust. Therefore, posts on social media “shouldn’t be all about pitching your products”. Brands should showcase their unique personalities and should allow customers to get to know the real people behind the products. One strategy I could use would be to share behind-the-scenes content on social media, which would help me connect with my audience and build my brand’s voice.

Capturing the attention of a younger audience clearly requires a strong online presence and an authentic personality. It’s easy to combine both of these things on social media, which makes it the perfect platform to market to millennials.

COM0014 Blog #2 – Reflections on Storytelling

There’s a lot that goes into telling a good story. Language, format, and tone of voice, for instance, can make or break a piece of writing. Working on these blog posts, I’ve learned a lot about storytelling, particularly the importance of structure, style, and audience.

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Don’t bury the lead

You’ve probably heard that phrase before –  it means that the most important information should always come first. Mass media writers follow the Inverted Pyramid structure, where the “base” of the pyramid, or the essential information, appears at the beginning of the story, while the non-essential details come later. Readers will immediately know what your story is about and are more likely to be drawn in to read the rest.

Write like you’re telling a story

Having a clear beginning, middle, and end to your writing creates a flow that will make your piece easier to read. I like to imagine I’m writing a fictional story even if I’m writing something research-based or informative; I think about how to grab the reader’s attention in the beginning, and how to tie everything together in the conclusion. Using subheadings to separate your piece into sections can also keep things organized and help readers find the specific information they’re interested in.

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Just be yourself

I think it’s important to incorporate your own style into your writing, especially when blogging. Even if you’re not writing about your own experiences, adding your personal voice can help capture readers’ attention and help your audience get to know you. It can also make your writing stand out from the crowd. Other people may be writing about the same topic, but your voice is unique to you!

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Get to know your audience

Communicating directly with your audience – for instance, by asking questions and responding to comments – can help you build connections and grow your following. It can also help you understand who your audience is, so you can tailor your content and style to appeal to them.

In conclusion… 

A well-structured piece of writing will get your message across clearly and concisely, while adding your own personal flair will get readers interested in what you’re saying, no matter what it is. Understanding your audience can help you produce content that appeals to them and creates a personal connection that will keep your readers coming back for more. What are the most important things you’ve learned about writing and storytelling?

Palm Trees and Sunshine: A Pre-Pandemic Adventure

Remember travelling? It feels like it’s been ages since we could hop on a bus or a plane for a change of scenery. I was lucky enough to get to go on a pretty sweet vacation only a few months before the world shut down. In December 2019, my family decided to take a break from the Canadian winter with a trip to California.

The first thing I noticed when I got there was the palm trees. They look so different from anything we have at home, so they really made me feel like I was somewhere new.

 I sent this picture to my friends to say “look where I am!”

We spent most of our trip in a little town outside of San Diego. The beach was just a short walk from our hotel, and on our first night there, we got to see one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen. The light was so bright, it felt like the whole world was glowing. I tried to capture it on camera, but sunset photos never look as good as the real thing.

One of my favourite days was the one we spent exploring the botanical gardens at Balboa Park. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of all the colourful roses and funky-looking plants we saw. I love cacti and succulents so it was cool to see them in their natural habitat. They look just like the tiny potted ones I have at home!

I also loved the art market we went to, where we got to wander around looking at displays from local artists. The rainbow-painted floor tiles made it feel like the space itself was a piece of art, like we’d walked into a mosaic. I bought myself a little painting as a souvenir – a cactus painted in bright greens and oranges to remind me how vibrant everything was.

We did a lot of different things on this trip – museums, shopping, restaurants – but I think my favourite part was just spending time outside. Everything was so beautiful and so different from home – I loved getting the chance to explore a place I’d never seen before. Oh, and getting a break from the freezing weather in Ottawa was nice, too.

One last sunset before heading home

Looking back on my photos from this trip is making me want to go travelling again! I can’t decide whether I’d rather revisit a place I’ve been before or go somewhere completely new. Where’s the first place you’ll go when we’re allowed to travel again?

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Where’s the last place you travelled to before the pandemic? For me, it was California

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Travelling to California? Find some ideas for your trip and share your own pre-pandemic travel stories

#Activism: How social movements are moving online

Social media’s ability to connect large groups of people anywhere in the world has changed the way we approach activism and social movements. Whether it’s sharing a hashtag to generate support for a cause or using Facebook groups to organize a protest, it’s become clear that modern activism relies on social networking.

“Amid cell-phone footage of protests and toppling statues, the Internet has been further inundated with what we might call activist media”

Jane Hu

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Social media provides an online space where people can come together to share ideas and plan events like protests and rallies. It can also serve asa platform to amplify and share the experiences of minority groups. Lived experiences of racial violence, sexual harassment, and other forms of oppression often drive the movements we see online. A prominent example of this is the “Me Too” movement, which aimed to raise awareness around sexual harassment and assault. Many of us turn to social media for news about these ongoing movements – during the Black Lives Matter protests this past summer, for example, protest guides and screenshots of bail-fund donations were widely circulated online. 

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Research shows that people are not just reading about social movements online – they’re actively participating in them. A study from the Pew Research Centre found that roughly half of Americans had engaged in “political or social-minded activity” on social media in the past year. This activity could include joining a group relating to an issue or cause, encouraging others to take action, looking up information on protests, or using hashtags relating to a political or social issue. 69% of those surveyed believe social media is “important for getting elected officials to pay attention to issues” while 67% believe social media sites can be used to create “sustained movements for social change”. 

“Posting to social media could be seen as actually doing something with decision, but is it actually using the energy to necessitate any change?”

Peter Suciu

Social media’s increasing role in activism has also generated some controversy: there’s an ongoing debate over whether posting online qualifies as a “valid” form of activism. The term “hashtag activism” was coined to describe “the act of showing support for a cause through a like, share or other engagement”. Critics question whether simply liking or sharing a post contributes to any real change or if it’s just a way to support a cause without taking any meaningful action. The debate around hashtag activism calls people’s motivations into question: are they really trying to make a difference, or are they just trying to make themselves look better?

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

 Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it’s clear that social media now plays an important role in creating social change. Have you used social media to support causes you care about? What do you think of using social media as a form of activism?

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How has social media shaped modern activism?

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Activism is moving online – for better or worse

Why do we post on social media?

Have you ever wondered what drives people to post on social media? Are we just looking for likes and comments, or does it go deeper than that? As it turns out, there are many different motivations behind the posts we see on social media.

“Social media comes down to a simple basic human desire: the need to connect with other humans, to be part of a group”

Melissa Leiter, Social Media Today

Understandably, other people are a major motivation for why we post online. An article from King University explains that social media users “want to post to feel some kind of social acceptance from a group or a particular individual”. Similar to how positive reactions to posts can make us feel better about ourselves, they also help us feel more accepted by the people around us.

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Posting on social media is also linked to self-presentation, or “positioning yourself the way you want to be seen”. When we talk face-to-face, everything is in the moment, which doesn’t give us much time to think about what to say and how to act. When making a social media post, however, we can “construct and refine” how we present ourselves by choosing what to write and which pictures to share. In this way, social media gives us the power to control how other people see us.

This might be why we so often share our accomplishments on our social media accounts. Sharing big milestones – like getting a new job or graduating from school – is incredibly common on social media. By posting about our accomplishments, we present ourselves as successful. Posts like these also encourage positive reactions and acceptance from others.

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Our reasons for posting online all seem to link back to other people. We want to make a good impression on the people who follow us and to feel liked and accepted by them. Even self-presentation is all about controlling how we’re seen by other people. So, is it possible to post only for yourself, or does it always come back to the reactions you get from others? Are those reactions the whole point of social media? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Ever wondered why people post things online?

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We all post on social media. The question is – why?

Brands on social media: helpful or harmful?

Anyone who uses social media today has probably noticed that brands are becoming more and more active online, in ways that go beyond simply promoting their products. From interacting with competing brands to sharing memes and videos, brands are becoming fully integrated into the world of social media.

One of the biggest benefits social media has for brands is the way it supports interactive marketing campaigns. Brands like Air Asia have created competitions where followers must tag their friends for a chance to win. Accounts can also use hashtags to start viral campaigns that anyone can participate in, such as the #nomakeupselfie campaign that raised over 8 million pounds for cancer research. These types of marketing strategies can grow a brand’s following by encouraging users to interact with the company and with each other online. Brands have also fully embraced the culture of social media, from celebrity endorsements to pop culture references. The pet brand BarkBox, for instance, has taken full advantage of the internet’s appreciation for funny animal videos. Sharing these types of videos on platforms like TikTok has allowed the brand to grow its following and gain popularity, even among people who don’t own any pets.

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So how have consumers reacted to brands’ online presence?  

A 2017 study by the Sprout Social Index on brands’ use of social media revealed that creating a personality online can be good for business. The majority of consumers want to buy from brands who are honest, helpful, and friendly. Brands can craft this type of personality through the content they post and the way they interact with customers online. Interestingly, the results of the study suggest that engagement is the number one thing customers look for in a brand, over things like humour or pop culture references: 48% of consumers decided to purchase from a brand after they received help from the brand on social media. At the end of the day, consumers want brands’ social media to be a “customer care channel” – a place they can go to have their questions answered and their concerns taken care of.

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But brands need to be careful what they do and say online. 

Many brands are trying to be politically and socially conscious online, but these attempts don’t always impress consumers. Consumers want brands to take action instead of just talking about social issues. And these days, the internet makes it easy to figure out if a company’s statement actually matches their practices. If their commitment to diversity or inclusion, for instance, is inauthentic or inaccurate in any way, it will “quickly be debunked … and shared virally across the internet”. For example, Starbucks was recently criticized for refusing to allow its employees to wear Black Lives Matter clothing, arguing that the slogan was too “political”. People quickly pointed out that this rule contradicted the company’s commitment to antiracism. Companies that are socially responsible appeal to customers, but statements that are only meant to boost the company’s image can do more harm than good.

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Navigating social media as a brand can be risky, but ultimately it seems like it’s been beneficial for many different companies. Do you follow any brands online? If so, what do you like about their social media presence?

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The highs and lows of brands on social media

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Brands on social media: are they helpful or harmful?