COM0015 – Assignment #5: Event Participation: Selling Without Really Selling

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Source: How to Sell Without Selling [Webinar]

The professional value derived from the webinar I chose to attend, conducted by holistic nutritionist, Joy McCarthy, founder of Joyous Health, and her business partner, husband, and co-presenter Walker Jordan, was immense.

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Source: How to Sell Without Selling [Webinar]

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Source: How to Sell Without Selling [Webinar]

The event, How to Sell Without Selling, was an hour and a half long webinar, broken down into five main sections, dedicated to discussing how to digitally connect with and grow your audience without using sale tactics and strategies.

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Source: How to Sell Without Selling [Webinar]

I became aware of this event after stumbling upon a social media post promoting it on Facebook, resulting in an immense level of excitement, as this event, presented by two incredibly successful entrepreneurs and individuals I truly admire, resulted in the opportunity to gain a greater level of insight into a brand, and social media strategy I personally admire. This event I believed would allow for the opportunity to explore how some of the concepts discussed within this very Social Media Certificate program, such as story telling, can be applied in a real word setting. Additionally, I instantly identified how immensely valuable the content within this webinar could serve professionally — for both the social media content I create for the podcast I host, and for the social media accounts I manage for the health food store I am employed by.

Attendance  

The event took place within an online webinar room, through the platform WebinarJam, with an ongoing message board throughout the entire webinar enabling the ability for audience members to interact with other participants, and Joy and Walker themselves. While the attendee list or participant count was not publicly visible, a total of 35 other users interacted through the message board.

Event Interactions 

Through the discussion board, Joy and Walker encouraged audience members to leave comments and questions as a way to promote a healthy two-way dialogue, with an allotted time period at the end of the webinar to address questions and comments as outlined in the discussion list. While I did not directly interact with Joy or Walker in the discussion section through asking a question, I did however experience positive interactions — asking questions, providing answers, and adding commentary to another participant’s comment — with a few of those interactions featured below:

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Source: How to Sell Without Selling [Webinar]


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Source: How to Sell Without Selling [Webinar]


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Source: How to Sell Without Selling [Webinar]

Through the discussion board I had the opportunity to learn about the webinar attendees. A large number of attendees are current students or alumni of the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, and attended the webinar in order to aid in the success of their own health and wellness entrepreneurial adventures. One individual I did have the pleasure of interacting with coincidentally is a person whom I have interacted with in a professional, work context. Due to the fact that I work within the health and nutrition field, this interaction really solidified the versatility of the subject matter being taught and the way in which the fundamental principles can be applied to a range of specific aspects within an industry, along with how interconnected and close knit the health community truly is. This was further promoted by the general positive, eager and supportive energy from all participants present within the message board.

Novel Ideas 

Among the ‘7 Feel Good Sales Strategies’ this webinar presented as alternatives to conventional and at times uncomfortable selling tactics, there were a few notable, key ideas related to building a foundation to sell your products or services without actually feeling like you are selling anything:

  • Idea #1: In order to avoid the conventional and uncomfortable feelings associated with selling in the most traditional sense, you have to value the product or service you’re offering and feel confident in its ability to add value to others’ lives.
  • Idea #2: In order to be successful in selling without selling you have to be confident and comfortable in showcasing your value and its potential benefits.
  • Idea #3: You must believe that you are providing incredible value in fair exchange for the compensation you receive.

Quotable Quote

One extremely notable quote, and the sentiment that lead into the discussion around the ‘7 Feel Good Sales Strategies’ was that “at the core of any sales transaction is value and trust.” This statement resonated so deeply simply because it goes from describing what Joy and Walker describe as the ‘what’ of your product or service, to the ‘why’. Being able to market a product or service in an authentic, honest way builds the a sense of rapport needed to develop a deep-seated sense of trust in an entire brand and the value of its offerings, before sales even occur.

Future Seminars

While I have previously attended a business-related webinar conducted by Joy McCarthy, this webinar, as like the last, did not disappoint. I left this webinar with so many valuable takeaways and ideas that I am excited to directly apply to my professional day-to-day social media and marketing activities. Due to the fact that I am employed within a health related field and have a personal interest in nutrition, attending a business event with ties into the health field is really encouraging and enjoyable to partake in. Overall, attending this event left me in high anticipation for future professional development events conducted by the inspiring and successful Joyous Health team.

COM0015 – Blog #4: Watch out Instagram, Vero has arrived.

Before we talk about Vero, let’s spend a minute talking about Instagram. As a social media platform that serves 1 billion active monthly users,  chances are you have or have had an Instagram account at some point in time. In which case, you have more than likely been affected by Instagram’s new algorithm which has received a ton of flack as the platform moved away from organizing updates in a chronological order to sorting posts in the order that Instagram thinks you want to see your updates based upon a your relationship to another user and the likelihood that you will be interested in viewing each piece of content.

Whether you’ve taken note of this Instagram update or not, the social media giant describes this new algorithm alteration as a way “to improve your experience”. However, when you find yourself missing Instagram posts from those you follow, leaving you with mild twinges of irritation, wondering to what extent this improvement is really an ‘improvement’ at all, rest assured, you’re not alone.

With this ‘improvement’ leaving many users frustrated, and itching for an alternative, Ayman Hariri heard this cry for help, and, in 2015, launched Vero. Vero is an app that strives to bring users the functionalities and capabilities its competitors — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat — are failing to deliver.

Vero, an app that maintains a special focus on image- and video-based content similar to Instagram, has garnered recent popularity and quickly become a highly discussed and downloaded app, skyrocketing to the top position within the iOS App Store in February 2018, rising above its social media competitors. As of early 2018, Vero boasted close to 1 million signs ups.

Smarter Sharing

Vero operates similarly to other social media platforms with the ability to freely post content for the purposes of sharing with other users. Vero rivals in looks with Instagram, possessing a notably similar interface. However the similarities end there, with what Vero calls its Smart Sharing — the ability to easily share movies, TV shows, music, books, places, photos, and links, through posts.

Smarter sharing

Source: Vero

Smarter Connecting

The platform mimics the way in which we share information in real life — we actively decide who we want to share every piece of information with. Vero, through its social circles, enables the ability to classify each follower as a ‘close friend’, ‘friend’, or ‘acquaintance’ letting you determine which social loop you want to share each piece of new content with, ultimately creating a “more authentic” social network.

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Source: Vero

Smarter Feed

So why exactly is Vero gaining so much traction so quickly? First and foremost, the biggest draw to Vero is its chronological news feed where content is organized without an algorithm that dictates content order, which is contrasted against both Facebook and Instagram’s algorithm-driven feeds. In addition, Vero prides itself on being and maintaining a completely ad-free platform, and instead has future plans to generate income through an annual subscription based revenue model, relying on “users to be their sole customers”, while rewarding its first one million users with a lifetime of no membership fees.

The Caveat

Sounds too good to be true, right? Before you scramble off to sign up, there are a few things to be aware of. While Vero is purposefully steering away from what other social media platforms are doing — using ads and algorithm-driven news feeds — what Will Oremus is quick to point out and caution his article’s readers about is that these same popular social media platforms, the ones Vero is trying not to mimic, actually started out with Vero’s same direction in many ways. Mainstream social media platforms quickly came to the realization that social media platforms require a revenue stream to function — with paid content being the most widely and popularly used — and, that users actually benefit from algorithmic curation as it helps ensure that users do not become overwhelmed by over eager sharers.

More alarmingly however, is how difficult deleting a Vero account is. While the process should be easy, it instead mimics the line from the classic Eagles song, “But you can never leave!”. On most other social media platforms, there is an easily visible and assessable button enabling the simple deletion of a social media account. Vero however, according to users, is anything but user-friendly. The feature to delete an account is hidden within the support section, where, upon requesting to have your account deleted you have to patiently wait for your request to be approved by the Vero team, as illustrated by the comical tweet from Justine Ezarik, a popular YouTube personality.

With both the freedom to share a wide range of content to specific groups of people, combined with a loosely defined subscription-based payment plan in store for the future, in conjunction with ad-free viewing and potential difficulties to part ways with the platform — what’s your verdict? Is Vero a network you’d consider adding to your social media repertoire?

COM0015 – Blog #3 – Professional Networking… Is It Worth It??

I can still remember, all too clearly, sitting in a lecture during the first week of my Commerce degree, being told by one of my professors that the key to professional success is networking, and lots of it. Honestly, eighteen year old Courtney had never been more petrified.

At first, my desperate attempts to dodge these coveted networking opportunities and the feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment that I predicted would ensue, worked. I spent hours convincing myself I did not need the benefits I would derive from attending these events.

However, in the end, did I end up attending networking events during the course my degree? Of course I did. Was the experience awkward? At first, yes. Was it worth it? Completely.

Current Networking

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Source: DIYMarketers

Currently, the in-person professional networking I actively engage in occurs very organically through my employment environment. Working in a marketing capacity within the health food industry presents limitless opportunities to connect and engage  with brand representatives. These frequent and repeated interactions allow for relationships to develop, and topics to be explored — organic conversations around career related successes and challenges, and exciting industry trends.

Social media platforms have an incredibly powerful potential when used for professional networking. Social media allows for individuals to showcase all of one’s strengths, interests and passions in one place. For example, for me, social media serves as a place where I am able to showcase my interest in health, while simultaneously sharing my passion for personal finance.

At the moment in a professional context, I maintain a LinkedIn profile, that is neither completely up-to-date nor active. In addition, I maintain a professional Instagram account, and an Instagram account for my podcast. Finally, I maintain a blog on my podcast’s website. These platforms are not being truly optimized for professional networking purposes.

Future Focused: Commitment to In-person and Online Professional Networking

Looking forward, with the full understanding of the importance of developing both in-person and online professional relationships and networks, I am fully committed to expanding my professional networks in two capacities — through maintaining an increased social media presence, both as an individual and as the host of my personal finance podcast, along with attending professional development seminars, conferences, and events.

Professional Networking as an Individual and Podcast Host

Online

LinkedIn

In the next six to twelve months, I have aspirations to revise my LinkedIn profile, ensuring my Experience, Accomplishments, and Skills are accurate and current. I am going to actively add connections to my network who are both influencers in their industries and interested or employed within areas that pertain to my interests. In addition, I am going to actively share content related to my professional role within marketing, along with content pertaining to my passion for personal finance. These actions will result in creating a heavier presence within my LinkedIn network, leading to greater opportunities to begin discussions with those are interested and passionate about the same topics.

Twitter

Twitter, a powerful tool and one that I underutilize, is a platform I want to grow to have an active presence on within the next six to twelve months. Twitter, for myself, serves as an untapped source of valuable local-based connections that can work to further my personal finance podcast’s objectives and my own personal finance knowledge.

Instagram

The potential for both my professional and podcast Instagram accounts have not been fully maximized. In the next six to twelve months, my goal is to increase the frequency and quality of interactions with other users, while simultaneously developing a detailed set of objectives and overarching goals for both accounts in regards to how I intend to utilize these accounts moving forward, what type of content I hope to continue sharing, and how often I intend to post.

Website and Blog

With a corresponding personal finance website and blog for my podcast, I hope to publish content to this platform on a regular and ongoing basis and frequency while continuing to interact with readers and listeners through comments and contact form submissions. Encouraging dialogue on the podcast’s website is a valuable way to expand the podcast’s existing network.

In-person

In the next six to twelve months I intend to utilize Eventbrite to source out events to attend, which present opportunities to connect with individuals within the personal finance community and marketing environment. These valuable connections have the potential to translate into lasting relationships that can extend past the networking event itself.

In Conclusion…

Through reflection and time, I have come a long way since eighteen-year-old Courtney and her fear of networking and the awkwardness associated with it, and now realize the value and benefit of professional networking. In my opinion, the key to successfully networking both online and offline? Ensuring interactions feel genuine, authentic, and natural.

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Source: Reddit

COM0015 – Blog #2: From Genuine Health to the Human Bean

Did you know that in 2014, 88% of companies used social media for marketing purposes? Fast forward four years to 2018, with the ever increasing popularity and use of social media, is it even possible to survive and thrive as a businesses without the use of these digital platforms?

When looking specifically at Instagram, which experiences the highest interaction rate when contrasted against Facebook, there are several key elements that I find beneficial in using to access an organization’s social media strategy — professionalism; interactivity; and frequency and consistency.

Key Elements

    • Professionalism extends to the quality of content published, encompassing both photos and captions.
    • Interactivity refers to the quantity and quality of interactions whether it be through reposting content, interacting with other users’ content — through liking and commenting — or replying to comments from users.
    • Frequency and consistency is in regards to how often content is published to a social media platform and whether that number remains constant over time.

Genuine Health: Strong Social Media Presence 

Genuine Health is a supplement company with a collection of protein powders, vitamins, and wellness products for consumer use. Initially drawn to Genuine Health because of its product offering, its Instagram has truly captured my attention.

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Photo Credits: Genuine Health

Professionalism 

Contrasting Genuine Health against the first of three key elements I believe are important to creating an impressive social media strategy, Genuine Health scores high on  professionalism. Genuine Health publishes a variety of content utilizing high quality photographs accompanied by well thought out captions. Utilizing vibrantly coloured recipes, quotes, and short videos, Genuine Health’s atheistically pleasing content is incredibly visually appealing.

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Photo Credit: Genuine Health

Interactivity

Further related to its content, Genuine Health exerts a high level of interactivity, frequently reposting others’ Instagram content.

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Photo Credit: Genuine Health

Frequency & Consistency

Genuine Health maintains an incredibly consistent posting schedule, publishing a new piece of content every day to its Instagram platform.

The Human Bean: Benefit from a Social Media Presence

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Photo Credit: Human Bean

Statistics indicate that 1 in 3 Internet users go to social networks when looking for more information about a brand, with the same source indicating that 90% of marketers report that their social media efforts have resulted in increased exposure for their business.

With this in mind, let me first paint you a picture. A quaint, local coffee shop located in a town of 20,000 people, offering a variety of speciality drinks and hand-crafted baked creations and sandwich options. With ‘open mic’ nights and walls featuring artwork from local artists, combined with the constant hum of coffee machines and the quiet chatter of customers talking over their coffees. This is the whimsical vision of the Human Bean in Cobourg, Ontario. I’ve forever been attracted to this coffee shop due to the intangible charm that constantly lingers in the air.

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Photo Credit: boomgraham

The Human Bean has maintained ownership of a Facebook account and Twitter account, which has remained relatively inactive since early 2016 and late 2013, respectively. Trip Advisor boasts numerous positive reviews and photos for the Human Bean, with one individual citing the Human Bean as a coffee shop that is “aesthetically pleasing and Instagram-worthy atmosphere.” However, despite a coffee shop with incredible aesthetics, the creation of visually appealing products, enthusiastic visitors, and thereby opportunities to create visual content, the Human Bean is without an Instagram page.

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Photo Credit: Leahmarie W.

Before discussing a proposed social media strategy for the Human Bean, you may be asking yourself, why does a coffee shop operating in a small town need an increased sense of visibility? Cobourg, situated along the beautiful Lake Ontario, with a well maintained beach is a popular tourist destination in the warmer months. The Human Bean is conveniently nestled in the downtown core, meaning that those staying on their boats in the marina, those staying in the local campground by the waterfront, or those simply visiting for the day, can easily access the Human Bean by foot. In addition, with a mass number of condos located along the waterfront and a community of active, local individuals who walk through the downtown core, there is a sufficient sized audience who have opportunities to frequent this coffee shop.

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Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

In the past, the Human Bean has utilized its Facebook and Twitter platforms to publish a majority of text exclusive posts pertaining to upcoming events — poetry readings and live music — along with new product announcements and specials, local Cobourg downtown events, and opportunities for artists to showcase artwork within the store. While the Human Bean’s social media platforms maintain a comedic and down-to-earth tone, its overall social media strategy could be expanded upon to in order to increase awareness, and visibility.

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Photo Credit: Human Bean

Social Media Objectives

An overarching objective for the Human Bean and one that the Trip Advisor comments seem to support, is for the Human Bean to be viewed as a Cobourg destination. This main objective can be achieved through an increased level of visibility among both tourists and locals. By being active and present within the social media environment, it will work to increase visibility among both those visiting Cobourg as well as those residing in Cobourg.

Social Media Strategy

Maintaining an active and present social media presence can be accomplished through executing the three key elements in order to create an impressive social media strategy:

Professionalism 

Publishing high quality content — photographs and graphics — will work to deepen the already incredible reputation the Human Bean has garnered, while working to increase brand awareness. Maintaining a high level of professionalism in its social media interactions and content will in the customer’s mind, also extend to the quality of products, and level of service and expertise the Human Bean continually delivers. Attempting to capture the Human Beans’ coffee shop atmosphere and products in a digital manner, in addition to delivering novel and quality information to its social media accounts, will work to heighten the customers’ sense of connectedness with the store.

In addition, when in-store events occur, the creation of Facebook events in conjunction with social media promotion will help to widen the events’ reach, conjure interest, and ultimately increase event attendance and interest in future events. Customers, knowing they can obtain information about current events from the Human Bean’s social platforms, will result in users deriving value from following the coffee shop’s social media pages.

Interactivity

As illustrated by the Human Bean’s Trip Advisor page, individuals enjoy sharing words and photos of their positive experiences. Therefore encouraging the sharing of content from customers, as well as responding and reposting customer content will help to build a connection with its visitors and loyal community of followers and supporters. Potential customers will be able to get a feel for the atmosphere, and friendly ownership, even before stepping through the coffee shop’s front door.

Frequency & Consistency 

By ensuring new content is published to its social media accounts at least once per day it will ensure the Human Bean remains relevant in the minds of its customers and potential customers. By consistently sharing menu updates, product specials, store announcements, customer quotes, and store images, customers will feel confident in relying on the Human Bean’s social media page as a source of relevant and current information.

In Conclusion…

Today, with the aid of social media, organizations are now able to target consumers both in the physical environment, as well as in the digital space. With an astounding number of businesses connecting with its consumers through social media platforms, the real question for a businesses quickly becomes can you afford not maintain an active social media presence?

COM0015 – Blog #1: Weapons of Choice

Can we take a minute to talk about the phenomenon of information overload which really began with the development and mainstream use of the Internet and social media platforms? Every day alone an immense amount of social media content is created by the massive number of social media users. However, thanks to social media trend listening and monitoring tools, sorting through and locating relevant information for our unique individual or organizational needs has also never been easier — therefore with an increased surge of information, a means to filter, sort and organize that information must follow.

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Source: GIPHY

To digress slightly, there’s a saying my father frequently uses — “we can’t afford to make all the mistakes ourselves”, and when he says this he’s referring to our time resource.

This same type of message can be applied to the multitude of growing resources available on the Internet, where individuals and organizations curate lists of social media listening and monitoring tools, for others’ use. These influencers and early adopters, through trial and error help to sort and simplify the options available for others, and therefore influence the use of tools utilized by later adopters, thereby becoming trend setters. This was in fact how I stumbled upon my favourite RSS reader, Digg, a social media trend listening tool, along with Hootsuite, my monitoring tool of choice.

Listening

Upon recommendation from others, I began using Digg, an RSS reader that I really liked and frequently used until very recently. Long story short Digg shut down (who else is still mourning its loss?) and I swiftly went to work looking for another RSS reader which is how I found this article which walked me through how to move my RSS feeds over to a new, very similar platform — Feeder, which I am quickly becoming fond of. For me it serves as a platform to monitor industry and brand keywords in one central location, using my RSS feeds from Google Alerts. With Feeder you can easily create folders to organize and classify your feeds. I was drawn to Feeder because of how easily and seamlessly I was able to integrate and continue using my existing RSS feeds from Digg.

Monitoring

In terms of monitoring tools, Hootsuite is my go-to tool. I have an affinity for Hootsuite simply due to its customizable dashboard, enabling me to be able to closely monitor the elements I wish to monitor. Another draw to Hootsuite is its intuitive layout and compatibility with other platforms. The only beef I do have with Hootsuite however is its less than ideal integration with Instagram. Luckily tools like Later make up for this pitfall which easily allow you to plan and schedule posts.

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Source: GIPHY

News & Updates

Does anyone else have a personal passion for health and nutrition like I do? I just so happen to work within the health and wellness field in a social media capacity, so keeping an eye on health related trends is anything but a chore. For this, I find value in following Canadian based nutritionists, Meghan Telpner and Joy McCarthy’s blogs to gain inspiration and understand what these highly regarded individuals are discussing in regards to health trends, recipes, and popular product and product categories. The content these nutritionists create directly relate to the mindset of my organization’s target audience which is why I find their blogs such valuable resources. To stay organized, I use Feedly as my one-stop-shop to organize all of the health related blogs I find beneficial to follow. Along the same lines, I try to stay on my social media A-game  through the utilization of Social Media Today which features articles and infographics pertaining to everything digital marketing. The best part about this website is that the website’s homepage is organized into a dashboard with tabs at the top of the page relating to specific areas: ‘Social Media Updates’, ‘Trending’, ‘Social Marketing’, ‘Digital Strategy’, ‘Content Marketing’, and ‘Influencers’.

What I’ve learned?

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I’ve always have this desire to keep all of my tools organized in one location — or in this case, website or application. For a long period of time I was continuously searching for that one resource that would help me achieve this. With this in mind, I think the greatest challenge has been to understand and realize that with the multiple different processes one must engage in when working within the social media realm — from monitoring, to listening, to observing industry trends — that while some tools will come close to being able to fully encompass all of the needed functions, multiple tools are not only necessary, but advantageous.

Blog #7: Personal Reflection

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Photo Credit: cohdra

The digital environment serves as such an incredible and powerful resource, with a limitless supply of information. However, due to the sheer volume of information available, especially when thanks to social media and blogs, everyone becomes a content creator, standing out can become difficult. Storytelling, a tradition practiced throughout the years, dating back to cavemen days, becomes the optimal solution to creating content in the digital realm. Storytelling enables content to stand out, cutting through digital noise and clutter through its ability to travel through both time and space, transmitting information instantaneously. Storytelling allows an individual or brand to develop and create an online voice, with storytelling enabling a brand to become “human” in a space where tone and personality can often be difficult to express otherwise.

The content I create will be guided by story in the unique way I choose to capture and relay an experience or piece of information — doing so in a way that encourages interaction between myself, the content creator, and the content consumer. My story will work to connect with my audience, aiming to create real and genuine relationships. The content I create will utilize a wide angle view to ensure the entire topic is accurately captured and portrayed allowing the audience to receive a full picture of the topic in discussion.

I want to tell stories that not only convey a message about my personal brand, but convey a message in a way that universally inspires, captivates, and motivates my target audience. I want to tell stories that infuse humour and lightheartedness into subject matters, and are so completely and irresistibly memorable that they will not easily be forgotten. I want the stories I tell to be heavily rooted within the brand that encompasses myself — my passion for personal finance, my love for the simplicity and beauty in nature, and my drive for maintaining a lifestyle rooted in health and well-balanced nutrition. I want my stories to capture my deep rooted visions, dreams and goals and the essence of what makes me, me, in a captivating, influential way.

Blog #6: Let Me Help You Help Me

I think I was always destined to help people. From as far back as I can remember, helping others was something that brought me pure joy and satisfaction. I can distinctly recall dragging dinning room chairs over to the kitchen counter just to be tall enough to see onto the counter to help my Mom prepare dinners — mind you it was probably more of me eating the chopped up ingredients then anything else, but none the less, I was driven to help. As I got older that desire to assist others never faded. As soon as I was old enough to volunteer at our local library, fourteen year old Courtney could not start soon enough.

CDBCC.jpgIn the summer of grade eleven I began volunteering for our local sprint kayak and canoe club, transitioning the following summer to a coach position, happily leading a portion of the youth recreational activities and the summer day camp program. Whether I was raising money for a cause I felt passionate about, or participating in community events, I was content.

Fast forward to my final year of university, when I knew I wanted to pursue further education in a field where I could personally bring value to others’ lives. It was at this time, that I felt torn. In my desire to help others I examined the two things I loved most — personal finance and living a health conscious lifestyle.

At this point graduation had come and gone, and the summer months stretched ahead of me. As I continued pondering my options I began working at a health food store, which was within my nutrition loving realm. At the same time I co-created a personal finance podcast which I continue to co-host today. During the summer, as I was working on the social media and web content for my podcast, I took a keen interest in the operational side of organizations’ social media and before I knew it I had enrolled in this very Social Media Certificate program. Soon after, I transitioned roles within the company to manage the organization’s social media and web content.

This is when the realization finally hit me. I am so completely content with both the podcast I maintain and my position of employment because my desire to help others is fulfilled. Through my position at the health food store, I am able to assist customers in discovering products, services and events through the creation of social media posts and website updates. With my podcast, I work with my co-host to discuss topics that assist others in finding financial independence and financial freedom.

I’ve realized, with deep reflection, that the activities I engaged in and the natural tendencies I possessed as a child were qualities to be acknowledged and encouraged. By listening and paying attention to this characteristic of mine — my desire to help others — it organically led me toward two endeavours that bring me so much happiness.

 

Blog #5: Uniquely Me, Rooted in Simplicity 

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In a world that moves so quickly and is so heavily infused with layers of complexity, I pride myself on maintaining a personal brand rooted in simplicity. The activities I undertake, the relationships I develop and the way I spend my time are constantly and consistently driving me towards achieving a life of happiness and freedom. Freedom from financial stress, freedom from things, freedom from clutter — mental and physical.

Those closest to me would tell you that I have a deep rooted sense of passion, enthusiasm, and excitement for the projects, activities and general lifestyle philosophies I engage in.

My personal brand is defined by three core activities I fiercely enjoy — my personal finance podcast, my online vintage store, and my YouTube channel. The common thread among each of these activities is minimalism and simplicity. Each of these activities convey the confidence and conviction I hold for the lifestyle I am proud to maintain — living life with less, avoiding consumer debt, and being content with the natural beauty and simplicity this world has to offer.

My podcast, a Canadian-based personal finance podcast, called Simple Money Solutions focuses on the behavioural aspect of personal finance in an effort to reach financial independence. My online vintage store that I run with my partner, CJ’s Vintage Store, involves thrifting and repurposing second hand items and finding the beauty and value in the most inexpensive objects. My YouTube channel, Dually Simple, also created with my partner, focuses on maintaining a partnership set in a lifestyle of minimalism and simplicity.

In my attempt to break free from societal norms and expectations, and live a life oozing with contentment, I stand unapologetically tall. I have discovered a way of living that I believe is beneficial to not just myself but anyone looking for freedom.

Blog #4: Let’s Tacobout It

Taco Bell has quickly become a Twitter icon, making a digital name for themselves with their entertaining tweets and top-notch customer service. One article, from the Huffington Post, refers to Taco Bells’ tweets as a “clever combination of retweets, sassy comebacks, hashtags and whimsical life advice” (Boboltz, 2014).

Taco Bell maintains two Twitter accounts. Their primary account, @TacoBell, launched in July 2007, is maintained primarily for marketing purposes, promoting new product developments, promotions and community outreach. Their most recent Twitter account, @TacoBellTeam, established in February of 2012, serves as the “Official Customer Care for Taco Bell”. Taco Bell uses this twitter account to respond to customer complaints and inquiries, listing their hours of availability in their bio — Monday to Friday, 7:00am to 7:00pm.

Utilization of Social Media

Taco Bell successfully forms positive relationships with their customers by maintaining an active presence on the platforms their customers maintain a presence on. Through the utilization of Twitter as a full customer service solution, Taco Bell is able to act in a proactive manner, responding to customer comments as soon as they are posted.

Personable Tone

A major element that has caused Taco Bell’s Twitter to garner the respect and admiration it has is through their human, down-to-earth tone. Taco Bell understands the importance of maximizing every opportunity to form and develop positive relationships with their customers, utilizing a traditionally more B2B approach, through the creation of marketing that is relationship driven as opposed to product driven (Algonquin College, n.d.).

With tweets like this, Taco Bell is not afraid to utilize humour and sarcasm to make light of situations and diffuse tension.

Dependable Customer Service

Earning a gold-star for customer service, Taco Bell is relentless in their ability to timely and appropriately respond to customer complaints, going to great lengths to make sure their customers feel valued and listened to.

Taco Bell, through their appropriate selection of tools and creative execution, is able to capture the attention of online users, empathize with their customers need to be heard, engage in witty, yet heart-felt, two-way dialogue, and provide value to their Taco Bell community (Algonquin College, n.d.).


References

Algonquin College. (n.d.b). Lesson 4: Choosing the Correct Storytelling Tools for Your   Audience [Webpage]. Retrieved from Lesson Content: http://ccol.algonquincollege.com/com0014/lesson-4/lesson-content/

Boboltz, S. (2014). Whoever Runs Taco Bell’s Twitter Account Deserves A Raise. Retrieved from  https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/taco-bell-tweets_n_4856259

Stopera, D. (2012). The Best Of Taco Bell’s Twitter Account. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/the-best-of-taco-bells-twitter?utm_term=.xg68yE3w7L#.sbWb2LneK5

Blog #3: Health Food Store

IMG_5841.JPGIt’s easy to assume you understand the demographics and psychographics of a population you’re working within at first glance. Take the organization I work for — a health food store located in the downtown core of a busy city.

The store’s foot traffic, analyzed at a very high, generalized level, is very diverse:

  • working professionals employed at surrounding businesses: mid to high level disposable income; approximately 25 to 35 years old; majority unmarried; seeking health conscious, quick, take out options; accesses work by driving or walking
  • student attending a close by post-secondary institution: low level disposable income; approximately 18 to 24 years old; unmarried; majority female; interested in nutrition, supplements, health and beauty care, yoga, aromatherapy and products adhering to specific dietary preferences (i.e. vegan, gluten free etc.); accesses store by walking
  • senior-aged citizens: mid to high level disposable income; 65+ years old; married; engage in weekly grocery shopping; seeking sales and discounts; live active, healthy live styles; take advantage of Seniors Discount Day; accesses store by driving
  • tourists visiting the city: couples aged 25 to 35 years old and young families; high level disposable income; looking for novel items; seeking healthy and nutritious meals, snacks and drinks; accesses store by walking

From there I asked myself a few questions:

  • Which group is most likely to share the store’s content on social media?
  • Are working professionals likely to follow the store’s social media accounts to learn about new lunch options?
  • Do senior-aged citizens actually use social media and see content pertaining to Seniors Discount Day?
  • Will tourists re-visit the store or share their experience with others?

With these questions in mind I turned to the store’s social media accounts to examine if the consumers visiting the store also represented the consumers following the store’s social media accounts.

Examining social media followers

A large proportion of the store’s social media following are female (as are the individuals who actually visit the store, specifically student aged, as indicated above). This mirrors the findings from a study conducted by Arganini, Saba, Comitato, Virgili, & Turrini (2012) on the gender differences in food choice and dietary intake in modern western societies, which concludes that “women generally show a tendency to prefer healthier food choices and are much more concerned about the importance of food choice and eating behaviour to stay in a good physical shape than men”. Another large proportion of online followers is local businesses and organizations which is in line with the store’s advocacy towards supporting locally produced products and organizations that benefit the community.

Using Google Trends

Next, Google Trends revealed that the search term “health food store near me” has experienced a 350% increase over the past year which could represent the interests tourists have in finding healthy options while visiting and travelling. The store’s Facebook reviews reflect their experiences indicating that this group is in fact interacting with the store’s social media accounts.

Using Google Adwords

Following that, Google Adwords, indicates that the terms “takeout”, “lunch”, and “dinner” all receive 10,000 to 100,000 average monthly search per month in Canada. This could mean that individuals either visiting or working in the area are seeking meal options. If these groups enjoy the products and selection found at the store they may take on a more active role in following the store’s social media accounts to stay informed (or may be already).

Age of social media users

Lastly, in terms of examining the user group that is most likely to be viewing and interacting with the store’s social media content, data reveals that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — the social media accounts the store prominently utilizes — are most heavily used by individuals aged 18 to 29 followed by individuals aged 30 to 49 (York, 2017). This therefore indicates that post-secondary aged students and working professionals are the individuals most likely even following and interacting with the store’s social media accounts. This could mean that Senior Discount Day promoted via social media may not be fully reaching the targeted group of customers. However,  student oriented promotions such as snacks for studying or quick, easy meal options, based on the statistics quoted above, would prove successful, as, these aforementioned age groups are more prominently on social media and therefore statistically higher to follow the store’s social media, than any other age group.

When contrasting those who frequent the store against those who follow the store on social media, it can be concluded that the demographic and psychographic makeup of the customers who visit the physical store are generally the same demographic and psychographic makeup as the customers who follow and interact with the store online.


References

Arganini, C., Saba, A., Comitato, R., Virgili, F., & Turrini, A. (2012). Gender Differences in Food Choice and Dietary Intake in Modern Western Societies. Public Health – Social and Behavioral Health, Prof. Jay Maddock (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0620-3, InTech. Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/public-health-social-and-behavioral-health/gender-differences-in-food- choice-and-dietary-intake-in-modern-western-societies

York, A. (2017). Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy. Retrieved from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/new-social-media-demographics/#all