COM0015 Blog post # 4 – Out of the Box

Social media has evolved into so much more than a social networking tools that allow people to stay connected, share their meals and update family and friends of the day to day happenings in their world.

It isn’t so much a specific  application that is unexpected, but rather the board range of services and awareness that using social media has provided.  Everything happens in real time, and a message that would have taken days, even weeks to navigate the globe can now be there in just a matter of seconds.

In the days of Terror attacks, most recently in Manchester, social media is used, not only as way to share details of the news story, but also allows a means to offer support, share information, and ask for help.  People post that they are looking for people, or that they have a place for people to take shelter, offer food, and to organize any relief or support campaign.

Social media has also proven huge in raising awareness of a cause, illness, or other campaign.  Think ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the #NoMakeUp Selfie raising money for Cancer research, and the #BostonStrong hashtag after the bombing at the Marathon.  While these are all Global awareness activities, Social media is also helpful at a community level…it has been used to help find lost pets, notify communities of  danger lurking, ask for information on a crime that has been committed, and to advise of missing or run away children.  With the rise of online funding options such as Go Fund Me, as well as online petitions like change.org social media provides an opportunity to grow your cause and reach people you would never otherwise reach using conventional methods before the advent of social media.

It will be interesting to see what the next few years bring, as I am sure we haven’t even imagined what capabilities it holds!

 

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COM0015 Blog #3 – Professional Networking

Developing and growing a professional network is an important part of working in social media.  The broader your network the wider your reach.

In order to broaden my network, I am always looking for new contacts.  Whenever I meet someone in my field, I automatically connect with them on social media.  I follow them, like their page, connect on Linked In or any other means that is available. I recently attended a conference of social media health advocates and connected with most of the attendees.  This allowed for a support network giving me a wide range of people who work in the same area as I do. In fact there is a specific Facebook page, just for the attendees of the conference which allows for easy brainstorming, providing of advice, and sharing in successes as well as asking for support for our own endeavours.  It also  provides great resources for content for my own professional social media channels., given that many of the folks at the conference are in a related field as I am.

I also am always looking for new contacts when I am researching for work – find a new writer- follow them or their blog, come a across a new organization – follow their social media feeds.  We also have many affiliates so we ask them to link to us on their websites and channels, to allow their audience to seek us out and expand their networks as well.

Continuing to attend professional development events is also another great way to connect with those in your field.  Whether on line or in person, many share participating lists and social media handles to easily allow you to connect outside of the event.  And while increasing your network it also allows the added bonus of continuing to learn and evolve in an environment that is always changing.

 

COM0015 – Tools and Sources

Social-media-overview-1080x675Pick a tool….any tool!

As the video in the lesson shows, content is being added to the “interwebs” (my mom calls it that and I think its funny!) at an alarmingly quick pace, and therefore it is virtually impossible to find relevant content without using some sort of tool to help weed out all of that information and find something that is share-worthy.  But how do you decide on which one is best.  Let’s be honest – there are almost as many content tools out there as there is new content! (okay so maybe I am exaggerating a little bit, but you get my point…)

Chances are that my new favourite tool hasn’t even been created yet…or it has and I haven’t discovered it yet.  But until that new and improved model shows itself, I currently have two that I use with frequency -in fact almost daily – to gather content to share on my social media platforms at work.

I currently manage 2 twitter feeds, 3 Facebook pages, 1 Instagram (although admittedly this one is the neglected third child if we are being honest!), and one Linked In page (and if Instagram is the neglected third child then Linked in is the fourth child that i forgot i had!).  I use Hootsuite to manage them all, and this platform is a godsend to anyone who is managing several platforms.  Finding relevant content can be challenging, especially since HootSuite discontinued its Suggested Content feature that allowed a user to enter key words and content posts would automatically be suggested.  This made things very easy to schedule future content (especially during weekends, holidays and vacations).  Thankfully HootSuite suggested several content based apps that could be added to the contentgemsHootSuite Web dashboard, that can automatically generate new content based on keywords and hashtags that you can enter into them.   The one that I use with great frequency now is Content Gems .   This allows me to add a stream for each Interest I have and then share this content direct to my social networks via HootSuite.  It really is a one-stop shop kind of application and has allowed me to quickly mourn the loss of HootSuite Suggestions that I had grown to depend on.

downloadThe second fav tool is the tried and true, fits you like your favourite pair of slippers, Google Alerts.   Given the number of platforms I manage, adding google alerts for all our key information and interests allows me to share news as it happens without missing a beat.  Having the alerts come direct to my in box makes it easy to add to my daily activities and checking my alerts is often the first thing I do when I log in each morning, to ensure that news and information can be shared with our followers in virtual real time.  As with everything, the changes in our industry are hard to keep up with, so Google Alerts allows you to change, add, delete any alerts to ensure the content you are receiving remains relevant and optimal.

Given the rate that things are changing, and how quickly content is coming at us (Quite frankly knowing that by 2020 human knowledge will double every 12 hours is already giving me a migraine) having these tools available is essential to having a successful social media presence, in fact I would say critical.

COM0014 – Personal Reflection

It is human nature to want to communicate.  To tell stories, to share experiences, and to provide insight and advice.  We are built to communicate.

Communication is not only personal but professional.  We communicate in business to raise awareness, sell products, advertise brands and inform our clientele.  With the advent of social media, business know have another means of connecting with their customers, and it is immediate and far-reaching, and can sometimes be unforgiving.

Businesses have a huge task to engage their audience, given the abundance of information out there.  They need to grab the attention of their audience and try their best to keep it.  Their stories need to be relevant to what the customer is looking for, as well as being responsive.  They need to listen to what the customer is saying and respond to that.  Social media is a two way conversation and business need to be conversant and address the needs, concerns and questions of their audience.  Otherwise, with all the competition ready to step in, your customer will go elsewhere.

It is also vital that businesses need to know their audience.  And while demographics are important (ie gender, age, geography etc) it is important for business to know even more about their audience.  Businesses need to be in tune with trends, issues and concerns, and the behaviors that are common with their target community.  It is always a good idea to test drive any messages with a small target audience, and listen to feedback before putting out to a wider audience.  And as mentioned previously, it is also critical to value the feedback you recieve from your audience and respond accordingly

COM0014 #6 – Do People know your story?

“What is your favourite Customer story.”

In my job, we always say that “We aren’t doing brain surgery on babies” to remind us that the world will not end if we do not get something done that day.  While we work hard to advocate for patients and educate them on skin disease and conditions, we are not saving lives every day.   We maintain our website, publish a magazine and other marketing material and share information on social media.

Meet Grace- she is a patient who struggled with severe symptoms such as extreme fatigue, swollen feet so severe she could not walk, weight gain, acne and unwanted facial hair.   She struggled with severe depression and anxiety.  They were unable to find the cause of her debilitating symptoms.  On a routine visit to her health care provider, she, by chance, picked up a brochure we had published on unwanted facial hair (the last copy in the office), and she says that was a turning point in her story.  One of the listed causes of unwanted facial hair is  a very rare disease called Cushing’s disease.  After reading our brochure, she began researching Cushings and discovered that she had every single symptom that was listed for Cushings disease.  She presented this information to her doctor and underwent further testing and it was confirmed that she did have Cushings and it was being caused by a tumour on her pituitary gland.   She then went on to have surgery to remove the tumour and she is now reporting weight loss,  diminished swelling, the acne had cleared and the facial hair was far less than what she had.   She is filled with gratitude at the improved quality of her life.

She says that her diagnosis was nothing short of a miracle, and that she was meant to find that brochure.  By way of our brochure, she was able to find a reason for her bad health, and more importantly to get the treatment she needed.

Her story brings to mind the expression “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you just may be the world”.

So not brain surgery on babies….but our little brochure definitely meant the world for Grace.

COM0014 -Personal Brand

It is difficult to look at yourself objectively and talk about the things that make you good at what you do,  To highlight the positive!  But here goes…

Working in social media for a not for profit is a new role for me, and is one that I have taken on with eagerness.  I have worked hard, and advanced in my job from an office manager, to now a program manager, focusing on Social media.  I have taught myself many things, and then had the drive to take this certificate in Social Media, to better my skills and expand on what I already know.  Going back to school at the age of 45 was difficult and trying to balance work, school work, and family while I do it even more challenging.  But I am committed and I have worked hard and have been able to maintain an A+ average throughout the program.

I recognize that you are never too old to learn, to improve, to better yourself.  There is always something to accomplish, and I am embracing this.  By doing so, maybe great things have begun to happen for me in my role as the Social Media Manager.  I leave on Thursday to attend a conference in Chicago on Social Media for Health Care managers.  To have just been accepted to attend this conference is an achievement unto itself, but I will have the added bonus of learning so much while I am there, allowing me to improve even more, to make me even better at my job.

There is no greater compliment than to be recognized as being very good at what you do.  We all want that validation.  This week I got that when I was invited to be a presenter at an International conference in Geneva for skin patient organizations.  The topic:  Social Media for Patient organizations!

 

COM0014 – Blog Post #4 B2C Case Study -Netflix

Social media has allowed businesses to directly speak to their consumer in way like they never have before, and for most cases for much cheaper than traditional advertising.    B2C companies connect with their audiences well through social media, but not many have had their brand become a common verb such as Netflix!   They have accomplished this in 10 short years.

Netflix started as a DVD delivery service in 1997, a monthly subscription model, that allowed users an unlimited amount of movie rentals for a monthly fee.  In 2007 the moved to an online streaming model that grew rapidly, and  had 20 million subscribers in the first 3 years. The company grew so rapidly that 3 years after that, they moved into developing original programming,  with the first being “House of Cards”.   They have grown to now having over 93 million subscribers, watching over 10 billion hours of Netflix each month, having earned 707 award nominations and 146 awards,  including Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG awards.

Netflix has the unique advantage of having strong statistics on their clients and they are able to cater to those specific demographics.  For example when they learned that 76 percent of their users enjoyed “binge-watching” multiple episodes of a series, they made the decision to release full seasons at a time, rather than one episode at a time like mainstream programming.  They capitalize on their ability to do this through their social media campaigns such as the one for their new season release of Downton Abbey.

netflix

Netflix is also very responsive to their customers, and reply often to the comments received in often humorous ways.  In a recent teaser for their original show Riverdale, a user commented “Guess what we’re watching tomorrow?”.  The obvious answer was Riverdale, since it was a post for that show, however Netflix replied “Peppa the pig?”

The Netflix brand has become such a staple with TV watchers that,  “Netflix  & Chill” became the new language of watching tv together and has become everyone’s favourite pastime.  It also saw the invention of Binge-watching, without shame .    It is no accident that this DVD delivery service has morphed into a $41.1 Billion entertainment industry and the 79th most valuable World Brands, according to Forbes magazine.

COM014 – Blog Post #3 Can you hear me? How about now?

A good communication strategy outlines not only know what it is you are trying to say, but more importantly knowing who you are saying it to and then choosing the communication method that best reaches that audience.  If your target audience are senior citizens then it is safe to say that Snap Chat may not be the best vehicle for that communication, given that 71% of their users are under the age of 34 (Source:  https://www.omnicoreagency.com/snapchat-statistics/) .

I work for a NFP organization that works in education, support and advocacy for patients living with dermatological conditions in Canada.  Our audience is a diverse one since skin disease does not discriminate – very young children and teenagers are affected by eczema, acne, and psoriasis, adults tackle melanoma, psoriasis, burns or wounds  and seniors encounter shingles, rosacea, psoriasis, and many of the other conditions I have already mentioned.  So while we certainly do not have an age, race or gender demographic we do want to ensure that our communications are geared towards a Canadian audience.   To ensure that we are reaching that audience, we often use the tools built into many of the social media platforms to target Canadians interested in skin health or dermatology.  This sometimes requires putting a little bit of money into our social media and advertise our sites (Facebook and Twitter) to target Canadians.   By doing these we have achieved our goal and over 90% of our followers on Facebook are Canadian.

By ensuring that we are reaching our target audience, we are able to meet our mission of promoting skin health and improving the quality of life of Canadians living with skin conditions.

COM0014 – Blog #2 – Getting to the point…and doing it with purpose

The key to effective story telling is engaging your reader early, ensuring what you say “speaks” to them, and if so they will continue to read through your piece, and are hopefully prompted to engage with you in the manner that you intended. In the days of social media this is even more important as your reader is one click away from moving to the next post.

Anyone can write a post on Social media…making it a good one takes some work. The first thing is to make sure you say what you need to say quickly. This is not a soap opera, and people will not stick around to see how the drama plays out! Get to the point quickly, and then expand on your ideas as you go. If you have grabbed the attention of your reader, they will continue reading and then hopefully engage with you in the way you had hoped.

Which takes me to the next point – Decide what it is that you are asking of your reader. Do you want them to like or share your writing? Are you asking questions aimed at encouraging conversation? Or is your intention for the reader to be entertained or intrigued and therefore wanting to share so that others can be entertained or intrigued. Be sure to keep these things in mind while composing your piece. It is also important to make the action easy to undertake; make sharing easy, allow for comments by asking a question or leaving them with a final thought.

Getting to the point is crucial in your writing, and inspiring your reader to become engaged. Other elements help including grammar, spelling, clarity and being concise. You only have your reader’s attention for a short time, – so make the most of it!

COM0014 – Blog #1: My Vacation

Okay folks – you’ll need to hold onto your hats ‘cuz this one is going to be exciting…..are you ready?  My last vacation was the week between Christmas and New Year’s when my office closes and I get to retreat to my home, cuddle up in front of the fire in my favourite jammies, sipping a nespresso from my new machine that “Santa” brought me for Christmas, with a cat on my lap, catching up on my favourite netflix indulgence, napping at will, and eating an entire bag of fudgeeos in one sitting (don’t judge…we’ve all done it!)

I know…I know..your jealous….it sounds brilliant right?  I agree and in an ideal world this would be my ideal vacation…but sadly I am a mother of two teen age boys, both who play hockey, as well as work as officials for hockey (ones a ref and one is a timekeeper), and well… it was the holidays.  The holidays comes with visitors….We had my in-laws visiting from out of province for a visit, along with the siblings-in-law (is that even a word??).  It was my in-laws  50th wedding anniversary which required a party for just a few dozen of their closest friends that was catered by yours truly (and yes, sadly that WAS my idea) not to mention a full Christmas dinner since this was the first holiday we have had with them in several years cooked by …you guessed it…me again!  .  And if that weren’t enough to exude rest and relaxation, I am a child of divorced parents (with step-siblings, nieces, nephews, dogs etc)  which required separate holiday celebrations for each side of said split family at….you’re right again….MY HOUSE!!!

So as much as I wanted to be curled up in the blissful solitude of my family room, binge-watching Orange is the New Black, with nothing but my favourite of our 3 cats for company – this is what I was actually doing….

….try to contain your envy will ya!