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!

COM0011 – Blog Post # 6 – Social Media Fails

One of the main points we have learnt in this course is the value of personal branding, and the importance of having a strategy to manage your online presence.  This applies not only to oneself personally, but also to organizations.  Many corporations spend millions of dollars on their marketing and branding and now with many turning to Social Media to promote themselves.  But what happens when something goes wrong?  Inadvertently (or perhaps not so inadvertently) posting something offensive or insensitive can have a huge negative impact on a company that will haunt them no matter how quickly the post is removed.

Take for example the clothing company American Apparel.  In 2014 they posted an image to their Tumblr account in celebration of the Fourth of July, with the tags #smoke and #clouds.  The image..

american-apparel-smoke-clouds-640x640

Now most would recognize this as the image of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster – the space shuttle that exploded shortly after take off killing everyone on board, while the world watched live.  The company claimed it was an error made by an employee who was born after the disaster had occurred, and wasn’t aware of what this picture represented.

Another pitfall for corporations is when something gets posted on a social media account by an employee, when the post was meant for their own personal feeds.  Take for example the Chrysler employee who posted this..

393176-chrysler-hates-detroit-drivers

…ooops!

And finally the DiGiorno pizza company that unknowingly used a hashtag that was trending at the time – without fully understanding what the hashtag referred to.  The tag was #WhyIStayed and began trending after the video of Ray Rice punching his wife in an elevator .  Many of the messages using #WhyIStayed were from women telling why they chose to stay in an abusive relationship.   So in an effort to take advantage of the momentum of the tag, DiGiorno posted this…

Digiorno

So what’s the lesson here.  Firstly, make sure you know the background of what you are posting.  Check and double check the source of the information.  Be informed!

And as many can attest – making an error on social media, despite whatever apology may follow, it will never be erased.  What is posted on the internet is there forever, so you best be sure check to be sure you want it out there forever!

Com011 – Blog Post #5: Anti-Social Media?

Let’s face it – Social Media is the new normal.   Future generations will never live without the ability to communicate instantly, share (or overshare) the details of their lives with the simple click of a button.  The benefits of social media are clear to all.

But what are the costs. What is the effects of social media on our health and mental wellness?  What are the costs to our relationships?

Statistics show that 72% of online adults are using social media – in fact the average user spends up to 23 hours a week online; using social media and other communication tools.  And a study conducted by Stanford University found that 50% of people using social networks have indicated that this use has made their lives worse.  They admit that their self esteem is affected because they compare themselves and their success (or lack thereof), to what others post about themselves, leaving them feeling inadequate or less.  The irony of that is that many people post half truths or lies about their lives on social media in order to seem more impressive or successful than they may actually be.

An argument can also be made for how Anti-Social, social media is becoming.  Take the infograhic below:

antisocial_0409

Social networking seems to give people  a license to be mean.  There seems to be a disconnect with people when they post on social media…you aren’t actually saying anything mean to a persons face which makes it much easier to be rude.  So much so that Jimmy Kimmel has an entire section of his show where celebrity’s read mean tweets

 

The truth is that Social Media is consuming people.  It is estimated that there are 2.03 Billion global active social media users…and we collectively spend 39,757 years of our time on Facebook every single day!  It has even created a phenomenon called ‘FOMO’ – the Fear of Missing Out.  This is so wide spread that people admit to checking their social media feeds before they even get out of bed, and have even admitted to checking, reading or posting on social media sites while using the bathroom!

Substituting social media for real life human interaction is costly to our relationships.  It is much more important to provide a friend who is going through a difficult time with a real life in person hug than a smiley face emoticon followed by a heart.    And an LOL or a LMAO can never replace that spirit lifting full on belly laugh you share with a friend that makes tears stream down your face and threaten to make you pee your pants just a little!

The internet has brought the world to our back door.  While social media has helped to bring us closer together, it also threatens to push us further apart.  Good judgement and integrity are paramount!

 

 

COM0011 Blog Post #4 – The art of Vague-booking

I am sure we can all say we have been guilty of this at one time or another…the dreaded Vaguebooking…which believe it or not is an actual thing!   You may not know exactly what it is, but I am pretty sure you have seen one, and perhaps even posted your own.

Urban Dictionary defines it as:

An intentionally vague Facebook Status update, that prompts friends to ask what’s going or, or is possibly a cry for help. 

Mary is:  “wondering if it is all worth it”.

Long before social media came to be, most people wrote their innermost thoughts and secrets in a “Dear Diary” format, and these musing were never meant for public consumption, much less meant to spark an ongoing plea from your friends to discuss what your thoughts might mean.  Writing “Dear Diary, Why do I bother” was meant for your eyes only and folks were not forced to speculate and draw their own conclusions…nor were you expecting Dear Diary to have the answer.

These days people have fallen into the passive-aggressive trap of posting a few words meant to  elicit an outpouring of love and support  from friends not to mention the curiosity and attention from said friends.  These status usually allude to a life turmoil, crisis, or emotional distress yet never give details.

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But why Vaguebook?  According to Arik Beremzon:

“It’s a form of attention seeking behavior combined with “first world problems”. By being vague, an individual can elicit a response of concern from their surroundings that would normally be considered as overreacting.”

So posting “Regret is a terrible thing” may lead people to jump to conclusions and ask you if you are okay, offering words of encouragement and offers to be that shoulder to lean on, assuming that life has handed you a horrible blow….when really you are referring to that double Big Mac Combo you had after dinner which even included a Super sized fries!

Initially any good friend would see a Vaguebook post and ask “what is wrong hon”, or a “???” or even just a ” 😦 “, But this status is rarely followed by any insight or  clarification and often causes a great deal of discontent.  I mean there is nothing i hate more than one someone says “I have to tell you something” and then says “never mind!” as if you won’t spend the next few hours if not days wondering what they were going to say!

Vaguebooking goes one step further because you fell into the trap and actually set yourself up for the “never mind” that is bound to follow.  It has become the modern day “Boy who cried Wolf”…. and we all know what happened to him….

the-boy-who-cried-wolf_02

 

Blog Assignment #3 Who am I really?  My life in Memes.

Blog Assignment #3 Who am I really? My life in Memes.

As we get further into this course I am reminded a lot about considering what my personal brand might be.  And quite frankly I have no idea…Now I know we will be doing an assignment on creating a personal branding strategy down the road, but I thought I might reflect on what it is currently, based on my current social media activities.

And after this reflection, it would seem that I am a Starbucks loving, Pinot Grigio addicted, Crazy hockey mom who can’t stick to a diet!    To be fair it is also clear that I am passionate about Youth Mental Health, Volunteering and my two boys however it is the wine memes that seem to take centre stage!

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So I scroll through my Facebook pages to try to find examples of the other things that define me…and I do…

 

Which is good…I’m a hockey mom…its all good…I go to the gym but hate every minute of it…and my husband does snore….so I’m doing okay…Besides, whats a little wine humour anyway….but then these..

And I’m only at December.   Of course mixed in with these are the number of times I have checked into a Starbucks, several photos of my kids playing hockey (which if you didn’t know better you’d think were all taken at the same game!)…followed by these…

Hmmmm….It would also appear that I’m a bit of a bad a$$…

So I’ve had my reflection and if you will please excuse me I have some deleting to do (make that a lot!)…and I think I best get a jump on that branding assignment…I think I’m going to need it!

What do the meme’s in your social media life have to say about you?

 

 

COM011 Blog post #2 – The Good of Social Media

Last time I touched on the evils that lurk in Social Media for our children…admittedly one that requires far more discussion and investigation than this space allows.  So now to talk about the good that can be done with social media and to touch on what can arguably be an example of an exceptional social media campaign.

logo_letstalk_en

This past Wednesday was the Bell #LetsTalk campaign.  Everyday folks like you and I are asked to make a phone call, text, tweet or like and share Facebook posts and for every one of these actions Bell will donate 5 cents to mental initiatives

In 2010 Bell announced their pledge to contribute $50 Million to mental health related initiatives in the next 5 years.  And the Bell Let’s Talk day was born.  After 5 years, and the overwhelming response from Canadians during those first 5 Bell Let’s Talk days, Bell extended their funding commitment for another 5 years and to at least $100 Million – or in their Social Media currency – 2 Billion tweets and Facebook shares!

In the 28.5 hours of the campaign Bell Let’s Talk Day resulted in 125,915,295 interactions (which included calls, texts, tweets and Facebook posts and shares) and the equivalent of $6,295,764.75.  The #BellLetsTalk was the most used hastag in the world and Canada that day and resulted in 6,826,114 tweets and retweets, an increase of 43% from the year before.  The #stopthestigma, #endthestigma, #mentalhealthawareness and #sicknotweak hashtags trended world wide throughout the day.  Even Prime Minster Trudeau, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Governor General and Prince Harry got into the action.

tweets

In the 6 years since Bell started their Lets Talk Campaign to promote mental health they have raised $79,919,178.55 and seen 598,383,571 interactions.  An impressive viral campaign if there every was one!


 

http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/news/239/thank-you-canada-a-new-bell-lets-talk-day-record-with-125-915-295-calls-texts-tweets-and-shares-and-6-295-764-75-more-for-canadian-mental-health

 

COM011 – Post 1 – The Danger of Social Media and Today’s Teenager

In The Beginning…

Back in my teenaged days (about a million light years ago) if someone had something bad to say about you or wanted to spread a rumour about you it was written on a bathroom stall at school, often followed by your phone number and the words “for a good time call…”   A day or two later the custodian would scrub that message away and perhaps only a dozen or two of your friends saw it, and once erased from the walls it was often forgotten about.  And then a few days later something else would pop up about another classmate or friend.

Well in today’s equivalent that bathroom stall is social media, however it is not just a matter of simply washing it away from both the wall and peoples memories.  The residual impact of cruel social media is alarming and has caused a landslide of news reports and stories of teens forever impacted by cruel social media.  In a 2013 Study conducted by MediaSmarts it showed that social networking has increased in popularity  with 7 of the top 10 favourite websites for young people being those that allow a user to post or share content  or comment on posts  (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Minecraft and Hotmail.).  The same study showed that 99% of all students have access to the internet outside of school and 54% of teens have cell phones and are therefore mobile (In  fact in Canada young people aged 13-24 are the largest group of wireless phone users.) A third of these kids admit to sleeping with their cellphones!  And while the majority of these teens say that they were aware of the risks and dangers involved in online activities many admit to not having too many rules in place about their use, and have limited parental supervision.

Oh How We’ve Changed

So in these days of increased use and decreased supervision the instances of cyberbullying are alarming and on the rise.  Sadly, 1 in 4 Canadian teens have witnessed cyber bulling, which is defined as using cellphones, instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone.   Even more concerning is that 51% of teenagers have indicated that they have had a negative experience with social networking.  Teenagers think nothing of participating in public humiliation, particularly if it means the target is on someone else and their peers are not focused on themselves.  Many social media applications have a minimum age for users; for most it is 13, and yet  more than half of our children have used online social networking by the age of 10.  Many are too young to understand the lasting and long term consequences of participating in online bullying and Social Media applications are making these activities too easy by providing anonymity.  Take Yik Yak for example.  This free

yak-threat

Example of a Yik Yak threat

application allows for anyone to post anonymous public posts without having to login – a user does not require a profile or a password.  The application is different from most as it is location based so that posts are targeted to those residing within a 2.5 km radius.  It claims to allow you to “discover and connect with your community”, and while it does have positive uses such as sharing questions regarding homework or something going on in the local community, the potential negative impact of the application is growing.  In January of 2015 an Ottawa high school was forced into a lock down after a Yik Yak post indicated there was a firearm on the property.  There have also been several instances of false prank fire alarms in schools that have been attributed to the app and has caused the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board to ban the use of the app due to bullying and threats of violence, along with other schools and boards around the world.

Another worrisome App is Snapchat where users can post photos, videos, texts and drawings to a list of recipients and set a time frame where these “snaps” can be viewed, after which it is “deleted from the SnapChat Server.  According to Snapchat 7 billion snaps are sent everyday.  The premise that these pictures and texts disappear practically encourages teens to participate in behaviors that they may come to regret.  The idea that these pictures self-destruct makes a teen think they do not need to worry about what they are posting since it will be gone in a matter of seconds.  And while the belief is that this pictures disappear, the company itself has indicated that they cannot guarantee that all messages are deleted.  The ease at which information can be shared and the false assumption that these posts will be invisible after only a few seconds, has caused an increase in “sexting”, in fact 1 in 5 teens have said they have participated in sexting – either sending, receiving or forwarding sexually explicit content.  A disturbing 1 in 10 have said they have sent a sext to someone they didn’t know!

The True Price of Shame

Now you might say that these are relatively mild instances and just a prank or “kids being kids”.  But consider the story of Todd Loik, a 15 year old  who committed suicide after receiving pages and pages 0f taunts and abuse.  His mother even said the attacks escalated to non stop cyberbulling.  Or Amanda Todd a young girl who made a mistake and sent a topless photo to a stranger and those

Rehtaeh Parsons

Rehtaeh Parsons

pictures were sent out and went viral, creating an onslaught of bullying and teasing.  She was beaten up, had no friends, forced to change schools many times and even tried drinking bleach.  She went on to commit suicide and sadly the bullying continued after her death – her suicide being ridiculed, with people saying she deserved what happened. Or the very well known story of Rehtaeh Parsons, a young Nova Scotia girl who tried to hang herself (She was removed from life support 3 days later)  after photos showing her being gang raped by four boys were circulated widely within her community and the subsequent harassment she received via text and Facebook messages.  Or Jamie Hubley, the 15 year old Ottawa Boy who committed suicide after being relentlessly taunted for being openly gay.  He even documented his suicidal thoughts in a blog, much like this one.

It is alarming the number of cases you can find on the internet about teens who are unable to deal with the consequences of cyber bullying and chose to end their lives rather than to face the ongoing shame and humiliation.  Apps like Ask.fm (an anonymous question and answer site), SnapChat, and Facebook allow for easy online stalking, flaming and outing.  Phenomenons such as swatting and Neknominations are increasing and as soon as one craze is shut down another takes its place.  Increased media attention to the epidemic that is cyberbulling, is causing governments around the world to stand up and take notice and begin to implement legislation to tackle the rising problem of Cyberbulling.  Bill C-13, Canada’s Anti-cyberbulling legislation and it came into effect in  2015.   This bill is designated to tackle online harassment by making it illegal to distribute intimate photos of a person without their expressed consent. Quebec and Ontario have tabled proposed legislation in the areas of cyberbulling while other provinces have mended their education acts to address cyberbullying.

In this world where social media is adapting and changing faster than we, as parents, can keep up with we know that we have to be vigilant.  We have to know what our kids are doing and what their online activities are.  WE have to keep open lines of communication with our kids so that they come to us if they are experiencing anything unpleasant online,  For every story of dangerous social media behaviour that we hear of, there are dozens that we don’t find out about.  As a mother of 2 teen aged boys I am terrified.  Terrified that they may one day fall victim to an online attack, and that I may not know about it.

I will leave you with a very powerful  TED talk by someone who is very familiar with the consequences of public shaming and humiliation.  Monica Lewinsky outlines the growing danger and impact of cyberbulling and online shaming.

The Price of Shame

http://www.stopabully.ca/bullying-statistics.html

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/cyberbullying

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snapchat

Teenage Sexting Statistics