COM0015–Blog#4: Social Media “Out of the Box” Online Marketing Applications

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

An “Out of the Box” product, in terms of software, is one that works immediately and effectively without requiring anything special. There are many applications, developed in response to a specific need, that work very well in a Social Media, Online Marketing context.


One such application is Hootsuite, which is a Social Media Management tool that is a User Dashboard, capable of organizing many Social Media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. It tracks what is happening in multiple places at the same time and is a time saver in that it takes all of the information from the multiple platforms and puts it together into one ‘suite’. It is also very helpful as a ‘manager’ since you can schedule posts across multiple platforms. This tool can be used by Social Media Managers in Online Marketing for their clients.

Google Alerts

Another application that is an “Out of the Box” type of application is Google Alerts. You create an alert with specific tags. Google will check the web for new content with those tags and will send the information to your email. With content creation, came the issue of having too much content to look at. Google Alerts makes monitoring the internet for relevant content easier. This can be used by Social Media Content Providers and Online course creators to be aware of current trends.


An additional application used in Social Media and/or Online Marketing is Canva. This unexpectedly free design application lets you create all kinds of graphics, from Facebook cover images and Instagram Stories to tweets and images for your blog posts. Canva can also be used by Social Media Mangers who post using a Social Media Management tool like Hootsuite (mentioned above) for Online Marketing.

Photo Courtest of Pexels

All of these applications are used, “Out of the Box”, in Online Marketing and/or Social Media Management. The first two were developed in response to the need for management of the ever-expanding amount of Social Media applications and the resulting large amount of online content. In the case of Canva, it fulfills the need to create quality, original online content.

What are your favorite Social Media Online Marketing tools? How did you hear about them? Which Online Marketing use do you need tools for? Content creation, Online courses, Social Media management, etc.?

COM0015–Assignment #5: Event Participation: “7 Steps to Creating and Launching an Online Course”

The Event

“Do what you love, make an impact, grow your tribe”. This was a quote from the hour-long, free, online professional development event that I chose to attend for my participation in an event,  7 Steps to Creating and Launching Your Profitable Online Course 2021.  I picked this event, because I have an interest in creating online courses in my chosen field, Computer Programming. I want to share with others what I have learned in my more than 25-year IT career. Essentially, I do want to make an impact and grow my online community through course creation.

Revenue Models

Jeanine Blackwell, the presenter for the course, reviewed two types of models to use when selling an online course. Both allow for increased revenue by the 3rd quarter of selling a course. From the screenshots below, you can see that her first model increases sales by the third quarter of the first offering of the course by proposing more advanced courses, as well as offering the original course again each quarter. The second model, in the screenshots, shows how you can increase revenue, again by the third quarter, by offering group coaching along with a mastermind course. Jeanine indicated that there is a large amount of money going into online course sales every year. The statistic that she quoted was that there will be “325 billion online course sales per year by 2025”

Screenshot of Model 1 for Selling an Online Course
Screenshot of Model 2 for Selling an Online Course


Unfortunately, there was no interactive, live chat in this session. As you can see from the screenshots above, the chat box specified that the responses to any questions would be sent by email. This indicated to me that the course was pre-recorded, as opposed to live. In any case, I now have a contact to follow-up with if I want to pursue the full paid course that includes 7 modules. I will however look into taking a few more of these types of free courses before committing to paying for a course.


7 Steps

In terms of ideas to walk away with, Jeanine listed the 7 steps to creating and launching an online course (screen shot below) but only expanded on the first one, “Narrow Your Idea to Win”. She discussed narrowing your audience and your problem to make sure your course is targeted to a specific group of people and is solving a focused problem. The other steps are apparently covered in more detail in the modules of the paid course.

Screenshot of the 7 Steps


Another valuable idea that I took away from this event is Storyboarding. I am excited about this concept, because I think it is an excellent method of organizing the content to put into each module of a course. A feature that I like about this model is that ideas can be added as they come up, instead of having to put everything together at once. I will definitely use this idea in my own course creation.

Screenshot of a Storyboarding image from the course

Future Events

I will plan to attend similar free events in the future because I assume that most have different perspectives and will provide new suggestions. Even if an event offers no new ideas, there is no cost, except my time. This event, for example, was worthwhile to get an idea of the steps that may be involved in course creation, as well as using Storyboarding as a course content design method.

Overall, this course was very successful in accomplishing its purpose: it made me excited to want to bring the ideas out of my head and onto paper to create my own course. This is exactly the kind of inspiration I would like to give people taking a course that I create. I want to make a positive impact and motivate.

Com0015 — Blog#3: My Professional Networking Now and in the Future

Photo Courtesy of FreeImages

Professional Networking is, by definition, when you build relationships with other professionals in your career and in other unrelated fields. You can let this type of network develop naturally or you can create a strategy to establish your professional network, both online and in person.

My parent strategy to develop my professional network, in this Covid world, is to build on my online network and, at the same time, look for potential safe opportunities to continue to develop my in-person networks. When it is safer to do so, I can put more emphasis on expanding my existing off-line networks. Below are some short-term activities and commitments that I want to undertake to expand my networks.

8 Future Short-Term Activities to Develop my Networks:

1.Keep My Blog up to Date:

As well as adding relevant links and other information to my Demystifying COBOL blog, I would like to commit to adding original posts at least twice per month. Also, I would like to devote time every couple of days to reply to comments on my blog. The conversations have been mostly one way up until now, and I would like to correct that.

2. Develop my LinkedIn Group and Profile:

I currently have an “Online Learning Design and Development” LinkedIn group. I would like to work on attracting new members to that group. It will be useful for me when creating and marketing online courses. I would also like to develop my LinkedIn profile by adding a link to my blog and making sure the profile information is up to date.

3. Search on Twitter for People:

Another activity I would like to commit to is to search on Twitter, at,  for people living around me, to follow them and possibly gain more followers in the process. Also, I would like to create a hashtag on Twitter to use for my posts to attract more people to my demystifying COBOL brand.

4. Current Events and a New Group on Facebook:

Another idea I want to take advantage of is to use Facebook to search for current events in my area to find ways to network and meet new people. I also want to set up a Facebook group to pair with my demystifying COBOL page and start some COBOL discussions in the group.

5. Pinterest as a Business:

While listening in on Social Media blogging groups, I have learned that Pinterest is an excellent way to attract followers to your blog and promote your brand. I want to put some time into finding out how Pinterest works and how I can use it for networking.

6. Search for Meetups:

I discovered that I could search on to find free meetups in my area. This activity is mostly for the future when it is safe to get together with people in person again.

7. Attend Inexpensive Unconferences:

In addition to regular conferences, I want to look for opportunities to attend unconferences, which are user generated conferences that are less expensive or free. Anyone can present a session at these conferences. A type of unconference is a Podcamp which is a conference for Social Media.

8. Attend Free Online Webinars:

There are many free Online Webinars advertised everywhere in Social Media. I specifically want to sign up for those that talk about creating and marketing online courses. I enjoy listening to Webinars and feel that they could be a very positive networking opportunity.

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

With all of these online networking activities to pursue during the pandemic, I will be able to easily occupy myself in the short term, by starting online conversations and acquiring Social Media followers, until I am able to attend in-person events again.

We are assuming that things will go back to the way they were before Covid. What if this way of working and meeting remotely is the new normal? Maybe the pandemic forced us prematurely into a future that we were destined for anyway.

Blog#2–Social Media Strategies: the Strong and the Weak

 “It’s hard to find things that won’t sell online” is a quote by Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon. Most organizations today have reacted to this concept by developing some level of Social Media presence. In fact, according to Social Media Statistics, there were 4.2 Billion Social Media users in 2020. As a result, it is important for businesses to develop a competitive Social Media Strategy. For the purposes of this discussion, the example I chose of an organization with a strong Social Media Strategy is IBM, to compare to the Social Media Strategy for my demystifying COBOL blog, which is still weak strategy-wise and a work in progress.

IBM–A Successful Overall Strategy:

Picture Courtesy of Unsplash

As an organization that has an enviable Social Media Strategy, IBM was able to use Social Media to increase sales leads by 400% . IBM has been effective in this category because they not only listen on Social Media, but they also engage their customers in conversations to create a connection with them. They produce and share quality content and have an active presence on most of the main Social Media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube. They create current, frequent, quality content, using different formats.  In fact, a Social Media Case Study on IBM found that employees are even encouraged to share work-related content on their own personal Social Media. In addition, IBM has video content, which is predicted to be the best Social Media Strategy for 2021. Consequently, I would describe IBM’s Social Media Strategy as very successful.

An IBM SWOT Analysis:

In a 2020 SWOT analysis of IBM, two of its main strengths mentioned are that it is a reputable name in the tech industry with a valuable brand, but one of IBM’s weaknesses is that it has dropped in popularity with the strong competition in the tech industry. In addition, on the one hand, it has the opportunity to take advantage of technical advancements, but, on the other hand, it has the threat of aggressive competition. IBM has an impressive and ambitious Social Media Strategy with over 250 Social Media profiles, but as a leader in the industry, it is also subject to many threats as well as weaknesses. It would be considered to be in the upper end of the Social Media Strategy spectrum and has the strengths and opportunities to mitigate any weaknesses and threats.

My Blog–No Social Media Strategy:

In mid 2019, it was reported that 40% of small businesses had no Social Media Marketing Strategy. Currently, my blog,, has no detailed Social Media Strategy to either monetize it through ads or generate revenue through selling products. Per the 2021 guide to building your Social Media Strategy, the steps to follow are: 1/ Set goals that make sense for your business; 2/  Take time to research your target audience; 3/  Establish your most important metrics and KPIs; 4/  Create (and curate) engaging social content; 5/  Make your social presence as timely as possible; and 6/  Assess what’s working, what isn’t and how to keep improving. A new and evolving blog business such as mine needs to go through all of these steps to develop a Social Media strategy that will allow it to become, and stay, relevant in today’s competitive Social Media market. The goal is to move steadily out of the weak bottom of the Social Media Strategy range and generate revenue from my Social Media presence.

If you have a business, where would your Social Media Strategy fall on the spectrum? Would it be highly successful, proven, and strong like IBM; emerging and yet to be developed like mine; or somewhere in the middle?

COM0015 – Blog #1: Listening for ‘COBOL’ in Social Media

Part of providing content through Social Media is to ‘listen’ for information about your chosen niche in order to understand the conversations that you may want to become involved in. Since my focus is COBOL, I make it a point to listen daily for news and articles related to the COBOL programming language. If you have a strong interest in a topic and you are a regular Social Media user, your Social Media listening should evolve naturally as part of that interest. For example, I have instinctively incorporated listening for COBOL topics into my daily Social Media routines, not only to keep up with content others are providing, but because I am genuinely interested in the information shared.

Favorite Social Media Monitoring Tools

Google Alerts

One of my preferred Social Media listening tools is Google Alerts. I set up a daily alert to listen for COBOL content. The results–which generally include articles, courses, and job opportunities–are sent to my email. I can quickly scan through them to find the ones that interest me. I favor this tool because it is free, and it gives me a summary of the information that I am looking for.

An example of a Google Alert email

LinkedIn and Facebook Searches

Another of my favorite listening methods on Social Media is to search within the applications. For instance, if I search for COBOL within LinkedIn, I get lists of courses, groups, companies, posts, events, etc., all content within the LinkedIn realm that concentrates on COBOL. Similarly, a search for COBOL in Facebook provides related groups, posts, pages, etc. I perform these searches frequently enough to know what is new in these applications in terms of COBOL. I like to use these types of searches since I can perform them easily while I am reviewing my newsfeeds.

A search for COBOL within LinkedIn


A search for COBOL within Facebook

Sources of News and Updates

Facebook Newsfeed

One of the best sources that I have of news and updates on COBOL-related topics is a Facebook group called ‘COBOL Programmers’. It has about 18,000 members, and there are frequent, current posts. I have joined this group to get updates into my newsfeed which I review daily. There are articles as well as interesting discussions. This source of information is useful to me since the members are mostly experts in the COBOL programming field.

A screenshot of the COBOL Programmer’s group in Facebook

LinkedIn Newsfeed

Another great source of current COBOL information and discussions are the ‘Mainframe’ group and ‘COBOL Programmers’ group on LinkedIn. They have approximately 47,000 and 15,000 members, respectively. There are frequent, current article and discussion posts to these groups by industry professionals, which makes them valuable sources of information.

A screenshot of the COBOL Programmers group in LinkedIn

As users of Social Media, we are all listening to our chosen topics. Did you also find that your Social Media ‘listening’ developed naturally, or did you consciously create a listening strategy?

Blog #7: A Story Worth Remembering

Storytelling in Digital Content

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten” is a famous quote by Rudyard Kipling a writer, poet, and novelist. In terms of digital content, it is ultimately the storytelling capability of the author of the work that sets one article apart from another and makes it memorable.

In 2019, 500 million blogs existed. Everywhere you go online there are blog posts. Are they all unforgettable, interesting examples of storytelling? Probably not. The best posts draw you in with the heading and keep your attention with compelling content

Content Guided by Story

By nature, there are many stale technical websites that contain facts and figures, provide training material, or list job openings. As a contrast, I want the content of my technical blog to present an overall story, where every part will be connected. My individual blogs will be influenced by and will reflect my personal experiences in my work as a COBOL programmer over the last 25 years. I will attempt to share my subject matter in a memorable way, concentrating on the whole message as I build each separate story.

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Stories to Tell

My general theme will be COBOL programming and the human side of that world. The individual parts will all stem from the main focus. The stories I want to tell will be about the people who are programmers; how it feels to be a programmer; being a woman programmer; the history of programming, as well as some of the people who have made it what it is today. My end goal is to write stories that inspire the reader to come to their own conclusions and leave with a new understanding of COBOL as a programming language.

In the end, I want my content to be a memorable story for the reader to take away with them and reflect on after they have turned the page and moved on—a story worth remembering.

Blog#6: A Programmer’s Unique Story

All of my friends who have younger siblings who are going to college or high school – my number one piece of advice is: You should learn how to program.” This is a famous quote by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

The Discovery

I wish I would have had that advice presented to me when I finished high school. In the end, I did learn how to program, but my journey was very roundabout. I spent many years in University, getting a 3-year Psychology Degree and a 4-year Commerce Degree. With all that education behind me, I was still having trouble finding direction. As a result, I read an amazing, self-help book for job seekers called What Color is your Parachute? Surprisingly, the exercises in the book pointed me toward a career in programming, mostly based on my interest in the one programming course I had taken in University.

The Becoming

Given a new path toward programming, I decided to go the quickest route and get a programming Diploma. I used my University courses to get exemptions in the non-programming courses and finished a two-year Computer Programmer Diploma in a year. I loved it. Luckily, I was able to get a job as an entry level COBOL programmer shortly after I graduated, which has led to a rewarding 25-year career as a Programmer-Analyst and IT Specialist.

Photo Courtesy of Dreamstime

The Next Step

The natural continuation of this lifelong journey is to write about it. To answer some questions that can only come from experience. What is it like to be a woman in technology? What has it been like to work with newer technologies at the same time as older ones? What is it like to be in the computer field with multiple generations of people?  There is so much to write about–so many topics to explore, drawing on my many years of experience. All the facets of the past have come together to create my story, which is, I hope, unique enough to share.

What’s your story? Where are you on your own journey? Are you still becoming, or are you considering your next step?

Blog#5: Your Personal Brand Is Your Uniqueness

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do” is a perceptive quote about branding, by Henry Ford. Some successful examples of personal branding, based on character, are Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk. Their Personal Brand is their personality and how they present themselves to the world.

According to Jacob Cass, in Building a Personal Brand, a Unique Selling Point (USP) and Visual Identity are important factors in building an online reputation.

What Is My USP?

Several qualities, when combined, set me apart from others and give me a unique perspective. One of these things is the fact that I am analytical and can work through situations logically. Another characteristic I have is that I am persistent: when I want to do something, I will try to find a way to make it happen. A third feature that contributes to my USP is that I am a life-long learner.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

How Do I Stand Out?

Of my unique characteristics, I feel that continuous learning is the one that makes me stand out the most and contributes to my visual identity. It has enabled me to be recognized during my career, as well as personally. I am very proud of the fact that one of my best traits is that I am constantly upgrading my skills and knowledge. As well as conventional learning, such as taking courses, I learn informally from those people and events around me. For example, as part of my day-to-day life, I study the behaviour of the people in my organization. I like to reflect on the types of workers, how interactions happen, the impact of the new on the old, women in the workplace, just to name a few.

Going forward, as the world continues to get smaller and smaller, personal branding will become even more important than it is right now. How unique you are will eventually become your value. Do you agree?

Blog#4: A B2B to B2C Transition Success Story

Zoom is a communications technology company that provides software for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations. In fact, their motto on all their Social Media sites is “Bringing the world together, one meeting at a time.”

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Online Interactions

Zoom has a very active and positive online presence. On Social Media, they post frequently on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook, with their engagement being geared to individuals in a Business to Consumer (B2C) model. In terms of their website, it is easy to navigate, and they have included ratings and reviews; however, the emphasis there is on the “Enterprise Experience” and follows the more traditional Business to Business (B2B) design. Their overall approach seems to be to rely on Social Media to converse with the consumer audience, while their website focuses on communication with the industries they deal with: Education, Finance, Government and Healthcare.

B2C vs B2B Traditionally

In terms of audience online engagement, traditionally, there have been several differences between B2C and B2B website promotions. For example, in B2C, the buyer is the consumer; the purpose and design of B2C online cater to consumers; the content is simpler and there is less of it (for example, fewer pages and less information needed on contact forms); and, finally, consumer ratings and reviews are very important in B2C online marketing. As we have seen, Zoom has maintained their traditional B2B approach in their website, while transitioning to a more B2C style in their Social Media interactions.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Successful Transition from B2B to B2C

With Covid-19, businesses have become more personal and are recognizing that “customers behind the businesses are real people”. As a result, Zoom, formerly a B2B enterprise, provides a good example of a brand that has been able to successfully shift from B2B to B2C. During the pandemic, Zoom realized there was a niche to be filled in serving remote workers and successfully adopted a strategy based on the fact that business users had now become consumer users as well.

It will be interesting to see what other companies are able to thrive by responding quickly to changes in the work landscape and adapting to new ways of working. Stay tuned…

Blog#3: How to Know Your Online COBOL Listeners

When you want to get to know someone in person, how do you generally accomplish that? Initially, you probably try to learn their characteristics, then you determine how to talk to them. The process is similar for online connections. First you want to get to know their demographics and their psychological traits (psychographics), then you find ways to communicate with them.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Assuming that the majority of the online COBOL-related audience are COBOL programmers, their average age would be 55. Also, in an Evans Data Corporation survey, 27.5% of software developers in the world are women. Thus, the demographic of an online COBOL audience is probably men around age 55. Based on this demographic, some psychographic information about this group is that they are conservative, upper-middle-class, and are followers. In addition, according to the survey mentioned, one-fifth of men software developers have a personal interest in the technologies they are using. Consequently, one in five of COBOL listeners have a personal interest in COBOL technologies.

Now that we have identified some characteristics of COBOL online listeners, one of the ways to find out how to communicate with this audience on social media is to search on Twitter. In this case, a Twitter search on #cobol came back with several related people to follow. Similarly, a search on COBOL in Google Trends resulted in 23 related queries and 19 related topics to investigate. In terms of Facebook communities, related groups and pages included a COBOL Programmers group with 16,000 members and a COBOL page with 3200 members.

A screenshot of a COBOL search in Facebook

It is important to remember not to initiate a conversation too quickly in an unfamiliar COBOL online community. Some are primarily for job postings and others are used to sell online courses. Become a listener.  Get to know the demographics and psychographics of the group you are interested in before you start communicating.

What is your online style? Are you mainly a listener? Which online communities do you enjoy following?