Developing a social media strategy

Hello everyone!

My name is Doug and I am new to the Algonquin College social media program, not brand new, this is my second course, but still quite new.

I find the speed with which social media has invaded our lives fascinating…Invading may not be the correct term, but for a 49 year-old military officer, the term invasion seems apt sometimes. I didn’t grow up with social media, nor did I gravitate towards it as it developed. Rather, social media seems to have pursued me, everyone I knew was on Facebook and they were asking why I wasn’t, same with LinkedIn and Instagram etc.

I developed my personal social media presence reluctantly, and badly. Then, my job required me to manage a social media team. Well, it was high time to get a better handle on things, so here I am.

I struggle with how we integrate social media into our lives, I often lament how people stare at their phones rather than look at the real world around them, but whatever they’re doing is important to them and I need to accept that.

Businesses have been hit with the popularity of social media too, and as a consumer I usually appreciate it when a product or service I am interested in has a social media presence that can help to inform my buying decisions.

I look forward to learning how to incorporate social media in a more strategic way.

Social Media a moving target

Wow! The final blog post…I have learned a lot during this course, it itched the exact scratch I was interested in and like many of you, I look forward to learning more about social media.

But, as I look forward to the more advanced courses it struck me that I am aiming at a moving target.

As we grow, learn and adapt, social media is also growing and adapting at a rapid rate. Is it doing this faster than other fields like, say, medicine? I don’t know, I am not a doctor. I do know all areas of expertise experience change, 30 years ago plumbers never would have thought they would trade copper pipe for plastic. Auto mechanics must get smart about electric cars and some photographers have never had to open a roll of film in a dark room and dunk it in poisonous chemicals. You get my point, all fields require adaptation as humans find better and different ways of doing things.

But still, I remain uneasy about the pace of change of social media. New features are introduced all the time to existing well established apps and new platforms are frequently developed. But is the technology the only thing about social media that changes? What about us, we human beings, does the prevalence of social media in our everyday lives cause us to change? Do we know how to cope with social media and integrate it into our lives in a way that respects the value of human relationships and connections and our privacy? Or does social media appeal to our darker angels by giving us all an audience to seek validation from?

The answer to all these questions depends on the individual user and I think that the only way to figure things out is to learn more. And while learning more and engaging on social media more, we must maintain sight of who we are and make social media serve us, not the other way around.


Carefully curated lives

Full disclosure – I wish the title of this blog post was mine, but it isn’t. It belongs to a friend of mine who is way smarter than I am, on every topic, social media included. Let’s just call her “S” for “smart”.

“S” and I had a text exchange last week and I was telling her how much I like Instagram, she replied “yeah, I like it too as long as I stay away from the carefully curated lives.”  That comment, along with some great blog posts by fellow students this week got me thinking.

As most of you may remember, I struggle with the issue of authenticity on social media, how much of what we see is real, or just the image or sentiment people think we are receptive to, the one people are most likely to “like” or “share” or comment on?
The first blog that got me thinking was A quantum leap. I love Pinterest, home decor and woodworking projects are two boards I follow. The houses are immaculate and beautiful and all the woodworking projects turn out perfect. Neither of those things are true in my life.
The second post that got me thinking was Lazy Activism, it raises a really big question:

“Social media has given the opportunity for people to feel like they are making a difference by doing        the bare minimum.” Wow!

In addition to portraying “carefully curated” lives, are we all just swimming in the shallow end of the pool, well inside the protective buoys that separate us from deeper, yet more meaningful waters? My friend “S” (remember, that’s “S” for smart) also sent me a link to this article that basically says technology has made cultivating relationships easier, but also shallower which is kind of the same
thing Jessica points out about activism, sometimes liking something on Facebook just isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, social media is what we make it, I get that. We cannot blame the technology for the shallowness of the content and, to be sure, there is some very real and authentic content (WARNING: This link contains small amounts of profanity) on social media, how much in relative proportion to the carefully curated lives, I don’t know.
And then there is this: Social media affects the brain in the same way that a hug does by providing it a
shot of dopamine.

Hugs are never bad right?

But is a digital hug the same as a physical one? Maybe to the brain, but not to the heart, at least not to mine.


Authentic Social Media

Hello everyone,

While completing assignment 2, I ran across this blog post:

Truth Will Out – Why Authenticity is the Key to Growing Your Business

Authenticity on social media seems to be something that concerns many of us and I appreciated this article’s assertion that “the truth will out”.

Balancing self promotion with humility is something that troubles me. I recently deactivated my Facebook account because I needed a temporary respite while I deal with some real life stuff, but often I found myself posting or reacting to things that were not really me. I kind of got swept in some digital wake behind the latest cute cat video or something like that and it really left me feeling strange. I know that Facebook isn’t the place to worry about authenticity, but as accounts undergo more and more scrutiny, does it behoove us to be more careful about what we like, comment on or share?

Dostoevsky once said you can judge a society by entering its prisons, I wonder what he would make of Facebook?


Gosh, I struggled with this week’s readings!

I know, who say’s “gosh” anymore?

I don’t know if I even want a personal brand.

I work for the department of National Defence and we have some guidelines we must follow when using social media. That said, we do have some latitude and I do have colleagues who seem to do a fine job of branding themselves as GoC communications professionals.

Currently, I am not interested in pursuing different employment and am not worried about establishing a marketable brand. However, I do retire in about 10 years and recognize that I should work for a few years to supplement my retirement income. This 10 year horizon has me thinking about establishing a network more than a brand, but this week’s readings have me thinking that the two are linked in a way I had not considered.

The rule

Many years ago I was exposed to what I think was one  rule of persuasive communication, sorry I can’t recall who said it and Google isn’t helping…It went like this “tell people who you are, what you do, and why they should care.”

I have always liked that rule and it has guided me in many engagements over the past 12 years. I can see how an effective and established social media presence could help establish credibility that could increase both the size and quality of my network. Unfortunately, in the military we change jobs frequently and it can be difficult to establish yourself in a role over a 2-4 year period and, some positions do not encourage such public brand establishment.

Marketable Strengths

I am experienced with a proven track record. I also have some weaknesses. I have yet to complete a Masters Degree. How do I establish a brand that doesn’t draw attention to a lack of credentials, or perhaps my brand should seek to mitigate that obvious weakness? I don’t know.

Putting the “personal” in personal

I am more tempted to establish a personal brand around some interests I have outside of my professional life. There is some writing I would like to share and I have been feeling compelled to engage in spoken work poetry and open mic storytelling. Could I use social media to help me explore these interests and share my material with others? If I did, what would be my personal brand and how would it link to my professional career, if at all? Again, I don’t know, but I do know that I value substance over form and authenticity is very important to me.

I don’t think I will be rushing into anything soon, I will  be waiting awhile before I launch my personal brand. You know what they say about second chances at first impressions.






The Choice

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

It’s still early, but it feels like this course is already paying off. I have read some good material in the course content, but I have found more value in the blog posts of fellow students.I want to give a shout-out to  annemakhoul for introducing me to the Conversation Prism, I found that illuminating, it showed me that social media is not a big homogeneous thing, but rather a diverse array of different platforms and tools each with a different purpose.

Like a bag of golf clubs, there is a unique club for each set of circumstances you encounter on the golf course of social media engagement. Facebook is good for some situations, but not for others. Instagram might be the scratch for your particular itch and so on.

I also very much identified with   experiences as an expat who was both helped and hurt by social media. In fact, her experiences hit a little to close to home for me.

Far and away

As I have explained before, I am in the military and am currently serving overseas on my fifth operational deployment. I have been living in the desert for the past 5 months and each month I spend $96 U.S. dollars to buy 6 megs of Internet bandwidth so that I can stay connected to my family and friends. Frankly, I could not imagine being without it. It connects me to the people I love and allows me to continue to be disappointed by the Ottawa Senators.

My mistake

Several weeks ago, I was feeling pretty low, I won’t bore you with the details, but this has been a tough deployment, the atrocities committed by the Islamic State wear me down every day.

Early one morning several weeks ago I was walking to breakfast andStretched Thins.jpg
the sun was still low on the horizon
and I noticed a long shadow walking beside me on the desert sand. It was one of those moments, you know the ones they call epiphanies. That long shadow looked exactly like how I felt, stretched thin and washed out. I took out my phone and captured that shadow in a picture. I called it “Stretched thin. A desert self-portrait” and I posted it to Facebook.

Only one friend realized what I was really looking for and personal-messaged me some words of encouragement. Everyone else just hit the like button and didn’t type a word or just typed “cool photo”.

I was pretty bitter about that for a while and it was one of the reasons I decided to pull the trigger on this course. I wanted to reach a place of understanding, a place where social media would stop disappointing me. This course may end-up being like couples therapy for me and Facebook.

But I realize now that I was over-reaching and expecting too much. I didn’t make my needs clear and my Facebook account is a pretty shallow place, sadly, not the place I should go looking for real friendship and support in a time of need.

In defense of social media, there are better alternatives available when you need such things. I think I learned a valuable lesson, that social media has alternatives, and each alternative has its limitations. I hope this course helps me to understand both of those better so that I don’t post with unrealistic expectations again, or if I do, I do so knowing that I may not get what I am looking for. In another nod to  , I don’t want to feel like an expat on my own Facebook page.

Update: After posting this, I saw this article: Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.

I donèt know if I agree or disagree with that article, but I found one element intriguing, it was this:

In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. Any 16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral article. The idea that if you engage in enough of this low-value activity, it will somehow add up to something of high value in your career is the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business.

That set me to wondering about high value social media.


No copyrights were violated during the production of this blog post 🙂






Putting the “me” in social media

Do I even belong? Reason or excuse?

I never thought I would get here.The-Thinker-Auguste-Rodin-Grayscale.png

I have been thinking about taking a course in social media for years, but I always had a reason not to. “Too busy, too tired, maybe it’s not necessary, I have more important things to do.” These were all on my list of reasons to wait, or more accurately on my list of excuses.

I have a degree in English literature, studied creative writing some time ago and as a result, am not incompetent with the written word. People say I’m articulate and funny and a good story-teller, so shouldn’t I already be on the WWW wowing people with my wit?

Not so easy

Sure, I can tell a story to a group of people standing around me, people with whom I can make eye contact and who’s body language I can read and who encourage me with a laugh, or a nod, or a sparkle in their eye. But this, this is different. I can’t see you, I don’t even know if your still reading, maybe I haven’t given you a reason to follow me this far. Perhaps my title wasn’t catchy enough, my use of headings not fluid enough, my choice of material not compelling enough.

Making connection

How do I make a connection with you through this medium? This feels so sterile,connection.jpg I can’t see you, don’t know what you look like and I can’t tell if I am boring you. I read that social media must find a way to be human, to tell a story, to make a connection, that we must find our audience and go live among them. I liked that idea. I know at least one of you loves to travel, isn’t that what you did, go live among people and make some kind of connection even if fleeting?

I can remember running cards marked with pencil through this enormous thing called a computer in grade 8. You ran the cards through one afternoon and then the next morning you would find out if the computer performed your task or solved your problem. The problem wasn’t global warming, or a cure for cancer, it was 2+2 +4. I am surprised I ever set foot near a computer again. Then I remember my friends Commodore 64. Then my first PC clone in university. Now my laptop, more powerful than all of them combined, is balanced on my legs as I type this to you from where I am living in the desert not far from Iraq. I am 9, 936 kilometres from Ottawa according to Google, but I didn’t feel that far away from you when I read your introductions and learned that some of you share my interests, some of you share my concerns and some of you share my fears. The technology can close the distance, but it cannot complete the connection. The technology is the “media”, people are the social. To be social, we must, to a certain extent be ourselves.

Building Community

Just signing up for this course and following the instructor’s guidance has brought us to this place. Whether we are reluctant, apprehensive, excited, confident or ambivalent, here we are in a tiny community we built whose streets and buildings are our own. This course brought us together and this blog will build our sense of community. We all have a little bit in common, enough to have brought us this far, what we do next is up to us. Will we live among each other? Tell our stories, be human, get comfortable with social media together? I hope so.

Ones and Zeroes?

Without the “me” you can’t spell social media. I know that eye-roller would end up in the waste bin at the Hallmark card ones and zeroes.jpgfactory, but there has to be some personality in this, some human connection or it all really is just meaningless ones and zeroes. Businesses push product through social media to influence consumer behaviour, can we push ourselves through social media and build a connection, learn together, overcome our fears? I am looking forward to finding out.