4 Ways to Tailor What You’re Seeing Online

4 Ways to Tailor What You’re Seeing Online

Even though the Wild West of Web 1.0 has been wrangled with the advent of social media, there is still more content published online than any one person could hope to discover! So what’s the best way to go about finding what we want to see, as personal Internet users, and as a digital brand?

Brand Feedback

There are so many options for social media listening tools that it can be hard to narrow down which ones to use! Though tons of paid options for social listening are out there if you’re willing to spring for them, simple tools like Google Alerts can help you stay up to date on what audiences are saying about your brand. I consider it one of the best unpaid listening tools out there as it creates an RSS feed of keyword notifications that you can choose, including hashtags. You can always trust our Internet overlords Google to provide us with a good system to monitor our brands’ digital presence! Google has also created a program to monitor website and social media analytics (Google Analytics)! These two free programs provide you with a combination of quantitative and qualitative data to know what’s going on with your brand and it’s digital presence, and are super easy to set up and navigate.

pretend edward cullen GIF

My Personal Feed

When it comes to getting news and web content curated to my interests, Google doesn’t have quite the same iron grip on my Internet use. Here, Reddit (reddit.com) holds the key to my heart, as it provides a front page similar to an RSS feed based on “subreddits” (collections of community-curated web content based around any and every subject you could imagine) that you subscribe to. This allows me to go to one website for anything from Black Mirror discussion groups to local Ottawa news to Lord of the Rings Memes and everything in between. As much as I love Reddit for personal use and don’t personally use it in any professional respect, I can see the potential that a site like Reddit holds. Reddit is often one of the most up-to-date sources of news, memes, and other Internet content, and appeals to an audience that is not always as present on traditional social media. The specificity of the communities that exist on this website are the perfect source for community observation and discussion. Stay away from a sales-push on Reddit though! Users are quick to sniff out a sales tactic and generally don’t tolerate the use of the platform as a marketing opportunity – another reason why I love to use it!

episode 2 my safe space is reddit GIF by Portlandia

I’ve also been a huge fan of the new Instagram feature of following hashtags the same way you can follow users, with a collection of tagged photos showing up on your feed! While, again, I have made liberal use of this on my personal accounts (hello #guineapigs!), it is also great if you are planning a campaign based around hashtag use, as now the content generated from this campaign will show up directly in your feed. If your brand is present on Instagram, hashtag campaigns are great because they generate both free publicity by encouraging people to post related to your brand, and the potential for free content (and community kudos) by regramming the best shots!

beautiful late night GIF by PBS

These are just a couple of my favourite online sources for curated content and digital feedback. What are you using right now to stay up to date on your favourite web content? Let me know in the comments below so I can check them out!

COM0014 – Where do we go from here?

After spending the last few months in a course dedicated to digital storytelling, here are the 4 key notes I plan on implementing in my future social media management:

  1. We are all telling stories, no matter what platform we are using. Since humans as a species have been engaging each other with stories since what’s essentially the dawn of time, our online content should be rooted in story. Incorporating elements such as characters and narrative structure can help make your writing more compelling to audiences.
  2. Traditional journalist techniques are still valid. Even though we constantly hear that journalism is a dying medium thanks to the Internet, the basics of article writing are as important as ever when it comes to writing for digital platforms; maybe even more so with the shorter attention spans audiences have while browsing the web. Keeping the vital information at the top of the article and fluffing it out towards the bottom will never not be the best way to structure an article.
  3. Knowing your audience is key. Understanding who your audience is through studying demographics and psychographics will help you tailor your digital storytelling in ways that will best engage those communities. Social media makes it easier than ever to get to know your audience, and taking advantage of this opportunity will further improve your content and reach.
  4. Be somebody. Having a well-defined personal brand is like telling a story to your audience through a combination of aesthetics, digital content, and social interaction. Effective brand messaging will let audiences feel like they “know” you in more personal ways than traditional branding and advertising ever allowed. By maintaining brand authenticity, you maintain a relationship with your audience.

As I work on developing my own personal brand online, I plan on using these techniques

COM0014 – Do People Know Your Story?

At Mamie Clafoutis French Bakery, I’m the employee who does all of the visual elements around the shop. I think a lot of people tend not to think about how much the design and look of everything influences the customer’s perception and memories of an experience at the cafe. It’s neat, because I’m starting to be recognized by our regular customers as “the artsy girl who does the designs”, mostly for our advertising boards and displays. I’ve been approached by customers who have asked if I’m an artist, or if I studied art at school, which I never did. I mean, I grew up doing arts and crafts, and my mother is a professional artist with a degree in Fine Arts, but I’ve never been anything more than a hobbyist.

It’s probably one of the most rewarding parts of my job when customers point out the quality of my work. I’ve had people come up to me with their phones, showing me pictures and videos of things they think I would like to see related to calligraphy and sign-making. It’s a neat way to bond with our clients in a way that is different from the rest of my coworkers. It makes me a memorable employee to our regulars, and it lets me get to know the people who make up the community of Mamie Clafoutis.

COM0014 – My Personal Brand

No matter where I am in my life, my brand has always been highly aesthetically driven. From editor-in-chief of a yearbook to a theatre director to visual marketing for my current place of employment, I’ve always been doing something that requires a discerning eye and an inclination for the cohesive and beautiful things in life. This also seeps deeply into my hobbies, bullet journaling and costume design and construction. A recent accomplishment in the workplace related to my “personal brand” (say, as an employee) is taking on the role of visual marketer for the cafe at which I work, meaning I have a large amount of creative liberty in the display of products, the arrangement of decor, and full creative control over the design of all our chalkboard signs.

This brand of aesthetics is the driving force behind my latest project, a social media brand based in part on aesthetics and in part on history – my primary academic passion. This brand is going to be an image-driven aspirational lifestyle brand with a focus on travel and historical discovery (one of my biggest academic passions) focusing on WordPress blog and accompanying Instagram Feed. This brand will be a reflection of my personal brand – aesthetically driven, passionate about history, culture and travel, and allowing me to pursue some of my lesser-explored creative pursuits such as photography and writing. My goal for this is to cohesively merge my personal brand with one that can be presented into the public and digital spheres.

COM0014: It Works’ failure at B2C

It Doesn’t Work.

It Works is a Multi-Level Marketing company, which means that it generates sales by having people pay to become distributors of a product. People who find success in these companies are not the best at sales, but rather the most successful at recruiting new members to buy in as new distributors. But when new sales representatives try their social media pitches, are they successful? Do they choose a solid strategy to engage their potential clients? Do they provide quality interactions?

No.

The online distributors of It Works can be used as a case study of what not to do in social media marketing. They overwhelm their followers with sales-heavy pitches marketing their weight-loss and “health” products. This impersonal, heavy handed practice has been shown to be the least effective form of online marketing, but is encouraged by the higher-ups at the company. The bigger problem with their marketing technique is the encouragement to reach out to friends, acquaintances, and strangers on social media with a friendly “catching up” social comment, followed by the suggestion that the sales target has put on weight and could utilize the seller’s products to shed those unsightly pounds. These cold-approaches are often copy-pasted scripts (such as this accidentally posted script reveal for another MLM company), showing that the seller does not tailor their sales pitch to the individual, another failure to utilize the benefits of online marketing.

New recruits are also encouraged to post as often as 7-10 times per day, in an attempt to have their content beat social media algorithms and show up on more feeds, to generate more interest and potential clients or recruits. This, again, goes against recommended social media marketing techniques as audiences do not like to be overwhelmed with content, particularly when it comes from a personal account instead of a business.

It Works is only one example of an MLM company, a social media plague that is growing more prevalent and oversaturating the online marketplace with “get rich working from your phone” schemes. For more information, check out John Oliver’s exposé on Multi-Level Marketing schemes here.

COM0014 – Target Audiences for Online Cosplay Content

For the task of studying target demographics, I chose to look at audiences for cosplay content, particularly for the types of cosplay that are posted by my brand, DXAFX Cosplay. This will be useful for the study of our audience since Instagram provides  demographic insights on existing followers. So who exactly are our followers?

Gender

Cosplay is a hobby that appeals to audiences of both genders, because cosplay can be based on characters from any pop-culture phenomenon. Because of the type of content that we post (video games and Star Wars being some of our most prominent) as well as a focus on armour and construction, our dominant gender demographic ends up being men (62%)

Age Range

Because of the close relation between cosplay and pop-culture, the largest consumers of the content would be between 15-35, approximately. Our largest age groups are 18-24 (43%) and 25-34 (31%).

More Demographics

  • Because our audience has interest in geek-niche and pop-culture phenomena, we can assume that they are fairly well educated (presumably college or university level education, based on age demographics), as well as within the middle to upper economic brackets.
  • Our audience is likely to be single or married, but unlikely to have children (again, based on age range).
  • The ethnic and religious backgrounds of our audience is diverse, as geek and pop culture appeal to people of various backgrounds.

Psychographics

  • Our audience is invested in geek culture – Playing video games, watching tv shows and films (particularly in genres such as horror, sci-fi, and fantasy).
  • They are active in online communities and are likely to share content that they find.
  • Often, they are more likely to be followers than leaders, discovering new pop-culture content based on recommendations from peers and the community.
  • Our audience is likely to be progressive, as there are various movements in the online cosplay community to promote diversity and acceptance among both creators and content consumers.

Three Ways to Improve Your Digital Content with Storytelling

Image result for storytelling

Image Source: axerosolutions.com

The more you look at successful digital content, the more you find a common element used by everyone from corporations to personal bloggers: the content doesn’t just feel like it’s being read. It feels like the content creator is telling a story directly to you. Basic elements of storytelling are proving to be the best way to achieve this, but what exactly does this mean, and how can you achieve this in your own content? Check out these three simple ways to create more engaging content with this “storytelling” technique:

  1. Appeal to people’s natural love of stories
    As far back as humanity can be traced and across nearly every culture, storytelling has existed in a variety of forms. From childhood, stories capture our attention and engage our imagination. People are naturally drawn to content that appeals to this: beginning-middle-end narrative structure, a protagonist (such as the content creator) to root for, and engaging language are all elements of this style that successfully engage readers.
  2. Tell your story in your own voice
    An overly formal, structured tone doesn’t engage the short-attention-spanned audiences of the digital world. There are so many content creators that you want yours to stand out, and the best way to do this is with a unique and perceptible online persona – an extension of your own personality or brand that can speak to and engage with audiences on what feels like a personal level
  3. Get to the point
    Remember those short attention spans? You need to catch the interest your potential readers in the first paragraph of your content. Let them know what you’re going to be talking about before you talk about it, and use your unique voice mentioned above to engage your readers on a more personal level.

    What makes you quit reading blog content before you’ve finished it?

Vacation – A Travel Destination or a State of Mind?

When you think vacation, you think flying off on a plane to somewhere new and exciting and doing all kinds of amazing and interesting things. Or at least I do. But I don’t get to travel that often, and most of my travels are returning to places that are regular vacation destination for me and my family. So sure, I might be away on vacation, but I’m not in that vacation state of mind. By which I mean I’m still mentally checked in to my daily life and my daily stresses.

But why does vacation have to entail travel? Not everyone has the opportunity, and for those that do, the act of travelling alone is not always enough to make a vacation feel like a vacation. But a vacation can be defined as “an extended period of leisure and recreation”, often including travel, but not being defined by it. Working with this definition, my last vacation was over the Christmas holidays, where I did no traveling, saw few people, and experienced the true vacation state of mind.

As I’ve transitioned into adulthood, Christmas has lost most of the luster that it held throughout my childhood. Financial independence removes the excitement of receiving gifts and adds the burden of buying them for others (a task I stress over way too much). Deaths of grandparents and cousins having children of their own shrinks the once large family gathering to a handful of people, or just my immediate family. A week or two off of school with no homework turns into a day or two off of work – not enough to feel like it’s anything longer than a weekend with added pressure to enjoy yourself. So yeah, Christmas isn’t exactly up my alley, as I kept longing to experience it as I had as a child.

This year was different. My brother saved Christmas with his gift, a copy of Red Dead Redemption II, a video game I had been wanting for a long time but never thought I would have the opportunity to play. Check out the trailer and I bet you’ll want to play it too. Really, my brother gave me the gift of a true childlike Christmas, and the true vacation state of mind. I spent the better part of my five days off of work in the basement, in my pyjamas, exploring the amazing world of Red Dead. I was engrossed in the game, a feeling which I hadn’t experienced in years (even though I play a lot of video games). I didn’t have to worry about time, or being productive, or the eternal Christmas pressure of the holiday feeling like a holiday. I felt like I did when I was nine and spent all Christmas morning playing with new Lego sets. As an adult, I was able to escape my obligations and stresses and my every day life. Talk about a real vacation state of mind!

What are the games that have captured you the same way that Red Dead Redemption II captured me? I’d love some suggestions (even though it might result in me disappearing into my basement for weeks on end, and making pseudo-philosophical blog posts about them).

Hacking YouTube’s Algorithm (and other tips for the censored creator)

 

For the past few years, YouTube has been suffering controversy by its creators for the treatment they are facing at the hands of the website. Many are finding themselves unable to continue make their livelihood from their channels, which is very damaging for content creators. There are tons of reasons why creators are struggling with YouTube, many of which are outlined in this informative video by creator James A. Janisse on his channel Dead Meat.

For whatever reason you’re having trouble sustaining your channel, here are a few hacks for continuing to make money as a content creator:

  • Request manual review of your demonetized videos. Often, YouTube’s algorithm will automatically demonetize videos with certain tags or words in the title, or even based on you as a creator if you are particularly unlucky! However, you can request that these videos are manually reviewed by an actual YouTube employee, who can revoke the demonetization of your video if the content is found to be appropriate for advertisers after all. Fight the system!
  • Use Twitter to your advantage. Depending on the status of your channel and video, your subscribers may not get the notification that you’ve uploaded. Encourage your subscribers to follow you on Twitter for instant updates on when you upload new content to ensure that you get those views! This applies to other social media accounts that you have to support your YouTube channel too.

If your content won’t be monetized on YouTube even after manual review, you can still make money as a content creator. You may need a little more time, effort, and content to make money from these alternative methods, but many content creators have found success in doing so!

  • Be open with your subscribers. Transparency with your audience is important, and if they don’t know you need the extra support they won’t be able to help you! If you’ve got a strong community of subscribers that feel affinity for you and your channel, you are more likely to receive support.
  • Create and sell merch. Let your subscribers support you (and promote your channel!) by creating fan merch! The most popular way for creators to sell merch is on TeePublic. If you don’t want to design your own merch, consider commissioning someone to design, or paying for the rights to fan art to slap that on a t-shirt! Other popular merch items are pins, phone cases, and stickers.
  • Patreon is your friendPatreon is the way of the future for most content creators who are unable to earn advertising revenue on their YouTube channel. Subscribers and supporters can pledge as little as a dollar a month (or per video) to support the content that they want! Patreon utilizes a rewards system, so consider rewards such as early releases, Discord access, blooper reels, and other exclusive content to encourage subscribers to utilize the Patreon service.

Even though YouTube’s policies can make it difficult to earn money as a content creator, a bit of extra effort and ingenuity can ensure that you can still make money for making your awesome content! Don’t get discouraged and keep making what you love.

Facebook:  Has YouTube taken away your monetization? Here’s how to hack YouTube’s Algorithm (and other tips for the censored creator): https://algonquincollegesocialmedia.wordpress.com/hacking-youtubes-algorithm

 

Twitter: Hacking YouTube’s Algorithm (and other tips for the censored creator): https://algonquincollegesocialmedia.wordpress.com/hacking-youtubes-algorithm

3 Reasons You Need a Social Media Hi

Are you like so many creators who utilize social media as a way to promote your hobby, passion, or brand without financial investment? A bullet journalist who shares your planner layouts and tips? A fitness fanatic who updates your Instagram with workout pics? A cosplayer trying to build your brand through a growing digital presence? For creators like us, we tread the line between personal and business accounts, and want to develop a proper digital presence without having the resources (financial and otherwise) of a professional social media marketer. Though this can often present itself as limiting and frustrating, there is a secret bonus to not having this be your career: You can take a break, and you probably should.

Image result for gasp gif

reactiongifs.com/gasp

Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes, the best move for your hobbyist brand is to take some time away from it, and here’s why:

  1. It’s a great Internet detox. Sure, we all love spending time on social media, but when you run an account like a business, it can suck you in more than you may have anticipated. Spending time curating your feed, creating content, scoping out the competition, monitoring interaction and joining the conversation all requires time spent on your digital devices, and that time adds up. Taking a short leave from your account will give you intentional separation from your device, without the guilt of not posting.
  2. You’ll get your creativity back. As a creator with a digital presence, it’s easy to burn out trying to produce content to post on a regular basis. Maybe some of the work you’re posting is not your best, but on people’s news feed because there needs to be something there, right? Taking some time to detox from posting will refresh your creative energy, give you time to think about your content and your brand, and come back swinging with new ideas and passion to continue your creative outlet. The necessity to share your creative passion online can burn out the reason you started creating in the first place – because you love what you do. Let that love come back to the creative process with a short break from your digital media
  3. It gives you an opportunity to build up some stock to post in future. If you can’t entirely step back from your content creation while you step back from social media, use this time to build up a library of content that you can use once you return to your account. This can help stave off content block in future, since you’ll always be able to return to this content when you don’t have the time or energy to post!

 

A planned social media hiatus is a great idea for the content creator who is losing steam with running their social media accounts. Take a breather, get off the networks, and remind yourself why you’re excited about sharing your content in the first place!