Assignment 3

I am the social media advisor on a volunteer basis for a start-up dental hygiene clinic opening up in downtown Calgary next month.  The audience we’re trying to gain on our social media sites are adults in the Calgary and surrounding area who desire dental services, including Invisalign orthodontics, tooth whitening, or dental cleanings.  Facebook and Instagram are the two most popular social media sites currently with the demographics we seek, adults between 18-80 years old.

Our competitors are dental clinics, hygiene only clinics, independent whitening clinics, and Orthodontic clinics within the Calgary area.  Since there are numerous services offered at our office, each service has their own list of competition businesses.  They all have the expected Facebook and Instagram account, but there are a select few that have Snapchat but that is more so the Orthodontic clinics, since they try to engage a younger audience. Of course, they all have a Google page and rating and reviews site. The competitors content for each type of business/service varies slightly based on two factors – which they have at the helm of their social media and what kind of business it is.   Most of the competition, no matter the type of clinic, has an obvious form of zombie media happening.  This is exciting for us, since there is an opportunity to excel and be the leaders in our community.  But, there are a few companies who are doing it very well.  The content is regular, engaging, and visually consistent. The business type will dictate what variations in content they have; for example, the orthodontic offices will have more contests and engaging content for children, whereas dental clinics will have informational posts about dental hygiene.  The content we have so far is Valentine’s Day themed/promotional, and contest give-aways as well as updates about the clinic construction.

Once the clinic is up and running, the content can lean away from contest and promos and start to create the story we’ve decided to create.  Our business owner is a strong leader, raised by a strong single mother, and aside from expected content, like whitening before and afters or Invisalign before and afters, the content will highlight and promote her brand which is female empowerment.  Since our primary demographic uses Facebook and Instagram mainly, these will be our priority platforms, in addition to Google +.

Since the business is still in its infancy, the content is not daily, but we aim for at least 3 times per week at the moment.  This is due to manpower, mainly, but once all the construction dust settles, our goal is to engage in page posting and/or highlights 5 out of the 7 days of the week.  The times of day to post for us is going to be the peak times when adults are likely viewing their social media.  Assuming our target audience works a 9-5 job, they will likely check their social media before work after they get up and start their day, and then lunch hour, and then in the evening when they get home – so 8am, 12 noon and 7pm approximately.

The social media goal for this new clinic is simply to gain followers at this moment in time – hence the promos and give-aways.  So, our success is measured by an increase in followers.  In time, that will change, but we merely want to let our existence be known.  Our goals immediately following opening is engagement and reviews.  Our Google page will have zero reviews so any new potential patient may not get the information they need to reassure themselves that this clinic is the right choice for them.  The strategy for this goal is to ask all patients in the first month of business to write an authentic review about their experience and about our clinic on Google – even if only 10 people write a review in the first month, we are well on our way to gaining a reputable and honest Google page.

Let’s add this funny meme instead!

My personal experience with introducing a social media strategy was only last month. The business owner is a well-liked, ambitious and caring woman who has taken on the project of starting a business on her own. In the middle of a pandemic no less.  When we sat down together, I learned that her future and current social media content thus far has been copying everyone else’s mindless posts.  Re-posting the memes that someone else posted months ago that she thought other people might like.  My challenge was to communicate how a social media account could have the most impact for her future success, branding and what that means, how a social media account tells a story, and how it doesn’t include memes.  I presented 3 Instagram pages of people who were doing it well and explained how exactly they were nailing it.  The challenge was to impress upon her to forget what others are doing, forget what you think you know, and let’s talk about and design a page that sells your brand.  Memes don’t matter, your identity matters. How can you make someone (who obviously has a lot of passion and a lot invested in this company) change their belief or change their mindset? 

Change comes in stages.  Change first requires forethought and contemplation.  She had given some thought to her own social media presence and what she wanted it to be before I even arrived at the meeting.  So the creative juices were flowing also dreams of all the infinite possibilities and potentials.  I injected myself into her business, (in the nicest way possible – tempting for me since it’s a start-up and would love to create something from the ground up) so having someone step in and give you their version of YOUR business may not have been easy to hear.  So, how can I change someone’s mind on something that is so personal?

No matter how you break it down, or how many different examples you give, change is hard because of the emotions that are involved.  Some will say change is difficult because you can’t know if all the effort will be worth the outcome (disappointment).  Some will say change is difficult because of the lack of information – how can you commit to change if you don’t know any of the details (fear and confusion).  Some say change is difficult because if it doesn’t work out like I think it will; I will seem like a fool (vulnerability).  Evoke change by removing or negating the emotions that present as an obstacle.

Dig deep – what is the underlying emotion that is preventing change in regards to social media with the business owner, employees or staff?  Let’s get them involved!  Evoke a sense of pride by profiling key individuals or have them brainstorm ideas for the next social media content.   Or, try evoking a sense of comradery between employees by having a group research project for the next posting. Among all the hurdles one may experience in creating and enacting a social media strategy, in my opinion, it’s the human interpersonal dynamic of differing opinions that presents the biggest obstacle.

Know Thyself

Pearls of wisdom in business are everywhere.  Have you ever heard this one? – “You can’t be all things to all people”.  Meaning, not every person is going to like your product or service, no matter how many posts, vlogs, or memes you post.  What a company can do though is to be themselves to the best of their ability and attract those who love them for who they are. 

Depending on if there is a design and implementation of a social media strategy happening for a new start-up or for an established business, you may encounter different steps along the way, but for the most part, they are more similar than different.

The first step to either age of business is a meeting with the business owner (or similar authority) to understand their desire and goals for a social media presence – in essence, to listen.  A well-stablished business may want to increase market share in one product or service, while a start-up may want something more basic, like awareness of their existence! Each desire will be as individual as the company is and so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Understanding the business, who they are at their core and who they identify as is the first step at creating a social media strategy that makes sense to the company its being designed for. 

The second step is to set goals and define roles.  Goals should be specific and quantifiable and determined by the business owner or as a team.   The roles of who executes what task can then be discussed, for example, the Social media manager may rely on staff members for content or photographs of their product.

The final step is to measure the measurables at prescribed intervals.  At the initial meeting, it should have been agreed upon that there would be intermitted review of the newly implemented social media strategy.  At these reviews, it would be discussed if the targets and goals for a social media account, that were determined at the first meeting, are being met.

For those companies who already have been in business, incorporating a complimentary social media strategy into their current marketing and advertising endeavours is a must.  Start with an analysis of what they are currently doing.  They may or may not have been keeping to their brand identity in every post, and some may have been a part of the “zombie social media” segment, but hopefully they have created a theme or story of who they are online. If you have discussed with the business owner what their company vision is, their company goals (long and short) and what they believe their identity to be, moving forward you can have a social media that compliments their current marketing and advertising activities.

Complimenting their current strategies is a-must for numerous reasons.  The most important reason to the business owner is not to confuse their clients or customers.  If you have a social media strategy that differs from current marketing strategies is disorienting and may negatively impact sales, in more extreme cases.  The most important reason to the social media strategist is potential alienation of the company owner and staff from the social media manager and raise questions of the efficacy of the strategist.  They may think you haven’t been listening to them and who they are and are running your own agenda or don’t care enough to listen to them.

Understand your company, listen to who they are, work within their theme, think about their goals and post content with authenticity.  Narrate a story of who the company is in an authentic way that supports their brand and you can successfully integrate or create a complimentary social media strategy.

Why I love BatDad

Husband, father, part-time Batman – what’s not to love?

Once you watch a video, you’ll love the goofiness of it all.  Each video is short, but the silly scenarios he comes up with have you laughing.  The candid retorts of the kids may cause your cheeks to hurt from smiling so much.

Mostly, I love to watch his creativity.  Is there anything more entertaining than seeing someone live their passion? It’s not the same thing every video.  Each video revolves around a theme, but they are all uniquely funny.  It gives credit to the idea taught to us a few weeks ago about personal branding.  Video after video, he is his fun-loving self and makes no apologies about his wacky shenanigans.

What really is great about these short videos is that they will be there for him and his wife to look back on in years to come, but even better is that the kids will have this, too and that is heart-warming.

Keep on keepin’ on Batdad!

Yeah, I’m a trekker, what about it?

This past week, I was able to visit the Telus Spark Centre in Calgary, Alberta where they were hosting a Star Trek event called, “The Starfleet Academy Experience”.  For someone who has been a Star Trek fan since they were in elementary school, this was nerd heaven.

For quite some time, and largely today, by the general public, Star Trek fans are stereotyped as losers who are socially awkward.   As a youth, I did not reveal this interest but to my closest friends for fear of ridicule, and still as an adult, have the same hang up.

The negative perception gave me pause before posting my experience and photos on my social media account.  I ended up tweeting to Patrick Stewart and added some pictures to Facebook.  I was surprised at how many Star Trek fans I had in my friends list.

Even if it’s not a hidden affiliation in a television program, but something more serious, like mental illness, I love social media and the internet for the simple fact that you can feel less alone.

Live long and prosper.

Ellen Campbell

That thing on tv? That’s me!

There is this interpersonal phenomenon that I see happen at work and after reading the 1997 Fast Company article, The Brand Called You, I wonder if anyone else thinks that it’s about personal branding, too.

Picture this: One co-worker, in their downtime, is talking with another co-worker. Small talk, but someone brings up the topic of television shows (and by that, I include Netflix programs). Emphatically, one asks, “Do you watch *insert show name here*?” Now, the conversation can go one of two ways; one is where the person replies “yes” and then you see the light in the inquirer’s face light up and they explode with questions and comments, and the other is where the person replies “no” and you see the light in their eyes dim.

The first question I beg to ask is why television shows carry so much weight to an individual? Yes, I know that there are programs that are emotionally impactful, like Blackfish, but if your co-worker didn’t catch the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory, it shouldn’t cause disappointment.

The second question I wish to ask is why finding someone else who likes the same program so important? I understand that it’s a topic that you can enjoy with another person, if you are out of things to talk about, or an ice-breaker with someone new. To be deflated when someone doesn’t watch just doesn’t seem like an appropriate response.

I theorize that television programs are used as personal branding within our personal lives. Have they become socially acceptable ways of branding ourselves? Branding ourselves on someone else’s creation granted, but we find something we can get behind, and stand for something.

If I like Family Guy, does that mean I brand myself as crude humour fan?

If I like Game of Thrones, does that mean I stand up for the underdog?

If I claim I have never watched Batman Returns, does it mean I don’t have a dark side?

Tell me if I’m reading too much into other people, or if there’s an ounce of truth here. I’d love to hear from other people and quit the dialogue in my own head!

Ellen Campbell

The other moms at your “Mommy-and-Me” class are lying.

My new mothers,

Things are not always as they seem. You know that stunning picture of your high school friend that she recently posted on Facebook? 30 minutes before she posted it, she was crying. You know that Instagram post your neighbourhood friend put up of her and her daughter cuddling in bed? What you didn’t see is that she cropped out the messiest apartment on the block. Social media profiles give mothers the wrong expectation of what parenthood is going to be or is like, which is something that has taken me 11 years to figure out. But, what I’m more passionate about is how mothers put on this same false display face-to-face with each other.

Why I care so much is because being dishonest with each other about how hard new motherhood is isolates and further perpetuates poor esteem and confidence. Of course, in the worst of circumstances, can add fuel to the postpartum depression fire.

Let’s just get this out of the way with – You are doing a great job and there are some realities we need to clear up:

You will not know what you are doing instinctively.  You may hear some older people say, “You’ll just know once the baby gets here”. I call bull! You wont know how to breastfeed and you wont know what sleep training is or how to do it, for example. Do not feel ashamed that you have to buy a book or WikiHow anything!

Your friend’s online posts are deceiving. People work hard at creating a larger-than-life image, but work harder at hiding what they don’t want you to see. There is another side, so simply enjoy the post or photo for a fleeting moment.

You will struggle with body image issues. After you give birth, you would think that everything would go back to normal. Not so. You will likely be disappointed, and frustrated.   Your “new normal” will take months and months of getting used to, and accepting. Of course, some women will hit the gym right away, but this is not everyone, and you should not beat yourself up for it.

 The relationship with your husband will become strained. The lack of sleep and the emotions you are feeling, the absence of your old life in combination with the new responsibility you face will create interpersonal tension with your spouse. There’s no getting around it. You may even plan dates to try and keep the connection going, but you’ll most likely think about your baby at home. I hate to bring it up to be a downer, but please know that this is normal and you can recover from this hiccough.

 You will have to let go of expectations. In the 9 months of prep time you had to think about how life might be with your new baby, you thought about many topics. Like, if you are going to breastfeed, what kind of formula is the best, all the toys are to be BPA-free, and so on. I don’t mean to be patronizing, but things will not go as you planned. You’ve likely heard this before, but I only bring it up again to internalize this for you. Does it suck that you had to compromise? Of course, but we all did it.

The cute cherub baby that you see is the exception, not the rule. On the Internet, and in Disney movies, this is how babies are presented. They certainly can be that way, but expectations should be that they are messy, cranky and in constant need for you to be at their side. 

The emotional side of motherhood is the hardest part. The lack of sleep, lack of freedom, exhaustion, failed personal expectations and the mental pressures is the dragon you have to slay in the first 6 months (or more).

 Certainly, I am aware that there are sweet moments within new motherhood. Moments that you will treasure the rest of your life. I apologize to the mothers who aren’t experiencing this – if you aren’t struggling with any or some of this – all the power to you! I am well aware that these have been my experiences, but find a common thread in the women I talk to.

But, for those of you who are experiencing these things, pretending you aren’t does a disservice to you and other mothers. Do you see how this creates the culture of loneliness within our social circle? I would encourage you to be painfully honest when asked about your new life. I did not have family close by when I had my first born, and could have found solace in knowing I was not alone. I didn’t want to hear how your child is the best thing that ever happened to you (even if that was the truth). What I wanted was to hear how your house is a mess and you can never seem to keep it tidy, or how you rarely have dinners made for your husband at night. What I wanted was honesty and to see myself in you. Did you have to lock yourself in your walk-in closet in order to have a 4 minute conversation on the phone? Say it outloud!  Look at the picture I included of my daughter.  The bed is not made because she threw up on it, just got out of the bath, and she’s harassing the cat!  I didn’t have it all together although that was the expectation I had for myself.

As much as this has been my experience, I would still like to know I am not alone. I keep my heart open to friends who have had babies recently, since I know how much value there is in that. I encourage you to use compassion with other mothers, and show them they are not alone. Tell me what other things about new motherhood you had to deal with or currently wrestle with that you never expected? Let’s help the new moms out there feel encouraged and supported.

With an open heart,

Ellen Campbell