I Quit!…For Now…

OMG! Big news! Ed Sheeran has quit social media!

Meh, I don’t really care because I’m not a fan. But for his faithful millions who use the most popular apps, there will be a void. I am sure some followers will mourn his absence; they’ll miss his Twitter thoughts and Instagram images. Some will forget about him entirely. And others will just shrug, knowing that he will eventually return. Almost all of them do.

Taking a break from social media is not an unusual move. It can become oppressive. Time-consuming. Even depressing. I have friends who have done it. I’ve done it too. But when celebrities do it, it starts trending on Twitter (that’s irony, right?).

There are plenty of great reasons to take a breather from social media; to step back and regroup. Because, depending on how you use it, social networking can take a negative toll on anyone. It can waste time, hurt relationships, cause unnecessary drama, batter self-esteem, compromise privacy, and turn people into hermits.

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Sheeran said social media was narrowing his world view, forcing him to see things through a screen instead of through his own eyes. And so he has decided to step back and look at the world in a different way. He isn’t the first person to do this. And he is not the first celebrity to push social media to the side, hoping for more privacy and a renewed sense of self.

Whether it was because they were dealing with serious online trolling and abuse or just weren’t allowed to post risqué pictures, many celebrities have had a rocky relationship with social media. Chelsea Handler, Rihanna, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj – all of these celebrities have pulled the plug on their social media network, either temporarily or long-term.

There are so many valid reasons for giving social media a rest. And for a lot of people, the risk of losing followers, publicity, and attention because they need to step away from their screens is worth it.

But many return, as Sheeran will (he even says so in his Instagram message). Our relationship with social media can be fickle. Bumpy. And we’ve all had the urge to quit.

Have you ever taken a break from social media? How long did it last? And how did it feel when you unmoored yourself from it all?

Hitting the Bullseye

Who is your audience? Where do you find them? How do you talk to them? If you don’t have the answers to these questions, chances are your social media marketing strategy will go nowhere. You have to know where you are going before you can start.

Your target audience is your bullseye. Knowing how to reach them, engage effectively, and create a relationship is essential.

Yoga practice originated in India and has been around for thousands of years, helping people reach their spiritual, mental, and physical goals. Its popularity took off in the 1980s and keeps getting stronger every year. And as it grows, so do the numbers of yoga studios, magazines, specialty stores, and training/workshop schools.

To be successful, the target audience needs to be identified. In fact, part of Lululemon’s manifesto is, “Listen, listen, listen, and then ask strategic questions.”

Typically, yoga practitioners in North America:

  • are female
  • earn more than $75,000 annually
  • are between the ages of 18 and 54
  • have a post-secondary education
  • have a fair amount of disposable income
  • enjoy lattes (joke…)

Yoga magazines, websites, and blogs communicate well with this audience by using images featuring other women in the age group, colour schemes and images that women like, and language that appeals to this demographic. Stores and studios also have calm and quiet environments with muted colour schemes, and modern, feminine, and sleek décors.

This demographic is also very active in social media, so using apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest can be very effective. Many studios, magazines, and instructors use social media apps and see huge benefits.

Although it is a niche market, the target audience will slowly evolve and change as more and more men and seniors begin to take up yoga. Social media marketing strategies will need to change and evolve in order to bring in these new demographic groups.

Social Media and Violence Against Women

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25 kicked off a 16-day campaign to end gender-based violence. It will last until December 10, Human Rights Day. During this time, a number of social media campaigns will shine a light on women and the violence that is directed at them.

Some experts say that social media has fuelled violence against women around the world, with one in three women becoming a victim at some point in her life – something the United Nations calls a global epidemic. Issues cited include online harassment, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault. Prominent examples of these include Gamergate and revenge porn. Statistics show that young women are often the primary targets of online harassment and abuse.

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Image courtesy: http://www.unwomen.org

While these facts are eye-opening, organisers have taken the reigns of social media and used the platform as an ally against violence and harassment. Through clever campaigns that harness the power of the hashtag and instant communication, various groups have created inspirational and empowering campaigns that aim to end violence against women.

Right now, two campaigns that launched on November 25 expose what happens to women around the world on a regular basis: #16daysofactivism and #orangeyourworld.

These two campaigns have gained a lot of ground on Twitter and have helped to open up a dialogue about violence against women and what can be done.

Other social media campaigns in the past include #stoptheviolence, #yesallwomen, and #shinealight. They haven’t been free of criticism though, with some people pointing out their effects, although powerful at the time, do not last and don’t make any profound difference.

What do you think? Do you think social media campaigns about serious issues like violence against women are not as affective as they could be?

COM0014 – Genuine Communication

Some people tell a great story. They know how to weave a good tale and keep their audience listening. And others don’t. Those are the people we avoid.

We’ve all met these people at some point. They prattle on about something obscure, giving too much detail and forgetting who they are talking to. They don’t care what anybody thinks, so they talk in one long, loud sentence. Eventually, they get to their point – the meat of their story – but by then, most people have completely tuned out (you can tell because their eyes have glazed over and their jaws have dropped).

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Image from marciasirotamd.com

Good storytelling is everything. It can make or break a company, small business, or blog. To tell a great story is to communicate with your audience: know who they are, what they are looking for, and what you can give them. It’s about asking for feedback and listening to what they have to say. Focusing on the human interest angle and making it personal can create a solid connection.

Talk to your audience as you would in real life. Avoid the jargon, jibber-jabber, and ten-dollar words. You will confuse your audience; they will drop you quickly. An active voice should be used. Use an active voice!

Be clear. Be concise. Use plain language. Check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. We may be living in an age of texting and emoticons, but breaking too far away from traditional grammar is a risky move.

Following these steps and opening the door to effective, genuine communication is the key to success in social media.

COM0014 ~ What I did on my vacation

Mongolia: A Surprising Adventure

Landing in a strange city for the first time is a little unnerving. Exciting, yes. But still, unnerving. Especially when your plane touches down after dark.

Thankfully my husband met me at Chinggis Khaan airport in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (he was posted abroad). Like a lot like other airport, there was a flurry of people collecting bags, making their way through customs, and greeting friends and family

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The State Great Hural (Mongolian Parliament)

Anxious to get some sleep after a very long haul, hubby and I hopped into a cab and made our way to the hotel in the city centre. Our exploration would begin the next day.

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Two dudes on a bike.

A democratic revolution released Mongolia from the grip of communist rule in early 1990, so it’s a pretty new country in terms of its politics and economy. It’s still not a popular tourist destination, but there are enough things to see and do to keep you busy

In the capital, you can still feel the ghosts of the Soviet era in its architecture. The museums and art galleries tell Mongolia’s story – its rich history and ever-evolving identity. Restaurant owners quietly welcome you to sit down to enjoy something to eat – usually a huge helping of some kind of meat (they seem to be dedicated carnivores there).

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A ger campground.

To treat ourselves for a few days, we stayed at the swanky Terelj Hotel (yeah, a swanky hotel in the middle of Mongolia seemed strange to me too). Located in the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, it provided easy access to great hiking, horseback riding, and a chance to meet the locals.

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Horses being trucked about.

In the countryside, the earth is the colour of cumin. Gers (yurts) dot the landscape and you can find an enormous statue of Genghis Khan that pays tribute to the brutal and triumphant leader.

There is no shortage of Buddhist temples, prayer wheels, and ovoos – sacred cairns found in the mountains and alongside the roads that help provide safe journeys to travelers.

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An ovoo on the side of the road.

Would I recommend Mongolia for travel? Absolutely. Hop on the Trans Siberian Express, camp out in a ger, drink some yak milk. The experience will be something to never forget.

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This is a golden eagle. Can you guess what they hunt?

Have you traveled to Mongolia?

COM0015 ~ BLOG POST 1 ~ TOOLS & SOURCES

It was Friday afternoon. A friend looked up from his phone. “There’s been a mass shooting.”

I reached for my phone before he said anything else and checked Twitter, my immediate go-to for news.

Paris.

It was already trending, with Tweets streaming in every second. I couldn’t scroll fast enough to keep up with them. For the next while, I watched as the story unfolded. The pace at which it grew was incredible, as people from around the world tweeted in shock, confusion, and anger.

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Image: campmapleleaf.net

Twitter has long been my first source for what’s happening and trending. I like its immediacy, variety of sources, simplicity, and – I almost hate to say it – variety of opinions (because, let’s face it, that alone can be a source of aggravation). I love how it connects people who wouldn’t normally come into contact with each other. I love its power to mobilize and to spring people into action. I love the sharing of ideas and back-and-forth jibber jabber. It’s an amazing tool that has forever changed traditional discourse.

Zite is another source I go to for news and updates. A news reading app that launched on the iPad a few years ago, it’s a customizable site that lets you tailor your news to what interests you the most. It searches through millions of news stories every day to bring you the best items from some of the best original sources.

As for social media monitoring tools, I’ll be completely honest here; I have used exactly zero.

SMM

Image: ontargetmediainc.com

I am not very active on social media (yet!), which is why I am taking this certificate in the first place. But I did poke around and check out a few recommended tools.

Twitter Counter is a simple, easy-to-use tool that provides straightforward information. For a beginner, it is the perfect way to slowly immerse yourself  into the very big, very overwhelming world of social media analytics. This tool wins for me mostly because of its unintimidating nature.

Then there is Hootsuite, which looks like an amazing tool. I haven’t fully thrown myself into yet, but based on some preliminary poking around, it looks like the perfect place to park all of your social media apps and get some great analytic feedback. Unlike Twitter Counter, the intimidation factor is a little higher especially for social media rookies like myself. But I see this being a great help in managing and analyzing social media. Who doesn’t love a one-stop-shop?

How do you monitor your social media? What other news sources do you use?