COM0014 Blog#6 My Business’ Secret Wish

Markus-Spiske

Ooh…. The Internet. Some of you may be too young to remember (I can’t believe I just wrote that) but it’s true. There was a time when you had to pay your bills at the bank, stop and ask for directions or drive around in circles. Memorize a dozen phone numbers, and hope you wouldn’t get a busy signal once you found a payphone and some change. Yes! Life was full of mundane hurdles.  

Luo Ping

You could only shop at those stores near your house, unless you ordered something from a catalogue. A trip to the video store was always an event but nobody liked returning those movies. A project for school? I know someone who has a good encyclopedia!! Seriously. How lucky are we to live in this connected world?….

Are We?

RawPixel

There was a time when camping a few hours from the city, meant disconnecting in the “remote” wilderness without outside contact. When renting a cottage meant spending much needed time away from screens, worrying about nothing but lighting a fire and deciding, what time coffee needed to be made in the morning for the first fishing run. A time with less “likes” and more “let’s”… Away from WiFi

Kipras-Streimikis

My secret for my business? Embrace the changes but keep the bearings. We live in a planet where we can have virtual human connections in real time across the globe. We are now able to build communities greater than ever before. Why not build one that understands the benefits of disconnecting for a moment, spending time under the stars and bonding with someone over a fire?

Greg-Rakozy

There are lots of places out there begging to be discovered. Technology can help us find them, it can help us connect with those who want to join us, and it can help us get there. But we owe it to ourselves, and those who come after us, to embrace this world though our own eyes and not through a five-inch screen. Would you care to join us?  

COM0014- Blog #5 My Brand

My name is Andres, and I want to brand myself as a Social Media Consultant specialized in eco-tourism in Ontario and Quebec. I want to level the field for the small eco-tourism business, by expanding their online presence and maximizing their network-outreach in order to help them drive more customers to their business.

I love nature. Over the last 25 years I have developed a serious enthusiasm for outdoor activities in all seasons. I have spent a significant amount of time talking to business owners in this sector (wilderness schools, fishing outfitters, bed and breakfasts, dogsledding, canoe lessons, etc) and have a clear understanding of the market appeal of this industry.

Ontario and Quebec have a wealth of opportunities in the eco-tourism industry, particularly for small businesses in the social media arena. Some have a great deal of appeal and also potential that has not yet been exploited. Often you find a beautiful physical infrastructure and very passionate owners, but some are not adapting to our evolving way of communicating. However, their customer base often does extensive online research prior to making a reservation. At a basic level, they expect a written description that matches their needs, a list of amenities and appealing visuals.

My passion for the outdoors combined with a solid skill set in advertising, writing and multimedia, strengthened by new formal training in social media, makes me an ideal supporting partner for the small business in the outdoor industry. My brand’s model is inspired by both: a great appreciation of how technology connects us, and a firm believe that we all need to put our phones down from time time time and learn how to enjoy nature.

It is an honest brand that connects everyday people who want to spend time outside, with the ones who look forward to have them as their guests. 

When was the last time you bonded with someone by a campfire? 

COM0014 – Blog#4 B2C Case Study – The Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co.

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Vladislav-M Unsplash

The Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co. One of my favorite brands! This company sells high-end outdoor equipment for bush-craft and survival, known for durability and craftsmanship. A small business from a market-savvy entrepreneur with great customer service.  

 

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Hendrik-Morkel–Unsplash

 

They are present on social with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. They have appealing visuals and engaging content, and promptly reply in the professional, yet unpretentious style, that their audience expects. They maintain their place in the community through Facebook: a little over 3500 followers is not bad for a small brand catering to a narrow niche. However their editorial calendar needs some help.

 

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Gregorio-Luiz-Gomez-Unsplash

While they’ve been on Facebook for almost a decade, their publishing frequency has not been consistent. Lately they have released content every couple of days, however in the past two years they averaged two to three posts per month. They adopted Instagram in 2014 and had posted 68 times (956 followers). Their first Tweet was in 2010 they have tweeted only 80 times (282 followers). They also have a YouTube channel with 13 videos (895 subscribers).

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Andrew-Neel-unsplash

The Canadian Outdoor Equipment has all the right intentions: they care for their customers and want to connect quickly whenever they reach out. However, they are spreading themselves thin by using too many tools and not publishing material consistently.

I would focus on the tools generating engagement. Continue posting gear reviews, coverage of outdoor shows, recipes and interesting references for the outdoor community on Facebook. Evaluate that Instagram account and determine its value; a good percentage of those followers might also be Facebook followers. While their Twitter base is small, it is good to have a tool to react to customer’s needs. Although there is a high demand for outdoor gear reviews on YouTube, I would consider a robust content strategy or not have it at all.

 

As per any social account, low activity could be perceived as neglect by your audience. Would you agree?    

 

COM0014 – Blog#3 Calling all Outdoor Gearheads!

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Tj-Holowaychuk-61722-Unsplash

My brand will support small to medium Outdoor/Eco-tourism businesses in Ontario and Quebec with their marketing strategies. To become an influential voice, I plan to use a blog to draw the attention of my own demographic: people between the ages of 30 and 49, who like the idea of road trips and outdoor adventures in these two provinces.

 

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Tegan-Mierle-157974-Unsplash

My blog will have reviews of destinations as well as instructional posts addressing one of three trip scenarios: Travelling alone, with friends or with small children. I want to connect directly with those anticipating the challenges of camping with children, or looking for a good cabin to rent in the winter to ski all day and cook and drink wine with friends at night, or someone who is thrilled about planning a first solo hike or portage in the back-country.

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Tom-King-636351-Unsplash

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Andrew-Ridley-449766-Unsplash

The influencers in this group are people in the middle to upper class (outdoor gear is not cheap). They shop in specialized stores like MEC and follow brands like Patagonia and Arc’teryx. They research their products well and can be trendy with their choices. While some may not follow professional sports, most could be considered intermediate athletes (running, biking, swimming).   

 

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Julian-Bialowas-1969-Unsplash

While the outdoor adventure market is considered to be predominantly male, women are closing the gap. And in cases where couples decide where to spend their vacation time, the female voice tends to be the greater influence, more so when children are part of the trip.

 

I intend on using Facebook and Instagram to reach out to the audience and help them find my blog and eventually Twitter to react to their needs. My blog will have clear categories so members and visitors can go directly to what is relevant to them. Once I have a follower base my blog will be a place where local businesses such as fishing cabins, outfitters, cottages for rent, canoe lessons, dogsled tours, to name a few, can promote their business.

In other words, I want to link like-minded people with the services we enjoy.

Have you been to the great outdoors in Ontario and Quebec? What place comes to mind when you think about an outdoor adventure?    

 

COM0014 – Blog#2 It’s about HOW you say it.

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Jason Rosewell (Unplash)


C
ommunication, whether verbal or not, is the base of any social exchange. Understanding the individual and communal interests of those we seek and behaving accordingly is necessary to have a personable introduction, a meaningful interaction and ultimately become a positive influence on others.

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Rawpixel  (Unplash)

When I was 13 years old, talking to girls was nothing short of a monumental task. I had absolutely no idea where to start or what to say. And if a girl would talk to me I would immediately freeze and all I could hear was a voice in my head saying “SAY SOMETHING!!” Which inevitably ended up with me mumbling something awkward while I focused on that sudden rush of heat going to my face. I was a mess.    

The most practical piece of social advice I ever got came from my uncle, and his words came back to me while I was reading this week’s lesson. He told me to think less about being liked by others and more about enjoying being me; eventually I would find a place to belong.  And when it came to dialog, not to make the conversation about me. Pay attention to subtleties and engage with either a simple fact or a sincere compliment, always followed by an open question. After that, starting a conversation with almost anyone became effortless.

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Anna-Vander-Stel (Unplash)

A timid voice gets drown out by the incessant noise of everyone who is trying to get their message across and while shock value might make you popular, it doesn’t necessarily yield meaningful connections. In order to stand out and create a fruitful bond, being authentic is a most. Consistently showing awareness of what’s important to your audience in a style they appreciate while engaging with them, is what allows us carve our space and gives us a relevant voice in the community.

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Ruben Bagues (Unplash)

What about you? Do you have a different approach to starting a conversation and make connections that can also relate to social media? 

COM0014 – Blog #1 Reflecting Among Roots & Rocks in Algonquin Park

COM0014 – Blog #1 Reflecting Among Roots & Rocks in Algonquin Park

Last spring I went on a three-night solo adventure to the Highland Trail in Algonquin Park. It is a 35km/21.7mi loop through a rugged Canadian shield forest. You can also do a 19km/11.8mi loop but I think the sites on the far end have better views and are less frequented.P5120005.JPG
So I packed up my car and left my place at 5am. I drove four hours to my destination: The Mew Lake campground on Ontario’s highway 60. After registering and discussing my itinerary with the park rangers I was ready to hit the trail by 10am.

 

The first day was long. I must admit, when preparing for this trip I put more attention to camp comfort than the weight of what I was packing. The result? A 45lbs/20.5Kg backpack! I know, I know. Some carry three times as much in the military. I’m not whining, just saying: I’m not one to subscribe to ultralight backpacking but I usually pack everything I need, including some sort of lavish comfort, under 30lbs/14Kg.

P5120007.JPGAlthough it didn’t seem like much, between the trailhead and my first site (Head Lake) there is a little over 10km/6.2mi. It was early May and the trails were muddy and steep. This combined with a heavy pack made for a very slow pace. Five hours later I got to my site. What a great feeling! The sun was still up and although you could feel an early summer air, there was still a bit of ice on the trail. The temperature was perfect and there were no bugs to deal with! I set up camp and had a steak dinner with potatoes, dehydrated vegs and a beer. Yes!! (The 45lb pack starting to make sense?).
TP5150116.JPGhe next morning it rained from 6am to well into the afternoon. Thankfully I only had to walk 4km/2.5mi to Harness Lake. The challenge was to keep myself warm and my gear as dry as possible. I spent most of my afternoon sawing wood and splitting logs with a small hatchet. Henry David Thoreau said “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice”. I could not agree more. The greatest feeling that night was being warm by a roaring fire and the only light around that lake.
The third day the temperature dropped and I got a mix of snow and hail most of the morning. I walked for about 14km/8.6mi to Provoking Lake where I spent my last night. The sun came out and I got the chance to dry my stuff before heading back home the next morning. Only a 7km/4.3mi walk to the car. A short drive to the biggest burger I could find, and then another 4 hours to a hot shower.

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I love back-country hikes. I learn a lot about myself on these trips. There is something about walking by yourself through a rustic trail away from screens and the rest of the world. I find it shades light to corners of your mind you haven’t visited in a long time. There is something spiritual about it. Like some sort of meditation, with a bit of pain…but you also get a stake dinner and a pint!

Some of my friends and family think I’m crazy for loving this. And I agree it might not be for everyone. What do you think? Is this your idea of a holiday from hell? Or self-inflicted bliss?

When Brands Don’t Wave Back

 

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Photo by sept commercial on Unsplash

Building a relationship is a delicate process, particularly in its early stages. If you have a great first date with someone but fail to follow up afterwards, with every day that goes by in silence you decrease the chances of getting a second date. Your date might grow to resent you or simply decide to go out with someone else. Seedlings generally need more care than adult plants and building relationships with your customers on social media is no different.

The current global integration of businesses and consumers is unprecedented. Brands are realizing that social media is more than a stage to display glossy adds and make noise. According to this article on Sprout Social, 79% of customers have shared a life milestone on social media and 1 in 3 customers would mention a brand when sharing a personal accomplishment. If one also considers that 41% of Millenials would include a brand in their milestone post just to say thanks and 50% of customers would include a brand in their post to make a recommendation, it makes it hard not to see this as a great opportunity to get free advertising!

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Photo by Denys-Nevozhai on Unplash

Anyone who has grown and successfully maintained a brand understands how significant an advertisement budget can be and how much value there is in getting customers talking; word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways to generate top-of-mind awareness and position your brand ahead of its competitors. The message to your potential customer is being delivered by someone they already trust who is vouching for your brand. And, as we know, trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, so this exchange already puts your brand well in the green.

But what happens when your brand adopts a passive approach to this word-of-mouth advertising? After all, customers like your product or service and they seem willing to spread the word for free, which in turn is saving you big money from that advertising budget. If you add the fact that your customers’ social media recommendations can potentially be seen by millions of people, this can create the illusion that the brand’s positioning is finally on auto-pilot and the business can now focus on other things like product development or ramping up service for those new customers. Win-win right? No. Not quite… Not by a long shot.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Back to that first date: once a customer has recommended your brand on social media is like that moment at the end of your date when she tells you how much she enjoyed spending time with you. If you want a second date, this is not the time to stay silent or check how busy your schedule is for the next 3 weeks, or worse, talk about yourself. The timing of your response is also important; if it takes you more than 4 seconds to acknowledge, your date might get awkward.

 

Another post from Sprout Social show us how quick and positive responses are critical, as well as expected by those customers who voluntarily put your name out there. The average time it takes a brand to respond on social media is 10 hours but the average time a person will wait for a reply is 4. So the average customer waits an additional 6 hours beyond their threshold for their nice gesture to be acknowledged. What’s worse is that these numbers only talk about posts that are answered. Social media messages that go ignored by business is a staggering 89%! What does that mean for a brand that neglects its customers on social media? More than a third of customers (36%) will shame the brand in public and 1 in 3 will consider going with a competitor.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

How can that affect your bottom line? For starters your advertising budget will need to be reconsidered to win back those that left you and to repair the damage to your reputation. A few negative comments might not hurt you in the short term but will erode your name in the long run if no action is taken. Given social media’s unforgiving nature the damage could be irreparable. Social media can be a double-edged sword. Remember those recommendations from your customers that had the potential to be seen by millions? Well, that post of a customer shamming your brand’s silence happens to be on the same wall…

Your brand might not be neglecting its customers on purpose; keeping up with comments and replies on line can be quite an undertake for a popular brand. However, in my opinion it is a challenge worth addressing if you don’t want your customers’ loyalty to become your own demise.  So what is the alternative? Should a brand be expected to chime in every time a customer mentions it?

How can a brand keep up with its customers loyalty without disappointing them or creating an even more significant expense than its original advertising budget?


 

facebook Did you know your customer’s loyalty might hurt you if you don’t take action?  Find out more  https://bit.ly/2KI37Ic

Twitter Are you ignoring your customer’s love? Your brand might be hurting it’s bottom line #waveback #wordofmouth  https://bit.ly/2KI37Ic

The Grip of Ephemeral Marketing

When Snapchat was launched in April of 2011, the multimedia messaging app stood out for introducing a different concept, where content vanishes shortly after it is posted. Given this communication platform’s quick gain in popularity (by May 2012 Snapchat was processing 25 images per second)¹, marketers quickly saw its potential and capitalized on the opportunity.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Being in the know is a feeling that naturally for most people provides a safety blanket. After all, knowledge is power. In an internet era where everything is on record and can be fetched with a few keystrokes, suddenly feeling like you are out of the loop can be daunting. Some companies now want to engage us with a “new” tactic, banking on your fear of missing out (FOMO). They want us to view their posts with urgency before they’re gone. This is called ephemeral marketing.

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Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

 

 

Ephemeral content is quickly getting traction on social media; Snapchat and Instagram being the most recognized platforms within this growing trend. As a form of communication it currently resonates with a younger demographic that converses with a blend of videos and images on a chat string. The content that is posted is only available for a short period and it disappears without a trace within 24 hours of being posted. As with all trends in the younger demographic, it didn’t take long for marketers to notice and since ephemeral content provides a great deal of engagement brands are now adopting it.

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Photo by Alex Wigan on Unsplash

 

 

Seems counterintuitive for a brand to consider leaving its mark in the sand during a rising tide, but actually, ephemeral marketing is nothing new. Ephemeral content brings back a media experience that some people crave. In Jean Shepherd’s 1983 movie A Christmas Story, Ralphie became a member of the Little Orphan Annie’s Secret Circle, which gave him access to an exclusive decoder pin he had to order to decipher Annie’s secret messages. This turned Ralphie into a very engaged listener. Those Ovaltine sponsors knew how important it is for us to be in the know, although they seemed to have a flawed strategy. More on that later.

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Photo by Nilotpal Kalita on Unsplash

Ephemeral marketing is not expected to be refined, it counterbalances airbrushed and surgically-edited advertising where everything is just perfect. This gives brands some flexibility and one could say, room for error. In fact, this format is preferred by millennials who while they do not dislike brands, they do not trust conventional advertising.

 

Take Saturday Night Live as an example. Its success is based on several marketing factors: a short descriptive title, consistent format and very talented people who address current issues. But the main hook for its audience is that it is a scheduled gathering with a relatable brand. Every Saturday night the audience has a date with the SNL cast and although sometimes things do not go as expected, what people really care about is authenticity. Because of this, the loyal audience tunes in and cheers for the performance with faults and all. That’s engagement!

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

 

If it is so effective, why isn’t everyone doing it? Ephemeral marketing is risky. Publishers need to be on top of their game. When you upload your post or go live your content needs to be engaging and consistent with the brand. Your content might be unpolished, but if you fail to be authentic and honest with your audience they will not follow you for long. This is where I think the Ovaltine guys got it wrong. After all, Ralphie was promised the “honours and benefits” of Little Orphan Annie’s Secret Circle, whatever those were, only to be disappointed by another “crummy commercial”.

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Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

There are many ways to engage your audience with ephemeral marketing. From live story telling to flash sales, driving traffic to a website or teasers. Platforms are expanding their capabilities to accommodate ephemeral content and with Facebook on board this trend might very well start spilling into other demographics, which marketers are sure to follow.

The question is, how can your brand adopt this emerging trend to look more like SNL and less like Ovaltine?

How can your ephemeral social media strategy feel more like an exciting gathering at a moment-in-time rather than another “crummy commercial”?


¹Gallagher, Billy (May 12, 2012).

 

facebook Given its increasing popularity, is ephemeral marketing a safe bet for your brand? https://bit.ly/2AQcF4v

Twitter Engaging through fear. Is ephemeral marketing the right choice for your brand? #FOMO #ephemeralmarketing https://bit.ly/2AQcF4v

 

 

Please hold. Your text is important to us :)

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Business is turning to text as its next communication channel. Consumer trends are showing that texting is only gaining momentum among cellphone users. According to this Facebook article, “By the end of 2018, 78% of the world’s smartphone users will message every month¹. And the growth is only expected to continue: By 2021, it’s predicted that the global user base for mobile messaging apps will have risen by a further 23%²”

It doesn’t take much to see that texting is changing the way we communicate; only a few years ago picking up the phone to call someone was perfectly acceptable, nowadays some people prefer a warning text to see if they are available to talk on the phone. Texting allows us to maintain multiple conversations simultaneously, often in groups, and still have “privacy” in public. Texting apps are clearly favored social platforms. So why wouldn’t any business consider texting with its customers a sure-fire service strategy?

For a business to succeed, it needs to adapt to its audience and this includes interacting with them using their preferred method of communication. Only a few years ago, mobile platforms for business were not a big trend, now the impact of mobile technology on business operations cannot be ignored. For any business, staying on top of its mobile apps is now just as important as website development became when e-commerce began.

But… Is texting customers right for your business?

Let’s pretend I am browsing a general store’s website looking for a BBQ. I’m not 100% sure that the one I found is right for me and I have a some questions. I click on the “chat now” button and a representative introduces himself; his name is Rick and he’s happy to assist. I type in my questions and Rick provides me with the answers I need. It turns out this model might be too small for a family of five. Rick drops a link on our chat string with a model he thinks better suits my needs. I click on it, BINGO! That’s exactly what I needed. Thank you, Rick!

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This is what process mappers and engineers call The Happy Path; an ideal scenario when everything happens the intended way. It proves the process is suitable to deliver the expected results when all the right conditions are met. However, it is not designed to navigate you through any process breakage or alternative situations. Do you remember the last time you had a poor customer service experience? How close was that situation to meeting “all the right conditions”? And, how happy was that path they took you through?

 

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The reality is that businesses’ contact centres must deal with several variables: Incoming volumes, employee turnover, service level agreements, communication and privacy guidelines, just to name a few. So how does texting alter your overall customer experience? The happy path can be a joyous one indeed; a frictionless interaction where we can use our phones in a familiar way to get information and solve issues quickly. In the ideal world that sounds great, but what happens when not all things line up and something causes that customer interaction to derail? At this point one could argue that the texting experience might pose a greater communication barrier to solve a problem and it may be the culprit of further misunderstandings.

 

If you want to build relationships, a human interaction is often expected—even necessary.

 

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Another direction is to automate the interaction with bots that can remove the human element from the equation. A bot doesn’t have a bad day, it doesn’t care when its shift is over and does its best to deliver consistent answers. But can we really code a bot to provide the expected level of customer service through a text app? That might be a title for another blog, but I’ll add that while bots might deliver an efficient way for a business to answer tier-one questions, if you want to build relationships, a human interaction is often expected—even necessary.

When it comes to face-to-face or voice conversations we can help each other better understand our needs and overcome communication barriers in real time. Written formats like e-mail and letters give you the advantage of time in formulating your thoughts before communicating them. In contrast, articulating a problem or negotiating a solution via text does not always convey the desired message and it can be more challenging for both customers and business representatives to achieve a resolution.

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Using text as a way to communicate with customers might be a risk worth taking if your company can deliver a seamless text service experience. Customers are using text more often for a reason. It is the way we communicate with those in our social circles so it brings that sense of familiarity to our interaction with our favourite brands. If the business can deliver successfully in this area it can strengthen the bond with its customers. This is true for any customer interaction regardless of the channel, but when it comes to text or any other social media platform, common sense dictates that one must think twice and post once. Texting is done live. If the business fails to deliver in real time, in writing, would this have a greater impact to its reputation? What do you think?

Does texting amplify negative customer experiences more than other channels?


¹Messaging App Usage Worldwide eMarketer’s Updated Forecast, Leaderboard and Behavioral Analysis” By eMarketer July 2017
²“Mobile Phone Messaging App Users” By eMarketer, Jan 2018

 

facebook  Texting your customers. What can possibly go wrong? https://bit.ly/2v1mCqr

Twitter Can texting customers put your business at risk?  https://bit.ly/2v1mCqr #customertext #riskybusiness

 

 

Social Evolution – Get your tickets here!

Social Evolution – Get your tickets here!

It seems like yesterday, when I heard on the radio on my way home from school that my favourite band was going to be in town. I knew right away these tickets were going to sell fast! I really needed to get in touch with Mark, he is my best friend and this was also his favourite band. When I got home I dropped my bag and ran upstairs, not surprisingly my older brother was on the phone talking with his girlfriend. He used to spend hours on the phone with her, he left that handset all warm and disgusting at the end of every call, every time!

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There is no way he was going to let me use the phone, so I grabbed some change and went downstairs, outside the building to use the payphone, I grabbed the handset and got a dial-tone, good! I dropped my coins through the slot and dialed Mark’s number which I knew by heart…. No answer, there’s no one home. Now what? He could be at Julie’s place, his girlfriend. I had her number in my wallet, along with another dozen others written on several ripped corners of post-its and napkins. Hoping he would be there so I wouldn’t run out of coins, I dialed her number. After a couple of rings her mother picks up the phone. I can hear a lot of people in the background. Oh no, I forgot it was her birthday!! In a flash of brilliance I pretended that was the reason for my call, wished Julie a happy birthday, and told her I was on my way to her house to celebrate.

Julie went to a different school so I didn’t know her circle of friends. When I arrived, Mark was helping her figure out the new computer her parents had given for her birthday. Feeling a little socially awkward I hung out by the snacks while Mark helped Julie create an email address to write to her sister in France. We’d just gotten Netscape at school, but none of us had sent an email before and this was proving to be more difficult than we thought.

joanna-kosinska-290213-unsplash.jpg     Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Just as we were talking about her, Julie’s sister called from France. She was there on a student exchange. This was an important and expensive call from overseas! The whole family gathered around the phone in the living room while her mother shouted into the handset how much she missed her. You always had to yell to send words through that copper wire. The family hadn’t spoken with Julie’s sister in weeks, and hadn’t seen her aside from the photos she’d mailed months ago. Definitely a family moment, which gave Mark the chance to abandon his already failed mission with Julie’s new computer. And gave me the chance to talk to him about the concert.

Just as I’d predicted, he was in, one hundred percent. He asked, when’s the concert? How much are the tickets? When do they go on sale? These were all questions I couldn’t answer. I was so excited when I heard the radio ad, none of the details registered. That night we sat by the radio waiting to hear the ad again. We called the radio station repeatedly hoping someone could tell us. By the time we got through to someone who knew, the concert was sold out.

 

We found out days later that someone at Julie’s birthday party had won free tickets from the radio station the night before. She didn’t know the band and no one she asked that night wanted the tickets. So in the end, there were two empty seats at the venue, and Mark and I had been unknowingly feet away from two free tickets to our favourite band! 

eric-nopanen-208576-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

….If like me, you enjoyed your teenage years during the 20th century, you likely relate to some of these social nuances. These sorts of limitations vanished almost overnight when the internet and social media made their way into our lives. We did a lot with very little; it’s hard to believe how much effort it took to maintain a social network. And while simple social situations have completely evolved it is still on us to ensure we adapt to our social environment and remain engaged in those circles that matter most to us.

It’s been over 20 years since Mark and Julie moved overseas. I haven’t forgotten Julie’s birthday in a long time (thank you Facebook). When we Skype, nobody has to shout for the message to make it across the ocean. But it’s more than that. It’s a front row seat to their lives that allows us to feel closer. I’ve had the chance to witness my friends raise two beautiful daughters and despite the distance, Mark and I are still best friends. Our realities are staged kilometers apart but thanks to social media, we are more than just witnesses, we are active participants in each other’s lives. That is our current social evolution! What’s next?

 

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