COM0015 #4: Out of the Box

Job hunters are facing more and more competition on the hunt for employment. The minimum education requirements have grown from a bachelors degree to a masters degree, and expectations have expanded to include language skills, volunteer experience and at least five years worth of  work experience in your field.

I never thought LinkedIn could help any more than a great cover letter and a good first impression but I’ve learned some benefits to using this professional database.

1123LinkedIn is not a new social media application but it is the new way to market ourselves individually.  So much so, that I think students should be taught how to use it, and career centres should be introducing this app to job seekers. If used properly, it can grow to become your online verifiable business portfolio.

Apart from posting job experience, individuals can use this site to showcase their professional, volunteer and leadership experience,  plus professional development, projects and the list goes on and on. On top of all that, you can present your content in a way that illustrates your personality which isn’t often apparent in a point-form resumé.

For a number of years, I had the basic LinkedIn profile that listed my current job and minor details about a couple of past jobs. But over the last year I have expanded my profile to include education, professional development, certifications, published works, skills and endorsements, projects, awards and test scores, and a summary about me to potential employers. I even paid the fee for a premium subscription and I have seen positive results.

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According to  Hubspot, LinkedIn was 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter with a concersation rate of 2.4%

 

This site is far different than a personal blog where you might show off your intellect and share your portfolio. LinkedIn is a meeting point for likeminded professionals to share ideas or even debate issues in their industry.

For a social media app that has flown below the radar, I think it has a lot of good buzz around it. I have used LinkedIn to market myself professionally and I will continue to share my knowledge through LinkedIn groups, chats and articles to the benefit of my career.

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COM0015 #3: Professional Networking now and in the future

Things have vastly changed since I finished high school and went out into the real world.

When I was heading out on my own, networking was done by physically putting yourself out there and meeting people. Career fairs were crucial, and you certainly couldn’t forget to exchange business cards. But those days are coming to an end, says columnist Ilya Pozin, who is also the founder of Open Me and Ciplex.

Pozin’s article, published on LinkedIn discusses the ways technology and social media are replacing the business card.

“It’s become normal to see people at networking events in L.A. using their phones to collect contact information right there on the spot,” writes Pozon. “Fast-forward a few years, and it won’t be surprising to find Google Glass-wearing techies exchanging contact information by looking at each other.”

businesscardsHuman resources at t Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business offers slightly dated advice

Since strategic networking involves less face time and more online presence these days, it’s crucial more than ever that we maintain our profiles.

My personal blog hasn’t been updated in four months. Admittedly, I’ve been pushing it aside to focus on other things but that’s not a good excuse. If I were serious about maintaining my professional online presence, I’d be updating about once a week.

On the plus side, the last posts on my blog are representative of me: a post about trends on Etsy, a listicle for World Oceans Day and a photo essay of the love locks bridge in Paris (which was timely with the city’s removal of the locks). These types of posts suit me and offer a hint of my interests while showcasing some of my talent and skills.

On Twitter, the overall sense of my posts is that I’m an avid news follower, especially news on Canadian politics, however I do not openly express my opinions. It is an overall reflection of my personality, however I tend to keep my creativity for my blog. My tone is positive or neutral most of the time but interactions could be amped up.

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On LinkedIn, I have worked diligently at updating my profile to be as comprehensive as possible. This included a three-month paid subscription to an upgraded account in order to gain more traffic. I’ve since cancelled that added feature and have noticed a sizeable decrease in hits to my profile.

In the coming year, I need to continue representing my true self the way I had been until a few months ago, and I think I could benefit fom participating online more often and engaging with others regularly. I think if I make a point of participating more in online discussions, I will have opportunities to build new professional relationships with likeminded peers. This in turn, can always lead to professional opportunities.

In the not-so-distant future, our online presence – blog to twitter and everything in between – will serve as our portfolios so we need to polish off our social media activity and then, as Pozin says, we should be letting our smart phones do the rest of the work.

COM0015 #2: Strong & Weak Organizations

In looking for organization for a case study on strong and weak social media strategies, it’s easy to become inundated by the worldwide traffic online. After searching at a national level, I opted to look at organizations within Ottawa and it became easy to narrow down two impressive campaigns: Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and the Ottawa Police Service.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Ottawa Community Support Coalition could benefit from an online makeover.

Mayor Jim Watson

Since taking his seat in 2010, Mayor Jim Watson has become known for his seemingly effortless use of social media to engage with citizens. The mayor’s office has virtually opened its door by letting Ottawans in on the daily goings on of the city’s chief executive official. watson

Through his daily use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and monthly chats, Mayor Watson has proven himself to be open, transparent, outspoken and reachable.

He is not above answering questions from citizens in a casual Twitter exchange, and he is also not afraid to let critics know how he really feels. During the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the mayor announced that Ottawa would fly a pride flag in response to a Russian law against the spread of “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations.”

Twitter user, @Awesomely11, responded to the Mayor’s tweet, calling it “a stupid waste of time,” adding that the mayor had “lost” his vote. Mayor Watson wasted little time with his brief response: “if you have that point of view, I really don’t want your vote.”

Beyond using the online platforms, Mayor Watson offers tips for social media and has even hosted an AMA on Reddit. Watson can serve as a prime example of what many other elected officials should strive for.

Ottawa Police Service

In an era when the police are often view and/or portrayed in a negative light, the Ottawa Police Service is managing to put out a strong positive message.

This organization utilizes a number of social media tools to serve their needs – from promoting local initiatives to publishing advisories, they are harnessing these tools to get the word out.

For example, the main website features a link to Pinterest where they are posting wanted people, missing persons, safety and crime prevention messages and, for human interest, fallen officers, canines of the force and police cars, among other themes.

The Ottawa Police Facebook page is an array of community announcements and advisories regarding crimes in the city. The Twitter page is chock-full of advice and events, and they even have a YouTube channel with a variety of videos showing footage of robberies, promotion for future recruits and updates on investigations.

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Whereas a number of these elements would have once only been available to citizens via local news reports, the Ottawa Police Service have essentially taken matters into their own hands and are reporting for themselves which is a positive initiative and a great example for other front line organizations.

The Ottawa Community Support Coalition

The OCSC is struggling in its online messaging. According to the mission statement, the OCSC “works together to strengthen community support services – for the health and independence of older adults and adults with disabilities in the City of Ottawa.”

It is a positive organization for the aging population in Ottawa. Granted, the older generation is not as active on Twitter and Facebook as younger citizens, but there is still a benefit in reaching out online. The fact is, people of all ages are using the internet and they are learning to use social media platforms as means to stay connected. Plus, if the message is communicated to people of all ages, the organization stands a better chance to flourish.

The OCSC has two social media links on the website: Twitter, which has 34 followers, and Facebook with 41 likes. Their most recent updates on both pages were on October 1, 2015.

Beyond social media, they are also in need of a website overhaul to make their page more engaging – simply reducing the use of stock photography and using catchier phrases on their newsletter would likely drive more clicks. That would be the first step, but there are many more steps to take in order to reach a broader following. They could begin their social media strategy by sharing facts and anecdotes, engaging with local organizations and individuals, and sharing tips for that older generation to show that they too can participate on social media.

This organization has a lot of potential to harness the messaging platform and bring Ottawa’s aging population into the social media realm but they need a social media strategist to get them off the ground.

COM0015 #1: Tools & Sources

Although there are numerous social media monitoring platforms to choose from, I have found in my own experience, that Topsy and TweetReach can be among the most handy. Not only are they free, but they are also straightforward and easy to use. In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of social media monitoring is the ease of access. While it is best to have an understanding of the technology, it is equally important that the technology be user friendly.

With Topsy and TweetReach, you can monitor specific hashtags, mentions or Twitter handles simply by punching them into a search bar. The platform then aggregates the information and presents you with a report detailing the number of tweets, links, influencers, timeline and a host of other components associated with  your search. TweetReach, in particular, can also show you how far your tweet has travelled – meaning, the number of clicks, impressions, etc.

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While there are platforms out there that are much more advanced, albeit expensive, that go so far as to predict when a protest might be taking shape, Tweetreach and Topsy (and some might prefer Hootsuite), in my opinion are best for the everyday user.

When it comes to news aggregators, Google News has been my top choice for a number of years. Google has agreements with thousands of news outlets around the world and aggregates news to suit your individual location, history and preferences. In my opinion, it’s the closest thing I can have to a personalized local newspaper.

Google News is the only news aggregator I use on a daily basis, while Twitter is my secondary source of the up to the minute news updates.

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As a news junkie, I follow a number of publications and journalists on Twitter covering a number of beats that pique my interest. Over the years I have curated the list of Twitter handles that I follow to suit the subject matters that I am most likely to be interested in – from politics, to foreign relations, to travel news, to entertainment updates, with a hint of DIY.

Of all tools online, Twitter may be one of the most comprehensive in its timeliness and brevity. This is especially useful in my line of work that requires me to remain abreast on a number of current events.

 

 

 

COM0014 #7: Personal Reflection

Stories are everywhere. It might not always be obvious, but almost everything we say and do can be linked to a story that will grab someone’s attention. This course has been beneficial in reminding me of that.

I used to post photos on Instagram, Pinterest or even my blog without so much as a keyword to make it stand out. Since learning more about storytelling, I’ve taken to re-vamping my online personae and to share my content with a little bit more personality.

I have an Etsy shop where I sell photographs, mostly travel photos. Each posting is pretty mundane with sizes, prices, etc., however I have begun revamping (slowly, for now) by sharing those photos on Pinterest with a story or some insight.

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By adding my own little anecdotes, they are not only being found more often thanks to key words, but they are also providing information. I am an avid traveller myself, so when I research a new destination and find a photograph explaining a something about the place, I’m more likely to remember it and use it as a reference point in the future. It’s my goal to reach out to travellers seeking out the destinations I have visited by sharing these photos and anecdotes.

I like to keep my stories personal but relatable. For examples, I recently wrote about the demise of the love locks on Paris bridges so I shared a little bit about my own visit there as well as the history of the love locks. In an effort to keep from using “I” too much, I opted to weave that shared knowledge into my own story.

It’s actually a simple concept that we can all adjust to and I think if we use this approach professionally, we can make the internet a much more pleasant place to visit and, of course, be more successful in our social media jobs.

COM0014 #6: Industry Flaws

Countless industries are flawed, and it only really became apparent in our lifetime – because of the worldwide web. Where experts in certain fields used to be revered for their individuality, the internet has unleashed armies of similar experts, each competing for the top spot and none of these industries really know how to deal with the influx.

I could write about how the journalism field is flawed because it doesn’t know how to deal with all the people who call themselves journalists. Countless people get articles published without any knowledge of the basic principles of Canadian Press style writing.

Or, I could write about how the art world is flawed because anyone with a smart phone can be called a photographer and display their work online without ever knowing what SLR stands for.

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Instead, this is about the music industry. An industry that does seem to have a good grasp on social media, but that hasn’t quite figured out the best approach with its transition to the online market.

Musicians readily give their music away in order to reach a broader audience, but then they face the disappointment of low income numbers because they give their music away.

I don’t work in the music industry myself, but half of my household income comes from it so I witness the ups and downs it can bring.

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While some would argue that the internet is helping the music industry by means of exposure, there is still something to be said about dwindling sales and the onslaught illegal downloads. In a way, you could say that the internet is debilitating traditional music sales, but in fact, the music industry – like the journalism industry and the art world – hasn’t established a happy medium that ensures a successful industry in the internet age.

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The world is still in the process of figuring itself out and it’s interesting to see more and more industries are adapting – from taxis to tourism and so many others, we’re all having to learn new ways of operating.

COM0014 #5: On my Personal Brand

In the age of social media, your personal brand is becoming more crucial than your resumé. We are in charge of curating our own digital portfolios and we need to remember this every day when we post online.

Throughout the years, I have aimed to follow a particular theme when posting to my blog, Twitter or Instagram:  “To continuously educate myself and others on writing and other crafts by remaining in tune with today’s events and trends online and in the real world.”  It’s quite general but it fits.

DSC_0870 copyMy area of expertise is in writing and journalism.

To begin, I am not a journalist but my job is to write, my hobby is to write and my whole life, I have been honing that skill. I work in media relations where I am tuned in to current events, which also happens to be one of my most common past times.

My whole life I have been fascinated by world events and journalism practices.

I am not just a news junkie – although you could ask me anything about news on the world stage and I will likely have an answer. I am an educated media fiend who reads and uses the news from major media outlets every day. When I read an article, I am not only learning about the event in question, I am seeing how that journalist obtained his or her information, and I am weeding out the bias and superfluous content.

I have a blog where I write on a number of topics including journalism and social media, as well as travel tips and stories, lifestyle subjects (such as cooking and thrift shopping) and I also showcase some of my photography..

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Although I don’t pay attention to the number of readers day to day, my blog still provides me with an outlet and the fulfillment of sharing ideas and digging into details on almost any topic.

The reason for my interest journalism is particular in because I once thought that I was “supposed” to be a journalist, but a few detours led me instead to where I am today.

I had plans for a coushy journalism job (they don’t exist, by the way), after I quit a directionless arts degree, traveled a few countries and returned home to complete my j-school education. Although I excelled in the classroom, no perfect grade could match the journalistic downturn that took shape in 2008 and 2009.

As newspapers and magazines folded, I attempted to make a name for myself as a freelance journalist. In the meantime, I landed a day job at a communications firm and, eventually, in a federal department’s media relations bureau.

By learning the ropes of media relations I accepted the fate of my journalism career and began blogging in my spare time, while dedicating myself to learning more about the media industry.

For the past six years, I have taken the tools I learned during my j-school training and melded them with the strategies I’ve learned in media relations and through my own analyses.

Despite the shift in Canada’s media landscape, I’ve still managed to establish myself as a professional in the field.

COM0014 #4: B2C Case Study – CanvasPop

It’s hard to believe that a single service can make a company expand like canvas printing has done for CanvasPop, but the proper use of social media has made that happen for the Ottawa-based company.

CanvasPop was established in 2009 and grew quickly; fielding over 300 000 orders in just three years – and has grown extensively since then. The company markets itself to social media users, particularly on Instagram, based on its ability to produce high quality prints from photo sharing sites and photo-based social media sites.

Along with the rise in photography thanks to smart phones, Canvas printing is a niche market that continues to grow in popularity, as we see on numerous home décor websites.

The company overcomes its limitation (that, of being a single-product shop) by being relevant in the social media sphere. Whether the approach is to share photography tricks, decorating ideas or tips in photo editing, the company manages to be diverse, all the while remaining in tune with its niche market.

What works for CanvasPop is that they re-imagine their strategy as often as possible, which is mentioned in an article published in the Ottawa Business Journal discussing how the company tracks and analyzes its social media activities.

I think CanvasPop is succeeding due to one of their principles: “Engaging is more important than broadcasting,” according to the article. The trick is to use social media to engage and thus provide value, rather than promoting oneself.

And, based on the characteristics, Canvas pop is successfully driving a B2C advertising campaign, despite not having an advertising budget:

  • They market in a very product-driven fashion
  • They make an effort to maximize the value of the transaction
  • The target market is generally quite large
  • The buying process is often one-step, and sales cycles are short
  • They use repetition and imagery to create brand identity
  • They employ merchandising and point-of-purchase activities (up-sell, specials, deals)
  • They bank on people making emotional buying decisions based on status, desire, or price

The company is also open to experimenting while closely measuring and monitoring what works and what does not. While most companies are using Twitter and Facebook, CanvasPop has opened itself to Flickr, Pinterest, YouTube and more.

What I have learned from watching CanvasPop for the last year or so, is that it’s imperative to stay fresh and not be afraid to engage and experiment.

COM0014 #3: Target Audiences of the Travelling Kind

It seems like half of the world’s population is a travel writer and the other half wants to be.

If you do a Google search for “travel writer” you’ll be bombarded with hundreds of articles offering tips for budding travel writers; how to start a travel blog, how to get paid to travel – the list goes on.

But, in that vast sea of writers spewing out flowery articles about exotic places around the world, there is a niche group of young intelligent travellers who are not only good at stringing words together, but they’re also decent photographers and social media strategists.

These are young, educated people, who have recently entered the real world of job hunting and have found themselves stranded with a college degree and nowhere to use it. With so few career options, they’ve packed up their suitcases or backpacks (depending on style and cash) and have begun gallivanting around the world and sharing their stories with readers online.

Admittedly, most people who attempt to live this dream do not get much further than opening a Blogger or WordPress account and posting their first wanderlust tale, but some have managed to create careers for themselves.

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Brooke Saward of World of Wanderlust is a prime example. The Australian native has created an empire by being a solo twenty-something female traveller. She has higher standards than a budget backpacker but she offers tips on how to get the best bang for your buck as well as tips on hidden gems in cities around the world. Brooke has a large audience and some of those followers have their own audiences.

Typically, the demographic includes college or university educated women who are either single or married but likely have no kids. They are ethnically diverse but might not have strong religious ties. The psychographic includes individuals who are well travelled or in tune with the world around them. They are trendy city dwellers who share ideas and information, and they tend to be foodies and fashionistas who are open minded and aware of social issues like human rights and the environment.

Finding this type of audience can be as easy as perusing comments on travel blogs where they often punctuate their comments with a link to their own sites. They can also be found via Bloglovin which is a directory of blogs searchable by category, as well as on Twitter and Instagram using trendy hashtags like #Wanderlust, #Adventure or #WorldTraveller.

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World Nomads Insurance is one such website that recently targeted this audience. The travel insurance company attracted budding writers to its site by promoting a travel writing scholarship where three people will be awarded with a writing workshop with a Lonely Planet writer, a 10-day roadtrip across the U.S., and their stories published on the website’s travel blog.

The website made a point of excluding professional writers which has given all those non-writers the belief that they might have a fighting chance in the travel biz and by doing this, they garnered a larger following to their insurance site.

It almost seemed too easy.

COM0014 #2: “Leave Your Mark”

If you want to succeed in digital communications, you need to find your voice, and then you need to own it and work it.

Aliza Licht says it best in her how-to guide to landing your dream job: “That whole ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ thing is total bulls**t. People will judge anything before they actually know what someone or something really has to offer.”

The author of Leave Your Mark: Land your dream Job. Kill it in your career. Rock Social Media. made her mark by becoming the “it girl” behind the the DKNY PR Girl Twitter feed. Licht is a proponent for strategic planning behind your personal brand, and she aims to teach others how to embrace their own identities to successfully maintain a digital niche.

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Storytelling is something many of us may not be accustomed to. Sure, our daily conversations and Facebook updates are all forms of storytelling that come with ease, but it’s the deliberate use of storytelling for the purpose of communicating that creates a challenge.

For some people, as soon as they know they have to tell a story, they freeze up and the anecdote fails to present itself. In these cases, all we’re left with are pathetically strung-together words sitting in as a sad excuse for a story.

But practice makes perfect, as they say, and this is where your personal brand comes into play.

Over time, you will develop your look and your voice (the virtual ones on your blog and social media channels) which, together, will form the foundation of your brand. Over time, by diligently honing your online presence, your style of storytelling will present itself.

Of course, there has to be a bit of personal direction in the process but, just like any new skill, the more you work at it, the easier it will come to you.

This is something I have been working at for years, not only as a social media strategy but as a journalistic writing skill. My background is in journalism and I made storytelling my job. This required looking at things through different lenses and always keeping in mind the type of audience I wanted to attract.

Divahound.com (or, The Diva of Social Media) provides a few simple tips on getting started.

Divahound.com 3 Ways To Find Your Brand’s Voice

When I read back on my old blog posts on ByFrankie.com, I can see the progression of my voice establishing itself in my personal brand. I can easily spot posts that readers would have glazed over without reading through, and I can spot the ones where I figured out how to make use of the real me through my writing.

For Aliza Licht, it was as simple as maintaining her conversational approach, or her “chatty and intimate tone,” as noted in her book’s description. She presented herself exactly the way she wanted to be perceived and, by simply being professional and easy-going, she earned a massive following and the title of a social media superstar.

Blog Post 2 for Assignment 1, COM0014