COMM0014-Post 7: Personal Reflection

If no one reads you, then being a social media marketer is pointless. Therefore, it is very important for each person to know how to tell their story, their company’s story, and anyone else’s story that will get the right message to the right crowd. Online, the audience is so gigantic that without a really great story, the message is lost in the sea of opinions.

I learned how to find my voice, that special something that makes me stand out from the crowd. I learned tools to reach the right audiences. I learned how to follow and listen to people of influence in the field I work in. I learned to network online, engage in conversation and be myself instead of the impersonal voice of a brand.

I practiced writing different kinds of stories with different end goals. I realized that social media is about trial and error. One story might work great one year or one moment, but it does not mean it will be the same in another campaign. The online world is ever changing; new trends, topics, hashtags, celebrity events, technologies, etc. The consumer wants something new constantly.

Overall, this course has taught me to trust in my voice, be confident in my story-telling, and stay myself. I will fail many times and I will succeed at others. As long as I take the time to learn from my mistakes and stay genuine, things will work out fine.

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COMM0015-Comments 1 & 2

 

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http://modernfarmer.com/2016/10/size-isnt-everything-heres-farm-fits-kitchen/

As I was reading this article and getting all excited about another great kitchen idea, I realized how it would most likely not change much in my life. I don’t think people do not eat fresh vegetables just because they aren’t growing conveniently at the tip of their fingers.

I think it has more to do with time. In my case at least, I know that is the main reason. I am very capable of cooking myself a fresh and healthy meal, but at the end of the day, I admittedly have trouble feeding myself. I am a mature, professional and independent woman who has no reason not to be eating well. Yet, I find myself with little groceries in the fridge and when I do have tons of amazing vegetables, I let them go to waste in preference of pasta. Because even if it is there and available, I do not fit in the time to make myself good meals.

Therefore, after reading this article, as much as I love the invention, I do think the first problem is not to get fresh veggies into the house, but to re-educate people around reserving time every day for food and health. What do you think?

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http://modernfarmer.com/2016/08/brazil-nuts/

I am always curious as to where our food comes from. I know I take mine for granted most days. I try to do my part with buying organic and/or local, but even then I feel like I am not doing enough to really understand how privileged I am to be eating such diverse food in my country.

When I read the story about Brazil nuts, it didn’t surprise me, yet I had never looked it up. I sincerely hadn’t even thought to wonder if my purchasing of this product put someone else’s life in danger. Isn’t that a little crazy? Maybe, if I had a miniature garden growing in my fridge I would only use what I could grow myself. However, being from a generation of grocery market shoppers, I don’t know how much I can do. Research every product? What if we only ate local, where would all those jobs go?

When is consumer awareness too much? Or as long as everything is done sustainably and fair trade it’s okay?

COMM0015: Event Participation

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I attended the 2-day workshop on Psychology for Digital Behavior Change and an extra 1-day workshop on Psychology Architectures of Digital Behavior Change offered by AlterSpark. It was scheduled October 11 to 13 at the University of Ottawa.

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What got me to sign up for this workshop was the claim that it would help me design more creative online advertising campaigns and help me understand what is going through my customers’ heads when they see my ads. I signed up in April when I was looking for anything that could teach me about how to do my job right. Also, I have a big weakness for all things concerning psychology.

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I was a little worried when I got there, because I felt like a phony who was playing grown-up. I was just waiting for someone to discover my charade and call me out on it…

However, that did not happen because I am a grown woman who is competent and good at what I do. There were mostly government workers, me being the only non-profit organization there, and the others were private business owners. We all sat around this large conference table. I feared I would simply sit there quietly for three days straight. However, to my own surprise, I participated in a lot of the discussions. I gave my opinion and discussed different online marketing strategies that we saw in our line of work. People were kind, respectful and open-minded.

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We had a lot of hands-on exercises where we had to create ad campaigns from scratch while using the principles we learned in the workshop. One of the results was the goofy invention of the Lip Scarf. It was amazing and also a little scary to realize how much psychology is used behind all these advertising posts. All of these techniques are meant to draw you in and make you do things based on emotions and impulsivity.

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As a non-profit and probably the youngest and least experienced in the room, it was interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts. I was still often able to make relevant comments because of my passion for psychology, my hobby for reading books and articles on human behavior patterns, and my willingness to learn.

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After three days spent sitting down and creating advertising campaigns with an awareness of behavior patterns, I really felt motivated to get back to work. I realized that even though marketing per say is not my cup of tea, everything involving the human thinking around all of it was definitely something that kept me going and left me wanting to learn more on the subject.

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In short, it was a really fun and educational workshop. It was well divided into learning and exercise modules. I left the course with a boost in confidence and competence, books and practice booklets on what we learned, and a network of people who work in similar areas as I.

There is a quote that stayed in my mind even after the workshop was over: “Ambiguity is one of the greatest stress inducers in a human.” What that means is to keep things simple with your customers. Show them the way to go. Guide them to the finish line. Don’t bombard them with choices. Choice leaves too much space for confusion and uncertainty. Be confident in what you are asking them to do. And I can’t say it enough; keep it simple.

 

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Example of what I took from the course and adapted for my work for IRE Canada

 

I will definitely participate in similar events in the future. There is something irreplaceable with in-person networking. Also, nothing can replace live group interactions. Being in a room full of similar minded professional individuals is something that is extremely helpful to me,  especially when it comes to the ever-changing field of social media.

COMM0014: Blog #6- Do people know your story?

From as long as I can remember, I’ve been considered an intense person. No, not just intense. I mean “INTENSE”. My mother even discovered that you can be diagnosed with it. This meant I spent most of my younger years saying sorry for who I was because I was always considered a little “too much”. However, I also learned to make the most of it. It meant I had an insatiable curiosity. I asked people their stories, listened intently, read about any subject, soaking in all those interesting life-novels.

Today, I accept that I am what many think as a high-intensity individual, and I see it as a good thing. I choose to see it that way. This made it possible for me to accept the job I have now where I learned everything on my own from scratch. I had the will to make it and I knew how to work hard. The energy never lacked. What I am doing presently is not something I thought would have been possible just a few years ago. With such a high energy personality, I suffered from a lot of mental problems and depression. I was known as a high-functioning depressive. So, any good day was and still is a blessing to me. I figured out tools to make my needs work with my lifestyle and my career.

In short, what makes you stand out as a child can become the most beautiful assets of your personality if you find the way to embrace it. I’m happy I did!

COMM0014: Post 5 – Personal Brand

I think what I am most proud of is my honesty. I know that growing up it wasn’t always seen in such a good way. As I got older, I was able to get a better mastery of vocabulary and social cues, which transformed my honesty into a great tool. I was able to develop really strong empathy towards others. I ask the hard questions, and I am the first to admit my mistakes. I think that is what also sets me apart from my competitors. I won’t try to embellish things just to sell it to you. I’ll tell you my real opinion and that’s how I win people over.

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It took me years of reading and learning how to fit words together correctly to finally develop my honesty into a powerful trait. I’ve also been told that I am an optimistic. I don’t give up easily and I give everyone a second chance. I’ve been there, so I know what it is to mess up and want to try again.

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I know honesty comes with a price, and being empathetic when it comes to advertising and trying to convince people to consume a product/service is not necessarily the easiest quality to have in this business. However, I truly believe that these are what keep me genuine and feed my passion. It’s hard to find someone who will give it their all like I do. I won’t lie and say I feel this confident every day, but it is something I strive for!

COMM0014: Post 4 – B2C Case Study

Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) is the most trusted brand in Canada, as well as President’s Choice. I have worked at MEC for the past 4 years. I have never paid attention to their social media strategy before today. They have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, website, and a Youtube channel. After searching through them, I have noticed one big important detail: they actively respond and engage with their customers. What makes it an even better and personable experience is that the company responses are signed by whoever wrote it. For example:

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MEC Facebook Conversation

 

They don’t do it for every conversation, but often enough to be noticed and make it feel like you are talking to a person and not a company. It also adds a sense of accountability and responsibility to the interaction; the customer can retrace the employee if need be and the employee stands behind what they share.  Their logo and cover/banner are all made in the same design style, which creates uniformity and unity across the networks. They not only share product updates, but also anecdotes of people using the products, tips and stories on outdoor adventures, informative videos about different sports and best practices, and much more. They have created a community of individuals who enjoy the outdoor.

I think their approach is working very well. As the most trusted brand in Canada, I can understand how this country made that choice. MEC is welcoming, helpful, personable, eco-friendly, with good values as a company overall and staff that are there to help and start a conversation with you about anything involving the outdoors.

I definitely feel like I can learn from their customer service and brand uniformity across networks. Of course, as a one-person team, I won’t necessarily have the same range as a giant company, but I can do my best.

COMM0015: Post 3 – Professional Networking now and in the future

My present strategy for developing my professional network online and in person is still in progress. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to meeting people in new situations. I am slowly but surely getting better at it.

 

 

Recently, I went to Guelph and Ridgetown for a career fair and to meet the program coordinators for the agriculture and horticulture students. This was something that was very stressful for me but always ended up going great. I even enjoyed myself! Every year, we try to visit as many schools as possible to connect with the young adults that would be interested in our organisation. IRE Canada hired me to take care of the eastern part of Canada. Therefore, going to career fairs, student clubs, school staff meetings, and anything else that could come out of those events will be a recurring part of my work year.

When it comes to online networking, I am quite active on Twitter. I have engaged in a few discussions with prospective hosts. I was also invited to host a popular Twitter account for a week. I have received quite a few direct messages on Facebook for more information. I also do my best to reach out to every network connected to the school we go visit before and during our trip.

 

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Booth at The OAC Guelph Career Fair.

 

During the last career fair, we had a student come up saying she was here only because she saw our tweet on the school page. The school was kind enough to have retweeted our shout out for our booth. This made me realize how networking is important. If I hadn’t tagged the school, the school wouldn’t have retweeted, and the student most likely wouldn’t have dropped by. Networking is amazing!!!

 

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My coworker and I showing off our new banner.

 

This leads me to my future plans: I will keep on working on stepping out of my comfort zone to go talk to people and spread the word about our organisation. In the next year, I will go to more career fairs, school meetings, and engage on social media in the ways I have stated above. I will also plan a few paid advertising campaigns for this Fall/Winter. All in all, it is a work in progress involving mixed feelings and a growing self-confidence.

COMM0015: Post 2 – Strong & Weak Organizations

Social Media Examiner

 

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Home Page of Social Media Examiner

 

Every week, on Friday mornings, they have a live Morning Social Media Marketing Talk at 10 AM. They also have two podcasts that are updated on a weekly basis. One is The SocialMedia Examiner Show (short 10-ish minutes updates about what is changing in social media). The other is SocialMedia Marketing with Michael Stelzner (long 50-ish minutes interview with a social media specialist about a certain current subject). I joined their Social Media Examiner Society which provides live training videos multiple times a month and a community of social media marketers to connect and network with. I find that they are very good at explaining changes and updates to beginner marketers. I also find their podcasts easy to listen to. The length of the podcasts and training make it easy to fit into my schedule every week and allow me to feel up to date on what is going on in the social media world without spending hours searching the web for relevant information. Their website is very well designed, interactive, and up to date.

I consider Social Media Examiner (http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/) a leader in social media strategy. They cover Twitter very well, with interesting articles and reminders of the upcoming training and talks of the week. Their Facebook is also active and promoting whatever event is happening soon. They have live talks, are present on multiple networks, have many guests on their shows/talks/training/podcasts every week, and their newsletter is well built. If you are looking to subscribe to their podcasts, they give you many options: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/podcasts/ . They do their best to make everything as user-friendly as possible. They even link to a video on how to listen to a podcast on an iPhone . They answer your questions before you even had time to ask it. That kind of forward thinking, 5 steps ahead of the game, is what makes them such a great social media marketing organisation.

 

Modern Farmer

 

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Home Page of Modern Farmer

 

Modern Farmer is a magazine. I didn’t even know it was a magazine until I clicked on their website. I think that is a big reason why I really like their social media strategy; they are not bombarding you with sales pitches. Their articles are always esthetically appealing, which makes sharing them always a pleasure. I know I will have an interesting article about farming if it comes from Modern Farmer. They have Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. Their website (http://modernfarmer.com/) is easy to navigate and always full of recent news on the agriculture/horticulture industry. Their Instagram followers almost reach the 67 000. They have their own hashtag #iamamodernfarmer. I like how they use the social media trend to their advantage without being all about advertising their magazine subscription. I mostly follow them on Twitter where I see them engaging regularly with interesting news. I also have them pop up in my RSS feed when I am looking for good content to schedule for my social media strategy of the week. They are so impressive that they even won an award and was a nominee!

Recipient of Adweek’s 2014 National Magazine Awards for Hottest Newcomer, and 2016 ASME Nominee for General Excellence in the Special Reporting category, Modern Farmer is the voice behind the food movement, delivering investigative journalism and rich photography. As such, it is the heralded media brand that singularly sits in the middle of thought leader, food and agricultural topics—making it the premium partner for farm, food and lifestyle marketers. “

 

Still Eagle

 

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Home Page of Still Eagle

 

Still Eagle (http://www.stilleagle.com/) is a clothing store based in British Columbia. It started as a small alternative eco store in 1991. I was searching on Google for organic clothing a few years ago and their name popped up. Their values are amazing. Their products are of great quality. However, I sincerely feel like they could reach a larger audience if they invested in their social media strategy. They have their website that is very old-fashioned, so not attractive to a new public that clicks on the site for the first time. I got used to hippie-looking brands because they had what I was searching for. However, I went to look for them. They didn’t have to try to win me over. If they want to expand and keep growing as a company, they will need to invest on their image. They also have a Facebook page on which they share their sales and new products. That is it. You can subscribe to a newsletter to receive information on new products, but that is it.

I definitely feel like they have such potential to reach a broader audience. They not only sell eco-friendly products but a lot of Canadian brands and “made in Canada” clothing that most people aren’t even aware exist. It is all the fashion at the moment to shop more local and green. Therefore, I find that this is the time to invest in getting their name out there.

I would recommend they start by redesigning their website to something more modern looking and visually appealing. I would then encourage them to think about what other platforms they have time to invest in online. They could start with a few paid advertising campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. They could even invest in Google Adwords when they have worked out their other advertising campaigns. I would also find a way to share their events calendar elsewhere than on Facebook and their website. I would get those events on Twitter and Google +. Their Facebook profile picture and cover could be designed a little better. Their cover photo has writing that is cut across part of the words which doesn’t make it look very professional.

I remember a coworker looking at their website this week and telling me they wouldn’t even have considered buying clothing from that shop if it hadn’t been for my recommendation. They said the website just didn’t look trustworthy. I think it is less of a problem if you live in BC and can physically go to the store. However, for the rest of the people who’s only interaction is online, I would definitely recommend an upgrade.

COMM0014: Blog # 3 – Target Audiences

I will outline target audiences for the organisation I work for. International Rural Exchange Canada is a non-profit that aims at helping young adults go abroad and work in agriculture and horticulture while discovering new cultures. The main target audience is young adults between the age of 18 and 30. We try to make our campaigns as relevant to both genders as possible. Our Google Analytics from the past few months has shown that the audience on our website is very close to a 50/50 ratio male-female. We target college and university students, as well as professionals that have been working in the field for a couple of years. Our target audience of young adults most likely have interests in the outdoors, getting their hands dirty, enjoying physical labour, travelling, having an open mind, being comfortable with change, being curious about other cultures, being adventurous.

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For this target audience, we mix online with offline advertising. We visit career fairs, meet with agriculture and horticulture student clubs, meet with program directors and teachers. We reach out to school social media pages with our visit dates. We tag, hashtag, and specifically identify schools and institutions in our promotional posts. For the young adults who do not attend school, we have our general advertising campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We have paid advertising on all those platforms, except LinkedIn, multiple times a year.

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Another target audience that we have not explored much is the parents of those young adults. Age group 40-80. They are parents that want their children to travel in a safe environment. They are farmers who want their kids to experience farm life somewhere else in the world before coming back home to work on the family farm. They are adults who think international experience is an asset to their child’s resume. They are past trainees that want the younger generation to have as great of an adventure as they had on their placement back in the days.

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COMM0014: Discussion 1 – Dealing with Criticism

There are some risks involved with creating a social media campaign that targets specific cultural, gender or socio-economic groups. Review the following case study about the “Motrin Moms” campaign of 2009, which resulted in a PR disaster for the company. http://crisiscomm.wordpress.com/2009/01/28/motrin-moms-case-stud/.

My first impression was being surprised at how the advertising was one-sided and black and white in opinion. I understand how they were trying to sound funny and create a casual, sympathetic atmosphere. However, the way they created the ad made it sound like baby carriers were only used to look cool as a mom while being in horrible pain for sacrificing oneself for the children and the trend.

As it was mentioned in the article, I think Motrin could have found chat groups of the targeted audience and tried out a few ideas on them. They could have started a discussion about baby carriers and what most moms thought of their usefulness and pain factor. Instead, they took one story and made it sound like baby carriers are actually a bad idea, that they are used only because it’s fashionable, and all that while sacrificing the mom’s physical well-being. It doesn’t represent the opinion of the targeted audience. It also portrays a peculiar image of motherhood in a less than positive light.

From what I understand of the article, Motrin didn’t have a strong social media presence online at that time, so it took them a while to realize that bad press was happening. Now, with all the monitoring tools available, I think they could have had a stronger online presence and support team for these kinds of situations. One of the things they could have done is a new campaign, correcting their mistake and starting a discussion with the audience about how they took the time to understand and improve. Today, if you delete something off the internet, it is never totally gone, and it can make your company look quite suspicious. It is better to start a discussion and address the issue at hand instead of trying to make it disappear. It makes a company look better if there is a history of how they solved a problem.

I think it is hard to please everyone. I recently read about this campaign against excessive drinking where they used older women as the “worst case scenario of a bad night out.” https://www.facebook.com/pvanwyck/posts/10209366785340040 . There were complaints that there wasn’t much sympathy towards the older audience that is being ridiculed in this campaign in an effort to connect with the younger audience. Again, like the Motrin ad, I could understand the “Why”, but I could also easily understand how people outside the targeted audience could feel.

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In a world where everything online is shared very easily and to a broad public, it is easy to offend someone with one’s own opinions and humour. Using humour in a campaign is an amazing tool, but it can backfire quite fast. To prevent negative repercussions, I would try to make a list of questions that need to be answered before releasing a new campaign. These questions would include putting yourself in as many people’s shoes as one could to try to understand how this ad could affect a person watching it. Of course, we can’t please everyone, but we can do our very best not to offend anyone with our opinions as a company.