COM0015 — Assignment No. 1, Blog 4

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Source: Pixabay

Everyone will agree that video is hot, whether you’re talking about a Facebook Live Q&A session, an educational YouTube channel, a vlog, a live-streamed event or a GIF featuring your favourite Friends character. And I hadn’t realized how hot, since I tend to prefer to read things if there’s a choice.

But I realize that I can use this love of video to attack one of the challenges of my job, keeping the team engaged for the long game. Of course we have real-life events, like the holiday potluck and Telestrations extravaganza, and I take photos and post them on Slack, where I’ve tried – without a great deal of success – to get everyone to join me.

So videos seem like a good next plan of attack. But how can I make professional-looking videos that compete with what shows up in their Facebook feed without spending a lot of time and money? How can I make videos that look good?

Enter Rocketium, an app that allows you to create “Buzz-feed style” videos and share them across your platforms. You just upload your video, images, or graphics, add the captions, music, and voiceovers you want, then select your styling theme. The app does the rest. There’s a short video tutorial, but the user interface is very user-friendly.

Being able to easily add captions is especially important if you’re posting to Facebook; before sound was automatically turned on on Facebook videos beginning last February, 85 per cent of Facebook users watched videos without sound (Blak, 2016). And when FB defaulted to the sound playing, the company faced a backlash from users (Gibbs, 2017). With users watching more than eight billion videos on Facebook a day (Blak, 2016), that 15 per cent adds up to a lot of eyeballs.

Of course, whether captioning is absolutely necessary or not does depend on where you use your videos. Business Insider reports that 96 per cent of YouTube watchers do so with the sound on (Goodfellow, 2016).

Rocketium is one of a number of video editors that can help you achieve your social media marketing goals, including Lithium, which offers better support, but no Android app,

If you make fewer than 10 videos a month, it’s free; otherwise, its monthly fees start at $49. Paid plans even let you collaborate on a video, if that’s important to you.

Until I went looking for something to help me make videos, I had no idea there were so many excellent options out there. I think Rocketium is right for me and my team. Click here to check out 34 alternatives to Rocketium, so you can find the one that’s right for you.

What about you? Is video a strong part of your social media marketing or communications plan? Which is your favourite app for making videos?

References

Blak, M. (2016, May 18). 85% Of Facebook Video Is Watched Without Sound. Retrieved December 22, 2017, from brid.tv: https://www.brid.tv/85-facebook-video-watched-without-sound/

Gibbs, S. (2017, July 19). Facebook users vexed by sound on autoplaying videos – here’s how to stop it. Retrieved December 22, 2017, from theguardian.com: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/19/facebook-users-complain-autoplaying-videos-sound-how-to-turn-it-off

Goodfellow, e. (2016, October 21). YouTube joins Snapchat in appearing to take a swipe at Facebook’s silent autoplay video. Retrieved December 22, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com: http://www.businessinsider.com/youtube-96-percent-users-watch-video-sound-on-2016-10

 

 

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COM0015 – Assignment No. 1, Blog No. 3: Taking it one step at a time

Networking. The word sows fear into my heart. Well, that may be an exaggeration, but it’s certainly not something I excel at. It’s just not something I’ve done a lot of and it doesn’t come naturally. I mean I’m an all-star on LinkedIn and I have 493 contacts, all of whom I know at least by acquaintance and whom I’ve chosen to connect with selectively, but I don’t really connect with them most of the time.

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Credit: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

I recently did an exercise called Networking—How Good Are You? (Palmer, Dunford, & Buchanan, 2017). It involved agreeing or disagreeing with a series of statements, such as “I send Christmas cards to ex-colleagues and business contacts,” “I cannot remember the names and family details of all my team members,” and “I prefer to write emails or letters to picking up the phone,” then tallying up a score.

How good am I at networking? Not very good, the tally also told me. I got a six which means this: “You network a little, but you could do more to develop relationships that would improve your career opportunities.”

Well, yes.

The funny thing is that since I did that exercise at the end of October I’ve actually started to try to network. It’s as though I’d been in the dark and a light bulb went on.

For example, I saw on the company intranet news site last week that a new director would be starting in my department and I immediately sent her a LinkedIn message to welcome her. I got a reply right back and now I have that connection. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can build on that when I meet her in person and I’ll be watching for other similar opportunities.

That experience – and the experience of just signing up to attend a networking event – removed some of the discomfort I feel about networking and I started to look forward to the networking event I signed up for to fulfil the requirements of this course.

Over the next six month, I’m going to continue to look for opportunities to connect with new people on LinkedIn and to use that platform to share my own thoughts. I’ll begin by committing to commenting on at least two posts by other people each week. In the following six months, I’ll try to create one original post a week and monitor the results, adjusting my posting schedule and the topics in response. I’m also going to seek out more in-person networking opportunities over the next six to 12 months, with the goal of attending at least one per month.

Wish me luck!

What about you? What’s your plan for growing your network?

References

Palmer, I., Dunford, R., & Buchanan, D. A. (2017). Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach (Third ed.). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

 

COM0015 — Assignment No. 5

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Credit: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

When I went looking for a networking event, the topic to be presented during a BPW Ottawa event caught my attention: Empowering Yourself in the Workplace with Words. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Further, the fact that it was a gathering of business and professional women (hence BPW) made walking into the venue and taking a place at the table feel less daunting than walking into a mixed gathering did. When I arrived at Clocktower Brew Pub on Bank Street at the appointed time, I was welcomed by a woman who turned out to be the chapter’s secretary. She had brought along her three-month-old baby. Definitely not a daunting crowd.

So I was right on that count, and yes, I was right on the other one, too. I would want to do that!

After a social time, during which I met all of the other 11 women at the table and heard something of the history of the organization, which was founded in the 1930s and has chapters around the world, the evening’s presentation began.

Our presenter Sheri, a club member who works as a product manager at a well-known area firm, took us through some of the ways women present themselves verbally in the workplace and the messages they’re sending. Several times during her presentation, she asked us to go deeper into the subject in small groups so I was able to interact more with my group-mates, M.J., a company president who has just finished an MBA, and Sandra, who works for the Red Cross.

Sheri started off with a great question. A small question, but a great question: What does it mean when a woman nods her head?

Here’s her answer, eminently quotable: “When women nod their heads, they could be saying, ‘I’m listening,’ ‘I understand what you’re saying, or ‘I agree.’ When men nod, they’re agreeing.”

When women nod their heads – as I do all the time when I’m listening – they are not being clear about their message. And men think they’re agreeing.

This was a revelation to most if not all of us – we duly nodded our heads in agreement. At least I think it was agreement. I’m not sure.

M.J., Sandra, and I spent a few minutes dissecting the nod, sharing our own stories of being misunderstood in the workplace, and brainstorming ways we could still appear supportive of the speaker – especially if it was a women, who might be looking for that nod to know people were listening. One of my suggestions, which Sheri touched on in her talk afterwards, was to show that support by verbally reinforcing the ideas the speaker was presenting when you were in fact in agreement with them.

I took away lots of ideas for how to better communicate in the workplace, including ensuring that body language was clear and not confusing and ways to acknowledge and affirm the role of feelings in our workplace interactions.

Networking with this group was enjoyable and educational, and I’m already looking forward to the next meeting, when the title of the presentation is “Let’s Talk Investing.” Anyone care to join me? January 18, 6 p.m., Clocktower Brew Pub Glebe, 575 Bank St., Ottawa. Click here to register.

What about you? What paved the way for you to walk into you first in-person networking event? Do you have any tips for communicating in the workplace?

 

 

 

 

 

COM0015 Blog No. 2 — How the weak get strong, and the strong stay weak

When a food bank’s social media followers include trendy restaurants, local food guides, and a wide cross-section of business within walking radius of your establishment, you’re doing something right.

Parkdale Food Centre has a vigorous social media strategy that gets its message regularly in front of the people the centre needs for support. The centre’s web presence includes a blog, a video banner, a variety of food- and food-centre-related information, and the ability to donate, and it posts regularly to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It also has a YouTube channel, which is doesn’t post to regularly, but what it has posted there is of good quality.

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Parkdale Food Centre’s Facebook page is bright and lively and immediately grabs your attention.

On Facebook, the centre has nearly 1,300 followers – pretty good for an organization that only serves people within a three-square-kilometre section of the city – and Facebook says they typically reply to messages within an hour. Every post includes art, whether a photo, a video or a graphic, and there’s a good mix of news and information, calls for help filling a need, kudos to their donors, and shares of their partner businesses’ posts. For example, in one post, Parkdale Food Centre promotes Maker House Co., a nearby business that sells products made by artisans across the country as a great place to buy Christmas presents, while sharing Maker House’s own post talking about proceeds from its sales going to the food centre.

The food centre is even more active on Twitter, where it has tweeted more than 9,500 times and has 3,560 followers, and it tells its story on Instagram, too, where it’s got nearly 2,000 followers and has posted 1,456 times.

What is so arresting about the food centre’s activity on social media is two-fold: its vigour is the antithesis of the image so often portrayed of food banks and the image it presents on social media really is reflective of its brand as a different kind of food bank.

Recent tweets, for example show beautiful pictures of fresh fruits and vegetables, perogies hand-made at the food centre and beautifully plated, and people working together in the food centre’s community kitchen.

Perogies

A yummy and fun post from Parkdale Food Centre’s Twitter feed.

The food centre has chosen carefully the social media tools it will use, and it uses them to full advantage.

By contrast, Food Basic needs a new plan. The grocery store’s website provides basic information, such as store locations and hours, information about their brands and buying practices, and their weekly flyer, but there’s not much more and what is there feels very corporate. On Facebook, it’s much the same story.

Every Facebook post is backed by the Food Basics green with the text on the image written in the font and colours used on their flyers and store logos. Many of the Facebook posts are simply promotions from their flyers, and even those that aren’t feel a bit forced. It’s not that the posts are bad, they just all feel kind of the same. And even the fun and funny ones don’t get much traction. The post pinned to the top of the feed is a video, but it’s been running in that spot since February.

They’re not on Twitter or Instagram, either. Actually, they are on Instagram. Their username is foodbasicshelp and they have zero posts, 35 followers, and one following. You can find people talking about them on Twitter; they haven’t joined the conversation.

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Food Basics has an Instagram account but they don’t actually use it.

Food Basics is missing an opportunity to establish itself as not just a provider of more inexpensive foods but as a partner with their clients in helping them prepare these foods in a nutritionally sound way. For example, they could post a weekly video on Facebook showing how to make a simple, inexpensive with three or four items found in that week’s flyer. They could ask for ideas and comments and generate interest and excitement among their clients, which they could share on other channels for maximum impact.

Food Basics is also missing an opportunity to showcase its wide range of imported foodstuffs, positioning itself as the first place to look for unusual items for the value-conscious Shopper. Sure, you might get at item at a specialty import store, but you’ll pay twice the price for it. An Instagram page devoted to these unusual items with high-quality phots and links to recipes and serving ideas is the kind of thing that could generate a large niche following.

The company needs to be on Twitter, too, in order to ensure they’re a part of the conversations that involve them.

Food Basic’s sister company, Metro, appears to be taking full advantage of social media opportunities, so Food Basics’ decisions about social media – barring perhaps its empty Instagram page – are no doubt deliberate.

Nonetheless, I think Food Basics is missing opportunities to promote and build its brand on social media.

What do you think? Can Food Basics take a page out of Parkdale Food Centre’s playbook and keep to their brand at the same time?

COM0015 Blog No. 1: The Tried and the True

Credit: Pixabay

Facebook is my friend. Not literally, of course, but like a virtual friends who keeps me up to date on important world, national, and local news, provides interesting information about industries and subjects I’m interested in, and lets me know what my friends and acquaintances are up to. And the reason it does that is because I have a wide range of Facebook friends who come from many parts of my life.

I’m friends with many former colleagues who were or are in the news business and their posts tend to focus on the news of the day. Given that “friends and family come first” on Facebook[i]  and my friends are very into news, I’m pretty confident I’m getting what I need there.

The best part is that know I can count on them to share news and commentary from a variety of sources, including sources I likely wouldn’t seek out myself since their views of the world run the gamut. This offers me a much wider look at the world than I might get otherwise. I’m also friends with current colleagues who share similar professional interests and who use Facebook to share interesting and informative articles. My feed is filled with articles on these subjects of interest that allow me to take a deeper dive into them than my morning newspaper, say. (And yes, I do still get a newspaper.)

Conversely, I love Twitter for finding out what’s going on and having some control over what I’m seeing. I can easily follow people or subjects I’m interested in, and it gives me a quick overview of a vast amount of relevant information. The slightly tricky part is ensuring you understand the source so that you can also quickly weigh the likely accuracy of the post. It’s like scanning just the headlines in the newspapers. If it’s the New York Times you’ll probably get an accurate headline; if it’s the National Enquirer you’d better take it with a grain of salt.

Let me just say here, though, that I’m not an early adopter. My favourite tool for listening or monitoring for social media trends is the aforementioned newspaper. I didn’t join Facebook till 2011, Linked In till 2013, nor Twitter till, well, just last year I think. I am so far from having favourites.

One way I do try to keep up though is by using a hashtag for social media on Twitter, so I can find news and influencers. It’s very much like what I’ve done with several change management and communications gurus. I like this method because, once again, it allow me to scan lots of content in limited time.

What about you? How do you listen and monitor what you’re interested in and what’s trending in social media?

 

[i] Lua, Alfred. (2017, October 25). Decoding the Facebook Algorithm: A Fully Up-to-Date List of the Algorithm Factors and Changes. Buffer Social. Retrieved November 15, 2017.

 

COM0014 — Blog No. 7 A Personal Reflection

Storytelling has always been one of the most important vehicles for engaging people, whether it was early humans telling hunting tales to their mates with cave-wall drawings, the Brothers Grimm imparting wisdom through fairy tales, or Walter Cronkite narrating the Apollo 11 moon landing to an audience of more than 700 million.

And digital storytelling is no different.

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What sets digital storytelling apart is its potential to reach an infinitely more vast audience – an audience even more vast than Cronkite’s audience on July 20, 1969 – and the speed at which that audience loses interest.

What this course has shown me is that it is however possible to not get lost in the vastness of the audience but to pinpoint the small piece within it that will be responsive to your story and, once you’ve identified that slice, to consider how you can craft your story so that they will be open to receiving the message within it.

Even blog posts that are not directly story can still contain the narrative arc and the interesting details that grab a reader, and I will aim for that in every post I create, whether classically “a story” or not.

I’ve also learned in this course that it’s not just the storytelling that’s important but the storyteller. A storyteller with a strong story – that is a strong and authentic brand – will have an easier time engaging their audience than one without.

I’ve always told stories about other people, been there when they were at their worst and at their best. Now, I think I’d like to try telling stories about myself. I have a lifetime of experience – and some wisdom – to impart.

Maybe I can find a target audience willing to listen.

What about you? Have you found your target audience?

Photo source: Pixabay

COM0014 — Blog No. 6 A Copy Editor with a Mission

Copy editing used to be a venerable professional pursuit. For much of newspapering history, the copy editor was the last line of defence, the last journalist to handle the copy before it was put on the page and printed. They worked to protect the newspaper’s prime asset, its reputation, from assault by poor writing, factual errors, libelous statements, and mistakes of grammar, spelling, and typing.

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It seems to me it’s been a long time since copy editing was truly valued, yet in the internet age it’s more necessary than ever. Mistakes are so common in online articles it’s a surprise to not find them. Reading the comments on posts has become an exercise in deduction and patience. People just don’t seem to care anymore whether they have to make their reader work to understand them. This sloppiness has spilled over into all kinds of written material, and no one seems to care. There are some great examples of errors in this post that, if you’re anything like me, will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

And that’s my freelance business’s greatest challenge: When people are accustomed to seeing mistakes in much of what they read, they accept this as normal and don’t see any need to fix it. Since I’m in the business of “fixing it,” I have to work harder and harder to find people and organizations that do value copy editing. And that value it enough to pay a reasonable amount for the kind of expertise a newspaper copy editor of 16 years can bring to their work.

But the story doesn’t end in despair. In addition to experience and competency, I now have a good plan for branding my services, a way to find a niche market, and the ability to create a social media marketing plan that will help me reach those people for whom getting it right does matter.

And maybe, just maybe, together we can turn back the tide.

What do you think? Is it too late to turn back this tide or do you even care?

And p.s. I won’t guarantee there are no errors in this post. It needs a copy edit!

Photo source: Pixabay

 

 

COM0014 – Blog No. 5: Personal Brand

I’m really good at doing things on the fly, whether at work or at home. The other night I arrived home from  work and my husband, who is a teacher and so off for the summer, planned a dinner consisting of a small pot of baked beans we’d carried home from a trip through Quebec a couple of days earlier. And toast. Beans on toast.

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My “on the fly” instinct went into full gear because, much as I love baked beans, I’d been looking forward to a “real” dinner. Within no time, I’d whipped up a wonderful pasta with a caramelized onion sauce and fresh basil.

It’s taken me a while to realize that I have this quality because, and I don’t think I’m unusual in this, things we find easy often don’t seem to us to be remarkable or distinguished. But I know this: Few of my friends and none of my family members would have been able to do it. They’d have just eaten the beans on toast.

Another one of my strong characteristics – which is a great complement to the first – is being highly motivated by deadlines.

Got a last-minute project on a tight deadline? Call me. I’m your woman.

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Just yesterday I went into high gear and pulled together a presentation on a project I’m only somewhat familiar with that someone else had dropped the ball on. Not to brag, but I had in short order produced a slick and comprehensive presentation that was a credit to the presenter.

And when I say “not to brag,” I really mean it. For me, the glory is in the doing. That’s where I get satisfaction. If I’ve produced something that will let others shine when they need to, that’s great.

And the beans? They were excellent. They were just more excellent with a last-minute side of pasta.

 

Photo source: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

COM0014 — Blog No. 4: Flying High

The Fly Lady has built a solid business through her creative – and genuine – B2C social media marketing. Marla Cilley, a.k.a. The Fly Lady, specializes in helping people bring the chaos of their lives under control, and she does it with great empathy.

Online Synergy

She has an online presence that’s anchored by her web page, where she blogs about getting organized by decluttering and establishing easy routines for home cleaning. She has links to her very active Facebook account, her Twitter stream, and to her YouTube and Blog Talk Radio pages. The Fly Lady also creates online synergy by having guests regularly blog on her page. Since launching in 2001, she has garnered more than 500,000 Facebook followers, some 42,000 followers on Twitter, and 40,000 YouTube subscribers.

Her Facebook activity includes responses to messages, typically within a few hours, regular posts on her prime subject, as well as daily quick hits asking, “What’s for dinner?” She regularly posts fun and encouraging sayings. The most-viewed Fly Lady YouTube video, with 138,153 views, is titled “Dirty Doors!” followed by “Mop Handle How-to Video,” with 54,172 views.

Email by Subscription

Some of the other ways she engages her market are by Facebook Live question-and-answer sessions and by daily task lists and encouragement emails to subscribers. She also has an app offering an online courses in her organizational/cleaning method, pre-loaded cleaning routines, weekly cleaning lists, and fun daily “missions.”

All of this activity supports the sale of Fly Lady cleaning products, including mops and brooms in various sizes, microfiber dusters, toilet bowl cleaner, and rags – all in her signature purple colour.

The Fly Lady has been building this online empire for many years, and her online strategy is very clearly working for her, and for her constituents. It can only be counted a success.

What do you think? When your B2C online marketing strategy is working, should you keep adding components or stay the course?

COM0014 – Blog # 3: Green, Clean and Wise with Money

 

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A 2014 survey commissioned by SCA, a company that makes hygiene products like hand sanitizer and hotel-sized soap and shampoo, picked up on an interesting fact: Shoppers over the age of 55 are more likely to shop “green” because it’s better for the environment than are the millennials who lead the pack elsewhere. Further, the survey showed 43 per cent of Canadians are willing to pay more for “green” goods and services.

Income and education do have an effect on what people are willing to pay for an ethically manufactured product, with the survey showing people with incomes over $40,000 more likely to spend more on such a product (58 per cent versus 40 per cent).

Since the average millennial income is just $34,700 versus the average income of Canadians aged 50 to 67, it’s no surprise that “green” shoppers are likely to be older shoppers.

When it comes to house cleaning products, however, there’s no need to pay more than you would pay for traditional products – no matter your age or income. Indeed, there’s no need to spend a lot at all.

Those at both ends of the age spectrum could benefit from learning about creating inexpensive natural cleaning products using simple recipes and easily-attained products. Indeed, the desires of each – the older wanting “greener” products and the younger wanting cheaper products – dovetail in these recipes.

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They also wrap together three things I’m passionate about: being “green,” being clean, and being wise when it comes to money.

A Facebook page devoted to “the green clean” and a YouTube channel focused on focused on frugally freshening up any space would between them draw heavily on both those target audiences.

What do you think? Is trying two hit two disparate targets with one message a recipe for disaster?

 

Sources:

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/more-canadian-consumers-seeking-green-products-and-services-in-current-economy-515057131.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/millennials-have-more-spending-power-than-parents-did-but-also-more-debt-1.2644833

https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Most-Internet-Users-Canada-Dedicated-Using-Facebook-Daily/1014121

Photos: Pixabay