COM0015 – Blog#4 – Out of the Box

I realize I’ve spent quite a lot of time boasting about Tik Tok throughout the duration of this course. Full disclosure, I may have a bit of an addiction to it! It’s just so fun scrolling through these chains of creativity from across the world, and it’s so interesting how they nail the algorithm. You see videos directly in line with what you want to see. It’s like they read your mind!

Because I’ve already spent a great deal of time talking about Tik Tok and its benefits, I’d like to shift my focus to the downfalls or potential harms associated with this app. It’s still very much in its honeymoon phase, meaning people of all ages are finally starting to notice its popularity and dive in. One common concern I see resurfacing however, is how people feel like they’ve “wasted” hours scrolling on the app. When people have said this to me I’ve always defended the app and tried to persuade them to rephrase their perspective. How could it feel like time wasted, when the content you’re absorbing is so funny, well-curated, creative and informative? I for one have laughed, cried, and scribbled down mountains of useful notes from my Tik Tok ventures.

But one concern I will say I have is my attention span, my long term memory and my overall mental health.

These videos are delivered to you in such an instantaneous format – each clip gets merely 15-60 seconds to grab your attention, entertain or indulge you, and then it’s over and onto the next one. Anyone with diagnosed ADHD or associated tendencies can attest – this isn’t the healthiest consumption of media and it can’t be doing wonders for our brains. Yes, I’ve watched hours upon hours of videos which I would argue are useful, but how many of them can I actually remember? It felt good in the moment, but what are the long term benefits? What have I actually learned? It’s difficult to store information when it’s shot at you like a BB-gun in 60 second bullets, so what is this app doing for our memories? For our attention spans? For our patience, appreciation for delayed gratification and our long term mental states?

I know I’m not the first person to express this worry. A recent article in Forbes magazine called Tik Tok, “Digital Crack Cocaine”, alluding their billion dollar success to a simple science: we are essentially drugging ourselves with short stints of dopamine.

These are all things that worry me, and things I intent on flagging as my relationship with Tik Tok evolves.

Shifting focus to a much healthier social media application I’ve stumbled upon, I’d also like to talk about Strava.

Strava is social networking app that tracks your exercise and fitness activities using GPS, but allows you to post them publicly in the form of anecdotal stories for your followers to see. It’s an app built for athletes, by athletes, and I’ve come to rely on it not only as a great way to track my progress, but to feel accountable to friends and family who are also rooting for my progress, and inspire me to work on my physical body.

Like many channels of social media Strava is quite addicting, but at least you could argue this social media app is addictive in a healthy way. It motivates you to keep going, to keep pushing yourself even on days when you don’t want to because you know your fitness peers will be there cheering you on. Fitness is so important for your physical and mental health, and even more so in a pandemic, this app has truly been my saving grace.

I’ve really enjoyed this program as a instigator for my social media education. There’s millions of apps out there, and it seems like new things appear every day. I feel as though I’ve just scratched the surface and have to remind myself not to get overwhelmed.

Like most things in life, one’s journey through social media should be taken one day a time. One step at a time – and don’t forget to track those steps in Stava! 😉

COM0015 – Assignment #5 – Event Participation

Dream it. Design it. Do it. 

That was the takeaway message from the fantastic event I attended this afternoon. In celebration of International Women’s Day, I was invited to a panel discussion with Teara Fraser, Founder & CEO, Iskwew Air, publically recognized as the first Indigenous woman to own an airline. 

Terea was named one of Canada’s “Top Women of Influence” and recently appeared on the 2021 Maclean’s Power list. As a proud Metis woman who’s overcome several obstacles in her mission to defeat systematic oppression, I’m convinced this was a pinnacle event for IWD 2021.

Hosted by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Canadian Medical Association, the event took place via Zoom on Wednesday March 10th at 1:00 pm EST. Since this was an internal work event I cannot provide a specific link to the event description, but I can show you where to learn more about this fascinating woman

I was inspired to attend an event like this not only because I feel very connected to the celebration of International Women’s Day, but because I admit I feel very ignorant when it comes to understanding Indigenous culture in general, let alone the specific struggles that face Indigenous women. They have had to overcome such a tremendous amount of suffering, so engaging in the presence of one Metis woman who rose to the top despite all obstacles was something I knew I had to be a part of. 

In addition to the burst of beautiful energy that radiated through the screen, hearing Teara’s origin story was enough to inspire, in and of itself. Born in the Northwest Territories and becoming a mother of two at the tender age of 21, Teara described how she found herself cross-legged in the wellness corner of a local book store at the age of 30, desperately seeking inspiration for how to live her life. She wanted to prove to her children that she could envision a dream – some bigger purpose for her life, and with the right attitude and determination, she could make that dream come true. 

She discovered her passion for aviation on a trip to Africa where she experienced her first flight in a small plane. Watching the pilots in action, she knew that’s what she wanted to do. In less than a year, she obtained her commercial pilot’s licence, and it was during the 2010 winter Olympics that she first sparked the idea to establish an airline that could support Indigenous tourism by providing access to small, remote First Nations communities in British Columbia. Nine years later she turned her dream into a reality, officially launching Iskwew Air in Vancouver on International Women’s Day in 2019. Iskwew (pronounced IS-KWAY-YO) is a Cree word for woman, and was chosen to celebrate the first Indigenous woman owned airline, all women and all those who lift women.

As she spoke eloquently and softly into the camera, Teara wore a large pink button on her blazer with the word “LOVE” in big capital letters. “Love belongs everywhere,” she told the group, and I welled up in appreciation for a woman who still holds love in her heart, despite the hate that surrounds her everyday. I think so many women feel like they need to compartmentalize their tender side: box up and shut down their emotions in order to stand out in a male-dominated crowd. But it was so refreshing to see Teara embracing love as an answer – not a hindrance – to her success, power and influence.

After she told her story, I decided to ask Teara a question in reference to one of her talking points – the “Letting Go” Ceremonies, as I was curious exactly what these practices entailed. She explained that the Letting Go ceremonies are exactly that – a practice, something to be worked and reworked until it becomes intuitive. She explained they start with being honest, brave, and connected with yourself about the things that no longer serve you. She said once you can authentically observe these things, you must acknowledge them, honour them, and then just let them go. A powerful art that I think many women could practice more often. 

Finishing up her discussion, Teara posed the questions: How are you normalizing practices of collective belonging in your community? How are you liberating racial, social and economic justice? How are you uplifting Indigenous women’s voices of wisdom and sovereignty? These questions really made me think and reflect on my own practices, and felt very fitting with the theme of this year’s IWD: #Choosetochallenge. 

Change is a choice. It does not happen by accident. We must challenge these systemic issues and barriers that still limit women around the world. I feel privileged to have heard Teara’s genuine words of wisdom. I feel like I’ve opened the door to my much-needed education about Indigenous culture, and indeed foresee many events like this in my future. 

COM0015 – Blog #3 – Professional Networking

It’s difficult to plan for the future on a regular day. In a pandemic? It feels nearly impossible.

I feel like we’re all living our own version of Groundhog Day right now. Going through the motions and waiting for some kind of formal announcement that we can start living normally again. We don’t have a crystal ball – at this point, we don’t even have a mirror to see our own reflections.

The best we can do, though, is plan for the most optimistic outcome. I’d like to start boosting my online presence over these coming months by following and reaching out to feminist organizations that promote positive messaging supporting women. If I can gather their attention online, eventually I’ll feel comfortable meeting with them in person. My goal down the road is to become a spokesperson or PR representative for an organization that helps women.

I frequent a yoga studio downtown called Pure Yoga, which is run by some pretty fantastic women. I’ve already forged in-person relationships with some of the women there, but I hope to continue sharing their online content, perhaps volunteering with them and eventually, they’ll follow and share my content.

I’d also like to start following organizations such as Women’s shelters on social media, and eventually when the pandemic lifts, I plan to volunteer with them.

Ultimately I’d like to become a voice for women; a safe haven of support. We can’t do much in person right now, so the next six months to a year will consist of research, writing and reading. We have to bone up on our knowledge, so we emerge back in the world steadfast and educated, ready to take on anything.

COM0015 – Blog #2 Strong and weak organizations

There are a variety of factors that contribute to a successful social media presence, but I think ultimately it comes down to producing content that is unique, authentic and delivers a message that resonates with the masses. Brands have become personified now more than ever, and people feel like they need to connect with a brand in order to pay attention or trust them. Gone are the days where advertisers can “pull one over” on consumers – we’ve grown smarter than that. We can sniff through the veneer of phoniness from a mile away. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly important to just be completely honest about who you are, what makes you different, and why people should care.

Photo by Cristian Dina on

I chose to take a look at Dove as an example of an organization handling social media successfully. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed Dove’s campaigns, but then again, I am part of their key demographic – woman in my thirties who feels the pressure of unrealistic beauty standards and desperately wants to feel comfortable in my own skin. There are a lot of us out here, and Dove knows that. 

Perhaps the most notable Dove campaign is the “Real Beauty’ campaign, which has been refreshed multiple times since it first launched in 2004. While it was subject to a few controversies, Dove rebooted the campaign last year to once again highlight the core message that we should look beyond surface level aesthetics to focus on inner beauty, and real human values. They even capitalized on the media attention surrounding the coronavirus pandemic with a campaign called ‘Courage is Beautiful’, where they effectively honoured the healthcare workers who worked tirelessly on the front lines to keep us safe. Using the hashtag #InternationalNurseDay Dove posted this picture on Instagram, showing the marks left from wearing a facemask for hours on end. This was an incredibly powerful image because it was raw, relevant and inspiring, highlighting the fact that real beauty is in people, their hearts and their hard work. 

On the opposite side of the coin, there are quite a few companies that could really benefit from using social media, but for whatever reason haven’t jumped into the deep end quite yet. There’s usually a number of reasons why companies hold off, but usually it comes down to fear, uncertainty or pressure from high-level executives who perhaps may be a bit stuck in their “dinosaur” mentalities when it comes to non-traditional marketing strategies.

One particular company I can think of that could truly capitalize on social media tools is Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). You can tell by the name itself that LCBO is not a very sexy entity. Since the provincial government in Ontario manages the LCBO, their main responsibility is to oversee the safe sale and consumption of alcohol. Because of this, I think their creative freedoms are a bit limited by their overarching need to be authoritative. Many people probably see them as strict, and I can for one admit that I’ve always felt a bit intimidated by them. While I do believe this is important, maybe there’s some legroom in terms of revamping the LCBO brand, perhaps making it more approachable? I think there’s a massive opportunity for the LCBO to rebrand as a strong voice of authority that governs and keeps people informed about safe drinking, but also educates them in a fun, friendly way.

As of right now the LCBO does use Facebook and Instagram, but they only have 70.4 thousand followers on Instagram, meanwhile there’s a whopping population of 14.5 million people in Ontario. As one of the only designated locations where people can purchase alcohol in this province, LCBO has a great opportunity to change their relationship with consumers. Their Instagram page does seem to be updated quite regularly, but it’s usually just pictures of possible cocktail ideas or meals accompanying various spirits and wines. Some of these posts only have 300 likes! What if they started posting educational materials about safe drinking? Informative ads with a lighthearted, emotional message highlighted the importance of moderation, drinking with limits and perhaps even resources for people who felt like they drank too much? 

I feel like I’m digging at a deeper issue here, which is: society has this ingrained desire to repress any conversation or open dialogue about alcohol. I feel like it’s that one drug that’s legal and so ubiquitous, yet we don’t feel comfortable talking about it. Meanwhile drinking has tremendous negative impacts and has affected millions of people globally. What if we broke down the barriers holding us back from accepting this truth, and had open honest discussion about it? Maybe then people would feel more encouraged to talk about their consumption, and therefore learn to cope with their addiction?

Obviously we would have a long way to go to make this happen, but it’s just a thought. Especially with the pandemic, I know that people are probably drinking much more these days. If they could get around their provincial restrictions or strict terms and conditions when it comes to social media, I think the LCBO has a real chance at rebranding themselves to be the beacon of education for Ontario citizens – a helpful ally that breaks down the stigma of alcohol and connects to people in a real, human way. 

COM0015 – Blog #1 – Tik Tok, goes the social media clock

I’ve always really enjoyed Tweetdeck as a social media-monitoring tool, because it lays the news out there like a platter waiting for you to consume. It aggregates information effectively and efficiently, and I find it caters information to you based on what you like to see.

This concept is quite revolutionary and becoming more and more interesting to me – how social media platforms completely polish their algorithm so that content appears on your screen that you didn’t even ask for. How do they know this is what we want to see? How do these algorithms work exactly? This is partly why social media fascinates me so much. There’s so much that goes into it – so many types of intelligent minds congregate to create the most cutting edge tools; literary geniuses who excel at compiling marketing messages, math fanatics good at developing the perfect algorithm, and so on. It never ceases to impress me. 

I love to get my news from Apple News because I think they’re always really on the pulse of what headlines will stand out for people. In terms of trends, I’ve become pretty indulgent in Tik Tok. 

Tik Tok is fairly new in the social media world, and I feel like there are two types of people: those who have just completely surrendered to the addictive wonder that is Tik Tok, and those who are still stubbornly resisting it, scared to spend those extra hours scrolling away and banishing themselves strictly to the world of Instagram (which, in my opinion, is a graveyard in construction). 

This is what I tell my friends who are resisting downloading Tik Tok: it’s honestly worth it. Especially in a pandemic. Realistically, we’re spending about 12 hours on screen time each day anyways – why not spend some of those hours browsing videos that are creative, honest, hilarious, heartfelt, relatable and best of all – catered to SPECIFICALLY YOU.

The Tik Tok algorithm is simply a work of art. I could literally be in the shower thinking about how I might have ADHD, then I open up Tik Tok an hour later and there it is: a video from an online therapist sharing her advice for people with ADHD. Yes, some people might find this frightening. Of course I did at first. But honestly who really cares? In a world that feels increasingly isolating and COVID-ridden, I need videos like these to remind me that there are people out there feeling what I’m feeling. Tik Tok is capitalizing on a social phenomenon – an increasingly socially distanced society, full of people craving human connection but lacking the means and the guts to go get it. 

I think businesses are still green, in terms of using Tik Tok to promote their brand. They’ll get there though. Right now it’s an app for the people (the modern you and I) and it feels like high-level celebs and anyone with a capitalist intention is being shunned. I’m sure that’ll change.

Embrace it! Plus the trends are hilarious. There are a million funny dances and quirky challenges people pose that brings everyone together in laughter. To me, Tik Tok is the great equalizer – the great escape – and I hope it sticks around for a long time. 

COM0014 – Blog #7 – Last thoughts

I’ve really enjoyed the subject matter we learned from this class. I’ve learned that the biggest challenge of communications and branding is finding your own unique voice, and being as authentic as possible. We often have to sound like a lot of other people before we truly start to sound like ourselves. This class was a lovely way to encourage us to find our inner voices and embrace them with confidence and poise.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the field of communications is how quickly it’s changing. So even when you think you’ve become an expert in one aspect of it, suddenly there’s more to learn. There are new tools and ideas emerging each day, and while this may be intimidating to some, there’s an art to just “rolling with it”, being resilient and open minded and evolving with the times.

Moving forward I think I’d like to teach myself to be a bit bolder and brave in the face of these changes. Maybe the first step to gaining knowledge is understanding and accepting where your knowledge gaps lie. I’d like to continue learning how to communicate genuinely and effectively, and with honesty and conviction. I’d love to work in the communications department at a company with a powerful, noble mission. Use my skills for good.

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on

COM0014 – Blog #6 – What challenges the CMA?

Upon reading John Jantsch’s article, “Do People Know Your Story?” I was compelled to answer the question, “What is the greatest challenge your business must overcome?” I’ve decided to answer this question in the context of my employer – the Canadian Medical Association, a company that overlooks and services Canadian physicians.

The Canadian Medical Association requires physicians become members in order to receive all the perks and benefits of a membership, which costs about $200 annually. I think the main challenge for the CMA is persuading physicians that this is a necessary expense. It’s not mandatory by any means and not meant to be an exclusive club, but our goal is to curate a space for physicians to feel welcome, safe and appreciated, and the challenge is reiterating this message over time. There’s a whole department in the company dedicated to retaining members – keeping them interested and making us relevant in their eyes. Physicians are notoriously busy, spread thin and short-fused – so the challenge lies here: evolve with physicians, as the years pass by, various healthcare policies percolate, stay relevant and keep them interested, focused and involved.

The CMA has a rich history so that adds tremendous weight to our reputation and ability to overcome this challenge. Founded in Quebec City in 1867 and proud of its deep roots in Quebec, the CMA continues to engage on issues such as physician health and wellness, access to care, and the health impacts of climate change. Much of our marketing material promotes messages such as, “We’re driving change in health care and championing physician wellness. But we can’t do it without you.” It’s messages like these that resonate. We’re putting the onus on physicians, forcing them to realize that they are the reason we exist. 

The challenge is: what if they don’t believe us, or what if they don’t care?

It’s a continuous struggle for the CMA to keep their members attentive but our marketing strategies continue to work towards it. Promoting areas of focus such as COVID-19 this year, for example, has shed light on the importance of having an umbrella voice for public health concerns.

Ultimately, I think the CMA has excelled in terms of keeping members captivated and engaged. We must go with the times, react to difficult deadlines and impromptu healthcare crises, (just like doctors have to), and I believe that through all the historical humdrum we’ve built a valuable relationship of trust and reliability. 

It’s a challenge to get their attention, but if we continue to speak their language and focus on matters that reign true to them, we will succeed.