COM0015 – Assignment #1/ Blog Post #4: Out of the Box

Having had a bit of experience going into this program with some media monitoring tools in my knowledge base due to my job, I was surprised at some of the features that some of the applications held that I’d never had the opportunity to play with in my government position. When given the reigns to try something a bit different I really enjoyed the listening aspect of social media monitoring and what that entails.

However, I have to say that using my own personal side passion projects as the example of how to use these applications helped me explore so much more freely in general. Two applications really stood out for me in terms of what I’m doing and the platforms I use:

Buffer: Schedules later posts for Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook (the only platforms I really use for my purpose) It helps with navigating multiple accounts and still provides a free platform to use the service, along with their other options which are surprisingly affordable for all that it does.

Mention: This isn’t an app that I can use right now, but as I build I’ll make sure to get myself an account to coincide with my social media accounts specifically for listening. I found this one has a free plan that’s more than adequate for my needs.

I also want to mention two more pre loved applications that I learned to use more efficiently:

Instagram Reels/IGTV: For some reason, I found these features intimidating and stuck to the use of grids and stories. But in the ever changing world of social media, it’s not a smart move to ignore any feature – especially ones that hit traction and became popular so quickly. Before you know it, there’s a new feature, and suddenly you’ve found yourself in a position where you are now only using 25% of the application’s features and not growing or maintaining an audience. Now that I know how incredibly purposeful these features are, I’m more inclined to start testing them out asap!

Google analytics: Another service I previously used so marginally. It’s such a user friendly service to use for monitoring web analytics and can easily keep track from the mobile app. I got the opportunity to play around with it a little through the course of this program and really look forward to using it effectively to get some insight into my target audience.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning throughout this course and will continue to recommend it to my peers as a great professional development opportunity.

All that to say, the biggest lesson has been to continue learning about ALL apps and platforms. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you stay afloat on what the best social tools are for whatever their purpose.

2022 Goal ideas on Instagram – my personal favorite SM platform!

Assignment # 5: Event Participation: Content

I’m gearing up to create a (hopefully) consistent Instagram based virtual presence during my maternity leave from work. As an actor and filmmaker, Instagram has become an important tool to promote yourself within the industry and allow yourself to be remembered for future projects even when there are no immediate projects in the pipeline.

BUT I was so confused about content.

How do I come up with content and use all Instagram features when I’m not actively engaged in a project? Due to the pandemic, personally being far along in pregnancy also, I limited my attendance to online Webinars only. I didn’t get anything that was live because of my schedule and what it’s available. I did, however, find what I was looking for in a Webinar by Breakthrough Broker, with Chelsea Peitz (A real estate social media guru) on What to Post on Social Media. It was the perfect Webinar I needed to get me motivated to learn about how to create effective content. The Webinar I attended was: On-Demand Webinar: What to Post on Social Media with Chelsea Peitz.

The webinar was from a year ago so I didn’t get to interact or contribute to the event in the way I was hoping to, but overall I found that since I’m not necessarily at a networking ready stage, I observed and took away from the questions that were asked by other attendees.

I have so many ideas for content now. The biggest was how to align my posting/grid. It should be a mixture of heavily shareable/savable and pepper in some relatable/personal posts meant only to keep the human experience going. I’ve talked at length about how we are sort of switching over to a more authentic online presence and that rolls really well with that idea. I just wasn’t sure HOW to do that until I saw it laid out in a few of her real estate examples.

My favorite quote from the event was: “Everybody wants to give you their opinion whether you’ve asked or not.” Is this not social media interactions in a nutshell? She goes on to say, “So why not just ask the question.” For engagement purposes make sure that you include a call to action on every post you make to ensure that you’re adequately engaging. This will be a big takeaway for me.

I’ll be attending more like this, related to content, and definitely with Chelsea Peitz as a speaker. I was also curious about benefits of using IG reels/IG TV and what the differences are, so I’ve already moved on to Chelsea’s next talk with Breakthrough Broker: On-demand webinar: How to use Instagram reels to get more reach and engagement with Chelsea Peitz

Looking forward to mastering some Instagram posts with some of my new ideas and knowledge!

Blog Post #3 – Professional Networking Now and in the Future

What is your parent strategy for developing your professional network online and in person?

Embarking on another maternity leave in just 8 short weeks is somewhat stressful. As anyone with a child can tell you, this is no vacation. This is relearning a lot of lost skills for my second (and last) childbirth. A new journey with a new child- and no two are alike. It’s a learning curve, and one that we can lose ourselves in easily. So how will I develop my professional network online and in person?

In person will be tricky. With a young, vulnerable child to take care of, and the state of our present pandemic unknown, I don’t have an answer for that. I will rely on social media (mainly Instagram) to build a community with likeminded parents and people interested in health and fitness.

What is very important to me is maintaining some presence online while also committing to spending time with my family. So a schedule for engagement is an absolute no brainer. It will help create the network, but also boundaries, ensuring to keep a healthy level of distance in my personal time at home.

What activities and commitments are you making in the next 6-12 months to continue the development of your networks?

Knowing that I’m embarking on closing my family circle with this last child inspired me to really look into my own goals moving forward. What do I want, what am I passionate about? How can I involve my family and not keep these entities separate?

I have decided that I would like to take control of my health and fitness. Ensuring that I can fuel my body in a way that not only makes me happy, but makes me strong created some excitement in thinking about the future. What if I could keep up with my kids for a long time? What if I could keep up with my grandkids (if I’m lucky enough to have them!)?

I started to follow a fitness path for the last year that did not require perfection, but consistency and enjoyment. A fitness path that was for my enjoyment, not a punishment. I found myself excited to lift heavier, move faster, beat my own goals. It set into motion the kind of community I would like to create online. I pursued a fit pregnancy, continued to work out because it makes my body feel great. Kept room to indulge and eat nutritiously at the same time. That’s the community that I want to create. One for a Mom that eats well, incorporates her love of food and fitness with her family. A woman that will feel better at 40 than she did at 20. So I’m going to share these thoughts and photos over the next 6 to 12 months. Seek out likeminded people. Network to build partnerships, if I’m honest also sponsorships, and to do this in a way that is relatable.

To gear up, I’m taking in this course now to better use tools that are available to organize and plan my social media posts and engagement. I’m researching local organizations that might be interested in future partnerships. I’m seeking out online friendships, thinking about branding, platforms, monitoring, and what kind of content followers might be interested in after baby comes, and what I can offer with that journey. In a rapidly changing social media environment, I also plan to keep afloat of trends and how I can incorporate them into my personal plan and branding by engaging in ongoing learning, and by keeping an eye on competitor social media accounts.

I’m passionate about fitness and health for everyBODY, and Joan is a great example of that.

Blog Post #2 – Strong and Weak Organizations – The local social media experience

Looking at two sort of parallel local organizations for balanced measure, I’ve selected Ottawa Public Health as the organization with an impressive Social Media strategy, and the local organization in need of a Social Media strategy is the City of Ottawa – particularly my experience with their registration site for recreation.

Ottawa Public Health has been a true local social media gem in providing up to date public health information during the pandemic, and managing to make it fun and personable. Using mostly Facebook and Twitter to get their information out, they have managed to engage their local followers into real conversation, answer questions, and use humor while keeping the information delivery aspect clear! Engagement has been consistent with their audience, knowing when to respond to negative commenters and when not to. They might very well be my favorite local organization to interact with, but on top of that, they truly make it easy to navigate their social media in order to access information when it’s needed.

An organization that needs to adopt a social media strategy pretty urgently is City of Ottawa. Specifically the recreation and cultural program division. They don’t have their own social media accounts, so I am strictly using the section of their website as my example. Starting with Facebook and Twitter, I think it’s important these days that Ottawa citizen’s receive up to date information on what services are available to them in a time when it has been difficult to manage what services are available to us.

For example, I went to sign my son up for his second round of swimming lessons last season, spoiler alert, unsuccessfully. The website is archaic and not at all user friendly. The use of “waiting rooms” and getting kicked out of them during the wait felt really reminiscent of the early days of online concert ticket purchasing. I wasn’t surprised by the time I got to this stage by how information wasn’t readily available on social media for the sign up sessions.

First piece of advice for City of Ottawa is: update your website. It’s out of date, really complicated to navigate, and in 2022 shouldn’t have services that time out on you before you get ‘in’. Secondly, in a time when people are desperately searching for safe, local services to use, please take the time to branch off your services into separate, dedicated social media accounts. Engage the audience. Get information readily available. Make it easy to communicate information to your followers on a timed basis before sign-ups for programs become available.

And finally, one more remark for the City of Ottawa, on an unrelated – yet important – note: as a resident of downtown Ottawa, please help. Sending solidarity to my fellow local Ottawa residents today as we navigate through a tough time together.

COM0015 – Blog #1 Tools and Sources

I’ve enjoyed exploring social media tools and the benefits to them, as well as what tool should be used for each organization/individual’s purpose.

In my pursuits, I’m not using social media for an organization’s purposes, but two social media strategies are coming to fruition for different purposes in my life. I’m hoping that by exploring social media I can decide whether or not I should condense them, or keep them as separate interests.

To accurately make that decision, I’m going to listen.

I have two Instagram accounts, one for my acting/filmmaker adventures, and then one dedicated strictly to my health and wellness pursuit. I’m not sure if the same audience would want these merged.

Thankfully, Instagram has a built in listening tool, and provides some measurement and insight into my accounts themselves, but if I want to check out what my audience is looking for outside of my accounts, I’m best off using outside tools.

Social Searcher is great for a free service. It will track trends & mentions from different platforms. It’s a great tool to keep an eye specifically on what people are saying. With this free service I recommend tracking your findings in an excel spreadsheet because it’s not a complete dashboard if you are looking for data – even though I do think it’s so useful.

I loved the dashboard on Brand 24, it has a really user friendly interface. However, it is a pay model once you have completed the trial. If one is willing to use a pay model the one I most prefer is HootSuite. I have used this platform at my day job. It has a good combination of the things I enjoyed most about  most of the free services that I have explored. I found a little video by HootSuite on the subject of social listening that is definitely worth checking out at the end.

A few months data, and a combination of these search tools should give me a decent idea of how to plan out my next steps for the future of my social media platforms.

A great tutorial on social listening from HootSuite, one of my favorite social media tools.

Blog #7 Personal Reflection

Digital Communications has been my favorite course thus far in the Social Media program. I have learned a lot, but I think the most important is the emphasis in this course on how to effectively communicate with people who are not…me. Or some variation of me!

It’s easy enough to communicate with a demographic of our own peers. But when we step outside of that comfort zone, it’s easy to see how lines can get crossed. How easily we can get frustrated.

I like content that makes me think. Social media is a mainstay now; most people have it, and on multiple platforms. It’s important to dig deeper into how we can optimize this for communication in this way. How can we get our point across so others will listen, how do we become better storytellers?

As beneficial as the concepts in this course have been in understanding a social media audience, I think my storytelling will be affected on the scriptwriting level as well. Audience is so important, and I think I’ll be walking away with a better understanding of how to communicate an idea to my target audience in a more effective way for all of us.

I always thought I was a good communicator, but there’s nothing wrong with expanding our arsenal to meet a different set of needs. Maybe I’m not always right, and maybe the customer isn’t either. But in the work that we do to meet each other, we can at least come to have better understanding.

After all, I want to tell stories that appeal to a wide variety of people. That make them think outside the box, as I do. We might not always agree with one another. But if we remove some known obstacles in our communication, at least we can have an at level discussion with understanding. Maybe we’ll listen.

An interesting look on the psychology of digital communication

Blog #6: We rise. We fall.

What is my greatest achievement / disappointment?

This question from John Jantsch’s article “Do people know your story?” stood out to me.

I have a lot to say on both ends of this spectrum. Having taken acting lessons and auditioning from a very young age gave me an early insight into what it feels like to hit major achievements and disappointments early in life. The answer to the question though, is complicated.

To date, the answer to my greatest disappointment, and my greatest achievement has been…myself.

It’s part of my journey, the reason I’m here. To ebb and flow, and hopefully learn either way.

I’ve disappointment myself deeply in so many ways as the years have passed. Quitting post education. Being irresponsible financially, physically, and in terms of my health for so many years.

Neglecting myself, and my needs. Putting undeserving people (or anyone/everyone) above me. Putting my mental health at the absolute bottom of the list.

I have hit some major peaks. I have created two feature films, and wore many hats in front, and behind the camera to make that happen. As a woman in a male dominated industry, this is no easy feat.

I have also created new life. My sensitive, creative preschooler (loudly) sings “What’s this?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, complete with a dance he made up as I try to write this. Another life growing and kicking away in my womb.

Knowing that I’m juggling full time work, two Algonquin College classes, multiple seasonal sicknesses while a new strain of COVID rears its ugly head. Another great achievement.

The biggest achievement of all should be the same for all of us. For keeping it together. The last 2 years have been painful and difficult, and here we are. Sometimes thriving, sometimes crying. Finding the balance, and carrying on another day. Sh*t happens. We rise and we fall.

A truly inspiring look on how we can get through darkness and light.

Blog #5: I’m nothing if not authentically human

There was an assignment, in an earlier class when I first joined the Social Media program, that had me ask people in my life, from different capacities and levels of friendship, how they would describe me. A lot of their responses put a smile on my face. Who doesn’t like to be called talented? Intelligent? Creative? Stunning…okay, full disclosure, that last one one was my husband.

Across the board though, by far, the term that came up most often when I polled these people was “Authentic”.

What is so authentic about me? I don’t give myself time to think about being otherwise. I laugh loudly, cry freely, own up to my mistakes, and take pride in my achievements.

I try to let that particular part of me radiate in my writing and filmmaking – yes, even in my horror film scripts. The characters are authentically curious, the scripts tackling real issues. Typically women’s issues, since I like to write what I know. I also like to carefully craft stories in the horror genre to disguise the world we live in.

I wrote and directed one short film about a woman’s struggle with anxiety and depression. I had many messages from strangers that found it online thanking me for making the lead actress an authentic human being. I received some messages that also thanked me for taking a very real, horrific feeling, and somehow making it enjoyable to watch.

I’m proud of that. Stories need to be told with more authenticity, even when the backdrop seems a bit surreal. Filmmaking can be predominantly a boys club. I’m very proud to give a voice to women and their stories.

Written and Directed by me! As a veteran actor, I also played the role of the friend. Enjoy!

Blog Post 4: Knix, a B2C Case study

In my last blog post I talked about a passion of mine, social media inclusivity & diversity within the wellness and fitness industries. For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to take a bit of a deeper look at a company that I admire and only mentioned briefly, Knix.

Knix is an organization whose initial marketing plan was for their flagship product: leak proof underwear meant for menstrual cycles and post-partum incontinence. The product was innovative, but not particularly budget friendly. Since, they have included leak proof bras, comfortable loungewear and fitness apparel in inclusive sizing.

Knix does a great job of featuring a broad range of body types, ages and the inclusion of BIPOC models for their products. They focus on ambassador type brand marketing, meaning they feature “real” women (Instagram influencers etc) for try-ons and product launches to match their target audience.

It works. You can see this in the ambassadors that promote their products. While that is a big movement forward with inclusion and diversity, the product price points still exclude those who need to shop on a budget. Although I wish this aspect of Knix’s mission were inclusive in that aspect, I do understand it’s not the main component of outreach for their target audience which is to focus on body diversity and not necessarily full social diversity.  Therefore, as an organization whose products are for women’s bodies, they have prioritized their marketing successfully.

Here is one of my absolute favorite Knix ads that well represents them, and who they are trying to reach. Enjoy!

Knix, for woman of all ages

Blog Post 3: Target Audiences

Although I’m proud of the fact that I have such varied personal interests, I found it difficult to choose one for the purpose of this blog post! Ultimately I want to discuss the audience for a big personal interest of mine – the inclusive fitness/nutrition & wellness community.

Within wellness alone on social media, you have the fitness community, the diet industry (bye, girl), body positivity and body neutral communities, and then you have what I have dubbed “inclusive wellness.” Just to name a few! What is inclusive wellness? To me, it means talk of nutrition, exercise, workout necessities and talks that includes everyone from a size -0 to 4X and beyond. It’s options for her/him/them. It’s wellness for all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, physical capabilities and goals. Free of toxicity.

The audience is inclusive. Usually an audience that cares deeply about making sure others needs are met. Those who are in the know about social politics, human behavior, and progressive thinkers. People that use inclusive dialogue, pronouns, are not discriminatory by nature, but are also willing to learn more and not settle on what they already know.

Language is what matters most to this audience. Facts matter. Diversity and inclusion are things that will matter. Since the regular fitness and diet industry is marketed primarily to financially stable, thin identifying, white, cisgendered people, there is a great need for everyone who fits outside of that box. Whether or not the audience fits into a majority of those categories (not unlike myself), they are seeking a community that also includes everyone else.

This audience prefers their workout clothing from successfully inclusive companies such as Knix, and Old Navy, in lieu of the straight sized options marketed to fitness influencers like Lululemon and Gymshark. Kudos to Old Navy by the way for their efforts on blended sizing (no more plus sized and regular sized sections!) and having gender neutral clothing options.

I found this video last February on Youtube that was a great discussion for Black History month on Diversity and Inclusion in the fitness industry. You need to watch this and learn for a really clear explanation on how things like racism affect the industry. Listening to voices of those who have been excluded is the first step in movement towards change.

Black History Month Conversation: Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the Fitness Industry.