COM0015 – Blog #4 – Out of the Box: Raising the Periscope

Periscope1Social media is all about an experience, a connection and a community; it’s no wonder someone created Periscope. With one of the fastest growing apps of 2015 users can “(e)xplore the world through someone else’s eyes.” The app allows users to watch a broadcast being generated in real time from anywhere on a smart phone or tablet. Without the use of any video recording device it’s now possible to share a live broadcast instantly, from anywhere to anyone.

When I first learned of Periscope I was on Instagram, probably the right market to hear about something like this, and I wasn’t shocked it existed, and I bet some of you have just heard of it. The app, like many social media networks, allows you to create a list of broadcast, comment, and even replay broadcasts. Users can receive push notifications when their favourite people begin broadcasting so they never miss a moment.

The power of this new application is undeniable, users have the ability to showcase anything, anytime. Working on a product launch, trying to build suspense? Why not Periscope part of a meeting, a product review or even some behind the scenes coverage of the big moment. When I first discovered Periscope the Ottawa Senators were using it to let fans at home watch warm-up behind the scenes, before players ever took to the ice.

Now, users are even quitting their jobs to Periscope.

For the future of social media Periscope remains a new toy. Companies who have already mastered Vine may be the best fit for a simple transition, however, unlike the short video platform being a Periscope star means bringing followers new and engaging live content.

Just this week, the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office used Periscope to break the news that one of their deputies had been involved in a shooting. Taking to Periscope at 5:15 a.m. the Sheriff released his statement to Periscope rather than having to meet with the media. He was able to release the story before the media could leak any details or before any negative public opinion of how the shooting occurred could form.

While the future of Periscope is still to be determined the app has proven valuable while still untapped. Over the next few months there is no telling whether Periscope will grow into a marketing darling or if it will be just another short lived app.

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COM0015 – Blog #3 – The power of networking: Standing out on Social Media

height-chart-silhouettes

Recently I’ve taken it upon myself to work harder at Networking. After almost five years in the same position I’ve realized that I routinely work with the same people across our organization but that I’m unsure if I could leverage these contacts in a time of need. With the dawn of 2015 I made it my mission, not simply a resolution, to engage more actively in networking. My mission to network required a two-fold commitment. Firstly, I need to engage more frequently and secondly, I need to ensure I follow up on those engagements.

Building relationships is key to any strong business strategy. Whether it be connecting with a new colleague or working on another project with a previous partner I believe it’s extremely important to meet new challenges head on. Welcoming new changes, working with others outside your office and attending social and business events opens a door to making new contacts. Personally, I’ve done my best not to decline or ignore upcoming events. Instead, my 2015 goal was to attend at least one cross-department event a month.

Choosing to attend events, whether they be coffee-and-learns or simply staff barbecues means that I’ve opened up my window to meeting new individuals who work within our organization. While some of these individuals are perhaps not those with which I would ever truly engage it has always provided me with an opportunity to learn more about our company. Information I learn from an Administrative Assistant at one event can help break the ice when speaking with a Direction or Manager at another.

I find this type of in person networking to be the most valuable. In an organization like a University paths cross both frequently and infrequently on campus, but the more colleagues you can connect with the more social and friendly an environment you can create. Rather than identifying all my colleagues as competition for future openings I have chosen to embrace them as help. Creating a true network of partnerships also allows me to showcase my abilities to help other officers and departments.

Beyond creating an intertwined network in person the ability to showcase talents to other departments creates a number of new connections. However, in today’s modern business world once a meeting is finished everything often becomes digital. At times, it’s not almost completely uncommon to complete an entire project by email, phone and via web collaboration platform. Because of the independent and somber nature of the new web 2.o project platform it’s important to follow up with connections.

Personally, I have found LinkedIn to be the best tool for charting these experiences. I have even developed a personal system for adding new contacts.

1. Establish connections through work project or repeated meetings.

Personally, I don’t believe in filling my LinkedIn profile with fluffy contacts. If we haven’t met regularly, or if I couldn’t pick you out of a police line-up I don’t make it my mission to connect with you.

2. Complete the project before connecting.

Unless my colleague reaches out to connect during the project I don’t connect with new colleagues until a project is done. In the past, I’ve experienced both good and bad working experiences with other departments and I find it best to wait to connect until you know if you will actually see the project through with the original team. If a change in team members occurs in the first day or week of a project I find connecting with someone you only met once to be a bit over zealous.

3. Personalize your connection.

Finally, when connecting I always find it important to personalize my connection. Simply sending a message to a contact asking them to connect seems to informal. In my best step forward I will always send a new contact a personal note. Not only do I thank them for the great experience of having shared the project, but I also include a though about how I either learned something new from them, or an experience that I truly valued.

4. Document your endeavors.

LinkedIn has a great tool that also allows you, when possible, to document major projects you’ve worked on. Being in a web industry I love the opportunity to share with my connections recognition for a project. Personally, I believe that this allows my connection to see that I appreciate their efforts, but it also creates a network of references. If a potential employer already knows a colleague with which I’ve worked on a project they may seek an off-the-record opinion. Being genuine and warm to them after the project is complete may leave the lasting impression you need.

Over the next year it’s my goal to turn this practice into principle. Creating a larger network of connections after every new project will not only allow me to develop a strong network but will help me ensure I am always thinking about ways to make this practice better. Perhaps in six months I’ll have learned a new trick from the way a connection has interacted with me!

After all, in social media, it is truly all about evolving.

COM0015 – Blog #2 – Food for Thought

Taco Bell may very well be the leader in fast food social media. While perhaps not the biggest name the American company has developed a brand which reflects their menu offerings while also fitting almost perfectly online. The Taco Bell brand is edgy, new and different, a lot like their food.

Not only does Taco Bell understand that their fans want to connect with a brand and feel engaged, Taco Bell challenges their fans. The account is witty, thoughtful and engaging while also being cutting edge. In 2014 Taco Bell took a massive step when they ‘turned off’ their social media accounts for Taco Bell Blackout. As a means to promote their app the blackout changed the way I personally looked at social media.

Since, the Blackout of 2014 I have never been able to take my eyes off them. Now, engaging with

The strength of Taco Bell’s social media platforms are not that they simply understand their market, but that they strive to lead their target audience on an extreme journey. Rather than attempting to appeal to a number of markets Taco Bell is confident in who they are and who their audience is. They are cutting edge and sharp and they offer their follows a bit of social media spice.

Drawing on their target market to also develop an absolutely dynamite brand is Red Bull. Beyond their extremely annoying cartoon commercials on television the Red Bull brand online is dynamic, cutting edge and connects directly to the age demographic they are most targeting with their beverages. Seeking to connect with a crowd they don’t have to win over from the caffeine powers of coffee, Red Bull understands how they need to shape their brand for the social media generation. Red Bull’s strength is their understanding of the power of innovative content.

The sheer existence of Red Bull Media House underlines to what extent the brand recognizes and understands the importance of having a brand sell more than the product. Red Bull have redefined a lifestyle with videos you can’t help but watch, content you want to dive into and explore. While never directly marketing their product Red Bull continuously produce content which capture your attention without ever seeing the drink.

Back in 2012 James O’Brien wrote “Red Bull is a publishing empire that also happens to sell a beverage.” Now three years later, the empire is only growing, and the drinks brand is in some ways more powerful than the brand. Creating their own galleries of content; using great images to drive followers back to their website Red Bull sells their product often without a single mention of the beverage itself.

While Taco Bell and Red Bull seem to be controlling the social media market not every brand has it figured out. In the food industry, try as they might, some brands strategies just seem to miss. Take for instance well known restaurant Pizza Hut. The chain’s social media strategy seems, like their menu changes, to be a major miss.

A 2014 interview with Ric Dragon on social media today reads like a joke to anyone who’s looked into the brand. In the interview Director of Social Media and Engagement Jenna Bromberg suggested that “With all the planning that we do and all the pretty pictures that we take, our most retweeted tweet organically of all time was these three silly, three saucy guys, saying ‘order pizza tonight.’ And my point being, some of our biggest successes have just been in our super-quick agile reaction to things that our communities are tweeting or posting about.”

The content on Pizza Hut feeds is anything but engaging. Their official Facebook page seems as though it’s almost completely ignored. Almost no effort has been made to organize their YouTube page, which is a mess of commercials and good videos sadly buried amongst the bland content, such as the “The Dangers of Selfie Sticks PSA.”

What’s worse, Pizza Hut’s foray into Twitter seems like a cry for help. Their content, like their featured products attempts to separate itself from the competition by being unique, but simply appears awkward in comparison. Pizza Hut fails to engage with their clients the same way that Taco Bell does and the content they create, unlike Red Bull, leave you with an even worse impression of the product and brand.

Pizza Hut needs to redefine themselves, if they want to be the pizza brand who offers unique products they need to focus on portraying themselves as unique but enjoyable. Rather than live on the fringe the product needs to seek to engage with followers who enjoy what is being offered. Generating discussions and creating a bond between platforms is essential.

The first step to a better Pizza Hut is deciphering who really dines at the restaurant. Where Taco Bell and Red Bull have identified their target audiences there seems to be no consistency between the pizza chains products. A good first step would be to ensure consistency across platforms. Choose one message and link all the messaging back to one thing they wish to be known for. Currently, Pizza Hut has a lot to learn; the days of quirky is cool are fading, without being true to themselves on all platforms Pizza Hut promises to continue to miss the mark for months to come.

COM0015 – Blog #1: Digging In

After four years my morning routine is pretty normal; I arrive at 8:00 a.m. and enjoy my second, or third, coffee while doing some daily monitoring. When I do my first daily check of trends, our sources and competition has never changed but over time I have definitely changed my tools. Working with prospective students I’ve learned that they often are not the first to ask questions, so rather than waiting to hear directly from them we need to anticipate their needs. Each morning I go straight to Hootsuite and using a number of plugins I track conversations about our brand, hashtags and the posts and conversations about our closest competition. In my mind, if students have a question about our competition, there may be those wondering the same thing about us. Or better yet, if someone doubts my competition’s ability to meet their needs, we should probably show off the fact that we meet or exceed those same needs.

My Hootsuite Dashboard is my first stop each morning.

My Hootsuite Dashboard is my first stop each morning.

What’s changed over time is my secondary resources. These days my go-to tool is not one but two sources of analytics. A quick flip through our Google Analytics and our Dashboard functions on our website helps me look at recent search results that have either led students to our website or helped them find what they’re looking for once they’ve arrived. Again, my simple theory, if one person is looking for it, perhaps someone else is too. More than my regular ‘what’s popular’ review of our searches I love looking through misspellings and searches with have yielded no results. Identifying new areas we need to satisfy for prospective students helps me identify new projects to plan or previous content which needs to be repurposed for our audience.

I prefer turning to these sorts of tools because they help me stay connected to what is trending or current among our market. Each year deadlines stay the same, and we know which messages we need to provide and when, so the challenge is keeping up with students changing interests, playing off current trends to show our strengths and really keeping up with what is hot. Understanding our audience as they change, faster than the wind it seems, also means I need to look beyond our window on the web. Regularly, I keep up with changing trends by referring to Inside Higher Ed. While I receive a number of daily emails from sources about Canadian universities, these rarely scratch the surface on global trends. Inside Higher Ed works as a global window into what is occurring at universities around the world and really helps me find new ways to identify our strengths. Personally, the Admissions section is one of my favourite places to check out.

From a more direct marketing standpoint I love to have my nose into what bigger brands are trying. The weekly SocialBro updates are great for that. The weekly newsletter provides some of the hot topics from their blog and makes for a great reminder to seek new ideas when I’ve may had my nose too deep in other things. This week I was refreshed to read about a few new marketing trends including the return of Colonel Sanders at KFC. I can’t lie, whether I’m a runner or not, there is something about seeing the Colonel that makes me want to cuddle with a big bucket of chicken on a Friday night!

It’s tough to stay cutting edge, especially when your background isn’t in marketing, but I find these sources give me a leg up, and sometimes even one to eat too!

COM0014 – To Super Social Media and Beyond – Blog #7

Photo courtesy of Design House Agency.

Photo courtesy of Design House Agency.

In today’s social media world understanding the value of starting and listening to conversations is essential. Understanding how to identify the type of content that interests your fans is even more vital to developing a true connection with your audience. When original content is hard to come by it’s important to understand how to find this content within your organization.

At Carleton University we have a variety of students, staff and faculty available to assist with the recruitment process. What is often forgotten however is that these stories aren’t just available, they can be absolutely inspiring. To a young student considering Carleton University being able to connect with someones story or benefit from even a small piece of advice they may share in a post or video is important to helping share the universities brand. Understanding the needs of your audience allows your department to determine what stories or tips are best for the time of year.

As a content creator once you have developed your brands social media policy and established a voice integrating these stories is the next step to insuring they represent your brand when it needs it the most. Being able to share valuable content with your target audience is as important as understanding the communication tools available to you and being able to implement them based on your audience.

At Carleton our content is timely and reflects the needs of our audience, but I personally believe it’s time to increase the amount of digital content we share with our audience. Seeing an increase in audience interaction as we increase the amount of photos and digital content it’s time our office evolves. Using tools such as Vine to create short videos would allow our office to reach out to prospective students in a way that we were never able to before.

Overcoming Comparisons – COM0014 Blog #6

1776930_obstacles_webStanding in the middle the Toronto Convention Centre with thousands of high school students rushing around a young man stopped and asked me a simple question ‘What’s the difference between Arts at your school and theirs?’. I laughed, nervously, because I knew that no matter what I answered he’d be analyzing it for so much more. Every year each Ontario University spends months planning and preparing for the Ontario Universities Fair. Every Faculty and Staff member is briefed about the University they represent and they prepare for questions about the programs they teach and their institution. But this question caught me off guard. I took a deep breath.

For this young man, the question meant so much more than course load and area of study. Almost every university offers a Bachelor of Arts, what he wanted to know was what makes us different, and I could tell that I didn’t have much time to wow him. During that brief deep breath I knew I only had a matter of seconds to prepare a response; did I talk about the program or ‘us’. Simple, I went with talking about our school, what makes us special, the way we’ve branded ourselves.

Four or five questions later we had barely spoke about the program, though I’d mentioned I had graduated from it and loved my job, as far as it was from my field of study. By the time he left he’d completed an information request form, picked up an information booklet and even mentioned that he was now planning on visiting on campus during our open house the next month.

In today’s digital world where so many businesses offer similar products it’s important to be able to distinguish yourself. If your service is similar to many others finding a away to distinguish your brand and relate to your audience is essential.

Driven to Change Things – COMM0014 – Blog 5

performance-drivenLast March I sat in an interview – to coach a minor hockey team – and was asked what sets me apart from others. I told them I was a communicator, but not any communicator, no I’m different. I’m edgy and tech-savvy, I like to get to the root of problems and have people find their own solutions, I like to motivate. Now, there are hundreds of other motivators and communicators out their doing this too, but where I’m different is that it’s my job. I live and breathe communication styles, target audiences, metrics and results.

When I left a recurring contract in the Federal Government at 21 about a month after buying a house I felt like I was taking a leap of faith. But, after all, that’s me! I’m daring and aggressive and my style matches that, I love pushing boundaries, finding new ways to interact and deliver content, in many ways who I am reflects the nature of social media.

Lately, my skills have evolved almost as quickly as the months on the calendar have changed, now well versed in Photoshop and photography I have the ability to create my own content and be my own lead. Today, I’m adaptive, creative and whenever I’m allowed, cutting edge. I believe in modern content and innovating change and I won’t stop until I’ve made a difference.

Contemplating Coach

Meet Humphrey!

When this tweet popped up in my wife’s feed last week it caught my attention. I’d heard of Coach, Inc. but I’d never really looked at their products before. Now, scrolling through their news feed I’ve started to follow them myself. Not only for more awesome pictures of this cute dog but because I’m interested in some of the wallets and bags they offer for men.

Coach is a big time American brand and a name that is known around the world and yet their Twitter account is always active. Tweeting 4-5 products a day the content provided by coach is engaging and connected while always linking their customers back to their websites.

As I began to look around further at the Coach brand I found that their Facebook page had over 5 million likes and their content was different from that which would be found on Twitter. Sharing photos albums, positive press and photos of celebrities using their products their pages providing unique content from what was being found elsewhere.

However, when looking at their interaction with customers this is where I feel Coach might need to be taught a thing or two. Rarely do you ever find Coach responding or retweeting mentions. On Facebook consumers don’t even have the opportunity to ask questions. Interested in a new product? Want to know more about colours? Time to head to their website and find answers for yourself.

I have to admit, at first I was upset about this, but with the depth of their product line as soon as I arrived at their website I was lost in it, looking at watches and wallets within minutes.

Well played Humphrey, well played!

COM0011 Blog #6 – Content Block: Writers Block for the 21st Century

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Lately I’ve been writing a bit more than normal; keeping three blogs; updating two websites; and managing three Twitter accounts. But what do you do when the tank runs dry? When the schedule says new blog or discussion and you just don’t know what write, how do you cope?

Personally, I take a deep breath and look at my stats. At work I love to look back at my Google Analytics; spending some time looking at annual trends helps understand what my audience might be looking for. If last August was a big time for ‘residence’ or ‘housing’ maybe it’s a good time to pull out a video on Residence for my next post! But what do you do when your site is new, and their are no Analytics to fall back on? (Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the page!)

I’ve read a lot of blogs about what to do when the content runs out and of course they all differ. Michael Keshen recently wrote a blog that listed ways to reduce and prevent this stressful time while summing up many of the different opinions I’d already come across. While you can check the blog out for yourself, the trick he shared that intrigued me the most was a suggestion to start keeping a list.

We’re all prone to sitting at our desk working on a project when a great idea for something else comes to mind; or out grocery shopping and your next great blog pops into your head. With the cell phones and technology we have at our finger tips Michael’s best tip is- of course- a piece of software, Google Keep! I’ll admit, I’m a ‘Droid guy, so their is likely something out their for you Mac’ers too. But, Google Keep is the one Google tool I’m embarrassed to have not known. Image a wall covered in your thoughts that you can access from any device, anywhere, anytime. Jot something down at work and boom, you’ve got it at home. Seems like a great way to store that amazing thought and access it from anywhere.

What are your tricks to keeping content constant? Do you have any tools or software you go to? Share in the comments below and maybe we can all work together to eliminate content block!

COM0014 – Managing Two Target Audiences

Young, brash and tech-savvy. Today’s modern teenage athlete is a unique blend of flair and technological know-how unlike anything anyone over the age of 25 grew up with. Personally, my 19 year old brother and aren’t always speaking the same language when it comes to internet trends and I’d consider myself rather connected.

The Social Athlete's GuideWhen I started The Social Athlete’s Guide a few months ago my intention was to help young athletes and their parents manage the world of social media. As a hockey coach I follow many scouts and coaches from around the world and hate seeing another player losing their scholarship because they sent a thoughtless tweet.
So I don’t have one audience, I have two, parents of young athletes fall into that group that I’m slowly creeping into, despite my best efforts, and are seeking to be educated on the best practices for social media. While my other audience, young athletes, want lessons based on stars; a show and tell of best practices in social media. Connecting with these audiences and providing them content they can relate too is varied. Over the past few months I’ve taken to social media, Twitter to be exact, to connect with these markets.

The response has been interesting, slowly my blog voice is evolving and so is my audience. Today coaches, parents and organizers are showing as much, if not more, interest in my content than the athletes I’m reaching out to. The adults have proven to love lists and articles which are short but detailed helping them understand technology. But my athletic readers want bios, Athlete Profiles, as I call them, which are short, accurate and feature a star to strive connect with. Connecting with both on Twitter has been a task but the response is growing. As more famous or well-known names become fans the brand is growing.

Got any tips for managing multiple audiences, I’d love to hear from you!