COM0014: Event Participation, Diversity & Inclusion

Image via Unsplash

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been the centre of discussions for a number of months now and for employees within the Communications and Portfolio Sector (CPS) of Natural Resources Canada, we have been engaging with management and staff as to how diversity and inclusion should be considered as part of our every day work.

The following is a list of questions that have been shared throughout the sector and serve as points of discussions for all members of the teams to find ways to achieve this new standard of business:

  • What aspects of your work already consider or address diversity and inclusion?
  • What policies and legislation exists to enforce or encourage diversity and inclusion in your work in this area? (List)
  • Do you collect any data related to diversity and inclusion? 
  • What opportunities exist to increase diversity and inclusion in your work?
  • Are there opportunities for collaboration with other teams in CPS, or other sectors, to advance diversity and inclusion in your work?
  • What work objectives related to diversity and inclusion could you set with your team in the next 6-12 months? 3-5 years? How would you measure success?
  • Have you encountered teams or organizations in a similar line of work as CPS that have advanced diversity and inclusion through their processes or communications? Please share any examples you’ve seen.

This series of ongoing discussions with staff across all levels of the department aims to develop and action plan on Anti-Racism, Diversity and Inclusion. Under NRCan Diversity and Inclusion key priority stream, NRCan colleagues are working collaboratively to equip colleagues in real time, to build together a stronger, diverse and inclusive NRCan workforce, to better serve Canadians, stakeholders and global partners.  This inclusive work also serves NRCan commitment to improve the quality of life of Canadians by ensuring the country’s abundant natural resources are developed sustainably, competitively and inclusively.

As a member of the Diversity and Inclusion working group, I meet weekly with sub-committee members to look specifically at training opportunities available both that are either free or available at a cost to employees. The hope is that eventually these sessions will be incorporated into the employee’s performance measurement as well as our individual learning plans. I have also been working with a subcommittee to develop a set of guest speakers who might be invited to future staff meetings to talk about various topics including, but not limited to: micro-aggressions, harassment, Indigenous history in Canada and so on.

The entire process of participating and being included in these discussions has been eye-opening. The struggles that so many face on a daily basis is staggering and any way I can be part of a path towards a solution or learning more makes me feel like I am helping in some small way. The opportunities to network within the department and hear people’s stories and perspectives and why they want to be involve truly provides a sense of community and improved spirit among the participants.

Topics around diversity and inclusion is not a new discussion but the fact that there are actions being taken to change the conversation instead of just talking about something gives me some hope that change is coming.

I have included a list of podcasts, links and resources for those who are interested in learning and exploring more. If you have other resources on the topic, please add them to the comments!

Learn more:

COMM0015: Blog #4, Out of the Box

Photo via Unsplash

I have been using social media for as long as Facebook has been around. I have been familiar with it as a tool for connecting with friends and family. Thanks to this course however, I have come to learn that using social media is so much more than just sharing the latest news or posting random fact about what is going on in any particular day. Using social media for business is also so much more than just posting a link to a relevant news item. For this reason, the most unexpected side I have come across for social media is just how much planning, time and strategy goes into the creation of an effective and focused social media plan. To do it well, you must know the ins and outs of the industry; have applications at the ready and plan, plan, plan.

Since the pandemic started, I have found online how-to videos to be particularly effective. Platforms that have implemented video features like Facebook Live or Instagram Stories have been very successful. With more than 500 million users interacting with Instagram stories daily, it is no wonder businesses are looking to implement content on their channels.

Working as a communications specialist in science I think taking advantage of these tools will be particularly effective, especially when dealing with topics that are often difficult to explain to bigger audiences. Having highlights or special presentations by key science figures within the department will not only highlight often confusing or under-represented information and bringing it to the attention of our followers. This can increase our follower base but also give credibility and real-life examples of how scientists at Natural Resources Canada are advancing data and science for the benefit of all Canadians. The experts could use these platforms to present their latest study or recent findings directly through these channels. It would aid in alleviating any misinterpretations of an often technical or confusing subject by providing direct communication with intended audiences.  

COMM0015: Blog Post #3: Networking Now and into the Future

Professional networking in this era of online work has never been more important. Social media is so prevalent that creating a profile that is consistent across all platforms is essential to fostering a personal brand. In fact, many consider networking an essential professional skill.

Photo via Unsplash

In order to maintain the success of your online network, it is vital to stay on top of ongoing trends within the industry. Keeping abreast of fresh ideas and new perspectives is a great way to ensure you stay at the top of the pack. When employees have platforms in which they can connect with like-minded individuals, and even those who may not share the same motivations, it fosters new connections and provides opportunities for employees to see beyond the scope of now. Knowledge sharing among employees is one of the best ways to not only foster a positive working experience, but also provides unique opportunities to learn from experts in the field.

Networking is an effective way to listen to what is trending in the market is one of the best ways to stay relevant in a constantly evolving environment. Ensuring my online professional profiles on key social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will ensure that I am connecting with those most important to my area of expertise. Reading the news and staying on top of current issues on a global, regional and local scale will ensure I has the most accurate information readily available. Being willing to put myself out there within the organization will ensure my name is recognized and the change of my work being noticed or praised will further ensure networking is a success. I consider myself a team player and so working alongside other professionals is important to me. Not only does networking build confidence, but also it helps me to prepare for a future career in the industry.

The Future of Networking

As organizations across the country continue to navigate the future of work in a COVID-19 environment, the importance of networking for employees and organizations will also be essential to fostering an effective learning environment. When everyone works together to set targets and outcomes, then the best of the business comes forward.

As a science communications specialist working for the Government of Canada, I currently sit on a variety of committees with other communications professionals both inside and outside of the parameters of government. My ability to network with these groups will continue to evolve over time, particularly if I continue to work remotely. Volunteering for various committees within the department is another way to encourage my personal brand as a dependable, hardworking and creative communicator who always brings something to the table. Sometimes it is not always, what you know, but who you know, that helps to get a job done. Ensuring your online and personal networking experiences are in line with each other will help raise my profile within the professional environment.

The pace of social media and digital marketing in today’s society is that in order to remain relevant, companies need to be able to speak the same language. Therefore, like companies adapting to the pace of media and digital marketing, employees have to be nimble, ready to shift, pivot or change direction right along with the trend.

Recommended reading:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-professional-networking-so-important-jordan-parikh/

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/professional-networking

COM0015: Blog #2 – Strong and Weak Organizations

Social Media Strategy Winner #1: BarkBox

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Image via BarkBox.com

BarkBox is a company that gets you interested in dogs and the their many humourous and goofy interactions with their humans, perhaps even if you’re not a self-professed dog person. I am a dog person so much of their content I find to be super funny, relevant and relatable. They humanize our furry four-legged companions. For those that may have other animals or perhaps none at all, their content is full of humour.

Using their social media channels to drive customer engagement, BarkBox has jumped on the subscription box bandwagon and provides a one-monthly shipment to your one-and-only canine companion that they’re sure to love. As a dog owner myself, I find ads pop up in my social feeds quite frequently and have been tempted a time or two to subscribe. Subscription boxes are entertaining – having curated treats mailed to me on a scheduled basis and being able to see our pup’s tail wag just a little bit more each month is super enticing. BarkBox has 1.7M followers on Instagram, 2.9M followers on Facebook, 300K on Twitter, just under 42K followers on Pinterest and 132K subscribers on YouTube. With social media hits like these, BarkBox knows how to use social media.

What makes BarkBox unique in its use of social media to further its brand is its reliance on customers sharing their BarkBox experiences. Dog owners are more than happy to share pictures of furry roommate get excited when their specially customized themed treat and toy box arrives. Their Instagram stories and Facebook posts show how fun everything is with the BarkBox products and clients are quick to take pictures and share the reactions of their dogs in all their BarkBox glory. Their social media channels offer opportunities for customers to be entertained, strengthening their brand loyalty and sense of comradery. It also appeals to the future customer opportunities of clients that will eventually get a dog.

Every January 21st, BarkBox celebrates National Squirrel Appreciation Day, with a squirrel taking over their social media accounts. BarkBox embraces the randomness of this celebratory occasion and changes their profile picture and posts throughout the day. The essential theme is that squirrels are holding BarkBox hostage, at least until they get all their nuts back. Not only did it get people talking about their company but increased social engagement. That’s exactly the formula you want if you’re trying to increase your subscription base!

Social Media Strategy Winner #2: Gymshark

Another business that have embraced the power of social media and effectively strategizing in their marketing is Gymshark. Established in 2012 in the UK, this brand quickly established a massive social media following. They have three Instagram accounts (@gymshark, @gymsharkwomen and @gymsharktrain) share a combined 7M following. Their Twitter account has around 300K followers while their Facebook and LinkedIn have nearly 2M and 125K respectively.

One of the main reasons for the early success of the brand is the fact that they answered the call for affordable sportswear for younger gym-goers. Secondly, Gymshark relies heavily on influencer marketing. These influencers came from the fitness world and were eventually branded as business ambassadors. These ‘Gymshark Athletes’ eventually included celebrity endorsement, further solidifying Gymshark as the brank of choice among an array of popular and often pricey fitness apparel.

Like BarkBox, Gymshark relies heavily on customer feedback, often looking for information from their community over their social channels. Not only do customers of Gymshark provide information over public channels for their preferences in workout gear, but they become brand ambassadors in their own right, forming their own network of Gymshark communities across the globe.

Gymshark is a company that stays relevant to the trends over social media A recent incident of an American lawyer unable to figure out how to remove the cat filter from his Zoom account was embraced by Gymshark, sharing the image of the cat to its social account. Gymshark has a target audience of 18-25 year olds, and what better way to target that audience than to mock a Boomer/GenXer who may face technological challenges that the younger generation would likely not encounter.

Social Media Strategy SOS: Winners

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Image via Winners.ca

My vote for organization who needs help in their Social Media Strategy department is Winners. Known all over for their “Fab finds”, their social media platforms leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps it’s the fact that no two stores will have the same inventory and therefore like other more traditional apparel and home stores, they don’t have a constant stream of the same inventory from which shoppers can make purchases online.

Winners is not overly active on social media. Their Twitter account has 29K followers, but their last post was from March 2020. They are certainly more active on Instagram, their following is 187K and they have more recent posts, with updates done every few days but there was an approximate 4 week gap between their post at the end of December and their following one at the end of January. Winners’ YouTube account has only 5,000 subscribers and their last video was posted four months ago. Their Facebook page has the most activity, with 835K followers.

The biggest complaint for the social media strategy of Winners is the lack of content that they share among their social media channels. They also have little-to-none brand interaction with customers or visitors to their page so their engagement level is minimal. Complaints and comments on their channels go largely unnoticed with no comments or acknowledgement from Winners management. This is the case across all of their social media channels.

For a company that specializes in “fabulous” clothing and home finds, it would be nice if they could incorporate more ‘customer perspectives’ into their marketing. Like testimonials about some of the best finds that customers have found at their local Winners store.

Finally, accessibility of their social media pages is also sub-optimal. Their community guidelines are listed in both English and French but otherwise the communications from these channels are solely in English, with no apparent link to an alternative language option. There is also no call to action in most of their posts. Given the current COVID19 pandemic and the limits and restrictions in place at their stores, it would have been nice to see the shop incorporating healthy behaviours into their messaging more frequently.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the companies I’ve chosen above. Comment below if you have feedback!

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Further reading:

https://www.digitalmarketer.com/blog/barkbox-squirrel-social-media-campaign/
https://barkpost.com/humor/open-letter-to-squirrels/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jodiecook/2020/08/17/how-gymshark-became-a-13bn-brand-and-what-we-can-learn/

COM0015: Blog Post #1, Tools and Sources

Photo by Taras Shypka on Unsplash

By the time I click ‘publish’ on this very blog post, there will have been over 4 million blog posts already written worldwide, and counting. The speed at which information is generated and shared throughout one 24-hour period is astronomical. In order to keep updated with topics that are of interest to me, whether personally or professionally, I use listening and monitoring tools.

Coming in in the number one spot is Google Alerts!

Photo via Google

I have used this tool from the beginning. Google Alerts are not overly complicated that users can modify at any time. The news is delivered straight to your inbox on a frequency schedule that is set by you. While Google Alerts is effective at sharing information that I am interested in based on keyword use, I do not find it effective at delivering information that is topic adjacent. Therefore, unless I want content with the specific word combinations that I put in my search parameters I am not going to get information as it relates to the general theme. For example, if I am looking for Ketogenic recipes and it will only provide me with recipes that use the word ‘ketogenic’ or ‘keto’, or whatever I put in my search criteria. If I find a recipe that does not specifically make mention of those keywords, but are high fat, low carb, they may not necessarily come up in my results.

Image via Feedly

My second favourite news monitoring and listening tool is Feedly.

Introduced to this earlier on in this program, I quickly started to adapt it at work. Feedly allows the user to quickly glance at a certain topic, thus providing insight into the tone or popularity of a particular topic. Users can set the search terms by topic rather than keyword and therefore you can filter through the content to exactly what it is you are looking for. I do find for the most part Feedly can give you a bit of information overload, but as long as you spend some time setting up your individual feeds and check it regularly, it can be quite beneficial. Feedly also has a “Google Keyword Alert” section where you can incorporate the one platform into the same utility so that there is less duplication.

What I prefer most about these two platforms over other monitoring tools is they are presenting the information to you based on algorithms you have set into place. They are not like Facebook or Instagram who tell you about things by showing you want you think you might want to read.

In terms of organizational interest in news updates and sources, it is important to me to have an understanding of trends and news items as they relate to Canadian science, regulations, stakeholders and partners. As a regional science communicator focused on topics in a particular location in Canada, is especially important to be aware of the pulse of issues or topics in the news. For these reasons, I rely heavily on Canadian news media outlets, particularly CBC, and CTV News.

CBC

The oldest existing broadcasting company in the country, CBC provides news in a variety of formats. It is accessible and provides region-specific news items. I also heavily enjoy their podcast, radio shows and its French-language service Radio-Canada. Not only is it available across the country, but it also provides programming in some Indigenous languages, appealing to a broad range of individuals. What I also really like on the CBC website is that it shows you the top stories currently being read online, so you can quickly scan to see what’s trending.

CTV News

Similar to CBC in its reporting style, CTV provides engaging content across all platforms, allowing me to follow along with whatever device I may be using. Like CBC, CTV News has local, regional, national and international news bureaus, meaning I can keep current with the latest taking place in my hometown, across the country or halfway around the world.

For me, it is important to find news at anytime of the day. In my professional life as a communications specialist, I need to be aware of what is going on regionally and across the country. Both CBC and CTV run on 24-hour news cycles and so I know I am always going to get the most current information available.

Thoughts

What do you find to be the most reliable for news in Canada? Would love to hear your feedback. Comment below!

Oh, and for those of you who might be wondering what number of blog posts published since the start of this post, the total is 4.8 million and counting!

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Further reading:

https://www.internetlivestats.com/

COM0014: Blog #7, Personal Reflections

Storytelling has been a way for people to connect with each other since time immemorial. For centuries, storytelling has been part of our collective history, passing on information from generation to generation. Today, digital storytelling puts the way in which we share anecdotes to first-person accounts of various experiences into the everyday channels of community. Through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, every individual has the opportunity to relay their own stories on their own terms.

The blogs and posts that I find most interesting are the ones that are raw with emotion and get to the heart of the issue by telling a personal truth. I am particularly interested in topics as they relate to mental health, chronic illness and social wellbeing. In my experience, if used appropriately, social media can be of great benefit when connecting with others, learning about new topics and keeping up with what is going on in the world, on causes that are important to me.

One of my many favourite blogs that I follow regularly is Lights Camera Crohn’s. I find it to be a good blog for a number of reasons. It is engaging, using a personal tone in its writing, allowing readers to connect to the author. It is informative and provides a visually appealing platform with good use of whitespace and pictures with captions. The author, Natalie, writes from the heart and I feel connected to the stories she weaves. The anecdotes she shares have a positive theme and leaves her readers with a sense of hope and understanding. Though the primary focus of her blog is her experience living with a chronic disease, she offers a lot of insight for people who do not know much about what it is like to live with Crohn’s Disease. She also offers up her blog space as a platform for others who also suffer, to share their stories.

Thanks to this course, the whole storyteller narrative has been brought into focus for me. I want to continue to develop this skill both in my personal and professional life. The human spirit depends upon storytelling in all of its form – from traditional to digital – and going forward we have to be able to embrace every opportunity.

Other recommended blogs:

Juggling the Jenkins

The Bucket List Family

The minimalists

Do you have a blog you’d like to share? Comment below!

COM0014 – Blog #6, Do you know my story?

We are all storytellers. Social media is a series of endless tidbits of information that may all eventually add up to the great narrative of our lives.

About five years ago, I started a personal blog, which served numerous purposes. It was a personal diary and at times, it was a place to share anecdotes of daily life with two small kids. Like that one time where I told a story about the time my 3 year old referred to a nutcracker figurine as a ‘crack head’; but that is a story for another day! The blog was also a space that operated like a therapy session of sorts, between myself and other bloggers going through similar experiences out there on the web. The blog now is unlisted, but for a time I wrote anonymously about all aspects of my life. Reflections and introspection into health, life, work and parent struggles, it was very liberating.

I had originally started it back when I was struggling with post-partum depression after the birth of my second child. I was living in an emotional hurricane, dealing with chronic pain and fatigue as well as trudging through a flare-up of Crohn’s disease. I was also a mom who was juggling the work-life balance and at many times during that season in my life, not very well. When I first started blogging, I began to see the potential for the blog to be a safe space for others to share their experiences. For me, blogging was an experience as well as a place for me to go and put things down ‘on paper’ so I didn’t have to cart them around with me, in my head, on my shoulders, heavy in my heart, all day. In addition, I hoped it to become a virtual community of sorts for others out there perhaps feeling some of the same things I was feeling.

So perhaps one day I can go back to this part of my personal narrative and become a blogging superstar. Ha! More importantly, I hope I can eventually use the blogging platform as a way to add new perspectives and meaningful conversations to topics that are not always easy to discuss. I want to add to the dialogue and continue to destigmatize conversations around mental health and mental illness in our communities.

Are there life bloggers you follow?  I would love to hear your recommendations in the comments below. One of my favourites: The Mighty – check it out!

COM0014 Blog #5: Me, Inc., personal branding

Not until this program have I really given much though to the brand that is “Me, Inc.”. Social media channels like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter only amplify the stories we want to feed others, but which one is actually our personal brand? Our friends and family see one version while our followers on our social media accounts see another. There is arguably other brands of ourselves that present themselves over Zoom with colleagues, or when we are alone, reflecting or being introspective. Some of us share all of ourselves on our social networks while others show bits and pieces. Perhaps some of us are such a miss-mash; we do not know which one is actually our brand, the brand that is ‘Me’.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Perhaps the easiest way to break down my personal brand is by cutting it into pieces of a larger pie.

Brand me at work is a science communicator. I promote federal science research on a number of important issues like forest fires and climate change. I am a government communications specialist and though I do not have an academic background in science, I take the complicated studies, findings and results and put them into plain language for Canadians to understand. My niche is science communications. Added in is my specific knowledge of the regional landscape. I work independently and though my counterparts in other areas of the country do similar work, I have an inherent awareness and media connections that are specific and unique to me. 

My colleagues would tell you that I am hardworking, dedicated and consistently dependable employee as my decade long years of service can confirm. They have also described me as a self-starter, who seeks training opportunities and extracurricular opportunities outside of work. I volunteer at the local hospital as a Patient and Family Advisor and have started a small home-based business. They will also tell you that I am easygoing, reliable and willing to help where I can. I am a professional to my core and consistently present myself as such, no matter what might be going on in my personal life. 

Comparatively, my friends and family would tell you I am self-deprecating and hard on myself. I am dedicated and loyal to my family, but do not often put my own needs above the needs of others. I am empathetic and crave solitude rather than being in the spotlight, which is consequently at odds with my personal brand at work. I suffer from chronic illness and mental health struggles and advocate for these things in all facets of my life.           

I am many things and I am not sure summit it up into one nice little package is very effective, or accurate even. Perhaps Twitter narrows the personal brand down most succinctly. In 160 characters or less, I am:

Image via: JPW Twitter

What about you? How do you decide what your personal brand is? Do you have just one?

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Further reading:

Johnson, Katryna. “The Importance of Personal Branding in Social Media …” Researchgate, International Journal of Education and Social Science.

COM0014 Blog #4: Old Navy Knows Social Media

Image via Wikipedia

It seems like every year the hoop-la around Black Friday just gets bigger and bigger. Once a largely American shopping event, the growth and ease of online shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have extended beyond the borders, opening shopping to sales almost anywhere in the world, from the comfort of your home, on your computer or mobile, and all without ever seeing another person. Old Navy understands its market and Black Friday.

Images via BlackFriday.com

Originally established out of Gap, Inc.’s desire to appeal to a more mainstream and affordable clothing company, Old Navy is known for its bright colours and reasonably priced styles for men, women, children, and most recently plus size and athletic wearers. Within four years of opening, Old Navy successfully achieved $1 billion in sales within the first four years. One of the most popular apparel brands, with locations worldwide, Old Navy now makes up 40% of Gap, Inc.’s worth.

Old Navy has effectively navigated the quickly changing environment, to expand its reach to all areas of point-of-sale opportunities – from the storefront, to the online web and mobile platforms, Old Navy understands how to best appeal to its target audience encouraging purchases through its social media channels and easy ‘click here’ marketing.  Early on in the pandemic, they also offered fabric masks for sale online at a time when the physical stores were effectively shut down; and they even matched your latest outfit!

Successful social media = clear understanding of target market

Old Navy is successful at social media outreach and marketing to its target audience. Old Navy also relies heavily on influencer marketing. Perhaps you remember Neil Patrick Harris’ holiday ads. This year, Old Navy is using RuPaul (#RuPaulidays) as the latest promoter for the brand.

Image via Twitter

Active on social media, Old Navy has over 10 million followers on Facebook, 2.4 million on Instagram, 307,000 followers on Pinterest and a further 25,000 on its Canadian Twitter, Old Navy understands its consumers. Comparatively, Old Navy’s parent company Gap, Inc. trails them on by having only 82,000 followers on Facebook, 14, 000 on Twitter but has more followers on Instagram (3.1 million) and Pinterest (350,000).

Old Navy is very active on their social media accounts, often interacting with customers and audience members in an informal way, certainly making them an approachable company. It works well for them as a business in order to appeal to the most variety of customers. An article from Ground Floor Media in 2012 stated that the retailer “drastically changed its strategy. Today its brands—Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Athleta—engage in online conversations. Customers crave this back and forth and want the story behind Gap’s products” (accessed December 3, 2020). Based on the number of interactions Old Navy has on all of its social media platforms, I would argue this strategy has not veered too far off course.

More recently, Old Navy was part of an announcement by Group Nine about a mobile shopping platform Swipe.Shop, with over 80 mobile storefronts that will be launched for the upcoming holiday season in the United states – making it even easier to for mobile users to shop online

Old Navy continually appeals to its consumer base by offering discounts at every turn. When there is not a minimum of 20% off sale at every turn, Old Navy is into its own “Old Navy Super Cash” redeemable at a specific timeframes in the future to encourage even more spending at its online or in-person locations. The integration of three brands (Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic) online increases the ease to which shoppers can browse and make purchases. Though individual sales do not last long, they have many.

Their online shopping portals also allow you to save items to your cart and like other online retailers, save your payment information for quick checkout. In store, their checkout lines offer last-minute product ideas and so do their online ordering platforms, encouraging shoppers to make last-minute additions to their purchases.

Old Navy on Social

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Further reading:

20 Things You Didn’t Know About Old Navy

https://www.business2community.com/loyalty-marketing/new-force-old-navy-four-loyalty-lessons-retail-revival-01246729

https://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history/Oe-Pa/Old-Navy-Inc.html

https://www.groupninemedia.com/press/group-nine-launches-its-largest-shopping-solution-swipeshop-with-over-80-mobile-storefronts

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/workplace-talent/at-old-navy-optimising-for-positive-impact

COM0014: Blog #3 Target Audiences – When a pandemic launches an Etsy store

In 2016, my sister and I opened a small crafting business, Birch & Berry Market as a creative outlet. Originally, we started it as a way to fill in some of the local gaps in the baby and nursery décor industry.

Initially launching on Facebook, we knew immediately we wanted our target audience to be young moms of the middle-class income groups who had the discretionary funds to buy our items. We also wanted to target those who had an appreciation for shopping local and supporting small business.

Ninety-six percent of our Facebook fans are women, with 75% of those women being between the ages of 25 to 44. We also use Instagram, with the primary goal of increasing our promotional reach. Instagram is a visual medium and allows us to not only highlight unique aspects of our products but also find like-minded business-owners and new customers. We often feature new fabrics or products in our stories, create polls and have a bit more fun with our posts than on Facebook.

The pandemic shifts business

When the pandemic hit this year, our business had to shift its focus to keep up with the local shortage of personal protective equipment. In August 2020, we expanded our offerings to include custom fabric masks and personalized lanyards (aimed at children going back to the classroom) and launched an online Etsy shop attracting sales internationally.

Once we started selling masks, our target audience shifted slightly to include older women who would normally purchase from craft shows. The shift to virtual craft shows has encouraged more online shopping. In psychographic terms, those who purchase our fabric masks are also politically liberal individuals who support the health and government policies that surround the use of personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

Facebook insights as well as Etsy both provide market statistics, which support that the majority of those buying from us, either through social media or on Etsy, identify as female.

Between the ages of 18-35, Etsy customers make up a large number of Millennials, with outliers of older generations who love to buy their crafts from the online creative community. Of those Millennials, many Etsy customers are female.

Source: Capital Current, ‘Virtual Craft Market’ highlights how artisans have adapted to COVID times, 2020

Online Campaign for the Target Audience

In the lead up to Remembrance Day, Birch & Berry Market set up a social media campaign with paid ads in order to target a specific demographic – women and men in all income groups who were likely to show their support for veterans by purchasing a poppy mask.

We targeted the older end of our target market and the age group just outside of it specifically because 50% of sales for this campaign was going to support the Royal Canadian Legion. This campaign was our most successful one so far for our primary target audience, having a reach of over 5,000 through Facebook alone. It will be interesting to see if the momentum continues with this new group of shoppers and our product line.

For any small business, understanding your target audience is one of the best ways to not only increase sales but also cultivate a more specific and accurate brand awareness of your product. 

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Do you know of any other small businesses that have made adjustments during the pandemic? Would love your feedback below!