COM0015 Blog #5: Event Participation

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in some Google Analytics professional development with several of my colleagues at our campus in Pembroke. Chris McFarlane, the Google Analytics guru from our Ottawa Campus of Algonquin College, made the long trek down the 417 Highway to give us an overview of the features and capabilities of Google Analytics.

Chris McFarlane gives Pembroke staff some Google Analytics training

Chris McFarlane gives Pembroke staff some Google Analytics training.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this tool, Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales. It’s the most widely used website statistics service. Google Analytics can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines and social networks, direct visits and referring sites. It also tracks display advertising, pay-per-click networks, email marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents.

We were all very excited about this PD session because we have been making strategic changes to our website recently. With the help of Google Analytics we can track the effectiveness of any changes and reported on.

Source: Google Analytics website

Source: Google Analytics website

Though I knew all the participants in the PD session, it was an opportunity to get to know the facilitator a little better. As you can see from the photo above, our group was small. This allowed us to drive the conversation and exploration to suit our needs specifically – creating custom reports and exploring metrics relevant to us.

I am not shy when it comes to asking questions – I like to get the most out of my professional development opportunities as possible. We all asked a number of questions and contributed to the discussion in let’s say an ‘animated’ way…we get excited about new tools! Chris was very patient and fielded our questions like a pro.

Google Analytics - Pembroke Campus Dashboard screenshot

Google Analytics – Pembroke Campus Dashboard screenshot

During the session, I quickly realized that some additional PD would be beneficial. Google Analytics offers some great free courses and I plan to explore these further in the New Year. As Chris said “this is a powerful tool that takes time and energy to become comfortable with it.”

I wouldn’t think twice about attending a similar event down the road and hope that such an opportunity presents itself again soon.

If you haven’t had the chance to explore Google Analytics, I highly recommend you take the time to check it out!

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COM0015 Blog #4: Thinking Outside the Ƀɸ͏͏͏Ж

Only a few years ago, Twitter and Facebook campaigns might have been the most innovative and cutting edge way to communicate with your target audience, but now things have changed. There is a noticeable trend of consumers taking interest in brands who use new, sometimes unconventional social media platforms to get their message across.

Source: imgkid.com

Source: imgkid.com

Here are a few brands that are absolutely killing it by thinking outside the box and some up-and-coming features that we see a lot of value in!

  • VINE + OREO: Vine is where video sharing is really thriving right now – every second at least five tweets published contain a Vine link (source: Unruly). It’s an extremely effective app in reaching consumers as well as entertaining them.

Oreo, specifically is doing some awesome stuff on Vine. Their frequent Vine content revolves mostly around clever #OreoSnackHacks and #OreoMagic videos. I’m also a big fan of their most recent video featuring the “Dunk Perfect Machine”!

Dunk Perfect Machine

Source: Oreo’s Vine Site

  • SNAPCHAT + GEOFILTERS: While many of us might have thought/hoped Snapchat was simply a fad, it’s clear now that is app has become a huge game changer for social media. Disappearing messaging is an emerging trend that is catching on like wildfire.

Snapchat recently launched Geofilters in Los Angeles and New York, but have yet to make their way to Canada (maybe soon!). This feature is relatively new but offers a lot from businesses. Geofilters allow you to add special filters for the location you are in. This will open up a lot of opportunities for brands to showcase their location on consumers’ snaps. For example, when you’re sending a snap from a place like Disneyland or perhaps a college you’ll be able to swipe right and add a Geofilter to your photo.

Source: Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

Thinking outside of the box is an important way to stand out amongst all of the noise. Creating intriguingly different content captures the attention of your audience and can help get your message across in a new and exciting way, hopefully resulting in more people than ever actively engaging with your brand!

COM0015 Blog #3: Networking – I do it my way!

Networking has taken on a whole new meaning in the Internet age. Keeping up with the competition demands cultivating contacts at warp speed, and that means working your shtick online.

Online – LinkedIn

I believe it is important to focus on your first- and second-degree connections. First-degree connections are contacts that have already accepted your invitation to join your network, or vice versa, and second-degree connections are contacts known to your first-degree connection. Third-degree connections require more than one introduction and can be difficult to reach, as you may not have a mutual acquaintance.

When I ask someone in my network for an introduction, I try to make it easy for my first-degree contact by mentioning how I’d like to be introduced and the reasons I need help. I even go so far as to write out the introduction and forward it to my connection. Networking works best when both parties can offer the other something useful, so I always make sure that I am reciprocate.

Groups are one way to contact second- and third-degree LinkedIn members directly. But don’t join a group and start contacting individual members without making an earnest attempt to participate in community dialogue, be genuine.

Face-to-Face

I believe it is important to focus on quality over quantity, as well as working toward having a well-rounded network. There are a couple key people to have as part of your network, including:

  • A Mentor: A person who has reached the level of success you aspire to have. You can learn from their success as well as their mistakes. Heed their wisdom and experience. This relationship offers a unique perspective because they have known you through several peaks and valleys in your life and watched you evolve.
  • A Coach: Someone who comes in at different times in your life and help with critical decisions and transitions and offer an objective perspective, similar to a sounding-board.
  • An Industry Insider: Someone in your chosen field who has expert-level information or access to it. This person will keep you informed of what’s happening now and what the next big thing is.

Building a deep network by only including people from your current profession leaves too many stones unturned, limiting potential opportunities.

Have you used some of these strategies in your personal networking plan?

COM0015 Blog #2: The Strong vs. The Weak?

If there’s something you want to know, odds are there’s a TED talk about the subject matter. TED talks span a wide range of subjects and feature a variety of expert speakers. No wonder its Twitter account has more than 3.5 million followers.

ted

For something to succeed online, it doesn’t need to just be good, someone has to want to share it, according to June Cohen, Executive Producer of TED Media. Boy do people want to share all things TED! This concept has evoluted from a single conference into a global media platform as a result of social media.

TED encouraged sharing

There are 1900+ TED Talks now online that have been viewed collectively more than 900,000,000 times.

Cohen explained that the increasing widespread use of social media naturally played a part in this process, but more importantly using the tools of the web in the best possible way to increase the sharability of content.

“Online users are exquisitely vulnerable to distraction” said Cohen.

With a rise in mobile, TED embraced the trends of their community and purposely designed their online talks to be optimized for small screen, cut long intros and started the videos strong.

TED also made sure videos are framed close to the speaker’s face. So on a mobile phone, viewers can see the emotion of what is being communicated.

Ted_Talk

And TED videos can be watched through many devices, embedded, downloaded as free podcast, etc. By embracing open (free) models they aim to reduce the barriers between the ideas and their intended audience.

A “brand” that could use a little mentoring from TED is Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby posted a photo of himself on Twitter earlier in November inviting the Internet to meme him. The entire thing was eventually deleted when fans used the web tool to highlight past accusations against Cosby.

Bill Cosby

#CosbyMeme quickly devolved into a conversation about rape and rape culture, never quite achieving the cute, wholesome captions Cosby’s marketers were likely expecting with that tip-of-the-hat photo. How they didn’t see this possible epic failure is beyond me.

This seemed like an adhoc idea and a proper S.W.O.T. analysis was not carried out. With all the negative attention (please be advised that this is a sensitive topic and offensive language is used in this video) that Mr. Cosby has been getting lately it is hard to believe this campaign was initiated. Everyone knows that it’s not just your fans that follow you on social media.

Good, bad and ugly…it’s all on social media.

Please share your thoughts on this post.

COM0015 Blog #1: Is Anyone Listening?

I personally don’t ‘do’ social media in my personal life, however on the business side of things, I simply love it. Social Media has taken on a huge role in how businesses market their brand. Sure, you’re on Facebook. Twitter, too. Maybe you have a blog. You put a lot a lot of work into keeping them fresh and updated with pertinent, interesting posts. But aside from the few comments you get now and again, how do you know if anyone is listening to what you have to say?

Listen Vs. Ignore - Toggle Switch

You think hard about your social media strategy, posting interesting links relevant to your mission, working to expand your network and engage your audience and create a solid, online reputation for your organization. You want to monitor your efforts and measure your results. Knowing whether your efforts are paying off can help you adapt your posting strategy to better meet your goals.

Top 3 Listening/Monitoring Tools
  1. Hootsuite: I primarily use this tool for it’s tweet scheduling ability and to monitor brand related mentions. Hootsuite allows you to track mentions for several different keywords such as your company, brand name, product or service, industry, the competition or a particular market term. This will give you a complete picture of the social conversations that matter most. hootsuite-2200x800
  2. Another simple but useful tool, Google Alerts will email you online mentions of keywords—for example, your organization’s name. Set as many alerts as you want to clue you in to mentions on blogs, websites, other people or organizations’ Facebook pages or Twitter accounts, or in the media.google-alerts1
  3. Radian6: This is my wishlist, soon to be reality as I was recently told that I may have access to this costly tool! Radian6 was recently acquired by Salesforce, which we also use at my work, and offers clean dashboards and real-time charts make it easy to see the most common words associated with your brand, monitor the highs and lows of social mentions, ascertain sentiment, export data, and allocate workflow. Though I am not yet familiar with the ins and outs of this tools, I look forward to getting my hands dirty soon. salesforce_radian6_logo
Social media listening tools can be your most useful set of eyes and ears on the web, providing insights you could never have gathered on your own. What are you using to listen and monitor that you feel everyone should know about?

COM0014 Post #7 – Have I learned to be a better storyteller?

The answer is yes. I have become a better storyteller and I have this course to thank.

Storytelling

Source: Rosenfeld Media Flickr

I have learned the digital storytelling is the process of oral storytelling with multi-media elements. Digital storytelling helps to create and build communities, to learn to communicate effectively and to help those reflect on their pasts.

But the question you must continue to ask yourself is, is your content strategy guided by audience intent or simply your intent? When it comes to content strategy your purpose should be to target your audience effectively with the intention that your audience should benefit from your story. The old-school content strategies are always around keywords, but what about audience  intent? There’s a lot of focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) around optimized landing pages (as there should be). Content, on the other hand, is more than just optimized website pages. Content is a means of communicating and building a relationship with an audience.  So, you should understand the audience intent. What would they consider useful? What would they consider interesting or engaging? What would they consider shareable? A great piece of content requires all of the things.

Source: Stories from the storytelling dog meme

Source: Stories from the storytelling dog meme

I know that there is a variety of stories that I want to tell, even shout from the digital mountain. I know that moving forward, I will continue to tell the story of our Waterfront Campus of Algonquin College including, our successes, our amazing and enthusiastic student body, and our lesser know stories – the diamonds in the rough so to speak. I hope that my passion for the college is seen as genuine and authentic – that I am engaging enough to cultivate an online audience.

What have your learned about digital storytelling? I want to know!

COM0014 Post #6 – My Greatest Fear

I don’t like to think about my fears let alone my greatest fear. But there are times when you must confront your greatest fears and that time is now. I fear that one day the budget will overpower customer service at Algonquin College, more specifically Algonquin College, Pembroke Campus, where I have the privileged of working.

Fear

I love the fact that I get to work at a small campus where we have the opportunity to have personal and meaningful relationships with our students. In my current position, I get to have all these personal touch points in a given year:

  • Help future students learn more about the fantastic programs we offer.
  • Council students at a very sensitive time, when they are  mapping out their financial plan and when they are in a budgeting crisis even.
  • Be their cheerleader when they are working on an exciting project or community activity.
  • Usher graduates  to their futures when they cross the convocation stage.
  • Keep in touch with alumnus and share they successes.

So Happy

That right folks – I get to do all these things and I love it. So, back to my greatest fear. I fear that at some point in my career with the Pembroke Campus, that I won’t be able to commit the time necessary to culture and foster these relationship formed under the guise of customer service. Time is money and with less and less provincial funding I fear that creative budgeting will mean that customer service will not longer be a priority.

My fear is managed by the fact that my colleagues, our managers and our dean hold customer service as priority number one on campus and this is another reason why I love working at the Pembroke Campus of Algonquin College. Rather than oppressing my fear I live by the words of Chuck Palahnuik, ” Find out what you’re afraid of and go live there.”

What is your greatest fear and how do you deal with it?

COM0014 Post #5 – Work in Progress

I consider myself to be a reflective person but when it comes to self-reflection I can fall a little short. Defining your personal brand is a huge job! It is a statement that should be powerful, clear, a positive idea that comes to mind whenever other people think of you.

So, what do I do when I don’t know where to start, how to answer a question, or what questions to ask? I turn to those who know my brand best – my colleagues! I made a list of my strongest professional traits and skills and asked my co-workers to circle one trait from each group that describes me best:

Jodi - Personal Brand

To my relief, how I project myself in my professional life is how others perceive me. I preface this statement because let’s be honest, I am not always a team-player and sometimes I can be a real curmudgeon.

Now for the big questions:

  1. Who am I? I am a former farm girl who has always liked school and the arts. I had a hard time defining what my passion is. What am I passionate about? It took me a number of years to realize that my passion was right there under my nose – post-secondary education. I took my creativity, reliability, work ethic, fun spirit, loyalty and education, mashed them together and made myself a home in a variety of post-secondary educational institutes across Canada, including most recently Algonquin College in Pembroke.
  2. What makes me different? Over the years I have come to the realization that I may very well be an old woman trapped in the body of a much younger woman – wise beyond my years…maybe. More likely is the fact that I don’t think the same way as the average person my age, I don’t do the same activities as someone my age and my lifestyle choices aren’t the norm either.  I take pride in this fact. I was raised to understand that I can be whoever I want to be – thanks Mom and Dad!

To sum it all up – I am still defining my personal brand and enjoying the journey!

p.s. Found this little gem the other day – enjoy!

Jodi_Bucholtz

COM0014 Blog #4: Who’s Up For A Tasti Case Study?

 

Tennessee based frozen yogurt company Tasti D-Lite has been in business since 1987.  In 2011, the frozen yogurt company decided to take social innovation to a whole new level.

Tasti decided to take the road less travelled and not be cautious, not wait out the initial rush to “go social” in order to see which networks and social media techniques survive the test of time.  The Tasti D Lite Way (@tastidlite) argued that brands no longer have this luxury.  “Social is no longer the future of consumerism; it is the present state of consumerism.”

In addition to a blog and social networks, the company created a loyalty program that linked to customers’ social profiles.  Tasti D-Lite retooled their point-of-sale systems at more than 60 franchise locations in the US and around the world to be able to track loyalty and social media activity. Not only did customers receive loyalty points, but with a swipe of the card in-store customers created an immediate check-in either by Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (remember – this was big at the time), YouTube, and Foursquare. Brilliant – right!

get-happy-get-tasti-d-lite

(Source: @tastidlite)

This has allowed fans of Tasti D-Lite to have a way to engage with their favorite frozen dessert company in a way that means something. This, at the time, daring tactic paid off in a big way for this industrious company. Not only are companies trying to mimic this social media way of business life, but there’s also a book written by James Amos and BJ Emerson on Tasti D-Lite’s social media journey, The Tasti D Lite Way: Social Media Marketing Lessons for Building Loyalty and a Brand Customers Crave.

(Source: @tastidlite)

(Source: @tastidlite)

Does this engagement tactic tickle your taste buds or left a sour taste in your mouth? Share your thoughts.

Sources: http://www.werkshopbranding.com/1405/b2c-case-study-tasti-d-lite/

http://www.bluefocusmarketing.com/2012/10/04/tasti-d-lite-the-flavor-of-social-branding/

COM0014 Blog #3: Know Who You Are Talking To

When we talk to someone face-to-face, we know just who we are talking to. We automatically adjust our speech to be sure we are communicating our message. Many writers don’t make those same adjustments when they write to different audiences, usually because they don’t take the time to think about who will be reading what they write. To be sure that we communicate clearly in writing, we need to adjust our message–how we say our message and what information we include – by recognizing that different readers can best understand different messages.

At Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley, overall we have a diverse audience or student body, including a somewhat broad range in cultures, genders, income levels, education levels and lifestyles. The best way to approach your communication method is to break it down to your program audience.

Program Audience Case Study

Ex. #1 – Bachelor of Science in Nursing – we know that the audience is:

  • predominantly female
  • more cultural diversity
  • most students are under 25
  • majority not residents of Renfrew County
  • come from a house hold with a mid-high level income

Ex. #2 – Motive Power Technician – we know that the audience is:

  • predominantly male
  • very little cultural diversity
  • ages range from 17 – 35
  • most from Renfrew County
  • lower educational level
  • low-mid income families

As we know the demographics and psychographics for each program audience we can effectively communicate with these groups by customizing the message and delivery of that message to our targeted audiences.

I believe we do an effective job communicating with our student audience but there is always room for improvement, which is why we have started to hold more student focus group – as we all know, who knows our audience better than our audience.

Have you had the chance to experience post-secondary communication strategies and methods? In your opinion, what worked and what didn’t?

Resources: http://infographiclist.com/tag/audience/