COM0015: Unexpected Social Media: Ways that social has evolved


Blog post 4

Jordan Danger Kent


courtesy of Hubspot

courtesy of Hubspot

Unexpected Social Media: Ways that social has evolved

Social media is ever-changing as people find new ways to bend the rules and push the boundaries of their experience. A few examples stick out for me as particularly interesting:


Viral hashtags is an interesting phenomenon, especially as—on Twitter, where they originated—they were an accidental bit of code. Hashtags were not carefully programmed into Twitter, but were truly a surprise to both users and developers alike.

Viral hashtags happen anytime, anywhere. What’s interesting about them is that there are many brands who will get on board and participate. This shows a shift in the marketing paradigm: ad campaigns were once carefully considered before anything would ever be released to the public. Nowadays, social media managers have a certain amount of freedom to think on their feet and find clever ways to jump into these thematic discussions.


Tying in nicely with hashtags is the phenomenon of realtime advertising. When the blackout occurred at SuperBowl XLVII, many brands were successful in quickly posting meme-style shareable images on social media channels to show their humorous side relating to the mini-crisis. What many people do not realize is that this realtime advertising has become part of many company’s strategic plan; for instance, Oreo’s timely and funny blackout ad was actually prepared well in advance. Oreo had a team in a ‘war room’ who had pre-made promotional material for every possible SuperBowl surprise and crisis. Gone are the days of planning print ads 8 months ahead of publication; marketing moves at the speed of people now.


Unexpectedly and almost counterintuitively, social media has allowed some high-profile company owners to actually separate themselves from their brands. It was originally thought that social media would make every business owner synonymous with their brand, and that any social media channel an executive used would be mentally tied back to their business. However, we’ve seen many famous business owners manage to define themselves independently of their companies. Donald Trump and Sir Richard Branson are great examples: these eccentric and often offensive men have managed to develop their own online voices that, despite some very contentious or offensive comments and opinions, have almost no effect on the value or sanctity of their company’s brand. Compare that to traditional media, where any comment shared by a reporter was immediately seen as representative of the executive’s company itself, and you can see the shift here.

Social media continues to surprise us daily, and I’m curious to see what happens next.

COM0015: My networking preferences and best tips

Networking is a difficult task; it requires a great deal of creativity, time, and coordination. I find that networking in the usual sense is not something I practice much. I’m not an extrovert, and I’m never comfortable in a typical ‘networking event’.

credit: hubspot

credit: hubspot

I have done some of my best networking just by being genuinely interested in the business owners around me. In my spare time I love to attend trade shows and artisan expositions; I find these to be a great place to connect with business owners (my business’ clientele) and chat with them about what they do, and how their industries are currently functioning.

I then take a lot of these personal connections and build permanent ties via social media. For instance, I met Madison, maker of Mad Faux Cheese, at a food show last year. Since then I have become a regular customer, but I have also stayed in touch via Instagram and Facebook. I share ideas and leads on upcoming shows with her, and I ask her for industry-related advice in return.

I have also used social media in the reverse order: I become a follower and converser with various businesses online, then follow them to their upcoming trade shows. This use of social media provides a very easy and natural way to introduce myself in person.

My blog also works as a great networking tool. By featuring some local businesses and products on my site, I gain new allies in those business owners, and they in turn help me connect with more businesses they know.

My networking in this day and age would be incomplete without social media. The ability to stay in touch, ‘piggy back’ on other people’s networks, and converse regularly about even the simplest things, makes for lasting, personal connections and networks.

In the next 12 months I will be striving to strengthen these connections and finally go through the arduous process of optimizing my social media networks’ newsfeeds to prioritize these contacts. I have already done this on twitter, creating numerous lists divided by industry and current connection type (client, potential, etc).

COM0015 Ass1Post2: Strong and Weak Organizations on Social Media

SEPT 8 2014

Strong and Weak Organizations

A Strong Social Brand

One of my favourite online presences in the business world is Starbucks.

Those who have followed the brand since its inception know that Starbucks actually has very hippy, people-friendly values. Their employees receive full benefits even at part time (a bigger deal for US employees, obviously) and their fairly-traded coffee program beats the social benefits of the official Certified Fair Trade label hands-down. (Starbucks works on a merits system with supplying farmers; in exchange for their compliance with social and environmental standards, the company does amazing things like building women’s clinics in these under-developed villages.)

But how has Starbucks embraced the social media world of community engagement? Pretty effectively, actually. My Starbucks Idea, for example, has been running since well before Twitter was on everyone’s phone. The site is a place for “Sbux” consumers to share ideas about new products, better packaging, or other concerns. It is from this site that the mysterious ‘siren stick’ was born: the green plastic mermaid-topped stir stick available at the coffee bar, meant to plug up your coffee’s top while you’re walking or driving.

The genius of this site is multi-faceted:
-It gets customers engaging with the brand on a regular basis,
-It gets customers returning again and again to their site to see if their idea is popular,
-It gets customers engaging with each other,
-It was likely one of the first unofficial ‘crowdsourcing’ sites out there,
-It has resulted in hundreds of legitimately good ideas, and Starbucks has actually implemented tons of them.

Customers feel heard, Starbucks gets ‘free’ focus groups, and there’s ongoing engagement.

Sources say that Starbucks’ twitter feed is an engaging and worthwhile channel, as well.

A key component to being effective in the social media game is to make your brand synonymous with user-friendly tech. In this way, Starbucks has provided free iTunes songs for many years now. Visit any Starbucks and you can pick up a little card to take home a new song. What a great way for a place to say, “Come in, enjoy your tunes, and take a little taste of the Starbucks atmosphere home with you!” Bridging the gap between your store and your consumer’s home is one of the great powers of online media; this was a genius way for them to meld home and café into one.

A Weak Online Brand:

Postcards mailed out by the club

My most frustrating experience with an online brand lately has been with a group called the Ottawa Lapsmith & Mineral Club. This group is technically not a business, but it does represent the public face of a large array of businesses dealing in minerals and gemstones. Once a year, the club holds a major show and sale at the Nepean Sportsplex; it runs for two days and attracts huge crowds. It is a great place to get a wide variety of jewellery-quality stones, interesting geological samples, beads, jewellery, and more.

I have been attending the Ottawa Rock & Mineral Show for the past 17 years. In all this, this is the first year that the club has posted the event on Facebook. Even then, they have not set up their page to be easily searched; I could only find it via their website.

Their website is rudimentary at best, with text running the full length of the screen and very small photographs on one side. For years the club has used traditionally mailed postcards to notify previous attendees of the next show.

I found a recent addition of a facebook page for the club. It has a respectable number of followers (500+) but truly, in comparison to the thousands of people who have attended every year and who have made the show successful for so very long, this number is quite small.

To increase their reach and engagement, I’d suggest that the club begin spotlighting members with interesting stories and descriptions of their work. Currently the club uses Facebook primarily to share photos of various lapidary equipment pieces, and sometimes some gems. Featuring the businesses that make up the club would be more engaging, as well as easy and fun content.

I would also suggest that the club share more links from outside sources, eg stories on jewellery maintenance, great geological tourist attractions, and tips for the amateur lapsmith.

This may also be a group that would do well with a Pinterest board, shared between all its members. Club members could share images, links, and videos relating to the world of geology. It could become a very lively board.

The Lapsmith club has a long way to go before they manage to really engage the public. They’ve survived a long time by holding onto their ‘birds of a feather’ audience, who will show up regardless of the poor advertising; to expand the show into something really powerful, outreach efforts need to be made so that more ‘regular joes’ discover the show and come to love it, too.

COM0015 Ass 1 Post 1: My favourites

by Jordan Danger Kent






My favourite tool for listening and monitoring is Hootsuite for Twitter. I find it easy to use, highly customizable, and it offers a lot of neat options. I like to have running twitter searches happening on Hootsuite, not just for hashtags, but for certain phrases or keywords. For a recent twitter outreach campaign I was running for a client whose focus is on body image, I searched the phrase “I hate my” and added words like “thighs”, “nose”, etc to pinpoint my search. I then had the client’s corporate account respond to tweets like this with body-positive encouragements.


My second favourite tool for listening and monitoring would be Google Alerts. I have several alerts running daily. They provide me with updates on topics relating to my clients’ fields, as well as providing me with lots of shareable content on these topics.




For news and updates, my favourite place to start is Facebook. I follow a lot of businesses and keep tabs on them this way. I do wish that the newsfeed wasn’t so heavily subjected to monitization by Facebook, but it’s still a good place for me to start my day. I find out about what businesses are running campaigns, sharing stories, doing damage control after an incident, and other news.


While it doesn’t relate that often to my daily work, my next favourite place to get news is I F*cking Love Science. IFLS is a great site because they work hard to share only legitimate scientific stories, and often post articles debunking recent scientific nonsense that has been circulating on the web. Their other big strength is that they don’t use ‘hook’ headlines, like, “This baby duck is about to be eaten by a wolverine. What happens next will blow your mind!” It’s also pretty excellent that the person who started IFLS is a woman.


Over time, I’ve lost interest in some sites that I used to love. Upworthy was a fun site to visit when I was looking for an uplifting story, but these days they use so much headline bait that I just can’t be bothered to read their posts. I’m not the only person I know who has begun boycotting clickbait headlines and sites with slideshows where you have to click through the entire set of photos, adding to their click rate.