COM 0011 – Blog 6 – How Has Christmas Changed With Social Media?

It’s this time of the year again, and maybe I’m just more into it because my 18-month old will actually be marveling at it this year, but yes, I’m excited with my plans for the next few weeks!

This got me thinking about how social media have changed Christmas… I can think of a LOT of different elements, but thought I’d just list a few here.

Social media has changed the way we decorate:11ac387142907fb2cad7e7e5faf8c74b

With networks such as Pinterest, we can get crazy DIY ideas to decorate not only the living room, but also the table, the exterior, etc. Pinterest makes you want to learn how to craft and shine during the holidays (well, all year, really).


Social media has changed the way we share holiday wishes:

I remember, as a child, waiting eargerly for those Christmas  cards we received from friends and family. Then, as I grew older, those Christmas cards became fewer and fewer… and then emails became popular and those e-cards just kept coming! And now with Facebook and Twitter (and most likely all the other networks, but I just don’t use them), we’re receiving even more well wishes, no matter where we are in the world or when Christmas starts for us. Social media has given another dimension to Christmas wishes. It’s a different expectation, but it’s just as fun!

Social media has changed the way we give presents:

Whether it’s finding DIY ideas of Pinterest, Etsy and the like or making our wish list and sharing it online, social media has made it easier. The Web is full of DIY gift ideas, but Pinterest has concentrated ideas in one easy spot. There’s a lot of gift exchange platforms online as well. We don’t need to meet to pick names out of a hat anymore! Haha! So many sites let you share on networks (Hootsuite, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) your favourite presents for all your friends to see.

I think these three points show that social media DOchristmas-tree-wallpapers-christmas-backgrounds-30233 have a social component. They’re opening us to the joys of the holidays and getting us excited… Are you excited about the holidays? What are you using to get ready? What do you like or dislike about social media and the holidays?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! J

COM 0011 – Blog 5 – #elxn42 or How Social Media Can Change the Political World

So, I have a limited presence on social media, by choice (I use them enough on the job and take a step back in my personal life), but I did follow some of the latest elections (#elxn42). That hashtag was everywhere, so you couldn’t ignore it, and given it was the longest campaign in Canada’s history, I figured I had some things to learn!

elxn42I decided to dig up some data with the help of colleagues and the data make you wonder if elections are won with social media nowadays… what do you think?

Disclaimer: this is in no way a political post, just a gathering of social media stats and tactics.

The Huffington Post’s article Canada’s First Digital Election Will Change How Campaigns Court Votes sumed the change between 2011 and 2015 pretty well : ˝In the four years since Canada’s last federal election, digital marketing has gone from the awkward teen at the table, to a full and equal member of the board˝. It’s actually a pretty interesting article as a whole and it was written during the campaign so it’s interesting to see how it really turned out!

There were four times more tweets in 2015 than in 2011. Mentions of #elxn41 during the campaign was about 715,000 and 96,000 on Election Day. Mentions of #elxn42 during the campaign was over 3,400,000 and on Elections day was over 470,000.

The Liberal party was on more social media networks than the Conservative Party and the NDP together. PM Trudeau was on nine different networks, compared to four each for Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair.

Social media tactics included the more obvious and erm… quasi-traditional… ads, as well as Facebook Q&As, but even plaforms were launched live on Facebook.

Then, I saw that some parties engaged into Ask Me Anything events on Reddit… That, I find more risky but also more rewarding, I think. When you can’t hide anywhere and you commit to answering ANY question, I think it can get very tricky. That being said, if you can pull that off, you’re most likely earning votes!  If not, then it can break a candidate’s campaign and election!

I also did some research on  It looks like even the petitions became a social media tool. Party leaders replied to the petitions during the campaign (for example, the Canada Post door to door delivery).

I don’t think the 2015 elections were ruled by social media, but it definitely became a lot more prominent. I think all parties had good return on investment, which makes it worth their while. I think compared to the United States we still have time to grow, but we’re making leaps and bounds. Our mindset is changing as we’re better social media users. Who knows what 2019 elections will be like?

Source of the picture: Social Media Lab, 

COM 0011 – Blog 4 – Communications before and after social media

It’s a sad thing to say, but even I find it difficult to remember what we were doing to communicate before social media became what they are today… So I thought I’d try to remember and put my thoughts in a blog…


You went to your doctor’s appointment and called your mom right after to tell her she’d be a grandma!

You sent wedding invitations through regular mail (we even call it snail mail now!) months in advance and waited for the paper replies or for a bunch of phone calls.

Your kids invited your friends to their birthday party by giving out invitations at school.

At work, you gave a call to your HR department to sort an employee’s situation.

You set up meetings with your team on a regular basis.

You organized a teleconference with your international partners at a mutually convenient time (which sometimes meant about 6 a.m.!)


You post your first ultrasound picture to your Facebook and tag all your friends and family members to announce you’re pregnant!

You send an eVite to your resort wedding and create a virtual photo album when you come back. (ok, maybe you’ll still call grandma!)

Your kids create their own Facebook birthday event.

At work, you email the HR department, CC’ing your boss and the concerned employee, which starts a series of emails.

You set up virtual team meetings, exchange emails, PIN and text colleagues.

You organize a Google Hangout conference with your international partners on LinkedIn, and those who can’t be there on time can join after the fact and post their comments.

My conclusions

I’m not sure what was best : before or now. I think it’s a matter of how comfortable you are with laying your life online, with technologies, with the numerous social media networks, with being genuine…

Just a few years ago, I was teaching my beginner English students that human communications were about 70 % physical and emotional and only about 10 % about the words you use. I think this explains very well what we’re losing with the current social media networks. It’s getting easier to stay in touch, but we’ve often lost the actual ˝touch˝.

It’s easier to stay in touch with people around the world. We can see pictures of our friends’ new babies, weddings, travels, etc.  However, it’s difficult to detect emotions on social media or even on text messages. Who hasn’t been misunderstood in a text, a chat or even on a Facebook or Twitter comment?

It’s also easier to hide behind words on social media than in person or over the phone. However, those words have the same power online than if they had been said in person (for example, Lougheed Imports Ltd. v. United Food… ).

On the other hand, in a government environment, social media has for me a HUGE impact regular, old-fashioned media : easy measurements. Most social media offer some kind of tracking, counter, etc. With government reporting processes, these data are essential.

Social technologies have broken the barriers of space and time, but it has spawned a set of new barriers and threats. Are we now focusing more on quantity rather than quality? Are we abandoning authenticity? Despite their name SOCIAL media can make us highly UN-social.

COM 0011 – Branding a new service organization using social media

I work for a dynamic organization where things are changing rapidly. Just a few months ago, we’ve merged with a new service and ended up creating a brand-new service to the federal government.

Now, everything has to be done for that new service: from creating a brand to dealing with media, to creating a social media interest and I have to admit it’s a little overwhelming at times.

There’s so many things to do and so many steps to follow, but I found this blog which was really helpful, I think. We’re still currently strategizing and have been doing so for a while. I believe this is an ongoing process.

We’re also bound to a set of policies and statements that were clearly established which I would compare to briefs.

We’ve done research in the format of consultations with partners, employees and supervisors, as well as more academic researches on social media, marketing, communications, etc.

The research previously mentioned also serves as our gauge of our audience.

I can’t say we have much competition as the service is unique, but if I could, I would have used the research we’ve done with our audience.

Now point 6 (Don’t Rely on the Logo) is quite funny as we’ve been told the opposite by all three groups during our strategic consultations, despite us (communications and strategic experts) telling them the logo was not everything… So, I’m wondering, how are we supposed, as communications experts, to convince our clients a logo isn’t everything? I’ve been in communications for over five years and it’s not the first time I am confronted with this issue. I’ve always managed to distract previous clients from their ˝need for a logo˝, but this time, maybe because they’re new, nothing seems to work…

On the other hand, my colleague on the file also raised an important point on which the participants (finally!) agreed: the brand goes beyond any communication products and should include all aspects of the service we provide, e.g. the attitude of our employees towards their clients and the value they add to the government.

I kind of laughed at point 7 and the en vogue visuals: even if I wanted to bring those to our clients, it’s government we’re talking here… we’re not known for moving fast! J

Restraint is more what I’m used to do and, with the creation of our logo (yes, we do have one as of this week!), we’ve actually managed to create a very good efficient identifier (simple lines, simple element, easy to remember and see).

That last point, Spot what’s Special, is key to any communications strategy, and in my opinion is the most important thing to remember. If you can spot the unique elements and highlight them, you’re half way there to create an awesome brand… J

COM 0011 – Blog 2 – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Social Media

Since my organization is interested in diversifying its use of social media, I’m currently exploring the types of information or campaign that are successful on social media, but also the not-so-successful ones.


Digital fundraising has greatly benefitted from social media. It gathers people together for a good cause in record time. I found this article very interesting. I would have thought that Twitter would have been the most efficient social media platform but realised there’s plenty of other ways to “go viral ”. I have no chance to set a fundraising for work, but I am fascinated by the Swear Jar campaign on Twitter and the Movember campaign effects around the world and on more than one platform.

Another aspect where social media have proven useful are emergency or major event situations such as Amber Alerts (see my previous post), demonstrations that get out of control (identifying hot spots, redirecting traffic) , traffic accidents (e.g. Ottawa Traffic on Twitter) or the unfortunate shootings, such as the one in Moncton un 2014 or the one on Parliament Hill about a year ago…

To illustrate this last case, I read a lot of articles, but the one I really liked for its visuals is the CBC’s A Day in Social media – Ottawa Shooting ( . I was on maternity leave when the incident happened, but followed the developments on social media and TV and I experienced first-hand how much faster the information was passed on through social media. The article shows very well how fast the tweets  were spread around town. It’s pretty impressive to see how parliamentarians used social as well to reassure the population and their families. The risky aspect of social media in this specific case though was that there was no way to know if there was a second shooter early in the lockdown and it was difficult to contain the social media influx indicating where police officers were looking, thereby also warning the potential second shooter.

There’s a new trend to post videos or descriptions of people who committed criminal acts. If you want, it’s something like citizens taking justice into their own hands, or virtual vigilantism. (see The problem with this use of social media is that it affects the decision of a victim to come out or not and can alert the alleged criminal(s) or create confusion as police is trying to sort tips and determine what’s true and what’s false.

Have you ever thought what would happen if you started to vent about your employer on Facebook? Well, Facebook is social media and it’s the perfect platform for freedom of speech, right?… Think again : social media CAN be used (and has been used) to prove defamation, just like any other means of communications :

We’ve been faced with an explosion of cases of cyberbullying in the last few years, despite fairly aggressive campaigns at all levels. Canada doesn’t seem well-equipped with proper legislation when it comes to certain types of crime, although the cases below certainly helped push legislation.

In B.C., Amanda Todd’s video on Youtube generated unbelievable attention in 2012, and revealed the ugly side of cyberbullying.

The striking case of Rethaeh Parsons, in Nova Scotia, who committed suicide following rape and extensive cyberbullying and sexting, went viral around the world in 2013. It attracted as much attention here with the authorities than with “vigilantes groups”.

Can we stop cyberbullying and any other case of wrong use of social media?


COM 0011 – Random Thoughts on the Use of Social Media for Missing Children Alerts

It may just be because I have a daughter about the same age than
2 year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, but last week’s HaileyAmber Alert and the tragic discovery of her remains really struck me.  My Facebook account was inundated with photos of the missing toddler and I remember thinking how fascinating it was to see how social media influence our lives… and how far we’ve come from the blurry monochrome pictures on the milk cartons I grew up with!

Although I’m reticent to use social media in all aspects of my life, I must admit that this type of case truly engages people and helps return missing children to their worried parents. I was curious to see how social media are used for missing children investigations, so I looked into this  particular case in more details…

First, I tried to find the original Amber Alert on Twitter. I couldn’t find any official Amber Alert account for Alberta like we have here in Ontario (@OPP_Coordinator). But after a few searches, I figured out that the alert was sent out by the RCMP Crownest Pass Detachment (@RCMPAlberta) through traditional media (online news release and subsequent updates) and then by Alberta EmergencyAlert (@AB_EmergAlert) on their website and Twitter.

Although I’m not surprised by the news release, which seems still fairly efficient, I thought going through Alberta Emergency Alert was… strange… Honestly, I was expecting a dedicated ˝missing children alert˝ site/page/acount, not a site containing all emergency reports pertinent to Alberta!

I wonder if the RCMP uses news releases first because it’s their most efficient means of communication with the public and the media or if it’s out of habit… I have to admit it was great to get those official updates all in one spot; it must be very useful for the media. The RCMP in Alberta did not initiate the tweet about the Amber Alert, but only re-tweeted the Alberta Emergency Alert. I wonder why they did not use all their means of communications at the same time to maintain their leadership for the investigation and to channel all the information back to them directly…

The use of a hashtag (#ABAMBER) seemed to work well on Twitter. I assume there’s not enough missing children cases in Alberta (which is a good thing!) to warrant an Amber Alert Twitter account, but I’d love your thoughts on the usefulness of the hashtag #ABAMBER… Isn’t it a little generic and weak? For example, a friend pointed out that any of our followers in the US could have thought that AB referred to Alabama…I’m also wondering if there is an advantage to use a hashtag rather than a handle, in terms of stats… I guess I’ll have to do some more research and wait till I get to future lessons on measurement! 😉

And I think I kept my most intersting find for the end : I stumbled upon an article talking about a new program launched less than a year ago by Missing Children of Canada, which seems to encompass the major social platforms all the while working with law enforcement organizations and public/business engagement : The Search Program™ or Milk Cartons 2.0™. milk cartons Basically, when law enforcement organizations send out an alert, this Program uses various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Four Squares, etc.) as well as search engines to “advertise” missing children cases online, just like our milk cartons. I think that if this program really gets the support it deserves, there’s good chances that we’ll find more of our missing children thanks to social media and public engagement.


Side note : did you know that you can sign up to receive Amber Alerts the moment they come out, directly on your cellphone? This is definitely a good public engagement initiative, but is it the best platform? I mean, as a member of the public, would you rather signing up for these alerts or simply re-tweet or share a message or Facebook?