COM0015 – Assignment #5: Event Participation

As a senior communications professional, I sometimes find it difficult to make it out to professional networking and professional development events. I find these to be very important for my career and those that I have attended have been quite useful. The trouble is fitting them in to a busy schedule! For this reason, I usually like to do my professional networking and professional development online.

This course for example is professional development for me as I hope to broaden my skills and social media knowledge to help my organization with their social media strategy.

As a member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), I am able to participate in a lot of the professional development and networking events. One of their professional development events I like to participate in is their weekly #CommChat where professionals across North America can discuss important topics and give insight on new tools and resources.

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I like this event because it happens every week and they discuss different topics that are timely to communications professionals. One of their recent sessions that I really enjoyed was the one where they were discussing the importance of professional development and the benefits of online classes and workshops.

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I found it really interesting interacting with different people from across North America, but also people who were in different levels of the career. It gave me an understanding of the types of courses and workshops they participated in that better helped them progress in their career. I appreciated hearing what worked well for them and what didn’t. It was also reassuring to hear fellow professionals have the same feelings as me about time management and the value of online courses.

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I think the event encouraged me to look into taking more online courses and the value just straight networking can have on your learning and the resources and skills you can obtain. I certainly plan to participate in these events in the future, although I don’t believe every Wednesday will be feasible! I also would like to try and interact more directly with those professionals taking part in the chat to help broaden my network.

Side note: Although everyone may not have the ability to be a full member of IABC, their #CommChat is fully accessible through Twitter so anyone can follow along!

 

 

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COM0015 – Blog #4: Out of the Box

As we have learned throughout this course, and in fact throughout this social media program, social media has so many different uses, for so many different people. While it is important that we are all using best practices for social media, it is of the utmost importance that businesses fully understand what they are using social media for.

Using social media “out of the box” is becoming more popular for businesses, and even people who are trying to increase their brand awareness. Instead of using social media “traditionally” to engage with their customers, social media is allowing these businesses and people to have a number of applications, that they probably never saw coming.

One unexpected application for the field of online marketing and social media is advertising. I don’t think businesses realized the free advertising that they would get with social media. I’m not just talking about the fact that they can post information for free online and have all their followers see the information, I mean the free advertising they get when people praise their business online and encourage others to use the business as well.

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While researching “out of the box” social media uses, I stumbled across the following article. Although it doesn’t specifically relate to traditional online marketing, it is interesting just how far social media has come and how practical its uses are. Who knew that by browsing on Facebook you could potentially save someone’s life!

COM0015 – Blog #3: Professional Networking now and in the future

Professional networking is very important in the development of a career. I don’t think it matters what field you are in, with a little bit of networking your resources and networks can grow and open up opportunities for you. It doesn’t matter whether you are the CEO of a company or someone lower on the totem pole, networking is important.

I think as communications professionals, networking is super important because the bigger the network, the more contacts you have to discuss strategies and projects, and also can possibly get a heads up from if they know a big story is coming down the pipeline.

Networking is important to me and it is one of the reasons I have continued my membership with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).  The local chapters hold great networking events to get local communicators in the same room, networking and discussing important topics. I used to attend these events regularly but as my career has expanded I found it difficult to continue them. I do plan and try to get out to more events in the next year, as I made a lot of connections in those early events, some that have helped me with job positions in their company and some have shared important advice.

While searching for some good external resources to source in this blog, I came across the following video that discusses the importance of networking and belonging to professional associations/organizations. It is a bit dated but I think the message is still important and valid.

 

On top of attending IABC events in person, I also plan on taking part in a few more of their online networking events. One event that I enjoy participating in is their weekly Twitter chats #CommChat.

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I plan to continue to participate in these events as it allows me to interact with people across North America and also gives me great resources and tools for which I can expand my skills set.

On top of the IABC networking I plan to also take part in more of the networking opportunities that my place of employment offers. These are a great way to meet new contacts within my organization, but also increase my knowledge on a topic that relates to my job.

COM0015 – Blog 2: Strong and Weak Organizations

Two organizations that would fit into the category of having a good social media strategy are Tangerine Bank and WestJet Canada.

Tangerine Bank does an excellent job of making sure that they are communicating with their customers and making sure that they are keeping their customers updated of any upcoming promotions or updates that may affect them.

They make sure that they are conversing with their customers in real time and understand the importance that if they don’t respond quickly and effectively to customers, they do some damage to their brand.

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WestJet is also very good about answering their customers in real time, something that is very important considering a lot of their customers are asking for clarification or advice that they need straight away about a flight.

WestJet also realizes the number of customers and followers they have on social media and that their marketing strategy needs to include a heavy social media presence. WestJet is very active on social media with their market promotions as well as highlighting vacation spots to help entice their followers.

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WestJet understands just how important social media is to their customers and how things happen in real time and they were actually the first airline in Canada to implement 24/7 customer service on social media.

Both organizations have obviously put a lot of work and effort in to a social media strategy. They realize that most of their customers are using social media and that in order to connect to their audience in a way that they wanted to be connected with, they need to be using the same tools.

By the fact that both organizations have daily social media posts lined up about their organizations and services, and also connect with their customers in a timely fashion shows that they have a good handle on social media strategy.

There are many examples of social media strategies going wrong for organizations. Organizations and companies are getting a lot better about using social media but every once in a while there is obviously no strategy behind a social media campaign.

I think a lot of time organizations can make mistakes when they open themselves up to Twitter and Facebook chats. While these are great for transparency they may not always come out in the favour of the company, who did not strategize long and hard about all possible outcomes.

An example of this is in 2015 when SeaWorld ran a Twitter chat using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld in an attempt to improve their image around a number of controversial issuing involving their marine life at the park.

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Instead of getting a good conversation about the good initiatives SeaWorld has implemented, people took the opportunity to chastise SeaWorld for their cruelty and a new hashtag quickly formed #Emptythetanks.

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SeaWorld had not thought long a hard about the implications of the chat they were doing and how it could affect them. From the looks of the tweets they also didn’t have a back-up plan in case anything went wrong. Instead of a successful strategy they were receiving even more bad press then they did before.

 

COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools and Source

It can be difficult to narrow down what tools and sources are best to use on social media. Everyone will have a preference, and these preferences will depend on personal and business needs.

For personal use, Twitter and Facebook are my two favourite social media trend tools. I find that there is a lot of information on these two sites that help update me on what is going on in the world. I prefer these two tools over others because I think they give me a complete picture of what my networks are talking about, as well as a good picture of what the overall trends are in the world.

Facebook is especially good at providing an overall picture of trends, which can help give me an idea of what I should keep on top of and paying attention to in relation to my professional development, and what is just for fun or personal interest.

I find Twitter easiest for following trends, as the topics that are trending the most can easily be found on Twitter and a lot of times breaking news occurs on Twitter. Twitter is also good because it gives you a quick snapshot of the news or trends for easy access but also allows you to get more information by clicking through the link to the site where more detailed information can be found. This is especially useful in my professional career because it can give me news quickly and briefly but allows me to research topics further if I need to.

For business use, I would replace Facebook with LinkedIn, as I believe it gives a better picture of what are the important trends for my organization. Discussions around business practices and important trends often occur on LinkedIn, which helps my organization monitor what they should be focusing on or what others in the industry are discussing.

My best sources for news at my workplace are Google Alerts and Twitter. Not only do I use Twitter for listening to trends, but I also use it as a source for news because as mentioned above it allows me to quickly review all news and delve into topics deeper if I need more information. Twitter is often where I get breaking news on a subject, which I then relay to colleagues.

Google Alerts is great at providing me with real time alerts for news on topics that more organization is following, or news on my organization. It provides me with the news I need, without me having to go through each news source constantly. It aids greatly in my daily media monitoring and allows me to spend time on other functions of my job.

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Source: Rosette for Social Media Monitoring

At my organization, we also use paid monitoring which is very useful and also gives me updates in real time for a lot of different news sources that appear in the paper, through broadcast and online. If you are able to afford these tools, they are great in streamlining how you get news and when you get it.

COM0014 Blog #7 – Personal Reflection

I think we have all grown up listening to stories and understanding the basics that make a good story. This course however, has taught me a much deeper meaning about storytelling and how important it is to digital content and brand management. 

Storytelling is very important to digital content because it helps you to understand your audience and guide the content you want your audience to know. Rather than just simply stating facts for your audience, you should use storytelling to build understanding and knowledge about your business and brand. Audiences want to feel as though they can connect with the companies they buy from or use, and storytelling helps to build that trust between customer and company.

Companies should tell stories about how they have built their brand, as well as stories about the products and services they offer. Companies should always make sure there is a human element to their story to make sure their audience can connect and empathize with the story you are trying to tell. 

This course has certainly been an eye opener for me and I will make sure to use storytelling in my communications from now on. Storytelling isn’t just for fairy tales, it’s an important business tool. 

COM0014 Blog #6 – Do people know your story?

As a Corporate Communications professional, I think the greatest challenge that I need to overcome is fear. Fear can be a scary thing and can hold even the strongest business person back. Fear can be the ultimate villain in a person’s life story and we need to work hard to make sure that we don’t let it consume us.

As a professional, I need to make sure that I take appropriate risks and weigh the pros and cons of every decision carefully. There was a time that I was offered a position at another company and I had to think about the pros and cons of leaving my current employer and position, for a new employer and position. Even though this position was a better position and better pay, there was still the fear of moving out of my comfort zone and going to the unknown. If I hadn’t decided to take the risk and fight the fear, I could have remained stagnant in my career progression.

I think a lot of businesses, and people, don’t progress because they don’t accept the challenges that they are faced with. There are many factors that are out of your control when you are running a business, but how you react to a situation or face a decision is within your control. Overcoming ourselves is the biggest challenge we can face.

COM0014 – Blog #5 Personal Brand

Trying to distinguish your personal brand can be challenging at times, especially in the communications field. Everyone is always trying to be the first to do something or distinguish themselves from the crowd.

I think when I try and describe my personal brand, I always like to start with thinking about the items I have accomplished, and what I am hoping to accomplish in order to decipher how I stand out.

I think I am very realistic and reliable in my communications approach. I am upfront about what I can and can’t accomplish on a job, which certainly can distinguish me from those that over promise and under deliver. Being reliable and upfront, allows me to build trust. Once trust is built someone is more likely to employ you or work with you over someone they don’t trust. 

My colleagues would agree with that statement and probably say that I am a very energetic but knowledgable person, who is always bringing fresh ideas to the table. You can’t afford to be stagnant or happy with the status quo in communications. I think you need to constantly bring new ideas to the table, and it is something I try and do to stand out from the crowd.

I think something I have done recently to stand out from the crowd is take this course and work towards my certificate in social media. Social media is constantly changing and it’s important to keep up with the changes just to fit in. By having a certificate in social media it helps me distinguish myself from those who may have only taken a quick class or seminar on social media. Many companies know the way of the future is social media, and having this certificate will help me stand out. 

If I had to sum up my personal brand in one sentence I would say; I am a reliable and professional communicator, who is a savvy social media advisor and I am someone who is constantly developing her trade to provide the best communications possible. 

COM0014 Blog # 4 – B2C Case Study – Tangerine Bank

 

Tangerine Bank is a good example of a business doing B2C transactions right on social media. Tangerine prides itself on being a bank for the people and saving them money. Tangerine does a great job of keeping that theme throughout their social media channels. For the sake of this blog, I will just be looking at Twitter and Facebook.

On Twitter, they post tweets and articles about saving money, as well as sending out tweets that link their great products and services with saving their customers money. They also do a good job of interacting with their customers by retweeting customer posts about the awesome service they received from Tangerine, or a product that helped them save money.

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An example of Tangerine interacting with their customers.

Tangerine continues their theme of saving their customers money on Facebook. Their posts are very similar to the information they post on Twitter but with more interaction with their customers. They are very quick to respond and offer advice or help to their customers who are looking for it.

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Tangerine interacting with their customers on Facebook.

Tangerine does a great job of posting information for their consumers, without always looking like they are selling a product or service. By sharing tweets and posts about money saving tips and how to budget, and then connecting it to a Tangerine product, they are marketing their product effectively. They understand who their audience is and what they are looking for in a product. They make sure that they have high quality interactions with their customers on all their social media channels.

COM0011 Blog #6 – I’m having a problem with my #account…

Many companies already understand the advantages of social media to their brand,  but how many are now embracing social media for other aspects of their business?

Social media and customer service is now something that goes hand in hand, however that never used to be the case. If someone had a problem with a company, service or product they would need to stand in a line or call in and be another number. Now customers simply need to head to Twitter or Facebook to lodge their complaint.

Some may think that this is great news for companies, and for the most part it is but as this video will explain there are some downsides to customer service on social media.

There are a number of companies that are already using social media for their  customer service. WestJet just recently announced that they will be offering 24 hour customer service through their social media channels. Since social media is all about listening to what your audience wants, WestJet learnt quickly that they needed to evolve to meet their customers needs. They know that their audience wants to be able to tweet their questions and complaints and hear back quickly so they started to offer it. I’m sure more and more companies will follow suit.

Would you prefer to ask a question over a tweet or over the phone? Do you think customer service over social media is a good thing?