COM0014 Blog #3 – Target Audiences

I just recently completed the book ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes and given its popularity with the film about to be released, I thought it would be interesting to research and understand the target audience for the book.

I think most people correctly assume that women are the main demographic for romance novels, but men still enjoy them as well. I’m not sure if this book is a true definition of a romance novel, but it is certainly a love story.

Determining other demographics can be more difficult as anyone of any age can enjoy reading, although it is probably safe to assume that children aren’t reading these types of novels. Traditionally, those who have a higher education and who don’t have little kids that take up a lot of their time, are the ones that read the most. However, I believe in the case of a popular culture book, your target audience is much larger because everyone wants to read the book that society is talking about and before the movie comes out.

I think the one downfall for creating a communications strategy for romance novels in that the campaigns traditionally cater to the stereotypical romance novel reader, the single, 20-30 something woman. I would make sure in my campaign that I would focus on adult women, targeting blogs and social media that women would frequent.  I want to make sure that I don’t alienate my audience by being too specific or stereotypical, but still want make sure I utilize all the social media channels that my audience would interact in.

The Harry Potter series is a great example of a successful communication strategy campaign.

 

COM0014 – Blog #2 – The power of storytelling 

The most important part of communication and storytelling is listening. That may seem like an odd concept for some but you need to be able to listen to what your audience needs before you are able to communicate with them. It is important to know if your audience would prefer to watch a video on the topic, or read an article about it. Everyone communicates differently and the audience will be more engaged with your story if they are engaged with the way the story is being told. 

In order for a story to be powerful, it needs to be communicated effectively. A great story needs to encourage the audience to interact with the content, especially if there is a lesson to be learned or a takeaway to be had. The story also needs to be clear and concise to get the point across with some detail, but avoiding going into too much detail that you will loose your audience. 

I also think a really important aspect of communication and storytelling is to inspire your audience to action. Whether this action be posed in the form of a question to debate on a topic, or encourages them to participate in the conversation, it is always good to engage your audience this way.

What communication styles are important to you? How do you engage your audience through storytelling?

COM0011 Blog #5 – What’s in a #hashtag?


Hashtags have now become synonomos with social media, but how were they created, what were there purpose? That question is becoming more and more difficult to answer and understand as people use 6, 7 + hashtags on their social media posts. There is a lot of conversation around hashtags and their use in the mainstream media, as their use becomes more and more popular. 

Twitter suggests users use hashtags in their tweets to categorize keywords or conversations. There is also information and help centres for hashtags and their use on Instagram and Facebook. Hashtags help people to follow a certain topic or a conversation on a topic, and certainly help people and businesses monitor a conversation. When you hashtag a post, anyone can click on the link and see who else, and what else is being said about the topic.

Businesses (or individuals) can also sponsor a hashtag and pay money to promote it so that way the most amount of people can see the hashtag. Hashtags can really help a business promote a campaign or allow people to discuss a product or service that the company can easily monitor.

Hashtags are a very important tool on social media, but if they are not used correctly then they no longer become valuable. While I think it is obvious to most people the value of hashtags in social media, just how valuable can a post be if it has a bunch of hashtags? What conversation or topic is even being followed? Is the problem that people are not classifying their posts correctly?

Should there be a limit to the amount of hashtags being used? What are your thoughts on #socialmediaetiquette? 

COM0014 Blog #1 – A wonderful Getaway!

With summer just around the corner, but snow falling, it is difficult to remember what summer and warm weather is like. My last vacation, only four short months ago, was a Caribbean cruise with lots of heat! Although I can’t remember what the heat feels like, I can certainly reminisce about the warm weather.

Our cruise on the Norwegian Getaway was a seven-day cruise out of Miami with stops in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Mexico and the Bahamas. The weather was wonderful, the drinks were cold and the adventure was amazing!

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In Grand Cayman and the Bahamas, we spent a majority of the time enjoying the beach and the local cuisine. The weather in the Bahamas was cold… about 15 degrees celsius, which is not what you are expecting in the Caribbean, so it was difficult to enjoy the beach that day, but for the rest of the trip we had wonderful weather.

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In Jamaica however we stepped out of our comfort zones and went on an adventure, river tubing and zip lining through the Jamaican rainforest. The river tubing was a blast, quite leisurely in speed but still enough of an adrenaline rush when going through the rapids. The zip lining on the other hand was very fast! I’d never been zip lining before and although I was terrified, the journey was well worth it.

The highlight of our trip, or at least the most interesting part, was on our way to Mexico. During the night the boat came to a complete stop and the Captain came over the loud speaker to say we were investigating something in the water that was spotted. Everyone was very concerned about what could be in the water and rumours started to swirl about the possibility of someone falling overboard.

The Captain then came over the loud speaker again to say that we had picked up a life raft of refugees and we would be on the move to Mexico soon. The Captain also let us know that these people had been in the water since Dec. 24. Our cruise was mid-January which meant that these people had been in the water for nearly three full weeks. These people were heading from Cuba to America, and somehow managed to get swept way off course. It didn’t really hit how off course until I saw a map of where they were trying to go and where we had picked them up.

Picking up some extra passengers was something we never expected on our vacation, and it was certainly something to witness trying to watch them rescue these people. It certainly made an impact on our vacation and left us, and the refugees with a story to tell.

COM0011 Blog #4 – #Disaster: The power of social media.

While Canada watches, waits and hopes that the wildfires are finally extinguished in Northern Alberta (and across Canada as more pop up), it is always amazing to see the power that social media can have during a disaster. From allowing people to check in with their loved ones, to complete strangers sharing their resources, social media has certainly proved an important tool during and after a disaster.

Of course, social media still requires technology and there are certain countries in the world where citizens don’t have access to the technology, even without a disaster occurring. Social media also requires an internet connection and after a disaster, the networks could be down which could also not allow people to use social media.

Putting those concerns aside, it is wonderful to see just how helpful social media can be to those wanting to hear from loved ones, and from those waiting to hear from their loved ones. Facebook has made is very easy for those affected by a disaster to let their friends and family know they are ok. Facebook Safety Check allows users to check in to alert their friends and family they they are ok. People have now come to expect in an emergency that they can quickly check Facebook and see if someone has checked in safe or not.

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Social media has also allowed people to share important information and reach out for help. Townships/cities are able to share important news to their residents about the disaster. Residents can also reach out to their fellow residents to offer any help and assistance they can. It was great to see during the evacuation of Fort McMurray and the surrounding areas, the people coming together to support each other for supplies, and the towns and emergency crews responding and providing updates to the residents.

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Social media also allows information to be spread about donations and about what supplies are needed. Red Cross and other emergency agencies often use social media to spread the word about their appeal campaigns.

Sometimes social media can be harmful as people sit behind their computers judging each other or making nasty unnecessary comments, however it is nice that social media can also help a community, country and world, come together to help those in a disaster.

How helpful do you think social media is in a disaster situation?

 

COM0011- Hitting the campaign trail, one tweet at a time.

Social media has been a round for a while now and it is certainly not a new tactic on the political trail. What is always an interesting debate is how helpful or hurtful social media can be to a political campaign.

In both Canadian and American politics we have heard how successful social media can be to a political candidate. Barack Obama rode the Twitter and Facebook wave of the “Yes, we can” slogan right to the White House. People shared that slogan and accompanying graphics across social media platforms and reach a large number of people, encouraging them to get out a vote.

Similarly, Justin Trudeau, an active social media user, shared his platform and encouraged a younger generation to get out and vote by using social media. He was able to reach the younger generation in a way that they wanted to be reached, something that the Conservatives had difficult doing. He has also since encouraged his MPs to be active and transparent on social media to show how open his government truly is.

We have also seen how social media can harm a political candidate. There are always scandals brewing around political candidates and incumbents and these are quickly shared over social media. While scandals were often uncovered in the media, Bill Clinton and John Edwards quickly spring to mind, you could only imagine the fire storm, protests, memes and other posts about their affairs, if the scandals occurred in the time of social media.

Sexting scandals, or when a political official says something incorrectly, are often quickly put on social media to share with fellow constituents. These can certainly harm a political candidate’s chances of getting into office and certain factors about their past and present lives can be uncovered.

An important aspect of a political campaign is reaching alarms audience. The larger the audience, the more people you have reached who could possibly vote for you. Instead of pounding the pavement and going door to door (which is still important), social media allows these candidates to reach a larger audience then they could have ever reached going door to door. The more people who hear about your platform and campaign, the more voters you could have voting for you.

Do you think social media harms or helps political campaigns?

COM0011 Blog # 2 – To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question.

An interesting debate for social media professionals is, and will probably be for some time, social media and the workplace. There are always strong proponents for using social media in the workplace and those that are strongly against it. Those of us in the communications field know how important social media can be for brand awareness, marketing purposes and just plain communication with customers. Many employees have also learnt the impact of negative comments or complaints about their employer on a social media site.

What has started to become more convoluted is whether employees should be allowed to use their personal social media accounts at work, and whether what is posted on their personal social media accounts can affect them at work. I think with the growing use of smart phones and tablets, even if a company blocks social media channels at work, employees can still surf or post on social media accounts with these devices on company time.

Thompson Reuters released an interesting video on responsible social media in the workplace. The statistics are very interesting about the use of social media in the workplace and how much posting about your employer on personal time can affect you.

Unfortunately, like with anything there are always going to be a few bad apples that spoil the bunch. If employers were to allow social media use at work then there will be people spending a lot of time surfing the net. On the flip side, it is almost hypocritical to say social media is an important tool for business purposes, but our employees can’t use it themselves.

I think as the video above states, the risk and rewards of social media use are so high that employers aren’t sure whether they should invest in training for their employees. I think companies should start training their employees about proper social media use, because a lot of the time the problem is that the employee just isn’t aware of how to use social media properly.

As social media grows and changes it will continue to be a hot debate. Do you think employees should be able to use social media for personal use at work? What are some parameters employers can set to help guide employees?

How social do you need to be? COM0011 Blog #1

As corporate communications professionals, it is our job to make sure that we keep up with the ever changing landscape of communications. Social media is an integral part of the way many companies (and people) communicate to their customers and followers. However, social media is constantly changing and how we use social media is as well.

Twitter is a very interesting model and concept for companies and people who want to be “social”. The premise of Twitter is to be short and sweet with the point you are trying to make. As a person who manages a company Twitter account, I know just how difficult a task this can be sometimes. I also however know the value of quickly scrolling through a Twitter feed and catching important tweets on topics of interest. With a tweet, a story or company only has 140 characters to get to the point, so the point or important information is often located in the tweet. This is helpful when you don’t want to read a whole report or story to find our information.

It’s an interesting concept that Twitter is now considering increasing the character limit, with some reports saying it could be as high as 10,000 characters. Just when did 140 characters not become enough? For some people the 140 limit is enough but for others the character limit is not enough to get their point across and they are using creative ways to get around it including using links, pictures or videos to help provide more context.

The question really is why does Twitter feel the need to expand the Twitter character limit when there are other social media channels and sites that can easily meet the demand?. Most companies, and people, have more than one social media account and know what information they should share on which. If I have a quick stat or point I need to make I send it out on Twitter, sometimes with a link to a press release, backgrounder or story that provides more context and information for those looking for it. If I need to explain a topic or issue I know to put it on our LinkedIn account, or some companies use Facebook, to help get a longer story or objective across. 

Although there is obviously a need to be met if Twitter is thinking of expanding its character limit, I think they should take a long hard look at the history of Twitter and the success it built with just 140 characters. 
Is this change part of a revolution, where social media channels (and their companies) feel the need or pressure to evolve past what they were originally created for? Will we start seeing other social media companies changing how people communicate on their sites?

I’m not sure if these questions will get answered, but it certainly may get people thinking about how social they are or need to be to get their point across. Do you know how social you need to be?