COM0014 – Blog #7: The final chapter to this story

Photo from pexels.com

Storytelling, according to the Cambridge dictionary, is the art of sharing stories.

However, the course COM0014: digital communications, has shown me that storytelling is so much more! Storytelling is in fact a major aspect to creating great digital content.

I have learnt over the past few weeks how important it is to choose the correct storytelling tools for your audience, the best approaches to developing an online communication style, and the significance of engaging with your audience.

In today’s online world, it is difficult to capture the attention of potential consumers amongst the noise and distractions of competing businesses. Not only does the average web user have a very short attention span, but we tend to be great content skimmers rather then avid reader. To convince people to buy your product or service, not only do you need to stand out by utilising memorable content, but you must also design your subject matter in a clear and concise fashion with an end in mind.

Moving forward I will use the act of story in my marketing to relate with the target audience. By showcasing a bit of personality behind my words, I am hopeful potential readers will connect with me and will consider my digital content as authentic.

I hope the stories I tell in the future will showcase my personality, be entertaining, inspire others, and ultimately entice my audience to take some sort of action. In the end, the act of using storytelling in marketing is about connecting with potential consumers and having them engage with your product or service.

I cannot believe this course is already wrapping up, and I am excited to take on my last class in the social media program!

COM0014 – Blog #6: the little white lie

Photo by Artem Beliaikin

What is your favorite customer story?

A few months ago, I had called H&M’s customer service line to have them put a pair of pants on hold for me (the company uses a general phone line to avoid calls to their flagship stores). However, despite their best efforts, each time I called, the person on the end put the wrong item on hold for me at different stores all across town

Frustrated, as this happened quite a few times, I decided to call a last time to make a complaint. However, since my name had been used regularly, and the employees could associate my name with a face, I decided to used the false name Kelsey!

Photo by Negative Space on Unsplash

I could never even image what was going to happen next. The man at the end of the line was very sympathetic to my situation and promised generous coupons for my troubles. What great customer service! The only problem was he needed to send them to my email address. I panicked, I had no email address associated with the false name, and worse, my email address is MY full name! So, I gave him my email address and passed it off as a sibling. The hole was getting deep, but surely, he wouldn’t know me from H&M headquarters in North Carolina!

As soon as he heard my last name there was a distinct pause. Do you know Ashley he asked? I did, she is my first cousin. With glee he explained he had connected with her on ancestry.com and that they were distant cousins, making us too relatives.

What were the odds! After the call ended, I quickly called my cousin to explain the whole situation but to my surprise this man had already written her. She cheerfully asked, “who’s my cousin Kelsey?”

Moral of the story: avoid white lies, you never know who you’ll be related to!

Do you have a funny customer service story?

Have you ever been caught in a white lie?

COM0014 – Blog #5: who am I?

Photo by Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash

A personal brand speaks before you. It is the affirmation of who you are and what you love to do.

So, who am I?

I am a young professional who works full time as a graphic designer and part time as a freelance designer with a specialization in vector illustrations. My unique designs have helped me develop a style that I am hopeful stand out amongst other design competition.

“I develop eye catching digitized designs utilizing bold colours and a memorable style”

During the day I work for the federal government. While many would think that this work would be uninventive, my colleges would say that I am quite good at finding creative, out of the box solutions to design projects. I try and push boundaries while remaining professional and on brand with my employer.

Photo by Kate A

At night and during the weekends I work on freelance projects. Most of my clientele are contacts I’ve made playing sports. During these projects I enjoy unleashing my full creativity, using bold colour schemes and fun subject matter. I am most proud of the designs I make for these clients, especially when I can translate their visions to print in a way they hadn’t thought of.

If I am not working on a design project, I try to stay up to date with current design trends. Despite being professionally trained, it is important to ask for help and stay up to date. I, personally, have found joining online communities of likeminded people (such as the Graphic Designer Tips Lounge on Facebook) particularly helpful.

The brand you build around yourself is one of the most important ways you can stand out! It is how you present yourself online and offline to potential clients.

What does your personal brand say about you?

How do you make yourself stand out?

COM0014 – Blog#4: Who do consumers really trust?

Photo by John Schnobrich

Would you believe that most millennials and Gen Zs use social media to do research on products before making a purchase!

Social media outranked retailer websites and price-comparison sites in terms of which media channel consumers place their trust in. These social platforms have changed the way brands and consumers interact, placing ownership on companies to be authentic, respond directly to consumers’ concerns, be accountable for mishaps, and to be relevant.

Photo from Marketing in the Age of Digital

One brand that has seen much success due to their social media activities is Wayfair Inc. If you haven’t heard of the online furniture giant, it is an American company that sells home goods. In recent years, it has expanded from a two-man operation to a large-scale business employing over fourteen thousand people and generating over four-point-seven billion dollars in revenue!

While Wayfair engages customers on a multitude of social media platforms, most of their efforts are put into Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. With advertisements and content targeted at millennials (like me) and Gen Zs, who are moving into new homes and apartments.

Image by Kasasa

Despite Wayfair’s largely spanned target audience due to the vast products they offer (can you believe they offer over ten million items!), the company has truly utilized the social media platforms where its consumers are spending their time. Early adopters of new social media features, such as videos and Instagram’s shopping feature, has kept this online retailer competitive with other large furniture brands.

In my opinion, the company has done an excellent job at creating consistent feeds on their social media platforms without becoming repetitive or dull. The decision to follow bright, colourful themes with a mix of different types of posts (beauty shots, animal photographs, lifestyle photographs, videos, extra) has served them well. Furthermore, Wayfair has done a great job increasing consumer engagement using questions and humour in their posts, with many people commenting or tagging friends.

Photo from Wayfair.com

t’s clear from the numbers, Wayfair certainly knows how to utilize the power of social media. With no brick and mortar stores, the company relies solely on their online presence. I know I’ve been a consumer in the past, and I am confident I will be in the future!

Have you ventured to Wayfair Inc due to an advertisement or post you’ve seen on social media?

Does Wayfair Inc. online interactions give you confidence in the company?

COM0014 – Blog #3: The epidemic of online shopping

image by Negative Space on pexels.com

Have you ever chosen the convenience of shopping online versus walking into the brick and mortar store?

If your answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone. While I personally never enjoyed shopping in the past, browsing for products online has become a new found interest! I am no longer surprised to find myself ten pages in on a Wayfair search for cushions or sucked into the hot trending deals on Amazon. Browsing endless item options from the comfort of my couch has a real allure.

Image by Kasasa

I, my friends, am a millennial. I was sure that others in my generation would be like minded on their shopping preferences. However, I was shocked to find out that research performed, (such as the analysis done by Verto), pointed out that the majority of heavy shoppers are in fact Generation X (35-54 years old). No surprise though was the finding that online shopping was particularly popular amongst women, who comprised 52% of all online shopping activities.

So, what does this mean for online marketers who want to target heavy online shoppers? It means they need to use appropriate tools and strategies that target the “super shoppers”. That 47-year-old female who spends a monthly average of 44 hours shopping online.

According to WordStream, the best tactics for marketing to Generation X are the use of direct mail, being present in video content (such as advertisements in YouTube videos) and be present on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter! Can you believe 80% of this generation reports to being on these online social platforms despite being so busy!

What tactics have you seen from companies targeting online shoppers?

Are you an avid online shopper as well?

COM0014 – Blog #2: Your attention please

Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash

From the moment you start reading this I’ll have just eight seconds of your undivided attention to provide you with information!

Thanks to advancements in technology, an abundance of information is available right at our fingertips, and it can be a daunting task to focus in and fully read an article. Just like a good fad, gone are the days where readers would sit down and read word for word information presented on the screen. So, what does that mean for us communicators? It means we need to adapt and adopt styles that speak to our reader’s shortened attention spans.

The facts

Research shows humans have a shorter attention span then a goldfish! Thanks to the bombardment of instantaneous information such as: texts, tweets, Facebook messages, emails, and advertisements, it has become increasingly difficult to hold anyone’s attention for very long.

The following infographic makes it very clear just how short the attention span of human beings has become:

Infographic made by wyzowl

The solution

Write with the “skimmers” in mind! Break up content with clear, descriptive headings, and make it easy for readers to jump to the section they are looking for. Keep information interesting by avoiding rambling, and when possible, using graphics or videos to grab the viewers attention.

The conclusion

The storytellers and communicators of today need smart strategies to make the most of the eight second attention span most readers have. The use of clear, manageable content broken up in manageable pieces along side visual storytelling tactics have proven to be the way forward.

 

What strategies have you seen to capture an audience’s attention?

Has a unique tactic grabbed your attention and kept you engaged past the average eight second attention span?

COM0014 – Blog #1: Chasing down gold in Edmonton

Photo by VanveenJF on Unsplash

Edmonton Canada may not be the most favored August destination, but I was keen to hop onto a plane August 15th and travel 6 hours and 21 minutes (layover included) to the “big E”. Why, you ask? To chase plastic!

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m obsessed with chasing plastic, or, more specifically, playing Ultimate Frisbee. If you have never heard of the sport, you can read all about it on Wikipedia or alternatively you can read the Ottawa Carleton Ultimate Association’s Coles notes.

I’ve been playing Ultimate for years and each summer if our hard work pays off, my team gets the chance to represent Ontario at the national competition.

But this year was extra special. Just like the Olympics coming around every 4th year, so too does the “big show” for Ultimate. Every 4th year is a “worlds qualifying year”. What does that mean you ask? The winning team at Nations becomes team Canada and gets to represent the north at Worlds; the top competition in our chosen sport. Everyone wants to go, and very few get that chance

Edmonton was where teams in 6 divisions: junior men’s (under 18), junior women’s (under 18), men’s, women’s, men’s masters (over 33) and women’s masters (over 30) traveled to for the chance to fight for first. The competition was fierce, and the atmosphere was intoxicating. While its hard to put into words how it feels to be at the national competition, this highlight video put together by Nick Kolakovic does a pretty good job:

My team, Lowercase, was playing in the women’s master’s division. Our initial ranking was third and we were ready to show we deserved first. After 3 days of playing in the windiest conditions I’ve been in, eight games later…

Well they say the journey is more important than the destination but coming home clutching gold felt amazing!

Lowercase CUC 2019

Here’s to the summer I chased down gold in Edmonton, and to the upcoming adventure it will bring!

Do you also play Ultimate, or perhaps another sport? Where have you traveled to play?

Targeted advertisements: Facebook’s ability to read your mind

Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash

Have you ever mentioned a product in spoken conversation only to be advertised that exact product on Facebook soon after?

Well, you would not be alone! Despite Facebook’s constant denials, many people still believe that the social media platform uses device microphones to listen in on real-life conversations to target them with relevant advertisements. More then ever we are talking to technology with the emerging trend of virtual assistants and sharing a wide range of sensitive information with machines. However, how much of that information is shared with social media platforms?

Facebook made over sixteen billion in sales last quarter, and most of its revenue comes from advertising.

If Facebook is not listening to our personal conversations, how does it seem to target us with relevant advertisements?

Methods Facebook uses to establish relevant advertisements:

  • Advertisements targeted to a specific demographic.
    • Businesses can show Facebook ads to people within certain parameters and can target down to a 1-mile radius of an address.
    • Businesses can use the birthdate, gender and city you have entered into your Facebook profile to determine if you fit a demographic.
  • Advertisements shown based on a user’s online activity while on or off Facebook.
    • Facebook knows what you like and post on its platform. From that data it can determine what advertisements it thinks you will like.
    • If you are logged into Facebook on your device and it is running in the background, it can figure out what other sites you browse. This is done with the technology called Facebook Pixel.
  • Targeted by a specific company.
    • Facebook allows companies to upload email lists of specific users, such as previous customers, that they want to see their advertisements.
  • Targeted by a third-party data provider.
    • Advertisers can work with third-party marketing services such as Datalogic to find the right customer. These companies use a variety of data sources like credit card information and other customer behaviour to provide information that can be integrated with Facebook or any other advertising platform to target someone.

Here is an infographic created by Kate Lidsay and Maria Zavleta that further explains Facebook’s targeting options:

Still concerned Facebook is listening to your personal conversations?

Here are the steps to revoke the platform’s access to your microphone:

On an iPhone (iOS 9):

  1. Go to the Settings app
  2. Scroll down to Facebook, tap it
  3. Tap “Settings”
  4. Turn off the slider for Microphone (slider should be grey instead of green)

On an Android:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Swipe over to “Personal”
  3. Tap “Privacy and safety”
  4. Tap “App permissions”
  5. Tap “Microphone”
  6. Find Facebook, and turn the slider to OFF

I decided to follow these steps on my personal device, will you?

Here is how to stop Facebook from tracking your web activity:

Firefox recently launched the extension “Facebook Container” which helps users control their web activity by isolating their identity into a separate container, stopping Facebook from tracking web activity. When installed, this extension will delete all your Facebook cookies and if you are logged into Facebook, will log you out while you are browsing the web.

Will you be utilizing this tool the next time you search the web?

What steps have you taken to share less information with social media platforms?

 

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Have you been targeted on Facebook by advertisers? Read all about Facebook’s advertising techniques today! #TargetedAdvertising https://bit.ly/2GKVvr0

 

Is Facebook psychic? Read about targeted advertisements here: https://bit.ly/2GKVvr0

 

From schoolyard to social media: understanding a new form of bullying

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

The statistics are staggering, according to Statistics Canada one fifth of young Canadians say they have experienced some form of cyberbullying or cyberstalking.

Definition of Cyberbullying

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, cyberbullying is: the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person often done anonymously.

The evolution of bullying

Bullying has evolved from physical and verbal abuse in the playground to cyberbullying online on social media platforms and smartphones. No longer does the victimization end when a child leaves school but instead the attacks remain prevalent 24/7 as lives online become more interwoven with lives offline. There is evidence that this new form of bullying is even more intense due to the following reasons:

  • It is anonymous as a cyberbully can hide behind online settings and fake information
  • It is harder to leave behind as humiliating information can be stored and accessed online forever  
  • It feels like there is no escape as cyberbullies can contact their victims via computers or smartphones anytime, anywhere

How Cyberbullying is affecting Canadian youth

In 2014, PREVNet put together an infographic outlining how cyberbullying truly effects the youth in our society:

Cyberbullying and how it is affecting Canadian youth

High profile cyberbullying cases

If you are being bullied online, you are not alone. Unfortunately, the number of cyberbullying stories has only continued to rise, many which result in suicides. A few of these horrific stories from the past decade include:

  • Rehtaeh Parsons (2013): Tried to commit suicide and was later taken off life support after photos of her being sexually assaulted were distributed around school.
  • Amanda Todd (2012): Committed suicide after posting a video on Youtube detailing her years of struggling alone with bullying and cyberstalking.
  • Ghyslain Raza (2003): Made a video of himself re-enacting a lightsaber fighting scene from Star Wars. A schoolmate found and uploaded the video where it was viewed over 76 million times by October 2004.

Did you hear of any other high-profile cases of bullying of social media platforms?

What to do if you are being cyberbullied

Being bullied though social media or text messaging can often feel hopeless, however there are a few steps you can take to help put a stop to it. Planned Parenthood put together the following list to help deal with online bullies:

  • Change your privacy settings on social media accounts to “friends only” or “private”
  • Block and un-friend any harassing accounts, email addresses, or phone numbers
  • Keep your personal details private. Refrain from sharing your phone number, address, or any other personal information
  • Take a break from social media or your phone
  • Save screen captures of harassing emails, texts, or messages as evidence
  • Report online abuse to the social platform it is taking place on (Facebook, Twitter, extra)
  • Don’t respond to mean or threatening messages
  • Report the issue to an adult, and in serious threats, to the police

If you are being bullied, never fear reaching out to someone for help. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone you know, there are many support hotlines including the Canada Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Have you been cyberbullied or witnessed it? How did you deal with the situation?

 

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Have you witnessed the evolution of bullying? Read all about cyberbullying today. #cyberbully https://bit.ly/2T6MbDq

 

Would you be able to deal with a cyberbully? Read about this new form of bullying here: https://bit.ly/2T6MbDq

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Reeling in a Catfish: How to spot if you’re being lied to online

Photo by Dieter Kühl on Unsplash

What is a catfish?

If I would have asked this in years past, I’d only receive one answer. However, these days with the increase of social media you can find two definitions in the dictionary.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a catfish is:

  1. any of an order (Siluriformes) of chiefly freshwater stout-bodied scaleless bony fishes having long tactile barbels
  2. a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purpose

For this blog, Lets focus on definition number 2!


The act of deceiving someone online by creating a more appealing version of oneself (later given the name catfishing) became mainstream knowledge in 2010 when Nev Schulman made a documentary titled Catfish, which documented his story about being fooled in a relationship he had developed on Facebook. Since then there have been reports of many other high-profile cases of catfishing including singer Casey Donovan and NBA star Chris Andersen.

How could these well-known personalities be fooled? People have become increasingly better at catfishing, so it’s important to be vigilant of the telltale signs that you are being duped.

Some elements to watch for:

  • Your new friend online is too good to be true
  • Googling their name or using a reverse image search points to them being a different person
  • They don’t have any online friends
  • They ask for money
  • They will not meet up in person or video chat
  • They have elaborated stories all the time

However, the best method to avoid being catfished is to better understand the people behind the mask. XNSPY developed an infographic depicting interesting facts and statistics about the act of catfishing and the people who choose to deceive others in this way.

Catfishing: Interesting Facts and Statistics

It’s interesting to note that while this infographic highlights malicious reasoning for catfishing, in the tv program “Catfish”, many of the guilty parties claim they catfish others because they are lonely. Do you believe this is the case?

You spotted a fish, what do you do next?

  • Block and delete them
  • Call them out and encourage them to give up the scheme
  • Report it
  • Let others know

While catfishing does not have any specific legal action in Canada or the United States, depending on the intent of the catfish, they can be charged. If the primary intent is to obtain money, they can be criminally charged with fraud. Alternatively, cases involving emotional damages are limited to civil suits.

Have you come across a catfish? How did you spot them?

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Can you reel in a catfish? Read about how to spot an online fake! #catfish #ReelingInACatfish https://bit.ly/2GgupYu

Would you be able to spot a catfish? Read about the telltale signs here: https://bit.ly/2GgupYu

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