COM0014, Post 1- What I Did on My Vacation

By Karina Smith

Vacation: what does that word mean? I can’t remember the last time I took a proper more-than-a-weekend vacation…If I had to think back, I would have to say that my last vacation and real time away from work was in the summer of 2012, where I went camping through New York State. Camping might not sound like much, but when you never went camping for fun, it is really important. Before that, I had never camped for pleasure; it was always for work with bulky and heavy equipment and little sleep. Needless to say that sort of camping was never a fun.
In mid-August 2012, we made our way to Toronto (Ottawa is home) where we stayed overnight with family. The next day, we drove through Buffalo and slowly made our way through the New York State. We camped, ate, and replenished the cooler at different local establishments, stopping here and there for small coffee breaks (yeah Starbucks!). It really amazed me that even if we are geographically close, the Canadian and American cultures can be really different.

Because of technology, we did not really bother carrying paper maps…we figured it was a small mistake on our part when we became ‘lost’ trying to get around Syracuse. A short stop in the McDonalds parking lot allowed us to fire up the laptop and verify where we were and were going. Yes, we carried the laptop to go camping. Yes, we totally cheaped out and scammed the free wi-fi out of the parking lot – sometimes, you got to do what you got to do. Vacations do not mean it has to cost a fortune! Anyhow, after passing Syracuse, we made our way to Cooperstown where we camped for the night. The KOA campground where we stayed at was almost empty and located in the middle of a farmer’s field – very interesting when you wake up in the middle of the night terrorized from hearing terrible cow screams. Ever hear something like that? It’s very scary and weird.

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The campground also provided hot showers, cheap coffee, and Wi-Fi. Yes, we had Wi-Fi in your tent so what did we do? Update our Facebook profiles of course! When we woke up the next day, it was raining and it was gloomy. Not a great way to finish your vacations, but regardless, we decided to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. If you do not know where or what is Cooperstown, it just means you are not a baseball fan. This small city is the mecca of baseball. From little leagues to major league, players and fans will visit this place more than once in their lifetime. We took a free tramway into town, and visited the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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After our visit, we had lunch in a very tiny typical greasy-spoon American dinner, where the very aged lady manning the place calls everyone ‘Honey’. IMG_1440

Walking around Cooperstown, we saw so many different people from so many different places that it was hard to keep track. What was fantastic about it is that it didn’t matter where you were from, what you wore or how you spoke, everybody was there to enjoy one thing: their love of baseball.

After the Cooperstown highlight, we drove home, unpacked and went back to our busy lives with the last vacations as a fading memory.

COM0011- Blog Post 6 – West Jet Did it Again!

The holidays might be at our doors but that does not mean it is all about gingerbread lattes, snowmen, elves on the shelf, Christmas carols and other ‘Christmassy’ tokens! No! If you think the Christmas Spirit is dying down and is being diluted into the Holidays, be assured, it is very much alive. Buried under all this consumption of goods, stuck behind those feel-good-sappy movies (yes, that means you Miracle on 34th Street), rests a little gem produced here in Canada. By now, if you are using Facebook, you probably have seen the new West Jet Christmas video.

On December 8, West Jet released their annual Christmas video (they produced one last year and they also release one video every April’s Fool; and by the way, my favourite is Kargo Kids). Anyhow, this year’s Christmas video features a West Jet blue Santa, West Jet Elves and lots of presents!  You can see typical passengers on their way to Calgary interacting with Santa on a screen. Santa, of course, asked what they wanted for Christmas and was nice and full of good humour. What nobody suspected is that something fabulous would wait at their destination. See West Jet Christmas Miracle: real-time giving.

I was enchanted by this genius company branding video. After watching it, it made me want to always book my travels with West Jet. Not only it was a brilliant marketing move, it also showed the ‘good’ side of West Jet. The community involvement, their genuine care for their passengers, only reinforce their original concept of We care because we are West Jet owners too. Anybody who travelled with West Jet will immediately recognize the typical West Jet originality and fun attitude that normally characterize West Jet employees. I wonder if this video will influence a drastic increase of their sales. It would be great to have access to their financial statements and examine if the sales would increased after the video’s release. It would be interesting to see if there are potential connections.

There is no doubt that West Jet’s marketing strategy is strong and ingenious. Releasing the video on their You Tube channel, putting a small advertisement on their website news feed and voila! Wait for the social sharing to beginning. On my Facebook alone, 12 of my friends have shared the video already, and that is not including the friends who have seen it, though it was good but did not share it. Naturally, when you see 12 of your friends sharing the same video, what do you do? Click on it and watch it of course! Nobody wants to be left out of the buzz; you want to know what the cool kids talk about around the water cooler, and I was not disappointed. This video allowed me to witness the humane and humorous side of West Jet and relate to the company. Maybe it is because of my soft sport for the Holiday spirit or the Christmas cheer, but well done West Jet. Well done.

COM0011 – Blog Post 5 – Social Media with the Marine Corps, yes Sir!

I’m not quite sure how I came to find this document, but I’m glad I did. At first, we might assume that any social media policy/document coming out of a government institution let alone a military one would be strict and restrictive. Surprisingly, the US Marine Corps Social Media Handout is accessible, easy to read and to understand.  It is simple and to the point, totally military style! If you can overview the military references to the code of conduct and other policies, the information presented in this document can be used as a base for a good number of different governmental departments, military or not. It is refreshing to see that an institution such as the Marines Corps is pro-active in educating their members on social media. This document is not about scaring or punishing the Marines; it is about letting them know what is out there and how to react to it. The writing style is a lot more positive than any other military publication I have ever read and it encourages Marines to get familiar with social media and use it in meaningful ways. After reading the handout, I had lots of ideas for my own social media platforms. I even introduced the document to my web content officer and started to discuss possibilities. He had never came across the handout so sharing it with him opened a new channel of communication about social media. During that discussion, he suggested a few other governmental venues for me to read about like GCpedia, if you are a public servant. It apparently has a good social media section. 

By producing this introduction to social media document, the Marine Corps recognized that the social media trend is not going away. They took the necessary steps to prepare their members and they did not pretend social media did not exist which shows their  willingness to live in the present and their commitment to be part of the future. The Marine Corps did not stay behind on the social media platform, it really jumped on board. Makes me think of the old saying: ‘ if you can’t beat them, join them.’ The Marine Corps sure did that and I’m convinced it is going to pay off.

COM0011 – Blog Post 4 – My First Time at the Association for Experiental Education Conference

On October 30, I traveled to Denver, Colorado to attend the 41st annual international conference of the Association for Experiential Education (AEE). I had never participated in any of their activities before so I did not really know what to expect. Three packed days of workshops, presentations, focus groups, etc. I attended the event through my work as a youth leader and trainer so the bulk of my workshops were outdoor / leadership / youth oriented, except for one. Saturday morning, I got up early to attend Rita Yerke’s workshop ‘Current Trends in Social Media Marketing for Experiential Education Programs’. One did not need to be experiential education oriented to understand the basic marketing concepts illustrated in this workshop. Basically, it was a 90 min introduction to social media and what you can do to start using them for your business.

I really enjoyed the workshop because it was simple and because Rita, a sweet retired teacher in her sixties, was explaining to a younger crowd how social media worked and how it could reach different category of people and improve business. Brilliant! Rita started her own consultant business and what she knows about social media, she learned on her own. It was impressive to see a lady of her age taking the time to learn about technology. I don’t know about you, but social media is not always well received at my work and it usually worries people. It is a new and strange field and the benefits cannot always be measured. Some of my colleagues are point blank against using social media for work. I assume that it is because they are not informed about social media or because they feel they can’t control it.  Seeing Rita trying to explain how to use social media to a younger outdoor business owners was inspiring. If she could learn, anybody else could. You just need to have the desire.

During the workshop, we were introduced to Erik Qualman, social economics author and digital media/future trends consultant. Social Media Video 2013 The video was to the point and summarized the social media phenomenon very well. At the end of her presentation, Rita gave us a handout that I am planning on using at my work. Maybe it is the ‘desire’ that is missing at work.  Attending Rita’s workshop is just solidifying my belief that my organization needs a social media strategy. My colleagues need to know about the positives and the negatives of using social media for our day-to-day business. I think that understanding the big picture would increase our productivity and open new channels of communication with our clientele. We work with youth, we should be available for them on their own networks.

COM 0011 – Blog Post 3: So many platforms, so little time

Having to post on this blog keeps me on my toes. Every time we have to produce a post, I try to find an interesting article to share. I usually select an article that I enjoyed reading and learned something from. I figured that if the article helps me understand something about social media, it might help someone else. Wishful thinking.

Anyhow, this week being no different than previous ones, I chose an article about Google+, the obscure social media platform. I say obscure because until reading the article, I knew little aboutGoogle+. Yes, I had an account, but I didn’t really know anything about it and how to use it. Well, after reading The Beginner’s Guide to Google+ by Ryan Lytle, I feel more confident about using Google+. The article is good and takes you through all the steps, in short paragraphs, from creating your account to operating your circles and includes screenshots to guide beginners.  It is simple and to the point.

But, I am not sure I will use it more. There are so many different platforms I already use, why would I want to add another one to the mix and dedicate more time to sitting in front of my computer? Once again, Mashable (my new favourite website when it comes to technologies, social media, etc.) offers a pertinent article. My problem with the whole thing is the number of social media platforms I have to manage. Facebook : personal and professional profiles, 3 official pages for work, and more than 10 groups to check on. Twitter: 3 feeds to verify and populate. Pinterest, favourite websites, my personal blog to maintain, the College blog, read all the other blogs I follow, etc. When does it end? Now, on top of all that I should add Google+? When will I sleep? Or enjoy a good old book? You know, those made of paper ‘old school’ things with words in it? I feel like all I do now is about social media, not that it entirely a bad thing, but does one ever take a break? In order to be competitive and knowledgeable, I feel like I have to push the limits further and further every time.

Is there a reputable platform that would be able to incorporate all my social media needs into one place so I can save some time?

 

COM0011 – Blog Post 2 – Twitter Etiquette

I remember when we finally got our first Internet connection. It was a dial up and took forever to load. I could only go online after 9:00 PM so it would not tie up the phone line. My mother was extremely suspicious of the Internet and though it would damaged her computer beyond repair. You know, those viruses! I also remember fumbling around the Internet, trying to grasp how it worked, I joined chat rooms on IRC and asked questions. I was such a newbie. I did not know what to do, how it worked, the conventions, and the abbrevations.  It was really complicated. If I had had better access to accurate information then, no Wikipedia at that time :), I would have been more efficient. Having access to the web like we do now, I would have registered to all sort of feed to learn more.

 

That is why I really appreciated The Complete Guide to Twitter Etiquette by Rebecca Hiscott. Although the majority of the tips mentioned in the article are common sense, it is good to read about them and learn something or refresh what we already know. If you are new at social media or at Twitter, this article is simple and provides good knowledge to create a solid foundation to your social media strategy.

The sound advices provided by Rebecca Hiscott made me reconsider my approach to Twitter and modify some of my behaviors, including increasing my daily number of tweets and interactive posts, as engaging others is one of the keys to a successful Twitter feed.

Since starting this course, I have read so many different articles on different web sites on social media, it made me realized that I did not know as much as I thought I did. It also makes me want to learn and discover more. That is in part why I love reading this blog; it allows me to exchange information or ideas, learn more about topics I would have not necessarily consider, and I feel empowered by the knowledge I am gaining. It is funny how it works. I thought I as done with “school” and academic learning. Never before I would have been so keen and eager to search for information, learn and share it with my peers.

KC Smith

COM0011 – Blog Post 1 – The World Behind Social Media

I had never really questioned myself about the usage of social media. When I discovered Facebook, it wasn’t long before I jumped on that bandwagon and started reconnecting with people from my past. Having travelled a bit, I have friends and relatives all over the place. Social media was the perfect way to keep up with their lives and stay in contact with the people I cared about with a minimal amount of effort. It was great!

My attitude towards social media was complacent.  I was a password sloth, I sometimes posted while annoyed, and I did not really realize how much social media was targeted by criminals. It may sound like I had a sheltered cyber life, but I was aware of junk mail, viruses, online accounts being hacked and I did receive emails about enlarging body parts I did not have (LOL) or receiving money from Bill Gates if I would pass on his letter, but I was able to laugh them off. Who would honestly believe Bill Gates would give you money for a stupid chain of letters? I was naïve in not thinking of how social media could be exploited creatively by criminals. I knew that criminals were using the Internet to commit crimes but it seemed so remote that I was unconcerned.

After reading Social Media Risks: The Basics, I realise that criminals are very sophisticated, they understand the buzz of such emails is dead and are now exploiting the information freely collected from social media such as Facebook in order to craft (semi-)credible requests from what appear to be your friends. I am no longer ‘naïve’. I have already done a few things to protect myself on Facebook: not displaying so much personal information such as my birthday and employment, I reviewed my security settings, and changed a few passwords. When I manage our two official Facebook pages for work, I always use my professional profile.  Creating a separate professional profile was really important for me as it allowed me to be transparent, professional, and fair when speaking and acting on behalf of my organisation. I have recommended it to all my co-workers and they are slowly starting to do so as well. Many of them still do not see the danger of using their personal profiles for work purposes.

Throughout reading Social Media Risks: The Basics, different links to separate articles, published by CSO Security and Risk, were very informative and were an eye opener on the online security topic. I think they are a must to read if one is to work in the social media world. After ensuring my security settings are all up to date, I am registering to CSO Security and Risk Twitter and RSS feeds.

Being safe in the world of social media is just like telling kids not to talk to strangers, we must also protect ourselves in cyberland.