COM0014 Blog #7 – Course thoughts

The main thing I hope to take away from the weeks in this course is how to effectively transition a personal kind of storytelling and branding to a corporate angle. I want to apply these concepts to the new social media accounts that have been created for my organization. The posts we are putting out there are quick bits of information rather than a long caption with a story. We want our information to be quick and precise, with a graphic that grabs people’s attention. I have learned how to tell our story in a way that reflects our brand. I need to use the same voice when crafting the messages.
This is a bit different than writing personal (or business) blogs but I can take what I have learned about storytelling and shape it in a way that can be adapted to whatever story I need to tell. These are lessons that can be applied to not just my current work pages, but can be used down the road if I find myself involved with other social media accounts. Who knows, I may even jump into my own personal storytelling!  

COM0014 Blog #6 – This is my story

Many years ago, a discussion amongst friends was “what’s the one thing you tell people about you, that is the most interesting fact about yourself?” I had (and still do, I suppose) a default answer, and it has become part of who I am rather than just an interesting fact about me. For one year, I moved from home to work at Walt Disney World in Florida. The timeline between application, interview, and acceptance was really short and I had no idea what I was getting into – it just seemed like something fun to do!

I learned so much about myself in that year. I learned I get nauseas when I am nervous; that I take a while to make new friends and open up to people; that I was not out of the ‘party’ stage of my life (even though I thought I was). Living and working there, despite being in a customer service role and sometimes getting annoyed with the tourists, did help me still believe in the magic of Disney (however lame that may sound). I carry all these things with me today. Had I not gone on this adventure I wonder what my story might be. Would things I now think are ingrained about me even have been discovered? Your experiences shape you, and this is one that certainly made me into who I am today, with a little pixie dust to top it all off. 😉   

COM0014 Blog #5 – My personal work brand

From the first interview to this day, I express an eagerness that proves I was willing (and still am!) to take on a role that I had no experience in. I can adapt to change, very often without complaint. Perhaps you could call that compliant? That may not be an overly positive word to use, but I think it describes me. Others (not in my own workplace, but I’ve seen it elsewhere) might be defiant, but that has never been me.
In my role in the student transportation industry, talking to people on the phone is the number one task I do. It is also the task I enjoy the least. I can say I am proud that I have learned over the last few years how to explain policies & procedures in a manner that people can understand and can problem solve quickly, thinking on my feet. It is said that patience is a virtue, and it is definitely needed in my role. There are lots of phone calls that are complaints – I have learned to be patient with callers and listen to their situation without losing my cool – a very difficult task at times! Being the front-facing individual for over 17,000 school bus riders is not for everyone. It is something you grow into – and being as flexible and patient as I have been has molded me into the person who excels in this position. I have no doubt my colleagues would say the same about me and I’ve evolved in this role over the years.

COM0014 Blog #4 – Business-to-customer on social media

I follow my fair share of retailers on social media, but I wouldn’t if there wasn’t some engaging content to keep me interested. Supporting local, and Canadian, is really important to me and there are some  Canadian companies that do social media really well. These brands not only have great products, they are marketed in a way that can draw in returning and new customers alike.

Knix (@knix) has a mix of showing off their products, highlighting celebrity brand ambassadors and collaborators, promoting big sales, and most of all, using relatable looking individuals wearing their products. There is nothing that screams success to me more than seeing people who look like you wearing the product. Knix social media advertises big campaigns, such as one of their most recent, the Confidence Tour, which encouraged every day people to apply to be a part of fashion shows across North America. How could you not love a company and/or product that promotes a simple thing like confidence?! These posts build brand positivity and I can only imagine helps with sales.

Another Canadian company that I put in the same category as Knix is Smash + Tess (@smashtess). They use bright photography, models who are ‘real’ and show off their products in a relatable way. Promoting that these are both women-owned businesses is another thing that is made on very clear on these retailer’s social media. Both of these brands also do giveaways. That may not be bringing in paying customers, but the first step is engagement and that is a simple way to get people to follow. It worked on me! 

COM0014 Blog #3 – Target audiences & social media

I am a big Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and I’ve noticed their social media seems very much geared toward a certain age demographic and highlights a pretty large generation gap. Something I can point to as an example, I, as a millennial, showed my baby-boomer father the team’s latest post of their gameday “fits”, and he just doesn’t get it. ( People of that generation don’t understand this is the kind of content meant to appeal to a targeted audience – one that is much younger than him. The baby boomers then head straight to the comments in articles like this: to complain about why this even matters. Never mind the fact that this content wasn’t created for them in the first place. These things have a specific target audience.

Some of the content is even above my head, as a millennial. I can only imagine how those older than me feel, but the question needs to be asked – are they even online? It seems very clear who the target audience for Maple Leafs social media is, and I would suspect the group who runs the account has done their research.

Typically, a target audience includes those who are already using your products and services (this would be the older fans section). The social media account isn’t there to draw in fans who are 50+ – those people are already there, and they aren’t going anywhere. Generally speaking, loyal fandom is found in older crowds, and having those younger (your gen Zs) become a fan and then stick around is the goal. That generation has so many more options available to them for entertainment that they need great content to remain engaged with a team they have a passing interest in. That is where I think the Toronto Maple Leafs social media is succeeding, whether or not the ‘internet’ joke of the week is going over my millennial head or not.

Like, does anyone over the age of 40 understand this post?

COM0014 – Blog #2 – Bias in storytelling

I watch/listen/read the news a lot. I have my favourite sources and don’t generally sway from those too much. After all, of course I would click on stories that appear in my Twitter feed, from people and organizations that I already follow. I am not seeking out alternative sources. Generally, my favourite pieces are investigative, telling me a story that I wouldn’t see/hear/read anywhere else. Journalism – even the investigative kind – is difficult to be completely bias-free, even if a story is being told as fact-based.

A recent story I read was in the Toronto Star, “Meltdown at the Top of the World” (, a deep dive into what it is like to live in the fastest warming place on the planet. At the heart, it is a human story, with tales from residents of this small town in Norway, but much of the piece is based on scientific fact about the dangers of global warming. While this is a very real and pressing issue, and has been for years, the journalist would not have even considered such a story without having at least a passing interest in covering this topic. You could not get a climate change denier to write this particular story. While some would see this as a problem, that it is only presenting one side of the story, I don’t see it that way. Is this because I’ve grown up consuming mainstream media such as the Toronto Star, and others, which are generally socially liberal? Or has the journalistic bias taken over, and I only read these stories because they appear in my own personal news orbit?

It seems what I can accept as fact in news is that the storytelling I am paying attention to will be telling me stories I want to hear.  

COM0014 Blog #1: My friends took me to the woods

I am not a camper. It is not something my family ever did growing up. Sleeping outside is just not my jam. But let’s not make any quick assumptions here – I love the outdoors, and will hike/bike/paddle to my heart’s content. But at the end of those days, I want to be someplace with a roof over my head and a cushy mattress underneath me. I quickly considered this when friends asked me to join their week-long summer camping trip in a provincial park many miles from home. For lack of better vacation options at the time, I agreed and soon realized I would be in a tent by myself on the hard ground.

There’s my tent, nestled in the trees.

My friends are seasoned campers and considered the campsite pretty luxurious. Nothing like the “hike-in” sites they previously visited. The phrase ‘car-camping’ kept being used. But I thought, if this is car camping, shouldn’t I be sleeping in the car? That would have been preferable to the mosquito-infested tent I found myself in. There is an art to quickly unzipping and zipping back up again the door to the tent. I did not perfect this over 4 nights.

It wasn’t all bad of course. There was a great beach that most afternoons were spent at. I am a beach girl, and if I could sit there all day that was perfectly acceptable to me on this ‘camping’ trip. There were great hiking trails (we may have gone off-roading slightly on one of them – it happens. When in the woods, you’re never lost, you just need to know how to backtrack.) Evenings brought campfire cookouts and roaring bonfires. Campfire stories amongst friends never, ever get old.

One of many campfires throughout the week. Very glad there were no fire restrictions during our days there!

The stillness in the park after dark, after being zipped into my tent for the night, really reminds you of the solitude that nature can bring. I could feel it when I wasn’t sleeping due to the cheap mattress pad I had brought along.

This was the most recent vacation I have been on. Even in the moment, a friend in the group said, “next time, we’re getting a cottage!” so I eagerly await the invite to the next ‘camping’ trip with this group of friends. All of the nature with none of the tenting!