COM0015 – Blog #1: The Bigger Picture; Social Tools and Sources

With today’s social media platforms we are absorbing and sending information out of and into the web at an astounding pace. How do you keep up? What are the best monitoring tools to stay current and up to date on trends, engage with friends, network on a professional level or market your business? The list goes on and on, and the options available to us far exceed the traditional “Top 10” list. Here’s a list of the Top 52 Social Media Platforms Every Marketer Should Know (that’s right, 52)! This list may seem daunting, and it would be if we were using all of these applications, but instead it allows us to do a little research, play around a bit, and help us decide which will work best for our personal or business needs.

If you had to pick two social media trend listening/monitoring tools, would TweetDeck and Hootsuite make the cut? I only ask because they are my two favorites, and here’s why:

TweetDeck#1 TweetDeck is a free social media dashboard that allows me, at a glance, to post and view my Twitter streams, notifications, private messages and activity on one page, in one place, all at once. I use this tool strictly for personal use and found it easy to set up and very user friendly. I like that there is no cost for the app, and I can customize my dashboard to follow specific people or areas of interest through entering key words or hashtags, which helps keep me up to date on current trends and events.

 Hootsuite#2 Hootsuite is a social media management system which, unlike TweetDeck, allows me to manage multiple accounts across different social media networks. In other words, I can see the activity of up to three of my favorite social networks, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, on one page and the basic features are free. It has made the list because of its simplicity to set up and it gives me the ability to post to all of my social networks simultaneously (in real time) as well as the option to schedule future dated posts. It is also a powerful analytics tool allowing you to see how those posts perform by helping me track who sees the content I post. Super handy if you are planning any kind of event, marketing campaign or sharing of information. With this tool, I would not only use it for personal reasons but also for business.

For a more comprehensive understanding between the similarities and differences of these two social media management tools CLICK HERE.

Outside of social posts, I have two favorite sources of information of news and current events. A large number of tweets from Twitter contain links to current news, local events, trending stories, friends, and subjects that I am interested in staying current on, like the healthcare industry in which I work. For me, tweets are sound bites of information that I can ignore or follow as I see fit, and TweetDeck comes in handy to help me stay organized with the volume of tweets on a daily basis.  My other go-to news source is an automatic bookmark, which links to an RSS feed, courtesy of Firefox and contains the “Latest Headlines” from a trusted, global news source. The trusted source is the BBC News, and allows me to catch up and stay current on world news and events.

Following posts on social networks provide me with information that is of specific interest to me on a personal and professional level. The challenge with information from the people participating in social networks, however, is that many posts are opinions and personal views, which can have some bias in the subject matter. Complementing social with information from news sources I trust helps give me the bigger picture.

 

Images Courtesy of: http://www.amyporterfield.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/hootsuite-socialmediamanagement-logo.jpg

http://www.channelunity.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/tweetdeck-logo-300×114.png

 

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COM0014 – Post 5 – Personal Brand

What is a personal brand? Simply put, I believe it is the way that I am seen by others, whether in-person or in social media, through my beliefs, behaviors and activities. To define myself in less than 300 words is not an easy task and to stand out above the crowd, even more difficult.

If my colleagues were to describe me in a few short words, they would say;

Some of the amazing people I have the pleasure of working with! ( I am pictured bottom right)

Some of the amazing people I have the pleasure of working with! ( I am pictured bottom right)

“Lisa is our Administrative Assistant. She leads by example with a strong work ethic and excellent relationship management skills. She is competent, trustworthy and makes sound decisions. She is known for being positive and professional and you can always count on a smile! Lisa is the backbone of the office always making sure it runs like a well-oiled machine”! As an Admin, Lisa is, by far, the cream of the crop!

(OK, I may have added that last sentence)!

My brand represents who I am. I can be counted on for a positive outlook and someone who will get the job done – with a smile on my face – from start to finish. This speaks to my personality and I’m proud of it!   It is always in the forefront of my mind that how I conduct myself both personally and professionally can affect my “brand”.   It is also very important that I continue to grow and develop my skills and that I remain relevant and knowledgeable in my area of work. By taking on-line courses in Social Media, I feel I am accomplishing this and I also encourage others to do the same. Be the best you can be and run with it! I wish to be recognized for my reliability, confidence and optimism.

ConfidenceIn closing, I will leave you with a quote from Warren Buffet; “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

If I am going to talk the talk, I better walk the walk!

References:

http://signalstosuccess.com/unstoppable-confidence-now/

COM0014 – Blog #4 – Perth Brewing Co.

Micro brewing is becoming more and more popular by the day. The growth in this industry is astounding and these businesses create delicious, artisanal beers and are becoming “destinations” that draw people in who want to sample their wares, learn how beer is made and what kind of local ingredients are being used in their products.

IMG_6831My husband and I recently visited the Perth Brewing Company in Perth, Ontario. We first heard of this company through a beer subscription we had through Savvy Hip Hops (side note: this is a GREAT gift idea). Perth Brewery made a smart play teaming up with Savvy in order to get their name out there.

Being such a young microbrewery, in an increasingly competitive industry, it certainly worked in sparking our interest when they were featured in our monthly beer subscription. As a result, we set off to check out this business for ourselves. When we arrived on-site, an enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff member, Megan, greeted us. Her energy was contagious and it was clear she enjoyed her job. She offered samples of their in-house brews and some background around the company. They only use local hops and, proudly noted what set them apart from the rest; their products have always been gluten-free.

The Perth Brewing website was my first stop to find out more about this family-run business and the pictures speak to what their culture is – the pride in everyone’s smiling faces is evident! They offer a great variety of beers for any palate and also offer a “package your own” product for a budget friendly alternative to buying beer from the traditional mega-brewery operated businesses.

IMG_6833Their Facebook page clearly shows this young company is growing and, because Perth is a small community, many of their posts include local events and new products they are offering to their customers, such as their seasonal beer Cascade Invader, as shown in my picture. The tone of these Facebook conversations makes be believe that these people are their neighbors and friends – their feed full of positive feedback and mentions of how they are happily spreading the word on what they believe to be an outstanding product from a local gem of a business.

Perth Brewery’s Twitter feed is filled with customers posting their recent in-store purchases which allows the company the ability to engage directly by thanking and re-tweeting their loyal customers posts. Giveaways were also displayed on their twitter feed linking back to their Facebook page prompting likes and sharing of information. This is an effective approach to using Social and garnering more followers.

Perth Brewing turned us from shoppers into buyers, and ultimately, this is the most important achievement for Perth Brewing or any B2C for that matter.

COM0014 – Blog Post #3 – I have yet to try yoga!

I have never tried Yoga. That’s right – never – but I have been talking about going for ages now. You would think that I would hit a studio – especially since my husband bought me a mat and gift card for lessons – but instead I turned to Google to do a bit of research. I wanted to find out about the different types of yoga classes available to me, and to learn some of the yoga terminology like “downward facing dog”! While I found a bunch of information on yoga, I also found that Lululemon was everywhere I looked, and I was intrigued to find out what made this company so popular, particularly to the Yoga lovers out there!

Yoga - Adho Mukha Svanasana

(in case you’re wondering, this is not me…)

To give you a bit of background, Lululemon opened its first store in Vancouver in the year 2000 and was founded by Denis “Chip” Wilson. Now, with over 200 stores worldwide, what I found most interesting was that Lululemon not only sells yoga and athletic wear for women and men, they are also selling a “lifestyle”. The staff are trained to understand the products they sell, but to also sell a healthy lifestyle and fitness in general. This approach has allowed them to build a community with their loyal clientele, who practice yoga and appreciate modern, high quality and fashionable athletic wear.

Lululemon listens to this community in designing their products. You just have to check out Lulu’s Twitter Page to see that they are actively listening to their client’s wants and needs, and are actively engaging with them. They also show their community what they’re working on, using their Instagram feed, with over 1 million followers, to show off their product with gorgeous pictures and fun segments like this rendition of our National Anthem!

I have yet to hit the Yoga Studio, but I am following Lululemon on Twitter and Instagram now! I feel like I’m one step closer to mastering the perfect plank in their “Drop it Like it’s Hot” tights, but for now I will follow the experts and get a little more comfy with yoga before I take the final plunge…err, lunge!

If you are a yoga lover, I would appreciate any recommendations or words of encouragement for a beginner like me! Also, should I be worried that my husband bought me a yoga gift card or happy he knows me so well?

References:

http://www.numberof.net/number-of-lululemon-stores/

http://shop.lululemon.com/home.jsp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lululemon_Athletica

http://freeyogaforbeginners.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Yoga01.jpg

COM0014 – Blog #2 On-Line Storytelling – Staying on Point

If you are looking to improve your on-line storytelling, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure you get the point of your story across:

  1. Appeal to Your Audience:  You’ll never please everyone so know, understand, and focus on your audience.   Provide relevant content that appeals to them.
  1. Clear and Concise:  Stay to the point and grab the attention of your audience. Make sure you build your story with a beginning, middle and an end.
  1. Engage:  Speak to your audience, ask them for feedback and encourage questions. Most importantly, be sure to connect back and acknowledge them when they do participate in discussions. We all like to be a part of something that makes us feel wanted and appreciated.
  1. Proofread:  Correct grammar, punctuation and spelling are imperative!  Be sure to read, re-read and read again before you post your story.
  1. Keep on Writing:  The more you write, the better you will be. Practice makes perfect and the art of writing is like a fine wine, it will get better over time.

Green Eggs and HamAs much as we worry about having meaningful face-to-face conversations, the same can be said for our on-line storytelling. Am I interesting, smart, funny?   Will they like and remember me? These are important, but the whole point of engaging with your audience is to get your point across to them.

When we write a blog, tweet, or update our Facebook status, our story is crafted and carefully thought out. We can take a moment and think about what we want to convey to our audience and how we want to set that up (having the ability to edit, edit, edit, also helpful). The point we’re looking to make will guide the story that we tell. Straying from that can lose the audience, which is why the focus on the story and the audience is so important.

Unlike the “real time” of face-to-face storytelling, social media buys us time when it comes to compiling our stories. By putting together a story that is crafted using the points above, I am able to better articulate the points I want to make in a way that my audience will love.

Creating a story that is compelling and engaging fosters discussion with your audience, and turns the story into a conversation. What conversations have you had on social, lately?

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/43181281@N05/

COM0014 Blog #1 – The Vacation I Barely Remember

WHO DOESN’T LOVE TO TRAVEL? I feel I can speak on behalf of the masses here and say that most of us do! And, for some of us, a portion of our well-earned vacation time is also spent visiting family and, this summer, I did just that.   Off to Vancouver I went where my brother and his family live. Admittedly, I have made this trek several times (no complaints here) but this time, we thought we would shake things up a bit.

Okanagan Valley

Okanagan Valley

ROAD TRIP! No sooner did I arrive in Vancouver, we all piled into the car and made our way to Kelowna. Okanagan valley wine country, here we come!

FUN FACT! Did you know there are over 150 wineries in this region? I did not, nor had I ever been to a winery (much less 12 in two days – please don’t judge) but I would highly recommend adding it to your bucket list!  The scenery alone took my breath away with majestic mountains and crystal blue lakes making the perfect backdrop to these sprawling vineyards full of plump, delicious grapes that were ripe for the picking!

I like to compare the wineries as the adult version of a candy store! Ice Wine, Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Gewürztraminer; every wine imaginable and, from our tastings, BC wine is stellar!

MY FAVORITES! As I mentioned before, we toured 12 wineries in two days and they all had a charm of their own. There were, however, a couple that really stood out and that I would highly recommend.

Gray Monk Estate Winery is “one of the original five estate wineries that started the wine industry in the Okanagan Valley”. It is the Okanagan Valley’s only original winery that is still operated by its founders, the Heiss family. It was here where I drank my most memorable and absolute favorite Pinot Gris (not readily available in Ontario #sadface)! This wine was full of citrusy goodness with a smooth finish and I would go back just for this wine alone!

Then there was Mission Hill Winery. The natural beauty and architecture of this vineyard was unforgettable. Top that with an exceptional meal at their Terrace Restaurant with delectable dishes and the perfect pairing of wines was, simply amazing!

IMG_6539

A few of us would agree there’s nothing more enjoyable than good friends, good food and good wine. This was a wonderful summer vacation, and one that I barely remember!

So, my wine loving friends, have you toured any wineries and what were your favorites?  Also, please feel free to share your favorite wines with us here, I’m always up to trying new “candy”!

Photo creds to me 🙂

http://www.tourismvancouver.com/do/explore/bc-wine-country/

Go Ahead – Quiz Me! COM0011 Blog #6

Lately, my Facebook feed seems to be full of quizzes. They can be somewhat amusing and have come in handy when faced with a Quiz Pic little extra time i.e. picking up the kids from activities, waiting for that oil change or sitting in the hair salon chair. With just a few clicks, I can find out my IQ, which popstar should be my best friend or which career I should actually have (apparently, I should have been an astronaut – I may have missed that boat…err…shuttle)!

Admittedly, I have done a few in my day but it begs the question…are these quizzes designed purely for entertainment?

I think not.

Does your privacy matter?

An article “How It’s Done: Internet quizzes may collect more than your answersoutlines a few things to consider before you begin your on-line quiz:

  • If you take an online quiz, resist the temptation to share the results on Facebook or other social Privacy Picnetworking sites.
  • Don’t take a quiz that requires you to sign in with personal details.
  • Never take a quiz that requires you to submit your credit card information.
  • Questions that might “seem very innocuous” — “What street did you grow up on?” for example — may be aimed at ferreting out your account passwords or answers to security questions.
  • And most of all, “be mindful,” noting that if you take Internet quizzes routinely, you may get so “used to doing these things that you don’t realize that you’re giving away your privacy.”

What exactly are we giving up?

 Data Collection

 The following video is part of a “trailer” for an on-line game.

 

There is big money to be made from information about you, your family, and your friends. Companies pay big bucks to learn as much about us as they can, and use that information to get more info out of us or sell us their wares. As the adage goes: “If you’re not paying for a service, you’re the product, not the customer.” A lot of the content we click on or engage with – like online quizzes – is designed to collect information about us to target us with ads or for sale to other organizations.

I normally don’t share my quiz results on social (unless my IQ score is 126)! For many, privacy is a big concern and I’m curious if you are concerned with putting too much information out there? Does privacy matter to you?

GOOD NEWS! If you believe you may be spending too much time taking quizzes, click HERE to find out because there’s a quiz for that too (before you do, please see above bullet points)!

 

 

 

References:

http://www.neontommy.com/news/2014/03/top-9-best-buzzfeed-quizzes

http://lancasteronline.com/lifestyle/how-it-s-done-internet-quizzes-may-collect-more-than/article_c58e438a-9b2b-11e3-8304-001a4bcf6878.html

http://lifehacker.com/5887140/everyones-trying-to-track-what-you-do-on-the-web-heres-how-to-stop-them

Image: http://www.simplyzesty.com/Blog/Article/August-2011/Why-privacy-is-an-outdated-concept

Promoting Local Business Through Social – COM0011 – Blog #5

When it comes to getting your company name out there, it’s hard work. When you add building a stellar reputation and generating repeat customers – especially in the food industry – it can be a monumental task.

We live in Kemptville, Ontario, located just a short drive south of Ottawa and, for such a small town (approx. 3200 residents), we are extremely lucky to be surrounded by good eats!

We love to support local businesses and our neighbors who own these establishments. It is important to us that they get the recognition and support they so deserve; they work so hard!local business

There are two businesses in our area that are an excellent example of creating a successful marketing campaign by using several different media types; Advertising (conventional and word-of-mouth), community networking, branding, social and involvement in the local business scene are a big part of their success.

Here’s why!

The Branch and Texas Grill

Situated in “Old Town” Kemptville, The Branch was featured recently on “You Gotta Eat Here!” (segment starts at 14 minutes), and is a local favourite. Bruce and Nicole’s mission is to “support small scale, sustainable farmers and producers; to promote music and arts; and to celebrate fun, community, and a creative spirit”. They do this by supporting and participating in the Kemptville Farmers Market, they bring in live local music to entertain dinner guests and invite locals to the restaurant for weekly “open mic” jam sessions! Don’t even get me started on the amazing food and microbrewed draft beers (I encourage you to find that out for yourself)! Bruce and Nicole are also very active on Social (check out their Blog) and are always promoting and sharing local business news, including their competitors because they are smart! A thriving downtown Kemptville will benefit everyone in the long run!

Comfort by AJ’s

Phil and JesRecently reviewed in the Ottawa Citizen, Comfort by AJ’s consistently gets rave reviews for their upscale “comfort” food. Jes and Phil’s mission is simple, “We believe in good food done right, from scratch, no short-cuts ” and they never disappoint! They have also been featured in a local blog by Erika, who sings their praises for a Sunday brunch experience like no other, and we couldn’t agree more!  Also active in the community at our local weekly Farmer’s Market, the annual Dandelion Festival and promotion through Facebook and Twitter.

Whenever we see the people of our community on TV, in the newspaper or on Social, we can’t help but share their excitement! With a few kind words or the click of a mouse, we are able to spread the word using tools such as Facebook, Twitter and  Instagram. If you have a chance, I would encourage you to check out their Facebook Pages and “Like” them:

These restaurants have a presence. We hear about them, and from them on-line.   By staying engaged with their community, the community can then share it beyond our small town. It is a collaborative effort – and it pays off! We get good eats and they get great press! How can we not get behind these wonderful people? They are an excellent example of how I would like to operate a local business one day!

How do you promote your local businesses and what are some of your favorites?  Also, a recommendation for a fabulous restaurant is always welcome!

 

References:

http://www.comfortbyajs.com/

http://www.thebranchrestaurant.ca/

Social Customer Service – COM0011 – Blog #4

Remember how customer service with big companies felt like just a few short years ago?

Today, if we were to experience poor customer service as shown in the video above, you would most likely see a frenzy of people recording these events with their smartphones and posting them to their YouTube, Twitter and Facebook feeds!

Before Social Media, options to handle situations, such as those in the video, were limited. You could demand to speak to the supervisor, write or fax a complaint letter to the company or place a phone call. Lets use a phone call as an example: If I was to provide negative feedback around a product or service, that conversation was between myself and the individual on the other end of the phone. When that conversation ended, all that remained was dead air and I would have no idea what, if anything, was done with my feedback.

Those days are gone!

Mobile Technology, the Internet and social media have forever changed customer service and consumers have multiple ways to connect directly with companies to let them know how we feel. We will also share our experiences globally and more times than not, influence what people buy, where they buy and whose products to buy. Here’s a great article on the power of “word of mouth”. It’s no wonder companies are working very hard on providing exceptional social customer service because “fact is, being treated well has and always will matter to people”.

Below are some of the challenges faced by companies when it comes to proper social customer service:

  • Customers expect quick responses to their concerns or your brand faces a black mark
  • Due to the “sheer volume of conversations out there”, it can require a lot of resources ($$) to manage them properly
  • Meaningful and personal responses are expected!

Despite those challenges, companies have a real opportunity to connect with their customer and build strong relationships with them using what social media gives them. It’s a very competitive market, and some pretty “awesome companies” are going above and beyond when it comes to their customer care. No matter what the size of your company, you need to make sure you’re connecting with your customers, and paying attention to what your competition is doing to connect with them, too. Companies can use social media to create an amazing customer experience.

I would love to hear about a positive experience you’ve had with Social Customer Service and whether or not you used social media to share that experience with friends and family.

 

References:

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/ignored-side-social-media-customer-service/

http://www.slideshare.net/helpscout/the-busi?utm_source=slideshow02&utm_medium=ssemail&utm_campaign=share_slideshow_loggedout

http://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-for-customer-service-guide

Picture: Google Images

 

 

 

COM0011 – Blog #3 – Let’s talk GIF

The world of social media is always evolving and this week has been no exception. One thing in particular that caught my eye was Twitter announcing that we can now send and receive animated GIFs. I admit, it wasn’t until recently that I even knew what a GIF was, let alone that it stood for Graphic Interchange Format. You will find the technical definition here but most of us know animated GIFs as “short animated graphics that can really punch-up sharable content” often by adding humor and visual interest.  Tweeters are already excited about the news!

GIF vs. JIF  Before I go any further, let’s get the pronunciation straight! I have always pronounced GIF with a “hard G”, however, according to Steve Wilhite, the inventor of the GIF, it is pronounced with a “soft G”.   I do question his decision since “graphic” is pronounced with a “hard G”, right? Right! But that doesn’t matter. It is pronounced with a “SOFT G” – period, the end!  How have you been pronouncing GIF?  I am quite certain I will continue to mispronounce it – I just can’t wrap my head around the “soft G”.

It’s been around for how long?  CompuServe introduced the GIF in 1987! Yes, that is correct, 1987 and animated GIFs followed two years later. Twitter announcing that they have now incorporated animated GIFs into their code on June 18, 2014 feels the same as me announcing, “Hey everyone, did you know you can rent betamax movies at Blockbuster?”.

So, what is all the fuss about?  What’s that saying…everything old is new again? Marketers of today will jump on this opportunity to find new and exciting ways to use animated GIFs to market their brands through tweets. An article I read by Socialbro lists the following 8 Marketing Uses For GIFs on Twitter:

  1. Stand Out
  2. Tell a Story
  3. Show your Advert
  4. Showing Off
  5. Demonstrating your Product
  6. Go Viral
  7. Add Personality To Your Customer Service
  8. Share Pretty Things

This opens up some exciting new opportunities for businesses and marketers and I would like to know if you’ve already seen some of the examples above being used on Twitter, after all, it’s been almost a week now, which is close to “old news” in social! 🙂

 

References:

http://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-announced-gif-support-best-reaction-tweets-far/

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/an-honor-for-the-creator-of-the-gif/?smid=tw-nytimes

http://www.socialbro.com/blog/8-marketing-uses-gifs-on-twitter-gifsontwitter