COMM0015-Blog#1 Tools&Sources

Time to type.  It’s been a while since I last posted.  Of course at this point in my Social Media journey, my posts have all been the creative result of my various course requirements and I’ve not yet adopted my own “real” blog space or raison d’etre. I’m certain that what I’ve learned and am learning will be the inspiration for many future contributions in the area of Social Media.  Already, I have incorporated what I’ve learned into many aspects of my day to day career and home life, which brings me back to time.  Time to type.  One of the key things I’ve learned to this point is that in order for any Social Media campaign at any level to have success there has to be a commitment of time and consistency through planning.

We’ve learned throughout the program that you must have a plan and you must know and understand your market, your goals, objectives and yourself.  This type of information does not just appear like magic.  You have to put in the work.  Fortunately there are tools that can help at any level.  Whether you want to invest financially or keep it simple and no cost, there is a tool or two out there that you can use in order to make your efforts more effective.  At home and in my current career position, I’m only beginning to delve into what’s out there.  I work in sales for a HealthCare supply organization.  I’m in the Dental Division so as far as working tools and sources go, what I look for is related to industry news and trends that are affecting practitioners and manufacturers in the business. I’m also more of a content and anecdote guy so I tend to shy away from statistics and data as much as I’m able to do so.  Although I know that will change going forward.

Being a “words” guy means that when it comes to trends and monitoring I tend to keep it simple.  I don’t have a formal dashboard at this time but I’m sure that I will be making more use of that in the future.  I’ve used Google Adwords and seen Hootsuite.  I’ve reviewed many blogs that review some of the best monitoring tools and I promise to learn more about them in future  but for now I tend to use good old URL searches and Google Search for topic related blogs and articles.  I use Facebook searches and I do have an RSS app on my I-pad which is currently monitoring for posts by a blogger named The Dental  Warrior, http://thedentalwarrior.com/ as well as two or three Social Media sites like Social Media Today and others. The Dental Warrior is a site I found recently and I’m somewhat fascinated by the author’s take on many of issues in the industry as he really has a different way of looking at things. I don’t necessarily agree but  that’s okay too.  I usually spend about half an hour a day hitting Facebook and Twitter to see what is being posted by some of the manufacturers that I follow as well as seeing what my own company is posting.  So if I were  say what my two favorite social media trend/listening monitoring tools were I would have to say Google and Facebook’s search feature combined with my own sleuthing skills.  Pretty basic, but it works for my needs right now.  For personal interest like sports or music I usually follow the feeds from the various news outlets utilizing notifications and alerts.

 

As previously mentioned, Facebook, Twitter and Google combined with RSS feeds are my favorite tools for monitoring and listening at this point.  For news and updates, the big three are still my go to tools.  They allow me to simply search out the topics I’m following and scan through either the blogs or the articles that I am following or have searched for.  Within my industry there are any number of sources for news.  One of the most popular is Dental Economics which is the digital version of a print publication that covers most of the trending issues and topics in the world of Dental.  The various manufacturers pages and posts provide a wealth of knowledge for product information and trends.  Media pages and tweets keep me up to date with the state of the world, such as it is.  I won’t begin to discuss that topic here as that is an entirely different area of study, although not without relevance to our subject.

In short, I have a very simplified tool box for my needs.  My feeds, my searches provide me with what I want to learn about and monitor.  RSS does a lot of the work for me. It means that I do a little more work on my part but the  way I have things set up, its pretty automatic and that’s what I like and need at this point in time. You might be interested in some of what is out there for monitoring tools.  Here is a little blog I have book marked that briefly discusses what they consider the top 25. http://keyhole.co/blog/the-top-25-social-media-monitoring-tools/  .  Check it out and let me know if one of your favorites  is there.  Perhaps I can modify my tool box based on your feedback!

 

leofowlerjr

 

 

COM-0014 W-17 Blog post #7 Personal Reflection, “The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things”

And so, at last, we arrive at the end…or is it really just the beginning.  Looking back on this course, in fact this entire program, I’m struck by how much I’ve learned about social media and the world of marketing.  Perhaps the most powerful lesson I’ve learned is the power of story telling and its place within Social Media.  All of my career in sales I’ve been told “have a story to tell and people will listen”.  Sadly all too often in my business the story does get overlooked for the actual price.  But every now and then, you see an example of the power of the story.

Whether it be the success story behind a company or product or perhaps the incredible effort of an individual to succeed, you get to see it in action.  When it happens its magic.  But when you stop to consider the situation, its really not magic.  Its the power of truth and reputation. Once an individual’s reputation was his or her most precious possession and could effect their success in business and in life, they relied on what others believed about them to succeed in their peer group, in their profession and in their business.  This is still the same but now, because of digital platforms, that reputation is presented on a far larger scale.  Great care must be taken to ensure that your story, your true story is the one that your audience hears because that’s the one that will set you apart.  Consider the stories you want to tell.  I for one, am a believer in things that are of value to your audience.  The value doesn’t necessarily have to be tangible, sometimes advice or knowledge that you didn’t already have is worth more than anything you can hold or touch.  Perhaps that’s one type of story I might tell in future.

The careful crafting of your story and its presentation along with the proper understanding of your audience will allow your voice to be heard among so many others.  What happens is that one or two others will see it, hear it, read it and SHARE it.  That’s the secret…they will share it.  Social Media marketing is word of mouth marketing on a grand scale.  You can stand and scream “HELLOOOOOO” into the empty cavern or you can whisper to the group behind you to stand to the left for the best view of the scenery . Which one do you think actually has more impact?  I think I know and in just knowing I think I see a number of directions I’d like to explore.  One more to go!

 

Title Quotation: The Walrus and The Carpenter, Lewis Carroll, from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872

 

COMM-0014 Blog Post#6 So now you know the rest of our story.

Day in and day out, orders come in, they’re processed packed and shipped to customers who expect their delivery the next day on time and complete.  In the central warehouse alone, 50 to 60 people are responsible for keeping customers happy and supplied with what they need to carry out there own day to day duties.  Sounds like a simple concept; orders in, product out, nothing to it, such is the role of a supply company. But this company wants to be something different.  Oh, sure they can deliver the goods, but so can their competitors and sometimes they can do it for less.  So this company wants their customers to know that they offer more.  There is more that customers should be looking for and more they should expect from their suppliers.  The industry is changing and who better to help you adapt to the changes than the people with whom you have a daily relationship.  The Field Sales consultant who brings your information and helps you with your inquiries,  the customer service rep who assists you in getting the right supplies, they all want you to know that there is more and they can deliver it as well.

The world of digital is quickly advancing in the industry.  Diagnostics, communications and even your daily ordering are all being effected.  Who would you turn to for help with these fast paced changes?  The people you work with everyday want you to know that they can do more.  They want you to think of more than cotton rolls and resin re-enforced glass ionomers when you think of them.  Think of a network of over 240 digital specialists with training in laboratory products, software, hardware and training skills.  Think of a group of people who work with your colleagues every day and can do the same for you.  Experienced and exceptional, just like the people in your supply chain. Part of your supply chain.  We are more than supplies. We are Connect Dental and we can help you succeed.  We want to be more so you can do more.  We’ll focus on on your practice so you can focus on your patients.  This is the new indentity of Henry Schein. So now you know the rest of our story!

COMM0014-Blog#5 Personal Brand

So much importance is wrapped up in making that first impression.  How others perceive us will have a huge impact on how they relate to us as well as who they believe we are.  Corporations recognized the truth of these statements decades ago and began creating an image for themselves that we know as branding.  When referring to branding I don’t just mean what Nabisco calls its various cereals.  Branding today includes the notion of the various lines within a company’s offerings as part of the overall Brand of the company.  The” who we are and the what we do” is the branding that I’m referring to in this piece.

With the advent of the internet and social media, branding has now become an essential element in the lives of individuals.  What we once knew as our reputation is now measured and witnessed by others in a diverse number of platforms known as social media.  Its no longer just what you do in the meeting room or at a client’s office.  Today, your reputation, your brand is the culmination of your Facebook posts, your twitter posts, Instagram. blogs, vlogs and emails.  All of this social information, this permanent digital footprint is now a part of your perceived character whether at work or at play.

Coming from my demographic background and being a somewhat reluctant student of the digital world, I’ve struggled to deal with this concept that so much information now makes up what image the world has of me.  I’m never really sure, or for that matter comfortable with where my personal brand ends and where my professional brand begins.  If you were to search around you would find a couple of half started attempts at professional pages and abandoned blogs.  These fossils are the remnants of past efforts to forge a new brand or perhaps better define what actually I am doing right now.

As a Field Sales consultant to Healthcare Practitioners I prefer to be known for my relationship and consultative approach.  I deal with clients as a resource provider and a coach who is there to support and help them build their practice and business.  In both my personal life and my business life I’m known for reliability, knowledge and common sense.  At work I utilize the knowledge gained from 20 years of industry experience, training and education to support my colleagues and clients.  I know I’m not a strong speaker or lecturer so I don’t strive for that role but I am a person that people come to when they need advice. My time in the field and knowledge of the business allow me to play the role of trusted adviser and mentor, guiding others to success while allowing me to advance as well.  Colleagues would tell you that I’m a wealth of information with a great sense of humor. After all, we can’t be serious all of the time!

My down to earth approach to life and my desire to learn more and share what I know are what make me a go to guy.  That’s why I’m taking this certificate program.  I want expand my knowledge and my skills so that I can help others achieve as well. Although I don’t share many views or political thoughts with the well known activist Malcom X, I do believe in one phrase he is known for …”Each one teach one.”

Henry Schein Inc. A B2C Case Study Blog#4 COM0014

Henry Schein Inc. is an American based Healthcare supplier operating in 33 countries worldwide. Henry Schein or Schein as its more commonly referred to, focuses on 3 main areas of distribution; medical, dental and veterinary.  As a supply company, Schein is a world leader in digital technologies and leads the way in adopting new technology not just for its customers in the form of product offerings but in the way they carry out business.  Schein was one of the first in the industry to adopt web sales for their customer base

http://www.henryschein.ca/ .

It comes as no surprise that Schein is also leading the way when it come comes to social media and engaging their customers.  Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all part of the Henry Schein Strategy for engaging and finding new customers and maintaining existing ones.  The company uses social media to broadcast information to its customer base that would probably never be  heard if we were still in a day of traditional media.  Henry Schein utilizes social media to tell its story and to create interest in the company and the people who work there. This story telling has a great influence in humanizing this fortune 500 behemoth for a consumer who is in the business of caring and helping.  The”big 3″ social media platforms are full of posts that bring the customer up to date on what Schein believes in the area of Social responsibility and employee satisfaction as well as industry knowledge and information:

https://www.henryschein.com/us-en/Corporate/SocialResponsibility.aspx

http://https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHenryScheinCanada%2Fposts%2F1593452400667488&width=500

In most of Schein’s posts the story portrayed is one of caring or helping which shows a sophisticated level of understanding of their target audience.  Engaging the customer and educating them to the good things that Schein does as a company.

Schein also uses social media to drive the engaged customer back to their web commerce site. Never missing an opportunity for an ad or a “shop now” link in their facebook pages or to use twitter to announce flash sales.

By executing on the foundations for successful social media engagement, Henry Schein has been able to leverage the power of their digital databases, customer psychographics and profiles to create a hugely successful social media campaign on a global scale. If there is any weakness at all its that sometimes the individual “local” efforts may be lacking in comparison to the global effort but I have no reason to doubt that even this shortcoming will be brought in to line with time and further development of Schein’s digital sales and marketing strategies.

What are your thoughts on some of the links posted in this piece?  Can you see where  the content and feedback show a sophisticated understanding of the target audience?

 

COM0014-Blog#3, The Case for Golf

IMG_3642.JPG

Those who know me know that I’m a golf nut.  I love golf.  I love everything about it.  The time it takes to play, the interaction with your playing partners and the solitudethat you face when making that difficult put. Everything about golf appeals to me.  Needless to say when I saw the suggestions for this third blog post I thought immediately of golf and the importance of knowing your target audience when attempting any type of campaign related to the sport.

Golf has grown from its infancy in Scotland where old men whacked golf balls made of sheep gut around farm fields to one of the most financially successful businesses in sport.  A great deal of research and effort goes into making golf the great game it is today.  Research that involves listening, involvement and promotion as well as deep understanding of who the target market is and in fact creating new markets.  Golf’s markets move across all strata of today’s society. One of the key driving forces for success in Canada is CPGA which is the equivalent of the PGA in Canada.  In both cases there is a strong social media component to their strategies.  This component allows for interaction with the audience as well as, and probably most importantly, an understanding of the profile of their target audience.

Golf in North America was once considered the domain of the wealthy and played only by doctors and businessmen.  Through a carefully constructed campaign of marketing, advertising and social media, golf is now enjoyed by and played by men, women and children across diverse demographics and psychographics.

A simple google search of the term “PGA Demographics” or “CPGA Demographics” can take you into a realm of numbers and statistics gathered by groups that range from real estate services to psychologists.  I once thought Baseball was a stats game; it doesn’t even compare to some of the statistics that are out there related to golf.  Check out this link for a great example although, I must warn that this is a 29 page report: http://canadagolfs.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Canadian-Golf-Consumer-Behaviour-Study_english-FINAL.pdf

Golf in its various national or local governing bodies has taken great effort to involve itself at the physical club level as well as the national level in order to develop a great body of information and knowledge that can be utilized to help create a successful marketing campaign.  Here is an example of a local posting in my area http://www.mapleviewgolf.com/  Note that they have even linked to the Golf Channel to further promote the course to its membership.  Another local course has a Facebook page that allows patrons to post to it.  A simple review of posts reveals the range of patrons at the course, from children to grandparents and all stops in between .

With so many sources for information related to the game and its fans, players and employees, a marketer, especially a social media marketer has a veritable treasure trove of knowledge at their fingertips that they can make use of before launching their campaign.  Most courses have facebook pages.  Many of the course related facebook pages have groups that post to them let alone the comments from the various patrons.  Social media and other forms of electronic media allow the marketer to meet, listen to and interact at the ground level.  No more reading posts in newspapers (although you should include that as well)  its all there.  One would need to be very accurate in establishing RSS feeds or Google tracking.  Knowing what your target audience is and wants is essential in order to reach the rght strata with the right message.

Involved in golf marketing?  Get out there and walk the course both digital and physical.  It’s amazing what you can learn!  What are your observations on marketing and social media related to your favorite sport or hobby?

 

 

COM0014-Blog#2 The More things change…

“The more things change the more they remain the same”.  “Everything old is new again”. These two old phrases kept rolling around in my mind as I read our most recent lesson and began preparing for this blog post.

Throughout our readings I found myself returning to lessons learned back when the earth was cooling and I was studying English literature.  We would discuss the usual elements of stories such as character and plot but most important, we would try to discern what the writer was trying to say, what was the message they were trying to convey to the reader.  Social media writers and readers still share the same dynamic.  Although we may no longer rely on typeset and typewriters to convey our words, our stories, we still must follow the same time tested process of knowing what our message is and we must understand our audiences so that we can achieve the desired effect of the message we are presenting.  Where once there were glyphs on cave walls or spoken words around the fire we now are able to share our message to vast audiences with the push of a button. But beware before you push that button, you need to prepare.  Writers today need to understand the audience they are reaching and know exactly what they want to say lest their message be lost among a sea of competing articles, blogs and even spam.  We must take the time to prepare our delivery so that we catch the attention of the reader and then, even we have that attention, we have to make certain that we present the information in such a way that the reader will remain engaged to the point that perhaps they will act or react as we want them to.

I recall the day when a 1000 or 4000 word essay was welcome because it meant that you didn’t have to be bang on with your point.  You could wander a bit and still be able to structure your message in such a way that your reader could enjoy and stay engaged.  Of course, most of the time your audience was a professor who had read it all before which presented some challenges on its own.  Today, depending on the purpose of your piece, you must remember rules like:

1 Substitute short for long

2. write positively

3. avoid jargon

There are many more rules and guidelines to keep in mind and utilize.  I wont bore you, my reader with all of them although I will recommend a great article that can help you understand the importance of writing preparation.  Check out the article by Alan Martin from Inspired Mag.  It’s a great little piece that I’m going to read and re-read in the hopes that it will help me fine tune my writing for social media and business.  It will likely improve my writing overall. Perhaps you could suggest other on point articles or blogs that can help?

I see by my word count that I’ve gone over my suggested limit.  Oh well, I guess I better keep reading and practicing!

 

Sources:  Business Writing for the Web: 27 Ways to Write Better, Alan Martin, 08/29.201http://www.inspiredm.com/persuasive-writing/

Algonquin College, COMM 0014- W17: Digital Communication, Lesson 2

 

 

 

 

COM0014 – Blog#1 What I did on my vacation.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw what the assigned title was for our first blog.  I had to chuckle…or cry. You see my Christmas Vacation was definitely a bust.  Oh my holidays weren’t  the Clark Griswold bust that we all watch every year delighting in the poor man’s failed attempts to enjoy what for many is truly the most wonderful time of the year, not that at all.  My holiday was one that I’m finding out was quite common for many this year, two weeks of illness.

Starting in early December the great push is on.  I start running around looking for the various items my wife lists off for me, you know, the gifts that she doesn’t have time to get herself.  My approach is one that I’m sure is common to most men my age. Each foray is a carefully planned mission that sees us jump in the car, head to the mall to battle for a parking spot that allows us the correct approach to our target destination.  Time to enter the mall and make a series of lightning tactical strikes as we check off item after item, done in 1 hour, I’m outta here.  Back in the car, a little hand sanitizer and away we go.  I should be safe on that run.  Did I touch the escalator railing?  Oh well, I used the Purell and I’ve had the flu shot.   This series of patrols along with the increased contact with friends and clients as I draw nearer the big day weighs heavily on my mind.  Avoid the flu. Avoid the cold.  Did he cough?

A week to go, all is good.  Some last minute scrambling at the office and I’ll be ready for two weeks with my family.  The boys will be back from University and we’ll all be together.  We’ll all do some skating, visit the in-laws and enjoy a great New Years party with family and friends. December 23rd arrives. No signs of a sniffle.  No tickle in the throat, not even a rogue sneeze.  I’m good to go!  Off to Orillia for a relaxing Christmas.  I’m cooking the turkey and I don’t mind that at all.  Christmas is great, a little public skating … forgot the Purell, but that should be okay, I didn’t really contact anyone although there was that one little girl that was sniffling in the corner of the skate changing room.  Not to worry.

December 29th and its time to hit the road for the trip home.  A quick trip of 4 1/2 hours and I’ll be home with the boys and we can see what trouble we can get into.  There’s football, the World Junior hockey championships.  Oh, the possibilities.  Little scratch and an ahem there, the van air is dry that’s all.  We’re at Peterborough and I’m feeling a little tired.  Havelock, I’ve got a cough and my nose is stuffed.  Perth, I’m home and heading straight in to bed after we unload the van.  As it would turn out, that’s where I would spend the balance of my vacation, in bed. So much for caution. So much for Purell and the flu shot.  I was done. I kept hoping against hope that I’d rise again before New Years.  At least let me celebrate the changing of the calendar!  I would have no such luck and New Years eve would find me still resting in bed.  To add insult to injury…there must have been a heavy snowfall to the south and west of my home as my satellite lost contact about an hour before midnight. I never even got to ring in the New Year.  Oh well, asleep by 11:30, that’s a new one!

I should say that my vacation was not a complete and utter loss.  I did get to see a lot of football and hockey.  My boys were home so the snow-blowing was covered.  I was still with my family even if they only visited me to bring me food and see how I was doing. And lucky me, I did recover just in time to go back to work!

God bless us, everyone!

 

 

Picture This…Blog#6 com0011

The other day I was reading some random blog postings and came across a piece from the Oxford English dictionary on the topic of this year’s words of the year.  Word of the Year. Seems that this year’s word isn’t even a word, its an emoticon or emoji as they are more popularly known. The symbol chosen is actually known as the Face with Tears of Joy emoji.  Wow, a happy face laughing so hard that it’s crying is the word of the year, really.  Social media and the internet have surely brought us a long way.

Our language is constantly evolving, that’s for sure.  No wonder English is considered the most difficult language to master.  Ever changing rules, a hodgepodge of Germanic, French, Latin and now words that aren’t even words.  Over history and time, the English language has been affected by what was going on at the time.  Who had conquered, been conquered, the religion of the day and inventions all helped to shape our language.  No doubt the printing press was one of the greatest contributors to changing our language in form and function. Today we bear witness to modern inventions that are dramatically changing our language…the internet and social media.

We’ve evolved from the written word, to video, to typed letters and on to electronic or email but these formats are older and too slow for todays microwave minds. With the rise of the internet we see means of communication that require speed and quick response like texting where acronyms abound and shortened words like lol (laugh out loud) and btw (by the way) are the norm. Twitter requires the user to make their message in a 140 letters or less.  Instagram is all about the picture.  So why not eh?  An “emoji” is now the word of the year.

Actually, I’m not even sure if the word emoji is officially a word yet.  Could someone look that up for me?  I’m afraid.   It seems like as we’ve gone forward, we’ve also gone backward.  Technology is actually taking us retrograde.  Think about those often confusing restroom signs.  How are you doing with those? Admit it!

I’m probably just too old school.  After all, it is somewhat freeing not to have to worry about all those rules and spelling requirements.  Look at the Egyptians, one of the most advanced societies in civilized history, they did okay, didn’t they?

Our Neanderthal ancestors were quite adept at getting their point across with pictures.  The North American first peoples all used pictograms to communicate.  And yet, somehow I still worry.  I’m just not convinced that we’re going in the right direction when the keepers of our language actually chose what is actually a sixties happy face symbol as word of the year.  Picture/word, picture/word ?

Sure would like to know your thoughts, smiley face, question mark, smiley face with wide eyes, lol.

 

Is the Web Mightier than the Sword?

I never thought I’d write publicly about my thoughts on this one but after last weekend I just felt I had to.  One would have to be living under a virtual rock not to be aware of what has been going on in the middle east and around the globe when it comes to acts of terror.  They’ve happened here in our own country, no one is immune.  Heinous atrocities perpetrated with only one objective,  to divide humanity through manipulation and fear.  Innocent victims used as catalysts to create a society so fearful that they forget the one basic principle that could save us all; we are all human beings.

This past weekend, after the atrocities in Paris I was monitoring social media as well as television coverage of the ongoing situation.  It struck me how we’ve become a society that consumes information at such a frightening speed.  We no longer need or often times even care to verify the validity of what is being said or broadcast.  Just get that info out there, right or wrong, accurate or not.  Feed the masses.  Folks we need to step back.  Take a look at what you’re reading or watching.  Ask yourself just exactly why is that post there?  What is really being said?  I note that at one point over the weekend there were posts on facebook related to the university massacre in Kenya.  This horrible crime took place in April but someone put it out there to fan the flames of division that were building as a result of what was being shared on the web.  There was and still is a massive show of support for the people of Paris and France, for the victims and their families.  Someone or some group used a previous atrocity in an attempt to put forward their agenda of division and imply that because these other people were vicitimized and not “celebrated” those supporting Paris were somehow wrong.  For me, this was the absolutely absurd.  I watched with almost more horror as others began to fall in line on this reasoning.  Manipulation people.  The world of social media is a wonderful tool but please, please stand back, take a deep breath and truly consider what your are reading. Consider what you are posting or reposting because when you don’t that’s when the terrorists truly win.

I’ll close with my facebook quote from that weekend;  its a message to my friends and family and followers.  While I don’t want to be some prophet for peace nor do I claim to have all the answers, I’m just asking for people to realize that social media is used by those who would forward their own agendas regardless of the outcome.  Knowledge is power but always question where that knowledge is coming from and where its taking you.  Here is my post:

Folks, friends one and all. I don’t normally pull out the soap box and give speeches but I feel I have to comment on a trend I see here. There seems to be some kind of growing competition about what to pray for and who to support when it comes to the victims of recent atrocities. Bottom line is that we should be praying for all of them and for all of humanity. Pray that this madness can be brought to an end and support all who are trying to do just that. As small a thing as it might be, even this lack of unity is an example of how effective the actions of these terror mongers are. Don’t let them win at any level. ‪#‎everylifematters‬

The web can be mightier than the sword. Be careful how you use it.

Thank you.