Com0014 – Blog #2: Storytelling & Communication Styles

Short attention spans are ever-present in the modern world. It’s no wonder we have trouble focusing in a time when you can communicate with a friend half way around the world in a matter of seconds, or ask your robot butler to turn off your lights – you don’t even have to walk to the light switch for instant darkness! While these technological advances are fun, they’ve shriveled up our ability to focus to resemble that of a goldfish, which creates quite the roadblock when trying to get people to truly read your content, and that’s exactly what we learned about this week.

Storytelling has been around for centuries, which proves its strong importance. People are drawn to stories, and communicating correctly can help to draw in your audience and immerse them in your content. If someone is bored, they aren’t going to read what you wrote, no matter how much work you put into it. It’s vital to recognize the different types of readers, and take your audience from inspectional phase to analytical phase. Draw them in to form opinions about your content and engage, rather than simply skimming and moving on to the next thing.

One way you can attract a reader’s attention is by speaking in a present voice, rather than slipping into a passive voice, which is something I fall victim to very often. By gripping readers through targeting their reading style and attention, they are more likely to absorb your content beyond surface level and truly engage in digital communication. This is just one improvement strategy, but there are others including proper punctuation, being concise, and encouraging engagement. For example, do you have any tips for writing engaging content? Let me know in the comments below!

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

At the end of last April, I went on a grad trip to Cuba with some of my university friends. We stayed at the Memories Caribe resort in Cayo Coco, enjoying a nice rise in temperature compared to the harsh Canadian weather we were leaving behind. It was all very exciting, as this was the first trip I was taking without my family. Unfortunately, I was about to find out that some things stay the same no matter who I’m vacationing with.

our resort’s beach

The thing about me and vacations – we don’t mix. I have a real knack for getting sick or injured on every trip I go on. From getting the flu the night before going to Mexico, to twisting my ankle in New York City, bad luck follows me on whatever trip I go on. And yet, for some reason I continue to explore the world and manage to find joy while building memories abroad.

This trip to Cuba was no different. My Irish heritage asserted its dominance and let my skin burn to a crisp the first day we were there. I did use sunscreen, I promise. I even reapplied throughout the day, got my friends to help where I couldn’t reach on my back, and stayed out of the sun as much as I could. But, alas, very obvious burns and a mild case of sunstroke were waiting for me.

At first, I didn’t think it was that bad. I never tan unless I burn first, so being a little red was nothing new to me. But as the day went on, my skin got redder and redder. It was very obvious what parts of my body were shaded from the sun by my hat, as my face and neck were still stark white. The lighting in our bathroom made it look even more dramatic, and honestly, I had to take a second to just laugh at myself.

I will say though, this trip strengthened my photo editing abilities when later posting a photo to Instagram. Although in the photo I still look like I got way too much sun, my body actually appears to be one colour instead of looking like a white head stuck onto a pink body. See for yourself:



The full effect of the sun stroke took a couple days to fully make itself known. After some of the previous night’s dinner decided it wanted to come back up, I took the day off from the beach to stay in bed for the morning. That day happened to line up with a storm coming through so I escaped the rain and thunder and got some much needed rest. All was well again.

Despite the pain of the burn, I think in the end it makes for some funny vacation stories. As ironic as the name of the resort is, this definitely created some interesting *memories* that I will look back on with fondness for years to come.

Memories Caribe theme song, via YouTube

Have you ever had bad vacation luck, or is that just me? Where do you want to go on your next vacation? Let me know in the comments below!

When NOT to post on social media

Social media is a great way to keep up with your friends, discuss ideas, and share moments from your life with the people you care about. It can be a great tool to use, but sometimes it’s not a good idea to be posting. Before you post, consider if right now is the best time to be posting or if you should hold off. Here are a few examples of when you should not be posting on social media:

1: You’re Drunk

This one is pretty obvious. If you’re drunk or high it’s generally not a good idea to be posting. You may think it’s a good idea in the moment but then wake up the next morning to regret posting. It’s more likely that while you’re under the influence you’d be posting to your story rather than your regular pages, but a lot of people can still see what you’ve posted in the 24 hours before your story disappears if you don’t realize and delete last night’s shenanigans from your account. Posting while under the influence can make you appear irresponsible, reckless, and unprofessional. Consider who would be seeing your posts or stories and when the alcohol comes out put your phone away.

Photo via

2: You’re Angry

Everything you do online influences your personal brand and how others perceive you. Posting while angry can lead to coming across as an aggressive, rude person. If a potential employer sees you getting into a heated fight on twitter where you’re calling someone derogatory names, it doesn’t exactly scream “hire me”. Additionally, anger is a very influential emotion and by posting when angry you’d be spreading negativity around. It’s normal that in life we go through different emotions and can feel things deeply at times. I think a good strategy in this situation is to write out what you want to post, but save it in your drafts. Don’t give in and post things you may regret later. Take a step back and when you’ve calmed down revisit your draft. Consider the repercussions of it and decide if you still want to post it, or trash it.

Photo via

3: You’re on Vacation

This one often confuses people. I’m not saying you shouldn’t post your vacation pictures, but wait until you’re back home to post about it. This is because sometimes when people post about being somewhere far away on vacation, their home becomes a target for burglars as they know the house is empty. You may be thinking the chances of this are slim and it would never happen to you, but it may be more common than you think. A study found that 78% of burglars use social media to find their next target. It’s totally fine for you to enjoy your vacations and take pictures for social media if that’s how you want to spend your time. Save your photos and post with piece of mind when you return home.

Photo via

Whenever posting anything online, it’s important to think about if you need to be posting it and if you should be posting right now. These are just a few examples of when not to post, but in the end the decision is yours. It’s up to you to determine when to post and when not to post.

Do you have other examples of when not to post? Have you posted something in the moment and regretted it later? Let me know your take in the comments.

Facebook: Everyone is concerned about posting on social media, but do you know when NOT to post? See for yourself:

Twitter: Should you be online right now? See if you should be taking a #socialmediabreak here:

Social Media Conspiracy – #10YearChallenge

Social media has been a vehicle for users to spread and discuss conspiracy theories, but is it at the centre of some conspiracy theories as well?

Earlier this year there was a trend making its way around the web which was dubbed the #10YearChallenge. If you never heard of it, the basic premise was that users on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram would post pictures of themselves from 2009 along with a current picture of themselves from 2019. This wasn’t much of a challenge per say, but provided users with the chance to show how much they’ve changed or “glowed up” compared to how they looked 10 years ago. Many celebrities partook in the trend as well.

Photo via @kellyripa on Instagram

Seems like harmless fun, right? Maybe not. Some people theorize that this trend was started with far more sinister intentions. I believe the theory first became popular when tech journalist Kate O’Neil tweeted about how she wasn’t planning on taking part in the trend, and wondered if there was an ulterior motive behind the creation of the challenge. Kate wondered if the pictures would be used to further facial recognition technology, providing perfect content to train algorithms on age progression.

Photo via @kateo on Twitter

Her tweet went viral and was quickly followed by many others sharing in her suspicions and wondering if there was a greater evil at play. 

Facebook and other platforms already have access to the information you upload, but this trend nicely organized users’ pictures to be re-purposed for training facial recognition algorithms. It provided perfect examples of what people looked like in different stages of their lives, typically accompanied by a caption detailing when the pictures were taken. This created a well organized data set for training age progression algorithms.

Combining Facebook’s poor history regarding users’ privacy on the platform, along with the trend originating on this platform, users started to question Facebook and pester them for answers. Facebook was forced to respond and put out a statement that the trend was user generated and they had nothing to do with the creation of it.

Although it seems that the #10YearChallenge was in fact a trend started by users with innocent intentions, it raised very valid concerns. All the conspiracy theories surrounding this trend is a good reminder to be conscious of what you post online. Whether you’re posting as part of a trend or not, your information can be taken and used for something you didn’t think of or agree to when you uploaded it. It may be fun to post certain things online or take part in a viral trend, but the repercussions could be serious in the end.

Have you heard of other social media conspiracy theories? Do theories like this have an effect on how you use social media? Let me know in the comments below.

Facebook: Online trends can be fun, but are they driven by sinister intentions? Find out!

Twitter: Have you heard of the #10YearChallenge conspiracy? Check it out:

Instagram thinks you’ll “like” this change

We’ve all been there. You post a picture on Instagram or Facebook and wait for the likes and comments to roll in. As the number of likes climbs, so does your self-esteem. But what if you couldn’t see the number of likes, both on your posts and on others?

Photo from

In the years since its inception, social media has been increasingly linked to mental health issues in its users. These mental health concerns related to social media use is especially prevalent in teens, and one platform that has been central to this issue is Instagram. A study in 2017 found a correlation between Instagram use and increased levels of anxiety, depression, and FOMO (fear of missing out).

Instagram is all about putting your best foot forward and highlighting the top moments of your life, or special moments you want to capture and share with your followers. The study also found that Instagram contributes to a ‘compare and despair’ mentality. Users are comparing themselves to the posts from people they follow, and feeling discouraged when their own life doesn’t seem to measure up. Many users’ self esteem is linked to how well their posts perform on social media, and this study showed that teens regularly delete low performing posts.

In response to deteriorating mental health as a result of constant social comparison from its users, Instagram is trying to take steps to eliminate these feelings of disparity. Back in April, the social media platform began hiding the total number of likes a post receives as a test on some accounts in Canada. A few months later the test was expanded to include accounts in six additional countries.

You can see the difference in like count displays in the screenshots below. On the left is the typical version of Instagram that shows the number of likes a photo has, while in the screenshot on the right it doesn’t show the number of likes the photo received.

The current format of showing like counts on Instagram | Screenshot taken from Instagram
The test format of hiding the like count of posts on Instagram | Screenshot taken from Instagram

Removing the like count from a post is Instagram’s attempt at supporting the well-being of its users. Eliminating the like count on posts is designed to minimize social comparisons in the minds of users, and promote better mental health overall. This was explained by the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, in an interview with CBS News in June of this year.

We don’t want Instagram to be such a competition. We want it to be a place where people spend more of their energy connecting with the people that they love and the things they care about.

Adam Mosseri

Despite some initial grumblings from users of the platform, so far it seems that Instagram has seen positive results from the tests, and has begun expanding the test onto parent-company Facebook as well. With 2.4 billion active users, Facebook remains the largest social media platform in the world. Changing the Facebook experience and hiding like counts is sure to create an impact on many users around the world.

Currently there’s been no mention of an official roll out date across all accounts on Instagram, but with the addition of tests on Facebook we can assume the change is inevitable. It’s not a matter of if, but when. This change has the potential to positively impact the mental health of many people worldwide, and here’s hoping it does just that.

Do you like this change? What do you think the impact of hiding like counts will be on the average user? Sound off in the comments below!

Facebook: Can you see how many likes this post has? Soon you may not be able too! Instagram and Facebook have run some tests and may be ready for a platform-wide roll out of eliminating the ability to see like counts. Find out why and learn more here:

Twitter: Facebook and Instagram have begun hiding likes, is Twitter next? Find out more by visiting: #LikeCounts #MentalHealth

5 Tips to Increase Your Social Media Performance

photo courtesy of

Social media can be a great tool, but not if followers aren’t engaging with your content. Throughout my own experience managing companies’ social media accounts, as well as my personal accounts, I’ve picked up on a few elements that can help increase performance. There are many strategies you can use to improve your engagement rate and gain followers, but here are my top 5 tips you can use to improve your performance on social media:

Tip #1: Use Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to highlight key words in a post. Since hashtags appear as a different colour to the rest of the words in a post, this is a quick way to put emphasis on key words to grab followers’ attention. When they are scrolling quickly on their device to catch-up on all the posts in their feed, the hashtags stick out and may be the first words they see.

As a bonus, this tip can also encourage engagement from your non-followers. This can happen when users search by a hashtag to find related posts. As long as your account is set to public, when users search by a specific hashtag your post will appear in their search results regardless of if they are one of your followers. This can bring engagement to your post that you wouldn’t have otherwise received, and could also lead to new followers if they like your content.

Tip #2: Ask a Question
The reasoning behind asking a question is simple: by giving your followers a question to answer, they are more likely to comment on your post with their answer. This is a great way to start a conversation with your followers, and can provide a real benefit if you ask the right questions. For example, if you run a food review blog, it would be a great idea to ask your followers what restaurant you should review next. This way you’re being given great content ideas, as well as allowing your followers to feel included and invested in your content.

Tip #3: Use Media
A simple but effective tip, incorporating photos, videos, and gifs into your posts can garner a lot of attention from your followers. Simply put, movement catches the eye. If your post includes a gif or an auto-playing video, it will attract the attention of users scrolling through their feed. Using media can provide a great benefit and increase engagement rates compared to a static text post.

Tip #4: Manage Your Branding & Voice
Followers don’t want to read posts that sound like they were spit out by a robot. They’ll get bored, they’ll move on, they’ll unfollow. Compose your posts with purpose and pay attention to your voice. Keep aligned with your branding and don’t be afraid to throw around some humourous lines. A post can be both informative and entertaining for followers all at once.

I’ve included an example here from when I worked in marketing within the Alumni Relations department at Wilfrid Laurier University. This was an especially frustrating tweet to initially write since it was a post for our affinity partner BMO to highlight some financial articles on their website. I don’t know about you, but even hearing someone mention “financial articles” I’m already bored. To make the post more interesting to our followers, I tried to find ways to relate it to them and use elements of our branding. The WLU mascot is the Golden Hawks, so I incorporated this element into the messaging to make it more appealing to our followers. Although in the screenshot the tweet has just 2 likes, the analytics report showed many more link clicks than were expected, thanks to the messaging.

Tip #5: Scheduling Tools
Scheduling tools can provide a myriad of benefits. Firstly, it allows for easy scheduling of posts on multiple platforms. There are many different scheduling tools you can use for this, my favourites being Hootsuite or Sprout Social. These tools also provide helpful metrics reports to help you keep a handle on your performance across your social media profiles on different platforms.

The greatest benefit I see with scheduling tools is the suggested posting times. When scheduling a post, the tool will analyze your past performance and industry standards to suggest times where your posts should perform particularly well. Suggested posting times can be very helpful and prevent you from posting at times when your content would get lost in your followers feed.

This tip does come at a price. Many social media scheduling tools come with a monthly fee, but there are some free options. For example, Hootsuite has monthly plans which I recommend if you are managing social media profiles for a company. However, if you’re interested in the tool for personal use, you can access a free version of Hootsuite that comes with limited capabilities, but enough to get the job done.

These tips are a great starting point, but it’s important that you do some testing and see what your followers respond to. When trying to increase performance, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your analytics and see what works for you and what drives your engagement. Social media is constantly evolving and changing, and if used properly it can be an invaluable tool in bringing your brand to the next level.

Do you have any suggestions to improve post performance on social media platforms? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

Facebook: Social media can be a great tool, but not if your content is being ignored. If you’re struggling to increase your engagement rates, check out these 5 tips to increase your performance on social media:

Twitter: If you’re struggling to increase your engagement rates, check out these 5 tips to increase performance on social media: #SocialMediaMarketing