COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools and Sources

I have to admit that I am very new to using listening tools in social media so I have a very limited list to choose from.  Currently I have been happy using Facebook Insights that come with the creation of a page.  I began using this tool primarily because I required something free, easy and quick.  It began before I started this course and although I had always been listening to our Facebook audience, I wasn’t using tools to help, even the free one.  Tracking the likes and unlikes are made obvious with this tool, as well as tracking successful posts and comments.  It helps to give us a sense of what worked really well on Facebook and what was a complete flop.  I get the most action on our Facebook page so using the tool provided by them is helpful since I am on there every day.

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Created by Evening_tao – Freepik.com

 

The second tool that I was introduced to by the management team at my work is Hootsuite.  It provides me with a dashboard that allows me to schedule posts among our social media platforms.  It’s a great tool since my workplace has some funny hours and busier moments.  It helps make posting to social media somewhat stress-free by allowing us to schedule posts in advance over any of our social media platforms.  It also allows the user to monitor comments, messages etc. for each social media network. This works great for me since I can get overwhelmed when there is a wealth of information staring back at me.  Sorting through it is easy and I find that I am able to keep great track of what is happening in each of my social media networks.  It also isn’t very expensive when bought as a professional (1 user).  There are different options for larger businesses which provides the base features offered in the professional package, plus much more.

Why I like both social media listening tools over others right now is that I am familiar with them.  I’m looking forward to trying out other low-cost tools but there are just so many that I find myself wondering where to start and what to research.

As for sources of news and updates, I do find myself most often on Upworthy and Huffington Post Canada.  Upworthy typically has positive stories centering around movement makers and the purest do-gooders.  With so much ugliness in the world it is nice to have beautiful stories at my fingertips.  I like Huffington Post Canada because of their grassroots beginnings and their Canadian focus.  Although I wouldn’t call myself politically savvy, Huffington Post Canada does seem to be my go-to for politics.

I look forward to building on both the listening tools I am using and my news sources.  From reading previous posts by classmates I already have a few great starting points for both 🙂

COM0014 – Blog #7: Personal Reflection

Through this course I not only learned a lot about social media communication and storytelling, but I learned a heck of a lot about myself.  I’ve always been interested in blogging and telling my story but something always held me back.  It was written in the last lesson exactly why I do hesitate:  my fear of looking foolish.  It felt like that last lesson was written just for me (thank you, Nelly!).  I realized a long time ago that I do have a story to tell but have wondered if I was good enough at telling it to be successful.  Last thing I want to do is to share these stories that are so close to my heart only for them to be laughed at or even disagreed with.  I see now that looking foolish is often part of the process, and I need to gain the confidence to tell my story authentically and be able to bounce back from any negativity.  I may not come immediately but I think it will come eventually.

I think many of my stories will be ones that people can connect to.  As mentioned before, a lot of them would be about our pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) experience and life at the amazing Toronto Ronald McDonald House.  I have a responsibility to bring awareness to Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernias (CDH) as there is so little funding for a not-so-rare birth defect.  Even this school blog is hopefully getting a few of you googling CDH and helping me meet my objective.  No matter what I want to do in the future with social media, I know I can link these stories to anything I do.  Why?  Because it’s who I am!  For better or for worse, it’s who I am now 🙂

COM0014 – Blog #6: Do People Know Your Story?

One of my favoutite things about working at the public library is our connection to the people in our community.  They depend on us for help researching information and with technology based questions.  One customer service story has stood out to me over the years as one of my favourites, and I wanted to share it with you.

We had a gentleman come in who confessed that he lacked any computer skills but needed to get on a public computer to download and print a form.  I could tell he was slightly embarrassed and not too excited to be there.  I wasn’t running a one-on-on tech session at the time but figured if he left, he wouldn’t have come back again.  I showed him the basics and walked him through a few things so he could obtain the form.  Afterwards I left him be in the hopes that he would stay a bit longer and familiarize himself with the computer.  I told him I was happy to help with any questions that arose while he surfed.  He didn’t stay for long and he thanked me for my assistance as he left.   A few days later the same gentleman came in and logged in.  He saw me and again I let him know I was here to help if needed.

Fast forward to two years later and he comes in frequently to to use the computer on his own.  He continues to thank me for my initial assistance the first day he came in.  It is so rewarding seeing that the short time I set aside for has him now fairly computer savvy.  It really is worth giving that extra time for our patrons.  He’s now a life-long public library supporter and frequent library user.

COM0014 – Blog #5: Personal Brand

Some personal qualities and characteristics that set me apart from some of my competitors has a lot to do with my personal life.  In 2014 our youngest of three children was born with a life threatening birth defect call Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH).  We went through the scary process of prenatal testing to determine how severe her CDH would be and she remained in the hospital for 3 months after birth, has had multiple surgeries and upon coming home was fed through a gastrostomy tube.  She struggled to survive, I struggled with some stress induced OCD tendencies and my family struggled financially and emotionally.  It was hard, no doubt, but we somehow figured out how to make it all work out and came out of it happy, healthy and stronger than before.  I feel I really have something to offer to others because of our experience that not many people can offer.  I do think it makes our family stand out.

I think my colleagues would say that my best trait is my ability to connect with others.  I do feel like I have an ability to make others feel comfortable when they are around me.  I don’t ever take myself too seriously and have a knack for sensing other people’s moods and personalities.  I’m comfortable being vulnerable in front of others and I believe that makes them more comfortable to let their guard down, making conversations easy and more natural.

I’m most proud of my ability as a mother.  I don’t know if many people could take on what I take on every day.  Truthfully, sometimes I even have a hard time!  It’s not easy, but I’m able to keep laughing when others would yell or cry.  I’m thankful for my sense of humour and my ability to recognize what’s worthy of stress.

 

COM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study

I follow a lot of local businesses usually because I am interested in their product but often because I am impressed with their social media presence.  One of these local businesses is Grandma’s Beach Treats in Wasaga Beach.  It’s a small locally-owned ice cream parlour which also makes award-winning butter tarts and fudge, among other delicious treats.

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Om nom nom nom!

Since Wasaga Beach is a tourist town, there are multiple ice cream shops in and around the beach, but Grandma’s Beach Treats has always stood out to me because of their social media strategy.  They seem to understand the bonuses of being active on social media and even have a few tricks to make sure they stay on people’s minds.  The major thing that they do on social media is the “name game”.  Every day they post a name and if it’s your name you are entitled to a free ice cream, butter tart, tea or coffee.  Not only does it get people liking their Facebook and Twitter pages but the posts are often shared or retweeted multiple times by friend’s of the winning name.  They have well over 2500 page likes on Facebook while the second most popular ice cream joint in Wasaga Beach has slightly over 600 likes.

 

I can’t give their social media presence all the credit as Grandma’s Beach Treats is highly active in the community, providing coupons for children’s sporting events and donating treats frequently for community gatherings.  They also make sure to capitalize one these events as they post where they are and what they are participating in as well as having grateful community members post thanks on social media.

Their Facebook presence is impressive.  They obviously have someone dedicated to listening and posting while implementing some contests and interesting news to keep people coming back to their page and into their shop.

 

COM0014 – Blog #3: Target Audiences

Working in the public library we are constantly thinking of our target audience.  Whether we are purchasing books for our collection or budgeting for programs and events, it’s on our mind and helps to guide a  lot of the decisions that we make.  Our aim is daunting as we try to please our whole community of 18,000+.  With the limited budget that public libraries are faced with, it can be difficult to decide how to spend the funds.  We really need to research our target audience to figure out what services need to be provided.

We have the advantage of being able to look at the Census provided by Statistics Canada to see who is living in our community.  There are a lot of senior retirees, both male and female, that live in our community and frequent our library.  After receiving feedback through customer survey we created and distributed, we realized that free or inexpensive outings for seniors were lacking and have since starting providing computer workshops, day trips to museums and literary events with seniors in mind.

Although it is important to know who is already invested in the library and make sure we are providing them valuable services, it is as important to figure out who isn’t coming.  We can then try to figure out why they are not interested in the library and try to create programs or events that will engage them.  We currently have that issue with the teens in our area.  They are not using our services as much as we’ve seen in other small towns.  We’ve tried a few programs geared towards them that unfortunately flopped.  Our next move will be reaching out to them through social media or through the school system to get feedback on what they are looking for and need.

COM0014 – Blog #2: Putting Myself in the Reader’s Shoes

There are so many blogs out there dying for your clicks and begging to go viral.  We, the readers, are the ones who decide what blogs are successes so I decided to examine some reasons why I end up clicking and sharing a particular blog while completely ignoring and even blocking others.

Storytelling really is a huge part of what makes a blog successful in my eyes.  I’ve found it extremely hard to nail down exactly the kind of storytelling I like but there are a few non-negotiables I seem to keep going back to.  Poor spelling, punctuation and/or grammar are the first things that prevents me from reading on.  No matter how good the story is, a poorly written blog gives me the sense that the author isn’t credible.

I also find as a reader I have a particular style I lean towards.  I like funny stuff!  I even like it better when the content is informative, current, and still somehow funny.  It’s a fine line to walk, especially in an age of being easily offended, but it’s gold when I find it.  When I find a piece on social media that really engages me, I feel a responsibility to share it.  I think that finding your audience is a huge part of the process and once you’ve attracted them with your storytelling and style, they’re a shoe-in for shares.

Putting myself in the reader’s shoes while writing a blog really keeps my eye on the prize.  It helps me figure out who I am trying to attract and for what purpose.  It also helps me examine the reason I am writing and hone in on what could make my blog a big success.

Let me know in the comments what storytelling style you seem to be drawn to?

COM0014 – Blog #1: The Long Drive

“You’re crazy!”  They said.

“Those poor children,” I heard them mumble under their breath.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, swimming, child, pool and outdoor“You know it’s a 24 hour drive, right?”  I did!  Despite their concerns, we drove to Florida with our 6 year old, 5 year old and our almost potty trained 2 year old.

After being pregnant and/or nursing for what felt like a full 5 years, we decided that we should finally try a family vacation.  The obvious choice for a two week getaway was Lake Placid, Florida since my family owns a cute little mobile home in a retirement RV park.  It was going to be affordable (free) and pretty low-key, which was a bonus since three young children was going to keep it exciting enough for my husband and I.

We left home at 2am in the morning thinking we could get a lot of driving out of the way while they slept.  They didn’t sleep.  The air was full of excitement as we began our drive, with the “are we there yet?” questions starting an hour in.

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When pneumonia got you down but you’re in paradise!

Surprisingly, we made it in 2 days, arriving at our Floridian destination at 5:30pm on Christmas Eve.  I often went to Florida as a child and my memory of citrus scented air was accurate.  We immediately changed into our bathing suits and took our golf cart down to the pool.  Unfortunately, my daughter (aka: the 2 year old) was battling an RSV infection.  With a history of pneumonia, I knew I had pushed her wheezy cough long enough and decided our first touristy stop would be the local ER where pneumonia was confirmed.  To the relief of myself and our travel insurance company, she was not admitted, just given a few drugs to start and strict instructions. A few days after that she felt better and our vacation really began!

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Uncle Wader’s Catch a Gator Pond at Gatorama

We decided to skip the Disney thing this year because 90 minute line ups ain’t my idea of a vacation.  Instead we hit up Gatorama and went on an air boat ride to see even more gators.  We also ate some gator gumbo and let the boys drink some Gatorade.  When we weren’t sticking to our gator vacation theme, we swam multiple times a day and tried to hit up as many exclusively US restaurants as my arteries allowed.  We snuck in naps when we could and enjoyed the feeling of flip-flops on our feet in December.  It was relatively quiet and unadventurous, and somehow perfect.

The drive home included sibling and marital arguments, snowstorms and urine soaked car seats.  You would think that my older children would now understand the length of this drive, but the “are we home yet?” started about 30 minutes in.  We came home tan, rested, and full of appreciation.  My boys are looking forward to Florida next year… as long as we fly.

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Mom Worry

Before I had children, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I knew the mom I wanted to be, but wasn’t stupid enough to think it would be that easy.  I knew there was going to be sleep deprivation, tantrums, teething and wrestling.  I also knew I would worry.  I thought I would worry about them getting lost at Wonderland or their schooling.  I wasn’t prepared for the amount of worry I would live with since having them.  And yes, I still worry about Wonderland and school, but there are so many scarier things I come up with in my head.  Often my worries aren’t even probable at the time I am worrying.  I worry about drowning when they are asleep in bed, car accidents when we are watching a movie.  It is one of the only things that I don’t like about being a parent… all the worry.

I was talking about a potential camping trip my boys were invited on with their paternal grandmother.  I was talking to my aunt, who I admire a great deal.  I was telling her how I don’t think I could let them go because I’m worried.  I’m worried they’ll be scared, they’ll get lost, they’ll swim out too deep and God forbid.  I fully expected her to agree when I told her that I’m not letting them go, but she disagreed with me.  We went deeper into the conversation and told me she believes that parenting has changed since she was in her prime mothering days.  We parents now-a-days worry about everything, she says.  We discussed it further and I tried to dig deep into the reason I worry so much.

Social Media.

Just in the last few weeks my brain has been bombarded with the tragic and fluke accidents of children all over the world.  First the Cincinnati Zoo incident, then the Disney alligator attack.  Did you also know that cinnamon can kill you?  Ever heard of dry drowning?  These are the stories and warnings I read on Facebook on a daily basis.

I don’t know if I can change.  After my daughter’s first few months I got hooked up with a doctor so I could talk through my feelings.  I brought up the worry, and we tried to work through it but not much has changed.  I think I have a bit of a problem but I’m surrounded by moms who struggle and worry the same way.  Are we the new norm?  Is this sometimes all-consuming worry a part of 21st century parenting?

My aunt seems to think so.

So no, my kids won’t go on this camping trip.  I say they can when they can swim well enough on their own.  I hope I mean that.

I Look Real Good… on Social Media

As I scroll through my Instagram account, I’m berated by beautiful pictures of well-behaved children gazed upon by their flawless looking mothers.  It’s all smiles and love, with hashtags like #lovethem and #perfectfamily.  Won’t lie… half those pictures are my own damn posts.  But as we know, social media sites allow us to share our most shareable moments while hiding our most embarrassing or depressing.  We are now even able to add filters to make our dark circles disappear and our skin look flawless.  I’m a frequent user of the “make-me-sexy” lens on Snapchat.  One slide of my finger and I look amazing.  Add that “flower-crown”thing and I’m straight out of a magazine.

For the sake of being transparent and (fingers crossed) entertaining, I thought I’d give you glance of my reality juxtaposition with my social media “perfect life”.Displaying IMG_2066.JPG

The three pics above were taken within minutes of one another, and holy, what a difference.  The one on the left gives the impression of amazingly clear and even skin, which I do not have.  My smile lines are diminished and the lighting even shouts “I’m so happy!”  I’m mid-makeover in the middle picture, and you guessed it… that’s me on the right, void of any filters, lenses, photoshopping or editing.  Wrinkly, greasy forehead and all!

Now look at those adorable kids below!  And yes, they are that adorable in real life, but they are hardly ever snuggling lovingly like that (there is that one MMA throw they do that kind of resembles a snuggle, but usually ends in screams and tears).

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Do you realize the kind of parental work that was involved in capturing a moment like this?  This didn’t happen naturally.  I didn’t walk in on this display of sibling love.  I ordered it.  I traded cookies and Legos for a moment like this.  They were also confined to a playpen so I could ensure no running away or rolling out of camera view.  I don’t tend to go for the camera in the midst of one of their “his foot is touching me” fits, even though that is a more common moment than any display of brotherly affection.

They do love each other though… honest.

It’s easy for me to keep perspective now.  I’m 32 and in a happy relationship with very little to prove to very few.  I’m happy in my squishy, pock-marked skin.  It would be a different story if these apps were available when I was a teen.  I cared oh-so-much about what other people thought of me.  I’m not sure if at that age I would be able to differentiate real life and social media.  I feel for the kids out there today that have to navigate through an over-saturated social media  world while still dealing with being an awkward teenager.

Do you have a double-chin pic you accidentally took of yourself or a cute video of the kids that turned WWE?  Share or comment below with your most #unshareablemoment.