COM0014 – Blog #7 Personal Reflection

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

If you want people to read your story, they have to care about it.

The same applies to digital communications.

Throughout the course we learned that storytelling should be authentic, compelling and perhaps personal.  

Communicators should:

  • Know where audiences are
  • Be familiar with demographics and psychographics
  • Understand how audiences like to communicate
  • Master the technical aspects such as grammar and punctuation
  • Keep it concise
  • Listen and engage
  • Determine communication style
  • Have a clear vision of each post’s purpose

There’s more. And as the Motrin case study explained…

there is no room to be tone deaf.

We must also know our brand and our journey that got us to it. As we learned in Module 5, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room.”

Tying it together

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

Before we can connect with others with Purpose, Relevance and Conversation, we have to know what our own story is.  We learned that great storytelling is comprised of building genuine relationships and producing meaningful, compelling content.

No matter how flashy the content, story drives everything. Otherwise, what is the point?

Content drives audiences to find out what happens next.

It is also the invisible string that connects each post together. 

Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya on Pexels.com

Without story, digital content would appear random and incohesive. Consistent messaging would be lost.

That’s my story

As a freelance writer, my content is naturally driven by story whether sharing a personal account or conducting client work. My goal is to make the content matter to the audience. If it doesn’t, they won’t keep reading.  

I want to keep telling stories about good things that happen. I also want to position myself as a capable writer.  All content should ultimately bring the audience back to that.

End of story.

Twitter: How does storytelling drive your content? Please share. https://bit.ly/3sMMvW9 #contentstory

Facebook: How does storytelling drive your content? Please share. https://bit.ly/3sMMvW9 #contentstory

Sources:

https://ontariolearn.desire2learn.com/d2l/le/content/38255/viewContent/1861497/View

https://ontariolearn.desire2learn.com/d2l/le/content/38255/viewContent/1861503/View

COM0014 Blog#6 My Secret Wish for my Business – Response to John Jantsch Article

Dear friend,

Photo by Sound On on Pexels.com

Thanks for asking. My wish for my business isn’t really a secret. 

In response to the John Jantsch article, I would like to have 5 regular clients who come back to me again and again when they have good news stories to share.

Whether they are a medical facility, a university, an animal adoption agency, women’s shelter or a magazine that focuses on children’s literature or parenting, I want them to know that I’m the go-to person who will connect their audiences to their amazing story.

Let me tell you a story

I want to keep writing stories that will inspire readers to donate their time, efforts and resources to fund that new rehabilitative facility, find new homes for rescue animals or safety resources for abused women and their children. I want to keep bringing talented authors to the forefront in this country.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

It’s incredibly rewarding. So far, I have done some work just like this. I hope it keeps going.

You want to hear about me?

To a certain extent I also want to share my life experiences. I think others might appreciate my observations. They might just see themselves and find some common ground in my stories about treacherous housecleaning or camping trips gone wrong.  A blog is a good place for these stories to grow.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Who knows, maybe someone else will want to publish my observations?  

Day to day

On a daily basis, I like to sit with my coffee and my dog at my feet. I also envision myself in a cozy coffee shop pounding out some words that matter while making a living.

I think I’m a born observer and communicator. I’m always taking note and making connections. Isn’t that the heart of story and the birthplace of miracles?

Speaking of connections, thanks for this one.

Sincerely,

Marylynn

Twitter: What do you hope for your business? Tell us here. https://bit.ly/3bRmvSU#businessgoals

Facebook: What do you hope for your business? Tell us here. https://bit.ly/3bRmvSU#businessgoals

Source:

https://ducttapemarketing.com/do-people-know-your-story/

COM0014 Blog#5 – Personal Branding

What personal qualities & characteristics separate me from the rest of the freelance writing crowd?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I get the job done on time.

I simplify and communicate complex information. I can introduce readers to a variety of topics ranging from alternative biomaterials to the nesting habits of shore birds in the North.

I can inject humour when the situation calls for it, especially when I’m interviewing children’s authors. How can you be serious when talking about silly alligators who teach kids to count?

I am a great interviewer and can elicit great responses.

I am compassionate.

I know what’s newsworthy. From working in both news and public relations, I find the angle of a story.

How do I make myself stand out?

I frequently find new contacts on Linkedin and Twitter.

I post my work on my website and social media.

Last summer I did pro bono work for a local community organization to give back during COVID.

I am taking several courses this year to update my skills in social media.

What would my colleagues say is my best trait?

 I am reliable. I get the job done well and on time.

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

What am I MOST PROUD OF?

Through various writing projects for a rehabilitation facility, I helped inspiring children and their families by raising awareness about the important work of the organization.  

I get to interview many fascinating Canadian children’s authors and highlight important themes in children’s literature.

My writing work with a local university spotlights the innovative work of faculty and students.

I can give back in a meaningful way through my writing work.

“The power of words can celebrate the good in this world and help to fix what’s broken. If you’re doing something great, I want to write about it.”

milleroke.com

Twitter:  How do you define your personal brand? Tell us here? https://bit.ly/3bh18Kd #mybrand

Facebook: How do you define your personal brand? Tell us here?https://bit.ly/3bh18Kd #mybrand

COM0014- Blog # 4 Superheroes Fight the Frill

The No Frills grocery chain recently made a superhero splash in social media thanks to their new campaign. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

On Twitter, I discovered an animated video and a comic strip devoted to the Hauler crew, a troop of superhero shoppers who fight against frills and high prices.

I clicked through to Haulerverse.com, an action-packed world that is in keeping with the chain’s signature YELLOW AND BLACK COLOUR SCHEME.

There, customers can choose the shopper/Hauler they want to be based off a series of questions – a clever way for No Frills to gather information about shopper preferences and habits.

HAD TO CHECK IT OUT

Customers can find animated GIFs and stickers from GIPHY and even create a Spotify playlist to listen to when they’re grocery shopping.  They are prompted to share on social media such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with pre-loaded with #Haulerverse hashtags and URLs that link back to the main website.

Social media users can find hidden codes to win merchandise or tag No Frills in their #haulhard posts. They can also invited to check out the newest adventures of the Hauler crew in next week’s flyer. Clever.

With so many interaction opportunities, the campaign is creating buzz.

One Twitter follower said, “@nofrillsCA made… an anime? Are making one? It’s just a commercial? Either way this is some crazy good work. Enter the #Haulerverse:”

CONSUMING & CREATING

 In a recent Toronto Star article, OCAD University professor Ann Urban said “(It’s) a quintessential example of this kind of marketing where consumers actively participate in the consumption and the creation of the marketing with the storyline presented across different channels.”

While social media followers posted hundreds of likes for the campaign, others had mixed reactions. One Facebook follower wished they had spent the marketing funds on services such as online ordering or curbside pick up.

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

I think the campaign is likely to attract younger audiences who are influenced heavily by social media.  I’m not sure it will appeal to older demographics who simply want to buy their groceries without frills, noise and hashtags.

Twitter: How can grocery stores win your business?  Tell us here. https://bit.ly/377HeQM #foodshopping

Facebook: How can grocery stores win your business?  Tell us here. https://bit.ly/377HeQM #foodshopping

Source:

https://www.thestar.com/business/2021/01/19/no-frills-turned-grocery-shopping-into-a-super-power-why-everyone-is-talking-about-its-new-haulerverse-ad-campaign.html

COM0014 – Blog #3: Finding the Write Audience

What do I like to write about? As a freelance writer, that’s the first question. That will determine a lot about my target audience. If you have an interest in what you write, so will your audience.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

Copywriter, Tara Hornor, says, “Before you do anything, you need to sit down with a cup of coffee and have a good, creative look at what you have to offer the world. Don’t limit yourself to convention.”

I have interest in a lot of things.  That’s great, but where to start?  I think this is where psychographics, namely interests and values come into play.

My writing interests fall into:

  • Animals/Nature
  • Canada
  • Child Well-being
  • Education/Literacy
  • Empowerment/Equality
  • Health/Mental Health

Getting to know them better

Potential clients and editors want well-researched, compelling content so, it’s important to find out who their audience is.  Are they appealing to women over 40 balancing a career and kids? Or are they geared toward adventurous 20-somethings trekking across the globe?

Websites and social media feeds also reveal a lot about an organization or publication and their target audiences or readers.

What is their tone? What types of stories and materials do they produce?  What stories or campaigns have the most likes or generate the most traffic? What messages are they conveying? What is their audience looking for? How are they engaging on social media?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This information will help a writer to craft appropriate and compelling pitches and materials. A tool like Google Trends may also pinpoint hot topics when drafting story ideas.

Publications often provide media kits which break down the demographics of their audience. I found The Canadian Writer’s Market, 19th Edition: The Essential Guide for Freelance Writers to be a helpful tool. It breaks down publications by topic, specifies what they are looking for, and lists the appropriate editors.

Finally, first and foremost, figure out what you want to write.

Twitter: How do you find your target audience in your industry? Share with us. https://bit.ly/3cPWOUX #findaudience

Facebook: How do you find your target audience in your industry? Share with us. https://bit.ly/3cPWOUX #findaudience

Sources:

https://business.tutsplus.com/articles/a-step-by-step-guide-to-determining-your-target-mPysarket-as-a-freelancer-writer–fsw-33365

https://medium.com/swlh/how-to-identify-your-target-market-as-a-new-freelancer-51f1a1691793

COM0014 – Blog #2: The Story is the Point

From ancient cave drawings to modern-day satellite technology, communication and storytelling have long been part of the human experience.

Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

This week’s lesson by Sonia Gibbs revealed, “Content is an opportunity to inspire, motivate, captivate, and entertain your audience.” In other words, who wants boring, dull content? No one.  

According to Brian Clark of Copyblogger, some audiences will skim the content while others want to fully absorb it and gather new insights.

Concise content is key

Content must have a clear beginning, middle and end. In this week’s readings, the Inverted Pyramid Writing points out that important information lives at the top. The rest explains what we will do for readers and validate why they are reading our work in the first place.

“Content is an opportunity to inspire, motivate, captivate, and entertain your audience.” – Sonia Gibbs

We can’t bury the lead. If Drake is recovering from a foot injury, readers want to know what happened.  The gigantic dimensions of his home basketball court come later.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Conciseness is key too. We’re not reading Tolstoy here. So is tone. A story about insurance coverage strikes a much different chord than say one about clowns who got stuck in an elevator after playing with the buttons.  

Passive is boring too. “The delay caused by the stuck elevator was frustrating.”  vs: “I was so frustrated after running up 20 flights of stairs, I cancelled my tickets to the circus!

It’s in the details

As our elementary teachers taught us, grammar and punctuation are important even in this age of texting and emoticons. SUP.

Search-engine friendly text, bullets, links and short sentences make things more readable. Chris Brogan shared many essential elements.  Captivating images such as clowns in the elevator and catchy titles elevate a standard blog into a great one.

Photo by Aleks Magnusson on Pexels.com

Get the word out

Finally, create a dialogue. Ask audiences questions or encourage them to share experiences. Various tools such as Share This can give content greater reach.

It’s true. Since the beginning of time, everyone loves a good story.

Twitter: What do you think makes a great blog? Tells us here. https://bit.ly/3o8Nz3V #greatblogs

Facebook: What do you think makes a great blog? Tell us here. https://bit.ly/3o8Nz3V #greatblogs

Sources:

http://chrisbrogran.com/stories/social-media/23-essential-elements-of-sharable-blog-posts/

http:/copyblogger.com/how-to/read/

https://ontariolearn.desire2learn.com/d2l/le/content/38255/viewContent/1861479/View

http://www.openvine.com/small-business-internet-blog/9-tips-for-writing-great-business-website-content

http://teddemopoulos.articlealley.com/blog-writing-dont-bury-the-lead-783743.html

COM0014 – Blog #1: A Roaring Good Time in Florida

In a pre-pandemic time far, far away, my family and I embarked on an unforgettable expedition.  We ventured deep into a wild land of adventure where fiery dragons and hungry teenagers alike roamed the land – in a never-ending search for their next meal.

Feeding time.

Like a safari, a deep-sea adventure or polar expedition, this was a not a journey for the faint of heart. Only the strong, the resilient and those with comfortable walking shoes and an all-access park pass dare to venture in. 

In March 2019, we took the kids to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. www.universalorlando.com.  

We’re here!

The theme is adventure

Home to the likes of Homer Simpson and Harry Potter, we discovered all-knowing wizards, spectacular castles and magical trains. We flew on broomsticks with reckless abandon, explored majestic castles and mysterious ancient civilizations.

Like true adventurers, we made great discoveries. In our case they were gigantic doughnuts and icy milkshakes. We also stumbled upon blissful respite from the relentless Florida heat. An air-conditioned building is a true oasis for any ride-weary, middle-aged tourist.

What’s that rustling in the bushes?

But our encounter with a true-to-life beast was our most memorable moment of all.

My hubby, kids and I came face-to-face with Blue, a ferocious yet precocious dinosaur. Although fierce at first glance, she seemed to have an affinity for my husband’s hat and ear. Hey, I’m the alpha female here, thank you.

Hey! I’m the alpha female here, thank you.

As the giggling faces attest, being scared was so much fun! For me, this was the best moment of the trip. Although, she didn’t scare me really… When was the last time you laughed so much?

Exit through the souvenir shop please….

After four days of rides, treats and souvenir shops filled with WAY TOO MANY grown-ups in wizarding robes, our vacation came to an end. Our feet were blistered, our antacids depleted and our passes expired.  Proof positive that we had a great time.  So was the never-ending loop of the Harry Potter theme-song in my head. Da, da, dee, dah, dee, daaaa, dah…

Ultimately, we had an escapade complete with adventure and territorial competition.  I’m not talking about the line for the ladies bathroom either.

Photo by Ralph Rabago on Pexels.com

For the kids, it was a big check off the bucket list. For my husband and I it was a chance to just join in the fun and take a break from day-to-day adulthood with gigantic doughnuts and playful dinosaurs. I highly recommend it.

Don’t forget the comfortable shoes.

Twitter: What do you consider to be a great vacation? Adventure? Relaxing? Discovery? #ultimatevacationideas https://bit.ly/3su0Vet

Facebook: Where would you like to go on your next holiday? What do you consider to be a great vacation? Adventure? Relaxing? Discovery? #ultimatevacationideas https://bit.ly/3su0Vet

You Can’t Always Get What You Want. But, Wait for It. Sometimes You Can.

I have never considered myself a shopper.  For the most part, I go into a store, find what I need and get out. I don’t window shop or browse just to pass the time.  A. I don’t have the time. B. There isn’t a lot of stuff that I really need.

However…online shopping is virtually converting me to a “shopper” one click at a time.  Thanks in part to this pandemic, I LOVE Amazon.  Click. Click. Done. I also love a good bargain. It appears that targeted social media tactics by retailers know that too.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Referring to research by BIGCOMMERCE, FinancesOnline reports67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers consumers prefer to shop online.” They also point to research by SCORE, a network of volunteer, expert business mentors that indicates “55% of online shoppers would prefer to buy from retailers that have a physical store presence vs. online only.”

Kind of sounds like me.  Online convenience backed up by bricks and mortar credibility.

The hunt is on

Last pre-COVID September 2019, I attended an incredibly fun and formal wedding in Detroit. In the months leading up to it, I diligently monitored, ok stalked my favourite clothing store online to get the perfect outfit at an ideal price. 

Outfit Log. December 2018. See a great pantsuit online. Price too high. Do I need it? Not really. Do I want it? You bet.  Let’s wait. A few weeks later. Ooh. I’m checking my email. All of a sudden, an ad designed seemingly just for me, reveals that the outfit has been marked down. Wow. Wait. No. Still too expensive.  The game continues. Boxing Week arrives. Guess what. The retail Gods tell me through my laptop that it has been marked down even further. I read the online reviews of the outfit. I pounce. Can’t pass this up. Great outfit at a price that I can justify. 

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

The game has been played entirely from my couch.  There is no need for me to physically go to the store to keep an eye on the sales.  I never would have done that anyway. Thanks to targeted social media and the monitoring system behind it, the store comes to me, knowing what I’m in the market for.  All I had to do was wait until the price met my expectations.

It seems that customized social media can reach even the most reluctant shopper, anyplace, anytime.

It’s funny that I write this on Amazon Prime Day.

It happened again

We were supposed to go to another family wedding in Detroit this fall. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But a purchase did. This summer, I took advantage of rock-bottom online deals to add some essential items to my closet—as well as one nice-to-have dress.

You guessed it. After months of consideration, the price dropped to where I could justify purchasing it even though I have no idea when or where I will wear it yet. But as savvy social media marketers know how to sell very well, especially this year—there is always hope.

Twitter: What was your last online purchase? How do retailers entice you? #onlineshopping https://bit.ly/316u2IU

Facebook: What was your last online purchase? Was it an impulse buy? Did you wait for a price drop? How do online retailers entice you? https://bit.ly/316u2IU

Sources:

https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce-trends/#6-ecommerce-trends-for-large-legacy-brands

https://financesonline.com/retail-statistics/

https://www.score.org/resource/infographic-small-retailers-can-compete-and-win

Teenage View: Only Old People Use Facebook

As a late-forties mom, I am frequently reminded of my advancing age by my teenaged kids.  They point out my fashion sense. I think Kate Middleton. They think Margaret Thatcher.

They also roll their eyes at my “old lady” music that I put on while I do the dishes. If I really want some time to myself, I threaten to dance to my music too. That clears the room in record time.  Beyond the ultimate embarrassment, they are afraid that I might break a hip.

You like what you like. I like what I like.

It seems that generational preferences extend onto social media as well.  Now that fall is here, I like to play cozy Youtube autumn scenes on TV while we eat dinner. Cue teenage eye rolling again.  They would much rather watch reviews of Apple iPhones. 

The numbers don’t lie… except when you’re fibbing about your age

According to my teens, if you are on Facebook, you’re obviously old – at least over 50. The stats say they are not too far off the mark.

Photo by RAUL REYNOSO on Pexels.com

Business Insider pointed to a recent emarketer report on social media usage that revealed, “Facebook is still the most used platform among all age groups — except teens.”  It also indicates that by 2022, Facebook is forecast to lose 2.2 million users ages 12-17 and that Snapchat will add 1.2 million 12-17 year-olds by 2022.

Digital marketing agency, SQ Digital reports that Instagram is popular with millennials while Twitter strikes a balance among various age groups. Analysis and advisory firm CONVINCE&CONVERT, refers to a 2019 poll by Morning Consult that showed 42% of 13-16 year-olds use TikTok.

First-hand account

In a hard-hitting interview, my soon-to-be 14 year-old daughter shares that TikTok provides a great platform to share new dance crazes, videos of otters eating ice or weird teenage humour that I just don’t get.  She adds that TikTok has a straight side and an alt side.

However, when it comes to comparing Instagram and Snapchat, she prefers the flexibility of Instagram.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“There are more things to do on the platform,” stated Ms. Oke who likes to add visual effects, take pictures of her beloved dog and get the latest scoop.

As a mom, I like these platforms for my kids especially during a time of social distancing. They can keep in touch with their friends and express their creativity through videos and artistic creations.

Public Service Announcement

However, she has an urgent plea to those who are basking in the fading glow of their twilight years such as myself.

“If you are over 30 on TikTok, please stop. You are cringey. With a few exceptions – but most of the time.”

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

There you have it. Blunt teenage honesty.

Twitter: How do you feel about social media’s generational divide? #social media #aging # teens bit.ly/3iI8eJx

Facebook: Do you think the generational divide on social media is real? Share your thoughts. bit.ly/3iI8eJx

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/top-social-media-platform-by-age-group-2018-8

https://www.sqdigital.co.uk/social/social-media-age-disparity-which-platforms-do-your-customers-use/#:~:text=Worldwide%20Facebook%20users%20in%202020%20by%20age%3A%20Age,highest%20demographic%20being%20those%20aged%2025%20to%2034

https://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-marketing/tiktok-statistics/

Questioning the Way Forward with Social Media in a Creative Business

As with social media, freelance writing is fluid and evolving.  Niche blogs, social media posts and SEO-rich content have found their way into the writer’s repertoire.  There are so many options to choose and so many directions to go in.  There are so many questions to consider.

Where to next?

As a freelancer writer, I often write items such as articles or press releases. I also approach new organizations or media outlets with my writing services or story ideas. The secret lies in questioning where my time and efforts are best spent. 

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Not only do freelancers need to balance the ratio between serving existing clients and chasing new writing, but they also need to determine the types of services they offer.

As a freelancer, I find myself asking these questions on a regular basis. What do I like to write? What are my talents? What is the best way to sustain a career in a challenging marketplace? In regard to social media, how do I best promote my business? How could I further expand my writing services?

Here’s a question. Could I become a blogger?

Do I regularly contribute to my own blog on my website milleroke.com? I can do shameless plugs too. 🙂 What do I write about each day? How much time should I devote to that?  According to blogging statistics compiled by 99Firms.com, there are over 152 million blogs on the Internet. With so many blogs out there, it’s imperative to offer a distinct voice that breaks through.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Or do I expand my services and become a blogger for someone else? When it comes to writing articles compared to blogs, freelancer Carol Tice of makealivingwriting.com believes that it’s the freelance writer’s job to be very clear about the expectations of the assignment.

Ms. Tice writes, “Get to what the assignment really is — then, talk about what that gig should really pay.”

If a blog includes interviews and background stats, it requires the same amount of time and effort as an article. It’s important to your bottom line that your client knows the difference. In short, ask questions before agreeing to the work.

What is the best way to promote my business on social media?

Right now, I use a combination of my website, Twitter and LinkedIn.  I’m happy with that, but should I consider additional options? It’s worth the investigation.

The answer is balance.

Whether you are writing blogs, articles, social media posts or product descriptions, the key is to ask yourself what you’re offering, who you are offering it to and how you’re going to do it. 

Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

As with any ongoing initiative that takes dedication over time, such as maintaining your own blog or marketing your business on social media, it’s important to keep that balance between effort invested and results.  

Writing is not all about drinking coffee and gazing out the window, although that’s definitely part of it. As we speak, I’m listening to jazz music while my dog lies at my feet. That’s the awesome part.

Devoted writing partner

However, it’s a business and luckily for me, a creative one at that.  Staying open to possibilities and answering these questions will help keep it that way.

How do you use social media to question the way forward in your business?

Twitter:  Share how you use social media to question the way forward with your business? #creative # writing # social media https://bit.ly/34dumpX

Facebook:  How do you question the way forward with your business? Let us know. https://bit.ly/34dumpX

Sources:

https://99firms.com/blog/blogging-statistics/

https://www.makealivingwriting.com/writing-an-article-vs-writing-blog-post-differences/