Com0015 – Blog Post #1 – Tools and Sources

My two favourite social media listening/monitoring tools are google alerts and twitter search. Other than the obvious reasons of following keywords through google alerts, there are certainly a few other benefits that I like to mention. My primary purpose is generally to track discussions or news articles on topics I am interested in such as the current provincial and municipal elections. It’s quite helpful when wanting to read articles and opinions on all sides of the political spectrum so getting alerts on whichever candidate or party I am interested in, google alerts is certainly at the forefront when it comes to listening and monitoring. It’s also helpful to monitor your own brand if someone online were to write up a positive or negative review and it’s also helpful to know when you are your brand is being mentioned. It’s also a great way to keep an eye on your competition and to follow relevant information in your business or industry by tracking keywords.

My favourite is hands down the twitter search as you get instantaneous updates and alerts on breaking news and stories. There are hundreds of millions tweet per day so it’s not only a great tool to promote your own content but also valuable to discover relevant information. Also, another great benefit of the twitter search is that generally topics of discussion are grouped under specific hashtags which really assist with breaking down your search results. For example, city of Ottawa issues would be #OttCity or Ontario politics would be #Onpoli. As you start to get a feel of the twitter community, who you should be following, which keywords and hashtags to search, it becomes a very powerful tool to listen and monitor in a very efficient manner.

When it comes to the best sources of news and updates of interest for me, I must hand it over to twitter once again and I will add YouTube as my second option. Starting off with YouTube, millions of videos are uploaded daily so you will always find what you are looking for, even if it’s a poor quality cell phone camera, somebody is always watching. And at the end of the day, all news stories and clips get uploaded to YouTube one way or another so it’s inevitable to always be using this source. Now going back to my favourite social media platform, twitter is my go to tool for the most up to date information on anything I am looking for. Based on my needs and wants, I find myself following the right twitter handles to get information from anything to community events, traffic, breaking news, whats going on in Ottawa, closures all of sorts, etc.. Someone is always retweeting, or adding in more information, and you can monitor full conversation threads to get the inside scoop. Also, twitter is used heavily by journalists and politicians who go hand in hand with my line of work so it’s great way to stay up to date on Council motions, votes, protesting, appeals, public’s reaction, etc.. Social media has its up and downs since information today is processed and filtered so quickly and our attention spans are shorter, who knows what the next trend or scandal will be.

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COMM0014 – Blog Post 7 – Reflections

If you don’t have a story to tell, chances are I’m not listening. It’s never been more necessary in today’s digital world with the amount of information being thrown to us. How do you stay authentic with so much artificial and superficial content that lacks character or creativity? People connect with honesty, compassion, being able to relate, and emotions. As important as your story is, it needs to relate to the needs of your target audience so that a connection can be built. Whether its personal or business oriented, storytelling is the key to success. Digital Communications has taught me first and foremost that having a story is a key factor to a successful brand.  You always want to be targeting something or someone, never everything. Gaining an audience and people’s trust will not happen overnight but through building a strong foundation that will be built on word of mouth, trending discussions, and experience.  If I’m trying to sell myself in an interview for a new position, I’m telling my possible future employer my life story as to why he needs me on his team. If I’m a business wanting to branch out into a new market or territory, my strategy will be the product of my story being told in a manner that they will understand.  I’m sure at this point you are somewhat convinced that your story guides you into whichever direction you would like your product or brand to go. Nobody said it would be easy, there will always be competition, challenges, and critics wanting to see you fall. If you stick to what you believe in, people will follow suit.

COM0014 BLOG POST #6 – Do People Know Your Story

First of all, growing up as a child with a teacher as a mother meant one thing, my classroom teachers were always right. The whole school knew who my mother was and they knew she ran a tight ship. Not to say my household was military structured but as a kid it certainly felt that way. Timeslots were organized for meals, homework, video games/television (I didn’t have digital cable growing up), and eventually internet closer to the millennium. Education was and still is to this day the number one priority in our family. Both my parents come from large Irish Catholic families who grew up poor with access to very little opportunities. However, both my parents’ families are now very successful all in part because of hard work and publicly funded education. This rigorous routine growing up where school was always a topic of discussion at family events because nobody remembered what grade you were in or what you were studying, it felt like the longest broken record ever. It’s never until later on in life that you finally understand the importance of what my mother consistently pushed upon myself and my siblings. I have surely been shaped by all the teachers and mentors throughout my life that have prepared me for where I am today.  We should all be grateful that our country offers publicly funded education.  I want to end with a quote that I see on the wall every time I’m on campus at Algonquin:

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world – Nelson Mandela

COM 0014 Blog Post 5 – Personal Brand

Well first of all I would like to say that working full-time, part-time on weekends, and taking classes at Algonquin is quite a success in itself and certainly deserves recognition. That being said, I think that encompasses my qualities as a hardworking and driven individual wanting to get ahead in life. It seems rather difficult these days finding people who are highly motivated and wanting to work from the ground up. Instead you get those who want to head straight to their preferred destination without going through any of the obstacles or challenges along the way. I am the example of someone starting from the bottom in a generation that is lacking in patience. I’ve been blessed with an amazing photographic memory and attention to detail that has served me well throughout the beginning stages of my career. I cannot forget the fact that I have completed an undergrad degree that provided me with a well-rounded liberal arts education. Also, I myself having common sense and being able to solve problems can certainly fall under a distinctive value as I have come to understand it is not the norm. People generally tell me I have a calm and collect demeanour even under pressure when various tasks have been unfolded and need to be completed in a timely fashion. I guess I could thank myself for embracing my true qualities and traits but I certainly cannot forget my family upbringing.

COMM0014 – Blog Post #4: B2C Case Study

The B2C business that I decided to research and is certainly at the top of their social media presence is Starbucks. With 35 million follows on Facebook, 5 million followers on Twitter, 1.6 million followers on Instagram, a presence on Foursquares, and has an iPhone app. This is a solid example where the coffee giant has commanded a massive connection to their consumer base on a social media landscape.  By browsing throughout all their social platforms, I determined people connect with Starbucks for free music downloads, sharing pictures in the moment with the product, express their anger and frustration with the company, specials on drinks, and checking into locations. Coffee in general is a part of the everyday work life of most people,  and today we are more busy then ever but yet we all find time to connect online with our smartphones, and who is there interacting with us in a global online community? Starbucks is, and they have over 20,000 locations in 62 countries which makes it the biggest coffeehouse company in the world.

The company just released a new social media strategy through twitter that everyone should check out, it is brilliant marketing. https://twitter.com/Tweetacoffee. What you do is sign into your Starbucks account, then you type in the twitter handle of the person you would like to tweet a free coffee to, then Starbucks will then tweet that special someone a link (it’s a barcode) to redeem your treat in the shop by having the barrister scan it. I can’t think of anything better than this that would brighten someone’s day when they received a tweet in the morning from a friend for a free coffee, it’s a win win situation for everyone. As I had mentioned previously, Starbucks has a strong presence online but in order to hold on to it they must continuously come up with new campaigns and activities to keep the consumers engaged, and I’m seeing no signs of slowing down.

Just over a week ago this was tweeted:

Starbucks20 Oct

Customers asked. We answered: The Braille gift card now available year-round. http://sbux.co/16GSD7e 

 

Just another example of listening to your customers’ needs and concerns, such a minimalist change to a Starbucks card that would target a certain customer base but yet it truly shows you are in touch with what people want from your product. Starbucks may have had the advantage of being around for a few decades by now, but they decided to be a leader and become one of the most socially engaged companies out there. Companies wanting to engage in social media certainly need to study Starbucks rise to the top.

COMM0014 – Blog Post #3: Target Audiences

I, among many others, have a slight obsession with clothes. I’m referring to beyond the basic needs of an average person of course. One of the clothing brands that attract my attention most frequently is Banana Republic.  Their marketing basically consists of them having a sale with a large discount almost ever y week. It could be on specific items only, your whole purchase, sale items, or full priced items only. Granted their clothes are way overpriced in my opinion, but these constant sales totally justify you wanting to buy their clothes on sale, when really the company can afford to do so and they end up profiting greatly on this method.

Now I must mention, Banana Republic is a very well established clothing brand in part because it is owned by Gap, which also operates Old Navy. Therefore in these circumstances, Gap themselves and their two other divisions target specific audiences they are trying to reach.  BR I see it as being the upscale retailer trying to portray a sophisticated luxury image with approachable prices (when on sale of course). Gap on the other hand doesn’t necessarily target a younger demographic, but aims to appeal to a broad array of customers at average clothing prices. Old Navy is focused on families and youth to sell fashionable looking clothes at a low value cost. They do an excellent job with their commercials by showing kids and parents in vibrant colorful looking clothes having fun and looking cool all at the same time.

These three companies have quite the advantage by being as one against individual clothing brands in such a competitive market. This is an industry that constantly needs to re-invent themselves more frequently than the iPhone.  There is a mass market when it comes to clothing but realistically not everyone puts that much thought into what they want to wear. It could be financial reasons, lack of interest, simply following the norm, or being influenced by traditional media.  At the end of the day, my obsession stems from buying good quality clothes at reasonable prices. BR has caught my eye with formal dress clothes for the young professional and never-ending discounts for me to continuously purchase. This is a prime example of a company focusing on what they do best, embracing their target audience, and just racking in exorbitant amounts of profit.

COM 0114 Blog #2 Digital Storytelling

The biggest challenge going forward with online communication is figuring out the best way to keep your audience engaged in the conversation and wanting them to come back for more. It seems rather difficult with the amount of information being thrown at users, especially if you are not an established business or individual. Not only that, you have no choice but to keep your message clear, short, and concise. This unfortunately has to cater to our short attention span in a world filled with so many distractions. A tweet cannot be longer than 140 characters, so you have to get straight to the point and of course leave room for any hashtags or a link if needed. Or how about those cartoon milk commercials that are literally less than seven seconds a piece which are intended to target a youth audience. It is quite the effective strategy to promote milk in record timing.

Also, grammar and punctuation must be mentioned as it goes hand in hand with being able to deliver your message in a manner that will leave your audience interested in what you have to say. I think it is safe to say that everyone is generally turned off by typos and mistakes, which turns into less credibility and influence based on your decision making. It certainly shows no confidence in the subject at hand when you have someone trying to communicate to you in a matter that is not concise or proper.

The strange thing, more and more people are becoming accustomed to this new digital language where words are abbreviated through text, chat, and tweets which are completely understood because of this new generation of communicating. Is the English language as it once was entering a new era? Are we going to continue down this path of shortening words and create a new online language? I guess only time will tell.

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

So my last vacation was a family wedding on the long weekend of August. I flew all the way to Charlottetown, PEI and might I add also my first time to the East coast. I did not know what to expect other than what I was told, which was amazing food on a small island. First of all growing up on the West coast I’m already in love with seafood, so going there, I fell in love again with the halibut, oysters, mussels, and last but not least lobster. I took full advantage of all 5 days by trying as many different places as possible.ImageSo these fresh Fish n Chips were from the Water Prince Corner Shop that was featured on the food networks ‘You gotta eat here’. It was practically a half convenience store and half retro style diner. Luckily the weather was just perfect so I most definitely needed to visit a beach on the ocean close by. Brackley beach was the destination which was apart of the P.E.I National Park and only 15 minutes away from Charlottetown.

http://www.tourismpei.com/Green-Gables-Shore/Brackley-Beach

This is exactly where I discovered my favorite lobster roll on the island, if only I was able to bring some home or even be able to order it and have it flown to Ottawa ( wouldn’t that be nice). It wasn’t until I returned to the hotel to google it that I found out I was indeed correct that it was the best lobster according to various blogs and tripadvisor. I always take pictures of my plates, but that seems to be a recent trend especially with instagram. Also, I really enjoy trying local beers everywhere I travel. What I have below is a Beach Chair Lager which is not available in Ontario and that’s unfortunate. A great summer beer.

http://richardsfreshseafood.com/the_eatery.html

ImageWith only about 35,000 residents in Charlottetown, there isn’t much excitement going on but nonetheless it was a beautiful town to stroll through and enjoy the beautiful little shops and of course the ocean.

As for the wedding day itself, my cousin so luckily had the very first wedding reception in the brand new convention center attached to the Delta hotel right on the waterfront. Can anyone guess what was on the menu? More and more lobster 🙂

Image For an island so small and quiet, I must say the Islanders certainly know how to party and have a good time. They have a laid back feel to them that certainly distinguishes them from Ontarians.  And who would you think is the best person to try and sell you on PEI’s tourism?

ImageNone other than the Premier of PEI himself telling me all the wonderful things to see and do on “Canada’s Green Province”.

I had a solid 5 days on the Island but to anyone looking to travel there, it’s just perfect for a nice relaxing holiday in a beach house by the ocean. Fresh food and friendly people, we truly live in a diverse country we should all be very proud of.