COM0015-Blog post #4-Out of the Box

Vigilante justice – yes, for me that’s the most unexpected application of social media. Who knew that networks of people on Facebook and Twitter could help solve crimes? Social media has become an online form of “neighbourhood watch”. When something shocking goes on in the neighbourhood, audiences stay tuned into their social media sites to track it. There were many examples of internet vigilantism in 2013; the most memorable for me was the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers (http://globalnews.ca/news/1016396/social-media-2013-year-in-review-vigilante-justice/).
Within the last year, this vigilante justice mindset happened in my small hometown as well, not too far from Ottawa. Someone posted on Facebook that a young teenage girl had been abducted. From that post came a slew of people sharing it to warn others to keep their children safe inside and to keep an eye out for the missing girl. It was amazing and wonderful to see all of these people coming together to try to help find her and keep others safe.
Mixed in there, too, though, was something completely different, which was scary to watch unfold. One person posted something similar to “I know it’s so-and-so that took her”. Then another chimed in with: “Yeah, well he’d better watch out because I know what truck he drives.” And another: “Well, I know where he lives so he’d better not come home anytime soon because I’ll be waiting for him.”
From a single post, a community of people rallied together to help, but in very different ways. For some, the sense of mob justice started taking over. I never did find out how that situation ended; it just seemed to fizzle out without any resolution on Facebook, but I remember thinking that I don’t know so-and-so, but wow, am I ever glad that I’m not him right now. Maybe he’s not a nice person, maybe he’s hurt a lot of people in the past, I don’t know, but what if he was innocent in this situation? If he happened to go out for a leisurely drive or to the store to pick up milk, he would have had a gang of people after him and (judging from some of the comments) it definitely wouldn’t have ended well.
In the article “Digital vigilantism: think before putting pictures of ‘wrongdoing’ online” (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/29/digital-vigilantism-think-before-pictures-of-wrongdoing-online), Bronwen Clune makes a good point – when our friends publicly shame others on Facebook, we need to be very careful to analyze both sides of the story before judging and potentially becoming part of a witch hunt. The article goes on to state that “Internet vigilantism does have a place and a very important public function: to keep those in power accountable.”
So, I guess social media really is a mix of the good and the bad, isn’t it?

Photo credit: StockMonkeys.com (www.stockmonkeys.com)

Photo credit: StockMonkeys.com (www.stockmonkeys.com)

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COM0015-Blog post #3-Professional Networking Now and in the Future

COM0015-Blog post #3-Professional Networking Now and in the Future

After hearing a colleague’s experience finding a job through LinkedIn, I have learned how effective a solid LinkedIn profile can be for networking and employment purposes. I love my career, but the reality is that we live in an environment of constant restructuring and change. We have to keep our resumes up-to-date for the “just in case” scenarios. I consider my LinkedIn profile my online resume and I feel like it doesn’t accurately reflect all of the work I have done in the past, the skills I possess, and what I am capable of doing. I created my profile quickly and disregarded some important areas, just to get it done and to have some sort of presence on the site. My goal in the next 6 months will be to tailor my profile to more accurately reflect my work experience and skills.
Presently, my LinkedIn profile only connects me to former colleagues, so I would like to shift my direction and connect with clients that I work with on a regular basis. I resisted connecting with clients this way in the past due to privacy reasons, but now I realize that most of the information in my profile is common knowledge anyway, so I may as well connect with my clients. This could potentially improve my sales relationships with them as well, as closer connections may increase business opportunities. It’s interesting to note, too, how LinkedIn is a crucial component working with Facebook and Twitter, to improve a company’s social media presence: http://www.blogtips.org/measuring-the-effectiveness-of-twitter-facebook-and-linkedin/.
I think that the trend in the future will be moving toward more people working from home and having virtual meetings – face-to-face meetings by video that create a personal connection without having to be in the same room (http://www.slideshare.net/technetbelux/lync-to-the-future-skype-mobile-meetings-video, http://blogs.sun.ac.za/it/2012/03/23/cybermeetings-the-way-of-the-future, http://www.useoftechnology.com/virtual-meeting-technologies/).
In person connections are trickier for me, as I’m not very good with interacting in large groups of people. I think that my goal in the next year will be to connect either one-on-one or in very small groups with people that I used to work with to rebuild important connections. I’ve had requests in the past to meet up with former colleagues, but life seems to get too busy and the plans never come to fruition. I am going to change my mindset and make time for these important visits.
Sometimes it’s better to skip eating a prepackaged lunch at my desk and actually go out for lunch with colleagues. Two weeks ago I met up with two former colleagues for lunch; they are now retired, but it was so nice to talk about what is new in their lives and to hear about the exciting new trips and life events they are embarking on. In the discussions, I came away with new ideas as the conversation topics reminded me of previous work events and prompted me to look at things with a new perspective. I forgot how easily you can reconnect and how much you can learn in one simple lunch. Great food, great people, great conversation – networking can definitely be fun!
The most difficult thing for me is to network with complete strangers. It’s strange because if my job requires me to walk into a room and greet a complete stranger, I can do it, because I feel like it’s my responsibility and duty to do so. If I was meeting that same person on my own, without a connection to my work, it’s far more difficult, so I realize that a lot of networking shyness is psychological and can be overcome if you can get yourself into the right mindset. It’s time for me to work on chatting up random strangers in the grocery aisles!

COM0015-Blog post #2-Strong & Weak Organizations

COM0015-Blog post #2-Strong & Weak Organizations

TED Talks has one of the most impressive social media presences I’ve encountered. TED Talks are entertaining and interesting videos on various subjects and the content is available through many facets of social media, including Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TED), Twitter (https://twitter.com/TEDTalks), Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+TED/posts), Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/tednews/), Instagram (http://instagram.com/ted), YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/ted) and the TED blog (http://blog.ted.com/). The TED Twitter account is highly effective; the tweets are often quotes from the TED Talk videos that perform as ‘teasers’ to entice you to visit the blog for more information. For example, the following tweet piques an audience`s interest: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” http://on.ted.com/g0GUj. The videos are always thought-provoking and informative. The TED Twitter account boasts 3.16 million followers, proving how many people enjoy being engaged with the site’s content.
I love to research things, so before I completed a Spartan Race this past June, I researched and prepared for the race, and, in doing so, I was greatly impressed with the Spartan Race team’s use of social media. The main Spartan blog is http://www.spartan.com, which includes race information, but also recipe suggestions and links through to the Spartan Race’s presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest. The Spartan Race videos on youTube are incredibly inspirational; whenever I’d feel tired of training for the race, I’d watch one of the videos and it would force me off the couch and make me want to complete a workout. I still receive Spartan workout of the day emails on a daily basis that keep me motivated and encourage me to stay fit. Throughout the race, photos are taken of participants that are then posted on the website; it’s very exciting to see photos of oneself crawling through mud, jumping over fire, and climbing ropes. The Spartan Race’s use of social media is extremely clever because it keeps people engaged throughout the entire process: participants sign up for the race through the website, use the site for race and recipe information, watch youTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/SpartanRaceTube) for training inspiration and advice, keep connected with other racers on Facebook and Twitter, celebrate the completion of their race through accessing photos on the blog and on Pinterest; then the “Spartans” are then encouraged to maintain their fitness level after the race through the workout emails and are motivated to participate in future/more difficult races.
Along with training this year, I was also diagnosed with celiac disease, so I’ve switched to a strict gluten-free diet. I’m accustomed to preparing all of my meals from scratch, but this past summer, I was thrilled to discover frozen prepared gluten-free lasagna, shepherd’s pie, and macaroni and cheese that were made from quality ingredients and were safe for me to eat. The products are hard to find, so I searched for the company online. The company is a small company called Maison Cannelle and it’s located in Quebec; its website is: http://www.maisoncannelle.com/en/. When I visited the site, I was happy to see that they have enough information regarding the products that they sell and the locations where they can be purchased. The site has a link to a Facebook fan page: https://fr-fr.facebook.com/pages/La-Maison-Cannelle/77101723021, which has approximately 955 followers. Despite having good information on the products, this company’s social media presence needs to be updated. The blog features blog posts that haven’t been updated since 2011 on the English site; and since 2013 on the French site. The Facebook page is current and appears to be updated regularly, but the content is only available in French. Ideally, it would be nice to see the company include more content on their English site (if the company is looking to attract non-French speaking customers), an English version of their Facebook page, some updated blog posts added to their main blog, and their “contact us” page could be made more attractive. The company should definitely create a profile on LinkedIn and perhaps an account on Twitter. They have some nice photos in their gallery section on their website, so they might consider a presence on Instagram (maybe pictures of the “Featured Food of the Week” to showcase their products) and Pinterest. Their food is so delicious; I’m sure it could be much more popular with the right social media presence.

COM0015-Blog post #1-The most reliable (and/or fun?) listening tools and sources of information

COM0015-Blog post #1-The most reliable (and/or fun?) listening tools and sources of information

Facebook is the form of social media that I use the most, but in terms of “listening” and “monitoring”, my favourite social media monitoring tool for personal purposes is definitely youTube (http://www.youtube.com/). I find it addictive – after watching one video I’ll see another video I want to watch in the suggested video list, and before you know it, an hour has passed. In videos, you can hear and sometimes see people speak, so you get more of a feel of their personalities; it feels like more of a personal connection. I also find it very entertaining to read the comments at the bottom of the videos, with so many people willing to be negative but refusing to identify themselves – the infamous internet trolls! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)) It astounds me what some people will actually say!
Blogs/websites are another of my favourite forms of listening. I have specific blogs that I refer to regularly. I usually use youTube in combination with blogs – if I see something interesting on a youTube video, I will visit that person’s blog or vice versa. I like blogs that include a lot of research – this is important to my professional development because once you find a site with trusted content on it, it becomes your ‘go-to’ site for accurate information. There are so many blogs now, that you need to find a valuable or enjoyable source for your information. I work in career advertising, so I enjoy visiting sites like charityvillage.ca, workopolis.com, monster.ca, etc., to see how the sites are set up and if there is anything new in how they’re presenting the information.
For me, my two best sources of news and updates are the Ottawa Citizen website and msn.ca. I visit both of these sites on a regular (usually daily) basis. The Ottawa Citizen delivers local and national news and msn.ca offers a collection of news, but also weird and unique articles from across the world. MSN is more of a fun tangent for me because I like the quirky videos and strange stories that the site sometimes has.
I have the most experience with (and have found great value in) using Netvibes as my main career-related listening tool. When combined with Google Analytics, it is easy to compile statistics related to my organization’s website and discover the viewing patterns of our site visitors. I was quite interested to note a distinct cycle of site visitors – most of our visitors look at our site on Mondays and Wednesdays, with medium volume on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with visits trickling off over the weekend. Our site visits are generally between 1:00 and 2:00 in the afternoon. This information helps us build a profile about our visitors and helps us to better time our advertising. It’s also interesting to use Netvibes to listen to what others are saying about our site, to respond to comments, and to use the information to improve our website.
After researching more listening tools recently, I believe that I will look into using Social Mention as well. But only if it’s fun. 😉

COM0014 – Blog post #7 – Making it personal

Have you ever listened to speakers at a conference go on and on about important facts and statistics that they’ve researched? After a while, it may start to sound like the Charlie Brown teacher voice going “wah, wah, wah” in your head. Sure, the topic may be interesting and you may even think to yourself that you should jot some notes down, but then you realize you won’t remember even if you do write it down. At some point, your eyes will eventually gloss over and you’ll do the chin bob while you desperately fight to stay awake and appear interested.

For me, I’m much more likely to stay engaged with the information and remember an interesting fact or statistic if there’s a colourful and personal story to go along with it. I truly believe that by telling a story, rather than just relaying facts, you invest an audience, through their emotions, in the outcome. Whether you arouse their anger, empathy, interest, or just make them laugh, once they’ve felt an emotional response you’ve created a human connection with them that will inspire them to engage further – whether it’s responding to your blog, interacting with you face-to-face, or using the information in their own lives. I plan on using the tools I’ve learned in this course, such as listening to social media conversations that are already happening; joining or initiating discussions while developing my own unique voice; using clear, concise pyramid writing, ensuring proper grammar, spelling and punctuation; and assessing my target audience and using the correct branding and social media tools to reach it, as ways of improving my ability to tell an engaging story.

COM0014 – Blog post #6 – Life lessons learned while painting ceilings

Last weekend, dressed in my old t-shirt and sweat pants, hair tied up in a clip, with a paint roller in my hand, I remembered one of the reasons why I love my family so much. When someone needs help or something needs to get done, my family works together to make it happen. In this particular instance, the upstairs of my grandparent’s house required a new paint job. So my parents helped clean and prepare the walls and ceilings; my aunt and uncle did the sanding and ‘cutting in’ parts of the paint job; my dad, uncle and I used the paint rollers; my mom and cousin painted the door and window trim; and my other aunt prepared our lunch and supper for us, so that we didn’t have to worry about cooking. In two days we had two coats of new paint on everything and the house looked amazing.

When I was a child, I assumed that all families were like this; when you needed help, you would reach out and this amazing safety net of people surrounded you with support and assistance. I eventually discovered how lucky I was to have been raised in a family like this and no longer take it for granted the way I used to. My grandfather always says the most important thing in life is family and this lesson has shaped who I am today.

As a result of this lesson, I now realize I’m drawn to work environments where I have this same sense of family. As much as I enjoy and need to work independently on occasion, I invest myself more in a workplace where I’m part of a respectful, supportive team working toward a mutual goal, with the understanding that the final result wouldn’t be the same if even one of those people was missing. For me, the people I work with are my ‘work family’ and every member of the team has value.

What about you? What was your most influential childhood memory that has impacted and prepared you for your career?

COM0014 – Blog post #5 – Personal Brand: Laurie McLeod, Adrenaline Enthusiast

COM0014 – Blog post #5 – Personal Brand: Laurie McLeod, Adrenaline Enthusiast

I love adrenaline. Yes, I do. And I think I’m addicted to it. Upon close inspection of what I love in my life, I realize that adrenaline-driven activities propel me the most. Deadlines motivate me at work, intense workouts keep me healthy, and laughter and dancing with my family keep me sane. Hectic schedules and multiple projects provide an exciting challenge to me because I love the thrill of accomplishment I feel when I meet the deadline on time every time. Eagle Eye is my name (actually, my real name is Laurie) and I’m proud that I’m able to edit ad text quickly and effectively, all while managing client relationships. Interaction with clients prevents me from getting bored because I love establishing new relationships and discovering each person’s unique story. As I’ve had almost 10 years of experience working with nursing and medical association members, I’m equipped to find quick solutions to difficult problems that benefit all sides. I can be sassy on occasion and my main passion is satiric writing. I’m also a “Spartan girl-in-training”, and, as such, I run up and down bleachers and scale chain-link fences for fun. I also do a lot of burpees, but that’s not fun. I am not the fastest, strongest, or most athletic person, but I’m stubborn and challenge myself to go beyond my limits and accomplish new and ever-changing goals. As an eternal optimist, I want to believe in the best of people. I truly believe that if you dream it, you can make it happen; I measure my life based not on what I do, but how I feel, and I wish more people would do the same.

COM0014 – Blog post #4 – “You’ve always got time for Tim Hortons”

COM0014 – Blog post #4 – “You’ve always got time for Tim Hortons”

Tim Hortons is a company that effectively uses social media online to market to, but also engage with, its customers in multiple ways.
Tim Hortons has a website (http://www.timhortons.com), a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TimHortons), and is active on Twitter with 182,000 followers (https://twitter.com/TimHortons). Product images are posted on its Twitter page to entice people to buy donuts and coffee, but customers are also polled for their opinions. Their current survey is: “Which classic menu item is due for a comeback? The choice is yours. #TIMSBRINGITBACK.”
Contests are also used on its Twitter page to encourage quick sales and a connection with customers, such as the recent promotion: “Create an Easter #TimbitMe for a chance to Win ‘Free Coffee & Timbits for a year!’”
The marketing for Tim Hortons on youTube is fun; there’s a video of a Tim Horton’s flashmob where consumers are thanked for helping the Facebook page reach two million fans (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4Ag_VTqDQM). This video is an example of successfully using one form of social media, youTube, to connect with another form of social media, Facebook, and to raise awareness of the brand in both areas.
Tim Hortons also uses youTube to display to its customers how the company gives back to the community, through its children’s camps (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFfWjdO3pjk). By showing these charitable deeds, Tim Hortons establishes itself as a trustworthy, dependable, and generous brand that helps children in need.
Tim Hortons was co-founded by the hockey player of the same name. As such, commercials for the brand in the winter often involve hockey. As many Canadians see hockey as Canada’s game, a commercial featuring hockey and Tim Hortons creates a correlation between the two – hockey is Canada’s game and Tim Hortons is Canada’s coffee. Tim Hortons has used this connection to create an identity; the brand has become part of Canada’s culture; and this cultural connection creates an emotional purchasing decision for consumers.
Tim Hortons has taken technology even further, by creating TimsTV, an in-store television channel (https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-buzz/tim-hortons-announces-tv-channel-twitter-responds-favourably-195124654.html). When customers first heard of TimsTV, they excitedly responded via Twitter (https://twitter.com/search?q=%23TimsTV&src=typd); this reaction is once again an example of how one form of media, television, can impact another form, Twitter, and create a discussion about the brand.
My favourite form of advertising that Tim Hortons does has always been its heart-tugging commercials where you feel a sense of family and “home”; the implication is that Tim Hortons is a part of what makes you feel like you’re at home. As many of these ads have remained in my memory, I feel like Tim Hortons has successfully built a dependable brand through its use of social media.

COM0014 – Blog post #3 – New shoes, fresh from the oven

COM0014 – Blog post #3 – New shoes, fresh from the oven

I’m a girl. I wear 2-inch high heels on most days. I also lift weights.

After three years, I hit a ‘plateau’ with my front squat. It was frustrating to struggle with something I knew I should be better at, until one day my trainer asked: “Do you wear heels?”

He explained how wearing heels keeps your calf muscles tightened (“High heels ‘shrink calf muscle fibres’”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-10651020), which may restrict range of movement in squats. I started stretching my calf muscles regularly, but it wasn’t enough. My trainer suggested I test out his Olympic weightlifting shoes that have a slightly elevated heel. Wow, what a difference they made! I could squat with heavier weight and still maintain proper form!

Now to find a pair…

I found shoes online and started calling local stores. Understandably they’d be difficult to find, but it was frustrating that some stores sold men’s and not women’s. With more women joining crossfit gyms, why weren’t these shoes available?

When a product has a very specific market, it’s easier to reach just that market. Consider the marketing campaign for the Reebok All-Terrain Series shoes. This shoe, branded as the “Official Shoe of Spartans”, is being marketed to participants of the obstacle course race called the Spartan Race. The shoe is featured prominently on the Spartan Race blog (http://blog.spartanrace.com/the-reebok-all-terrain-series-the-shoe-of-spartan-race/); Spartan team members receive promotional emails; rotating banner ads feature it on the Reebok home page (http://shop.reebok.com/us/); and there is a youTube promotional video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPI0FwPK8i8). For me, the dramatic video was especially effective, resembling a movie trailer by ending with the words: “Coming March 2014”.

I ended up purchasing Reebok shoes—Crossfit Lifters—online (and enjoyed putting them in the oven to mold to the shape of my feet!). If I was marketing these lifters, I’d mirror the Spartan shoe marketing plan, with a target audience of “youngish” (early-to-mid thirties), active, health-conscious, professional women who have disposable income to afford gym memberships and the corresponding trendy clothing. I’d work with a high heel shoe company to offer a discount if women bought both heels and lifters. The footwear would also be readily available in stores.

I am not the Oly shoe’s original target audience, which was why I had such difficulty finding them; the marketing is directed at men who readily buy products online, but I believe target audiences can change.

Thoughts? Have you ever delighted in baking your own shoes?

COM0014 – Blog post #2 – Pyramids and Ice Cream Cones

COM0014 – Blog post #2 – Pyramids and Ice Cream Cones

Mmmm, chocolate ice cream cones. Or mint chip. Or even plain old vanilla. Creamy deliciousness.
After our recent snowstorm (will the snow ever end?), I’ve been longing for the hot, sunshine-filled days of summer and the ice cream treats that go along with it. I also had the random remembrance of being a young girl trying to tie my shoelaces and discovering that it’s very difficult to do so while holding an ice cream cone in your hand. On one fateful (excruciatingly hot) day, after an hour-long walk on little legs to the general store, I remember that my precious ice cream scoop toppled over, bounced off my fluorescent pink and yellow shorts, and landed in the gravel.
This memory made me think about this week’s lesson on writing effective blog posts. We’re supposed to write in an ‘inverted pyramid’ style, but is an inverted pyramid equivalent to an ice cream cone in this scenario? Will it topple over due to instability? Is it most satisfying at the beginning but just ends up being soggy and stale by the end? I’m curious to hear other people’s point of view on this subject, because I think I’d prefer a more ‘rectangular’ style of writing, a writing style that will capture a reader’s attention and keep it all the way through, as long as the writing is interesting, clear, concise, and includes proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If people only read the first few lines of a post, maybe it’s because the rest of the post is not worth reading?
Hmmm, what do you think? Are rectangular ice cream cones an option?