COMM 0015 – Blog Post #5 – Event Participation

cs4l summitThis past week I had the pleasure of attending the Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L) summit in Gatineau, Quebec.  It was a two day conference and it was a natural choice since my company, SIRC, was to be an exhibitor. Since I’m the primary person at the booth, it was easy to use this event as a networking tool as well as squeezing in some professional development whenever I got the chance to attend a session.

Since I was at the booth, I met around 30-40 people and had some interesting conversations in the two days I was there. I had two firm connections with Francois Gravelle from the University of Ottawa who is researching physical literacy for Olympic weightlifters and Jennifer Scott who is the Director of Communications for the Canadian Dermatology Association who led a project in partnership with Baseball Canada to increase awareness of UV rays and skin cancer in baseball players. Both were extremely friendly, Francois had sosircboothme research questions for me which I managed to answer via email for him while he was in session and Jennifer kindly answered my questions about obtaining resources for our library after her presentation was over. She also mentioned the use of social media to create awareness for her project so I was interested in picking her brain on what worked and what didn’t in order to apply it to my own position.

One of the most unique experiences was listening to the keynote speakers who came from an unlikely source considering the whole conference is about Canadian sport. Two representives, Gil Favreau and Patrice Aubertin from Cirque du Soleil and The National Circus School spoke about the application of long term athlete development and their particular organizations. I was surprised to find that many of the students at the school were former athletes, although in retrospect it makes sense. The the two gentlemen knew each other very well so they played off of one another while they spoke so it was interesting and informative at the same time. This is a quote from Gil (which I actually tweeted that day) “We are believing in the dreams of youth”.

Overall the conference was great and I got to meet a lot of new and interesting people, coaches, CEO’s, an aquafit instructor, dieticians, researchers and doctors. It was a great experience and I look forward to attending the conference again next year.

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COMM 0015 Blog Post #4 – Out of the Box

One of the best thingThink Outside the Box on a Blackboards that have come out of social media is just that – the social aspect. There are so many happy stories of people getting behind a cause, finding people they love or helping someone who is sick. Social media is the fastest way to pass around a message or an idea and watch it catch fire.

Kickstarter is a great example of how the internet community can come together to support new and creative projects around the world. Basically it works with someone coming up with an idea, “pitching” it via the Kickstarter website (while remaining upfront about possible set backs), setting a time limit for crowdfunding and then wait for people to fund it. It’s not for profit, the extra funds get used for the project as well as “kickbacks” for the funders, or backers. For example, you may get the first copy of the product, tickets to the movie premiere, attendance for filming, etc. The individuals that pledge money to a project only get that money taken from them if enough pledges are received to meet the target.

This past year I’ve helped to fund two projects The Sword and Laser online book club and the making of the Veronica Mars movie.  The Sword and Laser book club started as a successful podcast and branched into a YouTube video show when they partnered with Geek and Sundry. Due to funding issues, their show was cancelled. I love the podcast and the show, so when I saw the opportunity for a “second season” I wanted to help out.  I loved being able to do this, to help (even instartup a small way) to support something I’m passionate about (books) and to see people who produce good content be able to continue to do so.

The making of the Veronica Mars movie was one of the biggest success stories for Kickstarter. It started with a promo video that went viral and is currently the third most successful project on the website. The video was funny and clever, featured the old cast members, and appealed to Veronica Mars fans to help them get their movie out. I believe the reason it was so successful is that it was done for the fans, years after the show was cancelled the fans were still requesting a movie be made.

Obviously this is just one example of how social media has the ability to create a positive change for many people. The internet produces many inspiring ideas, for me Bitcoins (although not a social media platform) will be the next big thing watch. I think it has a great potential to change the way we do business on a global scale and it will be interesting to see what happens.

COMM 0015 Blog Post #3 – Professional Networking

NetworkHow do you build a professional network?

Currently, my professional networking strategy is mainly based online. I have a LinkedIn page that I update on a semi regular basis althought I’m fully aware that I should pay more attention to it. LinkedIn is such a good resource and I haven’t fully utilized all of it’s features. I have found that it’s come in handy after I’ve attended a networking event like a conference or a casual meet and greet. I’ve got a few contacts on LinkedIn shortly after attending these events. Actually, one contact I made at a conference I attended a few months ago applied for a position in my company.

I’ve also joined a few Facebook groups that are directly related to my career. One is the Library and Information Technician alumni group which frequently posts jobs, current library issues/trends with a little bit of fun bookish things thrown in.  It’s a great way to keep up with the friends I met in school, keep informed of the current trends in my industry and to know the type of employment opportunities available. The other group I follow is LANCR, which is another library based group with the primary focus of connecting library people by creating networking events in the Ottawa area. Since I joined the group recently, I’ve only been to one event but I made a connection with someone who later found me on LinkedIn.meeting proiezione

My preference is in-person networking since my background is working with the public and is directly in my comfort zone.  I have no problems striking up conversations with random people, it’s what I did for over 10 years and I know that it works. Because of this ability I’ve got my last three jobs without having to go through the interview process (which scares me for the future since I’ll be out of practice). With my current job, networking opportunities don’t come up as often since the majority of our interactions happen online. My in-person networking involves the few conferences I attend each year and anything else I find on my own and make time to attend.

What does the future hold?

My main focus for this year involves building more of an online presence. I do have a lot of profiles open on a number of Blog icon conceptdifferent social networking sites but I tend to be more of a lurker than a participant.  One of my goals is to start commenting on various blogs I follow or start conversations with the people I think create good content. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting my own blog, but I’ve got two things that have been holding me back. One, I have trouble deciding on my topic or focus, and should it be professional or personal? And two, I already write the majority of the content for my work blog so it’s been difficult to start something that feels like work.

Another goal would be to get myself out talking to people again. Networking is a definitely a skill that can be developed and once there, needs to be maintained. Since my work offers few opportunities for this, it will be up to me to find professional networking events and make the time to attend them. I think that the Facebook groups I’ve joined are a great start, but maybe looking into what’s available on LinkedIn would be a great way to branch out.

If any of you have your own blogs I would love to know how you started, how you keep consistent postings and if you feel it’s been worthwhile either on a personal or professional level.

COMM 0015 Blog Post #2 Spotting Strong and Weak Social Media Strategies

like, share, tweet and followWhat organizations have a social media strategy that impresses you?

Right away the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) comes to mind since I follow them on Twitter. The COC does an excellent job of engaging Canadians by using a wide variety of social media tools. Just a quick glance on their website reveal links to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram. Their website is well laid out and has an obvious focus on Canadian athletes, their stories, photos, competitions, successes and failures. Virtually everything is sharable and relies mainly on images and videos rather than text to get their message across.

With the Sochi Olympics just around the corner the COC is ramping up interest by rolling out their #WeAreWinter campaign which has an official partnership with Twitter. Since the COC has almost 70,000 followers on their Twitter account, it was and obvious choice. “This campaign is built around emotional videos celebrating the heroic determination of Canada’s Winter Olympic athletes and winter itself—or at least winter’s inextricable place in the Canadian psyche.” The videos included in this social media campaign are dark, tough, edgy and are aimed at appealing to Canadians and their national pride. If this is just the beginning, I look forward to what’s in store for our athletes.

Another organization that has a social media approach that’s growing at very fast pace is the Canadian Curling Association (CCA). Even though the CCA are working on a smaller scale, they have a focused approach on gaining awareness of their ronburgundysport with the aim of recruitment and retention. A quick overview of their site reveals links to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and an RSS feed. The website is easy to navigate, has videos, polls, stats, blogs, and a news feed that are all updated regularly.

Their latest social media campaign had the CCA partnered with Tim Horton’s for Roar of the Rings which are the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials. With the clever title and the addition of Will Farrell as Ron Burgundy to attract more attention, participants and spectators were encouraged to tweet and share photos via Flickr. With over 12,000 views on Flickr, 3,000 likes on Facebook and 10,000 followers on Twitter, the CCA is a great example of how an organization can gain interest for what they do (in this case curling) and the events that they hold.

Which organization needs improvement?

Sport Matters Group (SMG) is a non-profit organization that seeks to have open, non-biased communication with the sport community. They have a focus on collaboration, sharing and participation for sport organizations, leaders and the public to voice their ideas or concerns regarding sport and sport policies.  A quick overview of their website reveals links to Facebook, Twitter and an RSS feed. This site is clean, easy to read and is updated on a regular basis; for an organization that has limited resources they do a decent job of getting their information out to the public but there is a lack of consistency in the platforms they use.

Aerial ParliamentTheir Twitter account is used quite frequently and regularly engages their followers but their Facebook page hasn’t had any new postings since April 2013. Since I work with SMG on a regular basis, I know that they attend many social, sporting, and networking events.  Attending these events is an easy way to generate content for their social media platforms; photos, quotes and videos from these events can help increase awareness of their organization which will increase their likes, followers, etc.

My advice to SMG would be to start small and to work with what they have. Every year they host Lobby Day where they meet with various MP’s, ministers, senators, and senior policy advisors to increase awareness of what they do. Having a clear social media plan for the lead up to this event could futher help participation, awareness and ultimately the success of their organizations’ ability to get their message out to the key people they are trying to reach.

Having a good social media plan doesn’t always mean an organization should be on every social media platform they can sign up to. Since SMG already has accounts with Facebook and Twitter they should start with a plan to optimize those tools to their best advantage. If opportunities arise in the future for expansion into other media platforms, they could update their media strategy to accomodate them as well. Since the organization is so small, there is a chance that they may only be able to allocate time and resources to those two social media websites but as long as they use them consistently and well, they should see a positive difference.

COMM 0015 – Blog Post #1: What social media platforms are the most useful to you?

New social media platforms pop-up all the time and I am constantly exploring what I can use to get the most current and credible information available. While I do have many avenues for where I find information, (mainly online but print as well, I’m still holding out), there are two social media platforms I visit regularly.

Currently, my organization’s Twitter feed is the best source to find out what our community is talking about. People post curtwitter_wallpaperrent events, trending topics and links to what they find interesting. Since SIRC is an avenue for the sport community to communicate with each other, Twitter is a valuable resource for determining future content for blogs, newsletters and LinkedIn posts. Obviously, Twitter does not always deliver quality content, but it can definitely be a good jumping off point for discovering new topics. Knowing your audience is key in engaging and delivering the content people want to read and share, and Twitter delivers a very intimate insight into who you followers are and what they would like to see.

LinkedIn creates a different sort of value for an organization or your own personal brand. I’m still familiarizing myself with LinkedIn, but since I opened an account, I’ve been using it almost everyday. I love how customizable it is, the job posts and news feed are often populated with content I enjoy reading. From my initial observations, I’ve noticed that many of our partner’s don’t use this tool as effectively as they might, my company included. It is my goal for our company to blaze a path, so to speak, by creating and sharing good content through our LinkedIn page. One of the main ideas for this is to get guest writers – leaders in the sport community – to contribute content specifically geared for professional development which will add credibility and appeal to what we are already sharing.Social-Media-300x300

I’m assuming most people use LinkedIn as a place to look for or post jobs, but I see the site as growing into so much more than that. I really enjoy the news feed, many of the posts are directly related to professional development or are curated from the internet to appeal to their audience. With the ability to like, comment, and share articles, a company or individual can increase their reach in a very easy and informal way.

RSS feeds, online newspapers and magazines, newsletters and some of our partner’s company blog posts are also very useful for gaining insight into current trends and topics.  Do you use LinkedIn or Twitter? How do you use them and do you find them effective?