Unexpected Applications Of Online Marketing And Social Media

During these past two months enrolled in an online social media class that has expanding my knowledge of the digital world, I’ve been amazed at the variety of applications that are popular, especially with the youth while I’m still preoccupied with Facebook. What’s more is the way these new platforms have become key in propelling careers, especially that of musicians.

1. TikTok

Described as a video-sharing social networking service, TikTok usually boasts people lip-synching over cover songs, while also improvising some sort of choreographed dance number. While it seems that the majority of users are simply following a trend, especially amongst the youth, the application has actually launched music careers. For instance, Lil Nas X was practically unknown to the world until his song, “Old Town Road” was uploaded onto TikTok and it blew up.

According to the rap star, “I should maybe be paying TikTok, they really boosted the song. It was getting to the point that it was almost stagnant. When TikTok hit it, almost every day since that, the streams have been up. I credit them a lot” (Alexander, 2019). Short snippets of the song were used and it spread like wildfire from one user to another. While I still believe these types of applications generally garner mediocrity, it’s an excellent way to market oneself in today’s digital age.

2. Hootsuite

I’m still amazed at the power behind social media management platforms like Hootsuite. I use to send posts from different applications individually and it took me forever. When I discovered Hootsuite, it cut my social media time by less than half and as a communications officer, that’s significant. More importantly though is how easily it allows me to gauge my audience by reading monthly reports about user engagement, popular posts and optimal times of the day to tweet or post on Facebook and Instagram.

Obviously, one will have to negotiate as to which application is beneficial to their personal or professional need. There will always be emerging tools that will be attractive to millennials. Although I believe many of these applications are simply time-consumers, they do fill the demand of people’s reliance on social media. Do you think social networking apps will continue to rise in popularity?

Professional Networking: Now And In The Future

Image Source

As a communications officer, I find it prudent to build a network of professionals in the same field of expertise in order to enhance my knowledge and skills and also create potential job opportunities for the future. In order to achieve this, I’ve made it a point to follow some helpful steps.

1. Community Events

I’ve made it a priority to attend events in the community that I work in that are organized by different groups, such as municipalities, townships and First Nations. In this way, not only am I learning about initiatives and programs that others are offering, but I’m also getting to meet a variety of people in person. Moreover, individuals that I already communicate with via email or telephone can put a face to my name, which creates a friendly rapport and allows them to see my character and listen to my ideas (Dodd, 2015).

Image Source

2. Working Groups

Oftentimes, challenges arise, which require some sort of collaboration with team members. For instance, there have been negative posts by some followers recently on my organization’s Facebook page, which border racism. As such, I’m in the process of drafting a social media policy with the assistance of a working group in which I’m also part of. This allows senior management and others to discuss ideas and share insights into tackling the issue at hand. This ‘meeting of the minds’ is essential when writing policies that have far reaching effects as is listening to teammates expertise, which can only benefit the organization’s long-term goals.

Image Source

It is crucial to acknowledge that if one wants to succeed in their careers ahead of the pack, they will have to remain proactive. During the next six-to-twelve months, I will continue collaborating with internal staff and individuals from other organizations and companies. I believe it’s beneficial to build a network of communications officers and share information amongst each other. Although it’s important to be diverse in networking attempts, focusing on my sphere of expertise will narrow down my search (Arruda, 2017) and increase my chances of building solid contacts.

What types of newsletters do others offer? How frequently are social media applications used by other communication personnel? What are other organizations social media policy? These are important questions that should be asked with no hesitation. I don’t know everything in my field of work and there’s bound to be others who have more expertise than I, so why not ask for assistance. It can only lead to better contacts and shows a sense of humility that can go a long way. This is why it is an effective strategy to participate in a plethora of team building activities to effectively maximize collaboration skills (Gibbs, 2020). Do you think these steps are a constructive way in expanding networking opportunities?

Break-Ups: 2 Social Media Tips

Image source

Looking back on my high school days, I recall when my friends broke up with their girlfriends and that was usually the end of the story. Sure, there were the ‘he did this’ and ‘she said this’ which sometimes boiled over in shouting matches in school hallways, but that was usually it. These days though, break-ups have taken a nasty turn and can become relentless and ongoing on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Since these tools are part of the post-separation period, here are some suggestions on how to use social media after a break-up.

1. Muting

The muting strategy is utilized best when one doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of an ex by un-friending them. When you mute someone’s Twitter account, their tweets won’t show up on your timeline and they won’t be aware of it (Pulley, 2019). One can always un-mute the person at any time afterwards. Muting works in a similar manner on Instagram by not allowing posts to populate a feed, again without a person being alerted (Ghoshal, 2018). This can also be done to people who are just generally annoying, constantly posting material and you just don’t want to unfollow them. Facebook gives users the same option of unfollowing someone, but also provides the opportunity to snooze posts (remove temporarily) for 30 days (Salinas, 2017).

2. Blocking

This technique can be utilized as a last resort for those that are persistent with their messages and posts after a break-up, which can eventually become harassing in nature. When you block someone on Facebook, it essentially un-friends them. They won’t be able to see your posts, be invited to events, start a private conversation or be added as a friend (DiNuzzo, 2019). While muting on Twitter allows users to still tweet at you, blocking completely removes any form of engagement that they may have with your account (Jackson, 2018). Similarly, when a person is blocked on Instagram, he or she won’ t be able to see your profile, posts or stories and they won’t be alerted of this change (Instagram, 2020). Instagram has recently added a ‘restrict’ feature, which prevents a user from knowing when you’re online.

Unfortunately, in today’s world breaking up doesn’t end in person. It carries into the digital space, meandering through a web of social media applications. Making matters even more complicated is the fact that mutual friends are often intertwined in this web. However, most platforms usually provide a method of blocking someone undesired or limiting their activity on your account. If matters do become threatening and harassing in nature, one should never hesitate to call the authorities. Do you think it’s more difficult to break-up with someone as a result of social media?

Religion: Has Social Media Changed The Way Christians And Muslims Practice Their Faith?

Image source

When one thinks about world religions, one might not consider social media. In fact, one might appropriately think of biblical passages like the resurrection of Jesus or practices, such as Ramadan. But in the age of the Internet, even religious institutions are adapting applications like Twitter and Facebook as a means of expressing sermons and reaching out to followers. We will explore the ways in which Christianity and Islam have implemented social media in their daily communications.

1. Christianity

Image source

Just as radio and television were once the mediums for Christian evangelists, preaching the word of God to millions of listeners and viewers, smart phones have now taken over as the preferred medium. Social media applications are cheaper than televised broadcasts and they can reach many more people with a single click of a button. This is surely the principle reason of its adoption.

Durham Cathedral in Yorkshire, England is a perfect example of a Christian institution that has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, which is managed by its clergy. According to Reverend Pete Phillips who is director of the Codec Research Centre for Digital Theology at Durham University, “Faiths are adopting online technologies to make it easier for people to communicate ideas and worship” (Stokel-Walker, 2017).

But it’s also applications like YouVersion that allow users to download entire versions of the Bible for personal use that has really transformed religious dissemination and expression. With over one million subscriptions, the popular app now has over 2000 Bible verses in over 1300 languages, an astonishing increase since it was founded in 2008 with only 15 verses and two languages (Gryboski, 2019).

2. Islam

Image source

The Islamic faith has also jumped on the social media bandwagon. The religion has a plethora of Quran apps for smartphones. Yet, its other ways that social media has been used, specifically economically in Western societies. As more and more Muslims arrived in Christian countries, many assimilated into their respective countries, but maintained their traditions and customs. First generation children from these immigrants have used some these traditions in a modern way that have reaped financial rewards.

For instance, fashion is one of the customs that has been reshaped through social media influencers. Habiba de Silva and Maria Alia who have millions of followers on Instagram are part of the first generation of Muslims that were born and raised in Western countries, but have maintained Islamic culture and customs (Patel, 2020). They’ve created their own lines of clothing, which can be expressed through each individual and are often advertised on their Instagram accounts.

Image of Habiba de Silva

Aside from fashion, there have been other advances of religious social media adherence. For the hearing impaired, YouTube has now been utilised as a way to learn the Quran. For example, Surya Sahetapy, a 25-year-old Indonesian who is deaf, partnered up with a local Islamic organization to translate all 114 chapters, known as surahs into sign language (Cochrane, 2019). Now, deaf Muslims from all over the world can follow these videos on YouTube through their smartphones anytime of the day.

It should come as no surprise the manner in which organized religions have adopted social media platforms. It engages with followers in ways that were unimaginable 15 years ago. In addition to the ability of interacting with millions of people throughout the world, individuals now have the freedom of reading religious text directly on their smartphones, whenever and wherever they are. Do you think religious text is as effective through social media apps as it is in person at a church or mosque?

Tools and Sources

Hootsuite is one of my preferred social media trend listening/monitoring tools that I use on a daily basis for work. In addition to the ability it offers in distributing information simultaneously through multiple social networks, Hootsuite organizes each network/platform in columns side-by-side making it easy for the user. As a Communications Officer for a First Nation, this is a huge advantage, since you avoid visiting each network individually and can manage your time more easily through one website. I’m also able to see some of our community partners posts as well, such as municipalities, counties, cities, non-profits and other types of organizations surrounding the First Nation. Even though we often work closely on certain projects and can identify similar trends, I can continue staying informed through news and events that I was not initially privy too. Lastly, one can also schedule posts, if you find yourself occupied or are planning to take a vacation. 

TweetReach is another monitoring and listening tool that I use, especially when I want to know how many people connect to my tweets. Essentially, it’s a tool that is great at measuring the effectiveness of certain discussions on social media, but also highlights your audience. In this way, you can see who’s more influential, thereby directing more effort to the right target group for better results. Although it works solely with Twitter, it provides real time analytics through charts, trends and other variables. Although TweetReach might be better suited for companies with a large product base, I still find it useful during certain campaigns that occur on the First Nation. 

One of my favourite sources of news and updates is https://www.newsnow.co.uk/h/, a news aggregate website. The site is neatly organized with your usual news categories situated on the left side and also at the top of the page. Instead of visiting specific online news agencies about certain topics, one can simply click on a category, for example Technology, and it brings up a bevy of articles from news outlets around the world. The same applies to searching for news in other countries, offering a convenient alternative to traditional news mediums. One bonus of aggregate websites like this is that it provides the visitor with different perspectives relating to similar subjects. Thus, a reporter in Belgium for instance, might have a completely different outlook of entrepreneurial ambitions amongst youth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo than a Congolese reporter would. 

Lastly, I often visit https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/ to read up on the latest news in the business world. It’s an ideal website for those like myself who are not experts in finance, business or economics, but are nonetheless interested in following market trends and reading expert opinions. They provide a live market ticker with a number of stocks throughout the day, list typical indices and commodities, such as the Dow Jones and Gold in real time and post videos from televised and website broadcasts. Visitors are immediately confronted with the main story on the center page with a large title and video below it along with additional stories to the side of it. BNN Bloomberg also has an android app making it simple to follow news and stock prices. 

Although we’re bombarded with a seemingly daily array of new types of technologies, one has to gauge different social media platforms and monitoring tools and decide, which strategy they should adopt for the company and organization they work for. There is no single working formula. 

Organizations: The Strong And The Weak

In the age of the World Wide Web that occupies a large part of our daily lives, it’s no wonder that companies and organizations alike have made it mandatory to maintain a digital presence. As such, they and their products are made more accessible to the general public. However, not all entities have effectively utilized the available technologies, such as social media applications. In this regard, it would be beneficial to share some examples of organizations that have and have not implemented a successful social media strategy.

1. Peterborough Public Health (PPH)

PPH is a health network that serves the City and County of Peterborough and two First Nations in the surrounding area. The organization provides a plethora of programs, which include healthy eating and nutritional workshops, testing drinking water and controlling infectious outbreaks. PPH stands out from other organizations by having a strong community presence through its programs and medical expertise and their consistent use of social media.

The communications team update the PPH website weekly with press releases and initiatives that are also shared on their social media accounts. These are also sent to local partners, which have the ability to post them on their respective websites and social media applications. For example, PPH has provided the latest information regarding the coronavirus outbreak and the ways it’s been monitored and managed in the Peterborough area. What’s more, the organization’s Medical Officer of Health often shares audio recordings of her professional expertise with community partners and the general public on a variety of subjects. PPH has also applied YouTube to its media repertoire by uploading videos of PPH initiatives or to promote federal programs like the New Canada Food Guide.

2. National Hockey League (NHL)

The NHL has implemented a successful social media plan that has evolved over the years to include the most up-to-date applications alongside the traditional three, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It now uses GIPHY, Snapchat and TikTok amongst others, increasing their online presence to the fullest. As a big hockey fan, it’s been interesting to see how social media has been used to expand the sport’s reach into other areas of the world where hockey is not as popular, like in China.

Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin became the NHL Ambassador to China last summer and it was a great way for the NHL to establish an image abroad. Social media was used throughout his trip as he visited historic sites and played with youth hockey players.

While the NHL furthers its brand through the players themselves, the players also have the ability to publicize their own image. But the unique aspect about the NHL is that staff writers also have a presence on social media. In addition to articles that are published directly on its website, writers post messages on Twitter and engage with followers and others in real time, like during hockey games. Lastly, it produces podcasts with easily accessible links for visitors to download on androids and iPhones or to listen to them directly on their website. An example is a podcast entitled, NHL Inductions Class, which discusses the latest Hockey Hall of Fame inductees.

1. Action Réfugiés Montréal (ARM)

ARM is an organization that seeks to help asylum seekers and refugees in Canada. They have an informative website that lists all the programs and support services that are offered. One such program is the ‘Twinning Program,’ which connects women who’ve lived a refugee experience with other women who are born or have lived in Canada for some time. In this way, the program allows a bond to develop between women with the hope that it will assist their transition into Canadian society.

Yet, ARM hasn’t utilized social media to its fullest, which is surprising for an organization that has existed for 26 years. For instance, it doesn’t have a Twitter link that is visible on their website. I had to Google its name along with the word Twitter to verify they had an account. Moreover, the last time that it was used was in November of 2019. They don’t even have an Instagram account.

It seems that ARM is missing out on opportunities that can be gained through social media, such as more exposure, especially since immigration has been a hot topic over the last couple of years. Firstly, with the continued growth of platforms like Twitter, it provides a space to further promote the programs it offers and network with other community groups. Secondly, since information sharing through mobile devices is becoming increasingly popular, people, especially youth are becoming more accustomed with these forms of communication. Lastly, ARM’s website would benefit from linking all social media accounts on their homepage, preferably with a feed of each so followers can easily engage with the organization.

There’s no doubt that online marketing strategies will vary from one organization to another, depending on objectives and vision. Still, in today’s age of communication through non-traditional means, it seems absolutely necessary for organizations to implement some form of strategy that would utilize social media in order to increase their online presence. What do you think?

From Movie Stars To Professional Athletes: How Social Media Is Being Used For Personal Branding

Image Source

These days, it’s no surprise that celebrities are using social media as a platform to further engage with fans throughout the world, something that was essentially non-existent twenty years ago. Often times, such engagements are designed to raise the status of individuals, while other times they are designed to promote new film releases or promote causes, such as fighting to cure breast cancer.

Here are some well-known examples of celebrities using social media successfully.

1. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Image Source

Perhaps the most influential celebrity today is ‘The Rock’ raking it in at the box office seemingly every film that he releases. But, more than his box office success is his ability to connect with his fans through social media. He often gives inspirational videos that he takes of himself and posts them directly on Instagram, where he has over a 100 million followers (Robehmed, 2018). However, it’s not merely audience engagement that has pivoted him to the top. His social media presence has transformed the way in which film companies market new releases, paying him directly for promoting films on social media. He now charges fees of up to several millions of dollars for promoting films in which he stars in (Lynch, 2018).

2. P.K. Subban and Lindsey Vonn

Image Source

N.H.L. superstar P.K. Subban routinely lights up social media with his beaming smile. It seems that he found a fitting match in skier Lindsey Vonn, when they met in 2018 and began a relationship that was closely followed on social media. The couple, now engaged after Vonn proposed to Subban through social media, are the ideal online couple, which chronicle their lives through social media.

Image Source

Yet, its Subban’s act of kindness and generosity, which he has demonstrated through digital mediums, which makes him stand out more than most athletes. Although he posts a lot of stuff related to his career as a professional hockey player, he often shares posts of work that he does with sick children and the inspirational stories that accompany patients and their families (McShad, 2017).

While its certain that not all celebrities or athletes can become as influential as these examples, we continue seeing the capability of reaching out to audiences by non-traditional means. This has brought fans closer to their idols, by-passing traditional news outlets, which would act as intermediaries so to speak. While questions could be raised whether social media is used to raise one’s own stock in pursuit of advancing careers, there are sincere individuals that are using it for more than just personal gain, which is a good thing. What do you think?

Teenage Use of Social Media: 3 Harmful Effects

Mile

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

As social media becomes more prevalent in our daily lives, people are finding it increasingly difficult to stay away from platforms like Facebook and Instagram. While adults might find it easier to distance themselves from the digital word, for children, this is more challenging. Youth are always looking to be the cool kid on the block. While in the 90s, this would have entailed wearing the latest pair of Nike Air Jordan’s, today it would include the famous sneakers along with the latest iPhone. Kids today are bombarded more than ever with information that revolves around the latest technologies, apps and social trends. Even politics has permeated their social dialogue. Still, these modern marvels of the 21st Century have not come without a price and children have been the first to experience the negative effects of some of these technologies, especially social media.

Here are three ways use of social media is harmful for teenagers.

1. Increased Anxiety

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Research is beginning to show some of the adverse consequences of social media on the lives of youth under the age of 20. A study conducted by Amanda Lenhart reveals that there are several triggers, which are responsible for increased anxiety amongst teenagers. These include matters, such as not being inviting to certain events through Facebook, feeling the need to constantly be posting uplifting details about oneself and the necessity to have friends post on one’s page and like their content (Shafer, 2017). While the element of fitting in at school has not been a symptom reserved solely for this generation of youth, the fact is that whatever gets posted online will remain there forever, a daunting reality previous generations of teens never had to contend with. In light of these current trends, I feel fortunate not to have grown up with such distractions during my high school years.

2. Depression and Anti-Social Behaviour

As children become more and more dependent on computers, tablets and mobile devices as principal modes of communication, a feeling of loneliness starts to set in. This is a concern that has even penetrated the adult population as well. JAMA Psychiatry published a study in 2019 that correlated three hours of use of social media amongst adolescents aged 12 to 15 to higher rates of mental health issues, such as depression (Basu, 2019). Moreover, as less time is spent on interacting with people directly, individuals, especially adolescents would find it challenging as they mature to integrate into a society that still functions on a face-to-face basis. According to Dr. Jeff Nalin, a Clinical Psychologist, kids that don’t learn how to directly interact with others will not have the ability to read body language or changes in vocal tones (Nalin, 2018). That’s a scary thought moving forward in life.

3. Cyberbullying

Photo of Rehtaeh Parson Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Rehtaeh Parsons was only 17 years old when she committed suicide after photos of her allegedly being sexually assaulted were distributed online. She was subsequently bullied on Facebook and at school. Unfortunately, a lack of diligent policing combined with legislation that didn’t keep pace with new technologies and the crimes that would be perpetrated through them, prevented stiffer punishments from being handed down on the perpetrators. Cyberbullying is an ongoing challenge for parents, teachers, law enforcement and of course students, even with positive changes in the Canadian Criminal Code resulting from tragedies like Parsons.

Statistics Courtesy of the American Society for the Positive Care of Children

Cyberbullying can encompass a variety of means, which include posting hurtful messages about someone through fake social media accounts, sexting (the act of sending nude pictures or sexually suggestive pictures of someone without their consent via text) or distributing nude pictures or videos of a person through the internet or email, again, without their consent. However, Bill C-13 (Bill C-13) amended the Criminal Code even further by making it illegal for those under the age of 18 to send sexual images, even if done so consensually.

Whether or not one supports the use of social media, it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. We enjoy the many conveniences that modern technologies provide us, but they are not without consequence. As a society, we must acknowledge the inherent risks attached to such mediums and limit the amount of time children spend in cyberspace. This will certainly require a more assertive effort by parents. Yet, while emphasis is correctly placed on youth, adults should also be cautious of these risks. Cyberspace might seem like a reality, but it is not a tangible reality, which requires face-to-face communication. Although I personally use platforms like Facebook for my employment in order to communicate and engage with our audience, I also stress the importance of meeting individuals in person to bear witness to their thoughts and emotions in a way that can never be replicated through the use of social media.