COM0015 – Blog 4: Out of the Box

With a shortage of family doctors in many regions of the country and an over-use of hospital emergency rooms, more hospitals are looking at using social media as an online reliable source for potential patients to check out their symptoms, look for advice on solutions to their problems and receive advice on whether they need to come to the emergency room. More and more individuals research their symptoms online before seeking medical advice with a lot of those sites not being medically accredited, and to me, a bona fide hospital or emergency care centre would be the best place to seek trustworthy and reliable information.  I do not believe potential users would enjoy a more “advanced” way to search, such as Chatbots, for medical questions because of privacy concerns.

 

Symptoms

A second application I foresee gathering momentum in the next year for marketers in the social media realm are Chatbots; a chatbot is a simple computer program designed to mimic conversation with the help of artificial intelligence. A good description of Chatbots, according to Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is “… (they) will infuse intelligence into everything. Bots are the new apps.”

Chatbots can respond to questions and comments 24 hours a day; mistakes in e-commerce orders can be remedied easily; bots will help companies and marketers by cutting down on the number of emails it receives and free up employee time for other important activities. According to forbes.com, “conversational commerce” — the act of placing orders through online conversations — is the future of digital shopping. It will become more relevant and replace how older generations defined customer service. Chatbots will become very valuable as a marketing tool, to attract a younger consumer audience (for example, on Facebook), even before getting the target audience onto the marketer’s web site. They can be used as either voice bots or instant messaging response bots.

There are still problems to iron out; one Chatbot had to be removed from the internet as it got corrupted and started spewing racist comments, however, be on the lookout for a bot who will answer simple questions and queries, remember you if you have used it before for restaurant orders or weather information for a specific geographic location.

ChatbotCartoon by Andrew Toos

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/microsoft-envisions-future-bots-ai-predict-your-every-need-n548151

https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/07/chatbot-for-business.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurenfriedman/2016/06/22/chatbots-and-millennials-how-smart-brands-should-be-using-artificial-intelligence/#587248463665

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COM0015 – Blog Post 3 – Professional Networking Now and in the Future

I am an introverted person; I am uncomfortable thinking about networking in person, and anxious at the thought of physically walking into a room of strangers. I have learned in the past few years that once I shrug off the negative feelings, I can share knowledge and information with others who don’t necessarily share my passions but who find me intelligent and easy to talk to.

On the other hand, I do well analyzing situations and thinking conceptually which leads to communicating very well in writing. Social media is perfect for me, as I listen, research and learn. I have not yet taken the step of joining groups or commenting on blog posts outside of my comfort zone, but I am gearing up to do so. It’s great to listen but I’m sure once I make the move from passive to active, it will be interesting and rewarding to me.

My first goal for the immediate future is to update my LinkedIn profile, using a benefits oriented profile so that potential partners recognize the advantage of working with me. Working on my profile will also include asking past co-workers, instructors and business friends for endorsements on my specific skills, as well as recommendations related to my professional abilities. I will feel more confident once this is completed to begin building relationships with potential allies, partners, and customers.  I will also eventually join and actively participate in groups related to two of my passions, social media and editing.

My second goal will be pushing outside of my comfort zone by attending one in-person networking event every two to three months and introducing myself to at least one new person at each one. I will share my passion about the work I love. As I read on Business Insider, “It’s not always about who you know, but who knows you.”

The obstacles in my way are twofold: first, I am shy, but I am working on that aspect of myself; second, I am currently dealing with ailing, elderly parents and I cannot always use my time as planned. But neither of my goals are unattainable!

COM0015 : Applied Social Media in Business (Mar/Apr 2017) – Blog Post 2

I believe Wendy’s is a company that is doing an excellent job with its social media strategy. Wendy’s can be found on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. It has always produced cute videos and used the innocent looking, red-headed girl’s image in all of its promotions.

Recently, Wendy’s has adopted a new tactic, what is being called “roasting”, for people who comment on its Twitter page. It is giving a new take on innocence through funny, sometimes hilarious and unexpected responses to tweets.  In one of them, someone tweeted an algebra question to Wendy’s, saying he would not go eat at a competitor’s if he got help with his homework. Wendy’s took the time to solve the algebra problem and post it.  Other responses are one liners (My friend wants to go to McDonald’s, what should I do? @Wendys response: Find new friends.)

In the process, it is attacking McDonald’s and Burger King in a fun way. This great tongue-in-cheek marketing strategy — (which makes me think of the 2010 Old Spice Man videos) — is grabbing the attention of young people, a hard to sell to audience, and creating moments through sass.

By upping the tone of their messages from simply cute, to not quite rude, they have gained popularity; in doing so, Wendy’s is making interacting with people a less robotic experience as this new corporate “personality” shines through, sounding and reacting like a real person would.

The ‘bad’ example I will use is Pepsi. Although present on the usual social media platforms, Pepsi tends to reinvent old campaigns under new names (bringing back the Pepsi Challenge adapted for social media, as an example). However, my feelings were reinforced following its April 4th video fiasco, in which it totally missed the mark by misjudging the reaction of its target audience: millennials (those born in 1980 and up). Pepsi lost a lot of respect by using this social media campaign which purported to “show a moment when we decide to let go, choose to act, follow our passion and nothing holds us back.”

The video shows Kendall Jenner, acting as a model in a photo shoot, being distracted by and joining a group of young black protestors. At the end of the video, she faces a surly police officer and offers him a can of Pepsi, which he takes and then smiles, while the protestors cheer. Reactions to the video were mostly along the theme of “you just need to hand a police officer a can of Pepsi to end racism…”

Pepsi should have been more aware of what this age group believed in and what they considered important, and known that by trivializing a demonstration for social justice, as well as using a can as opposed to a bottle which is better for the environment, they would lose, rather than gain the target market they were aiming for.

Pepsi has withdrawn the video and apologized. I believe they will need to rethink their social media strategy.

COM0015: Blog 1 – Tools and Success (W2017)

My favorite social media monitoring/listening tool is Social Mention. This tool monitors approximately one hundred social media sites. I like it as a listening tool because once you select the time frame and who/what you wish to monitor, it displays top keywords, top users, hashtags and sources that allow you to follow up. For example, if there were mentions on WordPress, you simply click on a link that Social Mention provides to read the entire blog.

Social Mention also encompasses data analysis, and measures four categories of influence on your company or any competitors you wish to monitor:

  • Reach: the number of unique individuals mentioning the brand compared to the total number of mentions
  • Strength: the overall likelihood of the identified companies themselves being discussed in social media
  • Sentiment: the ratio between generally positive and negative comments
  • Passion: the measure of the chances of individuals commenting on the company repeatedly.

The options this tool gives me to further explore social media comments for a specific organization or topic are invaluable. They provide me with insights on how people are thinking and what they are saying and I can take as much or as little time to get ideas on how to better gain more passion, reach and strength.

The second tool I am learning to like is Hootsuite, although as it is a very personalized tool, and collects an enormous amount of personal information (even on its free version).  This tool will help focus me on my future goals, something I do need to do as I am thoroughly enjoying my experiences in the world of full-time learning.

I’m in a unique situation (for me) since May 2016 in that I am studying full-time and not currently working. For personal development, I am looking at two main streams, along with a third that is more hobby-related but could evolve into a business (abstract art).

I will continue using Social Mention as I look deeper into what it takes to become a social media professional, as well as an accomplished editor and writer. I hope to be able to find workshops, online or otherwise, more easily through these tools, as well as discovering organizations and associations that could benefit from my knowledge and creative ideas.

 

High Society

“Society” Gossip first, social media later. (by mlg)

Blog 7 – COM0014 – Personal Reflections

The concepts delivered in this course were quite varied. They included communications tools; two-way communications; storytelling styles and development; assessing target audiences (psychographics: love, love, love this tool!); connecting with diverse audiences; using appropriate tools for desired outcomes; and identifying communications challenges.

“Facts tell, but stories sell.”[i] Storytelling is important to create great digital content as human interaction is widely based on exchanging stories. Stories are social in nature. We all look for stories that can answer our questions, touch us or call us to action.  Creating stories where people are key will help create an emotional bond, initiate feelings and possibly trigger an action from target audiences.

Storytelling can be defined as the art of meaningful communications which it must be based on the creation of good narrative and relevant content, geared toward a defined target audience to inspire them to connect with you. Stories give purpose, transfer knowledge and build connections. In digital content, storytelling should also leave a take away message for the target audience to start a meaningful conversation, drive web site traffic and promote sharing.

Content will be guided through a strategically thought out story and creative writing. It will be authentic, not superficial. I will spend time where the target audiences are, (websites, groups, forums, blogs), listen to their stories and focus on what they want to hear and what they share, to write content specifically addressed to them. Ideally, it will also address any questions they have and provide information potential customers might need or might not even know they need.

By continuing to dig into the art of storytelling and human emotions, the kind of stories I want to tell will reflect openness, transparency, trust, relevance and invite participation. The storytelling will aim to awaken emotional appeal, which will make the story more likely to be shared on social media. I will try to gain that appeal from the target audience by using easy to remember, humorous or useful stories which address real, relatable problems.

whats-your-story

 

[i] Bryan Eisenberg (Founder & CMO, Idealspot, co-creator of Persuasion Architecture)

COM0014 – Do people know your story?

What we want to communicate to our target market is first and foremost that, as a national association, our brand is about their experience when dealing with us. We will deliver the benefits we promise, add value to what we offer and deal with any problems through follow-up and outstanding customer service. At first glance, this appears to be an easy message to convey. However, as a federation of engineering regulators, we do not have direct access to the 280,000 individual engineering professionals across Canada. This creates problems both at the provincial level and with implementing new programs and services which do not fit major suppliers’ business models.

As an association, our greatest flaw has been the inability to connect with the younger generation of engineers; we have not yet focused on communicating effectively with our ‘ideal’ customer base. Because of this, one of our challenges revolves around the aging population base of engineers who participate in our programs and services, with no substantial increase in younger participants.

The association needs to become the go-to place for anything an engineering professional would want: guidance, legal advice, personal and professional insurance, and other services. With the creation of three new vice-president positions, staffed by forward thinking women, as well as a lawyer, our association is ready to face its latest challenge. With these new thinkers came an acknowledgement of the importance of the perception that our association can meet the needs of engineers from graduation to retirement. This is being worked on in two ways: generational affiliations and content that everyone can relate to.

A new approach to marketing began one year ago, taking into account feedback from three different focus groups: Generation Y, Baby Boomers and foreign trained engineers. These groups taught us many things, including presenting information on programs in clear, graph-like formats so that the message can be understood at a glance; the most important take-away, in our view, was the affinity between Gen Y and Boomers.

Our new approach to promote our brand is to use Boomers to relay messaging to attract Gen Y to the suite of products offered by our association. Boomers and Gen Y face remarkably similar challenges; boomers have concerns about finding purpose in retirement after decades of being defined by their work. In parallel, the Gen Y generation is searching for its own identity in a world of uncertainty, and struggling to get a foot into the job market. Both have a growing sense of the need to create memories and experiences, as opposed to needing materialistic things.

Taking this into account, we began a series of interviews with baby boomers who eagerly share parts of their life stories and also speak about the assistance they received over the course of their life time from our association. Full interviews are a click away from the advertorial-style clips and anyone listening is welcome to contact the story tellers for more information and/or share their own story.

Our story telling will encompass messages with content that appeal in some way to everyone. According to the Content Marketing Institute there are 21 types of content we all crave. The following are some of the types of content we will use to effectively tell our story:

  • Dreams can come true
  • You matter
  • There is more
  • Fresh points of view about common things
  • Inspiration to take action
  • Education through entertainment
  • Encouragement to never give up.

We are hopeful our new approach to telling our association’s story will help garner the attention and interest of a younger generation of engineers to our brand so that we can successfully continue to deliver the benefits we promise, add value to what we offer and provide an outstanding customer experience to them and their families.

COM0014 – Blog 5 – My personal brand

I polled eight co-workers via email asking them for one or two words that described my best traits in a work environment. In order to keep the request casual, I added, P.S.: Please resist the temptation to call me cranky or stubborn or sexy! I need to keep it positive and clean! Their answers were similar and included trustworthy, knowledgeable, kind and quiet intelligence.

Although I am ambivalent about this aspect of my job, the personal qualities I believe set me apart from others are discretion, trustworthiness, empathy and good listening skills as a “customer service representative”.  I am good at problem resolution, although it can be draining.

I care about people’s points of views, their problems and their search for fairness, or what they consider the right way to be treated. I approach customers with patience, openness and trust. That trust is repaid when they allow the major companies that we endorse or sponsor to share information with me from their personal files without hesitation. Surprisingly, even those who do not divulge the whole truth to me will grant that permission!

The outcomes of my interventions on behalf of customers are easily measurable by success or failure in my representation of their cases to those companies. I find the high percentage of customer satisfaction with my services remarkable, whether the outcome is positive or not. Customers are grateful that someone listened to them and did their best to make a bad situation better.

My proudest moments come from obliterating corporate red tape when it is crucial to do so. Because of confidentiality, I cannot recount in any detail some of those situations but an example would be getting a quick, partial settlement for an out-of-country vacation accident, to allow a family to deal with subsequent medical expenses, without all the required medical reports from the foreign hospital.

 

Blog 4 – COM0014 B2C Case Study – Best Buy

“Be Smart. Be Respectful. Be Human.”

(Excerpt from Best Buy’s Social Media Policy)

One of the main B2C priorities, in my opinion, is a business’ ability to create more engaging content for online audiences, followed by being a good listener. Best Buy uses many social media vehicles to do exactly that and does an excellent job of reaching out to consumers. It uses several approaches to listen to its audience and to respond to it. My favorite is its IdeaX forum, followed by its innovative Twitter approach. Although it also has a presence on Facebook, which remains the top vehicle for effective social media strategy, I found that consumers primarily used that forum to write nasty exchanges about poor customer service at specific stores, using somewhat aggressive language, but receiving interested and calm corporate responses nonetheless.

Best Buy runs two important forums for consumer. The participatory Community Information Forum includes staff information, photos, changes to staffing, product discussions and information related to Best Buy new features. A second forum, IdeaX, encourages its customers to share, vote and discuss ideas and ways Best Buy can improve its business, allowing Best Buy to get valuable feedback from its customers in a friendly, non-intrusive, and voluntary manner.

Best Buy’s “@Geeksquad” on Twitter allows customers to connect to a regular employee to get information or knowledge about tech products. It also has a presence on YouTube, and uses casual, humorous, well thought out content to promote the Geek Squad, present employee stories, show pranks played on employees and  give technical advice on its products. The videos speak to a wide range of age groups, from youth (tweens) to seniors (boomers).

Regardless of its financial ups and downs, Best Buy’s social media interactions are progressive and relevant. Its response time to questions on all social media channels is 14 minutes, according to Controversial, a customer service manager for social media for various companies, including Groupon. Results from the same study noted that Best Buy was also ranked the highest out of forty companies in percentage of customer satisfaction with its social media interaction.

COM0014 – Blog 3 – Target Audiences

Lending a helping … paw

Our daughter-in-law, Caro, was visiting us a few days ago; she talked about her dream: owning a grooming salon in the Outaouais. She’s a talented groomer and laughingly acknowledges she knows the pets she grooms better than their owners – she told us that when she’s shopping, people will stop to talk to her and she’ll instantly remember the pets’ names but not the owners’!

Caro wondered if she could successfully open a shop, offering a multitude of high-end services while keeping her personal touch alive with both pets and their owners. She already has a small but loyal and growing customer base who book appointments for her “salon on wheels”. Caro drives to their homes to groom their pets in a retrofitted Winnebago.

Even knowing about existing competition in the area, she was curious about how to decide whether or not this was a good idea.

After this discussion, I looked into the pet grooming industry and I think Caro’s on to something! I read Statistics Canada reports and the Canadian Pet Market Outlook 2014, among others, and discovered some interesting facts:

  • 57% of Canadian households own pets, (32% have dogs and 37%, cats);
  • Higher income households represent 21% of the population and 25% of pet owners;
  • The Outaouais ranks fifth out of 27 metropolitan areas with higher average income households;
  • 46% of adults between the ages of 45 and 54 own dogs (47% own cats);
  • More than 50% of those households have children aged between 12 and 17, with a whopping 58% owning dogs and 47% cats;
  • Over 12,000 pet owners attend the Ottawa Pet Expo annually.

Pets are serious business! Pet parents take their responsibilities seriously. Twenty-one percent of those between the ages of 45 and 54 will spend more for foods that are less processed and have fewer ingredients as they believe their pets should get their nutrition from food, rather than supplements, much as they themselves do. Fifty percent of them purchase expensive toys and dress their pets in clothing .

According to an article on multibriefs.com, the trend of pet humanization will increase demand for premium foods, upscale products, and more specialty services, as well as a return to smaller salons or shops to fulfill these requirements. (http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/exclusive/pet_businesses_will_prosper)

So, to my daughter-in-law,  “I say go for it! Customers will always continue to pamper their fur babies. Work on a marketing plan aimed at the 45 to 54 age group of pet parents who consider pets an important part of the family, to incorporate specialty foods and services as you have always talked about doing. You are more than capable of offering customized products and services to meet your most demanding pet parent’s requests. And don’t forget to reserve a booth at the Ottawa Pet Expo once you are ready to make your presence known!”

I am not someone who has ever treated a pet as one of my children, although every pet I have owned has been part of the family. I was sad when my pets died but definitely not devastated. What do you think about the idea of the “growing trend” in pet humanization? Is it real or simply trendy?

To end on a lighter note, there are several Facebook pages and YouTube videos devoted to commercials in which animals play a huge role. One of my favorite is from Subaru and can be seen by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvaQMzh7B30.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COM0014, Blog 2 Writing to Attract Web Readers

Writing to Attract Web Readers –

Oh wait, web readers don’t really exist!

So you want to learn how users read on the web? They don’t![1] It’s a well-known fact that the majority of internet users read by scanning. They are in a hurry. They have low attention spans. They tend to skim the first one or two sentences of each paragraph or scan until they find something interesting that speaks to them. How, then, do you attract readership to your blog or web site?

To attract and keep attention from an internet user for the story you want to share, here are some important tips:

  • Develop blogs or web articles that take a user from simply scanning to actually commenting on what you have written;
  • Write in concise, scannable, grammatically correct and objective language;
  • Use bulleted lists to enable easy retention of the information you deliver;
  • Present one main idea or topic per paragraph to keep users interested; and
  • Use the inverted triangle approach.

Using the inverted triangle approach to writing means including all the important details you want to introduce in your post in the first paragraph. It’s a valuable way to allow readers to decide whether or not to read your blog as well as scan all the key details quickly. Having the most relevant information at the beginning of the page is good for both the user and you, for getting traffic from search results on search engines (SEO).

The inverted triangle writing style dates back to the appearance of newswire in the mid-19th century where it was essential to put the most important information into the title and the lead paragraph of the story. Isn’t it humbling that the best method to attract readership and attention to your story in the 21st century took root over 160 years ago?

 

 

[1] Nielsen, J. (1997, October 1). How users read on the web. Available online at: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.html