COM 0014 Blog #7 – Creating Digital Content

Creating great digital content is much harder than I originally thought it would be. I have been responsible for implementing social media for my organization for a year and a half now and the thing I struggle with most is content creation. I work in an industry where the majority of our material is technical, a lot of it is confidential and our social media program has been met with resistance. Through this course, I realized that I may be able to rely less on the help of the technical staff members by telling a story rather than requiring all of the nitty gritty technical details.

As we learned in this class, sharing stories helps bring people together; it is a way to passionately and clearly communicate your content in a format that is universally understood. I want to tell the story of why space research and technology should be important to everyone.  Many people don’t realize how omnipresent and deeply integrated space is in our daily lives; Canadians rely on space systems to navigate almost every aspect of modern life. Using examples of the space systems we rely on, I will weave the story of the importance of investment in the space sector to Canadians and to all citizens of the world.

 

Our Greatest Achievement

Ask a classroom of Kindergartners what they want to be when they grow up and at least one will say “Astronaut!” The mystery and the excitement of blasting into space on a rocket ship and exploring the unknown is extremely exciting to young children. As they get older, most children change their minds and forget about their dreams of becoming an astronaut, but for the founder and CEO of Company A, the dream and excitement of contributing to the advancement of space exploration never left him.

Company A was founded in 1990 and initially focussed on providing software development and engineering management consulting services. With the space sector always in the back of their minds, management soon recognized a need developing at NASA for a machine vision system to help astronauts assemble the International Space Station. In 1992, Company A received funding from the Canadian Space Agency to build the Advanced Space Vision System, the first personal computer-based real time machine vision system ever produced. Building on that success, Company A delivered a more advanced system that was successfully used by NASA on the space shuttle Atlantis to install a docking module onto the Russian MIR space station.

All of that was very exciting, but Company A’s greatest achievement came in 1995 with the win of its first NASA contract, a contract to develop and deliver Space Vision Systems to help inspect the Space Shuttle and ensure the safe return of astronauts from orbit. Since then, Company A personnel have supported over 40 Shuttle Missions and logged over 30,000 hours of mission support for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. The CEO’s dream of contributing to the advancement of space exploration had been realized, proving that with determination, hard work and an excellent team – dreams can become reality!

COM-0014: Blog #5 ~ Making an Impression

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The space industry is often described in terms of feast or famine, and retaining a job in times of “famine” can often be difficult for employees in non-technical roles.  Building new skills and the drive to take on a multi-faceted role have been a means establishing my personal brand and maintaining job security in times of uncertainty.

Just last week, I successfully completed a full redesign of our corporate website. I managed the project from end to end, coordinated the efforts of all involved and ensured the work was completed within deadlines. Handling this very important project and having done it well has made me stand out to Senior Management and demonstrated to others that I am capable of taking on more.

Through my collaboration with other people on this project including colleagues in the Marketing Department, various engineers, the SEO company we hired and even the CEO I was constantly being praised for my approachable, thorough and conscientious approach to the project.

My impeccable writing skills are something that have come in handy in all areas of my work and are certainly something I think makes me stand out and secures my position as the perfect candidate to be writing on behalf of the company for web and social media purposes.

COM-0014 Blog #4 B2C Case Study: Coca-Cola, doing social media right!

 

The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company, with more than 500 different brands and consumers in more than 200 countries drinking 1.9 billion servings of coca-cola products each day. That’s insane… 1.9 billion servings each and every day!

While, Coca-Cola was already a popular and well established brand long before social media, they’ve also mastered the art of social media.  Browse the Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of other popular food and beverage companies (I am talking about you, Tim Hortons) and you’ll see a whole lot of people complaining and yes maybe the moderators are responding, but the overwhelming feeling you get is that people aren’t happy with the service or products they’re receiving.

With more than a million followers on  Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and over 45,000 followers on Instagram Coca-Cola definitely has their work cut out for them. Managing communities of that size cannot be easy, but it looks like they’re doing it well.

  1. They interact with their customers: A huge part of their Twitter feed is direct replies to people. Some of them are in response to customer service complaints, but a lot of them are just in reply to consumers and fans that tweet positive things at Coca-Cola.
  2. They are telling a story: Coca-Cola’s social media pages are not just to push out marketing messages. They target holidays, sporting events things everyone can relate to and weave their marketing messages subtly into a story. They really are making Coca-Cola an experience rather than just a drink.
  3. They even ditched their corporate website for “Coca-Cola Journey” a digital magazine and publishing channel where they tell the Coca-Cola story and publish user-generated content.
  4. They involve their followers in campaigns to generate content for them. Recently, they asked Facebook fans to go to their site, ShareaCoke.com, design and buy a custom bottle of Coca-Cola with the logo of their favourite college basketball team and then submit photos and videos with Coca-Cola for a chance to be featured on Coca-Cola Journey.

Whether it’s on Coca-Cola Journey, or on social media platforms, Coca-Cola has an upbeat and fun social media presence that makes you want to join in and be part of their community.

COM0014 Blog #3 – Reaching a Diverse Target Audience

In lesson three, we learned that assessing your target audience is a critical step in designing a communications or social media strategy. By examining our current audience, we can gain insight into the audiences we would like to target.

I work for a spaceflight engineering company; as part of our social media plan we are working to encourage conversation around the critical benefits space research and technology has on our daily lives, in an effort to gain public support for Government investment in the space sector.  We are also using social media to attract and engage key stakeholders to demonstrate our position as a technology innovator and key player in global space activity.

Having two very different but equally as important goals mean we have a diverse target audience. On one hand, we want to appeal to the general public and on the other hand we want to appeal to government and commercial space organizations. Having previously identified who we want to target, I was interested to see if we were reaching the audiences we had identified.

Looking at the demographic breakdown of our Twitter audience, I was able to see that 49% of our audience falls into the 25 to 34 year old age bracket, 70% of our audience is male, 30% is female and 55% of our audience is Canadian and 98% speaks English.

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Not surprisingly, technology, science and space were the top interests of our followers.

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If I were to build an audience profile, this information would lead me to believe that our target audience is an English speaking, Canadian male in the 25-34 year old age bracket who is interested in technology and tech news.  This profile isn’t surprising, and it is in line with a portion of our target audience.

However, we also have an ambitious goal of reaching our Federal and Provincial Members of Parliament. Examining our current audience and through my daily interactions with our followers, I know that we are not yet reaching the majority of this audience. In order to reach this audience, we will need too employ listening tools to find out where they are spending their time. I have added them to lists on Twitter so I can monitor their conversations. We will also conduct searches to see what groups and conversations they are active in and try and align our efforts to meet those needs.

Through monitoring the demographics of our audience, tracking changes to our followers and through listening strategies, we can work towards meeting the needs of our target audience and perhaps discover a new audience that we did not originally identify.

 

 

Elements for Effective Communication COM0014 Blog #2

Communication through writing requires the author to be clear, concise and give the reader all essential information in the opening paragraph. People are continually flooded with information via the internet and there is no shortage of material to read, so they skim over content making decisions about what to pay attention to based on a very quick glance. In this lesson we learned about “Inverted Pyramid Writing.” Using this method, the writer ensures that critical information goes at the beginning of their content so that if the reader stops reading after the first paragraph, they will still have the key information.

Writing in an active voice, impeccable grammar, spelling and punctuation all contribute to how readable your content is. If someone has to re-read what you’ve written to try and understand it, it isn’t very good content and they won’t want be inclined to share it.

Begin writing with a clear idea of who your audience is and how you want them to interact with your writing. In lesson two, we read that many successful bloggers end their posts by posing a question. Ending your post with a question keeps the reader hooked, encourages comments and engages the reader in a conversation.

Because there is no shortage of content on almost every topic you could think of, writers need to be cognizant of all of the elements that make good material. Communicating through writing requires writers to make their point efficiently but still provide value to the reader, what issues have you run into while writing content and how has this class helped you to address those issues?

COM0014 – Blog #1: My Cuban Vacation

Last May, I went on my FIRST vacation! Maybe this doesn’t seem that exciting or significant to you, but I am 30 years old and have never ever been on a vacation. Every year, my friends, co-workers and family all travel somewhere warm and I seethe with jealousy while I am left to enjoy Ottawa’s never-ending winters!  Let’s back track a bit to a few weeks before my vacation… One cold winters’ evening I was sitting on the couch with my husband complaining about the cold and snow when I received a group Facebook message. My sister-in-law and cousin were going to Cuba and they wanted me to come. I laughed as I told my husband about the message, I couldn’t afford a vacation, we have a five year old and no one to help out with drop off and pick up from school and daycare. But then they told me the price. For $700 I could eat, drink, tan, swim, READ (when was the last time I read a book) and relax….seven hundred dollars…..how could I say no?! So, with a little encouragement from my husband, I took a plunge and agreed to go (so not like me!)

The vacation was amazing – the beach was to die for, the food was plentiful, the drinks even more plentiful and the company fantastic. Our rooms were old and the food was bland but we had a blast. I am sure you can imagine the days on the beach, the pure bliss of no one asking me to do anything for them, no laundry, no lunch making, no messes to pick up, no dishes to do and tons of uninterrupted time to read.

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My favourite day of the trip was mid-week; we went on a day-long Catamaran excursion. If you’ve ever been to Cuba, I think you’ll understand that it feels like you have gone back in time, the rooms looked like they hadn’t been updated since the 1970’s and the rest of the resort was not all that much better, so the crisp white Catamaran on the beautiful ocean was an amazing sight. We traveled from Varadero to Cayo Coco. The music was blaring, the drinks were plentiful, the guides were fluent in many languages and the wind was blowing just enough to make us forget how hot the May sun is in Cuba. We stopped along the way to swim with the dolphins, and scuba dive in the middle of the ocean. I am generally not a fan of swimming in lakes so the fact that I was comfortable enough to get out in the middle of the ocean and swim with the fish and potential sharks was really just surreal. We had two hours in Cayo Coco for an amazing seafood lunch and then we sailed back to Varadero.

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Before I knew it the week was over and I was back home with my husband and daughter who I’d missed so much, a little burnt and totally covered in bug bites with only the memories of the hot sun, the places we’d seen and the friends we met on our trip. I wasn’t able to get away this year, but I am perhaps a little less jealous of those who have and very much looking forward to a trip with my husband and daughter next year.

Using Twitter Analytics to Improve Engagement

I have written before about how I am actively working towards increasing my company’s social media presence, the other day I was looking at the Twitter Analytics section of our profile and trying to make sense of them, so I thought it may be helpful for others if I discuss what information I discovered on how I can use Twitter analytics to improve engagement on our corporate Twitter account.

First of all, what is an impression? Your impressions, also referred to as “reach” are the number of unique individuals who saw your Tweet within their social media stream. This however, does not mean that same number of people read your post. It just appeared in their feed. What is a click? A click means someone saw your post and clicked on a portion of it – either to expand it, check out your social media profile or follow a link you posted.

Using Twitter Analytics, you can discover the following information:

  • Figure out who your audience is- If you go to the Twitter Analytics section of your account you can click on the “Audiences” tab. Here you will see what your followers top interest is. In our case, it is technology. You can find out what percentage of your followers are male or female, which geographic region they live in and more. Using this information, you can tailor your posts to meet the interests of your audience. Make sure to tweet, share and re-tweet authentic, trusted sources of information for your niche market. Regularly tweeting will increase your presence and in turn foster engagement.

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  • Look at the “Demographics” section of the Audiences tab. This will tell you where your audience lives, what languages they speak. By tracking where your audience is located geographically, you can plan to post content during their work day and evenings to connect with them better. In our case, 72% of our audience is located in either Canada or the United States and only 5% is located in the UK. If I want to increase our European followers, I may choose to post during their work day to connect with them, increase our social media presence and hopefully gain more European followers
  • If you click on the “Tweets” tab, you can look at your tweets. You can filter the information between a certain time period, check out your most popular tweet as well as see impressions and engagement rate for each tweet. Study the tweets that earned the most impressions- do they have any of the same characteristics? Do they include pictures, videos or links? Create new tweets using some of the characteristics of your most popular ones. After a day or two, look at the analytics for these tweets to see how they performed. Keep studying your tweets until you pinpoint the characteristics that encourage engagement with your followers.
  • Twitter Analytics has an “events” tab which you can filter by region. Depending on your business, you may be able to use this information to your advantage and tweet about events in your region or events that pertain to your market.
  • Outside of the Analytics section, you can simply track favourites, retweets and replies. If someone favourites your post, they’re letting you know they like it. If they re-tweet it, you know they like it enough to share with their followers. This may help you to gain more followers and certainly increases your reach. Since the key to social media is conversation, if someone replies to one of your posts, it is important to acknowledge and respond, this conversation could lead to a future client or partner and of course get other followers engaged in the discussion about your content.

Twitter Analytics offer good insight into what is getting your audience excited and can help you to develop content that encourages audience engagement and a greater following.

Lessons Learned

Taking a class as an adult is so much more difficult than it was when I was in University. Back then, I just had me to worry about…if I ate Mr. Noodle for supper, didn’t clean my apartment or had to stay up until 3am working on an assignment, it was no big deal. Fast forward six years and now I have a full time career, a husband, a young child, a dog, house work and the list goes on and on. To be honest, I didn’t put much thought into taking this certificate program. One morning, my manager asked me if I’d be interested in taking it so I could roll out an effective social media strategy for the company I work for so I said sure, why not! The weeks fly by and every time we have an assignment or blog due, I find myself scrambling to get it done at the last minute. I thought it would be easy, and take very little effort but as it turns out, it’s not as easy as I thought it would be. However, that wasn’t the only surprising thing, I really am shocked at how much I have learned and how much I am looking forward to taking the next class.

The principal lesson I am taking away from Introduction to Social Media is that everything we post on social media is part of our brand and that it will never go away…once it’s on the internet, it’s there to stay. Before taking this class, I never gave any thought to my personal brand and I am still having a hard time reconciling the personal and professional aspects of my life. My Facebook and Instagram accounts are strictly personal and are mostly filled with pictures and posts of my family life. I don’t ever post anything about work and I don’t really have too many colleagues on Facebook or Instagram. My LinkedIn profile is sorely lacking and I don’t really use Twitter personally. However, through the personal branding assignment and course readings, I have realized how I could leverage social media to build my reputation and I am actively working towards doing this…time is always the issue, I need 10 more hours in the day!

All of the lessons have been really informative. I’ve learned that there is so much more to social media then I ever thought. Something I never really considered before is that perhaps my company doesn’t need to use so many different social networking sites. I have begun “listening” like we learned in lesson four and I have noticed that many businesses like ours use Twitter and LinkedIn but don’t have Facebook profiles. Interestingly, Facebook was the tool I was using more than any other because I was so comfortable with it, but through monitoring other businesses I realized that most the conversations happening in our industry are happening on Twitter, so now I am using Twitter as our main social media tool.

Overall, I think this course was a fantastic overview and introduction to what social media has to offer my organization. I think what I learned about personal branding will be put to good use as I establish myself as the expert in social media at work and I am really looking forward to taking the rest of the courses so I can put together an awesome social media strategy for my company.

My Modern-Day Village

I am a mom of a five-year-old little girl… I would consider myself a reasonably knowledgeable parent but for some reason when my child gets sick, all rational thinking goes out the window… I find myself in a panic that she has some rare disease that popped up when I googled her symptoms. For the past five days, I have had one sick girl on my hands, high fever, aching body, sore throat, cough, stuffed up, vomiting…you name it, she has it. My little lady is quite a high strung child, so when she is sleeping all day, it is pretty worrisome. This is the first time she has had a fever that stuck and around for longer than a day so where did I find myself looking for answers on what I should do to ease her discomfort? My mom? My Doctor? Google? Nope! I found myself turning to Social Media for answers…particularly a Facebook “Mommy Group.”

This particular Facebook group is called “Everything Mom and Baby.” It’s based in North Bay and it was a group I joined soon after I had my daughter. I don’t even live in North Bay anymore (and haven’t in almost three years) and she is now five and not really a “baby” anymore but for some reason I cannot seem to unfollow the group. This got me thinking about why I have such an attachment to this group and why Mommy Groups in general are such a phenomenon. This particular group has over 3,000 members and is a combined information and buy and sell group for baby/kids items only. Now that I live in the Ottawa area there are plenty of other Mom Groups I could have joined but for some reason, I really like this one.

I often hear that Mom Groups are full of drama and catty women and absolutely; that’s true to some extent but at the same time, how lucky are we to live in a time when we can get answers to questions and find support instantly? We all know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” in this day and age living in bigger cities where people generally keep to themselves, with both parents working full time and with extended families spread all over the world, sometimes you can feel really alone in your parenting journey and a resource like a Facebook Mom Group can be that village you use to help raise your child.

Before Social Media really took off, there were online forums you could join and participate in, what pregnant mom-to-be wasn’t part of the Baby Centre birth month clubs? But, I never found myself joining in and asking questions. People were MEAN on those forums and I would often see them attacking each other. I think there is something a little more personal about Facebook groups, because generally people are using their real name and profile and in my opinion are less likely to be a total a** without that barrier of anonymity.

So for new moms or moms who aren’t part of a Mom Group here are my top seven reasons to join a Facebook Mommy Group:

  1. It puts you in contact with tons of people who have gone through all of the things your experiencing emotionally.
  2. You can get reviews on literally everything from which foods to feed first, to which daycares, gymnastics or dance academies are recommended!
  3. You can find great deals on items you might not want to spend full price on buying brand new.
  4. Support! Seriously whether your kid isn’t sleeping through the night, you need breast feeding support or encouragement, you want to know which name brand formula is the same as which store brand formula, what you should do about your crazy sister-in-law…there is always someone to answer your questions and give you advice!
  5. Friends/Social Connection- I met some really great friends via the Mom site. We started by meeting up for a walk with our babies and ended up becoming really close. This was awesome when I was a new, young mom with no family or friends with kids close by. Sometimes, when I couldn’t make it out of the house because I was too tired or overwhelmed or the baby was napping, just knowing I could log on to Facebook and connect with some other people like me made me feel better.
  6. An ego boost! Seriously, when you post a craft you did or share an experience, getting tons of comments and likes makes us feel good. It makes us feel connected which can be key for someone who is at home and feeling isolated from their pre-baby life.
  7. You will learn to be more accepting of others. I don’t know about you, but before I was a parent I thought I had it all figured out. I was going to breast feed and baby wear and co-sleep. My kid was never going to talk back and throw tantrums because I would teach her manners and respect! LOL …. well then reality hit and I realized I had no clue what I was doing and that there were people out there who knew more than me who could help. I read through many people’s opinions and solutions for what worked for them and I realized that none of us really have it totally figured out and that everyone is generally doing the best they can.

So back to my original question, why am I still part of Everything Mom and Baby? I think it is because of the connection I feel to these women who have been answering my questions and whose questions I’ve been answering for the last five years. They have truly become part of my social network, this Facebook mom group is the equivalent of my “village,” I probably wouldn’t have gotten through these last five years as easily without the help and support of these ladies. What about you? Is there a group on Social Media that you wouldn’t want to live without?