Out of the Box

 

Just before I started this program, I was working in an admin role and I was asked if I would like the opportunity to plan and execute the Company’s social media strategy. Truthfully, the only experience I had with social media at the time was personal – I had no idea how to go about putting together a social media strategy, I had never been on Twitter and had certainly never used any paid advertising. The company offered to pay for me to complete the Algonquin College Social Media Course and away I went.

With so little experience there have been a lot of unexpected applications in the online marketing and social media field. I really had no idea that there was so much planning and strategy behind each and every post. Outwardly, I would say that it looks pretty simple – write a short blurb and post but we all know that isn’t the case.

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Social Listening – another thing I had never heard of that makes so much sense now and is an integral part of my social media strategy. Through all of the different classes in this program, I found myself questioning and reworking our strategy. It was hard to develop a voice and a purpose when our goal wasn’t to sell something but an idea.

Something unexpected that I’ve noticed personally more than professionally is social media influencers. Particularly on Instagram, it is so interesting to see the huge rise in the number of people being paid to advertise different products. I find it fascinating that if someone has a large number of followers and some influence brands will send them free products and pay them to promote them. That’s a pretty good gig!

Other applications I didn’t really pay attention to previously were things like Instagram and Facebook stories and Instagram and Facebook Live. These applications have gained popularity over the last couple of years and I feel that they can be of great use to businesses. As we move further towards a desire for authenticity from companies on social media, I think we’re going to see even more desire for these types of applications that give followers a view from the inside.

In my industry, there is a lot of skepticism about the value of social media marketing and whether there are more direct ways to meet our goals, but I personally feel that not being on social media can cause more damage than being on social media. As I have always told skeptics, chances are our competitors are on social media and if they are we need to be there and part of the conversation.

Developing my Professional Network

As a super shy person, I often wonder how I ended up in a marketing role, it’s definitely not what I saw myself doing when I first started my post-secondary education! Writing is something that I’ve always excelled at but I am much more comfortable taking a back seat when it comes to situations that require me to speak in front of several people. That part of my personality can make certain aspects of my job very difficult. While I may be able to write down my ideas cohesively and competently, I find verbalizing them much more difficult. I constantly have to push myself in situations that I innately find very uncomfortable. The thought of moving my professional network from online to in person makes me uneasy and to be honest, I don’t even have much of an online presence professionally. I manage corporate social media accounts with ease, but have yet to really branch outside of a personal social media presence. With that said, I think this class has really highlighted the need for me to do that. I have definitely become “comfy” in my role and it’s time to push the envelope a little.

linkedin-400850_960_720Looking forward, in order to develop my professional network online, I am going to update my LinkedIn profile. Simple things like making sure I have included all of my relevant work experience, an updated professional photo and updating my bio and skills will help to make my profile more interesting, accurate and allow me to feel more confident connecting with others. I will also seek out opportunities to connect with both co-workers and other industry professionals.

 

I have mentioned previously that I work in the space technology industry, Twitter is the most used social network in the industry and creating a personal account where I can share and comment on news and information related to space will help me to make more contacts in the industry.

I have been on maternity leave since November, and I think during this time in my life taking a step back from my professional life makes sense (there is only so much time in a day!) however, I definitely feel out of the loop now that I am not on social networks and involved in the conversations around space every day. I think creating these professional accounts and staying informed and active in the day-to-day news and conversations will make my return to work much easier.

As far as developing my in person networks, I have a few strategies that I think will help.

  1. I am going to look for a mentor, my HR Manager had a mentor for several years that she would meet up with monthly to chat with about any issues or questions she had, she found great value in this relationship. Working in the Kanata North Business Park means there are hundreds of businesses around me, I am sure finding a senior Marketing/Communications professional who would be interested in a mentoring relationship will be fairly easy.
  2. Over the next year, I am going to make an effort to attend one networking event each quarter. I will use Facebook Events to look for events near me that would help to develop my professional network. As we learned in the course lesson, a nice feature of Facebook Events is that you can see who is attending.
  3. My organization is part of the Kanata North BIA, there are tons of events hosted by the BIA that would be good to attend to make contacts in the area. I will work on making more contacts outside my organization to expand my professional network.

I am hopeful that putting this plan in place and taking the steps above will help me move forward in developing my professional network, I am looking forward to seeing progress in that area and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

 

COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools and Sources

COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools and Sources

In my organization, social media is not commonly used as a marketing tool to compete for brand recognition or to advertise products for sale. The space technology industry consists predominantly of government funded projects with long cycle times and we have found that there are more successful and direct ways of reaching government agencies outside of social media. Instead, we primarily use social media to promote the benefits of government investment in the space sector and the benefits of space technology to everyday life here on Earth. Because we’re trying to lobby public support and promote the benefits of space tech, listening is very important to the success of our strategy.

Favourite Listening Tools

Two of my favourite social media monitoring tools are Twitter Search and Google Alerts.

Twitter Search: Twitter is widely used by Government organizations and public figures to broadcast their message. It’s an easy place to follow all of our stakeholders, competitors and influencers and to monitor things like comments on the allocation of public funds to space activities. Using Twitter Search, I can easily look up competitors, program names and stay on top of events like launches, space walks and International Space Station activities. Twitter search is also an easy way to keep an eye on what is being said on social media about my organization.

Google Alerts: Google Alerts is a free tool that allows me to monitor what is being said online about certain key words. Google Alerts monitors the web for keywords I have followed, compiles them and sends me a daily e-mail with the results. Because so much of our social media content is sharing articles and news on space activities, Google Alerts is a colossal time saver for me. I have set alerts for my organization, competitor products, government space agencies, space programs and more. It takes a huge amount of searching and work out of listening so I can focus on promoting our goal.

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News Sources

I use Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date on news and topics of interest to me. I follow several different online news sources on both Facebook and Twitter so that just browsing through my news feed provides me with up to date information on what’s happening in the space sector and the world in general.

For social media news and trends, I’ve subscribed to the Social Media Examiner so I receive e-mails with tips and articles like this one on social media listening tools. I also manage and maintain our corporate websites and subscribe to several WordPress “how-to” e-mails.

As a relatively small organization with no real budget for marketing activities, I’ve had to be resourceful in finding ways to monitor and keep on top of our social media while ensuring I am making the best use of my time and managing competing priorities. I like to keep it simple, and so far it’s working!

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.