Blog Post #7-Reflections

 

file000625140982

I think in order for content to have staying power it must have a hook, there must be a reason for people to remember that they have read. The best way to do this is through a compelling narrative that leaves readers wanting to read more.

 

It is not enough to merely convey information. The information must be structured to tell a story. One-way of doing this is to set up the problem you wish solve, then propose a possible solution. The goal is to create content that readers want to engage with.

 

Another key component is to develop content with a personality. If content is fake or overly technical you will lose the reader’s interest. Readers want to relate with what they are reading.

 

Before you even begin writing however, it is important to know your audience and do your research. As we saw with the Motrin case study, rushing to produce content without doing your research can produce needless damage to your brand. It is tempting to produce content as fast as possible to feed the quick pace of social media but both corporate and personal brands can be damaged by rushed poorly researched content.

Advertisements

Blog #4: Teamwork Out of the Box

One aspect of a successful corporate social media strategy is teamwork.  A friend who I work with on a volunteer board introduced me to Slack, a team messaging platform/social media network. http://www.slack.com.

The platform was recently profiled in the National Post:

One of the things I like most about Slack is that within your main team page you can have individual chats, group and topic channels organized by hashtags.

With android, apple apps and a web based platform, Slack is easy to access on a variety of devices which is important if you are using a computer you may not want or be able to download software on to.

Slack makes it very easy to share files within a team and plays nice with other applications such as Dropbox and Google docs

I can see the potential for organizations to use Slack to share information and plan social media content or share a common spreadsheet tracking social media.  In addition to businesses, Slack may also be a good solution for volunteer organizations trying to plan social media or even just exchange ideas.

Slack can literally make sure everyone is on the same page and allows for realtime exchanges of ideas in a way something like email lacks.

If you are looking for a new way to connect with colleagues or even friends, I encourage you to give Slack a look.

 

COM0014 Blog #6: That little Ontario Cottage

There is a water colour painting of a simple black and white Ontario cottage framed with lush green trees that hangs in the entranceway to my home. It is a beautiful painting but that is not why I have given it a place of prominence in my home. To me, the painting is a reminder of a man who had a profound impact on the woman I have become.

When I was one, my paternal grandmother married my Grandpa Jim, the only grandfather I knew growing up and the resident of that pretty little Ontario cottage. I was blessed to grow up in the same town as my grandparents, my grandfather was a frequent chauffeur to my after school activities and I was a frequent visitor to their home. A civil engineer by training and veteran of WWII, my grandfather was a man of strong opinions. He cultivated in me a love of debate and interest in politics but his greatest gift to me was the gift of self confidence. Inside the walls of their home, my Grandpa encouraged me to pursue my passion for writing, to ask questions and challenge opinions in a respectful manner. He taught me to strive for academic success and to never be afraid of being my own person.

Through his example I learned what it means to be a supportive spouse, to not settle for someone who would not appreciate my worth and push me to be the best person I could be. Sadly, my grandfather passed away before meeting the man I would marry but I think they would have enjoyed each other’s company. Aside from being the only person I have ever met outside of my grandfather who can glance at a map then perfectly navigate an unfamiliar city or highway, my husband pushes me every day to reach my dreams and supports me in my career.

COM0015 Blog #3 Professional Networking

 

 

 

As someone ongoing a career transition, I have spent a great deal of time over the past few months refining my networking approach both in person and online.

IN PERSON: Taking the advice of a career coach I was working with, I prepared a list of professional contacts who might be able to help me in my job search.  I then met with those on my list and asked not only for their advice but also for suggestions for other individuals I should meet with.  Through these referrals/ introductions I have broadened my professional network. I am aware of the importance of in person networking and have attended several networking events in search of new contacts.

ONLINE: My Twitter was heavily oriented towards my former career, over the past few months I have broadened the range of accounts I follow on social media. I have also joined several online communities such as Kids in the Capital and Yummy Mummy to broaden my online network. I have also found several online communities oriented to those looking for new employment opportunities, Peter’s New Jobs, Powertofly, Upwork and CharityVillage are all excellent resources, which not only provide job postings but also assist with professional development through online and in person networking opportunities and webinars.

LINKS TO GOOD RESOURCES:

http://www.petersnewjobs.com/index.html

https://www.powertofly.com

http://www.linkedin.com

http://www.upwork.com

 

Personal Brand

I think my unique selling point is the way in which my professional experiences have shaped how I view the world and my perspective as an urban mother. I have had a front row seat to history and worked with some of Canada’s most well known politicians yet, I am also a wife and mother. I have battled morning sickness while trying to prepare a politician for a media interview. I have had reporters interrupt anniversary dinners with my husband hoping I’d give them a big scoop on an upcoming government announcement. This gives me perspective on life outside the political bubble that many of my former staffer colleagues do not have.. My experience also means that I am not scared of big personalities and am confident advising someone senior to me.

 

What has made me stand out so far in my field is the amount of preparation I put into interviews. How you say something is in many cases just as, if not more, important than what you are saying. I can work with my client on how to avoid gestures that make them seem nervous. When is it appropriate to interrupt an interviewer or fellow guest? Is a question I can help answer. I spend time researching the format of the interview and the background of the interviewer to ensure my client is properly prepared. I also spend time rehearsing with my client to ensure they are comfortable with the message they want to deliver and have strategies to steer the conversation back to what they wish to talk about.

 

I know when it is best to offer comment through a written statement and when it is best to do an in person interview. Sometimes you are limited by what you can legally say and a well-worded statement is best but most often, the best approach is to put a human face on the issue. I take every request seriously and work with my clients to ensure they are comfortable communicating in a variety of formats.

Blog #4: It’s a Farmboy Day, so shop the Farmboy way

As a devoted Farmboy customer I began following the grocery chain’s social media accounts a few months ago. This is an exciting time for the company as they expand their business into South Western Ontario. Perhaps because of this expanded physical presence I have noticed a change in the business’ social media strategy. Rather than just posting about their products, Farmboy is developing consistent brand personality and beginning to engage with their followers.

THINGS THEY DO WELL

One of the first things I noticed about their social media presence is the use of branding. By posting photos of their products, Farmboy is reinforcing their brand identity. The business also uses social media to build momentum ahead of new store openings and to promote community events they are involved in. Farmboy also posts recipes as part of their social media feeds. This provides a service to their followers while at the same time casually promoting their products.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Farmboy seems to be reasonably proactive at RTing positive tweets on Twitter but does not seem to tweet back at this positive exposure. This is a missed opportunity to develop their brand personality and show they are listening to their target audience. Farmboy seems to be more likely to engage with Facebook followers but can sometimes take days to respond to negative comments, this is unfortunate and could create problems in the future.

CONCLUSION

It is apparent that Farmboy is attempting to harness the power of social media to reinforce their brand identity however they should be careful to make sure they are responding to feedback and seizing opportunities to engage with their followers.

 

#Wearallthebabies

IMG_1521

If you are familiar with the baby wearing community you will recognize that hashtag. If you type it into Twitter or Instagram up pops photo after photo of proud moms and sometimes dads carrying their babies is a wide range of baby carriers. I stumbled upon this target audience while researching a baby carrier I was looking to purchase. Like anything to do with parenting there are divided camps, the woven wrap users vs. stretch wrap users vs. the Soft Structured carriers vs. the slings. Explained quite well I think in this blog entry: http://www.wrappedlife.ca/2015/03/what-your-baby-carrier-says-about-you.html?m=1.

All are united in the idea that babies should be snuggled close as much as possible. Who could argue with that?

The baby wearing community primarily seems to be made up of mothers of child bearing age. They have an active social media presence, primarily on Facebook but many groups also have regular in person meet ups.

One of the things I found most interesting when I started looking at this community is the cost of entry, the baby carriers featured on baby carrier blogs and Facebook groups are an expensive purchase and many of these women seem to own more than one. There are strong online communities selling previously loved carriers but even a used carrier is easily over $100.

What drives women to spend this amount of money and want to be part of this community? Well, speaking as a mom, part of it is selfish, by wearing your baby your hands are free for other activities, and strollers are cumbersome in crowded areas. So why not just buy an expensive carrier from Wal-Mart and call it a day. This is where the target audience comes in.

Baby carrier manufacturers are selling a lifestyle, marketing their carriers as a healthy, comfortable and safe parenting choice. They tout research that inexpensive carriers are uncomfortable and cause harm to growing babies. Different brands are hotly debated online, new patterns cause excitement and everyone seems to have their favourite. It gives mothers a sense of belonging, they can debate the merits of their favourite carrier online, or in person at organized meetings or while browsing at a local baby store. There is also a skill aspect, particularly among those that use woven wraps and they master new ways to tie their wraps.

Manufacturers know word of mouth is their best advertisement and you regularly see parenting blogs featuring sponsored posts reviewing different carriers.

In this day in age when many of us live far from family or may not have friends with children, baby wearing groups, either in person or online give a sense of community and the feeling of common values.

Don’t Bury the Lead

file0001507213446.jpg

Don’t bury the lead! A lesson drilled into anyone studying journalism. Put your most important piece of information at the top to get the reader’s attention. This advice is all the more applicable when writing for social media.

Have you ever listened to a small child tell a story? It’s not hard to lose the plot as imagination takes over and the tiny storyteller’s excitement builds. If we are not careful, it is easy for our blogging presence to turn into that excited child, lots of great ideas but lacking a clear concise engaging story line.

How to prevent this?

  1. Know your audience– Do they have time to sit down and read lengthy blog posts or are short but more frequent posts a better option? Knowing your audience does come with a caveat, over using acronyms and jargon can turn off new readers who may not be as familiar with your topic.
  2. Use the draft folder-Just because you have written a post doesn’t mean it needs to be published that very moment. Sometimes it is best to let a post sit in the draft folder for a couple of hours or even days and come back to read it with a fresh set of eyes for spelling and grammatical errors.
  3. Follow the Leaders– Think of your favourite bloggers, what makes you take the time to read their posts? Are there lessons you can take back to your own blog? It is important to write in your own voice but reading good content can rub off on you.

What are some of your tips to ensure a clear, concise and engaging social media presence?

COM0015 Blog #1 Tools and Sources

I have been a casual social media follower/user for a number of years but never really engaged with the monitoring/ listening tools available until I began this program.

 TOOLS:

 

I am still a novice user but I am really impressed with HootSuite, The platform is extremely user friendly and I feel it allowed me to develop my skills at my own pace. I appreciate having all of my accounts organized in one place and being able to schedule content such as Twitter posts. Right now I do not anything beyond the free version but I can see how the professional services would be useful to businesses, particularly those with limited resources to devote to social media.

Another tool I find extremely useful is the stats function built into my WordPress blog. I am still trying to build up my blog’s online presence so appreciate the information it provides.   The stats function not only allows me to see how many views my latest post received but whether those views were referred from my Facebook or Twitter accounts, the most popular day of the week and time my blog posts are read, what external links my visitors clicked on and whether they also viewed past posts. I can break down statistics by day, month or years. As a novice blogger, the more information I can gather about my audience the better.

 

SOURCES:

 

Twitter is my go to source for news and information. Since joining Twitter in 2010 I have cultivated a Twitter feed based on my individual interests: politics, parenting, Ottawa news, and Ottawa craft beer. I am a news junkie and I like getting my information as quickly as possible. I find information on emerging news stories can sometimes pop up on Twitter well before it even shows up on news websites. Twitter is also extremely useful for things like traffic that can change very rapidly. @511Ontario is a great account to follow if you spend any time travelling on ON provincial highways. @Ottawa_Traffic is a great Ottawa based traffic resource.

 

Feedly is less a source of news but more a resource to organize the various streams of information I want to follow. I began using Feedly about a month ago for academic purposes but have found it extremely helpful to track the online presence of several of my friends who have asked for my advice to bolster their personal brand. I have used Google alerts in the past but found the information often got lost in my inbox, being able to direct these alerts using RSS to Feedly allows me to quickly scan the information and screen out irrelevant information. Being able to organize the information into categories means that I can see at a glance which of my keywords is generating hits.

COM0014: Blog #1 Trip to Austria

Travelling with small children can be a bit of a challenge but in December my husband and I took our two daughters, then 3 and 7 months to Austria. (I have blogged about some of my favourite Tiny Human travel gear on my personal blog) My husband had travelled to Austria several times for business but this was my first visit to the country and our first vacation as a family of 4. I am a huge Christmas fan so we timed our trip to be there during the famous Christmas markets.

IMG_0702

Our first stop was Vienna; I was instantly blown away by the city’s beauty and culture. Our first night, while my husband and eldest daughter went to the ballet, I toured my first Christmas market. Unfortunately, most of the stalls were closed for the night but I did get to try my first mug of Gluehwein, or mulled wine. (An après-ski drink that is also sold in the Christmas market stalls) The next night we set out earlier and I was able to fully appreciate the bustling Christmas Markets with their food, drink and vendor stalls.

IMG_0745.JPG

My eldest daughter loved her visit to the Schoenborn palace and zoo a short subway ride from the city. We try to plan something for our eldest daughter to look forward to every day of our vacation and the palace was the hit of the trip, particularly the children’s museum where she had the opportunity to dress up like a princess and pose on throne.

After a few days in Vienna we took the train to Salzburg. I love train travel when travelling within Europe, it allows you experience the scenery without having to navigate in unfamiliar territory.

IMG_0813.JPG

Salzburg is famous for being the setting for The Sound of Music but the city itself with its bridges and surrounding mountains is beautiful.

 

IMG_0862.JPG

One of the best things about travelling in other countries is getting the opportunity to experience different cultural traditions. We happened to be in Saltzburg for the Night of Krampus, a night where Santa’s evil helper kidnaps the naughty children and carries them away in a sac. Today, individuals dress as Krampus and visit local restaurants and the Christmas markets to collect donations for charity. St. Nicholas/Santa follows close behind passing out sweets. Unfortunately, we were not aware of this tradition until Krampus visited the restaurant where we were having dinner. I am fairly certain my eldest daughter will have nightmares for years to come.