COM0015 – Blog #4: Out of the Box

Like others, prior to and throughout my involvement in this program, I’d like to say I’ve always been a pretty seasoned social media user from both my career and personal use. However, if this program has taught me anything it’s that there is, and always will be, more out there; we truly can’t know it all (no matter how confident we are that we already do).

One application that I’ve come to discover, and actually found increasingly common, throughout the duration of this course is an app called Milkshake (yes – you read that correctly).

With Instagram use on the rise, becoming increasingly prevalent among influencers, content creators, and businesses, the “link in bio” call-to-action must evolve, too. Milkshake is an app that allows for users to create a “website” or “hub” that will display multiple links (i.e.: products, services, promotions, testimonials, different social profiles, etc.) in one central location, from one direct link in a user’s bio/profile on Instagram.

Milkshake is easy to use and allows for users/businesses to exercise their creativity and maintain their branding with custom templates and designs.

If Instagram is going to offer the possibility to serve as a functional business/marketing tool, apps like Milkshake are necessary; Instagram users (and especially consumers) cannot rely on one single hyperlink in a business or individual’s bio for the multiple objectives businesses and professionals have online.

COM0015 – Assignment 5: Event Participation

Every year, a network of Communications professionals/experts within the Public Service, known as the Communications Community Office (CCO), hosts a free multi-day event for federal Communications employees: CCO Learning Days. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event was hosted in-person in Ottawa, with virtual/webinar options for employees located across the country. For obvious reasons, this year’s event (March 21 to 25, 2022) was strictly online.

Over the course of a week, Communications employees can attend a series of lectures, workshops, and network with Communications professionals from other federal departments at their disposal. Despite my almost-five-years in the Public Service, this was my first time in attendance. What motivated my decision to attend this year, as opposed to recent years, was a need for connection with individuals outside of my own department/branch (likely influenced by the pandemic), and a thirst to expand my existing skillset and knowledge in my field of work. As we’ve learned throughout the duration of this program, media and trends continue to evolve – much like best practices in Communications, Marketing and PR, so I’ve come to realize how important it is to continue learning in order to stay relevant and make more strategic, informed decisions in the workplace.

Given that this event took place a few months ago, unfortunately, I’m not in a position to provide proof that I attended or a memorable quote from the event. However, I can say with confidence that my experience attending this event is still worth sharing!

Throughout the week, I met/interacted with Communications professionals from Senior Communications Advisors, Communications Managers, and Communications Directors (for context, I’m in the process of becoming a seasoned Communications Advisor). From one Communications expert to another, each person had diverse experience (Internal vs. External communications, crisis communications, speechwriting, social media, video, graphic design…the limit does not exist!)

From having conversations with these individuals and learning more about the work they do, I learned that Communications is very fluid, and you’re never confined to one facet or role “for life” if you don’t choose to be. I recall asking many questions throughout all of my discussions with each person. I was curious to know how each person went from one area of Comms to the next, why they like what they do or if they had a favourite area to work in, and how they acquired the skillset/experience to move from one area of Communications to another. Hearing their individual responses gave me the opportunity to think about where my career path could take me, and how I would get there.

One of the few workshops I attended that left a memorable impression in my mind talked about inclusive communications. Hosted by panelists from Indigenous Services Canada, we discussed existing and emerging strategies to effectively communicate and engage with Indigenous and racialized communities, and how to write authentically, with integrity and empathy to marginalized groups across the country.

Some other ideas/takeaways that I had from the event include:

  • We are so incredibly lucky to have advanced technologies and platforms that allow us to do the work that we do, remotely, in response to the pandemic especially;
  • Your career path is what you make it – you’re the only one in control of the experience you acquire
  • Great things never came from comfort zones – say yes to new opportunities in new areas whenever they arise
  • The field of Communications, Marketing and PR will never be the same from one year to the next – this allows professionals in the field to continue learning and adapting

In summary, to say that I found the event and overall experience rewarding would be an understatement. From stepping outside of what is familiar to me, in my own department, I can say that I’ve had memorable, fulfilling conversations with professionals that share similar interests and skills with my own, built connections/expanded my network, and acquired a few mentors that can guide me along my Communications journey too.

Getting Social to Get Fit

As I’m sure most of you know, life gets busy.

For myself, I work full-time, I’m enrolled in this course, I attend a bi-weekly French class to advance in my career, and I find the time to do the little (yet necessary) tasks from doing my laundry to checking the mail, and you know, feeding myself (does Mr. Noodles count as a food group??).

Recently I decided to join an online fitness program because as much as I wanted to make going to the gym a priority, it just wasn’t happening. With this program I have access to over 500 fitness videos that I can do at home, or anywhere else, as long as I have my phone – thanks to the program’s app, and now I literally have no excuse to not fit a workout in each day.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “that’s great, Maddie. But what does your fitness routine have to do with social media?” Well, aside from the app, meal-prep resources, and nutrition shakes that are included in this program, a huge factor of one’s success stems from social media, like Facebook and Instagram.


When I started the program, I was assigned a coach that is expected to check in with me frequently to make sure I’m on track, and to answer any questions I have. My coach added me to a private Facebook group where there are other coaches and members, like myself, all enrolled in the same 30-day program. Each day the coaches alternate posting in the group. One of the coaches will post first thing in the morning to remind us to get our workout in at some point during the day. Afterwards, we are expected to comment on the post with a “sweaty selfie” (see below – yikes!). At the end of the day, the same coach will post again, asking if we drank enough water, if we had our nutrition shake, if we followed our meal plan, etc. and we can share our day-to-day successes (or slip-ups – it happens!) on the post.

Why does the Facebook group work for me?

  • I am reminded to get my workout in every day;
  • I get to meet people with the same goals, and we inspire each other;
  • I feel accountable for participating;
  • I’m able to comfortably ask questions and seek advice, and receive instant feedback;
  • If I have a bad day (i.e.: I don’t workout, I don’t follow my meal plan, etc.) I still receive support from my peers; this private group is a no judgement zone!


The second social media platform that is used throughout this program is Instagram. For starters, I actually came across this program and “met” my coach through Instagram while browsing the “popular page”. I now follow my coach on Instagram and I can receive program updates, watch her stories for new workouts, gather information and tips on meal prep and nutrition, and view her content for inspiration – similarly to the Facebook group.

At the beginning of the program, we were asked to take a “before” photo, and an “after” photo 30 days later. I haven’t posted anything onto my Instagram yet, since I’m only about one week into the program, but I will likely share any success that I have on Instagram once I am finished (and if I see any results!). We were then provided hashtags to use from the coaches, such as “#sweatingforsangria” and “#21dayfix” to accompany any fitness posts that we may publish. Doing so will filter posts from individuals enrolled in the program, and we can see how other people are performing. Part of what motivates me is thinking of the reactions I may receive from people on Instagram if I end up having a positive transformation in my photos.

If it weren’t for social media…

Honestly, I don’t think I’d be as committed. On my own I never made time to go to the gym after work, or early in the morning before work because of every excuse in the book.

Now, I get up early before work every morning, and on the weekends, to complete my 30 minute workout because I know I will need to post a sweaty selfie. While sleeping in is very tempting every morning, I can force myself out of bed to exercise because I want to motivate my peers online through my progress and achievements. Being a part of this social community for this specific reason makes me feel like I’m not doing this for me, but for others as well!

Have you ever joined an online community like this before? (It doesn’t have to be fitness-related).
Has social media ever inspired you to feel more involved in something?

Facebook Promotion

  • Can social media help you with your summer bod? Learn how FB and Insta are getting involved:

Twitter Promotion

  • Social media – an additional tool for fitness? Read more:

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What’s ‘new’ on Facebook? I wish I knew!

In 2014, Facebook rolled out the “trending” feature to assist people in finding interesting, relevant topics as they browsed through their newsfeed. The “trending” section was only made available in five countries – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and Australia.

At the time of its launch in 2014, the ultimate goal of the trending section was to encourage more public sharing and to provide Facebook users with more conversation topics online. Ultimately, Facebook wanted to become “THE” website – blending the concept of a social media network with the reputation of a credible news source.

As I’m sure you recall, the trending section provided personalized lists of the most popular topics with short explanations beneath each topic. The topics shown were based on the following factors:

  • Your interests
  • Who is commenting on a topic
  • How recently a topic has spiked in popularity on Facebook
  • The engagement from your Facebook friends on a specific topic

Users were able to click on each trending topic to see a wide range of public posts, articles, and mentions from friends.

However, earlier this month, Facebook removed the trending feature from the social network as a means to mitigate fake news from appearing on peoples’ newsfeeds, and to “make way” for future news experiences on Facebook.

Nowadays on social media, users tend to acquire news (or really any other content) through videos. Facebook has taken this finding into consideration and is now exploring new and innovative ways for its users to remain informed from trustworthy sources in a timely manner, and to have a positive mobile experience overall, as they scroll through their personalized feeds.

For me, personally, I miss the trending feature and without it I feel out of the loop!

Why, you ask?

  • Convenience! I’m not someone who goes out of their way to check the news (and maybe I should be at this point in my life) and when I have Facebook open all day for my job, it was nice to see what was going on day by day while still using Facebook for its intended purpose.
  • The power of video. A lot of the videos that I do see on my timeline, which for the most part are amusing and entertaining, aren’t really “newsworthy”, but I like it that way; this separates the “social” and fun aspect of the social network from the “news source” aspect that Facebook wishes to achieve.
  • Facebook (for me at least) = mindless scrolling. When I scroll through my Facebook feed, I’m seeing what my friends and family are up to, looking at pictures, watching videos of Crusoe the Celebrity Dachshund (don’t judge me, he’s great and I recommend giving his page a ‘like’) – pretty much any task that doesn’t require much thought but still keeps me connected.

So, this leads me to ask: what are your thoughts on this recent change?

Are you glad the trending section has been removed? Are you indifferent?

Do you think blending news and social media onto your timeline will keep you more informed on current events? Or would you prefer to use to a separate, well-known news source and have Facebook remain a social tool – and nothing else?

Twitter Promotion

  • Are “trends” too mainstream for social media? See what steps Facebook is taking:

Facebook Promotion:

  • Facebook scrapped the trending feature. Find out why this matters to some:

Media Sources

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When Political Platforms Meet Social Media Platforms

Hey readers!

As I’m sure you know, Ontario has a new Premier. Now, I’m not going to share my personal opinion on the matter, however I would like to discuss the voter turnout. Within hours after the polls had closed and ballots were being counted, various journalists were reporting that approximately 51% of Ontario had not voted in this year’s provincial election. Currently, however, it appears as though the voter turnout increased to 58% – an increase since the 2003 election.

While I am pleased to hear that the voter turnout ended up being over half the province, I can’t help but wonder about the role social media plays during elections, specifically in Canada. If you’re curious about how social media could potentially impact voter turnout (both positively and negatively) then you’ve come to the right…blog!

It goes without saying that the political landscape has changed quite a bit over the last decade, if not earlier on. Social media has now become a tool or a resource that people use throughout political campaigns, which can shape the ways in which people think about issues, and about voting in general. Let’s compare, shall we?

The Pros

  • Social media is a news outlet – through trending topics and the speed that campaign updates, speeches, articles, and videos are shared, eligible voters have easy access to the latest information;
  • Your friends are voting – I’m not sure if this is just me, but on voting day almost everyone I knew (who voted) had posted to their Facebook page, Instagram story, or Snapchat story a photo of themselves after they had voted, encouraging others to vote as well. It’s cool to vote, it’s cool to brag about it, and it’s very cool to remind your friends to go out and do the same!
  •  Social media isn’t just for politicians – if you need to register to vote, are unsure about which pieces of I.D you need to bring or if you’re eligible to vote in the first place, Elections Ontario has a very active Twitter account with a different tweet for every question! Many of the tweets were sponsored as well, which boosts their outreach across the “Twittersphere”

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The Cons

  • Fake news – unfortunately, false stories can spread like wildfire on social media, and they can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from the truth. Through the constant sharing of articles, scandals, internet memes, and rumours about party leaders, it’s more likely for people to turn away from voting. It’s easy to be misinformed, even by your own friends and followers.
  • Over-sharing of content – when it comes to publishing content on social media, there needs to be some common ground between posting too much and posting too little in order for the posts to perform well. During elections many politicians use social media to market themselves and their campaigns at a very low cost, and to me it seemed like there was always a new post or advertisement on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds as I went about my “daily scroll”. This might be more of a personal opinion rather than a factual argument, however well before voting day I was losing interest in the election because I was seeing too much; I wasn’t learning anything more about each candidate or their party, and really, I just wanted it all to be over with.


Presently, the majority of voters in Ontario are millennials – aged from 18 – 34. According to Stats Canada, Ontario residents in this age group are the least likely to participate in provincial elections, and I think social media could actually end up changing that in the future. For instance…

  • What if Internet voting emerges? Or what if an app gets developed so people can register and vote directly from their phones?
  • Growing up I was always told to keep my political opinions to myself because sharing these views before and after voting was “frowned upon”. But what if people post/share/retweet their political values online? Do you think that would have greater influence to get people to vote and educate themselves on each platform?

What are your thoughts? Did social media influence your decision to vote this past week? Why or why not?

Promotional Posts

Facebook – Social platforms are becoming political platforms. See how social media can influence voter turnout:

Twitter – Is social media influencing your decision to vote in elections? Learn more:

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Blog Post #1 – Getting “social” in the classroom

Hey there, social media gurus!

I think we can all agree that social media has evolved dramatically within the last decade. From new platforms to new features and developments, we’re becoming more dependent on social media and technology use in our everyday lives. One particular use for social media that continues to evolve is social media as a learning tool in classrooms.

In my first year of university, which was only four years ago, I was introduced to what I considered to be a unique relationship: learning course material and using social media. Little did I know that this was only the beginning, and that over time (more specifically by the end of my degree) I would recognize social media as a tool that extends beyond its intended recreational use.

Join me on my trip down ~memory lane~ as I discuss how social media was used throughout some of my university lectures, and as I evaluate the effectiveness of the examples provided below. If you’re looking for more insights, 4 Ways to Use Social Media in Learning is an interesting read!


“I will need you all to add me on Facebook by the end of this week,” said my first year Political Science prof to the class.

Initially, I was shocked and sort of uncomfortable with the idea. I didn’t want my prof to “creep” me (as the “kids” say these days).

The professor later explained that every week throughout the semester, students had to find an article, YouTube video, or current event online that was related to the content discussed in the previous lecture and assigned readings. We were then asked to post our findings on her Facebook wall and explain its relevance to the course for participation marks.

As weird as I felt about it, I will say that this course requirement was an interesting way to promote interaction with the instructor and my classmates, as we could all openly engage with each other through comments and “likes” on our posts. Also, by having to search for course-related content beyond the classroom and course syllabus, we were applying concepts, theories, and ideas to real life examples, which resonated well when it came time to study for the exam.


I had quite the number of professors at Carleton who enjoyed using YouTube to show modern examples of course-related material. I found YouTube especially helpful for one course in particular, Traditional Theories in Communication. Each lecture the prof showed one or two short YouTube clips (usually a couple of minutes each) that were always entertaining, creative, and relevant. While I can’t provide any concrete examples as a result of poor memory (*singing* just keep swimming, just keep swimming…) I found that the professor’s examples brought forward a fun approach to what was generally very heavy, intense, and (painfully) dry material. When it came time to prepare for the final exam I found the concepts and theories easier to memorize and understand, as I could relate my written notes to their visual representation found on YouTube!


In my final year of university I had taken a course on communication and food. I had given a presentation in front of the class to spark the debate on whether food is a form of art. Being part of a generation that prides themselves in “hipster” or “artsy” “Insta-food” posts (referring to my own photo below), I thought Instagram would be the perfect tool to engage my classmates.


Chicken & Waffles, courtesy of my own Instagram account

I had brought in random foods such as skittles, pieces of bubble gum, spices, etc. and separated my classmates into small groups. Each group was assigned one of the food items I had brought in, and I told them to create what their interpretation of “food art” was, prior to actually photographing their artwork and sharing the photo with the class using a generic hashtag that I provided. Once everyone had posted I was able to search the hashtag and pull up everyone’s images on the projected screen.

I felt this activity was a great way to showcase everyone’s creativity, while generating a discussion about course-related material.

Some considerations…


I can easily say based on the few examples provided above that social media had enhanced my overall learning experience when its use was applicable. However, I was wondering…

  • What happens to those who are not on social media? How would their learning experience change?
  • Do you think there’s a risk of diminishing professional boundaries between students and instructors?
  • Is there an appropriate age group to start implementing social media into learning activities?

What do you think? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading!

Promotional Posts

Facebook – Ever wondered how social media could enhance your learning experience? Look no further!

Twitter – School doesn’t have to just be textbooks and lectures.  Find out how you may benefit from #GettingSocial in the classroom!

Media Links


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