COM015 – Post #4 – Out of the Box

We have focused primarily on best practices in a very new and evolving field, what unexpected applications have you found in the field of online marketing and social media?

This isn’t ground-breaking, what is anymore?  The idea of giving people, consumers, a behind-the-scenes look at something they normally wouldn’t see is trending on social media.  Think Chris Hadfield on the International Space Station tweeting about his day, numerous days, in space in 2013 was earth-shattering in terms of the accessibility that he enabled through his use of Twitter, a social media platform.   If you missed it, check out his Twitter feed and scroll back to his time aboard the space station, commanding it actually, this year.

Can anyone argue against this use of social media to show off something usually inaccessible to us mere mortals (i.e. non engineers)?  Perhaps not.  But is having a behind-the-scenes look really what we as consumers want, or need?

Lets take radio as an example.  I listen to the Hot 89.9 here in Ottawa.  With the exception of Justin’s new hit I’m pretty cool with most of what gets played.  The way I listen to radio is quite old fashioned for the cusp of 2014.  It’s kind of like reading a novel.  The author, or in this case DJ, paints countless scenes for their readers who discover a world of their own yet of the author’s imagination.  The DJ does something similar – particularly in ‘group’ style radio shows like the Morning Hot Tub.  As the author of this blog post I’d prefer that you listen to the show before clicking on the above link – but I know we all have different tastes.  I’m getting to my point here – I want it to be clear so I’ll take another paragraph to get there (bear with me!).

I was preparing dinner the other night with my husband and he recounted a segment he’d heard on the radio while driving to work one morning.  Jenni and Josie, the female Hot Tubbers, were trying to hit an apple out of the mouths of the male Hot Tubbers (Mauler and Rush) a la Hunger Games heroine Katniss with a modified Nerf gun.  I was already painting a picture in my mind of what this might have looked like.  I pictured four adults crammed into a small radio studio with a Nerf gun and someone about to lose an eye.  But there’s no need for that – there’s a YouTube video that will fill all of us who were already at work in on what happened that morning.

But why?  Why do we need to be filled in?  Okay, I admit that I enjoyed the video – a bit.  But what’s the need for it?  Are we so undersaturated already that a scene already built in our minds must be undone for the sake of one more YouTube video?  One more tweet?  One more Facebook post?

I think that it’s important to strike the right balance between giving consumers what they want – an inside look into the radio studio, into the space station – and keeping them interested in what’s going on behind those closed doors.  I know that’s not the culture these days – but when is enough, enough?  I would love for these behind-the-scenes looks to become unexpected, exciting and novel.  I would love to be hanging on every word and simple noise that allows me to build a picture of what’s going on in a radio studio rather than having that picture torn to shreds by a YouTube video.

And maybe everyone reading this post thinks that it’s best practice to give consumers a behind-the-scenes look at production, at what happens when the camera’s not rolling – you name it – but I think we need to ask ourselves why we rely on that and not on ourselves.

Ears are ready for the constructive criticism – fire away!

Ps. By the time I got around to writing this I couldn’t find the video 😦 My apologies!

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COM015 – Post #5 – Event Participation

I was extremely lucky to be able to participate in a professional development event today all about social media.  And all from my desk in downtown Ottawa.  I ‘attended’ an Armchair Discussion put on by the Canada School of Public Service on Social Media tools of the Government of Canada.  I chose this event because I was keen to attend a free event (check!), that fit into my schedule easily (check!) and that would be meaningful to my career and work as well as applicable for this assignment (check, check!).

I have included a few screenshots that I also included in the summary of the presentation I did for my work colleagues.  The format was ‘webcast’ as the event took place in Quebec City (PQ) but through a live link I was able to access the event in real time which was a great way to spend my lunch hour.  The presentation was in French and lead by a public servant who works on tools for internal use for increased collaboration by public servants.  The presentation was approximately 40 minutes long followed by a question/answer session.

Two One

Although I didn’t actually ‘meet’ anyone I was able to participate in the event by asking a question during the 20 minutes allotted for interaction at the end of the presentation.  I was also able to share what I learned with my work colleagues shortly after the presentation through our own internal ‘social media’ collaborative online tool.

Although I’m not sure I learned what I thought I would learn, or be exposed to, I still feel like I’ve come away with a better understanding of different ways that public servants are using these internal tools (ex. GCpedia) to contribute to the workforce, to collaborate with their colleagues from coast to coast and to increase efficiency.  I will definitely think differently of some of these tools based on examples that were shared during the event.

A great quote from the presenter, and I won’t translate is from the answer to my question which was about the challenge of using both official languages while using these collaborative tools.  She said (slightly paraphrased):  “Il faut traiter les outils comme les courriels et les réunions. » (These tools must be treated like emails and meetings) This is in the sense that official communication and meetings in bilingual regions for language of work purposes must be bilingual – and online collaboration should be no different.

I will continue to attend Canada School of Public Service Armchair Discussions, either in person or from my desk.  I always find it interesting to hear from people who are working directly in a domain and be able to ask them questions rather than reading a report or news article.  On top of that, these events are free and I am lucky to work with a team that encourages ongoing learning and participation in events like this one.

COM015 – Post 3 – Professional Networking now and in the future

What is your present strategy for developing your professional network online and in person? What activities and commitments are you making in the next 6-12 months to continue the development of your networks?

Oh dear, networking.  Does that mean talking to people I don’t know?  Sometimes, yes.  It also means talking to people I already know in order to develop new relationships.  We are all interconnected in some way or another and a handshake is the first step to meeting, greeting and networking.

I have been invited to numerous young professional networking events through work.  I have gone to a handful.  The issue is that the attendees are also young professionals looking to get ahead and they’re not handing out full time positions (my current objective).  But they’re not useless.  The ability to say hi to someone in a crowded hallway or exchange a wave or smile is so empowering, especially if one feels alone and generally unconnected.

Personally, I prefer non-traditional networking.  When I think of ‘networking’ I think of hand shaking, team building and smiling while juggling plates of appetizers and a cup or coffee or glass of wine.  Although those days aren’t over, it’s definitely not how I am most comfortable networking.  Through my work there are multiple opportunities to volunteer one’s time to participate in campaigns, activities and events.  This is my strategy.  Participate.  Shake hands.  Do good deeds and get noticed.  Within a few weeks of starting my current job I was voluntold (?) for an event planning opportunity that has connected me to people across my sector and now the Big Boss knows my name, where I hail from and from time to time we discuss yoga, the weather and trips home in the elevator.  So this is the plan.  Keep participating, keep shaking hands and do as many good deeds as possible.  Get noticed.

That’s my in person strategy.  I’m personally more comfortable with that aspect of my strategy than my ‘online’ strategy – currently not much more than a decent LinkedIn profile.  And I’m okay with that.  The network I’m looking to develop, I think, cares more about the ‘me’ in person than my online presence.  That said, I won’t let my profile fall to the wayside – I’ll make sure it has an appropriate photo, enough but not too much detail and ensure that I keep my connections up to date.

So, should I make new commitments?  Take on new activities?  I currently volunteer for a local community organization and when I signed up earlier this year I made a 1-year commitment.  I’ll have to decide if it’s a commitment I’m going to stick with or say goodbye to it and hello to something new.  Will it advance my networking goals and take me in the ‘right’ direction?  Those are decisions I will have to make in real time and without information about how my life might change in the near future.

My general plan, incorporating the ‘in person’ strategy, is to stick fast, stay strong and be there for what I’ve committed to and promised to be there for.  Beyond that, I’ll have to evaluate my options, weigh the pros and cons and bravely stick my hand out and introduce myself to someone or something I don’t know.  That’s how I’m going to shake things up if that’s what I choose to go for.  It’s as simple as that.

COM015 Blog Post #2: Strengths (eating food) & Weak (eating too much food) Organizations

I’m very much on a food and drink kick these days so please don’t read this post hungry! Or at least don’t click on the links! The organizations that I feel have impressive social media strategies, based solely on their web and social media presence, and that just happen to be focused on food and drink are: Pete’s and David’s Tea.  These two organizations also happen to combine food and drink with my other passion – Canadiana.  And just to prove that I’m not automatically swayed by pictures of exotic fruit or the promise of the ‘holiday collection’ I will also highlight an organization, related to food and drink, that needs to adopt a social media strategy: The Tea Store (in Ottawa’s Byward Market).

My initial draw is, alas, my (sometimes overwhelming) love for food and drink, but I also enjoy following (or liking) brands and organizations that I actually support because I feel like there’s an added feeling of ‘connection’ via the social media channel to brands that I don’t always get to visit on a regular basis.  Social media is a way for me to keep in touch with brands without actually having to get into a specific physical location and I like being part of the ‘community’ that looks at pictures of delicious grapefruit, copies out tea latte recipes etc.

On one hand…

Pete’s

I think that Pete’s is doing a lot of things really well on social media.  Pete’s presence includes Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.  The content on Twitter and Facebook is similar – which is not unusual for organizations.  Although the content appears differently it’s still easy to find the same general storylines.  Pete’s seems to be really active which I think is necessary for an organization, a company, that is centered on produce and subsequently, customer service.  This recent post shows that the company interacts with their customers on social media, for good or bad.

snapsshot

Also, as Pete’s provides a service/product that can generally be replicated elsewhere it must brand itself as unique and special and reach out to audiences that will make the choice to go to Pete’s for their produce, or coffee, or lunch rather than next door.  Highlighting exotic as well as ‘normal’ products should be a part of their social media activity and based on overviews of all three accounts I am confident in saying that this is true.

David’s Tea

I believe that David’s Tea is doing a lot of really great things on social media.  The organization is present on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Steepster (an online tea community).  Again, the content on Twitter and Facebook is similar.  For David’s Tea I want to focus on their Pinterest presence because I think that they’ve managed something really special – to reach beyond their brand to a wider community of tea drinkers and potentially anyone who stumbles across their page.  Why you ask.  David’s Tea reaches past the traditional tea drinker to the alcoholic drink maker, the baker and the average, everyday tea drinker.

I want to focus particularly on the ‘David’s Tea (By You)’ board described as “David’s Tea through the eyes (and lenses) of our amazing fans.”  This is a step further than retweeting someone’s post about the great cup of tea they are drinking or the great service they just received at a shop.  This tells me, as a potential purchaser of the organization’s products, about the people who already drink it/use the products and about the brand’s willingness to engage with its clientele.  The board itself puts a really human face on the brand and personally, that’s the feeling I get in store – so in that sense, David’s Tea was acting on a genius idea when it began this board.

A snapshot (taken on November 3, 2013) of the board

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 12.41.15 PM

And on the other end…

The Tea Store

I feel as though The Tea Store would benefit from a social media strategy because it appears to be drowning in a tea-filled social media universe and even one of its fans (ME!) has a hard time finding it!  I think The Tea Store should be interacting with its current audience and reaching out to potential customers by using new tools and techniques because it’s a really saturated market and it needs to stand out if it wants to, and I presume it does, attract new clientele and give existing customers a reason to come back.

I think that the biggest thing it should do is to work on its existing Facebook page and potentially establish a Twitter or Pinterest presence.  I want to be clear that quality is more important than quantity (i.e. number of accounts or platforms) because three sucky social media accounts will just drive more people away.  They should work on keyword recognition as it took me several tries to find its page amongst a plethora of tea stores across North America.  I had also searched on Twitter which ended up giving me a listing for David’s Tea, one of the Tea Store’s direct competitors.

This organization has already stepped into the world of social media, but it doesn’t seem to have planned for ongoing content development, etc. which means that it hasn’t attracted as many followers or ‘likes’ as it should or could compared to attraction to David’s Tea.

The physical location of the store (Ottawa’s Byward Market) could also play into the identity of the shop/brand if that’s of interest to it – but that’s just one of many things that could spice up their social media presence.

Until next time!

Rebecca

COM011 Blog Post #1 – Tools & Sources

Back to school!

I love the questions I get to ponder here at Algonquin – such as – “what are my two favourite social media trend listening/monitoring tools?”

The two I like the most, and thus use the most, are Hootsuite and Google Alerts.  Now I have to preface this by saying that I am less inclined to use Google Alerts on a regular basis now that Google Reader has been discontinued.  I chose the tools because I liked the simplicity and the user friendliness aspect as I was already extremely comfortable with the Gmail (Google mail) set up/format.  The cleanliness of the format, if I can say that, is really what attracted me to and kept me using the tools.

Hootsuite on the other hand drew me in because I needed to use a tweet scheduler and Hootsuite was suggested by a friend and although I’ve looked at others, I like the simple format and numerous things I can do with Hootsuite like look at statistics, schedule tweets, keep track of mentions, messages, hashtag uses etc.  I currently Hootsuite on a regular basis to develop and manage Twitter content for a local non-profit and I really enjoy the simplicity of the tool in the sense that it does what I need and helps me to help the organization to achieve its goals in terms of connecting and maintaining a presence on Twitter.

The next question ‘du jour’ is “what are the two best sources of news and updates of interest to me?”

I will be brutally honest: cbc.ca and globeandmail.com .  The way I see it, if anything hits the proverbial fan, these websites will tell me in an instant.  The day the world waited for Kate Middleton to give birth I was checking cbc.ca, not Twitter or Facebook.  Perhaps this is because, as much as I am on the social media bandwagon, I am still a believer in traditional sources of information (especially for news) and then turn to social media for supplementary commentary as it’s usually more interesting, more relevant and more accessible.

I also must explain that I have limited privacy in my cubicle at work and when I want to take a brain break or check on a developing story, it is much quicker and less frowned up (all my perception of course) to glide over to globeandmail.com or cbc.ca than to take a few minutes to sign into Facebook or Twitter.  In this sense, using the former rather than the later contributes to my professional development in the sense that I will keep rather than lose allies in the office and it’s probably in my organization’s best interests for me to have my eye caught by an article on the former websites rather than the later.  All of that said, you can read interest stories on the former, you just have to hunt a little more for them than you do on Facebook on Twitter.  I suppose that I inherently regard Twitter and Facebook as social tools rather than authoritative, work-related tools, except of course if I am tasked to use them in the course of my work.

These sources, of course, are for personal rather than professional use.  When I am developing and managing content for the local non-profit I don’t solely rely on traditional media as I am seeking to share interesting tidbits, events and culture through social media and must thus embrace various sources.  I am almost fearful of your reaction to my reliance on the traditional media sources of yesteryear, but would be curious to know if other social media bandwagoners (??) are also still keen on traditional media.