COM0011 – Blog Post 6 What does the future hold for Social Media

Every day it seems like there is a new app that will help people connect with one another in real time, regardless of distance, location or even language.  Some channels are subscription based, like Twitter and Facebook while others are formed based on physical location, such as YakYak.  The general purpose of social media from a corporate perspective is to foster engagement with clients to increase brand recognition and loyalty.  From a user’s perspective the allure of social media is not just the ease of use but also the sense of community. Finding people you can relate to, either with like interests or through a chance encounter allows human interaction on a global scale.

Where will this all lead?  The news is full of the power of social media.  It’s been used to reunite a kidnapped newborn with her mother and has made two men lifelong friends who, despite an odd meeting have shared an unbelievable adventure that caught the eye of celebrities like Ellen.  More and more frequently people are turning to social media for information before checking other media sources.  Breaking news is tweeted and shared by major networks like CNN and disseminated by individuals more quickly than the networks could manage just on their own.

People are becoming increasingly dependent on their social media sources to provide them with information, not only about events but also recommendations ranging from where to eat to which products to buy.  People in an unfamiliar city turn to apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor to find restaurant recommendations.  Soon sites will further this purchasing power to increase usership.  The potential for collaboration is staggering.

Think of Pinterest for an example.  What if when you see something you like instead of simply pinning it you were given the option of buying it from within Pinterest?  Rather than being diverted to an external website and having to wade through all the other items for sale you could just click the sale link and complete the transaction quickly and easily.   It’s already happening in fact.  According to this Shopify article the majority of sales traffic is being diverted to sites via Facebook, with Reddit and Polyvore, a community style site, also contributing.


What about you?  Have you ever purchased anything via social media?  Would you?  I know some people who distrust all levels of online commerce and refuse to even bank online whereas others jump right in without questioning how secure the server is.  Where do you land on this scale?

COM0011 – Blog Post 5 – Social media and friends you’ve never met

The world is shrinking – we’ve all heard about it.  The internet has opened doors (and windows . . . heh heh . ..  see what I did there?  Windows!!) into places that were formerly closed. A man’s phone was stolen and was later sold in China.  The new owner posted photos that appeared in the original owner’s cloud storage and before long via social media the two became friends.  The American became a pseudo celebrity in China, and they both appeared on Ellen (click the link for more on the Brother Orange story).

Back in the ’90s when I was pregnant with my first child I joined a (now defunct) message board on the iVillage media site, as I’d heard it was a great resource of information and a way to connect with other moms who were expecting at the same time.  The first board I joined was Dec/98 mommies mostly women from across the US and a handful from Canada.  At that time I didn’t have my own computer at home so when I actually had my son I was absent from the discussion board for the 6 months I was on maternity leave.  When I returned to work the board was still active but I felt in the minority as a working mother, the majority of active users were stay at home moms.

I turned to another board – the Working moms board – and eventually become the moderator.  Our core group of women, again mostly from the US and a few from Canada became very close friends despite the fact that most of us had never met In Real Life (IRL).  We decided to hold a reunion in 2003 after being online together for at least 5 years and we spent a fun-filled weekend in Philadelphia putting faces to names (at that time the board messages were mostly text – no pictures) and making new memories.  We even made efforts to post updates of the trip on the board for those who weren’t able to make it.

Once Facebook appeared on the scene a group of us who had been together for well over 10 years migrated to a closed group on that platform, where we’ve been ever since.  There are 31 of us in this group and we’ve been together for over 16 years of births, deaths, marriage, divorce and everything in between.  Where at first we were celebrating milestones like being able to leave the kids at daycare without hearing them cry when we left, now we’re the ones crying when these same kids head off to college after graduation.  I count these women among my closest friends and I’ve only met some of them.  Thanks to Facebook I can see my friends’  public profiles but we can also interact on our private board.  (and yes – we are all web-savvy enough to know the risks of posting anything online and we know that nothing is *truly* private).

Nowadays I’ve joined other groups on Facebook based on interest.  Military spouse pages for to learn about a new posting, or community groups such as those managed by my sons’ cadet corps that enables me to keep up with corps news.  These groups are not based on the creation of friendship but rather on information sharing.  There are countless other ways to connect with groups online – not just through Facebook.  Pinterest allows you to follow people based on the items they pin – meaning you can easily find people whose interests match your own.

Now that my children are old enough to have social media accounts we have had discussions about what is appropriate and who they can have as friends (They are only allowed to “friend” the people they actually know and if approached to play with a stranger over xbox they are forbidden to share personal details).  This puts them in the minority –  The children of today have grown up with the internet and with cellphones.   The typical teen has more friends on Facebook that they’ve never met than those they know IRL.  Rather than measuring their perceived success or failure against their local peers, they are putting themselves up for judgement publicly against a world of individuals and the results can be devastating.  Teens are measuring their self-worth against the number of “likes” they get on a picture and often they are finding themselves wanting.  In addition constant digital interactions either through social media or text have lead to a decrease in actual intimacy and a decline in personal relationships.  Teens feel distanced from any communication that isn’t face to face so they have a greater likelihood of saying things they wouldn’t normally say, which can lead to increased instances of bullying and or social stigma.  (for some great articles on this see the CBC article from February, 2014 and this Psychology Today from the point of view of the teens)

What are your thoughts?  Do you think social media has changed the way we have developed our social relationships?  Do you think this is a good or a bad thing?  Do you regularly participate in any online communities and if so, would  you call those people your friends?  I look forward to your comments.

COM0011 Blog Post 4 – LumberJack and LumberJill

After moving away three years ago, I finally returned to my favourite province of Nova Scotia with my four kids this past week to visit my mom and other family.  We were searching for fun, interesting experiences for the kids during the week and we found Lumber Axe Productions in Barrington, NS on the South Shore.  We first saw this place on the Rick Mercer show.

In case you’re not familiar – Rick eithRMWAer finds interesting places to visit or they invite him – and he goes and tries out new adventures and profiles them on his show.  Darren Hudson, a former international lumberjack champion, was profiled on The National and the story caught Mercer’s eye.  He decided he’d like to try lumberjacking and the show visited.  The kids and I watch the Mercer Report whenever possible and were thrilled to see this episode taped in our home province.  When we started planning our vacation with my mother she mentioned a lumberjack adventure place that she’d read about in a tourism magazine.  It seemed like fate so we booked an afternoon to become lumberjacks (and Jills).

We left Dartmouth at 9:45 on Friday morning and arrived in Barrington at 12:30, with a brief stop mid-trip for a quick packed sandwich.  LucIMG_7041kily Lumber Axe wasn’t yet open for the season so the fact we were 30 minutes late didn’t mean that we missed out.  In fact, we were the only ones there that afternoon and thus got full attention.  When we first arrived we were a bit unsure what to expect.  We almost drove by the place – it is very unassuming.  Hudson himself is very laid back and either he hasn’t been in operation very long or he was more relaxed as we were the “season opener” but his spiel lacked any polish.  Instead of a tour-guide approach with memorized lines what we got was individualized attention.  My 80 year old mother is inquisitive (the polite way to put it) and all her questions were answered (and there were a LOT of them).  Hudson explained his interest of logging went back 5 generations, he could point across the river to various family members’ homes, he explained what it meant to be a world champion lumberjack, travelling all over the world to competitions, all while building a fire – the first part of our “lumberjack experience.”

Once the fire had been built (using a combination of kindling, wood shavings, old man’s beard and other forest floor remnants – but no paper!), we moved on to the axe throwing portion of the day.IMG_7046 Hudson explained skill, form and where to source the best axes (he’s a supplier for the Swiss company!)  One at a time the kids were told to stand behind a line, take the axe in both hands, bend their elbows to draw the axe behind their heads, straighten their arms and let fly towards the target.  My daughter was given a smaller axe (and she was allowed to go closer to the target), while the boys all used a regulation sized axe.  It’s harder than it looks!  Two of the boys did hit bullseye but it was a fluke as the rest of the time they were extremely far off (or missed the target altogether).  Towards the end of the day even I tried it (I hit the target . . . once)

Next up was sawing logs – really.  The first saw was a bow saw and typically this would be used by one perIMG_7063son to cut trees, branches, etc.  It’s a bit tricky and the size makes it unwieldy so for the “littles” (my two youngest) he started them off with a cut and helped them throughout the process.  For the “bigs” (the two oldest) once he started them off they were on their own to finish the cut, which they were able to do in short order.  The second saw was a two man, cross cut log saw.  this was designed for two people and the trick is to not put too much downward pressure on the saw, which would make it bow.  No matter the strength of the person behind the blade the focus should be on moving the blade fully through the wood, not exerting strength to cut through the wood.  The “littles” were a good team and never “caught a tooth” but took a long time to get through their piece of wood.  The “bigs” went through their slice of wood like a hot knife through butter and Hudson was so impressed he let them go a second time.

Next was pole climbing.  By this point the “bigs” were a bit done and were no longer interested in anything but finding shade as it was a hot day.  It took about 15 minutes for Hudson to get the safety equipment on each of the kids.  Once fully geared up they each climbed for what seemed like 5 seconds before they were ready to come down.  Since that was a bit of a bust he decided to show us all how it was done and strapped selected pieces of gear on himself (just the spikes – not the safety rope), and proceed to run up the pole all the way to the top in about 2.5 seconds.  He sat on top of the 35ft pole for a few minutes to chat – explaining that he’d responded to our email about being late from that very location.IMG_7078

Last but not least was the log rolling.  By this point only my daughter was still game since the concrete pool he had for this activity was cold, full of bugs and leaves and did I mention cold?  Hudson had the boys help him roll the specially prepared log into the pool and he secured it on both ends with hooks so it would spin but stay in one place.  He then walked across it and demonstrated how to logroll.  It looked several times like he would fall in but he never did.  He did give some useful advice – the log never stops moving and the log always wins.  With that he jumped into the pond himself so that he could hold my daughter’s hands as she stepped out onto the log as it spun.  She did a decent job with him and then tried it solo (for a quicker trip into the water).

The whole experience took over three hours and it was definitely a highlight of our trip.  The kids were happy to have had the opportunity to try something new and in terms of edu-fun it was a completely different environment than what they had become used to.  They’ve had hands-on experiences before – at the Ontario Science Centre for example, or even trying an old-fashioned printing press at Sherbrooke Village before we moved from NS but those were carefully controlled and predictable.  Nothing could compare to this venture into the world of lumberjacking!


COM0011 Blog Post 3 – Creation of a Personal Brand

buttonI am finding the prospect of our second assignment for this course very scary as I’m not a huge fan of introspection or self-promotion so the idea of analyzing my strengths to create a personal brand to sell myself is daunting.  I know I’m not alone in this however.  I’ve had conversations with female colleagues in the past about this reluctance to “toot our own horn” in the context of prize winning and why we have had so few women laureates over the years.

For background – my organization is the Killam Trusts, a private philanthropic trust that was founded in 1965 to advance higher education in the country.  For in-depth information on the Killam Trusts and the Killam awards please visit our website). In brief, five Canadian universities received Killam funds along with the Canada Council for the Arts.  At the universities funding is primarily given to post secondary students; doctoral scholars and pdfs, with some faculty awards and Chairs as well.  The Canada Council administers two sets of awards – the Killam Research Fellowships, which allow for up to two years’ release time to work on a particular project and the Killam Prizes, awarded for lifetime achievement in one of five categories.  Each Killam Prize is worth $100,000 and since 1981 128 prizes have been given out.  Of those winners only 13 laureates have been women.  That’s a low 10%!  Part of the reason for this low number is the fact that women are not being nominated in large numbers.

When we ask the question why women are not being nominated the answer is often because they are not promoting themselves well enough.  In her article on the topic Bonnie Marcus states that “self-promotion was referred to by the participants in the study as awkward and not always helpful for their advancement.  Because of their reluctance to promote themselves, women are viewed in the workplace as lacking self-confidence.”   In fact a scholarly article published by Psychology of Women Quarterly states that women who self-promote can face social and economindexic penalties for self-promotion.  The fear of backlash interferes with self-promotion success for women but this same process was not evident for the self-promoting man.  The blog wherewomenwork offered some key suggestions for self promotion:
1. Talk outomes: be clear about what you achieved and why it was important
2. Be matter-of-fact: don’t use irrelevant emotional adjectives (e.g. enormous, exciting, etc)
3. Make it relevant: Put your achievements in the context relevant to your audience
4. Draw future application: Make it obvious how you can build on your skills and achievements
5. Individualize: Combine your strengths to provide a unique and competitive picture

With those five tips in mind, following is my self-promotional list of accomplishments that I will use in support of our 2nd assignment:

When I began working with Killam I had the only registered proofreading company in Halifax (a company that I still have today).  I’ve since developed a career with the Killam Trusts that has been focused on the post-secondary educational environment in Canada. My previous experience working in a university environment, my tri-lingualism (English, French and conversational Spanish), combined with proven administrative skills were considered great assets. In the 10 years since I’ve had the position I’ve learned event management and promotion and recently finished a Masters degree in Information Management (one the first cohort to graduate in Canada with the MIM degree from Dalhousie University). I am further developing my skills with the certificate in social media program from Algonquin college in an effort to bring the Trusts into the 20th century.  The reasoning behind my choice of study has been definitely Killam focused.  As the sole employee I needed to develop knowledge and skills to ensure the Trusts’ ability to continue as a well-known entity for years to come. I am entrusted with ensuring the documentation for this perpetual trust is not only appropriately categorized and maintained, but that it is retrievable and searchable for future reference. I’ve taken on the role of archivist, information manager, company spokesperson, and now social media expert.  Building on over 15 years experience in the educational sector I am uniquely qualified to  . . . do what?  This is where I’m stumped . . .what am I uniquely qualified to do?

Going through this blog post I was thinking the purpose of self-promotion or branding was to potentially lead to different employment opportunities but that isn’t always the case.  What are some other reasons you’d want to develop a personal brand?  How do you self-promote?  Do you have tips on how to align previous education and current experience into a personal specialty?  I would love your insight!  10-women-twitter-megaphone.w529.h352.2x

COM0011 Social Media is blurring the line between work and play

Joy-of-Tech-cartoonRecently a female newscaster stood up to hecklers shouting sexist comments interrupting her live feed at a sports event in TO.  The clip (click here to view raw video) of her calling out the hecklers was picked up by new stations and spread across social media like lightening.  Some people who saw the clip were not only able to identify the heckler but also where he worked.  Complaints about him were directed to his company, who were forced to respond as they were concerned his actions would tarnish corporate reputation.  He was fired within 24 hours of the original broadcast.

facebook_firedThis isn’t the first time social media has been used to identify people who were misbehaving on their own time and paid the price by losing their jobs.  A Subway employee in the states lost her job after she was identified as celebrating the deaths of two policemen, people who participated in the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver were fired, students at Dalhousie University’s dentistry school were suspended after an inappropriate, supposedly private, Facebook group was uncovered.

A quick Google search of social media job loss results in a variety of articles:

It’s common knowledge that prospective bosses check social media profiles of potential new hires to ensure a good corporate fit.  Companies that work hard to develop a positive social media presence don’t 01-24DPD12_lgwant any employee – from the President to the mail room clerk – to damage that reputation.

The question becomes how intrusive can your boss be when it comes to what you do on your own time? In this MacLean’s article that inspired this blog post there are further examples of how company time is melting into personal time, the company blackberry for example that keeps you connected and the live-the-brand culture. Some HR departments are trying to be proactive with increased sensitivity training.  Is that beneficial or just another way to cover their tracks if something happens?  Meaning that if an employee is caught on social media that they shouldn’t be doing the organization can point to the training as an excuse to terminate.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.  In your opinion are terminations justified when an employee is “outed” on social media doing something not necessarily illegal but unpleasant on their own time?   In your opinion if an employee is terminated in this manner should they be allowed to sue the corporation that terminated them? Do you know anyone this has happened to?

Thanks for contributing to this conversation!


COM0011 Unravelling the secrets of social media engagement

How many followers do you have on Twitter or Facebook?  How can you used LinkedIn to market your organization?  What about Instagram, Google+ and YouTube, not to mention direct email marketing?  The digital storefront occupies boundless acres of virtual real estate but much of it is uncultivated. If you’re like me you have no idea where to start but you know that the time to start was long ago!  In an age where the average person can be turned into an overnight sensation just by posting on the internet (I’m looking at you Frankie MacDonald the Cape Breton weatherman) it’s obvious there is untapped potential to increase organizational exposure but how?

Frankie MacDonald

Cape Breton’s weatherman

As part of my ever changing role as the sole employee of the Killam Trusts I have been entrusted with the development of the organization’s online presence. From web content to Twitter to Facebook and everything in between all content begins with me . . . and I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous and not enough to be fully effective. (thus the enrollment in this certificate program!). For example, how much time should I be devoting to social media and which platforms deserve the greatest focus? This short article provided some great insight into how to measure effort. In addition, I know I should to create Killam-Logoa content calendar so I’m posting on a fairly regular basis and it would be great to map that to what’s currently happening in the academic world (writing a feature on a Killam engineering laureate during engineering week for example). We have a database of close to 7,000 Killam scholars so I think it should be easy to develop a following – I just have to be sure I’m saying something interesting! To date I’ve been more reactive than proactive, which according to Evan LePage, a writer for Hootsuite ,is a big no. I need to improve, .

Once we have a set strategy in place we’d like to branch out a bit further and set up a space for our laureates to be able to connect with one another. Not only to encourage research collaboration but to build a kind of alumni network that they can turn to when they have questions or need advice. There would be different categories that people could search for information – for example recommendations for restaurants in a particular town, or links to travel discounts. Things that are completely unrelated to our organization but that would allow our laureates to leverage the fact that they’ve won a Killam award to their advantage. I looked at LinkedIn as a potential place to host something like this – I especially like the way their university pages are set up – but unfortunately they won’t let us set ourselves socialRubricup like that. Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas about what we could use to build such a network? Would it have to be hosted on our site or is there already a customizable service?  All suggestions are welcome!!