COM0014 – Blog 7 – Personal Reflection

photo-1429637119272-20043840c013The time has come to reflect!

It’s been a blast! The ups, the downs, the studying and the reflection of this journey. This is the final piece I will write for the social media certificate program, so it is a perfect subject.

This course has got me thinking about whether I am truly connecting with the audience or talking at them. We all have a story to tell and in a digital age even those behind the computer are seeking a connection, a belonging or identifying. We all live a fast paced life when we are skimming through news articles, our children’s homework and work files. Story telling gives us a chance to build a connection and engage with the reader.

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The piece of the course that has truly resonated with me is the power of being you in your story telling. In the world of authentic content everyone has a place to be exactly who they are. We are “spoken to” so often in marketing, social media give opportunities to be exactly the people we are. Authenticity in content is what starts out in the crowd. Successful engagement involved content that tells a story, entertains, engages and promotes conversation. Everyone has a story and a journey and in a world of completive marketing messaging and story telling, readers are seeking something more.

My take away piece is to develop the brand of by business but also to develop my personal brand too. The two are interconnected in a way that my business is a reflection of me and vice versa. The way I tell my story and the voice of my story is a reflection of who I am. It will give insight to future clients if we are a right fit for business.

On a personal note, I would also like to start up my blog again. I started it sometime ago and life got in the way. As a military family that moves and has challenges that come with deployments, different school systems and international moves, I would like to create a connection with those who are in the same situation. Create an outlet and engagement where other military moms can see that what they are going through is normal and others do understand.

It’s been a journey and one that I have certainly grown from.

 

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COM0015 – Assignment 1 – Blog 4 – Out of the box

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When I started this certificate I thought I knew a lot. I have a degree in communications and a Facebook and Twitter account, so I must know something, right? Throughout the last five courses I learnt how big social media is and how little I actually knew.

The digital media industry is one that is constantly evolving and with so many websites, tools, resources and applications it’s hard to keep pace. The traditional communications/marketing industry has a set communications formula, however social media has not settled into that status as yet. The biggest hurdle to overcome is that the communications styles are quite different to what traditional communications degrees teach you. For this old dog, it was a new trick that needed to the learnt – woof!

The most unexpected part I have discovered through this journey is the impact social media is having on every industry. Newspapers, not for profits and traditional businesses needing a social media presence and many industries don’t even know why. Social media is impacting the way we communication and has created a fundamental shift in how we do it. Many businesses are adapting and creating personal connections with their clients and the businesses that are embracing social media are seeing an impact on their bottom-line.

Oliver Blanchard describes the business return on investment for social media like this:
Investment >>Action>>Reaction>>Non-Financial Impact>>Financial Impact $$$ (ROI)

As the world of social media is so big, navigating every application would almost be impossible. Applications like Feedly.com, Social Spout, Hoot Suite and Google Alerts are streamlining information gathering and analytics. These applications are making it easier to keep abreast of information from many sources in real time.

As for business applications for marketing purposes, every business can benefit from social media strategies and platforms. Not all platforms make sense for every business, however if a business chooses the right social media platforms to engage, provide information and create top of mind awareness, they will see a return on investment as they build loyal customers.

In the simplest terms, social media is here to stay and ultimately impacts the bottom line of businesses. Social media – is your business embracing it?

COM0015 – Event Participation

Following my plan to start networking outside my comfort zone I recently attended a BNI breakfast. BNI’s (http://www.bnicanada.ca/) are world leaders in networking and business referrals. There are more than 287 chapters across Canada and there are many in Ottawa.

Each chapter only has one member from each industry to allow for better referrals and limit competition. These networking events allow members to connect, gain, improve and refer to other members. The BNI Westboro group estimated that their combined referrals reach $1.2million dollars a year worth of business.

90% of consumers trust peer recommendations.
Source
14% trust advertisements.
Source: “Marketing to the Social Web,” Larry Weber

I chose this event as a friend of mine is a member and regularly attends breakfast meetings. Her business has had great success networking within this group and the referrals have often resulted in new business. The cost for attending events is outweighed by the return on investment through new business.

Marketing trends are changing and peer-to-peer recommendations are holding more weight than traditional advertising. Although there is a cost to participate within these networking groups, the benefits of taking advantage of these peer-to-peer recommendations are priceless. Currently the Westboro chapter has 72 individuals in the group. Think about it, 72 business leaders referring your business to their contacts!

“Think about it… Everyone that you meet also knows about 250 people. So every time you cultivate a relationship with one new person, you have actually expanded your personal inventory by 250 people – every single time.” Bob Berg

During this event I made connections that will help me build my own business as well as connect with others that might be interested in using my services. The benefit to this type of networking is that it is not only directly beneficial with business to business connections, but can also result in second and third level referrals from that business to their clients. I learnt the benefit of how far the network can extend, buy just connecting with a few people. This was demonstrated in a real estate presentation during the breakfast. In the presentation it was explained the process of purchasing real estate and how many members of the group could benefit. From the real estate agent, house inspector, interior decorator, carpet cleaner, home renovations, basement repairer, lawyer and many more. As a homebuyer we rarely have connections for all those people, through referrals from each member, one persons business helped other businesses, as well as being a better experience for the client.

“Together as a collective we are able to grow stronger businesses.”
Debbie Erdos Raymond Chabot Inc.

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One event leads to many new contacts

This event has taught me the power of networking and also that one event can build many strong connections. I would attend a group like this again to build connections and referrals. The group is strong and dedicated to helping one another. My LinkedIn has many new connections for business services that I will use, as well as connections that I will approach of future clients.

 

 

COM0015 Blog Post 3 – Professional networking now and in the future

 

networking

 

Many people think that networking is for those looking for a job or having a LinkedIn page. It is so much more; it is a fundamental way to accelerate in business. The business world is competitive and your network is what will support your career or your business.

The richest people in the world look and build networks, everyone else looks for work. Robert Kiyoski

Networking is about establishing relationships; these relationships become crucially important when you least expect it.

Think about it… Everyone that you meet also knows about 250 people. So every time you cultivate a relationship with one new person, you have actually expanded your personal inventory by 250 people – every single time. Bob Berg

Think about it for a minute. If you lost your job tomorrow, whom would you call? Having a network allows for greater job opportunities or business opportunities. Like anything else, you have to invest in something for it to grow and flourish. You have to build friendships; partnerships and you also have to give. Networking is a two-way street and one that you want to invest in both ways.

Networking is not collecting contacts! Networking is about planting relations. – MiShaat

A couple of months ago I had coffee with a friend of mine. She sits on a board of a not for profit that was struggling to keep their doors open. During coffee she was telling me that they were finding it hard to find a big-ticket item that they could auction off at an upcoming event. I asked her what she might be looking for and she gave me a few examples. I stopped and picked up my phone (I’m sure she thought I was being rude, but looked intrigued). I came back to our conversations and told her I have two airline tickets for her and gave her the details to pick them up. Stunned she burst into tears. (Not quite the reaction I expected.) Recently I had helped out a friend who had connections in the airline industry and so made the connection. My airline friend was happy to help and the not for profit raised funds that kept the doors open. Win, win!

A few weeks later, we were having a coffee together and I was telling her about a project I was working on and desperately needed a band. Guess what she did? Picked up the phone and connected me with contacts of hers that could help me out.

I guess what I am saying is what goes around, comes around. Collaboration and helping each other really just builds good things. Everyone helped in some way and everyone wins.

I have a tendency to talk to everyone and I genuinely find people interesting. I also have a memory for remembering the strangest details and this becomes handy when you bump into someone again. I have a strong network, but I too would like to step out of my chatty Cathy comfort zone and increase my network.

Over the next 6-12 months I am going on a journey of starting a business, so more than ever I need to build genuine connections. I intent to start posting articles on LinkedIn to start building engagement with my existing contacts and I hope to attract new ones through these articles.

The other hope is to attend more professional networking events. Some of these terrify me. Although I am an extravert, I find new situations overwhelming and it is something I need to practice. My aim is to attend at least 3 functions, lunches or like events to meet new business people. This should build my network and hopefully help build my business.

What have some of your greatest successes been from networking?

COM0014 Post 6 – Entrepreneurial Fear

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Owning a business can give even the strongest person anxiety beyond belief. The only way to describe being an entrepreneur is being on a rollercoaster. One day you’re on a high, one day you bank account is empty and then you have a good day again. Some days you wonder if you should close your doors and the self-doubt comes in. Can I do this? Did I make the right decision? Am I good enough? Should my business be just a hobby?

My life is a little different to most. I’m an Aussie that immigrated to Canada to be with the love of my life. 13 years, 3 kids later he’s still the love of my life. The reality is that although I am well educated and have held some pretty amazing jobs, due to my husband’s military career we move every few years. Each move, I have to look for work, start from the beginning and then finally I reach a career high then… a posting message comes in.

I finally decided that I was going to take the bull by the horns and look at my work life at a different angle. Like most people I want work life balance, I want to be at the Christmas concert, be the pizza mom and still make a business meeting. I needed to find a career that I loved, was flexible and I wouldn’t have to always start from scratch. So, where was this magical career I was seeking? I decided that I would start my own path.

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Fear has always held me back from starting a business and I didn’t think I could. During our posting to Ottawa I have met some of the most influential people in my life. People that have believed and championed me on this journey and I am excited and fearful to start. I think some days they believe more than I even do.

Anyone will tell you the first five years of business is hard, the first year in particular will be the hardest. Everyone that has owned a business feels the fear, the feel the ups, the downs and the self doubt. I am excited to start and I hope that I can breathe through the ups and downs, hang on and enjoy the ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COM0015 Strategies – Strong & Weak Organizations

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Recently Forbes.com wrote an interesting article on why most Social Media campaigns fail. Most companies recognise the need for social media, but do not necessarily know how to probably form a strategy that works. Social media is more than having a Facebook account and posting new products. If you are not meeting your target audience, generating conversation or generating sales, then your strategy may not be working for your business.

Branding the Burberry way
One company that has had great success in social media marketing is English company Burberry. Burberry has fully embraced social media and now uses 60% of their marketing budget to reach their market in digital mediums.

Their campaign Art of the Trench combined an interactive involvement with their customers and strengthened their brand at the same time. Their customers and follower became engaged with the campaign and shared, liked and commented on the photos posted via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Burberry has had great success due to their knowledge about their customer and the way in which they communicate. Involving their customers in their campaign enabled the company to build brand loyalty. The company has used live streaming for their fashion shows, twitter engagement, Facebook and ensures sophisticated imagery that is consistent with the Burberry brand.

Not for profit: Why It Matters
Many companies do not have the same success as Burberry in online environments. Why It Matters is a not for profit organization that is trying to build financial literacy for Canadians with regards to federal budgets. Like most not for profits their limited staffing and reliance on volunteers have limited their social media efforts.

A lack of social media strategy and staff has influenced how successful the awareness of the not for profit (NPF). Social media is a perfect forum for this not for profit as it is low cost and can reach audiences on a national level. At the moment they currently have a YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook page. There is inconsistent posting and a lack of linking of posts within the other social media mediums.

During the federal election, bringing attention to Why It Matters would have been an opportune time, considering the active audience seeking information across the country. Education YouTube videos, twitter updates, Facebook updates and other engagement pieces would have brought light and validity to this grassroots not for profit, while gaining support. Harnessing the power with social media and developing a strategic plan is the perfect solution for this not for profit and would allow national exposure for very little investment.

Introducing a solid plan for engagement and content release, Why It Matters can build a strong national campaign with limited financial resources.

My personal brand

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Well to some I have been described at “super mom”, others a “military wife”, and some a “business woman”. To describe my personal brand is one word it would be “multi-faceted,” because I am all of those things. It is a constant balancing act between business, children’s and the challenges of military life because like most women, I am aiming to have it all.

I am vibrant, creative and have a lot of ambition. I am a firm believer in people and giving back. This sets me apart from my competitors because I am drawn to help causes, businesses or people that I believe in. That translates into passion for my client or drives me to give nothing less than excellence for them. When I start on a project I am all in. I want to see it through to succession. I thrive when people tell me that something is not possibly, because nearly everything is possible with hard work and a belief that it can be achieved.

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I am a connector, I love to hear about people’s stories and connect people together. I believe that collaborative environments help everyone grow and develop. I love learning from others and am always seeking to upgrade my skills. I am dedicated to giving back to my community and can often be found taking on a new challenge to help charities and not-for-profits.

Family is not an important thing. It’s everything. Michael J. Fox

Being a mom and this is my proudest achievement. My husband and I have three wonderful children that make us proud everyday. I am a believer that we work to provide for our family, but family really is the most important thing.

 

 

 

 

COM0014 Blog 4 B2C Case Study

Frozen Water AKA Ice in Cube Form spills out of a steel Ice Buck

ALS Association brings icy success for a cure

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenges has been one of the most successful online fundraising campaigns to date. A campaign from small beginnings that went viral and was filling social media news feeds across the world.

This B2C (Business to consumer) or in this base charity to donor campaign, used the power of social media to drive their campaign. Interacting and challenging others to join in and post allowed the campaign to grow. It not only created awareness for a relatively unknown disease it also raised over 220 million dollars.

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started in 2014 to raise awareness and increase donations to research for a cure, it soon became one of the largest social media campaigns in the world.

“More than 17 million people uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook; these videos were watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times.” Dididay.com

Participants in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge were political leaders and celebrities such as George Bush, Barak Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Damon and Charlie Sheen. These participants also enhanced and influenced the campaigns success, as their participation was seen to the greater community as an endorsement of the campaign. It was more influential due to the organic and authentic way the information was delivered by the influencers. It was not the usual “this is a paid endorsement”; it felt like a true act of support.

The use of social media in this case was an inexpensive way to reach a large audience. The campaign was simple and encouraged others to join in. The challenge place peer pressure on those nominated to participate and this proved to be very successful. The constant stream of posts of people doing the challenge brought constant top of mind awareness to the campaign.

At one point as the awareness and monetary donations became very high there started to be some negative feedback questioning what the organization would do with such a large amount of money. ALS has successfully handled what could have been a PR backlash by providing updates on the research and the success that has happened since starting the campaign. This was a wise strategy as it brought a positive light to the success and also brings personal satisfaction to those who participated.

For those who took part in the campaign, how do you feel knowing that your Ice Bucket Challenge is helping find a cure for ALS?

COM0014 Blog #3 – Target Audience

 

Are you speaking to your target audience?

Are you speaking to your target audience?

Targeting your message to your audience is an effective way to get your message to those who will respond best, but first you must identify who your audience is and what makes them tick. So let’s start the journey of finding whom we are talking to…

Step 1: Who are these people we call “Clients”?

Identifying your target audience sometimes takes a little bit of time. Who we “think” is using our product or service may not be the best audience or we discover a “hidden gem” audience we never thought of.

The business that I am currently developing I have identified that my desired target audience looks like this:

Age – 30-50
Why? This audience either identifies that that they need a social media presence, but does not know how to get one or knows that they need one and don’t have the time to do it. They may also be unable and unwilling to learn social media.

Size – Small- Medium sized business owners.
Why? Larger corporations have internal departments.These small/medium business owners control their own marketing budgets and therefore are the decision makers. It is also a personal desire of mine to have strong connections with the business I work with. There is a certain amount of personal fulfillment with helping a small business grow and develop.

 

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Step 2: Let’s take the time to listen…

Listening is the first step to any good plan. Remember the old “assume” rule!

Starting with a basic listening plan by find the target audience is a good plan. For this audience I’m going to start with Google Alerts, Twitter, Facebook (groups) and LinkedIn (groups). As we are seeking business owners, LinkedIn small business groups may hold some insight into our audience and their desired needs.

 

Plan

Step 3: Let’s find some effective tools for communicating with this audience.

Now that we know whom we are targeting, lets work out a plan to communicate with them. There are two things we need to consider, first, what is the audience interested in and what method are we going to deliver the message.

Some deliverables for promoting our business and gaining a ROI, we will start with this formula and monitor the response. As we measure the response we can adjust the plan of the delivery method, as well as the content.

Website with integrated blog – Bringing the traffic back to the website gives us some measurability.

Blog – with redistribution on LinkedIn and alert messages on twitter and Facebook.

Facebook – Posts of interest as well as general interest posts.

Twitter – Building up two-way communication with our audience. Lets be friends!

LinkedIn – Building up an audience through posting articles or even starting a business group where people can gather.

Webinars – Helping others understand what they need and allow communication can help bring business.

E-Newsletters – Weekly hits and tips. This creates a top of mind awareness for potential clients waiting in the wings and also current clients to give them remind them that you care about their success.

Lets quickly look at one example of a successful strategy that has worldwide success. As I was researching I discovered Liz Benny, a social media manager from New Zealand. This girl is larger than life and she is her brand.  Her multifaceted approach to social media has created an empire for her. I am not sure of the quality of the content of her course, but many people across the world the world are taking part in her courses. Through e-newsletters, webinars, and Facebook she has created an international business for herself in a small city in New Zealand.

Anything is possible if you know who your audience is, where they are and how to communicate with them.

 

COM0014 – Blog #2 Digital Story Telling

StockSnap.io

Photo Credit: StockSnap.io

Once upon a time…  Digital story telling in 2015 seems to be Give it to me short, fast and entertain me along the way.

Stories are not a new concept, for thousands of years stories have been told for education, entertainment, understanding and for understanding traditions. The increase of information available and the rapid rate that end users receive information has changed the way we communicate. We have become rapid readers, skimming though information and really only start to actively read and engage if the article is interesting.

As spoken in the hit movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” Life is moving faster than it did in the 1980’s and the speed is increasing each year. As the Internet becomes more accessible, content quality is becoming the deciding factor of whom we are engaging with and also how long the stay.

Engagement

The purpose of story telling is to engage with the end user. Whether the purpose is to introduce a product, retain customer loyalty and build ongoing connections. Traditional marketing has different tactics, but we need to keep in mind that social media is social for a purpose. Social media has the connection and allows the reader to engage with the story, voice an opinion or to have a two-way conversation.

Does voice matter?

Absolutely it does! Traditional marketing has a very different voice than Social Media marketing. Folks that have worked in traditional media sometimes have a difficult transition, as writing in conversational languages seems to go against what you are taught in college or school. Social media is not a press release or traditional news article and has a very different voice to it. Written content should be engaging and in an active voice to involve the reader. Writing in conversational language also helps draw your reader into your story. Write like you are telling your story to a friend over a glass wine, instead of a format like reading a traditional magazine article. Drawing the two way conversation is a part of the whole purpose.

Clarity and Grammar

This is a big one folks! Please, please, please spell check, read and reread before you post. The audience will lose faith in the quality of the content, if it is poorly written and has spelling mistakes. I know we want things, fast, short and to the point, but lets not lose basic grammar. We want to leave something in a traditional manner. My suggestion is to write your story and leave it 24 hours and reread it through again. Does it make sense? Is the grammar correct? Did you spell out your word and then put the acronym in brackets, so when you use it in the rest of the story readers know what you are staying?

What blogs do you follow and why? What attracts you to their content?