One of the recent trends that I have observed is the enormous and broad growth in video conferencing.
I have had a Zoom account for many years and have enjoyed the ability to meet with groups remotely and particularly the ability to record sessions and share later through social media.
During the Corona virus pandemic I have observed new uses of the this technology, far beyond business applications. In the past month, I have seen Birthday parties, family suppers, weddings, funerals, elementary classrooms, and church Sunday Schools offer their programming and gatherings through video conferencing.
I think moving forward, even after the global travel restrictions are lifted, more and more gatherings, concerts and conferences will be recorded live and offered remotely. We are beginning to see more clearly the inherit risks in travel and gathering in large groups and will continue to see more creative ways to use video conferencing in place of face to face meetings.
My prediction is video production and video gathering through video conferencing will continue to be an essential tool for online marketing and social media well into the future.
At the moment, every aspect of our lives is being altered, possibly permanently, by the current Coronavirus pandemic. Never before have global rules around how we meet people, do business and interact changed so dramatically or so quickly. Networking will be very different at this time, for the rest of this year, and possibly much longer too.
Networking has always been about making connections. Some people prefer face to face networking, and some are more comfortable with online, or less direct forms of networking. To network right now, it will take gaining a comfort level with new technologies and platforms that allow us to connect virtually as most all in person or group events are cancelled.
Top Strategies for Networking in a Pandemic:
Be Authentic in your interactions. If online introductions are new or awkward for you, dont be afraid to recognize that and be yourself.
Test out new technology before reaching out to use it the first time. If you are a new Zoom user, set up your first meet up with a family member to become more comfortable with the platform.
Use this extra time to self educate on areas of professional interest. Reach out to connect with others who share those interests.
Stay connected with your local networks and remember there will be a time when we can gather face to face again. Use online tools to stay connected during quarantine times.
Stay positive online. If you are having a down day, make sure to keep it off social media and bring your best to those you know and meet online
I believe networking in the future will be very different. I see that people will be more intentional with which groups they choose to connect with as we are all more fully aware of the risks associated with groups of people. Hopefully we will all find renewed appreciation of the gift of being able to be with people in the near future.
In times of crisis, Leadership matters. At the moment, the world is being forced to face and respond to the Covid 19 global pandemic. At this uncertain time, we are looking to our world leaders to provide clear direction, policies that protect us, and words of comfort.
I am both an American Citizen and a Canadian Citizen and follow the communication from both countries closely as I have family living in both countries and the policies from both affect my family personally. I have lived approximately half of my life in each country.
In the social media courses at Algonquin, we have studied many aspects of effective use of social media and in this case, I would like to contrast the media and social media use during the Coronavirus pandemic of a strong organization, the Canadian government to one that seems to be much weaker in this scenario, the American government.
As we have learned in our courses, Content in king. Providing engaging, clear, purposeful and consistent content is the basis of any social media strategy. As a daily observer, I am impressed with how The Prime Minister of Canada has addressed the nation daily, has visually followed the scientific social distancing protocols, leading by example, and has stayed consistent with his daily messages of strategies that will protect all Canadians.
In contrast, the daily press conferences by the President of the United States have provided conflicting messages. The President has waffled over key messages and chooses to name call and pick petty arguments with the press. His appearances have not instilled faith and confidence in his leadership and ability to navigate the pandemic well for his citizens.
Tone matters, whether leading a business, a charity or a country. Trudeau has projected a tone of intelligence, calm and trust. I can not say the same about the tone of Trump. Trump’s tone tends to be more petty, argumentative, and self-glorifying.
Many credit Trump’s short and direct to the voter communications on Twitter for the presidential win in 2016. During this time, Trump has chosen to use his Twitter account to bully and insult people who do not agree with him. While Trudeau typically uses his Twitter account to promote and reinforce successful Canadian government programmes.
In closing, I believe that the true character of many world leaders has been seen through what they choose to share on social media and confirmed during this global health crisis. Several years ago, I took the oath of citizenship to become a Canadian citizen. The hardest part for me was raising my hand and swearing allegiance to The Queen, a concept that was very odd at the time for me. After listening to her message in this time of crisis, I now have more respect than ever for her calm and confident leadership.
How have the pandemic responses of our global leaders changed how you feel about their leadership, and their ability govern and respond appropriately to protect you?
Social Media is defined by its ability to be interactive and to allow conversations. Social Media listening and monitoring will be different for each organization. This will be dictated by the scope of their online presence and the complexity of their online profiles as well.
For small or local businesses, the insight and feedback tools built in to their primary social accounts might provide more value than larger outside platforms that include a monthly subscription. For our family business, Derand Motorsport, there are several local social media sites where we are able to interact directly with our clients. Most of our regular interactions come from Direct messages through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or from responses to online ads through sites like Kijiji. We have also found value by joining local groups that allow us to interact with local car enthusiasts.
This regular messaging gives us what our clients are looking for in terms of product requests. We also take special not of what customers are extremely pleased or not pleased with through our review messages on Google as well as the recommendation section for our Facebook business page.
We have recently started to run seasonal product ads on Facebook. The analytic tools and insights given through their ad platform have supplied us with new demographics on who is seeing and responding to our online ads. The purpose of our ads is to get the customers to message the store for a quote on a specific product. Within the messages, we are learning even more about our local loyal customer base.
Twitter is our go-to resource for news and updates that interest our organization. By attending trade events, like the SEMA show in Las Vegas, we have identified which organizations to follow for relevant and current updates in our industry. Our Twitter feed allows us daily access to the most up to date trends in the automotive industry. We also really appreciate the instant timing of Twitter, with very little news cycle delay. Additionally, we are signed up for Google Alerts for our main product lines and industry, but find much more relevant content from Twitter than from the Google Alerts.
At the Completion of this course on Digital Communication, my number one take away personally has been the shift in my writing and social media posts from providing information to telling more stories. We are intentionally choosing to share more about people and their stories, which is building more of community around our business and our brand.
Ladies, as women, It is so normal for us to compare to others, to let our identity come from what we do, what we have been told about us, or our possibly temporary roles in life. We even let our identity sit on how we look, our physical and mental characteristics. All of these can and do change over time. They are ever evolving as our life, circumstances and roles change through out our lifetime.
Ladies our bodies will change over time, but choosing to compare our current state to our younger version will not help us at all. Lets instead choose to be in awe of the wonderful things our bodies do for us every day. Our bodies are so much more that the clothes we wear, or our ever changing shape, more than our loose and imperfect skin , more than our big nose or feet. Our body has brought us through much to bring us each to this point in life, and if we are given 10, 20 , 30 , 40 or more years , lets appreciate the heart that beats in our chest over 100,000 times every day without us having to even think about it, or the skin that will cover our face today, tomorrow and decades from now as well.
I recently met a woman who shared with me how God delivered her from a very difficult situation and had replaced it with something that she literally described as “wow! “, so much more than she could dream of. We all shared how we sometimes miss the “wow! ” Sometimes the situations change dramatically, and sometimes our perspective shifts to see the “wow! ” more clearly too. Our bodies, in all their imperfect states, are evermore an absolute wow! Our personality, our mind, every bit of us is a “wow! “
The truth is we all are beautiful and we all are messy too. Beautiful and messy are good friends, they hang out together a lot. Lets embrace the WOW of the beauty and the authenticity of the messy, as we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. I am a believer.
To Build a Personal Brand or To Build a Business Brand, that is our question for today. I honestly struggle with this concept. Over many of our courses, we have had assignments on building our personal brand. I am very clear about who I am and the value that I bring to an organization, but right now, other than in an interview process, my primary role is to communicate on behalf of the business or project I am working on, not to build or define my own identity.
I believe it is my responsibility to use my natural skills and talents for the organization, not to highlight my value there. Some of my personal specialties that I have been using to build the brand identity of Derand, our family business. are my gift for telling stories, my ability to put a human face to a product- driven business, and my ability to strengthen the community of loyal followers who love cars and car events in our city.
In our social media posts, I am consistently amazed at how much better the posts about people are than those that are more product focused. Recently I posted a short video with one of my sons riding a foldable mobility scooter, and the views were twenty times higher than a similar post speaking about our most popular a truck accessory.
From this week’s course content, I am challenged to tell better stories, of not just how to use our products, but specifically how those products are used to make life better. Showing an authentic representation of who you are, what you do and how you can help others will build a real and meaningful relationship with your customers.
Authenticity is the secret sauce in building a strong brand and a loyal following. For our family business, we have begun to make and share videos that are not staged or perfect. We intentionally give our customers a view of our imperfect staff, store and product experiences to build loyalty and trust to our brand. Be you, both personally and as a business, and don’t be afraid to show different sides and to be real with your clients. As the Oscar Wilde quote in our lesson reminded us…….”Be you, because everyone else is taken.”
Our family business Derand Motorsport has made huge strides this year in utilizing Social Media to engage with our audience online. Derand is a local Ottawa retailer that specializes in electronics and accessories for cars and trucks.
Derand has a website, as well as social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Its interesting how each platform has developed organically into serving a completely different purpose. Facebook is where the majority of our current clients interact with Derand. Our Instagram following is growing rapidly, but our customers still tend to engage more on Facebook.
Much of Business to Consumer marketing will be product driven, as our course content this week confirmed. We have found with our Derand social media content that our followers engage much more with content based around people and their stories than when we share product focused content.
Being a local business, interested in converting people who live in Ottawa to customers of Derand, we have found event marketing successful, paired with promotion of events on social media. For the past few years, we have hosted local car shows, meet ups and cruise nights at our Ottawa store location. This connection has given us abundant content that local car enthusiasts are looking for. Sponsoring local car shows has sent thousands of local followers to our social media and organically grown our local following. This strategy seems to be working currently for Derand.
As with most businesses, there is room for improvement. For Derand, we hope to set up and begin an email marketing programme this year. As well, we will continue to test new forms of content, particularly looking for ways to engage with our customers online. Recently we have been testing facebook ads which are product relevant and ask for a direct response ~ message the store for a quote. This new form of marketing on social media seems to be giving us more opportunities to engage our clients and potential clients in conversation.
For this assignment, I chose to research more deeply the target audience for our family business, automotive aftermarket shop, Derand Motorsport. A wealth of data and research is provided each year by the world wide industry association for our business category, SEMA, which stands for Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association.
SEMA data shows that the automotive aftermarket enthusiast category is made up of 66% men, and is growing in women enthusiasts, particularly young women ( 18 – 34 year olds ). 70% have completed some college and 24% have completed a university degree or higher. They span all income levels. This is a passionate and diverse community that shares a love of cars and customization of their vehicles.
Even though data is showing fewer young people are purchasing cars, and they are taking longer to get their full drivers license, more than one third of all aftermarkets parts buyers last year were under 30. Young people are the engine fueling the growth of the automotive aftermarket.
After confirming that the youth market is a main growth area for our business, we will continue to build our online presence on both Instagram and Facebook to maintain the community we have. As well, we will focus on a wider variety of live events for this year’s car season, including a young customizer event, possibly a glowing night car show, and more car rallies, which tend to attract the younger car enthusiasts.
Sema Market Report, Documenting the Growth of an Industry, 2019, retrieved from Sema.org.