COM0011 – Blog Post 6: Effective Content

Eventually, my personal brand will be that of a communications, media, and design guru, so I will draw from those already existing to describe content that I think would be relevant.

Adele Chan, founder of a special events and PR business called Blank Communications based out of Vancouver, is a lovely example of what I hope to achieve. She works with clients of the beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and consumer brands of Canada and customizes unique communication strategies to enhance brand awareness and growth. If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll notice that she regularly posts ‘features’, ‘client news’, or ‘as seen in’ posts to showcase her clients and what they’re doing, outside of the raw promotional efforts she establishes and organizes with her clients…almost as a way of bragging about them. She also posts short updates or photos on events she has helped organize, or events that she personally cares about. I think this is the kind of content that would matter to her audience because not only does it reinforce her commitment to work with them and help them grow, but it also showcases her work to prospective clients, who may have just been wanting more information about an event and not knowing that she was the force behind it.

I think from a design professional’s point-of-view, any graphic work or videography they may be working on is really relevant, because that type of content is the most snackable and shareable content as far as social media is concerned. So if you were working on a brand launch or a video project, updates on progress or actual video snippets of what’s to come are really relevant and would also generate some excitement leading up to whatever it is you might be launching.

I look forward to all of these aspects of my future!

COM0011 Blog Post 5: FIFA 2013 and DKNY

FIFA 2013

In an effort to launch their new video game FIFA 13, they hired a creative agency called ‘Collective’ to create a Facebook app that focused on user-generated content to stir up a little excitement about the game. As part of their research process, Collective tuned in to FIFA’s Facebook page to see what kinds of activity generated the most impressions, interactions, and likes from their audience. Their research ended up finding that user-generated content outweighed all other forms of content, and this doesn’t really come as any surprised – the key ingredient to making social media work is to engage your audience on what matters most to them, thus, what applies most to what they do or like. So the app encourages users to post weekly updates on their goals and scores – the perfect strategy, getting people to talk about themselves. The app also aggregates the most ‘liked’ goals, and the videos of the goals have achieved about 4.3 million views in only a three-month period.

This was a really smart approach because Collective dove right in to listen and watch what FIFA’s users were interacting with most and what got them excited, and then created something that would work off that, all the while using Facebook in an optimized way and creating an app within it, as opposed to bring people to some landing page.

FIFA

DKNY

A New York based photographer realized that a DKNY store in Bangkok had used his photos for a window display without his knowledge or permission. The photographer engaged his online community and asked them to share a post that requested DKNY to donate $100,000 to the YMCA in Brooklyn in lieu of compensation. DKNY issued a very timely apology and explained that the store had used ‘mock-up’ photos by accident, but promised to donate $25,000 to the YMCA (they initially offered $15,000). DKNY’s apology and shortfall was accepted by the photographer as an honest mistake, and the situation was successfully diffused before it spilled over into social media hell.

I have a couple of thoughts on this: first, I know the reality of retail store operations and how these types of marketing materials are acquired. They would have come from DKNY’s head office, which means that it probably wasn’t the only store with his photography on display. Typically a large company like DKNY would not leave it up to the individual stores to create and print their own marketing collateral – this would be risky and costly and any kind of branding they were hoping to achieve as a whole would be diminished. So I question DKNY’s apology, their intent, and their morals right off the bat. Second, DKNY’s PR Girl (her handle on Twitter, an official employee of DKNY) tweeted some snarky remarks when this happened – so unfortunately, the communication strategy involved in alleviating this situation was not trickled down and made a priority to their social media account manager. This is a textbook example of too many silos within a company and not enough corporate structure, which is especially important when it comes to public relations.

Overall, I think DKNY’s ‘act of goodwill’ was a decent way to handle the situation, it didn’t turn out to be a complete social catastrophe like it could have, but I think that compromising an artist’s material (on a pretty substantial scale by the sounds of it) by way of negligence and then down-selling a donation (especially with DKNY’s revenue) is kind of dirty. But I do understand that business is business and there will always be negotiations.

DKNY

COMM011 Blog Post 4: Starting Your Own YouTube Channel

Textboxes with best practices for video tutorials

(image acquired and edited by me)

This is something I talk about on my own channels, and I thought it was very useful here, too.

Creating your own YouTube channel with rich, audio/visual content like tutorials are a really great way to gain exposure and boost your online social presence. But before you dive in, you’ll want to make sure you have a few things defined first, as you can see in the image above.

What kind of software do I use to record a tutorial?

There are a few different options; Camtasia Studio 8 and Adobe Captivate are the popular ones. The difference between them is that Camtasia Studio allows you to edit your recording on a timeline (similar to the way you would if you’ve done any video editing in the past with Adobe Premiere Pro), whereas Adobe Captivate allows you to edit in frames, and sort of likes like you’re working on a PowerPoint presentation rather than a video. Personally, I like Camtasia Studio 8.

If you’re unsure which method you’d prefer, both come with a free 30-day trial.

What’s the difference between a topic and a task?

A topic is a larger grouping of similar or related tasks. For instance, a topic might be something like “Managing Your Wardrobe”, whereas a task that would fall under this topic might be something like “How to hang work pants”. Or to give a more technological example, a topic for an iPhone might be something like “Using Instagram on an iPhone 5”, whereas a task that falls under this topic might be something like “How to upload an image”. Think of topics as the umbrella, and the people standing under the umbrella are the tasks; it’s how you group information.

What kind of consistency should I maintain?

You’ll want to open and close each of your videos consistently throughout – it adds an element of credibility. For instance, if you open one video with “Welcome to the XYZ channel, you’re about to learn…”, make sure you do this for all of them, or if you close with “Thanks for tuning in to the XYZ channel”, do this for all of them as well. Opening and closing screens with a logo and a title are also a best practice to reinforce the brand image and lesson being covered.

Why do I need to make a transcript?

Transcripts are really useful for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or for those who have cognitive disabilities and would rather read what’s being said in a given video versus watching and listening at the same time. There is a variety of legislation around accessibility on the web, like the AODA, WCAG, and ADA to name a few. Providing a transcript means that you are not limiting yourself to the kind of audience you draw in – you’re making it accessible to as many audiences as possible.

Blog Post 3: Social Media in the IT and Higher Ed Realm

This post is three-fold, and I will discuss all three in a broad way; there is a difference between social media in:

  • the IT field alone,
  • in higher eds alone,
  • IT within higher eds (IT department in a College, for instance)

The IT Field

This one goes two ways – companies are either tweeting the overly technical information (new device specifications – stuff you’d find in a manual, which in my opinion, is the not-so-great use) to the gearheads out there who keep track of all the updated devices and features and operating systems, or they’re posting about wicked new innovations, journeys, or campaigns (I.e. technology developed to move objects with your brain, augmented reality, etc – in my opinion, the better use). Two of the places I follow for the latter (because I’m no techie, and I have no interest in a device’s IMEI or its firmware – no disrespect to anyone who does! It’s just over my head, is all) are FastCompany and Mashable. There are new innovations posted on these two sites daily, our world is moving forward at a rate I’m not sure we even know how to keep up with. I can’t wait to see what ten years from now will look like.

Higher Eds

Based on my observation, higher eds (main identities for universities or colleges) use social media to promote their programs, services available, campus events (or College-related events), as well as previous or current students who are doing great things, and to me, this is what social media is all about – spreading the word about things and people who are making a difference, or at least on their way there) Social media has actually changed a lot of these institutions’ approach to the admissions process. For instance, on MIT University’s admissions page, the first thing you see are these blog posts that are written by students, and they’ve chronicled their journey to and from MIT. What better way to sell yourself? They’ve put all of the admissions babble (I.e. admissions fees, policies, any other relevant babble) subsequent to the most important pieces – testimonials. It’s brilliant.

IT within Higher Eds

If you look at an institution like MIT University in the States, their use of social media in this realm would be much different than ours here at Algonquin, in that MIT is a forward-thinking, innovation-driven, prodigy in advancing information technology and being a force behind many breakthroughs in this area. MIT will often tweet or post pictures, videos, or tidbits of what’s going on in their classrooms with the most advanced technology and most up and coming developers and designers. Not to Algonquin’s discredit, but we just aren’t there. Algonquin, and more specifically the IT department, uses social media to communicate changes to/outages/maintenance to critical College systems (I.e. Blackboard, e-mail, etc). We’ll also use it to retweet content about really interesting things that are commonly known and current within the IT world (I.e. the Google Glass Project), or we’ll use it to help people connect to our wireless infrastructure or configure e-mail on their mobile device. Depending on the issue, we will also use Twitter to respond to complaints or questions regarding our services, and if it’s too complex or requires a work order, then we’ll send them off to the right place.

Blog Post 2: Listening to Online Communities

There are two things that I have learned since I started listening to online forums (and ultimately working with social media at an institutional level): that brands need to be engaged, and that companies no longer dictate who they are or how good they are, audiences do.

What I mean when I say ‘brands need to be engaged’ is that they need to listen, find forks in the road, and ultimately opportunities to insert a reminder of their brand and its offering. For instance, a guy was traveling from Toronto to Ottawa, and after so many delayed flights, he decided to take to Twitter and start venting about the airline. He got a reply, but not what he had expected – Via Rail had seen the tweet, and informed him that trains travel back and forth everyday at multiple times a day between Toronto and Ottawa. He ended up making his way home and waiting it out at the airport, but what ViaRail caught on to and acted upon is worth mentioning. Delayed flights and and broken expectations were the fork in the road, and ViaRail saw this as an opportunity to reinforce the frequency of their travels between the same two cities this man was traveling between. Ultimately, the point here is that brands need to always be ‘on’, thus, always engaged and always listening for forks in the road similar to the one in this story.

In addition, brands are learning that permeating social media with information about the company or little facts here and there are not enough to have a positive and lasting effect on the online audience; I will give the example of RedBull here. RedBull is an energy drink, everyone knows this. It metaphorically gives you wings (this notion was under serious scrutiny, which is why they needed to add in the blurb at the end, but I digress), but RedBull is not just an energy drink. RedBull is an experience. RedBull is a combination of the liquid courage and heart rate (without it being alcoholic) the drink is said to give you, along with the FlugTag competitions and Felix Baumgartner’s mission through the sound barrier. Because of the hyped up, out-of-the-box events that RedBull holds to reinforce what the brand is all about, it’s almost grown beyond the drink and become a way of life, as well as being an energy drink distributor. Posts about company events such as the ones RedBull holds are what keep people’s attention. They want to know you’re relevant and have things going on, however big or small, it’s another chance for them to interact with the part of a brand that taps into their emotion.

Blog Post 1: Tools and Resources

Social Bookmarking and Content Gathering

My personal favorite for this one was Twitter, however, I am admittedly more visually stimulated (as I’m sure most are), so Pinterest and Digg are quickly becoming my favorite tools for gathering bites of information – what I mean by this is quick inspiration or clarification, quick fixes (recipes, gift ideas, quick tips or steps on how to do a given task, opinion gathering). Due to the fact that I’ve learned a few things doing social media for an IT department and how private I like to keep all my profiles, Twitter is quickly fading in to the background for me on a personal basis. From an organizational basis, however, I find it incredibly helpful. It allows you the opportunity to respond quickly to questions or requests that aren’t terribly complex or have an involved process attached to it. From an College IT department standpoint, Twitter is really the preferred tool for getting a message out to most students or staff – often times, IT will send out mass e-mail communications to the appropriate audiences if a system has gone down or if upgrades or maintenance is happening, and we get so much feedback that the e-mails are annoying and too frequent. On the other token, if we were to under-communicate or communicate less, people would still complain, so it seems that the only way to win this battle is to communicate only the most time-critical/system-critical information in a mass email, otherwise, stick everything else on Twitter. That way, you’re giving your audience the liberty to pull information from you, rather than being pushed.

Social Monitoring

Hootsuite is certainly the one I use for the department – mind you, the only channel we use is Twitter, but in this regard it allows me to see everything that’s going out, coming in, things that are scheduled, and any direct messages. I have tried using Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn channels synonymously in the past, but I find it’s really optimized for Twitter.
Blogging

This is an interesting one – I’ve used WordPress for years, and continue to use it in my professional work for blogging and site maintenance, but I have found that Instagram has really changed the idea of blogging for me. If I’m writing an extensive amount of content on something, then naturally a platform like WordPress would be ideal. Instagram, however, is what I use for what I like to call ‘phlogging’ or ‘photo blogging’. It’s a really short and sweet, no bologna application that can capture so much in few words, and I find it more fun because of all of the other creative apps (Picstitch, Pixlromatic) that feed into it.