COM0015 – Blog Post #4 – Out of the Box practices in Social Media

In this day and age, it seems as though every advertising and/or marketing campaign is “out of the box” making it almost feel as the new normal. It is almost without fail that every day there seems to be a new app that is introduced, or a new “must use” site is launched. One can never escape it. For this reason, I had a hard time pinpointing one particular application or strategy that stood out to me – so I went on the hunt for one.

A simple “Out of the box Social Media” Google search led me to pages upon pages of articles describing the latest and hottest apps hoping to find one that could help in the field of online marketing. Instead, I found this – that is correct – a list of apps that help track your poop. Somehow, I am not surprised or even shocked by this, as this is our new normal. Unfortunately, my hunt for out of the box applications could not end here as these apps would in no way help with an online strategy (unless you were selling Metamucil, I suppose) and so the hunt continued.

I stumbled upon a FANTASTIC website called Wordstream.com which featured an article stating 64 creative Marketing  Ideas to Boost your Business. Some of the ideas I had seen before but one in particular stood out to me – the use of comics in advertising. Though the use of cartoons and comics has been around since the dawn of advertising, I never really gave it much though as to how it could help in today’s reality – but then my wheels started turning and I realized that the use of comics (whether in its traditional strip form, meme, or other) surrounds me daily. My Facebook is constantly flooded with random comic images that have made its way around the network, same for memes. If comics are already this prevalent in social media, there must be a way to use them to ones advantage in an advertising campaign.

The advice given in the Wordstream article is to “make your own internet comics that relate to the absurd and surreal aspects of your industry”. When you think about it – just about every industry has one way or another to poke fun or make light of itself. It is also the perfect way to convey a serious message in a light hearted manner.

To dig even further, I researched a bit more on how comics should be integrated into marketing campaigns and stumbled upon another great article written by Virpi Oinonen a couple years back. Her article “When your Web Content Strategy can Benefit from Comics: 5 Factors” asks the following questions to evaluate whether this is a good option for a business:

1. Will the message benefit from the comic treatment?

2. Will a comic resonate with your audience?

3.What kinds of comics might work for your brand?

4.What style will best represent your business?

5.Where can you find a comic artist who’s work will fit with your brand goals?

For those interested in incorporating comics into their marketing but who aren’t necessarily interested in hiring a comic artist can resort to Pixton.com – your own comic DIY!

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COM0015 – Assignment #5 – Event Participation

COM0015- Assignment #5 – Event Participation

For this assignment, I chose to register to an online webinar called “LinkedIn Introduction and Email Marketing”. It was presented by Mike Bitter of Affordable Social Media Inc. Mike is a Constant Contact authorized local expert and provides a number of seminars and webinars on the topic of social media.

Since my local networking opportunities are limited, I chose to seek out a webinar that would help me with some of my personal work goals – getting better at LinkedIn being one of them.

This particular webinar was more so a brief introduction to LinkedIn, however it covered some basic topics that weren’t well known to me. The number of attendees was limited, making it easy for Mike to address our questions. I in particular, asked him to address the following three questions:

1 – Why are some member photos hidden/unavailable?

2 – What does it mean to have a number beside the name (1st, 2nd, 3rd)?

3 – Is it worth upgrading the LinkedIn account to Premium vs. the basic profile?

Luckily, Mike was able to answer most of my questions and I found it to be quite informative. The only true unknown was why some photos were unavailable. His response was that it could be a filter on my end (?) limiting access to the photos. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it to be the correct answer therefore this still remains unknown. His response to my 2nd question was very thorough and I now know what the numbers represent: 1st is a direct connection, 2nd means a connection to you through some one else, and 3rd means a connection to one of your 2nd connected members, but not necessarily to you. When he explained this analogy, I immediately thought of it being similar to a family lineage – cousin, 2nd cousin and then 3rd cousin! I was happy to hear his answer to my third question – whether upgrading to Premium was worth the $49/month. Luckily, the basic profile can be just as useful as a paid package and his suggestion was only to upgrade to Premium once we had mastered the basic and felt we had exhausted all of our possibilities with the basic platform.

Mike believes that LinkedIn is just as important as Facebook, only on a more professional level. The only difference being the nature of your posts: for example, what you ate/did/wore is better reserved for Facebook, whereas posting what you are working on/reading/accomplishing is better for LinkedIn. But regardless of the nature of the post, he places them in equal importance.

Mike advised of 5 basic principles to look for when assessing your profile:

1 – ensure that grammar and spelling is correct

2 – ensure that your profile summary is a true reflection of you

3 – ensure that you use 3-5 keywords in your profile summary that the audience uses to find you – not words that you would use to describe yourself

4 – ensure that your profile picture portrays the proper image of you

5 – ensure that all dates and locations are correct

The biggest lesson I learned from this webinar was the importance of using the right 3-5 key words as these are what help LinkedIn connect me with other people in my industry or who I have a connection to. LinkedIn does a lot of the work for you, so long as the proper groundwork (mastering your profile, having the correct content) is done before hand. Once you have mastered that, LinkedIn does the rest for you!

I absolutely recommend these sorts of webinars to anyone who has spare time to gain valuable experience…for FREE! In fact – I’ve decided to participate in the 2nd part of this webinar next Friday!

A full list of online webinars just like the one I attended can be found here!

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COM0015 – Blog Comments #1

In 18 weeks I’ll be a mommy for the first time. Incredible. And what do all first-time mommy’s do?! Why spend countless hours on the internet reading up on everything ‘baby’ and shopping on Etsy of course!

My good girlfriend, a mother to an 18 month old, recommended that I start following Jessica Shyba’s Momma’s Gone City Blog – about a woman (Jessica), her husband, 4 children and pets. She became an internet sensation when she started documenting the budding relationship between her dog and son Beau, and how they napped side by side. Now, she’s got fame, fortunate, and me as a follower!

One post in particular that I enjoyed was from this past February titled “Pushing Normal”  in which she addresses the touchy topic of being a working mom…

 

Jessica – I am so relieved to hear that I am not alone in wanting to work and be a success. In such a time where it almost feels shameful to want to be a working parent, I admire your willingness to share that being successful in business is as important to you as being successful as a parent. When I first found out I was pregnant, one of my immediate reactions was to think that my “career life” was over – that I was never going to get a good job (one, for the small town to which I had just moved and 2, for the fact that I was having a baby). Shamefully, as blessed as I was to be pregnant, a selfish part of me was mad that my “career” would be taken away. Part of me initially felt robbed of opportunity, like I had to give something up in order to get something else that I wanted…

As long as I can remember growing up, I wanted to be a mom. I had it all planned out – married and done having kids by 30, just like my mom did. This plan however, didnt pan out the way I had anticipated and life took me on a different path – one with success in a career. After you taste what it is like to be really good at something, you start realizing that you want more than what you originally thought you did, and for me, I wanted the success as well as the family…if that was possible. Flash forward a few years, now only having my first child at 32, I still want the family, but I also still want the success that comes with a great career.

There is one line from your post that really resonates with me:

“I wanted it all, never expected that I’d get it and now I’m trying to make sure that I’m being the best mother I can be while also maintaining a strong work ethic and supporting those dreams, too”

Without a shadow of a doubt, I relate to this and understand completely what you mean as I too want it all, want to be the very best that I can be, and not have to sacrifice one for the other, or have either be sacrificed/compromised. Reading your blog, seeing your pictures and tracking your success, I know that if you can do it so gracefully with your 4 children, I can confidently do so with one.

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

Since starting in my new position just a couple months ago, I havent had the need/opportunity to network and as a result, I admittedly have not made it a priority for the time being. This is partly due to the fact that the company I work for deals mostly with clients in the US and internationally, where a select few events occur only once or twice a year that are of value to us. That being said, there will come a time in the near future that I will be required to attend these events and make the most of my time there.

Networking has always been an essential part of my career in sales. Though I never particularly loved it, I recognized he importance of it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I did much to maximize on these opportunities, but I did just enough for it to pay off. With this in mind, I think it would be wise to start preparing now for the major networking opportunities that will be up and coming so that I can truly take away from my time invested there. Since starting in my new role, Ive felt at times that every job Ive worked up until this point was a small task in comparison to the “big leagues” that Im in now – so it’s time I step up to the plate.

In preparation, Ive started researching different methods that could help me become a master-networker. There are many great articles that are available online offering professional advice on how to make the most out of networking however, Dean Lindsay’s ‘Seven Ways to Connect at a Networking Event‘  was especially interesting since it offered actual “what to do” advice. As the girl who won’t enter a networking event without a partner in crime, I find his first point of attending the event alone to be most valuable advice, but also the hardest to accept. I completely agree however that if you have someone with you, chances are you’ll only wish to speak to that person. I am guilty of this and must work on it.

Since I won’t be attending any networking events in person anytime soon (I am due with baby in September and will be too far along to attend an upcoming one in Salt-Lake City, Utah in August), one way in which I can start developing my professional network right away is online. I touched on this in my most recent discussion post – Part of my job requires me to seek out the appropriate contact online (mostly through LinkedIn) before connecting with them. As I mentioned in the discussion, one way that I could start networking with them would be to connect/add them to my network instead of simply looking them up. I have made it a personal goal of mine to connect with these contacts once I have spoken with them or reached out to them through email.

I also found a great “Do’s and Don’t article written by Kevin Daum regarding LinkedIn etiquette. This article, plus Dean Lindsay’s will certainly put me well on my way to becoming a networking queen, both online and off!

COM0015 – Discussion#2 – How I feel about networking in person and online

It is a wonder how I have managed to be successful in sales. I mean, when given the title “Sales Representative” or “Sales Manager”, one would obviously associate this title with someone who is social, lively and ‘sales-y’. I, on the other hand, am not. Let me clarify: I am actually lively, a great sales person and generally speaking, social – but I can’t say that I’m a true fan of networking. To be brutally honest, it doesn’t appeal to me in the least and thankfully, isn’t a requirement in my new position very often. If you were to meet me in the flesh you would never guess that I have my reservations when it comes to mix n’ mingling and making small talk but the reality is, I’m introverted and much prefer the comfort of one on one with people that I already know. This being said however, I have recently discovered the power of networking on LinkedIn and it has opened up a whole new world to me!

I wouldn’t say I am even close to maximizing the benefits of being on LinkedIn, however I will say that now more than ever, I see the value in the connections that can be made online. A large part of my job is seeking out the right contacts to reach in order to approach them with the opportunities that my company has to offer. Traditionally, I do a trusted Google search first, but find myself using LinkedIn as a search engine almost as much if not more at times. I love pinpointing the appropriate person – it’s almost the same thrill as closing a deal.

Since our clients are mostly US based, there isn’t much that I can do to plan appropriately for productive networking in person, however I can improve when it comes to online:

For starters – Instead of just looking up the contacts that I need, I should actually start adding them as connections. When I look someone up and see that they have then looked at my profile, I almost feel “creepy” for having scoped them out without making contact via LinkedIn before receiving reaching out to them in an email. Perhaps adding them as a connection would build my credibility and help in the long run.

Secondly, I need to take my LinkedIn profile more seriously – take the time to truly list my abilities, ask current connections for endorsements and provide some to them in return, update my job description, use the news feed to share information that may be valuable to others. Improving in all of these departments would help with my online networking. Since most of our clients are US based as well as international, using this tool to its full capacity is #1 priority when it comes to my networking plan…no matter how much I dislike it.

Com0015 – Discussion #1 – Highlights of Trend Reports ( Fishing and SUP)

Having taken a broader look at the SUP and fishing industries, it is clearer than day that one has remained status quo while the other has sky rocketed into popularity. Over and over again you see the phrase “ Stand Up Paddle Board is the #1 growing sport in today’s age”. You can’t escape it – this new trend is growing faster than it would take me to fall of the board on my first time! All this to say – the most relevant trend I discovered from my Trend Report is that SUP’s popularity is blowing all other activities out of the water. Literally.

In Emily Ritter’s article “By the numbers: the growth of SUP” mentions that SUP has the highest number of first time participants than any other sport in the USA. Personally, I find this remark very believable. As a self professed “non-athlete” of any sorts, even I made mention that this is a sport that I could see myself doing. Now that says a lot!

I believe that SUP has gained tremendous popularity for 2 reasons in particular:

1 – It can be done anywhere where there is water. There is no need to travel to a tropical destination with killer waves. Heck – you could do this is a pool if you really wanted to! 2 – It is appealing to people who come from all levels of fitness. It is a low impact, effective workout that anyone at any age could do.

My biggest prediction for this trend is that I believe the market will become over saturated with corporations trying to jump on the popular bandwagon. An article in the Wall Street Journal stated that in 2008 (only roughly 8 years in its infancy) this was already a 7.2 billion dollar industry. Another article in SUPthemag.com quoted Boardworks COO, Bob Rief, as saying that he’s noticed a jump from 3 to 78 paddleboard manufacturers in only 5 years at a local retailer in San Diego. Much like any other big trend – pet rocks in the 70s, Tickle Me Elmo in the early 2000s, the Ice Bucket Challenge – all of these resulted in mass dollars being spent. The only difference between those and this new trend is that no matter how saturated the market may be, we won’t be seeing a decline anytime soon.

COM0015 – Blog #1 – I don’t like to monitor!

Perhaps it’s because Im stilled scarred from learning Yahoo Pipes or perhaps its because I have not yet had a business reason to but one thing is certain – I do NOT use Social Media monitoring tools. I mean, I monitor my personal Facebook and Instagram accounts, but I do not have enough interest in a particular subject to arrange an RSS Feed or anything else of the like.

Though I dread the idea of using Yahoo Pipes again, I would be interested in setting up new email alerts/RSS Feed for topics surrounding my new job (kayak, paddling, stand up paddle boarding industry) as a large part of it regards prospecting for new clients. This would keep me up to date on the latest trends in the industry and would help me generate leads versus scoping out website manually. Because I am now able to utilize the information that I am gathering, I might find this exercise more useful rather than just accumulating emails in a feed for a course assignment.

Mashable.com is most definitely my go-to source for learning new trends and gathering information. Though Im not a die hard Techy fan, I do like to know what is up and coming and thoroughly enjoy reading on all of the various topics featured on this site. That being said – I enjoy monitoring it by visiting the website – no fancy tools needed here 😉

Does anyone else relate to this? Am I the only one who doesn’t use monitoring tools, especially for pleasure?

COM0014 Opinion on Assignment #2 ( Personal Branding)

In my last post on personal reflection, I focused on how I felt divulging so much personal information in such a public way. Although I believe that being able to tell you story is important, Assignment #2 on our personal biography made me quite uncomfortable.

To begin, it is already difficult (for myself at least) to speak highly of oneself. I compare it to writing a resume or preparing for an interview. However, now after a steady 8 or 9 years of having my life posted publicly via Facebook, I am at a point where I would like to be more private again. Not that I air my dirty laundry online, in fact, I have always been quite selective with what I say, but I am turning back to the values of privacy and discreetness, something that is lost in the world today.

We were asked to give a brief story line about our experience, capabilities so on. For myself, telling “my story” cannot be said by giving the bare minimum details. Perhaps some can, but mine cannot. For example, simply explaining where I come from is not a straight forward answer. It’s not that I have anything to hide, it’s just that explaining even the simplest of questions for me requires a lot of detail that I personally don’t wish to have broadcasted everywhere.

My fear is that over time, something will backfire at some point. I’m sure for many it has in a way already. Over time, it becomes difficult to remember everything that was posted everywhere. I remember setting up a Twitter account EONS ago and finding it just a few months back by doing a Google search on my name. The amount of information found online regarding each of us is scary and I fear that somewhere down the road there will be negative consequences to it all. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, but outside of a course, I get to pick and choose what information about myself I make publicly and more and as the time passes, I realize that I am putting less and less out there.

Can anyone else relate to this or am I being irrational on my thinking? what are your thoughts and how did you feel posting information about your private self?

 

 

Blog Post #7 – Personal Reflection

For me, this Digital Communications course has been reassurance that it is OK to speak and represent yourself with your own identity. I have often felt as though you will get much farther in life by being genuine than not a true representation of one’s self and this course affirms that that is favorable to do so. Mastering story telling allows you to have confidence that your message will be understood in the manner that it was intended to. Tips like recognizing an active versus passive voice and understanding the different levels at which one reads were most helpful. I also appreciated learning the characteristics of business to business selling. For the majority of my personal career I have so business to business and it was informative to have proper guidelines. Personally however, there were some aspects that I did not particular enjoy, nor felt as if I had benefited from. For example, many assignments required us to speak in depth about ourselves. Although I understand that the purposes of these exercises was for us to be able to tell our own personal story and to master the art of proper story telling, I was not necessarily comfortable in putting so much personal information about myself online. I also do not believe that it is necessary to do so in the workforce. I believe there is a difference in having your own voice vs. telling your own story. Perhaps an alternative to this exercise would have been to tell a story of a made-up character as if it were real instead of having to divulge so much personal information. In the end however, all was helpful and learning how to communicate digitally is certainly a very important aspect in Social Media.

COM0014 Blog Post #6 – What is your favorite customer story?

My last post touched briefly on a shop local initiative that I had created in order to help generate sales in my small community.  One of our major struggles is finding a way to encourage residents to spend their money within our region as opposed to driving 40 minutes outside the area and shop at the big box stores. And so, what better way to do so than to bribe shoppers with a cash incentive as a reward for shopping locally. In short, we rewarded 2 residents with $1000 each for simply shopping locally. In 2013, we successfully launched 2 shop local campaigns and my favourite customer story is from it.

A high end clothing boutique participated in the first campaign. When asked for her feedback at the end of the program, she did not feel as though it had necessarily brought more customers and sales through her door. With further discussion, she admitted to not having fully promoted the contest within her own store and that she was in part responsible for the mediocre outcome (in her store). Reluctantly, she decided to participate the 2nd time around with the understanding that its success was in part based on her enthusiasm and excitement in the program, and that the more she promoted it and encouraged the customers to participate by simply completing a ballot, that she would see a better outcome.

During a random drop in to see her and to see how the contest was going this second time around, she was thrilled to report that it was going well, and revealed that a customer of hers mentioned shopping in her store simply because she was a participant in the program. My client then told me that because her customer had shared this with her, she was in full support of the program and now saw the value in it. She had a visible outcome, one that many business owners hope to see when investing in advertising/marketing. As exciting as that alone was, the real thrill came when it was time to draw a name for the prize. Low and below, the winning ballot came from her store! You can imagine how thrilled she was to hear this. not only did she generate revenue, but one of her loyal customers won $1000 simply for shopping there. The smile on her face made all the hard work worthwhile. And that is my favourite customer story!