Com0015 – Post 4 – Out of the Box

What truly amaze me are the multiple applications that can be downloaded by smartphone users that have nothing to do with calling. In fact, according to Pew Internet Research, nearly four in ten users do not use the calling feature on their mobiles. For example, sending text messages, reading emails, setting an alarm clock are more popular than calling.

Taking pictures with smartphones has also changed the way we interact with people and has propelled the success of Instagram, allowing more people to view the world through imagery than texts. The GPS functionality on smartphones allows location specific interactions with information and people. Google alerts from calendars keep us on schedule. And there are lots more……

Below are some of the interesting apps that have proven to be very trendy with smartphone users. Their popularity could be due to the convenience they provide when dealing with normal day-to-day life activities.

  • Google Maps has changed the way we travel around in unfamiliar settings. They help us find locations, or provide directions and other location-based information. It has helped me find my way back to the cottage when we were lost this spring in the woods.
  • Google’s Earth-viewing app lets you look at cities in street view in one second, zoom out and then see the whole country.
  • Google Search lets you surf the Internet almost anywhere where there is a connection and with GPS functionality prioritizing suggested sites nearest you.
  • Making banking transactions has never been so easy.
  • Accessing your files across all your devices is now automated.
  • Reading Kindle e-books while waiting to see a dentist.
  • Poweramp lets you listen to music while Audible for Androids lets you listen to books.
  • Changing television channels or the temperature at home with a click of a button or
  • Scanning a barcode to obtain competitive pricing in a store nearby.

Again according to Pew Internet Research, mobile is gaining in popularity with 94% of adult Americans owning a cellphone. Google seems to believe that mobile is the future with their release this year of its Mobilegeddon algorithm update to phase out sites not optimized for mobile. It’s clear that Google is banking on desktop traffic fading away, meaning the smart money rests on mobile-focused on-line marketing.

Continuing this trend is the popularity of wearable technology. Apple watch was unveiled this year and most expect to see more trendy wearable devices next year. The trick will be to make these devices fashionable enough so more people will be interested in owning them.

What does all this mean for on-line marketing and social media? It means an opportunity to reach a huge audience “hooked” on their smartphones…it means an opportunity to instantly share materials and ideas…and it means an opportunity to simultaneously share an experience with several people at once…

But most importantly, it means that if you do not have a mobile strategy guiding your marketing or social media plans, you will be rapidly “tuned” out.

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COM0015 – Post 3 – Professional Networking now and into the future

As a Communication Specialist, I realized early on in my career that developing healthy networking habits online and in person is a must. So I tend to pay attention to my online profile especially on LinkedIn although I have to confess that I do neglect my social media accounts when I get too busy working on projects with clients.

Being an early adopter of LinkedIn, I have regularly updated my profile with photos and account information. I intend to continue to do so to further extend my network. I have found that LinkedIn is by far the most useful tool for business networking. Lately, I have joined two of their marketing and public relations groups and really enjoy the discussion and interaction among users. I just started to participate in discussions and find it most interesting!

Here is an example of an article that was recently shared on one of my discussion groups – How to Stop Dreading Networking Events.

I have also recently built a new website and blog for my consultancy. I believe that my blog has “expert” content and will help grow my community of supporters. I am currently amplifying the content of these two platforms on selected social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in order to reach my target audiences. My next endeavor is to update my Facebook account to reflect my consultancy and make my page more interesting.

In the next six to 12 months, I intend to come up with new ideas for my blogs, interesting posts for my LinkedIn account, different comments and/or posts for my other social media platforms and updates for my website. This is quite demanding and frankly, I never particularly like that part but I do realize the importance of maximizing these opportunities. So every once in a while, I set aside time and concentrate on that task.

I will continue to monitor the web for social media influencers such as The Social Media Examiner, Mashable and Chris Brogan to keep abreast of the latest trends, learn something new and, if found worthwhile, share it with people.

In addition to improving my online presence, I will also make an effort to have coffee with at least three persons every month to expand my contacts and establish closer relationships. Moreover, I plan to attend at least one meeting, workshop or conference a year to further my networking activities, and make at least one friend at each event. It is something that one of my former bosses once told me to do and to this day has proven to be worthwhile!

 

COM0015 – Post 2 – Strong and Weak Organizations

Strong: I like things that are simple, clever, and with lots of mass appeal. Oreo, makers of the famous cream-filled chocolate wafer cookie, has established social media campaigns that fit into that category. Click here to view their website.

I like it because of the clear graphics. The visuals used in their campaigns have high quality, simple, colorful graphics that capture attention. The Super Bowl image, for example, was nicely designed and had a clear tagline making it easy to see and understand. Most of their campaigns are upbeat and light, they allow viewers to enjoy and smile which is very consistent with their brand image.

Some of their more remarkable “hits” include the following three social media examples:

1. the tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl, during a 34-minute power outage in the Superdome in New Orleans where the game was being played.

Oreo-Dunk-in-the-Dark

The ad generated more than 16,000 retweets and was seen by tens of thousands on Twitter. Several media including The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal published articles about it.

2. The 100-day “Daily Twist” Facebook campaign, where a new image was released everyday commemorating something that happened that day.

Oreo added nearly 5 million likes during the campaign’s run.

3. Their YouTube video, best hi-tech invention of all times: Oreo cream and cookie separator.

Oreo has done really well on social media in the last three years, resulting in its current impressive level of stats: 40+ on Facebook, 82K+ on Twitter, 87K+ on Instagram and 22M+ on YouTube.

Weak: On the other hand, the National Association of Federal Retirees here in Ottawa has not yet embraced social media. Click here to view their website.

Given that they have recently updated their strategic plan and that they are looking at expanding their market to include not only federal retirees but also seniors at large, I believe that they would greatly benefit from a web and social media strategy in order to better reach their audience, create connections and share information among their members. Seniors are increasingly spending more time on social media and it is becoming an excellent way to reach and engage that audience.

Some of the key objectives of their social media strategy would be to build brand visibility and authority, promote their new organization as it continues to evolve under new governance, influence and encourage use of their products and services and finally build and maintain engagement with their audiences.

In order to do that, I would start by surveying their members to better define and understand their profile, identify their needs and expectations and find out what they would like to see on their website and social media platforms. Next, I would conduct an audit of their current communication materials and look at similar organizations for social media inspiration.

My first priority after basic research would be to refresh and modernize their website to reflect their current branding, name change and colour scheme and make the content clear and compelling in order to engage their members. Items such as blogs, surveys and interactive tools could be added to the website. Next, I would devise a social media strategy which would include a content plan and editorial calendar based on my research and comments received from their members. I believe that this would help present their organization online differently and would enable it to start a conversation with their members.

Can you come up with any other improvement ideas? Thanks for sharing.

Com0015 – Post 1 – Tools & Sources

news buttonI am a Communications Specialist who regularly deals with a variety of clients. So I need to be kept abreast of what is going on in Canada and the rest of the world.

My daily source of news is Google News. It offers comprehensive, up-to-date news from worldwide sources. I also like the way it groups similar stories and displays them according to the user preferences.

For a good read and more in-depth information, I go through The Economist magazine. It covers a breadth of international issues not necessarily picked up in daily news reports, including topics relating to science and technology. I am always intrigued by the tweets I get from them and find myself reading a lot of their articles online. I like to be well-informed and current and that magazine helps me with that.

For industry news, trends, resource, and professional development opportunities, I rely on LinkedIn. Although I have been a member for years, I only recently became active in a number of industry and sector groups and found these to be worthwhile. I receive daily emails highlighting job listings, news items, trending discussions which I find extremely useful. It also gives me a pretty good idea of trends and what’s hot out there.

LinkedIn Groups are easy to use, convenient, interactive, informative and a great networking tool.

social media monitoring tools

In my business, I also need to monitor, analyze and take the pulse of social media trends on a regular basis. I opt for tools that are free and offer what I want for my clients.

I have found that Google Analytics is very useful as it tracks traffic and referral data and helps me understand blog’s audiences as well as monitor traffic to my websites from all social media channels.

Another simple but effective tool is Google Alerts which emails me important information based on my choice of keywords. It collects mentions on blogs, websites, other people or organizations Facebook pages or Twitter accounts or information published in the media. It is an effective real-time personal assistant.

To view additional free social media monitoring tools worth checking, click here.

Both images from Google images

Comm014 – Post 7 – Personal Reflection

Storytelling – The Secret to Creating Effective Online Communication

As we all know, a story is a description of an event or series of events either fictitious or real and most often includes individuals whether human or otherwise. There are many famous examples of stories such as Aesop Fables, the parables in the Bible, much of literature, operas and movies, and even items on the nightly news are often formatted as stories.

A story is a good way to communicate because it talks about specific people in specific situations and brings to life the situations being experienced. As a Communications Specialist, I know that storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to convey ideas in today’s world.

Storytelling starts with knowing your audience in order to create compelling and tailor-made content that stroke interest. Relevant and meaningful content matters no matter the means, and storytelling creates a welcoming environment for audience engagement. I use storytelling techniques when developing videos, Power Point presentations, blogs, speeches, reports, to name a few. Stories that focus on emotive content appeal to readers and help connect people.

How will your content be guided by story?

When preparing a speech or Power Point Presentation for one of my bosses, I invariably recall him asking me what story he was telling and what messages would his audience take away. He would never entertain more than three main messages, no matter what! So stories need to be focused and ideas conveyed in a clear and concise manner, starting with the most important first. Normally one starts a story by introducing some of the key characters, followed by their situation in place or time. The “plot” and “ending” follow.

What kind of stories do you want to tell?

I want to tell stories about real people dealing with real situations and I try as much as possible to let their soul or mine shine through.

Assignment 1 – Blog 6: Do people know your story?

What is the greatest challenge your business must overcome?

For the past four years, I have been acting as an independent consultant and typically lead the planning and development of strategic communications, media and public relations, web development, multimedia projects, social media and public affairs across a spectrum of activities. These ongoing new challenges keep me inspired and growing.

One of the challenges that I encounter is that “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Steve Jobs could not have said it any better.

For example, clients may say that they need a new website or development of a social media platform to “better communicate” without being clear what they are trying to say and to which key audiences. They want the end point and can become frustrated when you start at the beginning to identify stakeholder groups, key messages linked to the business strategy, gaps in current communications, inconsistencies, etc.

In another instance, I was being interviewed for a communications contract for an association with a North American reach. It became evident during the meeting that the interviewer was not looking for an overall program; what he wanted was to put together a specific marketing campaign using Facebook, not realizing that this required extensive preparatory work and engagement strategies with the target audiences. Perhaps Facebook was not even the ideal platform?

Does anyone have any experience or thoughts on other challenges faced by consultants offering communication services? Do you have any recommendations for others? Feel free to comment.

Com0014 – Post 5 – Personal Brand

What is my brand?

I am a creative communications expert who has a broad range of experience designing and implementing programs for organizations to help them develop and deliver stronger messages in support of their strategic goals.

What are my unique selling points?

I combine hands-on experience gained by delivering communications and marketing solutions to a variety of small and large organizations at both the operational and strategic level. I exhibit organizational know-how and leadership when working with clients, staff, Boards of Directors, government representatives and stakeholders. I keep abreast of new methods most recently adding expertise in social media. I have developed a network of professionals with whom I work to bring excellence and creativity to almost any job. 

What have I done lately to make yourself stand out?

I am completing a diploma in social media. I have built a new website and blog for my consultancy. I believe that my blog has “expert” content and will help grow my community of supporters. I am currently amplifying the content of these two platforms on selected social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in order to reach my target audiences.

My next endeavor is to create a marketing plan to promote my services and identify ways to take advantages of the opportunities detailed above and counter the potential threats to my marketing success. I will include a social listening and content strategy as part of that plan.

What do you do that you are most proud of?

My colleagues and friends say that I consistently demonstrate creativity, organizational know-how, problem solving and good judgement at work and in my private life. What I am most proud of is to create and implement comprehensive communication programs for organizations that had never really had any plans promoting what they do and what they stand for. Seeing them grow and glowing in success makes me very proud of the work I do and of the people I have done it with.

 

 

Com0014 – Blog 4 – B2C case Study

The B2C business that I am highlighting is Oreo, makers of the famous cream-filled chocolate wafer cookie.

Oreo has done well on social media with a variety of different, innovative campaigns in the last three years, resulting in its current impressive level of stats:

Some of their more remarkable “hits” include the following three examples:

The tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl, during a 34-minute power outage in the Superdome in New Orleans where the game was being played.The ad generated more than 16,000 retweets and was seen by tens of thousands on Twitter. Several media including The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal published articles about it.

Oreo dunk tweet

The 100-day “Daily Twist” Facebook campaign, where a new image was released everyday commemorating something that happened that day.  Oreo added nearly 5 million likes during the campaign’s run.

Facebook photos

The YouTube video, best hi-tech invention of all times: Oreo cream and cookie separator.

After examining the above campaigns, various key success factors stood out:

  • The Company knows its product and their audience – Oreo has been around since 1912 and they truly understand what customers like about Oreo and their needs. The creative team repeatedly capitalizes on people expectations for the OREO cookie.
  • Promote, promote, and promote – Consistency and frequency played a big role in the success of the Daily Twist campaign. Customers knew that each day a new image would be uploaded; bringing them back to the site and keeping them engaged with the brand. In the online world, capturing and maintaining the attention of the consumer is a big challenge.
  • Lightness of touch – Most of their campaigns are upbeat and light, they allow viewers to enjoy and smile which is very consistent with their brand image.
  • Clear Graphics – All of Oreo’s social media campaigns have high quality, simple, colorful graphics that capture attention. The Super Bowl image was nicely designed and had a clear tagline making it easy to see and understand.
  • Timeliness and relevance – The use of current affairs together with the brand message garnered additional attention from media and customers alike. They gained more recognition from customers who may not have been aware of their brand before.

Great promotion coupled with a quality product offered consistently over time equals success!!

 

 

 

COM0014 – Blog 3 – Get to know your audiences – who are the real influencers?

A key audience for one of my clients, a long-term health care provider, are seniors in the Ottawa area. Research has revealed that there were 100,875 seniors in Ottawa in 2006, which represents 12% of all residents; that number is expected to double by 2030.

Characteristics – Quick facts
• 58% of seniors are women
• 58% of seniors are married or in a common-law relationship, more so for men (77%) than women (43%), and 40% of women are widowed compared to 11% of men.
• English is the most common mother tongue in seniors (58%), followed by other languages (23%), and French (18%).
• Three-quarters of seniors live in urban areas (inside the National Capital Greenbelt), 18% live in suburban areas (outside the Greenbelt), and another 8% live in rural areas.

Useful psychographic information – Quick facts
• Approximately half of the 65 to74 age group uses a cell phone, email, and/or the internet for information (men more than women).
• A majority of seniors receive information by direct contact/word of mouth
• 48% of seniors provide unpaid voluntary help for a non-profit or charitable organization and 60% provide unpaid help to other family members, neighbours and friends.

Based on that information, our view was that we needed to reach out not only to the older demographic, 65 to 80 years of age, but also to the 40+ group, who often act as caregivers and help with decision-making on behalf of seniors. (To complete the picture, communications strategies were also developed for other key audiences including provincial health bodies that fund this sector, the general public, neighbouring communities, health care co-providers, educational institutions, etc. by adding specific messaging to these groups and different communication channels including direct advocacy.)

Thus, taking all of this into consideration, communication to seniors was accomplished by general media coverage in dailies, community newspapers and publications for seniors. We also devised simple, consistent printed materials which were widely distributed around the Centre and in the community. We extensively used our network of volunteers to pass the messages and information around and organized well-attended events for all audiences to further promote and convey our key messages. We build a new, user-friendly website, including mobile formatting, with conservative colour scheme and design to fit the seniors’ audience which attracted on average 3,000 users per month. We established a Facebook page and a LinkedIn account as cautious ventures into social media to build our audiences for the future and as a way of transitioning the organization to the new social media tools.

In the end, all of the new services and programs were almost sold out within a year.

Research data source:
A Portrait of Ottawa Older Adults: – City of Ottawa

 

 

COM0012 – Learning Activity #3 – Why Integration?

Integration of social media into an organization’s overall communication strategy is even more critical. Why? Because, whether you are selling a product, services, seeking donations, or advocating a cause, your ability to attract your target audience to tune in and listen to what you want to say is the key to all successful communication campaigns.

Without integration, and I mean between external and internal communication, between print, broadcast, website, social media, and the actions of the organization, messages will start to drift apart. The brand recognition and trust will become blurred too. All aspects of communication should be choreographed within the context and goals of the overall business strategy of the organization.

With the popularity of various social media platforms, audiences have many more choices than was previously the case. Often these choices change even during the same day with circumstances. Scanning the local newspaper to finish the crossword at breakfast, tweeting on the way to work, doing a web search during the day, adding some Facebook posts on the way back home, then watching a favourite TV show, broadcast or via the internet, is the norm.

Finally, the importance of what employees say, and the actions that are taken each day by an organization can either reinforce or destroy the credibility of the organization’s key messages.

In addition to the key importance of consistency, the very job of populating all these information channels suggests that messages should be spun off a central hub, altered for the individual channels, but centrally inspired and crafted. Makes life a lot easier!