COM0015 Blog 2: Strong & Weak Organizations

a city view as in an orb or globe

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Social media has proven to be a great way for companies to advertise and interact with their audiences. Those who have a strong strategy in place and a dedicated individual or team to oversee all social media and communications generally are more successful – but these days who knows what can go viral!  To me it seems that most companies and those in the public eye have active social media accounts because they see the value in connecting with their audience through the various platforms.  Those who I would suggest need to focus on this aspect are typically smaller, local companies who don’t yet see the need or benefit of social media.

What’s Working?

Impressive social media strategies to me fall into 2 broad categories – those for entertainment purposes and those to inform or make you think.

The fun campaigns I have enjoyed over the years include those for the Deadpool movie franchise, for Wendy’s and Ellen.  Through consistent, witty and engaging posts they are not only providing quick blasts of fun, but are also continuing to promote themselves by staying visible and appearing almost everywhere. I especially enjoy the strategies involving responses to other companies’ posts or mentions. Check out this article for samples.

Ellen of course fits into the latter category as well of those who ‘make their audience think’ like Dove and a personal favourite of mine, Gary Vaynerchuck.

Dove’s message of inclusion and representation of all races, ages and shapes is helping to change the industry and ensure body positivity & variety in representation becomes more common and accepted. They are also including people with various disabilities to ensure they are no longer overlooked or forgotten.  Seeing everyone represented in the media and movies is becoming a hot topic, and I for one am all for it! An example I’ve written about in the past is their commercial with YouTuber Molly where she describes the feel of the soap and what’s important to her as a blind consumer.

Gary has become a social media mogul and is only getting better.  His theory is to ‘Document, Don’t create‘, so he’s putting out regular content to promote things like work ethic, kindness, gratitude, patience and empathy.  He’s changing the game by offering so value and content for free – never asking for anything. He built this brand & reputation so that when he does have something available to sell, it’s a commodity that he’s created that sells like hotcakes without a hard pitch – just letting people know its there.

Whose strategy needs help?

As I mentioned, most companies who I think need to implement a social media strategy tend to be the small, local businesses.  While some are definitely all for the changes and taking advantage of new tools & techniques, others are hesitant and maybe don’t see the benefit of interacting with their audience online.

The truth is, we are always moving forward and social media isn’t going anywhere.  More people and business are using these platforms everyday and with it’s low cost, ease of use and reach-ability, there’s no excuse to avoid it any longer!

To me, all businesses should have the following practices:

  1. Company website & logo with clear contact information, services; etc. as well as a section where you can post user reviews and maybe a blog relevant to the company to offer added value.
  2. Analysis of the competition should be done for any business but by also viewing their social media, website, etc. you can gain insight needed to build your competitive advantage.
  3. Creation of social media accounts based on the type of business and audience. For example, most businesses should have Facebook and LinkedIn to share content.  Twitter is better for those with daily updates and of course platforms like Instagram are perfect for showcasing any visuals. Decide which platforms you want to use based on your preference, but also research what your target audiences uses.
  4. Find like-minded communities to join – social media, websites, chatroom, etc.
  5. SEO – implement those keywords! Use the same words for your website and social media accounts to ensure consistency and help your audience find you.
  6. Advertise using both social media and traditional media. Create a traditional media flyer (for example) and use it also for social media postings. Schedule regular postings and ensure follow-up to any comments by setting up alerts.  Use the analytics tools to help create better content.
  7. Ask for feedback along the way and at various checkpoints to make sure content is relevant & working with your audience. Also ask for referrals from family, friends and clients and for them to share your posts and spread the word organically!
  8. Keep in touch with new updates, platforms and what your audience is doing. Consider YouTube and Twitch if you are also passionate about sharing even more content related to your business.

Final Thoughts

More and more we are also seeing a trend of organizations allowing employees to operate their own social media accounts under the corporate brand – almost as if it their own business.  This has helped these individuals create their own professional image, connect with their audience on a more personal level and build ‘their’ business; which in turn  helps the larger company grow and show faith in their employees.

To me, social media is the new normal for many things, so it’s best to informed of the new platforms and trends.  Being involved along the way makes it easier to adapt to new tools, techniques and strategies as they appear – and potentially take over from the previous schemes almost overnight – so it’s good to be ready to embrace change!  It’s the way many communities are developed and I think can even credited with how some of the positive movements are making waves and building momentum in today’s society!

Is your company using any of the above steps to create and manage their social media strategies?

COM0015 Blog 1: Tools & Sources

A two-display monitor setup with video editing software on a busy desk

Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

These courses have encouraged me to write blogs, create a website for myself and join different social media platforms. As a result of this (and with partial thanks to my job!) I’ve been enjoying using Twitter; learning about trends and building communities.  The analytics tools are useful for professional use to analyze our interactions and help determine which hashtags are successful in helping us promote our programs and events. We also utilize Hootsuite which helps us manage posts across multiple platforms, but it has its limitations so is not one of my favourites.

The other platform I spend too much time on I’ve also spoken about before – YouTube. The variety, ease of finding videos per topic/publisher (etc.) and accessibility features such as closed captioning options make it a platform that is reachable to almost everyone.  Although I’m not currently a creator of content for this platform, it seems to be relatively easy for users to create a channel, load videos and add appropriate keywords to be found by their audiences.  I like that YouTube also allows for creators to monetize their content/channels and use advertising if they choose.

For news and other updates, I always use the Google news feed on my phone, but I also follow local news, weather and the Ottawa police for local updates on Twitter.  Other news I like to follow these days is Philip Defranco on YouTube because he and his team like to wait to get the story right and present it in a way to discuss the facts, provide an interpretation (as needed) yet always open for further interpretation. For work I follow various sources through social media and have also signed up for various news feeds via email in attempt to stay current and inform myself of new technologies and trends.

What platform do you think I should check out next?

COM0014 Blog 7: Personal Reflection

A monarch butterfly sitting on lavender flowers

A monarch butterfly sitting on lavender flowers Photo by Antonina Bukowska on Unsplash

Why is storytelling important to creating great digital content?

Storytelling is a way for creators to share who they are with an audience. By being authentic and honest, a creator stands a better chance of setting themselves apart with their own uniqueness and quirks; as opposed to a fake or forced personality.  Long term, audiences want something real to go back to and ideally these relationships support each other and build one another up within the online communities.

I believe that audiences can grow with the creators they follow and together continue to build a community.  By sharing content of what they consider to be the final product, as well as the process and/or bloopers, creators have the opportunity to showcase the work they put into their passion – and not just the edited version.  I think feedback is also an important part of storytelling as it gives the audience the chance to participate and feel included by also sharing their story.

How will your content be guided by story?

Story helps us to find and use our voices, enabling us to share our perspectives and connect with others.  In attempting to get my point across through thoughtful content, story will play a crucial role to help me share my experiences and connect with audiences in a meaningful way.  I also believe that the choice of language and tone used must remain respectful to be considered a positive influence and strive to achieve this.

What kind of stories do you want to tell?

As hinted above, I want to be able to share stories from my perspective in a respective way, to create dialogue – starting conversations and openly asking questions so as to be able to understand what I don’t know! The world seems to be getting smaller with access to information from almost everywhere, yet we often focus on the negative to the point where we sometimes believe that the world is collapsing around us.  I want to be able to talk about important issues and focus on highlighting success and opportunities as opposed to complaining about problems.  Although impossible to have a feasible answer for everything, I hope to be able to challenge status quo and incite change.

COM0014 Blog 6: What is Your Industry’s Greatest Flaw?

Financial Services – Necessary Evil?

As soon as I read this question, a million things came to mind that I could discuss.  My previous life in the banking industry exposed me to great knowledge and financial tips, but I also saw the side of high pressure sale tactics, the prevalence of fraud and the overabundance of paperwork that is required for tracking and regulation purposes.  There has got to be a better way. But I digress…

Accessibility Should Be Expected, Right?

I wanted to focus more on working in the field of accessibility because it actually touches upon many industries, including technology, educational services, construction, transportation and even tourism.  I was shocked to find out that Canada’s services still have a long way to go and we are seeing more examples in the news of those with disabilities either not being able to access something, or their lives put at risk due to incomplete safety measures. I think one of the biggest impediments in achieving accessibility for all is simply knowing about some of the obstacles they may face!

Knowledge Is Power to Include!

I’ve previously mentioned YouTube personalities who are doing a great job talking about their experiences, which I think is invaluable and social media is instrumental in enabling this content sharing.  I encourage everyone to learn about different disabilities, both physical and invisible, in order to better understand the many obstacles they face on a daily basis and how we can create a more inclusive environment.  There are over 1 BILLION people in the world living with various disabilities according to the World Health Organization.  Those in Canada still face challenges in accessing public services including health care, transportation, accessible housing, websites, technology and very often meaningful employment is also overlooked, creating barriers to become productive members of their community. There is hope, however, as Canada’s first national accessibility law was presented in June as Bill C-81 The Accessible Canada Act.  This will help put laws in place that will not only ensure that we are all aware of these obstacles, but also provide important guidelines and create accountability.

Have you noticed anything accessible (or not) in your industry or community?

Amazon Alexa pictured on a white background

Voice technology and tools like Amazon’s Alexa have greatly improved the lives of those with visual impairments. Photo by Rahul Chakraborty on Unsplash

 

 

 

COM0014 Blog 5: Personal Brand

A stack of golden brown pancakes covered in syrup and fresh strawberries and blueberries on a white plate

Photo by Herson Rodriguez on Unsplash

As I sit here reflecting this Canada Day weekend about my personal brand and what makes me stand out, all I can think of is food.  Yes, I’m hungry all the time (who isn’t!? haha!) but I think for me, food brings out my passionate side with its endless possibilities and ability to bring people together. Food is a way to express love for ourselves and for those we share it with – whether we cook it ourselves or are served at a restaurant. You are what you eat and a big part of being healthy, so quality is very important to me.

My brother receiving his certificate graduating from Le Cordon Blue at a ceremony in the Chateau Laurier

My brother receiving his certificate graduating from Le Cordon Blue at a ceremony in the Chateau Laurier

My mother always taught us to help her in the kitchen and for that I’m very grateful.  From a young age I loved helping by stirring the batter for homemade pancakes or even peeling carrots for a big roast dinner.  She passed at a young age after years living with lupus and I took over cooking for the family; becoming a sort-of stand-in mother figure for my younger brother. Friends and family often praised my strength to step in and care for my family during that time, but to me it was the only natural path to follow. I didn’t know how much this had influenced my brother, until he graduated as a culinary chef from the Cordon Blue Cooking School last year and told me he had used me as inspiration for his entrance essay.

Close up view of red maple leaf with a blurry background

Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

As humans, our resiliency and strengths are tested almost daily, but it’s up to us to decide how to react to these ups and downs and let them affect our lives.  Sure, I may be an oversensitive idealist who lives in the clouds some of the time, but I truly believe that we are capable of anything if we work for it with a positive attitude, fill our bodies with good food and surround ourselves with supportive people.

I hope everyone spends time this weekend with those they love, sharing great food and celebrating Canada!

What are some of your favourite Canadian dishes?

COM0014 Blog 4: B2C Case Study – The Ottawa Police

Photo of the Parliament Building in Ottawa, ON with tourists walking up the path and steps to the entrance with a sign advertising Mosaika.

Parliament Building Source: PublicDomainPictures.net

Although not a technically a business, the Ottawa Police use their social media accounts to communicate with Ottawa area residents.  Quite a few officers within the traffic team have set-up individual Twitter accounts to post live updates, interact with the community online and educate the public about various laws and regulations.

Celebrity Sargent in Charge

Sgt Mark Gatien has been on the local news quite a few times over the years, which is also shared online – he’s been active on Twitter since 2013!  He regularly tweets updates, responds to a few questions and interacts light-heartedly with other community members like this thread with local radio personality Stuntman Stu.

Bearded Protector

I first came across The Bearded Cop’s motivational Twitter account last year with an article from the CBC ‘‘Bearded Cop’ confronts mental health stigma among Ottawa police’.  Using social media, he not only demonstrates the necessity of following traffic laws, but he also promotes the importance of mental health, asking for help and ending stigmas.  This has not only affected the Ottawa Police, but the community at large as residents share these messages; often opening up to tell their own stories.

Coffee mug that says 'What good shall I do this day?'

Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

Positive Social Media Influencers

This example of an organization giving control to their ‘employees’ to manage their own professional social media accounts is a win for everyone, in my opinion.  While guidelines should be implemented to maintain the brand, the organization typically benefits as it increases their presence and reach on social media.  Those ‘employees’ who opt to use social media accounts professionally benefit as well through increased interactions with their community and their workplace.  Obviously the community benefits from this increase in access to information, which also helps to humanize the often unpopular traffic team within the Ottawa Police force. Their humor and positivity certainly help!

COM0014 Blog 3: Target Audiences

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you may know that for the past seven months I have been working for a company specializing in accessibility of both the built and virtual environments. The target audiences differ for the various programs, so I’m focusing specifically on social media interactions by looking at who is interacting with us, the competition and tracking other trends like popular hashtags, events and influencers. I’m learning about creating accessible content that is meaningful to audiences who may be living with disabilities and finding new ways to connect and include everyone.

Screen shot of YouTube home page showing Home and Trending category options

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

A personal favourite of mine (confession, read: addiction) is YouTube. It provides accessible audio content – which is especially useful if descriptive language is used to narrate throughout the video – and blind audiences can also use their screen readers to navigate through the site, even reading and responding to comments! Closed captioning features and compatibility are becoming more common practices too, as they enable deaf users to access and create content on the YouTube platform. One of the people I have learned a lot from recently is blind YouTuber Molly Burke.  She is a motivational speaker having represented disabled youth at various UN events, among many other amazing things.  She uses her platform to spread a positive message and also appeared in the successful 2017 campaigns for Dove: #AsLightAs and ATT: #ExperienceMore.

Thankfully the internet gives us many ways to access information and interact with our target audiences.  People living with all types of disabilities are experiencing more freedom as they are able to utilize these new tools and technologies.  They are able to create and share their stories – from their perspective, using their voice – and create a dialogue/interest about the causes they are passionate about. The increased awareness and use of accessibility features we are seeing can only enable us to further enrich our online exchanges as we build connective communities and continue to learn from one another.

What are some of the accessible features you have been noticing either within various built environments or online that have gotten better with technology?

COM0014 Blog 2: Storytelling & Communication Styles

hands using a tablet to connect to social media

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Effective communication is vital to thriving in today’s society and it is becoming increasingly important to ensure your message is as concise as possible in this fast-paced world.  Thanks to character limitations with social media, we are being trained to reduce the number of words we use to tell our stories. Most of us are of course using emojis to express our emotions and the brave ones are also dabbling in the use of new slang words. All of these factors contribute to changes in how we communicate, share our stories, interact with an audience ultimately help build our relationships.

We are learning the importance of being active on various platforms, I believe being aware of the new vocabulary including popular hashtags like #MeToo and #TakeAKnee as well as some of the slang that the younger generations create (and try to hide…) will encourage us to further understand one another and interact with our audience. This openness and honesty online has not only helped to raise awareness for various issues, but can also be at least partially credited for major social changes and movements. What are some of the ones that caught your attention?

The internet enables connection and allows for like-minded individuals to discuss their views, educate one another and share stories about their lives.  It’s still very important for us to know ourselves and the goal of our own message(s) or truths, we are also learning to become more open-minded to another’s perspective and hopefully more empathetic. While communicating our truth we need to be aware of the potential reach of the message, the lack of control over who sees the message and because of this we know to be careful of the information we put out there to protect ourselves while sharing our stories.

COM0014 Blog 1: How I spend my vacations

Photo of sunset at Cavendish Beach, PEI

Cavendish Beach PEI Credit Rob Rienzo

My family is from Prince Edward Island, but my brother and I were born and raised here in Ottawa.  As the story goes, our parents were making the big move to BC when they stopped in Ottawa to visit my aunt and uncle.  They loved it here so much that they decided to stay and quickly found a place to live.  They did make it out to BC eventually – but only for a visit and settled-in to make Ottawa home.

Other aunts and uncles soon followed, so our grandparents often traveled to Ottawa to visit us all; which was nice growing up being able to see them a few times a year. We were also lucky enough to be able to visit PEI every summer and were normally there from the end of school in June until about mid-August. Canada Day was my favourite because we would get to not only watch the village parade, but were invited to hop in to participate in the boat parade before watching the fireworks. I loved it then and still love going back every year; I need a week or two at the very least to get all my visiting done!

It’s a Big Year!

This year we have already made one trip to PEI for my grandmother’s 90th birthday, back in April.  She really is a legend in her own right having raised 9 kids; 6 of them on her own after my grandfather passed from ALS after the war. She supported the family as a teacher and remarried just before I was born in the 80’s to a lovely gentleman who I knew as my grandfather.  He passed in 2012 at the age of 91, but my grandmother still spends time with his family.  So, that being said, there are a total of 24 grandchildren and 27 great-grand children – and almost all of us were there for the party!

We started the Friday night with a pot-luck at her home to let the siblings and ‘out of towners’ visit.  It was great to be in the room with so many generations of the family!  The next day was an open house event held at the local hall.  This was for the family as well as the locals to come in and say Happy Birthday.  We even had the local MLA Brad Trivers show up with his guitar and play a few songs!

Although only a few days, we really enjoyed our visit and I am already looking forward to enjoying the beaches with my family again this summer. We also have family in Laval, Montreal and Quebec City, so my vacations tend to be in Canada – visiting family!  I did however make it to Italy for 10 days about ten years ago and definitely caught a bit of the traveling bug.  Now I just need to save up for my next trip some where great – any suggestions?  I do have family in Australia to visit…

Photo from 1961 of two people posing next to their car with a house in the background

My grandparents in PEI, 1961

Changing Social Media Landscape – Part 2: What Does It Mean for Businesses

people working on papers and a laptop

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

We are all well aware that, due largely to the increase in social media platforms & visibility on the internet, organizations are interacting even more with their customers and implementing online marketing techniques to attract new clients and increase sales. While they certainly need to integrate social media marketing plans with measurable goals into short & long-term planning, they also need to develop communications strategies to not only maintain consistent connection to their audience but also deal with negative posts in a way to spin them around positively. This requires companies to hire and train excellent communications coordinators who can read between the lines of someone’s comment, anticipate their needs and expectations and take initiative to suggest a solution. Herein lies another challenge – how to decipher between true & honest comments, internet trolls, bots and fake news?

The New Normal – Avoid Fake News and Utilize Wisdom

Along with the threat of losing control over one’s social media image, these platforms have opened the gates for the bombardment of fake news. Even science is affected by this fake news phenomenon.  In her TED Talk ‘The Four Most Dangerous Words? A New Study Shows’, philanthropist Laura Arnold speaks of how the science community is motivated to publish studies that have a high ‘impact factor’; which often promotes results where data has been cherry picked or skewed in someway. This ultimately creates potentially dangerous misunderstandings and assumptions from publicizing the ‘research’ as fact. She says, “In an ideal world, scientists and researchers would be motivated by one thing: the pursuit of truth.”

Barry Schwartz in his 2009 TED talk Our Loss of Wisdom calls for us to not only employ knowledge but to tap into our practical wisdom and use it everyday in order to help rebuild the world; which I believe is more true in today’s world. ‘The truth is that any work you do that involves interaction with other people, is moral work. And any moral work depends upon practical wisdom… We are always teaching – someone is always watching; we are always on.’

The Predicting the Future

Numerous articles such as Social Media Trends to Watch For in 2018 by Bryan Adams point out that Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat will continue to dominate.  Shama Hyder points out in her video 4 Massive Digital Trends to watch for in 2018 that the future still includes creating content (especially video), making everything accessible on mobile (for our phones, tablets etc.)  and maximizing the power of data using tools such as Google Analytics. In his video Mobile is Already Running Our Lives | Nordic Business Forum 2016 | DailyVee 349 Gary Vaynerchuck pointed out the next features to watch were Instagram stories, Alexa (and other voice assistants) as well as Snapchat.  At the time he predicted that in 10-15 years Snapchat will be popular among the 30-50 year-olds; much like how today Facebook is more popular with the crowd who started using it when it was first introduced to only University students. With the most recent update to Snapchat stirring some major negative feedback, I guess time only will tell!

How Do Organizations Adjust?

Looking down onto desk with a laptop in lower right corner, notebooks in the corner to the left, a cashbook above that and a succulent plant in the top left corner with a paper showing various business charts in the upper right corner, above the laptop.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

So with all of this information out there, and with a variety of different platforms to choose from, how do companies figure out the best path to maximize their efforts? A renewed focus on communication must also include an implementation & follow-up plan as well as using data analytics SM measurement & monitoring. However, I think the true value of social media is in sharing information, our stories, and creating connections.  Because of this, I think organizations will also need to focus on honesty & transparency along with a wise and truthful approach to consistent, clear communications.

Our world is being documented and recorded in various ways and information is shared in a matter of seconds. Transparency is quickly becoming a topic of conversation as we see more regulations in the financial services industry, among others.  This transparency has also opened the gates for a more productive feedback system, among other benefits.  As businesses demonstrate having their clients’ interests at heart, this creates a friendlier environment allowing for candid feedback that is more open & honest.  This is a major tool to help companies eliminate friction in order to make their client experience even more seamless and user-friendly.

Kids of the future will still need to build character and study – including learning how to respect themselves and each other – in order to be successful in any field. Learning and practicing various social media marketing tactics and developing communications skills will certainly be useful almost everywhere as well – especially when combined with developing a personal identity and building wisdom along with way.  Of course, it can certainly help to be witty as well!  Fast food chains like Wendy’s can often be caught trolling their competitors and starting very public online banter, which creates a visible interaction their audience can relate to and will continue to talk about. This ultimately helps both brands with increased recognition, followers and potential customers; simply by being effective, transparent communicators.

What are some other ways businesses can improve their communications strategies using social media?

Sources:

[TEDEx Talks]. (May 30, 2017). The Four Most Dangerous Words? A New Study Shows | Laura Arnold | TEDxPennsylvaniaAvenue [Video File]. Retrieved February 14, 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2y7BzjbSNo

[TEDEx Talks]. (February 2009). Our loss of wisdom – Barry Schwartz [Video File]. Retrieved February 14th, 2018 https://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_our_loss_of_wisdom

 

fb_icon_325x325 Increased social media presence will hopefully also encourage businesses to be more transparent. Here’s my two cents: http://bit.ly/2oln12w

downloadBrands can increase recognition, followers and potential customers simply by being effective, transparent communicators. Check out my latest blog: bit.ly/2EU0Agf