COM0015 Blog 4: Out of the Box

Hands holding a phone in focus, taking a picture of the city street that is out of focus in the background

Photo by Florian Pagano on Unsplash

Hard to believe the course is ending already – although in some ways I feel like I’ve been learning about social media for a while!  I’m grateful for the interactions along the way, the tools and skills we’ve learned and for getting me into the habit of posting blog pieces online.  I truly hope to continue this practice and increase my presence online by participating more, and interacting with my audience as authentically and honestly as possible.

What’s New & Interesting (to me..)

There are many new things in tech and social media that are quickly becoming the new normal including AI, further development of voice technology and the growing field of accessibility. While these are all very interesting to me; I think human traits like honesty, empathy and kindness will be taking over the way we do business in the future because it’s hard to hide your true self online, so it’s almost forcing us to be real – not only with our audience, but ourselves as well.  Influence and attention can be very powerful tools when done right. It’s very interesting to live in a time where the youth can have their voices be heard on social media before they can vote!

It’s About Perspective…

Gary Vaynerchuk’s content has provided me so much value over these past few months and I’m grateful for stumbling across his videos on Facebook – because he used marketing across all forms of social media to get in front of as many people as possible to provide value and build his brand.  While a lot of his lessons are very basic and not necessarily new, it’s his delivery and fresh take on the new uses of technology and human psychology/consumer behaviour – our reactions/comments and where is our attention. In his video “Do You Need to Fix Your Perspective in Life?” he says ‘personal brand development done right is just strategy’.  It’s comforting to know this type of content is becoming more relevant, popular and is available in many accessible formats.

…And Self-Awareness

looking down onto wooden table hand on a laptop on the right with a notebook and pen beside on the left and the word 'DREAM' in blocks

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Self-awareness is crucial to figuring out your strengths and discovering what value you can provide that serves a growing need within your community. This is an ongoing and potentially life-long process as we are always changing, so while some may find their life-long passion early on in life, others may continue to try new things and not necessarily stick with one specialty. Both are perfectly acceptable these days – the key is finding what works for you!  Being of service to your community, creating value and finding/being yourself  are keys to achieving happiness to me (among spending time with loved ones, in nature, reading, etc.)

But how do you best share your worth?

In Conclusion: Be Yourself!

We’ve talked a lot about finding communities online (and the platforms they use most), joining in conversations and participating in events to network, the other aspect of course is having valuable content that is easily sharing across social media platforms. I think the growing trend of ‘Documenting instead of Creating’ (thanks again GaryVee et. al.) is a very exciting application of social media and marketing one’s personal brand with honesty and transparency. It’s also a lot less pressure than constantly making-up engaging content if you are able to just be your charismatic self and document your thoughts within day to day life – again providing valuable content for your audience within your fields of expertise.

What do you think are some of the trends that will become popular in the future?

COM0015 Blog 3: Professional Networking; Now & In the Future

aerial view of many people in a cafe

Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Networking is a very important aspect of business that can be very effective in gaining new experiences and even employment opportunities.  Meeting someone face-to-face at an event, through work or volunteer opportunities and even through social engagements can be a vital tool in sharing your story and growing your network.  Creating connections in person give you an opportunity to control the narrative and practice your pitch – but the following up is just as important.  Connecting through email, social media and ensuring to follow-up on tasks or meeting requests is vital, and even just a simple email to say thank you for your time can go a long way – even better if you can send a hand-written note.

University was when I ventured into the world of Facebook – which will remain a personal account for interactions with my friends and family.  For personal reasons and privacy concerns, I do not share enough on this platform (also, I prefer to catch-up in person!), but I’m starting to see the value in it for business purposes and am exploring its use professionally.  I hope that within the next 6-12 months I’ve further developed my personal brand; enough to be comfortable posting regular content.

LinkedIn is really where my networking is being tracked, because I have contacts from University (a few from high school) and the many wonderful people I’ve worked with over the years.  I do follow some business content in this platform as well, but do not engage in any conversations (and honestly have been horrible with responding to messages!) Again, within the next few weeks/months I plan to pick-up my LinkedIn game substantially as I see huge value in networking personally, as well as creating an audience with whom to share content in my professional role. I am exploring further tips and best practices to help increase our reach and drive visitors to our website, etc.

Finally, these social media courses through Algonquin have gotten me into the habit of writing Blog Posts. I have thoroughly enjoyed this practice, so another personal goal I have is to continue posting on my own site and promoting on social media. Once again, finding like-minded communities to join, share content and ideas with and obtain feedback

That being said my goals are summarized as follows:

  1. Learn more about the platforms I currently use, best practices, advertising uses, etc. and venture into new (to me) platforms; engaging with new audiences
  2. Develop plan for content posting on each platform including cross promotion, etc.
  3. Find like-minded communities and interact with others’ posts, ideas and comments.
  4. Make new connections within these communities and follow-up on any leads.
  5. Determine an appropriate schedule to check-in with certain contacts along the way by setting up reminders, tagging keywords and setting up notifications – put in the work.

Networking in person can be a vital component in any marketing strategy.  Connecting in person allows for control of attention to properly express yourself, your goals and more importantly, what you can do for your audience.  Personal branding online can only go so far and potentially help in securing a meeting, but it’s putting the time into working the face-to-face interactions that give us the opportunity to demonstrate strengths and portray personality.

Are there any tips or aps you can suggest to keep you on top of your networking goals?

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:

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.