COM0015 Blog Post #4 – Out of the Box – Reels: the New Tik Tok?

Due to the dispute over TikTok’s potential ban in the US, a new tool on Instagram has emerged: Reels. Reels is similar to TikTok in many ways, but will it be close enough to rise to the current social media giant’s level?

During this course there has been an interesting change in the ever evolving world of social media. TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-60 second videos, on any topic. Lip-syncs, music, talent, political, comedy videos; you name it and it’s on TikTok. The app is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and boasts around 524 million active users worldwide.

Lately there has been a threat to TikTok’s influence online. In the United States, President Trump issued executive orders that will ban the Chinese from the U.S. market on September 20, 2020 (i.e. the app will not be available for download in app stores, organizations in the US cannot advertise on the platforms, nor can they create licensing agreements with TikTok). 

There is a large dispute over whether this will be the end of TikTok’s popularity as the US makes up a large portion of the app’s users; however, that is a different blog post…

In the meanwhile, the internet is preparing itself for a reality without the popular app. Reels is Instagram’s attempt to fill the potential gap. 

  • Reels will have a short format limit of 15 seconds that users can add multiple clips within. 
  • Users can edit their work by adding music or original sound, changing the speed of their video, and add filters. 
  • The Reels can then be posted to one’s main or separate feed, similar to IGTV.

But will these be enough to satisfy ardent TikTok lovers? So far, no. While many creators are using Reels simply because they may not have a choice within a month, there is a huge feature missing: an algorithm. On TikTok, videos related to a user’s interests are presented through a “For You” page, which Instagram lacks, while Instagram has an explore page, it’s not nearly as accurat, engaging or user friendly as TikTok. Reels also lacks TikTok’s helpful editing features, like clip trimming and song suggestions that elevate the video creation process.

Right now Reels is the inferior Tik Tok, but it may be American’s only option come September 20th.

What do you think of Reels?

COM0014 Blog #7 – Personal Reflection – Reflections on the Importance of Storytelling

With the internet oversaturated with content and brands competing to grab people’s attention, it’s more important than ever to have a unique, well-developed, and captivating story. 

Storytelling on social media is crucial, as it should influence not only one’s content, but overall branding and strategy. Before creating one’s presence on social media, as we’ve learned in this course, an organization/person should ask themselves a number of introspective questions: 

  • Who are they? 
  • Who is their target audience? 
  • What is their communication style? 
  • What is their overarching story?  
  • How will all this information inform their social media strategy 

If one doesn’t think about these things, brands can seem scattered, non-existent or confusing to their audience, which could consequently hurt their engagement.

Currently, I am trying to grow my personal social media accounts. I have found the more I incorporate my authentic personality and story into my content, the more followers I gain. As a result, I am working on curating my content and messaging to ensure my brand is well-represented in each of my posts.

As someone who lives with perfectionism and anxiety, it is a struggle to share my true personality and interests authentically without over-editing and concealing so that others deem me “consumable.” This embodies all aspects of me, from my anxiety, political opinions, unique fashion, creative projects and humor. I’m tired of posting what I think people want to see and letting my anxiety deem what can and cannot be my online story.

Once I’ve torn down these superficial barriers, my story can be told in a way that makes my audience feel connected to me and my brand. Storytelling is the key to engaging and retaining one’s audience!

What’s your story?

COM0015 Blog Post #3 – Professional Networking Now and in the Future

Social media has been monumental in bringing people together across the world—people who would never meet without online communities and common interests.

As someone who is active on social media and hopes to turn it into a career one day, it’s important for me to develop professional relationships online and offline. 

What is your parent strategy for developing your professional network online and in person? 

My parent strategy for developing my professional network online and in-person is to be an engaging and high-quality thought leader. Be remaining relevant and confident online, I can be a useful connection worth networking with!

What activities and commitments are you making in the next 6-12 months to continue the development of your networks?

1-2 Months: First Impressions Matter!

First, I will put myself in the shoes of someone looking to potentially network with me. Before engaging with others or attending a networking event, I will ensure that I will my brand is apparent and my content is relevant, high-quality, and well-curated. First impressions are important and key to having others think I’m worth getting to know!

Most importantly, I will update LinkedIn to reflect my work on social media and make myself easily discoverable to those who I meet online.

4-6 Months: Make Connections!

After ensuring that my social media presence and networking tools are up to snuff, I will try to branch out and make connections.

By following and engaging with social media users and influencers in similar industries, hopefully, I can build a mutual relationship. I will support their work, interact with it, possibly promote it on my own channels, and share my content with them. Over time, these bonds will strengthen.

6-12 Months: Let’s Meet Up (Virtually)!

During the pandemic, it’s hard to say when I would be able to meet with an online connection in the “real world.” Many aren’t traveling, and it’s not safe to expand one’s bubble larger than immediate friends and family.

But all’s not lost! If anything good has come from social distancing, it’s the increased popularity and further development of virtual hangouts. I can ask connections to Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Google Hangout, Skype, Facebook Call, etc. to get to know one another and share ideas.

After the Pandemic: Let’s *Actually* Meet Up!

By monitoring and listening to those in your industry, it should be easy to keep track of upcoming related events/conferences/meet-ups that are being widely attended by your network. This is a chance to better engage with current contacts and make new connections! 

Additionally, keep your network updated on your travel plans (through personal messages—safety first)! If someone’s in the area, it can’t hurt to grab a coffee and have a tête-à-tête.

Hopefully, through these steps, I can broaden my social media reach, make new connections (and even personal friends), and learn new things I would have on my own!

COM0014 Blog #6 – Do People Know Your Story? – What choices have you made that you regret?

The fear of failure and judgement from others can lead to inactivity, inauthenticity and isolation

I’ve had anxiety and perfectionism rule over me and my actions since I was a child. The subconscious fear of not being great at something from the get-go has determined so many things in my life. While I don’t think it is fair to myself to regret the things I did—or should I say “didn’t”–in response to my undiagnosed anxiety, I can’t help think about what I could have achieved and how much more quickly I could have learned to be my authentic self if I had understood my own mind. 

I was diagnosed with anxiety when I was 19 years old, during my first time living entirely on my own. I found myself a grown adult, alone, independent and suddenly unable to leave my house. My perfectionism had peaked. I didn’t want to mow the lawn, for fear I would do it “wrong” and a neighbor would see me. I couldn’t grocery shop for fear of getting the “wrong” things. I basically stopped functioning because I wasn’t sure how to “adult” correctly and was afraid I would be made fun of for it. Obviously, I couldn’t exist in that manner, which led to the trip to the doctor and subsequent diagnosis. 

It’s taken me years to unlearn my need to be perfect, to stop people pleasing, and not fear the judgement of others. I regret not doing this sooner. This applies to everything, even social media where I have discovered that the more authentic I am with my opinions, personal style, creative projects, and how I share them with my audience, the more my audience grows and engages with me! 

Are you a perfectionist? How do you overcome your fear of failure?

Calculating Sponsorship Rates as a Small Influencer

So you’re a small YouTuber: what’s your worth to a company?

So, you’ve been working away creating content on your YouTube and building your audience slowly but surely. *Ding* You get an email notification: It’s a company that admires your work and wants to sponsor one of your videos! That’s amazing news! You reply enthusiastically, and they ask for your rates… 

Then it hits you: Wait… my rates? I’ve never charged rates before. What do I say? …How would I even go about finding a rate that makes sense for my level of influence? 

That’s the situation I currently have found myself in. I’m a small YouTuber with ~4500 subscribers. I’ve worked with companies before, but have simply done reviews or lookbooks with gifted items. So, when an American fine jewelry company reach out to me and offered me my first sponsorship I was delighted but perplexed. Let’s figure this out together, shall we? 

On Quora, one company responds to the question, “How much do sponsors usually pay YouTubers?” by stating they look at key factors: 

  • Does the influencer have the right sex/age demographic? 
  • How many estimated impressions will their influencer’s video make? 
  • Is this influencer worth their rate?  

After they have considered those factors, they begin negotiating the rate provided by the influencer. They also note that they don’t spend over $1000 for influencers with less than a million subscribers. Well, no surprise there, I didn’t think I would get anywhere near that price, but this context is interesting. 

The jewelry company asked for my YouTube demographics, which I believe will be their target: my audience is 98% women aged 18-24. I have an influence of 4500 people (although my videos have pulled in views up to 150,000). With this in mind, I can be confident that my channel is what they are looking for—so what would they deem a fair rate for my time, labour, skill, and influence? 

Hootsuite lists the basic rate formula as: $100 x 10,000 followers + extras = total rate. Web FX, states I should be charging $20 x 1000 subscribers. Who to choose? And what counts as extras? 

I think I will blend the two website’s advice. I value my influence, but also my time. For this company, I would be doing a vintage hair tutorial while wearing/advertising their jewelry. Estimate shooting time is 1-2 hours, with an additional 4 hours of editing. The minimum wage in Ontario is $14.00 an hour, so that comes to $84 dollars. If I charge $20 per thousand subscribers, that comes to $174 CAD.  

That seems like a pretty legitimate rate: not too high, not too low (especially when converted to American dollar). I guess we’ll find out! 

In the meantime: check out my YouTube channel and subscribe if you see something you like!

Are you a small influencer who deals with sponsors? What are your rates? 


Check out my thoughts on this elsewhere! 

  Are you a small influencer working with brands? Read on to learn how to price yourself:

  Calculating Sponsorship Rates as a Small Influencer, a How-To:


COM0015 Blog Post #2 – Strong and Weak Organizations: Boo Hoo, Shudder and Vac Shack

Social media isn’t for all organizations, but for those who take advantage and create the right strategy, it can lead to a wealth of opportunities, popularity, and success. For this blog, I will be looking at three case studies: two examples of brands with impressive social media strategies, and one organization that could benefit by taking the leap to online strategic marketing.

Social Media Star: Boo Hoo 

Boo Hoo is a good example of an organization with a great social media strategy. As they are an entirely web-based company, their success depends on how well they advertise themselves online. While I’m not a fan of “fast fashion,” I was drawn to this company because I see SO MANY influencers and personally acquaintances not only wearing Boo Hoo clothing but flaunting it on social media.

Boo Hoo boasts cute, trendy clothing at cheap, accessible prices. It has been a successful company over the past couple of years with 2.7 million followers on Instagram; however, during the pandemic, BooHoo not only survived but thrived! In fact, their sales were up 45% by May 2020! 

So why is Boo Hoo so popular? It knows its young audience’s interests and communication style, and plays into it: posting memes, funny Tik Toks, using tons of trendy emojis and Instagram fonts, and creating graphics in fashionable editing styles among young people. 

Boo Hoo posts relatable funny videos, trendy graphics, and uses teen-like “internet language” compatible with younger target audiences (Source: Boo Hoo)

Boo Hoo’s biggest claim to social media success is its successful influencer endorsements. As noted by Econsultancy, Boohoo spent £80m on influencer marketing in 2018. By paying influencers with large, impressionable followers to create content endorsing their brand, Boo Hoo can target a much larger audience than its own. Their influencer strategy has become so successful, many Instagram users will post photos wearing Boo Hoo in an attempt to be reposted by the brand and gain new followers, or be contacted to become a brand ambassador.  

Boo Hoo influencers @dianahwendu and @thatsmonk promoting Boo Hoo (L); Boo Hoo’s tagged feed featuring everyday Instagram users promoting their purchases (R)

 While I may not morally agree with Boo Hoo’s morals, I will admit that their social media strategy is very successful. 

Social Media Star: Shudder 

Now here’s a company I personally love–and personally discovered through their social media strategy! Horror and true crime is my passion. I love to consume content from true crime and horror-related YouTube channels and repeatedly hear influencers in the industry promote companies who have sponsored their videos.

Shudder provides Influencers with a promo-code, that gives audiences one free month of access to their streaming service. (Source: Shudder)

Shudder is a streaming video service created by AMC Network specifically dedicated to thrillers, suspense, and horror TV series, movies, and originals. It’s the leading platform of its kind and is enticing to fans of the genre.

By sponsoring niche YouTube channels related to their content, Shudder is able to target its audiences on a broader scale. Many YouTube sponsors sell mattresses, razors, or something unrelated to horror and you can tell that the influencer doesn’t actually care about the product. To hear a unique sponsor who is selling something of actual interest to horror fans is uncommon—and it’s refreshing to see influencers happy about mentioning a sponsor! 

Horror video gamer, John Wolfe, promotes Shudder on his YouTube

Shudder also has a fun online presence! On Twitter, they create hashtags, like #happyspookies, for audiences to provide their reactions to specific movies. They also host Twitter live streams where directors and actors in horror movies will provide commentary on movies. Audiences can stream the movie next to the live stream and ask questions for a fun, interactive activity.

I think Shudder is a great service, and their social media presence seems authentic, fun and enticing to those like me who love a good spook! 

Social Media Slowpoke: Vac Shack 

For an organization that needs a social media strategy, I have chosen an obscure shop in Ottawa: Uncle Lory’s Vac Shack. Vac Shack is a tiny mom-and-pop vacuum repair store that has been around since I was a child. It has a unique nostalgic 1970’s aesthetic and I’m continuously amazed that they’re still in business today.  

Uncle Lory’s Vac Shack! (Source: Yelp)

Vac Shack has a website presence that looks to be from the early-mid 2000s and zero social media strategy. Well–they do have a Twitter and Facebook presence, but their only content is a few photos of the empty shop when it first opened and some links to songs that the owner enjoys. While this web presence only adds to my love for the eclectic Vac Shack, I think they would benefit from a small, but strategic social media presence. 

I think this organization should be interacting regularly with a platform geared towards an older demographic, like Facebook. Currently, the organization has a Facebook group and not a business page, so they aren’t set up properly to increase brand awareness by monitoring their analytics and taking advantage of advertising tools, thereby generating sales via the platform. By using social media, they can proactively grow their loyal audience through online-channels instead of relying on customers’ brand awareness through physical proximity to the store and word-of-mouth. 

As their first steps into the world of social media, Vac Shack should set up a true Facebook business page. They should add a clear brand logo to their profile picture and heading of the page, and enter all pertinent business details into their “About Section” to provide potential customers with clear, helpful info about their shop and ensure a boost in their company’s SEO. As their customers love the personal family-business service, Vac Shack should fill out the “Our Story” option and give a warm Mom-and-Pop feel to their Facebook Page. As per Entrepreneur, Facebook pages tend to rank higher in organic search than their website due to Facebook’s domain authority. I would also link to their web site by putting a “Shop” button on their Facebook to draw audiences to their site and convert them to customers. After this, I would send an invitation to all 49 of their group members to join the business page and encourage them to leave a review to boost the visibility of the new social media initiative and give it some credibility. 

Content-wise, I would suggest the company do a mix of profiles of their employees, sales promotions, vacuum tips and tricks, and demonstrations their products through “satisfying” videos. It sounds weird, but the internet loves to see things get cleaned up! If Vac Shack could create videos demonstrating their cleaning ability and success-story/before-and-after posts of their repairs, I think that they may gain some attention, followers, and potential customers!  

To reach their goals, I would suggest business objectives of reaching 200 followers within a fiscal year via the implementation of Facebook advertisements and SEO optimization via their Facebook page. Through a simple, active Facebook Business Page with a consistent strategy, I truly think Vac Shack could boost its small business’ brand awareness and garner more sales.  

COM0014 Blog #5 – Personal Brand – Who Am I?

by Vivian Maßwohl

Let me stream of conscious some descriptive words for myself: caring, productive, driven, unique, open-minded, caring, welcoming, loyal, productive, overthinker, anxious  

Positive, yet realistic. I like it. 

I think all these qualities come out in my social media presence, no matter which platform or organization I am representing–Or at least they influence what I’m posting. I’m certainly never trying to come across as anxious on any of the professional organizations I post for; however, that anxiety is rooted in perfectionism, which certainly affects the content I produce. My personal social media? That’s a different story: I’m very open everything, from my anxiety, to my beliefs, and personal and perfectionism on my personal social media.  

What do you do that you are most proud of? 

I’m not afraid to stand up for myself or vocalize my opinions; however, I manage to do so in a balanced, considerate, and respectful way. I’ve been told I am a very good moderator—a true Libra! 

Additionally, I am proud of my communication skills, both verbal and written. I love expressing myself to my fullest extent and communicating to learn about other people. I love knowledge and am always trying to continuously open my mind to others, ideas, and practices.  

My characteristics—from another’s perspective. 

My friend says I’m creative and I stand out from the crowd both stylistically and personality-wise. I am a people pleaser, but not to the extent that I will change myself for anyone. I’m more interested in making sure that people feel welcome and comfortable around me. Interesting! 

What’s your personal brand? 

Update: Making My Instagram Feed Aesthetic

For my last blog, I wrote a piece on how to create an aesthetically pleasing and well-branded Instagram feed, with the promise to update my own profile accordingly. Here’s an update on how I am doing so far!

My Current Feed

This is how my Instagram, @vivianvitae, currently looks:

Not much has visually changed, but I’m planning away!

I have a couple observations and constructive critics for myself in-line with last week’s blog:

1. Brand:

I like my “vibe,” but I’m not sure if I could put a distinct label on it. My personal style is vintage-y, without a focus on an exact decade. I like to flit between the 1940s, with Victorian and romantic-era influences, but sometimes I include more modern looks in my feed. I think I need to cut out any modern outfits when shooting content to create a branded image.

If I had to label an ideal Instagram theme that I am working towards, it would be “haunted vintage cluttercore.” I want my feed to feel as if one is looking at an old photograph or through an old-yellowed antique window into an old haunted house–and a cluttered one at that. I like to have a busy feed with object-filled photos.

Inspiration (L-R): @girlsnightinclub, @joanneflemingdesign, @imiragemagazine, @edensheaven

2. Consistent Colours and Editing

My current colour scheme (L) vs. my ideal colour scheme (R). What’s your Instagram colour palette?

As covered in my previous blog, aesthetic feeds have a couple core colours which their feeds revolves around. Using colourkuler, I found my current colour feed, which is a “dim grey.” I enjoy my current colour scheme, but the photos were not taken with colour consistency in mind, nor are they edited in the same way.

One of the reasons for this inconsistency is due to the fact that I mostly post work shot by other photographers. I am uncomfortable editing pictures the have taken the time to edit themselves, and therefore try my best to simply organize the photos so they match one another’s colours… which doesn’t always lead to an ideal theme.

From now on, I would like to base my colour palette around the above-right three colours, with some colour variations to ensure my feed remains fresh. I have bought my own camera and practicing photography and will refer to my core colours when editing to ensure consistency.

I have also been looking into presets on Lightroom, and am intrigued by this Call Me By Your Name inspired set, which I may apply to my future photos moving forward. Have any preset suggestions?

3. Curating a Diverse Feed

One thing that is undoubtedly consistent about my current feed is my face. I post SO MANY close up portraits.

While the pictures themselves are varied, I would like my personal style and personality displayed more clearly upon first glance. As I learn photography, I will dabble in creating content outside of portrait photography, including various body-length shots and images of my apartment, lifestyle, activities, and interests in an artistic way!

I’m excited to refresh and enhance my feed’s aesthetic design! Stay tuned for more updates!


Check out my thoughts on this elsewhere! 

Stay tuned to my blog to see me give my Instagram a makeover!

How am I improving my Instagram feed? Check this out:


COM0014 Blog #4 – B2C Case Study – It’s Blue

by Vivian Maßwohl

As a business-to-consumer (B2C) business, it’s very important to engage with your audience on social media. The more a business engages and creates a conversion, the more word spreads, and the more attention your business receives from new potential-customers! 

A great way a business can engage with their audience is to create a social media campaign. Take the English smoothies and juice company, “Innocent,” who created a social media campaign in a very clever way. 

In February 2015, a picture of a dress disrupted the internet. Depending on who was looking at the dress, it appeared as a different colour. The internet disagreed over whether the dress was blue with black stripes or white with gold stripes. 

The infamous dress that broke the internet 

Calling back to the infamous dress 4 years later, Innocent dropped a creative and unique campaign to promote its new juice, “Bolt from Blue.” The juice is a more of a blue-tinted green; however, Innocent insisted it was blue, tweeting, “we’ve made a new drink. It’s blue. It’s tasty. It’s blue. It’s good for you. It’s blue. It’s made from Apple, lime, guava, and coconut water. It’s blue. It’s boosted with vitamins. It’s blue.” 

It’s blue? 

By lightheartedly insisting that their confusing-coloured drink is blue and titling the drink, Innocent had online users playfully protesting, “not again!”  

This initial tweet had approximately 8000 Twitter users retweeting and engaging with the brand on whether the drink was actually blue, but Innocent didn’t stop there. The company followed up the tweet by putting out comedic ads on YouTube and Twitter throughout the rest of 2019 featuring Duncan James from the one-hit-wonder nineties English boy band group, Blue, to reassert the drink’s colour. 

In my opinion, the tongue-in-cheek approach of this product promotion was an excellent way of engaging with consumers on social media and putting the spotlight on their lesser known brand. I genuinely chuckled at these well-written ads, and it seems many of those in the comments did too.

Check out Innocent’s Twitter to check out more of their sarcastic, yet playful tweets that they have used to capture the attention of nearly 300k followers. They’ve even been named one of London’s coolest companies:

London’s Coolest Companies: Innocent Drinks

So, what colour do you see?

Creating an Aesthetic Instagram Feed

By Vivian Maßwohl

Ah, Instagram, the highlight reel of all things pretty and aesthetic. I am constantly intrigued by how accounts coordinate their feeds to be simultaneously engaging, pretty and coherent. Of course, creating an attractive brand on all social media platforms is important but Instagram is the key site to ensure you make a flawless first impression. Time matters online, as people’s attention spans are increasingly short. Often I’ve been drawn to someone’s feed and before I’ve looked at their individual photos or read their captions because they’ve managed to impress me with their brand in such an effective way that I automatically hit the follow button: 

Let me give you a couple examples of three Instagram feeds I’ve really enjoyed: 

  1. @1924us
  2. @thefoxandtheivy
  3. @allison_perez

What do they do well?

These accounts have established their brand and settled on one particular “vibe” to give off. Whether it’s vintage, rugged, cottagecore or whimsical; they’ve confidentiality settled on a distinct appearance. Do you know what your vibe is?

@1924us gives off a gorgeous rugged, moody vintage vibe for their unique branding business

These feeds are coherent, as they are made up of a couple core colours. In my opinion, on should choose two base colours, and a couple key interchanging colours. Additionally, consistency in editing is important for developing a “feel.” I would suggest sticking to the same presets, filters, or edit settings. This consistency really helps tie the account together and gives it that je ne sais quoi!

@thefoxandtheivy displays perfect continuity through her feed. She sticks to forest-green and ash-brown as her base colours and let’s her red hair and beige and whites highlights catch her audience’s eyes.

Think these feeds are the work of content creators posting willy-nilly? No way. The key to creating a beautiful feed is planning ahead and curating, curating, curating. Don’t be reactionary, and impulsives post pictures. Ensure your content really fits in to your aesthetic.

A crucial part of content planning is to keep your audience interested with diverse content. Notice how none of these creators post the same type of image back-to-back?

@allison_perez’s unique and varied feed feels cohesive, yet engaging

Allison’s feed is a great example of keeping one’s feed interesting but cohesive. Her brand is herself and personality; however, she doesn’t repeatedly post self-portraits. Her feed incorporates scenes from her favourite movies, quotes that inspire her, images of her excursions, and apartment. She tailors these photos to all have the same “feel” to create an authentic and eye-catching mosaic of her life. 

My Feed 

Now, I’ll show my personal Instagram. I like my feed. It works to create a good vintage vibe, has some cohesive colours, and is nicely laid out; however, it could be better.

My personal instagram, @vivianvitae

My goal for this summer is to apply the above tips and mold my feed to become as aesthetic and personally branded as possible.

Keep an eye out for upcoming blogs on my progress!


Check out my thoughts on this elsewhere! 

facebook Want an aesthetic Instagram feed? Follow these tips!

Twitter Three tips to create a distinctive Instagram aesthetic