COMM0015 – Blog Post #4 | Onward and Hopefully Upward

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After almost a year and a half of being in this program, it’s definitely been a time of revelations and “a-ha” moments with regards to the use of social media in a business perspective. To be quite honest, when I think about ft there have been any unexpected applications of social media, I really couldn’t think of any. Not saying I’m an expert quite yet, (but I’m on my way with a Social Media Certificate from the esteemed Algonquin College after this post) but I’ve been using social media for quite a bit to understand how information flows from person to person and then further enforced with the various case studies throughout the courses of this program.

If there’s one foundational lesson I’ve learned from this entire course is that social media gives a voice to everyone. Now how effective that voice is, if it’s being heard and picked up by the right audience are definitely things that need to be considered before we start posting away.

If there’s one thing I found fascinating with regards to the use of social media is the whole idea of crowd-funding á la Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Gone are the days of pitching your ideas to those in “power” to get your dream funded.  Now you can show it pitch it to the regular joe to see if they’ll chip in along with many others to make it a reality. This truly has boosted the everyday person to present their niche products to their niche market directly and in turn have it funded.

Here’s one of my favourite Kickstarter Projects:

It will be interesting to see how social media technology evolves, but more so how we as a society mature with regards to how we view, use and consume social media in the coming years. For all those in this program, how do you see social media evolving and improving in the next 5-10 years?

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COMM0015 – Blog Post #3 | The Connection Challenge

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Well… I’ll just get it out there…

I currently DO NOT have any Networking Plan/Strategy
in place as I type this.

Yeeeeeah... about that....

Yeeeeeah… about that….

But it’s not a complete loss, as I do have a few key pieces in place. Mainly my personal website (which features my design portfolio), an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, as well as accounts on the Social Media ‘Deadly Duo’ (Facebook and Twitter) as well as it’s nerdy, hipster friends (Instagram and Pinterest.)

I have a weakness of wanting everything to be in place and perfect before I put anything into motion. And when I say motion I mean my own personal social media plan & strategy which of course effects any type of online networking. As well, like everyone else in this course/program, the challenge of finding time is a perpetual battle. My excuse is this:

IMG_6706

With 3 kids all under the age of 5, getting hefty chunks of productive time (on top of a day job) usually ends with me napping with one of the time thieves pictured above.

Well… with only 2-ish weeks left in this course, and this being the last one I need to graduate form the Social Media program, I’ll be replacing school time with business time (click here for a related but unrelated distraction). And the first order of business is really to put my “house” in order as it stated in the related lesson. I really have to share the blog posts I’ve contributed as part of this program onto my personal website, get my portfolio up to date (I’m almost 2 years behind in updating projects!).

With an updated site, I think the next logical step is to finally put everything I’ve learned from this program and put into practice by creating a solid social media plan.

From there… I should finally get my business cards printed and commit to attending a local business networking meeting through the local Chamber of Commerce or the like, to start creating connections to create some new business leads.

I definitely think time management, and an unwavering commitment to stick to these goals will be the key. Not to mention a few hugs and kisses on the way from the time thieves!

COMM0015 – Blog Post #2 | Full-Bodied or Lite?

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With the growing movement of supporting “local” and/or “organic” from everything to businesses to groceries, it’s also spilled over to a personal favourite industry of mine.

Beer.

In Ontario alone there are now over 50 microbreweries, or what they’re more affectionately known as “craft” breweries (because everyone loves something made by hand and with love. Oh yeah, and it’s pretty much an art). You can imagine that a lot of these small breweries are usually small businesses and are still learning the craft of social media. As part of this blog assignment, I’m highlighting two Ontario breweries. One that is on the path of brewing some social media goodness, and one brew crew who I feel they can improve their social media recipe or alas, they’ll become flat and bland.

Let’s take a look at our first company:

Name: HOP CITY BREWING
From: Brampton, ON

As much as I love HOP CITY products, they can definitely improve their social media efforts. Although they post on both Twitter and Facebook consistently, their posts don’t really showcase any type of brand personality or essence. They usually consist of pictures of their products in one of the many pubs they distribute to. Here are my suggestions to improve their social media presence, and increase their audience reach.

  1. Fully establish the brand –  Although they do have a consistent visual look (but an easily forgettable logo), their online “voice” is pretty flat. They need to establish a personality (deadpan & cheeky? friendly?) This would help determine the tone of their posts, the visual looks of these posts as well as how they will engage their audience on their social media platforms., and more so what platforms to really utilize.
  2. Find stories to tell – It’s definitely not enough to post pictures of their product. They need to examine the history of the company and it’s mission to help draw out storylines that can be told overtime. My suggestions for company stories: What drove the owners to create the company, The relationships they’ve made with restaurants, bars, pubs, etc. Their process in finding new flavours and brewing techniques.
    As people understand the “why” the “who,” and the “how” of the company, they can have an emotional attachment to the brand, and become brand advocates.
  3. Be visually engaging –  Establishing a presence on Pinterest to show what inspires the company. Be it places in the world, places they want to visit, art and design, etc can show a different side of the company. I’d also suggest Instagram and YouTube or Vimeo to give an insider’s look into the day to day operations of the company. Take pictures/videos of the brewing process, events they go to and highlight employees of the company ) just to name a few.
  4. Interact and connect with other like-minded brands – Reaching out to brands they admire and who share similar values would be a great step to grow their audience. When relationships are established, they can do cross-promotion contests on Facebook or Twitter, or even drive more traffic to their website.
  5. Redesign website with social media in mind –  Hop City’s website, looks great but doesn’t really give its viewers to do or to learn more about the brand. They should integrate their social media posts somewhere on the frontpage, to show that they’re “active” and not stagnant.

I think this would be a great place to start for HOP CITY and hopefully make their social media presence as tasty and flavourful as their product.

Next up…

beaus-4c

Name: BEAU’S ALL NATURAL BREWING COMPANY
From: Vankleek Hill, Ontario

This company prides itself in brewing its entire lineup organically and naturally, and it looks like that’s how they’ve been able to get so many Facebook Fans and a more than a pitcher’s worth of followers on Twitter. Here’s a short list of the things they’re doing great at.

  1. Personality! – These guys have it, flaunt it and it’s easy to pick up their vibe after reading a few of their posts. I love that they have a monthly mixtape on their website. It gives a good reason for people to come to their site and explore on top of showing people their musical tastes. And we all know that music is one of the greatest connectors of people.
  2. Visually Driven – You can tell they have a good grasp of their brand. Their posts are always linked to a video or a photo, which tells its own story of course. They also have a Tumblr page which showcase the designs they pump out for events they take part of, or just to promote their lineup of beers. As a graphic designer, this is something I totally eat up.
  3. Focused and Steady – BEAU’s has chosen to just focus their efforts on 3 social media platforms. This definitely prevents a small company like them from spreading themselves too thinly across all the social media platforms that are available. They’ve really just chosen 2 strong platforms in Facebook and Twitter, to promote their product, their events and the heart and mission of the company. Tumblr is just a bonus site for those who appreciate good design, and it’s easy for them to post these, as their creative team is always create marketing and branding collateral anyways.

CONCLUSION

Just like a fine batch of beer, creating a social media strategy must be handled with care and consistency to wield great results. In the case of these two breweries, you can see that having a good grasp of your brand (which is the key ingredient) is always a great start when moving with social media. CHEERS!

COMM0015 | Blog Post #1 – Come Equipped

Copyright All rights reserved by WarFighters UK

As an inner “military video game” nerd aficionado I find the best moments are when you’re a highly trained sniper on a stealth mission, simply standing by, observing, listening and gathering intel. It requires you as a highly trained special forces operator to be very patient, calmly persistent and above all, extremely observant. Taking note of human behaviour, landmarks, and high value targets.

So why am I boring you with all this military geekery? Well, if you haven’t made the connection yet, being a sniper is similar to being a social media specialist. Before you barrage the public with your arsenal of tweets, status updates and blog posts , a good amount of reconnaissance must be done; observing what’s trending, listening to what matters and then creating a plan of attack.

As a sniper social media specialist in training, I’ll show you some of the gear I take into the field.

Mission: Monitoring

KLOUT

What it’s good for: Giving you an overall scope of your social media influence

I’m not too sure of how it’s all calculated , but it analyzes many of the popular social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn to name a few…) and scores you a number from 0 – 100, with a higher number meaning a greater influence. This tool has improved over the years, and is able to breakdown which social media tools are the having the most impact from all your posts. I find it quite handy because after prolonged use, it actually gives you recommendations of where to increase engagement with other social media influencers. It’s a good tool to give you a general view of your campaigns, or to monitor industry influencers and thought leaders.

FACEBOOK INSIGHT

 What it’s good for: Super detailed analytics for Facebook engagement.

With a reported 1.1 billion active users, Facebook truly is where the people are at. The analytics here are pretty thorough, and are all dashboard-ed for you, so it’s easy to navigate through. It shows you the age demographic of those who like your page It gives detailed insight an all your posts, such as its reach, how “viral” it is, and even sentiment (negative or positive). Definitely a great tool for the biggest social media network, that will probably be part of most social media campaigns.

Mission: Listening

TAGBOARD

What it’s good for: #hashtag herding!

Hashtags are everywhere now. It’s grown outside of Twitter and is now being supported by many different platforms. Big players like Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and quite recently Facebook have all adopted the hashtag system. So what TAGBOARD does is that it herds these hashtagged posts into one convenient place, allowing you to create “boards” of certain hashtags that you want to keep tabs on. As a graphic designer,  keeping an eye on visual posts from Instagram, Vine and even Facebook is important, and I can do it with ease with Tagboard.

Honourable Mention: GOOGLE READER (R.I.P.)

From taking the other Social Media courses , Google Reader was our go-to tool. It was easy to use and pretty effective once you got around it’s limitations but sadly, it breathed its last breath this past summer.

Mission: Gather Intel

I don’t have one or two go-to sources for news… but I have a few go-to news aggregating tools and sites that scour the intertubes and collects all this intel for me.

Flipboard

I use this amazing app on all my iOS Devices to keep me in the loop about graphic design, social media, video games, sports… pretty much everything! It gathers all my news and searches for any topic I want to keep track of. It’s pretty nifty, check it out:

Alltop.com

I discovered this site when I signed up for my first Social Media Course last year, and it’s been and continues to be a great resource for Social Media news, trends and commentary.

“Stay Sharp”

These are just a few of the tools that I deploy to stay on the radar. With any tool that you use be sure to take the proper time to get acquainted. I always suggest to give it a good 14 day minimum when trying it out first. I think 2 weeks is enough time to really tinker, research and experiment with certain tools in order to get the best out of them.

So those are a few in my arsenal. What social media tools are you using to keep tabs on your industry?