4 Ways to Tailor What You’re Seeing Online

4 Ways to Tailor What You’re Seeing Online

Even though the Wild West of Web 1.0 has been wrangled with the advent of social media, there is still more content published online than any one person could hope to discover! So what’s the best way to go about finding what we want to see, as personal Internet users, and as a digital brand?

Brand Feedback

There are so many options for social media listening tools that it can be hard to narrow down which ones to use! Though tons of paid options for social listening are out there if you’re willing to spring for them, simple tools like Google Alerts can help you stay up to date on what audiences are saying about your brand. I consider it one of the best unpaid listening tools out there as it creates an RSS feed of keyword notifications that you can choose, including hashtags. You can always trust our Internet overlords Google to provide us with a good system to monitor our brands’ digital presence! Google has also created a program to monitor website and social media analytics (Google Analytics)! These two free programs provide you with a combination of quantitative and qualitative data to know what’s going on with your brand and it’s digital presence, and are super easy to set up and navigate.

pretend edward cullen GIF

My Personal Feed

When it comes to getting news and web content curated to my interests, Google doesn’t have quite the same iron grip on my Internet use. Here, Reddit (reddit.com) holds the key to my heart, as it provides a front page similar to an RSS feed based on “subreddits” (collections of community-curated web content based around any and every subject you could imagine) that you subscribe to. This allows me to go to one website for anything from Black Mirror discussion groups to local Ottawa news to Lord of the Rings Memes and everything in between. As much as I love Reddit for personal use and don’t personally use it in any professional respect, I can see the potential that a site like Reddit holds. Reddit is often one of the most up-to-date sources of news, memes, and other Internet content, and appeals to an audience that is not always as present on traditional social media. The specificity of the communities that exist on this website are the perfect source for community observation and discussion. Stay away from a sales-push on Reddit though! Users are quick to sniff out a sales tactic and generally don’t tolerate the use of the platform as a marketing opportunity – another reason why I love to use it!

episode 2 my safe space is reddit GIF by Portlandia

I’ve also been a huge fan of the new Instagram feature of following hashtags the same way you can follow users, with a collection of tagged photos showing up on your feed! While, again, I have made liberal use of this on my personal accounts (hello #guineapigs!), it is also great if you are planning a campaign based around hashtag use, as now the content generated from this campaign will show up directly in your feed. If your brand is present on Instagram, hashtag campaigns are great because they generate both free publicity by encouraging people to post related to your brand, and the potential for free content (and community kudos) by regramming the best shots!

beautiful late night GIF by PBS

These are just a couple of my favourite online sources for curated content and digital feedback. What are you using right now to stay up to date on your favourite web content? Let me know in the comments below so I can check them out!

COMM 0015 -Blog Post #1 – Tools & Sources

When it comes to social media listening and monitoring tools there are many options. Throughout other courses in this program many were discussed in great detail and I had the ability to try different ones out. I probably don’t use the traditional avenues to gather my information and some might say I do not use all the tools available to me.

full frame shot of computer

Photo by Tranmautritam on Pexels.com

A few that I like are:

Hootsuite – I really like how I can track what is happening in multiple places at the same time. The amount of time you can spend tracking what is trending alone is insane so it’s great that there is a platform that can take all of the information I am looking for from multiple platforms and put it all in one nice package for me. While I haven’t used this feature, I also think that’s it’s helpful that you can schedule posts across multiple platforms. Again, I have not yet used this feature, but it does seem to me it would be helpful and save a lot of time.

Microblogs – There is a ton of information out there and only so many hours in a day. I find it you are monitoring multiple items at once it can be very difficult to keep track of everything if you have too much content to read. This is why I love microblogs or the idea at least. I look at it almost like the cliff notes of daily information. If I need more information, I can go ahead a look into it but if I just need the topline information, I have that available to me.

One tool that I know many are a fan of, but I do not like is Google Alerts. I think in a perfect word with very specific tags this platform could be wonderful to use. However, when you are using tags like sports apparel, or concerts the amount of results in endless. Waking up to 200 google alert emails is not my idea of a great start to the day. Again, I totally understand those are very broad and can be narrowed down but I am just not a big fan. Judging by this article I may not be the only one – Why I hate Google Docs 

I also found a great article that discusses other platforms that are up and coming similar to google alerts with some tweaks –   Best Google Alerts Alternatives

The two ways I find myself gathering news and updates of things that interest me are Instagram and Twitter. There might be a few blogs here and there, but I am usually turned onto them by a tweet that shares a link. I find that these two platforms cover a variety of items in little captions which gives me the ability to filter through mass amounts of information in a short amount of time – right up my alley! They also show me what is trending in the world so that I am able to stay in touch but also keep me posted on what is happening in my local community.

laptop technology ipad tablet

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The biggest thing for me is getting the information I need and want without spending hours going through posts about nothing. As social media evolves everyone thinks that their life is the most interesting and you’d just die if you didn’t know what they had for lunch that day. I feel that’s part of the reason Facebook has lost some traction. For my professional development it’s important for me to see what’s trending. Working in entertainment you want to be with what’s cool before anyone even knew it was cool. Trends are coming and going at such a fast rate I need to be able to process information as quickly as possible and that is why these tools work best for me.

So, I am dying to know, am I missing a key platform to help achieve my goal? Please let me know!

COM0015 – Blog #1 – Tools and Sources

Every day at 12:05pm I receive an email. I hear the ding, look at the time and instantly know that I’ve received my daily Google Alerts email. I have this set up on my work email so I can receive the latest news around words that I have flagged related to my job and employer. Words include the name of the organization, certain tourist attractions, different townships as well as the name of our CEO and Board members. This helps me keep an eye on what is being reported about our organization and to alert the Executive team of any red flag.

To keep up to date on the latest trends, I subscribe to Mashable through Snapchat. It’s the easiest way for me to get the latest tech news. If you aren’t familiar with Snapchat, the Snapchat Discover feature gives organizations full access to publicly visible snaps. They are updated daily and provide live breaking updates. For this reason, Snapchat is my main source of news.

What exactly is Snapchat Discover?! G2 explains it well: “Snapchat Discover is all about keeping you up-to-date on current events, pop culture, and more. Long gone are the days of Snapchat being used just to connect you and your friends. Now you can get the lowdown on breaking news, big events, and celeb gossip all at your fingertips. On the Discover screen you can watch your friends’ Snapchat Stories, Publisher Stories, Shows, and Our Stories.”

When I first started using Snapchat in 2013, the only “stories” users could see were posted by friends or celebrities. Snapchat Discover started in an effort to reach a wider audience and encourage people to sign up. Snapchat users are typically between the ages of 18 and 24, with the next largest demographic being 13-17. Although I am not part of this demographic, it is still a very attractive and centralized place for me to get all my news.


Users can subscribe to their favorite stories to ensure that they are seen first. I can honestly say that I rarely use Snapchat for its intended use of sending real time photos to friends, I spend most of my time on the app catching up on the latest. In one location I can get news from Vice, Now This News, CNN, The Washington Post, NBC, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail (to satisfy my gossip sweet tooth, of course). Each “story” can have anywhere from 10-20 screens. Each screen includes a headline, brief description and as the above video mentions, a full article that can be found by swiping up.


My second source of news is Buzzfeed. I subscribe to them on multiple platforms and get a lot of my information there. Their extensive cross-platform network includes things like articles, lists, quizzes and videos (which I LOVE) but I also spend a lot time on Buzzfeed News. Although they may not always be viewed as credible, they do provide the latest in “world-class reporting and investigative journalism”. As of March 24th 2019, 60% of millennials are reached by Buzzfeed and 70% of Buzzfeeds total site traffic comes from mobile devices. Social Blade reports that so far this month, Buzzfeed News has had over 1.45M views and in April of 2017, the website had an impressive 8.58M views.

I use these tools and sources because they became integrated into social media platforms that I have been using daily for years. It was not something I was looking or asked for but appeared over time. It is definitely out of convenience because all the sites I would need to visit individually are all in one location.


Reints, Renae (July 17, 2018) A New Snapchat Initiative Will Help Journalist Find and Verify Breaking News:  http://fortune.com/2018/07/17/snapchat-news-partnership/

Wahl, Jordan (October 10 2018) What is Snapchat Discover: Fresh Content at your Fingertips: https://learn.g2.com/snapchat-discover

Kunova, Marcela (July 13, 2018) How The Telegraph is reaching teenagers with news stories on Snapchat Discover : https://www.journalism.co.uk/news/how-the-telegraph-is-reaching-teenagers-with-news-stories-on-snapchat-discover/s2/a724198/


Smith, Craig (May, 11, 2019) 38 Amazing Buzzfeed Statistics and Facts (2019): https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/buzzfeed-statistics/

Social Blade, Buzzfeed News: https://socialblade.com/youtube/user/buzzfeed



COMM0015- Blog Post #1-Tools and Sources

As an upcoming creator and younger millennial two of my personal favourite social media trend listening/ monitoring tools are maintaining a clean RSS feed and demographic analytics.

With social media growing and the amount of active users expanding faster each day, having a focal point to dissect various analytics is very useful for newer creators such as myself. Having a ‘social media dashboard’ of sorts allows for more clear and in depth monitoring of my online content.

The second tool I find useful in my online journey is demographic analytics. As a creator of any sort of medium, it is very easy to get caught up in quantitative data. Scrutinizing over how many likes, views or shares the work gets is often the cause of  many’s demises. As a beginner content creator it is the qualitative data I pull from my site, which affects me the most. Truly gaining an understanding of which posts gain more responsive and meaningful replies is where I find a base for future content. Although having physical proof of success is great, in my own opinion if the clicks/ views aren’t deriving from active or loyal audience members, I feel it isn’t as truthfully meaningful. 

As for where I personally go to for news and lifestyle content updates, I gravitate between Twitter and various reliable news sites. What began as a network to share 140 character  status updates has blown into a multi-media conglomerate for many business and companies and public figures. Although Twitter began as a social network, it has transformed into a faceted platform for presenting various types of content. According to the Digital Marketing Community “Millennials are spending about 2 hours and 38 minutes on social media each day” (Global 2018). With this information at hand, companies should realize the overarching message that social media marketing will only aid their own performance in the future.

One of the additional reasons why I find the platform a captivating source for news is due to its functionality. The site not only works as a place to share content within seconds but also as a centre for linking third party content. Relating the two sources together, I do often find myself leaving the site/ app after finding a link to a reliable news source; which has more information. As a broadcaster trusting and recognizing a reliable source of media is imperative. Having faith in the website or source you are pulling your information from comes down to journalistic ethics. Recognizing sites such as ‘CBC’ or ‘Global News over sites which have numerous pop up ads, strange site addresses or few to no cited quotes, could be red flags for another search.

I prefer the tools aforementioned over others as they provide an immediacy factor, I feel is forthcoming in our society. Due to societies relation to media becoming closer every day, the demand for content is almost instantaneous.  This can especially be seen in the field of broadcasting, from entertainment to news style programming. When learning about broadcasting, having an understanding of how to navigate these tools are a great place to start. When paired with an understanding for broadcast standards conveying stories across multi media platforms, becomes much easier. Many people believe that ‘reading the news’ is an easy position. Alas, knowing how to correctly craft and present the story is only half the battle. Having a thorough comprehension on the tools needed to convey the piece is just as vital. In broadcasting, fully grasping the technology used to present the story in a timely manner is just as important and as the saying goes “early is on time and on time is late”.



Blog #4 – Out of the Box

These days, there are so many influencers on social media, especially on Instagram, trying to gain new followers as well as product endorsements. But there seems to be a downside to this world. It seems that the more followers you have, the more “haters” you will have as well. One must not take anything for granted because it can be gone in an instant. The world of online marketing and social media can be quite fickle at times.

Recently, news broke of a college admissions cheating scandal, that saw parents pay huge sums of money in order to get their children into top-notch universities in the United States. One such parent who paid over $500,000 US to get her two daughters into the University of Southern California is actress Lori Laughlin. Olivia Jade Giannulli, one of Loughlin’s daughters, is a social media influencer and had cut deals with many partners to showcase their products on her Instagram feed and Youtube channel while bringing in extra revenue to companies but while also getting paid in return.

However, since the scandal broke, Giannulli has not updated her Instagram account and has lost major partnerships with companies including Amazon, Dolce & Gabbana and Too Faced Cosmetics. Her Instagram account is also loaded with angry comments from her followers. These companies had to protect their reputation and brand and did not want to be associated in any way with such a big scandal.

At this rate, there are a dime a dozen of the type of influencer Giannulli is, so from an online marketing standpoint, these companies will just pick the latest popular influencer with whom to market their products. Giannulli, now 19, has had an active social media presence since she was 14, almost 5 years. So it can be easy to see how things that took years to build can come crumbling down like a house of cards. Another twist in this story is that Loughlin herself was fired from the Hallmark Channel, where she acted in several series and movies.

Blog #3: Professional Networking now and in the future

As a public servant for the Government of Canada, there are plenty of tools available for networking. We have many of the tools mentioned in Chapter 5 available as resources and many more, including blogs, groups/project team spaces and an instant messaging tool. As well, the Government has its own social media platform called GCConnex, which is strictly for Government of Canada employees.

GCConnex allows you the opportunity to be part of different subgroups like “Women in communication” and “strategic communication.” The first step in my strategy would be to update my GCconnex profile and seek out people with similar backgrounds in communications, especially women. I would also join a working group that is of interest to me like “Women in Strategic Communications” and  seek out a mentor.

In person, I would task myself with participating in various seminars. Recently, there was a seminar titled HARD TRUTHS + FAKE NEWS: A timely bootcamp for users of democracy and defenders of press freedom held at the Carleton School of Journalism and Communication. One of the goals of the seminar was “frank talk and urgent collaboration as we ready ourselves for the 2019 federal election campaign.” The panel members, which included prominent journalists peaked my interest and I would have liked to attend but I unfortunately had a prior work commitment. These types of events allow you to meet like-minded people that perhaps have similar interests as you, while also allowing you to hear other points of view and allowing you to network and showcase your knowledge on the matter. If the opportunity would present itself again, I would definitely try to attend an event like this. On the other hand, there are always networking events at work that include mentoring and “coffee chats” with senior executives. Another one of my goals in the next 6-12 months would be to attend at least one of these events to get insight into how to help achieve some my career goals.

Blog #2: Strong and Weak Organizations

I love to bake – it is my hobby of choice and so I enjoy learning new baking techniques and looking at pictures of beautiful delicious baked goods, while also posting pictures of my own creations! As such, I follow a long list of bakers on my Instagram and Twitter accounts. I used to follow a lot more but quickly lost interest in some due to lacklustre posts. Let me explain…

Lacking a social media strategy

One of my favourite places to get a treat in Ottawa is the Sconewitch – they have the best scones I’ve ever had! I started following them on Twitter hoping to see some exciting posts but soon realized there was nothing fun in terms of content and posts were quite sporadic. I also noticed that for this past month there were a few more tweets than usual but before that there was not a single tweet since August 31, 2017! How strange? This is a definite sign of a missing social media strategy.

A couple of first steps they could take would be posting their flavour of the month scone. That would at least give them 12 extra posts a year. As well, they would be well served by posting a few videos of scones in the making. At their warehouse location, I was quite impressed seeing their “giant” rolling pin machine at work so I am sure others would be to. They could also benefit from interacting with their customers, perhaps taking a poll to see what their favourite scones are or taking a poll on customers’ favourite scone topping. Another strategy could be having some kind of contest where people could win a box of scones. These first few steps would definitely help get their social media strategy going and start generating more publicity for them.

Impressive social media strategy

On the flip side, one person that has a very impressive social media strategy is Mary Berg. Mary was the lucky winner of Masterchef Canada a few years back. Not only does she have a captivating presence and quirky personality but she lets that shine through on her Instagram posts. Mary posts frequently, but not annoyingly so. She also posts a variety of styles: pictures with recipes linked to her website, videos of test recipes as well as Instastories that are fun to watch. She also interacts with her fan-base and often has contests with prizes. She also posts videos of her personal life, which I think makes her more relatable too. As well, something that is unique to her is that she posts videos of “dough punches” when she makes bread and, as such, people have sent her their own “dough punches” which she often re-posts.

Sticking to the food theme, another winner in my opinion is Farm Boy, a local grocery store chain. They often post on Instagram pictures of their new products with dates and locations of when they can be sampled. Several times, I have found myself enticed to try new products that they advertised on their Instagram feed. They also post videos and often publicize contests on their Instagram feed. However, they don’t saturate you to the point of not wanting to follow them on social media anymore. In addition, I found that when someone posts a comment with a negative undertone, they are quick to reply to the customer’s concerns in a polite and courteous manner. Other companies would perhaps delete the comment immediately not to attract negative attention.



Out of The Box

Photo By: Key Person of Influence

In the field of online marketing and social media it’s easy to have expectations, but it is hard to achieve them. The biggest surprise to me was the amount of businesses that either improperly use or don’t use social media to help with their marketing. Used correctly it can be a free and effective way to promote a business’s brand and/or products.

Using social media can help businesses in a few different ways. Whether its a big national company or a small local shop, it can help businesses connect with customers. It can give real time feedback on the latest trends in any market. By not using social media businesses are putting themselves at a distinct disadvantage to the ones that are using it and are active.

Depending on what your market is, social media is a big grey area with many different right and wrong answers. Its up to the companies to figure out the best way to reach their consumers, listen, and make posts based on what they learn.

Photo By: Defender Network

COM0015 – Blog 4: Out of the Box

The world of social media and digital marketing is vast and ever-changing. What was used several years ago can easily become outdated and replaced by alternative software. 

Some of the new applications that I have discovered in my social media journey and that I use regularly include: 

Follow Track

This is a free app that connects to your Instagram in order to provide you basic analytics of your account. It keeps track of your followers, who you are following, users not following you back, users you yourself are not following back, new followers, and followers who have unfollowed you. 

It also shows you how many posts you have, comments on your posts, amount of videos you have, average views per video, new followers amount per day, total likes, and average amount of likes per photo.

I mainly like to use this app to see who unfollows me after I have followed them, as many accounts are bots or just follow to get follows but will then leave your account shortly after.

track crazy

Analytics details


Another app I have discovered is Preview. This app is for Instagram and acts as a template for your images that you want to post.

Having a template is a good idea so that you can make sure your posts are cohesive and tell a particular story in presentation. 

For instance, here is a sneak peak at some posts I have been planning from my travels that have been edited to have a similar colour scheme and aesthetic.

blue crazy

My setup not yet published

PS Express

Following the Instagram theme, I have also been using PS Express to edit my photos from my phone. It’s a free app that acts as a limited photoshop.

With it, I have been able to change the colour of my photos to a more purple hue, as well as erase people and blemishes out of the background.

This is also where it’s important and healthy to remember that most of Instagram is curated—I see it as more of an art form than true to reality. 


Another new trend that I have seen in online advertising is putting your own image into the template of a phone or laptop. Essentially, this is presenting your information in a more technologically advanced way.

I have seen this from digital portfolios to hard-copy marketing pamphlets in order to make your presentation more neat and streamlined. 

insta iphone8

My Instagram through MockuPhone

Overall, these applications have been useful in my own endeavours in improving my Instagram account as well as learning new ways of presenting information. Keeping up with new technology is important to stay relevant and look professional across social media platforms.

What other applications do you think are upcoming in social media and online marketing? Let me know down below!


COM0015 Blog#4 Out of the Box

At the start of this course, my goal was to find ways to create and market a brand using social media. I have a love-hate relationship with sales: I critique in silence every sales pitch whenever someone tries to sell me something—nine times out of ten it turns out to be an uninspiring interaction—yet, I really enjoy a good ad.


I’ve had many jobs in sales—brick-and-mortar retail, door-to-door, telemarketing—and I always dreaded interrupting people to sell them a product. Can you remember the last time you got excited about a telemarketer suggesting you should go on a cruise? Or about someone knocking on your door to see if you want a water-purifier? Probably not. Who likes being interrupted? Yet, there are corn-chip ads that will stop you on your tracks on your way to the fridge.


The thing about presenting yourself with a sales-pitch is that, by the time people realize you are selling something (whether they buy or not) all you are to them is that—a pitch. However, once in a while, you come across those that make you look twice and lean in; those that make you laugh, get you excited or make you think about a loved one—Those that engage you.

Social media presents a great opportunity to promote your business. One that goes beyond traditional marketing strategies designed to simply get in front of people with a transactional proposition—a common mistake that brands make when using social media; they worry more about their reach than their impact.

When a brand engages you with their strategy the focus in never on the success of their company or their products’ features but rather, it is focused on you: not that they didn’t show you their product, or that you didn’t know it was for sale. It’s that something they did—not just the product itself—delivered an experience that made you relate to their brand in an emotional way.

Before social media, small businesses could only influence a small circle around them; you could be a baker and have a great marketing strategy, but beyond the smell of freshly-baked bread lingering in your neighbourhood, your reach outside that area was limited to pamphlets and spam. The alternative were expensive ads reserved for big-budget agencies and those who could afford them. Social media leveled that field.

With the internet and social media your small business circle is now only limited by your imagination. You can reach millions of people from… well, anywhere where one can get Wi-Fi! If you add to that, the fact that airbrushed ads and perfectly scripted voice-overs are losing trust from a generation that can sway the market with their opinion—meaning millennials value real over perfect—sky is the limit when it comes to execution.


A specific application in the field of online marketing and social media that I find appealing, is ephemeral content. I wrote an article a few months ago about the fear of missing out (FOMO) and since then, the trend continues to grow. About my earlier point, real over perfect does not mean sloppy. The reason this trend is growing is because people want to engage with stories. They want to see how the bread is baked, and then they want to know who the baker is. Stories let’s us have an intimate connection with a brand and this is a great application for a lot of them.

Wayfair’s Instagram

Another interesting way to use social media to sell your products is tagging them on Instagram. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Done right, you can tell a story with a photo—who doesn’t love a stunning visual? And, what if everything you see in the picture could be ordered by taping on it with your finger? That’s an innovative idea!

Social Media Marketing is a field with many unexplored corners. Platforms emerge and innovate every day, as do the marketers that promote brands on them. Tools aside, a business should fist pay attention to its community’s needs and craft an honest product to share with them. Marketers should think of a way to tell a story that makes people lean in, and inspire trust. Then we can focus on reaching millions!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. What other applications do you find innovative to promote a brand on Social? I’d love to read about it.