COM0015 – Assignment 1 -Blog 4 – Out of the Box

Combining everything that we already knew about SOCIAL MEDIA with all the cases we’ve studied and all the best tools that are to be had: it feels like I’m only ever getting half-way to a solution.  Before starting this program, I thought I had a hunch about a few tools and programs out there in the real world of business meets social media… but.. wait a minute: ‘Things are changing… how will I ever keep up?’

LISTENING + LEARNING + STAYING IN ACTION  = keep to keeping up with trends and generating new ways of looking at the world through the lens of #SocialMediaMeetsBusiness.

OutsideofBox.png

So what do I hope to accomplish with social media?  Is it working? Well, I’m constantly learning new tricks.

From what I gather, I’m using platforms that are suited to my particular field and/or project(s.)  I’m learning from others about the varied style of communication using social media = the ins and outs of sharing your message.  What works for some people is worth a try but it might not quite work for me.  I guess it’s all a question of finding a style and sticking to it..

GOING MOBILE?  Here are a few tools that might come in handy…

I’m always looking for social media inspiration: taking free webinars and online courses.  I have found a whole bunch of useful information about how mobile apps come into play

Instagram can house short videos… Hilary Rushford, of Dean Street Society, hosted a webinar called: ‘Doubling Your Instagram Following.’

Distributing a free workbook, her program talked about free tools for editing and posting images on Instagram.

VSCO CAM = where you add a photo to your library and she talked us through using the editing tools.

@HilaryRushford also talked about the PERISCOPE App = live mobile video streaming; which works really well when you’re sharing content on a road trip, from various locations.

Another useful tool that I’ve grown to love is HOOTSUITE Suggestions...

Right from my iPhone, I am able to call up HOT TOPICS that I can easily share on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

FYI>> It gives you THREE topics to search for and you can assign unlimited accounts… so make sure that you tweak the settings before posting on multiple accounts.  Be #strategic in what you post and where.  Double check your postings on each platform to catch anything that goes wrong.  If in doubt, delete and give it another try.  Skill takes practice.

Puzzled by PINNING?

PINTEREST is a social media platform that would appear to have limited application to business… but Melanie Duncan’s webinar gave me a whole bunch of information about optimizing this platform to steer traffic from PINS back to your company site.

> The type of material you PIN is part of the formula.  Inforgraphics are the most popular format (they spread like wild fire.)

Melanie also suggest the following tools:

PICMonkey =  Protecting your content with a watermark

Easily creating infographics = www.infogr.am

Getting a Pinterest tab for your Facebook Page = www.woobox.com/pinterest

Pinterest stuff = Courtesy of Melanie Duncan (www.powerofpinning.com/course

> The BLOGEME poster thingy I built (featured image)  still lives on scribd.com which I’ve embedded on my personal blog (backdoor access = click expand button on bottom corner) http://ow.ly/MFQx302Y1sy

COM0014 – Blog #2 – Keep It Simple

Your writing needs to be simple, clear, and concise, when storytelling and communicating in the digital world. Overloading a reader (and potentially a customer) with too many ideas, headings, words, and paragraphs, could possibly lose their interest. The key is to capture their attention in an overwhelming sea of other digital messages, through easy to read, and interesting copy.

To do this, first identify precisely what the message is that you want to convey. From here use short headlines, short sentences, and get to the point in a compelling but simple way. Remove words or descriptions that do not add value to your content. This allows your reader to glance through your message to determine if they have come to the right place, and if they want to continue to read. Use excellent grammar and pronunciation, and make sure your spelling is accurate. Not doing so, will be detrimental to your credibility.

It is also more interesting for your reader if you consistently use an active voice, instead of a passive voice to communicate your message. This is because active voice writing keeps your sentences clearer, and keeps your sentences from becoming too complicated and wordy. Too much use of passive voice writing can cloud the meaning of your message, and again, you could potentially lose your reader’s attention.

In summary, the key to successful digital writing is to be simple, clear and concise.

Starting a blog (COM0011 – Blog Post #2)

As one of our Assignments for this course is to post on this blog, I thought I would look at how to  start  your own blog. There are may different blog hosting sites out there or you can buy a domain and Self-host.

If you plan on going with self-hosting, You will need a domain that will cost approximately $10 a year and hosting (service that connects your blog to the internet) is around $4 – $7 a month. To sum this up, it will cost around $50 a year. Check out this link for How to Launch a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less.

One blog hosting site WordPress.com owned by Automattic, and powered by the open source WordPress software. It is free to use, but you can upgrade for premium features such as a custom domain, premium themes, no ads and many other options. It also happens to be the site we use for this blog.Another one is, Blogger owned by Google, Which makes it great if you already have a Google account as you do can use it for Blogger as well, And also allow you to use Google Adsense to place ads on your blog to make money. Blogger is a great site for beginners with an easy to use interface, And best of all it is free to use.

After you have decided whether to go with a blog hosting site or Self-hosting, You will need to choose a name for your blog. If you know what you are going to blog about, then try to pick a name that matches. For help with naming you blog check out this blog, How To Brainstorm Blog Name Ideas You’ll Love.

COM0014 – Blog 7 – Personal Reflection

Reflecting on this course comes with it a sense of accomplishment and a sense of “What’s next?”. I found the concepts of different styles of writing very useful. It’s definitely something I will reflect on after the course is over. Which brings me to an area of reflection, I was NOT anticipating, grammar. I found that even though I enjoy writing, there were reminders about the proper grammar usage. This is where feedback pushed me to find ways to improve. I found myself researching online grammar classes. I found quite a few. Then I looked at the Algonquin College’s online course calendar. Low and behold there is a program online for a Creative Writing Certificate. That’s where this particular course in the Social Media Certificate program differed for me. This course showed me potential to improve my writing. Writing that can be used in blogs. It was not just the concepts learned in the course that led me to make a decision on furthering my education in writing. It was the course as a whole including the teacher who upon mixed feedback prompted me to look beyond Social Media.

A large portion of this program was spent blogging and creating your style and voice. I intend on pursuing creative writing to help me churn new blogs that not only keep the audience interested but keep ME interested. So, in January I will be taking alongside my last course for this program, writing short stories.

Writing a story takes practice and applying story writing to blogging of sometimes dry topics, lends a certain sparkle to the message. Story. Who doesn’t like a good story? We grow up captivated by story before bed. We watch stories unfold in theatre and television. The human is spirited when listening to a great story. I want to tell, stories.

A great blog will catch the attention and engage people. The best ones have a bit of a story behind it. I can tell you about a business coach that uses story telling on her posts on Facebook, her blog, and video clips. Is there engagement? You bet! I can honestly say there is a lot of it.

When you tell a story you enable people to dig deep inside and relate to it by comparing their own experiences. A story can tug a chord. Stories make it real. I plan to keep it real. Taking a class to enhance my story telling skills will help me keep it real.

Creative writing is not the only course that was spawned from this digital communication course. No. There is another that I will be taking in January. That will actually come in handy to use in social media as well. The course I am talking about is photography. Creating graphics and quotes sometimes involves the use of pictures. Attached to many photos is copyrights. By creating my own pictures I am freeing myself from the possibility of a violation of copyright. I can buy photos or have permission from photographers to use certain photos, and have gone that route. However, what a great way to really connect with my own work by producing my own pictures. A photography course is where you will see me mid January, learning beginner techniques.

As this is my last blog for the course, I just want to say thank you for reading and helping me keep it real.

Stay the Course

COM0014 – Blog 6 – What is your secret wish for your business?

Psssst…

Want to hear a secret?

My secret wish for my social media business is to work on branding it with my values. I recently took part in a virtual retreat with a great company called iBloom. The retreat lasted for two days and was an excellent way to reflect and plan for the year 2015. This retreat was connected to their “Life and Business Planner” which I bought, in an effort to really focus on my goals for the upcoming year, in both my life and business. This was a retreat that brought me to better connect with my thoughts and values.

There was a portion of the retreat that went into detail about how to choose your theme for the upcoming year. Similar to a resolution but something more, the steps were about making positive, attainable, change in your life. I chose a theme that has three parts. The first part was about me. It consists of the word “Shine”. The next part is about my influence on other people in my life, “Uplift”. Lastly, I chose the next set of words to work together as the overall goal, “Impact Lives”.

Shine Uplift and Impact Lives

Those three components are what I determined, through the process of reflection, of how I want to focus my upcoming year.

On even further reflection, I decided I want my business to have the same focus. Keeping me congruent in all aspects of my life will help bring fulfillment and peace to every single situation I encounter. Part of my business plan now includes my values. I felt it was important to include what is important to me, so that I can continue to attract the clients that bring fulfillment to my life. Doing this brings about a synergy that cannot be duplicated. Adding my values and goals to my business allows me to work with those with similar visions and goals, making for a very fruitful partnership.

I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to join in on the virtual retreat. It has made it possible to continue with such a clear vision, in my life and business!

Assignment #1, Blog #4: COM0014- B2C Case Study

For the B2C case study, I chose Ting, an inexpensive mobile telephone provider who have correctly used their social media platform to increase sales, website traffic, and customers. Without social media this small mobile provider would have suffocated under their very large and already successful competitors. They worked with however small following they did have and from there came out as a competitive provider.

What did they do right?

The first thing Ting did right was rather than just using social media as a broadcasting tool, they used it as a communication tool. They actively update followers with video blogs, behind the scenes, etc and they also re-tweet their followers questions and comments. The thing that got them followers in the first place is the incredible following campaign which gave them a 75% increase in followers. They did this by productively compelling their followers with facts and discounts on their services.

I think one thing that gave Ting the competitive edge is their clear price reductions especially compared to other providers, this helps turn shoppers into customers, this gave them that B2C marketing advantage. People love hearing about a good deal whether it’s online or in person, the good thing about being online is that consumers can get immediate reviews about whether or not to make a purchase, not only from other customers,but also from the company themselves.

The B2C message that Ting brings across is that their product/service will greatly improve your life, their give basic points about why their service is actually better then everyone else, and because of their flexibility as a phone provider they really seem to put themselves in the customers shoes because they use logical phone plans such as “you pay for what you use”.

COMM 0015 Strong/Weak Social Media Organizations Blog Post # 2

In Canada, we like talking about the weather. it doesn’t matter what the season, Canadians complain about or worship the “weather man.” This fascination with weather, has turned Canada’s Weather Network into must see TV for millions of Canadians, and also created a marketing dream in social media.

The Weather Network is an organization that does social media well and one of the big reasons is because Canadians want to engage and talk about the weather. Whether it’s a snow storm in Calgary or the tail end of a hurricane in Nova Scotia, Canadians are eager to share pictures of damage caused by storms, or their neighbour digging out from 30 centimetres of snow.

Large fallen tree, later cut by emergency crews to get it off the road.

Large fallen tree, later cut by emergency crews to get it off the road.

By capitalizing on this interaction with their followers, the Weather Network has been able to build a significant audience of followers on its Facebook and Twitter sites. At last count, the Weather network has 348,000 followers on Twitter.

Many sports leagues are also very good at social media. With a large fan base that craves the latest news on player trades, new contract signings, and of course game results and statistics, there is a lot to talk about on social media when it comes to sports.

The National Football League may be the best at social media. Not surprisingly it is also the wealthiest of North America’s major sports and has the largest following. The NFL is a news making machine, and the added attention it attracts from sports journalists drive traffic to all of its platforms, including its social media accounts.

NFL picture

The NFL engages with its fans through a variety of social mediums, that are cross promoted through its television and radio coverage, web site, blogs, and other social media platforms. With almost 8-million Twitter followers and close to 12-million likes on Facebook, the NFL is a major social media influence. When you add in that every one of its 30 teams also has large social media followings, you have a proverbial social media juggernaut.

While the Weather Network and the NFL have their act together when it comes to social media, the same can’t be said about the Canadian Football League. While the CFL’s nine teams all use major social media avenues such as Twitter and Facebook, the league is hard to find on Facebook and has limited followers. Its performance is better on Twitter, but outside of game day tweets, there are a lot of missed opportunities to promote the league.

The biggest failure is not surprisingly the Toronto Argonauts, who despite operating in the largest Canadian city, continue to struggle to attract fans. The Argos limited presence on social media doesn’t help. A search on Facebook finds mostly fan based Argo sites and if I did find the official site, and I’m not sure that I did, it was the most inactivate Facebook page I have ever seen for a professional sports franchise. The content was stale, there were few photos and video links, and ultimately it left me with an impression of a team on its way to shutting down. Not what you want when you are already having a difficult time selling tickets.

To be effective, social media needs to be engaging and site owners need to be listening to what their followers are saying. Some organizations get it, but many others still haven’t turned up the volume and started singing from the same tune as those that are the leading act.

COM 0014 Blog Post#2 Communication Styles

Attention Bullhorn Megaphone Sends Warning MessageEvery storyteller wants to engage their reader or listener from beginning to end. This can prove to be difficult when communicating online, there is so much noise to break through and once you break through that noise if you don’t keep the reader captivated they will just get up and walk away or move on. Something that isn’t so easy to do when talking to someone face to face. So what is it that we need to do to keep our readers engaged? Exactly that. Ask a question, encourage a respond or to start a discussion. Don’t forget to make it easy for a reader to respond. Try DISQUS, a great tool that can easily be added to your website or blog and in just one click your readers can leave comments, start a discussion even share via Twitter and Facebook. Be prepared to acknowledge and respond to the comments.

We are all in a rush, I am just as guilty as the next jumping from here to there. Sometimes we don’t have the time or want to make the time to read a blog. This is where Twitter and Facebook can be a great tool to grab the attention of your readers, intrigue them with a snap-shot or high-level points about what you want them to read. Make it something they want to share!

Above all, you’ve got nothing if you don’t have meaningful content or useful information for your readers. Share a review or explain the features and benefits of your product, content that will take the reader from skimming the content to reading a little further. Know your target audience and give your readers what they want!

How do you get your readers engaged?

http://chrisbrogan.com/23-essential-elements-of-sharable-blog-posts/

*image source http://kickingsand.com/2011/10/hr-vs-pr-were-not-so-different/attention-bullhorn-megaphone-sends-warning-message/

COM0014 – Blog 5 – Personal Brand

One of things that I decided on in regards to my personal brand is being as authentic as possible with all areas of my life. That was around the same time I opened up my Facebook account to accept connections beyond family and close friends.

These new connections were part of Facebook groups I had joined, networking clubs I have attended, events I have attended, connections still to meet in person, and connections associated with Social Media.

Some of my personal qualities and characteristics shine through in every post. It’s my interests, my joys in life and living that shine through. I post graphics that I create, that are positive and motivational. These graphics are designed to brighten up people’s days, like in the case below.

Be Love

I posted the above graphic on one of the groups I am part of on Facebook and to my timeline. That post alone yielded 21 likes and one comment.

Some of the graphics are created to celebrate and share my life as well, as in the case of the next graphic posted to my timeline.

hearts 5

I added the following note to the graphic post:

It’s official – I am registered for the Fall at Algonquin College!! Recently finished 2 courses with wonderful grades (pat on the back) in the Social Media Certificate Program! Now onwards to the next two courses!! #excited #AlgonquinCollege #SocialMedia

The feedback from this post shocked me and taught me the power of allowing connections be part of life events. It yielded 46 likes and 26 comments including a Social Media notable commenting as well on the post.

As I develop my brand, I have found recently the perfect graphic to depict how I want to come across to my audience. I found this graphic a couple weeks ago and resonated with it so much that it’s becoming part of how I determine what to post every day.

before-think-speak-large

The things I am most proud of are my motivational graphics and sharing enthusiasm. It has made my timeline shine in ways that actually make Social Media fun. Due to my attention to what I enjoy sharing, connecting with people has become a true joy. Thus my brand is me!

Reference:

“Think” Graphic found on www.mindbodygreen.com

Stuart McLean–I Want To Be Just Like You!

COMM 0014 Blog Post # 7

Stuart McLean is a masterful writer and storyteller! His fictional tales of Dave and Morley, two average Canadian citizens, who seem to always be getting themselves into a “pickle” are not only funny, but they are also very real for anyone who has been married for a while with children.

Ok, maybe Dave does a few more “off the wall” things than most of us would, but haven’t we all been part of a disastrous home improvement project, a well planned meal that went terribly wrong, or a family pet experience that created a small catastrophe at an important gathering?

Ironically, I have been reading some of McLean’s stories as I sit down and write this blog about what makes compelling content for digital storytellers. I think the answer is actually quite simple, but not as easily achieved.

It starts with being a good communicator. You need to be able to write interesting material, and be able to get to the point quickly. If you haven’t captured the reader’s attention in the first paragraph, it’s probably too late. Remember the inverted pyramid style of writing. It should be your Bible if you want to be a consistent blogger.

The writing needs to be conversational and targeted. Good writers know who their audience is and have an uncanny ability to capture their attention. How do they do it? They provoke a reaction from the reader by luring them in with key words, a topical subject, or with a question that begs a response.

Their writing has a smooth flow to it and is authentic. It’s easy to read and understand, it’s well researched, and it’s meaningful. Good writers generate a following because they effectively sell themselves as subject matter experts. Their writing becomes their personal brand.

Stuart McLean is a treasured Canadian icon. Long before blogs and other forms of social media existed, McLean, was connecting with Canadians through more traditional mediums like radio, books and live theatre. He still is.

While reading his books, you can hear his inflection coming through in the words, just like if you were driving along in your car listening to CBC radio and hearing another wild tale of Dave’s shenanigans on Vinyl Café. Unless the trip ends, you don’t dare turn the dial. McLean has a grip on his listeners, because he is the ultimate storyteller.

The challenge for the rest of is how do we make our readers hear our voice, when we don’t have a weekly following of millions of Canadian radio listeners? Like McLean, we need to find our niche. He has done it by creating a fictional family that lots of people can connect to because the stories are about day to day family life.

So what is your story and how are you going to tell it?