COM0015 – Assignment 1 – Blog #3: Putting in face time

I have to say, I’m pretty good at coming up with strategies. I’ve been doing it professionally for the past ten years, and academically for almost two years through Algonquin. Lately I’ve even been doing it for friends without even being asked, just because I see opportunities for them to increase their business reach or personal influence. But a strategy for myself? For developing my own professional network online and in-person? There are a million other things I’d rather do than sit down with myself and come up with ways to be more visible.

That said, I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied at work for the past…oh…year or more. I’ve finally reached something of a breaking point, and am seeing how important it is for me professionally, and for my own mental wellbeing, to start to focusing on maintaining and increasing my network of connections.

My present strategy is still fairly informal, but I have made three specific commitments to myself that involve online and offline activities that should help me find my next career step.

    1. Job shadowing – in the Communications shop that I work in, the strategic side is largely separate from the digital side. This means that, as a strategist, I come up with the social media plans, but the day-to-day implementation and evaluation is handled by the digital side. As a result, I don’t get to work with the platforms that my department uses, nor do I get to play much of a role in analytics, or user experience. So, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to approach my manager to get his support for me to do some job shadowing in digital communications this fiscal year. I discussed it with him about two weeks ago, and he spoke with the manager of the digital team, and they told me to go for it.
    2. Updating my Linkedin profile – I used to only look at Linkedin every few months to make sure my résumé was still up to date, but I decided to give my profile a bit of a refresh – new photo, updated CV and job title – and change my settings so that my profile is flagged to recruiters. I also decided to try paying for the Premium service for a few months, to see if the additional insights make a difference in the number of views that my profile receives. I have noticed a few more views in the past month, and have connected with a few more of my current colleagues on the platform.
    3. “Wanna grab a coffee or a beer?” – this is the toughest one for me. I get really anxious at the prospect of hanging out one-on-one or in groups when the explicit purpose is networking. But I know that, in my line of work (as in most), the surest way to find new opportunities is through who you know. So, my goal for the next six months is to start reaching out to former colleagues and friends to meet in casual settings, and discuss their experiences in their current jobs, and seek their advice about where/for whom I might want to try working next. At least one of the former colleagues on my list is someone very much like myself – introverted, type A, prefers email to conversation – so she should be fairly easy for me to approach, and have good insights to share.

Honest networking

So, I’ve made a start. I’ve even applied for a couple of jobs in the past few weeks where I included links to my profile on Linkedin and Instagram. And I think it’s working – I had an interview this past week (keep your fingers-crossed for me!), which, whether I get the job or not, was a big confidence booster. And as I progress through the three commitments I’ve made, I’m sure they will give me the impetus to keep working on building my brand and expanding my networks.

How do you prefer to build your networks? When it comes to your career, do you think it’s better to focus your energy on your online or offline relationships?

COM0015 Blog #1: Older Man Enjoys Easy Listening……

For the past eight months or so I have been slowly working my way through this five part Social Media series and it has been a challenge. I am older than most students and can easily see my sixtieth birthday on the horizon. Yes, I know that many people much older than me are far more internet savvy, but that is not me. Nelly is pushing me kicking and screaming into the wild wonderful world of social media, yet I still rebel. I like easy listening and for me that is Facebook. I am interested in retirement subjects and people my age are very comfortable on Facebook. Since I am required to look elsewhere I have used Twitter but it is a distant second. But listening and monitoring on Facebook works very well for me. It tells me, everything that I want to know, I think. I now understand what retirement issues are important to people my age. What worries them, what angers them and what they want to know more about.

Being a creature of habit I use Google Alerts exclusively. It seems to work well for me. I have explored Hootsuite but I don’t think that I need it. I am sure that there are others out there that can give me a multitude of reasons as to why I need to diversify but so far my limited, but effective social media plan seems to be working out. I think that this is due to the fact that I am seeking a particular niche; people of retirement age in Canada. Yes, people use different social media channels but the majority seem happy to be on Facebook. Perhaps by using other services I could get a better handle on my market but I see it as a lot of effort for limited reward. Think about it. If you were looking for people 55 to 70 years of age that wanted to talk about retirement issues where do you think that you might find them?

If I am really missing some great opportunities to learn more about my niche market feel free to tell me. But you may have to take it easy on me. Until recently I thought that Instagram was an online dating service for available women my age. 🙂

 

COMM15 – Blog Post #3 / Networking Your Social Networks

Everything you put on social media is part of a brand.

Whether it is your business’s profile or it’s your own personal account, everything that is tweeted, posted, commented and favourited is a contribution to the overall development of a brand identity. Who and what you choose to engage with constitutes your social network – the schoolyard playground, so to speak, within which your brand develops and is actualized.

I have had plenty of experience in developing and maintaining various networks across several different brands – both personal and professional.

I’ve had the exciting opportunity to become quite invested in digital content in the sport industry, specifically in tennis, as a result of the networking I did on Twitter – all while using a completely different account from my personal one. I created a “tennis account” where I could follow and engage with tennis journalists, high-profile bloggers, players, and other key stakeholders in the industry. This engagement landed me a volunteer position at Rogers Cup in Montreal, which in turn landed me an internship at Tennis Canada in Toronto, which in turn has allowed me to explore various freelance opportunities within digital media across multiple sports.

On my personal accounts, I take a different approach. The network I’ve developed for myself on Facebook and Instagram, for example, constitutes largely friendships I’ve developed in person prior to engaging with them on social media. My brand of humour is at its best on Facebook, Instagram, and my other Twitter account – and I use that for my personal networking (and who knows, sometimes personal networking can become professional!)

Professional networking is best done in person – there’s no doubt about that. With the amount of options and images and words and people and profiles and everything on the internet, networking “irl” is the job interview you wouldn’t have got online – but that’s not to say there’s not something to be gained professionally in the digital space. In fact, there’s plenty to be gained.

LinkedIn is the number one social networking service for professionals. While I would hesitate to look up a prospective employer or employee (from a recruiter’s perspective) on their Facebook (which should be private and inaccessible anyway), I wouldn’t hesitate to research them on LinkedIn. The networking services that LinkedIn provides are paramount, giving you suggested connections on both real-life connections as well as connections that are aligned with your professional experiences and skills.

My personal commitment to the next several months of networking is to engage more with these platforms at a more frequent rate. It’s easy to let go of your digital presence when real life takes the wheel – and that can’t always be helped. But when it can, maintenance of your social networks is paramount. While I haven’t always been consistent in my posting across all my channels, particularly on LinkedIn, the more engaged I have been the more results I’ve seen in terms of growing my networks and getting myself out there – everywhere.

COMM15 – Blog Post #2 / Strong and Weak Organizations

Getting your business on social media isn’t just something that happens overnight.

Ok, maybe it is – but reaping the the rewards of a social media presence certainly isn’t as simple. Why? Because having a social media presence is much, much different than having a social media strategy. Whereas anyone can make a Facebook page or sign up for an account on Twitter, it takes extra care, effort and planning to execute a content strategy for your profiles. To do it right means you’re taking full advantage of a digital demographic and enhancing your business, but to do it wrong could prove detrimental.

To make things even more complicated, there is no single social media strategy that is applicable to all businesses; a business to consumer model would manage their social media in a completely different way to a business to business model, while a business in the service industry would do it differently from a business selling toys, for example.

When it comes to my two favourite restaurants this side of Toronto, social media is used in two completely different ways – one that is unconventional yet effective, and one that is conventional but ineffective.

the-waterfront-river

The Waterfront River Pub and Terrace is a beautiful gastro pub located just south of the centre of Napanee, Ontario. Opening within a historic limestone building right upon the Napanee River, I had the pleasure of working there as a server for two summers while studying at Queen’s in Kingston.

Their social media approach is… ecclectic – but it works. Jane Adams Roy, the owner of the restaurant, is a vibrant yet to-the-point woman whose years serving in the Canadian Military rubs off only in her management style, but not in her people skills. She’s warm and extremely personable, which reflects in the way she manages her restaurant’s Facebook page.

Napanee is a small city of around 15,000 people and the Facebook page caters primarily to that community. If you’re not part of the Napanee community, their social media presence makes you feel like like a part of it. While The Waterfront is every bit a community pub, the food, craft beers and decor hardly reflect that; with Jane’s social media approach to personal, wacky, and non-corporate engagement with their digital audience, the restaurant simultaneously manages to be up-scale, yet innately rooted in community.

Although The Waterfront doesn’t make use of Twitter or Instagram (where their delicious food could most certainly be photographed and posted) AND they don’t make much use of proper hashtags or tagging in general, the communicative skills they employ on their Facebook page has made the pub a surprising success, growing from 200 likes to nearly 6,000 in just under two years.wooden-heads-exterior

My other favourite restaurant in the Kingston/Napanee area is not quite as effective on social media despite being open for decades longer and with a far more esteemed reputation. Wooden Heads is located in Kingston’s historic downtown area right by the water and has an exceptional modern-Italian cuisine that I’m literally craving at this very second – but that’s only because I’ve been there.

Their Facebook and Twitter pages are practically barren despite being updated frequently. How is that possible, you ask? The only pictures or updates going on either page are the daily specials… and that’s it. Sure, the specials are a fantastic way to get your existing followers keen on coming to the restaurant for something new, but it’s not a way to grow your business’s digital presence.

In contrast with the Waterfront River Pub and Terrace’s social media efforts, which has seen their Facebook following go from 0 to 6,000 in the short three years that they’ve been open, Wooden Heads has around a mere 2,250 following on Facebook and very little engagement – and it’s been open for over 22 years.

COMM15 – Blog Post #1 / Tools & Sources

Here’s a question: why would any individual or business organization spend so much time on social media? Facebook and Twitter are for phone-addicted young people to use in their spare time, right?

As Justin Trudeau once said, because it’s 2015. Ok, so it’s 2016, but the point remains.

We live in a completely different world than we did ten years ago. Actually, we live in two different worlds. Businesses cater to real people in a tangible, physical reality – but they also interact, sell and listen in the digital world. Listening is the first step in reaching any online demographic, and the sources and tools that we use to do so are vast and various.

As a part of the industry of tennis media, I’ve had the change to really explore the digital landscape of sport. I’d like to think I know it pretty well. Using two of my favourite tools, I’ve been able to keep a close eye on everything tennis related over the years – both as a fan and as employed by the industry.

Hootesuite and Tweetdeck are invaluable tools for any social media listener. I get a feel for community, real-time updates, and an easy to use interface that allows me to keep track of thousands of different social media accounts. Used in tandem, both tools provide all the same updates as an RSS feed dashboard (such as feedly.com), and both use a similar interface that I like to have open on two separate screens. Users like to post and retweet news articles across social media, making an RSS platform unnecessary (so long as you’re following the right people), and the ability to track trends and hashtags on both means you are always up to date on the big stories right when they happen.

Tweetdeck I use exclusively for Twitter happenings. I have multiple Twitter accounts for various organizations (including my personal one!), and each timeline is unique and requires separate attention. I keep certain users separated on different feeds, as well as certain trends depending on the time of the year in tennis (such as #USOpen hashtag when the US Open is taking place, or Tennis Canada’s #sleepisfortheweek hashtag during the Australian Open). On Hootesuite, I place all my other social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, and monitor those platforms as I would Twitter on Tweetdeck.

Getting the right news updates from the right sources is imperative to social media listening. In tennis, there are two sources that always keep me posted on all the breaking news within the sport. The first, of course, is Twitter, where I have a specific list of reputable journalists that are always bringing real-time coverage of tennis. This list includes Ben Rothenberg of the NY Times and the @WTA_insider account, which is the WTA’s own agent of inside tennis coverage on the women’s tour.

The other source is this underground Portuguese tennis website called “Bola Amarela.” Random, I know (– and I don’t even speak Portuguese). I personally view this website and its accompanying Facebook page to be an exceptional model of how to use social media in the sport industry. They have all the videos of all the crazy things that happen in the tennis industry, from the very top levels to the lower amateur levels of the sport. I check in on Bola Amarela daily to get a glimpse at what’s happening in the tennis world.

Sure, there’s a lot of social media to scan if you want to be consistently immersed in your industry – but hey, it’s 2016 and that’s just how the world works.

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

COM0015 Assignment #1 Post #4 – Out of the Box

Out of the Box

A really neat application that I recently discovered is story maps. As their name suggests, story maps are just another social media channel to tell a story.

In a nutshell, story maps use geography as a means of organizing and presenting information. They tell the story of a place, event, issue, trend, or pattern in a geographic context. They combine interactive maps with other rich content — text, photos, video, and audio — within user experiences that are basic and intuitive. They use the tools of geographic information systems (GIS) but don’t require their users to have any special knowledge or skills in GIS so anyone with access to the Internet and a curiosity about the world can use them, according to their web site.

Similar to when you walk through an art gallery and listen to a tour on headphones, one great application for a story map is a walking tour through a historic district.

In my day job, people have asked me to create an Ottawa River trail. The river is more than 1200km long and if you virtually covered both sides of the river you could potentially have 2400 locations, 1km apart. I envision a story map fundraiser based on a combination of such ‘old school’ fundraisers as a ‘donation wall’ (where you buy a cardboard heart or leaf and tape it to a wall) and the ‘adopt a mile of highway’ campaign.

I still need to figure out how to monetize this app, and how to let viewers upload their own content relating to a specific part of the river, via Twitter for instance, in return for a donation. Speaking of Twitter, it does have a “geolocated API” which lets developers build geolocation into their tweets so merging the two channels shouldn’t be that difficult. Additionally, I need to sort out how staff could curate or moderate the content to avoid inappropriate postings.

The sky’s the limit with this app, and I am super excited about its potential. You could actually create a map that goes back in time with layers of content relating to each decade.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for using story maps, as well as your ideas to monetize it and easily automate uploading content from multi-users.

COM0015 Assignment #1 Post #3

Professional Networking Now and in the Future

My strategy to develop my professional network online and in person comprises five components.

First, I need to beef up my Linked In profile, since this is often the first place a new contact will look for me.  Accordingly, I will update my resume to highlight my newly-completed social media certificate, and link my profile to my company web site and blog. In addition, I will ask both colleagues and clients for recommendations.

Second, I will update my corporate blog by showcasing all the projects I have worked on over the last several months. I will also spotlight how social media was successfully used in each project. Luckily, the projects I work on are visually-rich so I will be able to include lots of images.  The plan is to quickly summarize each project in photo essays instead of lengthy written blogs and or use free apps like Animoto.com which automatically turns images, video clips and music into videos. I will promote said blogs on both Twitter and Facebook. Concurrently, I will update my corporate Facebook cover photo and web site masthead image.

Third, I will lend my professional expertise to a good cause and take on a project pro bono. Doing community service and volunteering in person pays off in spades. It is a terrific way to meet like-minded people and new clients, and in effect ‘test the waters’ to see if you like working with these people.

Here is a video capturing a Monster Book Sale I organized for my local community centre last fall with the help of local students. Created with Animoto, the video took 40 minutes to produce.

Monster Book Sale

Fourth, I will use Twitter hash tags to develop a network of contacts relating to a new side venture which involves turning a hobby into a business. I have lots of local contacts but need to focus on broadening my horizons and developing relationships with international suppliers.

Fifth, again relating to this new venture, I will join some local clubs this summer and take some continuing education courses next fall in order to establish my credentials and develop a network of people who could refer new business to me.

COM0015 Assignment #1 Post #2

Strong & Weak Organizations

The Ottawa Food Bank is one local non-profit organization with an impressive social media strategy; while CHEO Foundation is another local organization whose social media strategy in my opinion needs improvement.

The Ottawa Food Bank caught my attention when it made Charity Intelligence Canada’s 2012 Top Picks list of the best run charities in Canada. It was the only local charity to make the list and one of 45 Canada-wide that did make the list.

6 things the Ottawa Food Bank is doing well

1. They have a Web 2.0-based web site that is updated daily with fresh content.
2. The web site incorporates flat design elements which are a step in the right direction for making the web site mobile friendly.
3. They have a social media presence on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook – and the tone is warm, friendly and informal.
4. Their social media presence is coordinated across all channels. On February 28, 2014, for example, they blogged about the First Time Donor Super Credit and promoted the blog on both Facebook and Twitter:
“Hey there first time donors! Did you know there’s a Super Tax Credit out there for you?
http://ottawafoodbank.ca/2014/02/first-time-donor-super-credit/”
5. They post content daily – even on weekends, capturing the Saturday am coffee crowd.
6. They offer donors mobile giving and text to give options.


Ottawa Food Bank also gets kudos for extremely engaged supporters, who are generating content for the organization.

CHEO Foundation popped up on my radar when Charity Intelligence graded them negatively for not being financially transparent, having overly high fundraising/programs ratios and citing them in a report about hospital charity lotteries.

6 things CHEO Foundation is not doing well

1. Their web site is bilingual, their Facebook and Twitter content is not.
2. Their web site is not mobile-optimized whatsoever.
3. They do not offer mobile and text to give options.
4. Cheo Foundation does not have its own Facebook Page. It feeds into an omnibus CHEO Facebook page that it shares with CHEO Hospital and the CHEO Research Institute. Consequently, content has a very “official-corporate-communications-department” tone to it, and it appears content is posted 9-5, Monday – Friday. The foundation is missing the boat on building relationships with such key communities as their event sponsors, donors and volunteers.
5. Cheo Foundation does not have its own Twitter account. It feeds into an omnibus CHEO Twitter account that it shares with CHEO Hospital and the CHEO Research Institute. Again, content has a very “official-corporate-communications-department” tone to it.
6. Some CHEO Foundation events have their own Facebook pages, yet no Twitter pages, with sporadic unilingual postings. As an example, the Facebook page for one of its signature events CN Cycle has postings several months apart. The most recent posting is on February 5, 2014 and the one before that was dated August 27th, 2013. In addition, the masthead banners in the CN Cycle web site and the CN Cycle Facebook cover photo have different event dates – it is all very confusing. I assume someone forgot to update the Facebook 2013 cover photo.

In conclusion, I am rather surprised at CHEO Foundation’s lack-lustre performance in social media channels. It appears this large, well-funded, well-staffed organization considers social media an afterthought.

COM0015 Assignment #1 Post #1

Tools & Sources

Klout is one of my favorite monitoring tools.  It’s a free easy-to-use app that measures your influence (defined as when you share something on social media and people respond) on a scale of 1-100 across all your networks. I get an email notifying me whenever my Klout score goes up, which serves as a useful reminder to review my social media marketing efforts.

EventBrite’s dashboard also gets my stamp of approval. Eventbrite is an online ticketing system that I use regularly at work. Their dashboard breaks down traffic from various promotional tools and depicts the results in both colorful pie charts and charts so you quickly know exactly where to concentrate your efforts.

Two Best Sources of News

For local news, nothing beats my physical community’s Facebook group.  I love this group so much; I go into serious withdrawal if I don’t check it at least once a day. Members comprise families who reside in a defined geographic area.  Through this group I get immediate notification of safety-related issues in my neighborhood ranging from weather-related road closures and car and marine accidents to bear sightings and power outages. This is important because there is only one road in and out of the rural village I live in. I also get good news, including reports of eagle and snowy owl sightings. As a long-time, trusted and active contributor to this group, I know I will be ahead of the game when I start marketing my new business to the other members.

My second favorite source of news is Twitter. I follow numerous journalists who cover municipal issues so I always get breaking news. I found out the Cheshire Cat pub was burning, for example, before the fire reels even arrived. With respect to my professional development, I find the 140-character length tweets enable me to quickly scan and digest reams of information.