COM0014- Blog 2: Is your story getting lost?

Have you ever wondered why yoshare your story pixabayur story isn’t getting much attention? Why it is not gaining popularity, then perhaps you are doing something not right!

In this competitive world of digital age, it is easy for your story to get lost in clutter. Storytelling is an art and if done corrective, it can be very effective in gaining interest and popularity.

Canva - Apple Magic Mouse on Brown TableThis week’s lesson was a bit of an eye opener. The main point from this week’s reading was philosophy of inverted triangle i.e. putting important information first so that you can grab reader’s attention as quickly as possible vs. potentially losing them.  It is best to layout your story before writing in the most clear and concise way by ensuring that the story has clear beginning, middle and end. It is always a great idea to consider what kind of experience you want your audience to have.

While writing your content, the part that we all are aware and seldom forget or overlookCanva - Red Pen on English Grammar Text is grammar, spelling and punctuation. When we get into mode of writing, we forget these elements which from a reader’s perspective looks unprofessional. It is always a good idea to get your story proofread by someone else as I believe fresh pair of eyes are always better to catch errors.

Use of active vs. passive voice is also an integral part of telling your story. Using a passive voice is one of the most common mistakes in writing. The story only gets lots of attention and interest when you can ask questions to your readers and when they can relate to the story.

To summarize, take away from this week’s reading is to begin writing with the end in the mind with deciding what kind of experience you want your audience to have and how to engage with them.

(Source of photos: http://www.canva.com)

Watch Your Language!…and get Clients!

Watch Your Language!…and get Clients!

Don’t Get Stuck in a Time Tunnel

Recently, I attended a meeting of a proactive community group. We were to do an outreach to find some prospective candidates for important positions and portfolios. The letter had been prepared for the larger community, and an elder in the group proof read the letter. His critique was to change the term “their” to the term “he/she” , as was his experience. The letter was then forwarded to me.

I received the proof read letter and viewed the “correction” within. I gasped. I sputtered. I knew something had gone awry. The “proofer” (sic) was using communication protocol that went beck 25 years, and here I am stuck in the second decade of the 21st century.  But what was it? What was bothering me? There it was…the words “their” and “he/she”!

I hadn’t considered that pronouns would elicit such importance in society today. Alas, there it was staring at me. Stark naked! The letter would eliminate a good segment and important part of our community. The Lesbian, Bisexual,  Gay, Trans-sexual, Queer + (LBGTQ+) segment of society that may not only be overlooked, but could be excluded by such pronouns. The letter may not only be discounting, but perceptively dismissive.

four gay teenagers sitting on ledge near window

https://www.pexels.com/photo/four-men-sitting-on-platform-923657/ Kat Wilcox

I recalled university days, and the importance of the American Psychological Association (Writing) Style Manual (APA Style) and then, like a mirage on the horizon the Chicago (Writing) Style Manual came galloping through the sunset.  Invaluable, anti-pretentious, and preventative by nature these tombs dropped in front of me like manna from the sky.

Use It or Lose It

Writing style manuals are critical to not just our respective professions, like social media, consulting, psychology, sales,journalist, media, writing, small business, government, etc., but helps to keep us up to date, and not “dated”, and communicativly correct for both the greater society and our client base. This is if I would like to appear that I may know what I am saying. Now I do. These manuals, as noted above, inclusive of  the newly appreciated contributions for social media by organizations and media (Cohen, 2012), keeps your blog writing accurate and reflective of our society right outside your window.

United States Federal Government Style Manual

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/GPO-STYLEMANUAL-2016-ABOUT.pdf  USA Government Style manual for Federal Government Publishing.

I now approached our group. I layed it out on the table and stated at the term “their” is an all inclusive term, where the wording “he/she” remains exclusive. Gasps of folly and embarrassment followed. The APA, as a note, dropped the “he/she” term in 2005, and not only cited the above argument, but pointed that “he/she” becomes tedious in an academic paper. (APA Guidelines, https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/guidelines.aspx).The unintended trap-FOILED!

As Cohen quotes  “A style guide can be that “second thought” assuring us our content is appropriate and consistent”. (Cohen, 2012).

It is tough to be a hero, albeit a micro one.

Engagement

I approached some members of the LBGTQ+ local community to update them on our search for people for our community group. I had mentioned the deliberate, but minor, adjustment to the language used in our communcations and newsletters. They were delighted at the fact and posted it to their respective Facebook site. Appreciative as I was, I was not aware of the enthusiasm that had generated nor newer volunteers and clients that would generate.  Now I use it.  As an influencer outreach their blogging and Facebook brought their community to us (Patel, 2018).

facebook spelled in scrabble letters on table top

https:/www.pexels.com/photo/advertising-alphabet-blog-close-up-267371/

More Clients

We paid attention, we engaged our group and who knew I’d ever tell this story. Our brand’s credibility through the language we used and our follow up through engagement (as I now know it) created success. Writing style manuals was a crucial part of being relevant to our volunteers and clients, and I subscribe to this vigilance.

As quoted by Massengill, ”  DO write and rewrite and write and rewrite and write and rewrite…” (Massengill, John, March 10, 2018).

It helps one think, think, think and use professional language and client’s respect.

Patrick Meagher is an on-line student enrolled in Social Media at Algonquin College through Ontario Learn.

 

footnotes:

Practice Guidelines for LGB Clients

Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients

January 2012

https://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/guidelines.aspx

 

Kevin Payne

Published December 13, 2017

Blogger Outreach: How to Integrate Influencers Into Your Content Marketing Strategy Kevin is an Inbound Marketing Consultant that helps startups increase their website traffic. When he’s not helping clients, he’s often blogging.

https://growthmarketingconf.com/blogger-outreach-how-to-integrate-influencers-into-your-content-marketing-strategy/

 

Sujan Patel   November 7, 2018

15 Tips to Increase Your Brand’s Social Media Engagements

https://www.business2community.com/brandviews/startup-socials/15-tips-to-increase-your-brands-social-media-engagements-02138590

 

Joe Massengill Published March 10, 2018

5 Crucial Elements for Writing Great Social Media Posts

https://www.outboundengine.com/blog/writing-great-social-media-posts/

 

Avoiding Heterosexual Bias in Language

American Psychologist
September 1991, Volume 46, Issue No. 9, 973-974

Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns
American Psychological Association

©1991 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Esther Rothblum, Department of Psychology, John Dewey Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 5405.

COM0014 Blog 7 – Personal Reflection

COM0014 Blog 7 – Personal Reflection

We all have a story to tell and people want to hear your story.

A well written story can make a boring topic seem more interesting.  I can’t think of one of my friends that would enjoy reading about SEO and ROI, but I you turn it into a story that relates to someone’s business by outlining the steps taken to improve SEO or ROI they may be more likely to read it.

When the goal of your content is to provide value to your reader they are more likely to read, like, comment and share.  By using real life situations, it will be more interesting to read.  For instance, I could select any direct sales business or small business from one of my networking groups and write about it.  I can highlight people and talk about what we did to improve their content or how we were able to increase interaction and so much more.  I currently share posts from friends that are getting a lot of interaction as an example of “doing it right”.

My content will include subjects like the following:

  • Are you committed to social media?
  • Why listening is important.
  • Why it’s important to have quality likes on your business page.
  • Stories about women in direct sales.
  • What is your why?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where is your target audience?
  • How to build engagement.

My writing style is aimed at teaching and helping small business and at the same time I plan to write about successful women in small business and show how they have used social media to build their business.

Have you read “Content Rules“, by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman? It is a very good read for anyone wanting to find their writing “voice”.

Do you know any other good books about writing good content?

 

Personal Reflection on COM0014 Digital Communications

Being a publishing professional for 25 years, I understand that storytelling is important in all communications, whether it’s print, broadcast or online. Storytelling brings the content to life by painting a picture for the audience. By putting things into context, storytelling makes complex concepts easier to understand.

News Flash by FlashDesignsStudio.com shares stories of photography events happening in the Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal triangle. It also shares research news stories that advanced photographers might find interesting. Photography 101 uses a story format of having a beginning, middle and end when explaining basic concepts and how-tos for novice photographers. In the future, I hope to tell stories about some of Norm’s and my theme photography shoots. As good storytelling is important to any medium, I could have easily submitted most of these blogs to a hobby magazine for possible publication as articles.

While the course covered basic communications concepts of storytelling and target audiences well, I’m disappointed that the course did not provide any digital– or social-media-specific information. As I mentioned in my discussion board introduction, I was hoping this course would cover how to write for the different social media platforms. While writing a blog is similar to writing an article, getting something substantial in 140 characters or less on Twitter is a challenge for me. The course did not address this. It would be useful to know how to use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to their fullest potential. I understand there are too many social media platforms to be able to cover them all, but Facebook and Twitter are by far the largest and would be part of every social media strategy. Perhaps writing one or more Facebook posts and tweets with every blog, whether related or not, should be part of future courses.

Personal Reflection

Storytelling has been around since the start. It’s found in every culture around the world and it’s what binds us. It’s essential for us to make connections and relate to each other. With storytelling, we find common ground. Without it, we lose what links us together.

Creating great digital content means turning out a good story. When that happens, the audience recognizes that someone is making an effort to make a connection; that there is a willingness to be open and share on a deeper level. It’s all about forming relationships. And in the age of social media, connecting, sharing and engaging are key.

The good thing about creating content that revolves around storytelling is that it is pretty straightforward. Most of us overthink when we write. We try to sound professional and well-versed. We use big, complicated words to impress. Our sentences run long. When, in fact, all we have to do is write a little more like we talk. (When in doubt, read something you wrote aloud to yourself. Or better yet, someone you know. If they grimace, start again).

Great storytelling can only help create top-drawer content if it follows some rules. One, know your audience. You need to tailor all of your content to appeal to your base. Two, have a plan in place. Strategize. Three, follow the basic rules of storytelling. And last, be real. Be authentic. Your audience will know if you are not.

We share stories. We listen to them. We repeat the good ones we’ve heard. And everybody has that one story they love to tell (no matter how annoying it is). Good storytelling will become great content. Don’t underestimate what it can do.

 

COM0014 Post #7 – Have I learned to be a better storyteller?

The answer is yes. I have become a better storyteller and I have this course to thank.

Storytelling

Source: Rosenfeld Media Flickr

I have learned the digital storytelling is the process of oral storytelling with multi-media elements. Digital storytelling helps to create and build communities, to learn to communicate effectively and to help those reflect on their pasts.

But the question you must continue to ask yourself is, is your content strategy guided by audience intent or simply your intent? When it comes to content strategy your purpose should be to target your audience effectively with the intention that your audience should benefit from your story. The old-school content strategies are always around keywords, but what about audience  intent? There’s a lot of focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) around optimized landing pages (as there should be). Content, on the other hand, is more than just optimized website pages. Content is a means of communicating and building a relationship with an audience.  So, you should understand the audience intent. What would they consider useful? What would they consider interesting or engaging? What would they consider shareable? A great piece of content requires all of the things.

Source: Stories from the storytelling dog meme

Source: Stories from the storytelling dog meme

I know that there is a variety of stories that I want to tell, even shout from the digital mountain. I know that moving forward, I will continue to tell the story of our Waterfront Campus of Algonquin College including, our successes, our amazing and enthusiastic student body, and our lesser know stories – the diamonds in the rough so to speak. I hope that my passion for the college is seen as genuine and authentic – that I am engaging enough to cultivate an online audience.

What have your learned about digital storytelling? I want to know!

COMM 0015 – Blog Post #1: What social media platforms are the most useful to you?

New social media platforms pop-up all the time and I am constantly exploring what I can use to get the most current and credible information available. While I do have many avenues for where I find information, (mainly online but print as well, I’m still holding out), there are two social media platforms I visit regularly.

Currently, my organization’s Twitter feed is the best source to find out what our community is talking about. People post curtwitter_wallpaperrent events, trending topics and links to what they find interesting. Since SIRC is an avenue for the sport community to communicate with each other, Twitter is a valuable resource for determining future content for blogs, newsletters and LinkedIn posts. Obviously, Twitter does not always deliver quality content, but it can definitely be a good jumping off point for discovering new topics. Knowing your audience is key in engaging and delivering the content people want to read and share, and Twitter delivers a very intimate insight into who you followers are and what they would like to see.

LinkedIn creates a different sort of value for an organization or your own personal brand. I’m still familiarizing myself with LinkedIn, but since I opened an account, I’ve been using it almost everyday. I love how customizable it is, the job posts and news feed are often populated with content I enjoy reading. From my initial observations, I’ve noticed that many of our partner’s don’t use this tool as effectively as they might, my company included. It is my goal for our company to blaze a path, so to speak, by creating and sharing good content through our LinkedIn page. One of the main ideas for this is to get guest writers – leaders in the sport community – to contribute content specifically geared for professional development which will add credibility and appeal to what we are already sharing.Social-Media-300x300

I’m assuming most people use LinkedIn as a place to look for or post jobs, but I see the site as growing into so much more than that. I really enjoy the news feed, many of the posts are directly related to professional development or are curated from the internet to appeal to their audience. With the ability to like, comment, and share articles, a company or individual can increase their reach in a very easy and informal way.

RSS feeds, online newspapers and magazines, newsletters and some of our partner’s company blog posts are also very useful for gaining insight into current trends and topics.  Do you use LinkedIn or Twitter? How do you use them and do you find them effective?

COM0011 – Blog Post 6: Effective Content

Eventually, my personal brand will be that of a communications, media, and design guru, so I will draw from those already existing to describe content that I think would be relevant.

Adele Chan, founder of a special events and PR business called Blank Communications based out of Vancouver, is a lovely example of what I hope to achieve. She works with clients of the beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and consumer brands of Canada and customizes unique communication strategies to enhance brand awareness and growth. If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll notice that she regularly posts ‘features’, ‘client news’, or ‘as seen in’ posts to showcase her clients and what they’re doing, outside of the raw promotional efforts she establishes and organizes with her clients…almost as a way of bragging about them. She also posts short updates or photos on events she has helped organize, or events that she personally cares about. I think this is the kind of content that would matter to her audience because not only does it reinforce her commitment to work with them and help them grow, but it also showcases her work to prospective clients, who may have just been wanting more information about an event and not knowing that she was the force behind it.

I think from a design professional’s point-of-view, any graphic work or videography they may be working on is really relevant, because that type of content is the most snackable and shareable content as far as social media is concerned. So if you were working on a brand launch or a video project, updates on progress or actual video snippets of what’s to come are really relevant and would also generate some excitement leading up to whatever it is you might be launching.

I look forward to all of these aspects of my future!

COM0011-521: Blog # 6 Effective content for my organization

Image

I have a particular conundrum that I am struggling with vis-a-vis Social Media.  Here is some background to start. Please forgive me if this post is somewhat lengthy.

I am presently doing some work for the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS), which hears complaints about abuse suffered by former students, and determines if — and how much — compensation should be awarded to them.

For those of you who not are aware about Indian Residential Schools (sadly this seems to be most Canadians), the federal government had a policy of forcibly removing Indian children from their families and schooling them at institutions that were co-managed by churches.  The goal was to assimilate Aboriginal people by “removing the Indian from the child.” Over 150,000 students attended Indian Residential Schools starting in the late 1800s.  The last school closed in 1996. Students were not allowed to speak their languages or practice their culture.  Many students were horribly abused at the schools — accounts of sexual, physical and emotional abuse are widespread, well documented and widely corroborated.

In 2007, as part of the largest class action suit in Canadian history, the Courts set up IRSAS, one of several components of a comprehensive settlement agreement for former students of Indian Residential Schools.

Communicating with claimants has been a challenge.  For one, they are mostly elderly, and generally have a low level of literacy.  In many cases they do not speak English or French. Many live in remote areas where Internet connections are difficult (if they have access to a computer). About 85% are represented by lawyers, which means we cannot communicate directly with them — we must work through their counsel.  Many of the claimants are emotionally fragile as a result of the abuse they suffered; there is a high level of alcoholism and substance abuse.  Many of our urban claimants have lived on the streets or have been incarcerated. In short, not an easy audience to reach.

So, I find myself wondering whether to invest in Social Media as a tool to reach them, and what type of content would resonate.  There are several hurdles to overcome.  First, the need for confidentiality — as an organization we cannot even confirm or deny whether an individual is a claimant under our process because of the nature of abuse they suffered, which was frequently sexual. Literacy is another issue — basic literacy and computer literacy.  And, there are limited funds — communications are already stretched thin in an organization that communicates primarily on a reactive basis rather than pro-actively.  So, do we spend more money and adopt SM?  What is is our ROI in a process that will end in four years, once all of the claims have been heard?

In terms of content, I think it must be very simple, and accentuate what claimants can do if they need help.  In formulating a SM strategy, I am considering two, perhaps three vehicles.  YouTube will help us get around the literacy issue, but quality video is expensive to produce. We have invested in a professionally produced film that we will distribute on a YouTube channel, but I don’t see the capacity to produce many more.  If we are able to produce anything else, it will likely simply be a few short video clips.  I’d love to have claimants who have been through the process talk about their experience, but most are reluctant to speak publicly of the abuse they suffered.

I am also considering Facebook and Twitter, but our strategy would be to use these tools to target those who help and support  claimants — their children, family members, health support workers, counsel, Friendship Centres and others that work with Aboriginal People.  Our goal with these tools would be to listen, educate and drive traffic to our website, where additional information is available.

I am aware that Twitter was used to great effect in Idle No More movement, and that young Aboriginal People are well connected through Social Media.

We would start by doing some active listening through various channels to determine how and where we could best intervene.  The strategy is coming together in my head, my client seems open to the idea of delving into Social Media, but I have no clue on the amount of resources would be required — I have to think it would take at least one person working a third to half time to make any type of impact.  I’d appreciate any thoughts you may have on this!

BTW, I remain shocked and saddened that so few Canadians are aware of this sad chapter in our history.  If abuse of this magnitude were to occur to any other group in Canadian society there would be outrage and quick action. Most observers acknowledge the IRS system as the root of the many social problems that our Aboriginal People experience today.  Can you imagine never receiving a hug as a child?  Or never having your birthday celebrated? Not being able to speak your language, being robbed of your culture, your heritage, your way of life?  I encourage you all to educate yourselves about this issue, because reconciliation with our First People is everyone’s responsibility, and will make us a stronger country.

COM0011 – 521 Blog Post #6: Using Effective Content

Being an online company, we have so many possibilities when it comes to effective content. The internet is our playground which we really need to explore more of and use to the best of its abilities. One thing that we are currently doing effectively is sending out bi-montly email newsletters with coupon codes. They always generate a decent amount of sales, and we often get customers posting on our Facebook page asking when our next coupon code email is going to be.  We put them on coupon sites such as retailmenot, and we’ve found them shared on other coupon based sites. We put them on Facebook as well, but we could probably be doing that better, and reaching more people if we used better pictures and hashtags.

Something we aren’t doing that we really should be is making videos and putting those in our newsletters, social media sites and our own site.  Having learned how important videos are in terms of content and SEO, we have started planning a few videos to use on our site and social media pages, and I am excited to see how effective they are. We hope that they will attract more people to our Facebook and Twitter so that when we put up question posts people will actually start answering. It would be great to but some questions on Facebook and receive feedback from customers and expend our reach.

We have a photographer/graphic designer on site and another thing we do well is product pictures. We should be utilizing Pinterest more and putting a mix of product pictures, videos, and staff pictures up there. Since you can add sales and links to your site on each “pin” it would be another way to advertise our products and coupon codes. Having the name Feelbest we should also try putting up infographics on how our products benefit your health and how to effectively use the product. I think that is content that could really help us gain a following.

-Alison Collins