Assignment #1, Blog#4: B2C

There are so many good examples of B2C (Business 2 Consumer) now a days, it was hard to choose which one. Like a kid in a candy store I chose Home Depot as my business for this assignment. Home Depot Inc. or Home Depot is an American based home improvement supply retailer that sells everything from light bulbs to everything you need to construct your home from the ground up.

Home Depot uses several different paths when it comes to social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, You Tube, Twitter and Blogs. Home Depot has taken the approach towards three different types of customers. The first being DIY ( Do It Yourself ), DIFM (Do It For Me ) and Professional Customers ( Contractors ) which takes care of all their target audiences. They also use in store Demos to promote sales along with Flyers and Special Buys/Purchases. Below is a link explaining their approach to sales and how they draw their customers in by using Omnichannel ( store, online, mobile ), which they were named Retailer of the Year by Internet Retailer in June 2017.

The Ultimate Guide to selling at Home Depot

Home Depot prides its self on 8 core values:

  1. Taking care of their customers
  2. Giving back to communities
  3. Doing the right thing
  4. Excellent customer service
  5. Building Shareholder value
  6. Ambitious spirit
  7. Building strong relationships
  8. Respect for all

With these 8 core values in mind one would think they are on the right path to success, provided they are driven with a common method for all employees involved from the sales floor to the corporate levels. Below is a link explaining how different departments or even Home Depot stores can discuss and share information. This gives their employees a convenient two-way path for communication to help with common issues and information. If this system is used correctly Home Depot should be able to keep on top of issues that arise and work towards a common goal as a retail giant home improvement supply store.

Their major competition is Lowes which is also orginally from United States. Between the two which is your favourite store?

Home Depot – The Internal Social Media

COM0015, Blog 2: Photography on Social Media: The Good and the Not-So-Good

Perhaps the strongest social media strategy I’ve been from a follower’s perspective is at the National Gallery of Canada. They share a lot of information about what exhibits they have, retweet what other people are posting and only occasionally make a sales pitch. The National Gallery has Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts, making full use of the major social media platforms. What makes their social media strategy so impressive is how they use each platform differently, with little overlap of images or other content. A Facebook post about the new Canadian Photography Institute provides interesting information and images. They retweet quite a bit from their followers and following, and not just my share of their tweet on the Josef Sudek exhibit. Of course, it is the season for gift giving and the National Gallery does do some sales promotion, but it keeps the sales to a minimum.

Not quite as good is ViewBug because it shares articles freely and highlights many different photographers, not just the winners of its contests. It has Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn (although just launched three months ago with three posts and nothing more) accounts. But what surprises me from a photo-sharing website, is that ViewBug has an Instagram account. I mostly monitor ViewBug’s Twitter account, which is often repeated on Google+ (an area that needs improvement), not only shares serious articles like Photography: From Hobby To Full Time Job and Top Tips to Become a Great Fashion Photographer, but has fun sharing photographers’ images.

One would never know by visiting the Vistek website that they even have social media accounts because there are no logos or links to their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and whatever other platforms they may use. As well as having too many advertising posts that directly sell to followers, Vistek spends more time with drones than cameras. Even its Facebook posts to its own blog is direct sales marketing. Its YouTube channel provides some how-to videos, which can be handy, but they end with a statement to “Pick up a [insert product here] from http://www.vistek.ca today!” Rarely does Vistek retweet messages. Having a constant stream of ads only leads to people unfollowing them. Vistek needs to spend more time interacting with the photography community and joining or starting conversations. They need to start listening to the various conversations. Once they have a feel for that, they should start commenting and sharing their expertise on those conversations. All of this will help inform them about what photographers want and need to be able to provide that. Asking for feedback would also help them engage their audience.

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.

 

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

Find your Blogging Voice

how-often-blog-why-blogging-writing-ideas

A blog “is the best bet for a voice among the online crowd. It’s a personal website, packed with features, as easy to use as your e-mail”(What’s your story). 

I seemed to have made myself a little theme with my last few blog posts so I decided I was going to do a blog about blogging.

I have my own personal blog, along with the blog posts I put on this site. I must say, my blog has taken the back burner since I started this program, as I have just gotten too busy. My blog was started last January, it was started with a co-worker of mine, and we did it as a challenge. We had decided that we were going to be trapped in our closets for 2015, that we were not allowed to shop for the year, and that we must wear all of our clothes in our closets. In my business, I have many events that I attend in a week, from store-openings, to charity events, to gala’s and I seemed to buy a new outfit for every event. The blog gave me a reason not to shop. It gave me a purpose! So I completely understand why people are bloggers, and why it is so enjoyable. But I often wonder…

Where do people find the time!

Now there is nothing wrong with being a blogger and spending time on your blog; however I couldn’t make my blog work, because I couldn’t spend enough time on it. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked blogging, but I felt let down when I wasn’t getting a lot of views on my blog, and I wasn’t getting the followers I wanted. It made me feel that I was writing for no reason. So I am here today to discuss how you can write and manage a successful blog.

Some questions came to mind when I first started writing this blog post, that made me stop and re-evaluate my own blog. I suggest you ask yourself the following questions as well about blogging before you put more time into your blog:  what do you want to achieve with your blog? More followers? PR opportunities? Just sharing your thoughts, opinions and tips? Once you have answered all of these questions, you can best plan out the next few moves on your blog. Here are a few tips on how to make your blog better:

  1. Find your Niche; writing a blog about an idea or concept that no other blog is writing about is going to be key. You want your blog to be different. You want your readers to come back to your blog everyday, and choose to read your blog over another blog.
  2. Be original; as mentioned above, you want your blog to bring in the traffic, so you need to be original. It is going to be hard to find something to write about when everyone is writing blogs nowadays however if you are original; with your pictures, with your attitude, with your writing style, you will bring the readers to your blog, even if your subject matter is the same as other bloggers.
  3. Social Media; each time you post something, post it on your blog’s Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram and ask readers to check out your new blog post.
  4. Google+; Create a Google+ account for your blog, the more you post on google+ the higher your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rank goes up. Every time someone searches on google something that links to your blog, the higher the chances are your blog will be seen. Also don’t forget to add those tags to your blog!
  5. Photography; Make sure any pictures you post on your blog are well-lit, clear, and feature your picture in the best light. Readers want to understand what you are talking about and adding more pictures will help. However they don’t want to see photos that are blurry and that they can’t make out.
  6. Contact me; make sure your blog has a contact me button. The easier it is to get in touch with you the easier collaboration will other bloggers will be. The great thing about collaborations, is that the other bloggers’ followers will go to your blog because you have collaborated with one of their bloggers they follow.
  7. Keep it simple; don’t make your blog complicated. I believe people read blogs to escape reality, and when your blog is too confusing, you are going to lose followers/readers, because the reader can’t escape reality.
  8. Comments; make questions in your blogs, so that readers want to comment on your blog. You can leave an open-ended question, or ask readers to post their opinion in the comments, this creates a sense of unity to the reader, and they will come back to your blog. You are creating a community!
  9. Add new content; remember to post regularly. As with any social media, you are going to lose readers if they have nothing to read. Readers are not going to come back to your blog, if there is never any new content. Try making yourself a schedule, plan out your post on a calendar and stick to it.
  10. Headlines; remember to make your titles of your blog catchy. People will be intrigued to read your blog if your title triggers something in them.

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So the question is are you going “to blog or not to blog”. I think in our social media driven society, that everyone should have a blog, as it is a way to share your experiences with friends, family and random strangers on the internet. Please post any other ideas or suggests in the comment section on how to run a more successful blog 🙂

COM0011 Blog 3 —Social Media and Poor Sleep: Cause or Effect?

Two recently completed research projects looked at the relation between social media use and sleep. While they came to two different conclusions, they seem to point to a potential spiral effect.

High social media use causes sleep problems

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh studied 1,788 Americans ages 19 to 32 from across the country in 2014. Participants filled out questionnaires about the time they spent each day on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, SnapChat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn and the frequency each week. Researchers also assess sleep disturbances with an established scientific system.

On average, participants used social media about an hour per day and 30 times per week. Nearly 30 per cent had high levels of sleep disturbance.

Adjusting for socio-demographic differences, researchers found that participants in the highest 25 per cent of use per day were nearly twice as likely to have sleep disturbances as those in the lowest quartile. Participants in the highest 25 per cent of frequency per week were nearly three times as likely to have sleep problems as those in the lowest quartile. According to lead researcher Jessica C. Levenson:

“This may indicate that frequency of social media visits is a better predictor of sleep difficulty than overall time spent on social media…. If this is the case, then interventions that counter obsessive checking behavior may be most effective.”

The researcher team suggests physicians consider asking patients about social media habits when assessing sleep issues. Interestingly, though, they acknowledge the possibility that participants used social media to pass the time when they could not fall asleep or return to sleep.

Sleep problems cause high Facebook use

While a significant amount of research has looked at how technology affects sleep, researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) turned the idea around and looked at how sleep affected technology usage.

The researchers collected data from 24 male and 42 female UCI undergraduate students for seven days during the spring of 2014. Taking into consideration the students’ gender, age, course load and deadlines, the team of researchers measured students’ behaviour, activities and stress levels. The team did this by using sensors and installing software on the participants’ computers and smart phones that logged and time stamped when they switched from one application window to another or used their phones. Students also completed a sleep survey each morning and an end-of-day survey each night.

The UCI team found that a lack of sleep — which causes tiredness, irritability (bad mood) and distractibility — leads to more frequent online activities, such as browsing Facebook. According to lead researcher Gloria Mark:

“When you get less sleep, you’re more prone to distraction…. If you’re being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It’s lightweight, it’s easy, and you’re tired.”

Mark and her team found that the less sleep students had, the more frequently their attention shifted among different computer screens, suggesting heightened distractibility.

The UCI researchers say their results reveal a direct link among chronic lack of sleep, worsening mood and greater reliance on Facebook browsing. The Pittsburgh researchers say high social media use is linked to sleep disturbances. So lack of sleep can cause higher social media use, which, in turn, can cause sleep problems, which, in turn, can cause… a spiralling problem. The question now becomes how best to break the spiral.

COM0015 – Post #2 – Strong and Weak Organizations

An Example of Social Media Used Well

OSPCA Logo

One of the best uses of social media I’ve found is by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  (OSPCA).

Social Media Logos used by OSPCA

The OSPCA regularly uses a wide variety of digital media.

This not-for-profit in the Newmarket area is using a variety of platforms to extend their reach on many levels. Social media icons, linked to each platform, are featured prominently on the website. The platforms used are:

  • Instagram: 1.5K followers
  • Facebook: 46K followers
  • Twitter (OSPCA main): 17.9K followers
  • Twitter (OSPCA Events): 1.4K followers
  • Twitter (OSPCA Careers): 849 followers
  • YouTube: 880 Subscribers
  • LinkedIn: 0 connections
  • Google+: 126 followers

OSPCA also creates regular website blog posts and podcasts to engage their audience, give them more information, increase volunteerism, adoptions, donations and general awareness.

Frequent and regular Facebook and Twitter posts are used to drive traffic to the blog and “pawdcasts” housed on the website and the YouTube channel. Posts are varied containing links, images, clear calls to action, contest information (post a picture of your pet) and engagement posts such as voting polls in third party fundraisers. Instagram is used to its fullest extent with many pictures of cute animals to be adopted. Some OSPCA YouTube videos have thousands of views. The only platforms that do not seem well used are Google+ and LinkedIn with little information, no followers and no posts. Maybe these accounts have just been created.

There is a professional communications department at OSPCA with many years of experience in all facets of digital marketing, which probably explains their excellent use of all digital media. I liked the OSPCA’s website and use of social media so much that I applied for a communications position at OSPCA in the past. Unfortunately, my resumé must have dropped into File 13, as I was not contacted for an interview! Oh well, onward and upward I hope.

Social Media in Need of Development

Inn From The Cold Logo

Inn From The Cold (IFTC) is another not-for-profit organization in the Newmarket area. There is no formal communications department in this small organization. Recently, a social media coordinator has been hired to expand IFTC’s social media presence. The website is new. In-kind work and funds to create it were recently donated by a digital marketing agency and Canadian Tire in Newmarket. Tiny social media icons appear “below the fold”. These could easily be missed and should be more prominently displayed near the top of the page. The social media platforms are:

  • Facebook: 731 followers
  • Twitter: 258 followers

Because the development of social media is in its nascent stage, there is currently no formal strategy other than to post information on Facebook and Twitter about how followers can support IFTC. Posts focus on thanks for sponsorship, community meal volunteers, and retweets of Coldest Night of the Year, an upcoming event benefitting IFTC.

Newmarket is a very spirited, caring and tight community, so there is potential for an expanded social media presence to help IFTC gain supporters, volunteers and donations.

Objectives include increasing engagement (likes, comments, shares), increasing the variety of post types as well as increasing event registrations, sponsorships, and financial support. A standard template thanking sponsors is currently over-used. This is becoming thoroughly boring and could discourage followers from reading IFTC’s posts.

To further develop the use of social media, IFTC needs to find information that would be more interesting to its followers. Links to articles about homelessness, more images of service to guests, and engagement posts, such as polls should be developed. There is no blog on the website. If a qualified, committed blogger could volunteer to write engaging and informative articles, plus volunteer profiles and guest success stories, these could be posted on social media to drive traffic to the site and help achieve IFTC’s objectives.

If you have any suggestions for how IFTC’s social media presence could be improved, please let me know in the comments below!

Technology and social media in political campaigns

I recently covered the Manning Centre’s Networking Conference for my newspaper, and attended a panel called Technology and politics in the 21st century. Industry Minister James Moore, Treasury Board President Tony Clement and Colin McKay from Google spoke about how technology and social media have changed the political campaigning landscape.

I remember when I was in high school and got my first email address in 1996. It was a Hotmail address that I still use today for junk mail and lists. I was struck however, when Moore said that 1997 was the first federal election where political parties had websites, followed by the 2000 election campaign in which tech-savvy individual campaigns got their own website. In today’s digital age, it seems like those things have always been with us.

Moore went on to describe how technology changed the game in 2004, when “almost everyone had websites that were not controlled by the party.” This was also the start of personal blogs, which sometimes got a few candidates in trouble because they were posting their unfiltered thoughts on the internet, and without approval from the central party command structure. He described the 2008 election as the Facebook campaign, and the most recent one in 2011, it was the Twitter campaign. In this federal election year, he said, the challenge for candidates and political parties will be unlike any other when it comes to using technology to reach voters and win campaigns.

With the many different social media outlets and technology avenues available for political candidates, there will likely be a decentralization of political party campaigns, Moore said.

“Decentralization, the opportunities for decentralization of the dissemination of information in unique ways for individual candidates in ways that make sense for their districts has never been more diversified before in Canadian history, which is a great thing, but the challenges and risks for political parties therein is extraordinary. You have this tiering away of national campaigns,” Mr. Moore told attendees of the Manning Centre Networking conference on March 6. “Broadcasting is dying, narrowcasting is growing. … The challenges in 2015 will be unlike any campaign before in a candidate’s history as on a local and national level we try to engage in two different approaches of whole cohorts of voters.”

Looking back at the evolution of how political parties reached out to voters is interesting. In a way, politicians are more accessible to their constituents given the instantaneous nature of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But in a way, also, perhaps the significance of politics and public policy has been lost, whittled down to 140 characters and selfies at events to prove engagement. And, the question must be asked, are they really engaging the general public, or has social media become an “echo chamber” of sorts, as more people seek out information online that conform to their own world view?

It’s a discussion that the traditional media might be worried about having. Former Sun News Ottawa bureau chief David Akin tweeted about this issue today with former CBC reporter Elly Alboim and others:

twitter

I believe Akin is right. Alboim and Gerald Butts also make some good points:

twitter1

So, has social media become an echo chamber in which users are merely looking for information that reinforce their views? If so, how does this allow politicians to truly engage voters, and gain new support rather than just talking to people who already share their vision?

Clement said that one of the biggest advantages for politicians to use social media is so that they can engage, speak and interact directly with voters. “Part of what we do as politicians, how we both react and try to be proactive, I think it’s now incumbent upon us, if we want to be successful politicians, successful in our job at projecting ideas and principles, we need to keep on top of technology,” he said, noting he now has an Instagram account which he uses as a different way to communicate to his constituents and Canadians in general. “It’s become part of a table of how I can talk about my day and interact with people that I didn’t use two years ago.”

In today’s digital age, each major political party is using “big data to craft their message, to target their message, to communicate  on particular issues to audiences,” Clement said. “We’re living in an age where things are changing rapidly.”

All of the technology, however, cannot replace going door-to-door and interacting with people in real time, face to face, Clement added. I think this is key. With all the technology out there, I think people still want information and they still want to have meaningful conversations.

As McKay from Google said, there is an appetite for more information in politics as people go online to search for information. He noted that people check on candidates or issues at least 14 times before making a decision on who to vote for. Additionally, “how to vote” was the one search in Canada last year in the “how to” category, he said.

“Digital tools are allowing voters to connect with politicians,” Mr. McKay said, noting that politicians are able to reach more people through social media than the traditional media. “The web is changing policy and political outcomes. … The landscape has changed.”

Indeed, it has.

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.

COMM 0015 Assignment # 5 Overwhelmed by Web Analytics

Analytics has become the new measurement tool for businesses. Increasingly, organizations are taking a data informed approach to make decisions on everything from where they advertise, to understanding who their customers are.

The information is fascinating, but can also be overwhelming, simply because there is so much data to dissect. I recently attended a professional development session on web analytics that helped me and my colleagues better understand areas of our web site that were performing well and others that were not.

From determining how long people were staying on our site to exploring where most of our visitors live, the information is very powerful. The challenge is to figure out what are the most important things we need to know. The facilitator said it best when he said, “You could easily bury yourself in analytics for days and still have more questions.”

Chris McFarlane gives Pembroke staff some Google Analytics training

I work at a community college and we are particularly interested in improving the web experience of prospective students. The web site is a primary recruitment tool, but with fierce competition from other colleges for the same students, our web site has to be more engaging then our competitors.

Web analytics is providing us with an opportunity to evaluate our site’s performance, while also providing us with other information that can help inform our marketing strategies. From search engine optimization performance to bounce rates, we are digging deeper to understand who our students are and what content gets their attention.

I’d love to hear how others are using web analytics? Please share your thoughts.

COM0011 – BLog 5 – IT’S ALL OR NOTHING ON SOCIAL MEDIA – OR IS IT?

hate facebook

Well which is it? ALL or Nothing? Let me explain first where I am going with this. I have different accounts as many do in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and so on. Periodically I notice people announcing how much they hate Facebook! Really? Is that so? Some threaten to remove Facebook all together, saying goodbyes and what not. Well, soon everyone on their list is hoping they come back, will miss them and before you know it they have had a change of heart. Yes. every single time they come back. Part of it I think is attention. Part of it is they really do hate Facebook. So many people logged in to connect with and they may really be looking for true in-person contact.

Another instance is finding someone who built their business with the use of Facebook Fan page. Say they don’t have time for it anymore. Really? You don’t have time for your customers and keeping in touch? Yet these same people will gladly take money towards their business that was built on Facebook. I call FOUL! I can understand that people do not have the time to Facebook on a personal front but keeping in contact with your customers when you need money only is a little cheesy. Besides people can see right through this and making negative comments about a platform that helped you gain a strong customer base is poor taste and lacks etiquette and netiquette.

Try balance, if you cannot keep up with everything and everyone try a few people a week or check into the timeline and see what news is happening to those close to you and which you have made connections with. By doing that you are in touch with them on a cyber front and will strengthen the personal front and where is the HATE in that? That’s right. There is none.