COMM0015 – Blog #1 – Maybe I should

Let’s be real honest here, I have not yet taken the habit of listening/monitoring social medias very seriously. Two reasons motivates this; 1 – At work there is a team dedicated to this and 2 – For my side business as a photographer, I am not currently looking for more work and can afford the luxury of choosing the assignments I want to take on, and, thanks to a permanent job within government, I am also fine with not having any.

Luckily for me, the photography industry is out there in almost every platforms and it remains fairly easy to stay on top of things by following my favorite photographers and gear manufacturer on Facebook and Instagram and still remain aware of what is going on in the industry, locally or internationally.

At work, my colleagues use the pro version of Hootsuite. I like how customizable, clean and precise it can be. It also allows them to work as a team to respond to comments and create engagement as well as schedule posts into the various platforms we use. Should I decide to become more serious I would probably use this system combined with various Google alerts

On Facebook, I get to see in a rawer version how other photographer use their creativity to market their services while I use Instagram to get inspired and monitor the trends in the techniques used by the photographers I follow.

While I prefer a more laid back approach, do not mistake this as a lack of interest or pure laziness on my end. I am very active on these two Social Medias and interact daily with my colleagues and friend in the industry.

COMM0015 – BLOG 1: The Social Media Realm

Tools:

Social media can be a complicated process. When someone says social media tools I am thinking of the applications that make my jobs easier. How do you know if your hard work is benefiting the business? Thankfully, the use of social media tools can provide answers to this question.

Image found from http://www.ohgizmo.com.

First, I turn to Hootsuite for accurate statistics about my social media postings. Hootsuite is an online application that provides the user with an interface to be able to schedule posts. As this feature is just scratching the surface, Hootsuite also provides users with a backhouse of statistics regarding their posts. My favourite function allows a marketing team to track clicks on any link posted through the Hootsuite application. For the retail world, this is very important so we can work towards improving our online sales.

Although Hootsuite is great for analyzing statistics in terms of social media posts, it does not take into consideration what the consumer on the other end is thinking. Luckily for our organization, we have the funds to produce a semi-annual survey. Using Survey Monkey, our marketing team searches to find out the consumers thoughts about our social media and website. This tool allows us to create custom questions that we would like to ask the participates. This customization element of Survey Monkey makes the online tool versatile for any organization. This product is great to use so that companies can ensure they are listening to their consumers.

Best sources for news:

Years ago, the 6 o’clock news used to be a must watch for all modern families, however as times are changing most individuals are straying away from this tradition. As a student with night classes and two jobs, watching the news on television is no longer an option for me. Luckily, social media platforms allow me to get this same news, at the touch of my fingertips.

Many say that Twitter is dying, however, this is still my go-to platform for news. Whether it be sports, politics or international affairs, Twitter seems to have it all when I need it. One must keep in mind that anyone can tweet in real-time, therefore all information may not be credible. However, I believe this outlet is the fastest way to get an idea of what is going on in the world.

Additionally, I believe that Facebook is great for short clip video content. In comparison to 40-minute newscasts, Facebook gives you the ability to watch a short video about the news that interests the viewer. Overall, this expands the digital ages ability to cater to unique audiences.

Overall, these social media platforms not only help with day-to-day news but can help a business reach consumers. For me, it is important to look at how versatile these social media platforms can be. As an organization, this makes it important to have unique social media content that is fun and playful. You want to capture your audience’s attention, however, do not want to come off as you are pushing a product on them.

What are some of the best social media campaigns you have ever seen?

References:

Facebook. (2017). https://www.facebook.com/.

Hootsuite Media, Inc. (2016). http://signup.hootsuite.com.

Survey Monkey. (2017). https://www.surveymonkey.com/.

Twitter. (2017). https://twitter.com/.

COM0011: 7 Best Practices for Marketing on Instagram

COM0011: 7 Best Practices for Marketing on Instagram

This week in Introduction to Social Media, we learned about how to create and write for social platforms such as Blogs, Facebooks, and Twitter. Instagram being my personal favourite platform to use, I was curious about what makes a great Instagram post. Instagram is a photo-sharing social media network for personal and professional use. Instagram is an extremely effective tool for capturing audiences through the use of pictures; after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Like facebook, Instagram can be used to share pictures of your everyday life, or for businesses to gain a following to ultimately sell a product or service. According to Business Instagram, there are 400 million users who use Instagram every day, and of those 400 million users, 80% of them follow a business. Here is what I believe to be the best practices for marketing on Instagram:

1. Posting Great Photos

Since Instagram is a photo sharing platform, taking great pictures is critical. With those statistics I shared above, it’s important for your image (or video!) to stand out. Using a professional camera, rather than your iphone will create a higher quality image. Creating an image that will captivate users, will ultimately lead them to either like, comment, tag their friends, follow you, or buy the product you’re selling.

2. Timing

Like Facebook and Twitter, choosing the right time to publish can increase your chances of people viewing your post. The goal is to publish your post when users are most active. According to CoSchedule, the best time to post is generally during off work hours. You can also use tools like HootSuite to schedule and automate your posts.

Infographic

  (image: CoSchedule)

3. Theme

Creating a common theme will produce an attractive look and feel for your profile. Posting pictures using similar colours and the same ‘filter’ will make your profile look more appealing. Doing this will also keep your brand consistent. One of my favourite Instagram accounts is Lauren Conrad. Notice the similar colours and photos?

Lauren Conrad

4. Branding Your Profile

Like with any social media platform, making sure your profile is complete and aligned with your brand is crucial. Using your logo as your profile picture will allow users to find and recognize your business. Ensuring your website link is included in your profile will drive people to your site. You should also include a description of your product/service for people who don’t know your business. Many businesses will also create their own hashtag for a social media campaign and for people to use when sharing a picture of your product.

North Face

5. Hashtags and Geolocation

Within Instagram, you can search via Hashtag. Hashtags are words with a pound sign (i.e. #socialmedia). People use hashtags to search a specific topic or category. You can use hashtags on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. By using hashtags you can increase your reach and make your account more discoverable. Remember to use hashtags that relate to your product. As mentioned in tip #4, businesses also use their own hashtag to help brand and see the content users are sharing.
With Geotagging you can tag your location where the picture was taken. This is another way for people to discover your photos/videos. It will also allow users to geotag when they are at your place of business, resulting in more exposure.

6. Connecting With Your Followers

There are several ways you can communicate with your followers on Instagram. Doing this will create a trusted and reliable brand. Many businesses will reply to their comments when a question is asked. You can also like your follower’s comments. Many companies will do ‘shoutouts’ or ‘repost’ their fans photos. This will encourage followers to post pictures of your product. Personally, I love it when companies respond to a question or concern I have on Social Media. It saves me time trying to find the answer and it shows that they care enough to answer me directly.

7. Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights is a built-in tool used to help you analyze your followers and drive your strategy. Using this tool will allow you to gain insights about your follower’s activities and demographics. This is a powerful tool that can help you tweak your posts to cater to your followers, or show you areas that you can improve (ie. Posting at times your followers are online). Other companies such as Sprout offer a similar service.

instagram insights

(Image: http://www.fstoppers.com)

Instagram can assist in building your brand and engaging with your followers. Do you have anything to add to these top tips? Do you use Instagram? If so, why, and do you follow businesses or just your friends?

 

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COM0015, Blog 1: Tools and Resources

I have a full-time job, which limits the amount of time I can spend on social media work for FlashDesignsStudio.com (FDS). I created a Feedly dashboard as part of the Social Media Monitoring and Measurement course; however, I found it limiting. I prefer Hootsuite. I spend a half hour on the bus going back and forth to work each day. Hootsuite allows me to be productive during my commute. Through the Hootsuite app on my tablet, I can monitor my various streams and like, share or retweet effortlessly. Feedly does not have that capability. On weekends, I use Hootsuite’s online interface to schedule a week’s worth of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts. Hootsuite also connects to Drop Box, making organizing and posting images that much faster and easier. I sometimes use Ow.ly shortened URLs to track traffic.

On weekends, I use the Google Analytics plug in on the WordPress website to monitor traffic on the FDS website, which is one of the key success indicators. On a monthly basis, I can dig deeper into the website traffic and audience reports through the Google Analytics website. This is particularly useful to see who (demographic information) is coming from where (our social media networks or elsewhere). Having updated websites as far back as 1999, I am so thankful I no longer need to sort through raw website user data.

Of course, I also use Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and Bitley to monitor and track social media activity, but I spend more time on Hootsuite and Google Analytics.

com0015-blog1-facebook-share

 

I have many sources of news. I think my best source of information is a set of Google Alerts (which I view through Hootsuite) that shows photography contests, exhibits and other events happening in the Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto triangle. As well as providing content for the website, blog, Facebook and Twitter, Norm and I use the information to plan our photo excursions and submit images to contests. When I finish well in a contest, I post it on the FDS social media networks. It is a testament to the quality and creativeness of my images.

While most photographers are aware of all the magazines, stores and manufacturers on social media, few know about Science Daily’s photography research RRS feed (which I also view through Hootsuite). Having worked with medical and academic journals for more than a decade and with newspapers and magazines for longer than that, I can understand complex ideas and explain them in plain, everyday language. I rewrite the photography research media releases with information from the published research paper and post as Technology News in News Flash, the FDS blog. These have included advances in lens technology and how researchers are data-mining social media photos to guide land use policy, conservation planning and development decisions. This is well suited for our more advanced photographer audience and positions FDS as being knowledgeable of the cutting edge.

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 Blog #1 Tools and Sources

I have been a casual social media follower/user for a number of years but never really engaged with the monitoring/ listening tools available until I began this program.

 TOOLS:

 

I am still a novice user but I am really impressed with HootSuite, The platform is extremely user friendly and I feel it allowed me to develop my skills at my own pace. I appreciate having all of my accounts organized in one place and being able to schedule content such as Twitter posts. Right now I do not anything beyond the free version but I can see how the professional services would be useful to businesses, particularly those with limited resources to devote to social media.

Another tool I find extremely useful is the stats function built into my WordPress blog. I am still trying to build up my blog’s online presence so appreciate the information it provides.   The stats function not only allows me to see how many views my latest post received but whether those views were referred from my Facebook or Twitter accounts, the most popular day of the week and time my blog posts are read, what external links my visitors clicked on and whether they also viewed past posts. I can break down statistics by day, month or years. As a novice blogger, the more information I can gather about my audience the better.

 

SOURCES:

 

Twitter is my go to source for news and information. Since joining Twitter in 2010 I have cultivated a Twitter feed based on my individual interests: politics, parenting, Ottawa news, and Ottawa craft beer. I am a news junkie and I like getting my information as quickly as possible. I find information on emerging news stories can sometimes pop up on Twitter well before it even shows up on news websites. Twitter is also extremely useful for things like traffic that can change very rapidly. @511Ontario is a great account to follow if you spend any time travelling on ON provincial highways. @Ottawa_Traffic is a great Ottawa based traffic resource.

 

Feedly is less a source of news but more a resource to organize the various streams of information I want to follow. I began using Feedly about a month ago for academic purposes but have found it extremely helpful to track the online presence of several of my friends who have asked for my advice to bolster their personal brand. I have used Google alerts in the past but found the information often got lost in my inbox, being able to direct these alerts using RSS to Feedly allows me to quickly scan the information and screen out irrelevant information. Being able to organize the information into categories means that I can see at a glance which of my keywords is generating hits.

Webinar-ing with Hootsuite

IMG_0171I participated in a Hootsuite Pro Webinar called Essential Social Media Analytics. I chose this webinar because social media analytics, for anyone new to it, can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to know where to start and what to focus on. Hootsuite is considered to be one of the best social media listening/monitoring tools, so it made sense to participate in a webinar hosted by the company.

It was hosted by Tori Swanson, a Hootsuite Social Media Coach. There was no verbal interaction between the host and the participants, but we could send questions to her during the webinar through the chat board or Twitter. I asked a few basic questions to clarify some things she had touched on.

The webinar was really informative and went deep into the capabilities of Hootsuite. The application is impressive. It’s great because you can tailor it to exactly what you want it to be. If you are new at social media, you can stick with the basics. But if you are an expert and know analytics inside out, this tool is amazing. It has so many layers and so many ways to read analytics from every angle.

The host talked about using S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals when developing social media strategies, how to establish business goals and objectives, measuring social success, tracking ROI, and various analytics apps. She also got into some very specific stuff, like the difference between some URL shorteners (i.e. ht.ly vs. owl.ly), Riffle (Twitter insights), and Instagram’s analytic tool Iconosquare.

Thumbs up for this webinar. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about how to gather and understand social media analytics. It wasn’t too long, and it was accessible and informative. I would definitely attend another one like this in the future.

You can find more Hootsuite webinars here.

COM0011 – Blog 4 – Hootsuite vs. Buffer App

If you’re like me, and feel as if maintaining various social media accounts would require a leave of absence from work just to generate and manage content, then you’ve probably considered using a social media management tool to keep your affairs in order.

The popular Buffer App and Hootsuite have become mainstream tools to publish your social media content on a pre-arranged schedule. The idea is that you can set up all your upcoming posts to publish at a future time of your choice on whichever outlet you feel is appropriate. This means that you can set it up in the middle of the night or whenever you actually have time, and be able to carry on with your day whilst posts go up onto your accounts at their scheduled time.

The main advantage of this is that your content isn’t all clumped together in one time period, which can lead to follower drop-off. Another advantage is that you can write/organize your content when YOU are most inspired, but post them when user engagement rates are highest. Finally, you are much more likely to publish content regularly if you are submitting it to a social media management tool at your convenience.

When comparing Buffer to Hootsuite, there are several factors to consider. The general consensus is that Buffer is quite a bit simpler than Hootsuite. While both platforms offer scheduling and analytics, Hootsuite offers other features such as viewing your Twitter feed and interacting with followers from within the app.

Both companies offer paid plans with extra features and increased posting and user limits for business and agency use. However, despite its shortcomings in terms of features, Buffer’s simplicity allows for a more streamlined user experience and focuses on the posting of content directly, which can be more convenient for users.

On top of this, Buffer’s analytics are more concise (and free) to view post performance and “re-buffer” as needed.

Hootsuite vs Buffer

Comparison of the Hootsuite interface on top, and the simpler Buffer App on the bottom.

In conclusion, both tools are excellent additions to your social media practice. You can even use both, so as to take full advantage of each of their strengths and see which one suits your needs.

Lastly, a team of Canadians out of Vancouver developed Hootsuite, so if you’re unsure which is best, there’s no harm in supporting awesome Canadian tech companies such as this one.

COM0015 Blog #1: Is Anyone Listening?

I personally don’t ‘do’ social media in my personal life, however on the business side of things, I simply love it. Social Media has taken on a huge role in how businesses market their brand. Sure, you’re on Facebook. Twitter, too. Maybe you have a blog. You put a lot a lot of work into keeping them fresh and updated with pertinent, interesting posts. But aside from the few comments you get now and again, how do you know if anyone is listening to what you have to say?

Listen Vs. Ignore - Toggle Switch

You think hard about your social media strategy, posting interesting links relevant to your mission, working to expand your network and engage your audience and create a solid, online reputation for your organization. You want to monitor your efforts and measure your results. Knowing whether your efforts are paying off can help you adapt your posting strategy to better meet your goals.

Top 3 Listening/Monitoring Tools
  1. Hootsuite: I primarily use this tool for it’s tweet scheduling ability and to monitor brand related mentions. Hootsuite allows you to track mentions for several different keywords such as your company, brand name, product or service, industry, the competition or a particular market term. This will give you a complete picture of the social conversations that matter most. hootsuite-2200x800
  2. Another simple but useful tool, Google Alerts will email you online mentions of keywords—for example, your organization’s name. Set as many alerts as you want to clue you in to mentions on blogs, websites, other people or organizations’ Facebook pages or Twitter accounts, or in the media.google-alerts1
  3. Radian6: This is my wishlist, soon to be reality as I was recently told that I may have access to this costly tool! Radian6 was recently acquired by Salesforce, which we also use at my work, and offers clean dashboards and real-time charts make it easy to see the most common words associated with your brand, monitor the highs and lows of social mentions, ascertain sentiment, export data, and allocate workflow. Though I am not yet familiar with the ins and outs of this tools, I look forward to getting my hands dirty soon. salesforce_radian6_logo
Social media listening tools can be your most useful set of eyes and ears on the web, providing insights you could never have gathered on your own. What are you using to listen and monitor that you feel everyone should know about?

COM0011 Blog Post #4 – The Best Tip I Received from someone on the bus … Use Hootsuite

 I remember when I first started my social media accounts thinking to myself, eventually this is going to become tedious and time consuming to manage them all separately.  Especially if,  in the future I was thinking about adding other Social Media tools to the mix.   The content calendar is a fantastic tool to use for organizing your posts, however I still had to sign in to my accounts separately to post.  Recently, I went to a lunch and learn at work and they talked about a social media dashboard tool called Hootsuite. You can use it to manage up to five accounts for free, and you sign up just as you would for any other social media account. All I can say is this TOOL IS AMAZING for managing multiple social media accounts and has key features you can use to be more efficient and save time when communicating with your audience.

This short story in this video highlights some of the key features of Hootsuite:

 

I haven’t used all the features of Hootsuite yet, however I have used the auto scheduler for tweets, monitored my mentions in Twitter so I can respond or retweet quickly, and I love the dashboard to be able to see at a glance what messages are coming in on my home feed,  sent tweets and any direct messages .  If you are the person sitting on the other side of me on the bus and you’re using Hootsuite what other features would you recommend?

Sources: Social Media is Sweet: A HootSuite Story – Youtube,  Giant Ant (http://www.giantantmedia.com) for producing and filming the video, Jon and Roy (http://www.jonandroy.ca) for the catchy song, G&F Financial (http://www.gffg.com) and Nelson the Seagull (http://www.nelsontheseagull.com) for providing a filming locations. Hootsuite image –  Super-fast Content Curation: Add Scoop.it to HootSuite and Go! www.business2community.comPage by Liz Wilson