Blog Post #3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future

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Photo from Eventbrite

In the past while I was living in London, networking was easy. I would attend multiple events per week in the evenings after work, as well as connect online on LinkedIn and Instagram. 

There was always something going on, which made for a pretty hectic work week but kept up the excitement to the point where I never really had time to be nervous about meeting new people since it was so fast paced. 

Since being back in Ottawa, over the past few months I have definitely let the cold weather keep me more indoors. There’s not as much going on in terms of events, but through different search mediums I can get the most out of my location.

Eventbrite is a great source for finding events in cities all over the world. Some events cost money, but quite a few of them are free. You are able to search by location or key word, and input dates to refine your search. 

Another application I use to find events is Couchsurfing. This is primarily an app that lets you find hosts for free accommodation. There is also a feature where you can search for events in whatever city you are in.

I was able to network and meet amazing people in Paris, for example, when I was doing photography for a festival. We met at the Louvre, all not knowing each other, had a picnic and then went to the festival together. How cool is that?

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Couchsurfing friends and I in Paris, Lollapalooza 2017

Currently, I have been looking at Facebook events to see what events are coming up or that show friends in attendance. Eventbrite is also still a great tool to find both online and in person networking events. 

In the next 6-12 months I will be working at a new job, so I hope to network as much as I can there and meet new people. I also plan to attend any relevant events I can find that interest me or can aid in my professional development. 

After meeting someone in person, I could also be more vigilant in connecting online via LinkedIn as well. Making the extra effort and keeping in touch with people is necessary to building that connection. 

Instagram is a growing platform for networking—following certain hashtags can allow me to find new people or brands to connect with that may share my same interests. 

I would like to attend at least one in person networking event per month—whether for work or for personal endeavours. I also want to post three times per week on Instagram with insightful and artistic content highlighting my photography or other skills. 

Just showing up to events is half the battle for me, since I can be quite anxious when I am by myself—but I also realize that I have the most potential for networking when I am alone as it forces me to get outside my comfort zone.

When I attend events I usually like to set a goal, like talking to three new people and collecting at least one business card or contact information. Making one strong connection is better than saying hello to many people and not fully resonating with anyone. 

Connecting online is generally much easier than in person; however, if I can get through to someone in person and then follow up online, that is my preferable route to building a strong professional relationship. 

What is your favourite way to connect? Let me know in the comments!

COMM0014 – Blog #4 – Premium Tea Online

18740571_10155306368432910_8013155930072845676_nDavid’s Tea is a Canadian premium tea store that sells loose leaf teas, tea to go and tea accessories such as tea cups, travel mugs and teapots. I have been following them on social media for a few years but only recently started to really pay attention. For the purposes of this post I am going to focus on their Facebook interactions even though they are on Twitter and Instagram, I believe their Facebook presence is strongest.

The company regularly posts about its in store promotions, as most stores do, but they also post about lifestyle, recipes, tea of the day and other one off posts that relate to tea in one way or another such as this short video from 2 years ago.

I like how they play on colour, mood and lifestyle to advertise their tea, while it remains the focus of the video.

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The company also has someone on duty to respond to comments and questions that could help better the business and customer satisfaction such as this response saying that they will take her comment into consideration. Not only do they respond but they answer her, beginning with her name, which means that while their made be a script or format, there is some personalization that takes place.

The company also occasionally posts fun little pieces that prompt an action or reaction, such as this post for National Iced Tea day this past weekend. Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 8.20.07 PM.png

I have noticed that they tend to post early in the morning during the week (7:00-9:00) and a little later on weekends (9:00-11:00) which coincides with when people are waking up and getting ready for the day (many scrolling through Facebook or other social media platforms as their routine.


COM0014 – Blog #4 – B2C Case Study:

As the mother of a busy household, I value my time and appreciate quality products for my family. I know I want my family to use products that are as natural as possible, and I don’t want to pay a fortune to get them. is a company that is effectively listening and serving busy moms and dads like me. is a Canadian company delivering natural and green wellness products on-line to their customers. They offer a wide range of products which are trialed and tested by people just like their target audience. Items are available on-line, and shipped in a timely manner right to their customers’ doors. Shipping is free on orders over $29, how awesome is that?!? uses social media to talk to their audience. They use Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Linkedin, Instagram and email newsletters to promote their products, specials and promotions. They also feature a blog on their website with all sorts of interesting tidbits of information. It covers everything from reviews of great products, to recipes, to health tips, and news of trending products. These social media interactions are effectively targeted towards moms and dads who make the majority of the purchases for their household.

In my opinion, is an example of a company successfully executing Business to Consumer social media marketing.

COM0015: Assignment #1, Blog Post #5 – Event Participation


As part of Algonquin College‘s online Social Media Certification program, students are required to publish a number of blog posts. As I approached the end of my studies, I had one last post to publish. I was to locate, attend and write about a professional development and networking event.

I searched long and hard to find a suitable – yet affordable – professional development event delivered in English and that I could attend in person. Unfortunately, things in Europe pretty much shut down over the summer. In time, however, I realized that I already had the perfect professional development and networking event to cover – the Algonquin College Social Media Certificate program itself!

About Tara

My name is Tara MacDonald and I’m a Canadian freelance writer and communications specialist with a background in international development. Learn more…

I’m a big fan of continuing education and professional development. But because I tend to work contract to contract, it’s difficult to plan where I’ll be or for how long. As a result, it’s almost impossible to participate in traditional education or professional development courses.

Why Online Learning?

Algonquin’s online study option provides me with an opportunity to continue developing my skills and qualifications at my own convenience and on my own schedule no matter where I am in the world. All I need is a computer and access to the internet.

Now, it’s true that there’s plenty of free knowledge  you can access on the internet. But the great thing about online courses is that you don’t have to do it alone. You’ve got lesson plans to guide your study, deadlines to motivate you, an instructor to answer questions, a support team in case you’re having trouble with the technology, and other students to talk to, share with, learn from and network with.

Social Media Certificate

Over the past 8 months, I’ve been working towards my Certification in Social Media. The program gives you the tools you need to leverage the power of social media to engage your target audience and achieve your business goals.

The program explores 5 key areas related to social media:

You’ll learn how to evaluate social media channels, develop a social media strategy, monitor and measure results and create effective messaging. In collaboration with other online students, you will also learn how to apply social media to marketing, corporate branding, fundraising and within organizations to support employee engagement, retention and corporate communication.  Read more…

Algonquin’s ‘Blackboard’ | Learning Management System

Once the courses begin, you’ll have access to Algonquin’s interactive Blackboard platform. Blackboard is a Learning Management System where students can interact with their professor and other students in their program. Here you’ll find your lesson content, announcement and discussion boards, assignments and your grades, etc… Read more…


The Algonquin College Social Media Certificate WordPress Account

Throughout the Certificate program, you’ll be using WordPress for a number of assignments and blog posts. There’s no need to worry if you’ve never used WordPress before. You’ll be provided with an invitation to join by email and a number of resources to help you learn how to use the platform. The Social Media Certificate WordPress account is convenient and easy to use. You’ll be able to use your own account to create drafts, upload photos or videos, publish posts, manage comments, and monitor your views and engagement rates.

Are you considering registering for the Social Media Certificate program?

As with anything else, online learning is what you make of it. In my opinion, there are 3 ways to really maximize your learning potential in this program:

#1: Use the lessons as a guide for further exploration of each topic. The classes will give you a good base, but there’s so much more to learn. Use other online resources – such as Mashable and Hubspot – to help you go above and beyond the coursework while staying on top of new features, applications and trends.

#2: To take advantage of the discussion boards and networking forums to network with people in your industry, get to know your fellow students, learn from their experiences and share your own.

As you approach the more advanced courses, you’ll be asked to develop a number of case studies. The great thing about these assignments is that you have the potential to go beyond simple exercises by applying what you’ve learned and gaining practical experience with a non-profit organization. Which brings me to the 3rd piece of advice that I’d pass along to new students entering the program.

#3: I’d start thinking about which organization you’d like to work with early on so that you can start applying your lessons right away while building a solid relationship with your chosen organization. This is a great opportunity to gain practical experience, professional references and build your network while working towards academic credentials.

Online learning is a great opportunity – not just for expats – but for everyone. Algonquin’s online education options give you the experience of being part of a learning community even if you can’t be there in person. They open the door, but it’s up to you to walk through it. So come on, start building your future today.

Want to learn more?

This article was written as a requirement for COM0015: Applied Social Media in Business. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Algonquin College’s Social Media Certificate programme today!

Five reasons why social media will not take over traditional media

Call me a luddite, a purist, or even a dinosaur, but with all the social media rage these days and their effects on traditional news outlets, it’s difficult to believe that 140-character platforms will institute the death of print, broadcast or even digital news.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Niche reporting is on the rise

It is undeniable that the media industry is changing rapidly and significantly. Today’s digital age has forced media outlets to change the way in which they gather and disseminate news. In a world of 24-hour news heightened by social media, both publishers and journalists are working their way through this new environment, compounded by declining advertising revenue and demand for more content.

As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development notes in its comprehensive report, The Evolution of News and the Internet, “The rise of the Internet and other technologies radically changes how news is produced and diffused. It enables the entry of new intermediaries that create and distribute news, including online news aggregators, online news publishers, mobile news actors, citizen journalism and many more. Information providers with very different trajectories (TV, newspapers and Internet companies) are now competing head-on in a global online news environment.” The news industry is affected by these dramatic changes globally.

Research has shown, however, that while the print news industry is struggling, what is on the rise is niche publishing. “Despite countless doom and gloom reports (usually involving newspaper circulation) print publishing is still flourishing with many niche outfits. The print industry’s obituary has been written too early,” says Rebecca Wesson Darwin, who publishes Garden & Gun in the U.S. In Canada, the magazine Jobpostings grew 30 per cent, mostly in print. Carleton University journalism professor Chris Waddell says he’s not surprised. “He said there’s a long tradition of success in niche publishing. And he expects to continue as traditional mainstream publishers struggle,” Quentin Casey wrote in a Financial Post article in 2013.

2. Even social media users tweet about what the traditional news outlets are reporting

Social media platforms are just that—platforms. They are not the news. Yes, news breaks on Twitter or from a post on Facebook, but the majority of the time, social media are used to market and promote things that are found in traditional media outlets. Tweets usually consist of links back to print and broadcast news outlets.

3. People want more news, not less

Related to reason number two, even if news breaks on Twitter or Facebook, social media users still want to read comprehensive news, rather than the 140-character snippets they see in their Twitter feed.

In fact, “In contrast to the idea that one generation tends to rely on print, another on television and still another the web, the majority of Americans across generations now combine a mix of sources and technologies to get their news each week, according to the survey by the Media Insight Project, an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.”

Although an American study, the statistics are telling. “The data also challenge another popular idea about the digital age, the notion that with limitless choices people follow only a few subjects in which they are interested and only from sources with which they agree — the idea of the so-called ‘filter bubble.’”

The survey notes:

There are relatively few differences by generation, party, or socioeconomic status in the level of interest with which people report following different topics.

These are some of the findings of the nationally representative telephone survey of 1,492 adults conducted from Jan. 9 through Feb. 16, 2014.

The data from the survey, which was designed to probe what adults distinguish most in their news consumption in the digital age, offer a portrait of Americans becoming increasingly comfortable using technology in ways that take advantage of the strengths of each medium and each device.

There are five devices or technologies that majorities of Americans use to get news in a given week. The average American adult uses four different devices or technologies for news.

4. Without formal media, there would be chaos

This is a slight exaggeration, but could be true. The idea of the “citizen journalist” is on the rise with increasing technology and instantaneous social media feeds, but the role of a trained journalist working for a traditional media outlet is one that cannot be understated. Not only are there democratic implications for the need for professional journalists, but there are also legitimate logistical considerations to be taken into account.

For example, journalists and media outlets work under the long-held belief that what they report is the truth. If “news” is coming from everywhere, from every Joe or Jane Citizen Journalist, how do you filter out credible sources and stories? Media only survive because of their credibility and adherence to certain principles and therefore are trusted actors in a democratic society. (Full disclosure: I’m a professional, working journalist!)

5. Video didn’t kill the radio star

Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 13th century, and print products, especially news media, have had a long run in terms of being the main source of news for people across the globe. When radio was invented in the late 19th century and became popular in the early 20th century, it could stand to reason that the public would no longer read papers. They still did. When video broadcast news started in the 1950s and the 6 p.m. news became a nightly staple in many homes, people thought that would kill both radio and print. Both are still going strong, in addition to video, and in addition to online products, and now social media.

The online world will not take over traditional news products, but rather complement them, as can be seen in the New York Times’ case:

In March 2011, after years of watching print ad sales fall, The New York Times began charging readers for access to stories on its website. But this wasn’t like the paywalls of old. Under the new system, the Times would give readers 20 free stories before the paywall kicked in. What’s more, stories accessed through social media were still available to those who had exceeded their limits.

The plan was greeted with no small amount of skepticism, and in some cases outright mockery. But it worked. A year in, more than 450,000 readers had subscribed to the Times digital edition. In March 2012, the paper cut back the number of free articles to 10. Readership continued to climb. By the end of the fiscal 2012, the company had 640,000 paid digital subscribers to The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. That year, thanks largely to all that new digital money, the company brought in more revenue from circulation than from advertising for the first time.

There you have it. Thoughts?

Social Media: How You Can Make Money Online – COM0011

The number of people who went from being unemployed and poor, to being famous, wealthy and successful on the internet is both baffling and interesting. Some of the biggest names on Youtube and all over the social media world have told their stories, and claim that you can work and make money on the internet. A few well known people are Shay Carl, Michelle Phan, Elle and Blair Fowler, Bethany Mota, Nikki Philippi and there are still many more. All these individuals started very small with a camera and a funny story, they entered an internet world which continues to grow and support them. So who can start a Youtube Channel? Who can find followers on Twitter and Facebook? Who is capable? Well, pretty much anyone can make money online, it doesn’t require a certain skill or education, the only thing that is needed is community and creativity.

In this new age, making money online doesn’t stop at Youtube, their are multiple websites which people can work for in order to gain a profit of some sort, there are two i would like to discuss today. The first is one i am currently trying out, it’s called opinion outpost a company looking for consumers to take multiple surveys so that large companies can get feedback on their products or services. The individuals who participate are called to take a profile test which either qualifies them or disqualifies them to answer certain surveys, so you are always filling out surveys that relate to you and your lifestyle. You make money, get entered in draws and wins bonu gift cards and merchandise. This is a hobby to many people and opinion outpost is doing a great job promoting themselves through big Youtube names. The other way to make money is less “job” and more “incentive”, it’s called Diet Bet. Individuals seeking to loose weight can make money as they loose weight, all you have to do is join a group, put some money in a pot and shed a certain percentage of weight  within a specified time frame in order to win and split the pot with the other winners. Diet bet is also a company mentioned in many Youtube videos. Speaking of product placement, that is one huge way that people on the internet make money, big “Youtubers” as they are known get contacted by multiple brands and companies to put their products or mention their services in videos. The product is sent out to the person to be reviewed and tested, if they enjoy their experience they give the company a mention and make a portion of the profit. Lastly, i’ll talk about monetized videos on Youtube. These are videos which contain an ad that appears either before or after the video plays, it can also appear beside the video. As people view and click on these ads, the owner of the video receives profit. The number of innovative ways for people to make money online are countless and growing.

So if you need extra cash or are out of work an “easier” way of making money is available online. Many people think that making money online is unfair, but it is no different than working in a physical work environment. The challenges and successes may be different, but the work ethic is the same. Sometimes, making money online is just a benefit to being able to express yourself and be your own boss. I have a Youtube channel that i feel very passionate about, and yes making money off of my videos would be very helpful, but that is not the sole reason that i put up videos. I love have the freedom to speak about things i love, i love connecting with other people online, and it’s a job that i would love to have. (If you’d like to check out my channel here is the link:

COM0015 – Blog Post #3 Professional Networking Now and In the Future

This is where I fall short. I don’t have a strategy for my networking on or offline. I go online, I read, I sometimes share articles and posts and then I’m done, very closed and one way. Offline is even less. I don’t like to admit it but I don’t make much of an effort to research events that I know I would love to attend and meet the industry professionals that I really want to connect with. This is where I have the opportunity to catch up and make up for lost time.

It is all too easy to hide behind time. There isn’t enough time for this, there isn’t enough time for that. And sometimes there just isn’t. But I am committing to making time now and going forward to concentrate more on sharing my thoughts and comments on articles and news. I need to be proactive in making myself more visible, I can’t sit in the corner anymore. And speaking of sitting in a corner, I might as well be in sitting in the corner if I am not attending events that will give me the opportunity to meet new people and industry professionals that I can gain so much and share what I have to offer too.

This is just the icing on the cake. You just never know who you are going to meet and where. Networking is more than putting yourself out there in typical networking forums on and offline. It is everywhere and I need to take advantage of every opportunity.


*images from Twitter – An Ordinary Girl’s Travel Scrapbook

Blog Post 3: Social Media in the IT and Higher Ed Realm

This post is three-fold, and I will discuss all three in a broad way; there is a difference between social media in:

  • the IT field alone,
  • in higher eds alone,
  • IT within higher eds (IT department in a College, for instance)

The IT Field

This one goes two ways – companies are either tweeting the overly technical information (new device specifications – stuff you’d find in a manual, which in my opinion, is the not-so-great use) to the gearheads out there who keep track of all the updated devices and features and operating systems, or they’re posting about wicked new innovations, journeys, or campaigns (I.e. technology developed to move objects with your brain, augmented reality, etc – in my opinion, the better use). Two of the places I follow for the latter (because I’m no techie, and I have no interest in a device’s IMEI or its firmware – no disrespect to anyone who does! It’s just over my head, is all) are FastCompany and Mashable. There are new innovations posted on these two sites daily, our world is moving forward at a rate I’m not sure we even know how to keep up with. I can’t wait to see what ten years from now will look like.

Higher Eds

Based on my observation, higher eds (main identities for universities or colleges) use social media to promote their programs, services available, campus events (or College-related events), as well as previous or current students who are doing great things, and to me, this is what social media is all about – spreading the word about things and people who are making a difference, or at least on their way there) Social media has actually changed a lot of these institutions’ approach to the admissions process. For instance, on MIT University’s admissions page, the first thing you see are these blog posts that are written by students, and they’ve chronicled their journey to and from MIT. What better way to sell yourself? They’ve put all of the admissions babble (I.e. admissions fees, policies, any other relevant babble) subsequent to the most important pieces – testimonials. It’s brilliant.

IT within Higher Eds

If you look at an institution like MIT University in the States, their use of social media in this realm would be much different than ours here at Algonquin, in that MIT is a forward-thinking, innovation-driven, prodigy in advancing information technology and being a force behind many breakthroughs in this area. MIT will often tweet or post pictures, videos, or tidbits of what’s going on in their classrooms with the most advanced technology and most up and coming developers and designers. Not to Algonquin’s discredit, but we just aren’t there. Algonquin, and more specifically the IT department, uses social media to communicate changes to/outages/maintenance to critical College systems (I.e. Blackboard, e-mail, etc). We’ll also use it to retweet content about really interesting things that are commonly known and current within the IT world (I.e. the Google Glass Project), or we’ll use it to help people connect to our wireless infrastructure or configure e-mail on their mobile device. Depending on the issue, we will also use Twitter to respond to complaints or questions regarding our services, and if it’s too complex or requires a work order, then we’ll send them off to the right place.

Blog Post 2: Listening to Online Communities

There are two things that I have learned since I started listening to online forums (and ultimately working with social media at an institutional level): that brands need to be engaged, and that companies no longer dictate who they are or how good they are, audiences do.

What I mean when I say ‘brands need to be engaged’ is that they need to listen, find forks in the road, and ultimately opportunities to insert a reminder of their brand and its offering. For instance, a guy was traveling from Toronto to Ottawa, and after so many delayed flights, he decided to take to Twitter and start venting about the airline. He got a reply, but not what he had expected – Via Rail had seen the tweet, and informed him that trains travel back and forth everyday at multiple times a day between Toronto and Ottawa. He ended up making his way home and waiting it out at the airport, but what ViaRail caught on to and acted upon is worth mentioning. Delayed flights and and broken expectations were the fork in the road, and ViaRail saw this as an opportunity to reinforce the frequency of their travels between the same two cities this man was traveling between. Ultimately, the point here is that brands need to always be ‘on’, thus, always engaged and always listening for forks in the road similar to the one in this story.

In addition, brands are learning that permeating social media with information about the company or little facts here and there are not enough to have a positive and lasting effect on the online audience; I will give the example of RedBull here. RedBull is an energy drink, everyone knows this. It metaphorically gives you wings (this notion was under serious scrutiny, which is why they needed to add in the blurb at the end, but I digress), but RedBull is not just an energy drink. RedBull is an experience. RedBull is a combination of the liquid courage and heart rate (without it being alcoholic) the drink is said to give you, along with the FlugTag competitions and Felix Baumgartner’s mission through the sound barrier. Because of the hyped up, out-of-the-box events that RedBull holds to reinforce what the brand is all about, it’s almost grown beyond the drink and become a way of life, as well as being an energy drink distributor. Posts about company events such as the ones RedBull holds are what keep people’s attention. They want to know you’re relevant and have things going on, however big or small, it’s another chance for them to interact with the part of a brand that taps into their emotion.