COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools & Sources

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The Algonquin College Social Media Program has presented me with a wealth of knowledge and different ways of approaching social media, and has shown countless ways to listen/monitor social media content that is important/relevant.  I have also learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and it takes some experimenting to figure out what works best. Because I work in such a specialized field, with comparatively little content available, some of the more popular tools haven’t been particularly effective, but I have landed on a couple of things that seem to do the trick for me.  The key tool that I utilize for listening/monitoring is Google Alerts, tied into Feedly to make it easier to review results.  I started utilizing this way back when I took Monitoring and Measurement; I created lists of keywords that I have tweaked over time, and continue to change as new trends emerge.  Google Alerts has been useful, not only because it is free, but once it is up and running, it needs very little maintenance.  It also allows me to filter out terms that are similar, but do not apply to my company’s products, or the industry.

After perusing and trying out a number of different listening/monitoring tools, it struck me that I was really just over-complicating things.  As it turns out, the easiest and least time consuming method is to manually search Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, using many of the same keywords that I utilize with Google Alerts.  While this may not work well for a large scale operation, my industry is small, and fairly specialized.  The area where doing a manual search really shines is in closed groups; to the best of my knowledge there are no tools that can do this.  I get a lot of information from the groups I belong to, and a lot of that comes from searching specific terms.

Speaking strictly from a work perspective, my absolute go-to for industry news and updates is Career Wise, put out by Contact Point. It is an aggregator of the top articles, blogs, events, etc. that is published weekly.  It covers anything and everything to do with Career Counselling and Career Development in Canada.  Contact Point is also a huge influencer in the field of Career Development in Canada, so being retweeted, or included in Career Wise is a great accomplishment.  The other source I go to for industry news and updates is LinkedIn; there are a number of influencers who publish content on a daily/weekly basis that I follow.  The one downside to this is that there is no filter, the content comes straight from the author, and it is up to me, and the rest of the readers to determine the content’s value.  Of course, being social media, there is the opportunity for immediate feedback and dialogue.

Overall, these tools and sources have been working for me for some time; while I do periodically revisit my keywords list when there are new products, programs, or legislation. I don’t really feel the need to change how I listen/monitor. I am however curious to see what others, who work in niche industries do for listening/monitoring social media. Let me know by leaving a comment below.

COM0015 Blog 4 – CinchShare

CinchShare is a company based in Melbourne, Florida.  They offer an application much like Hootsuite but less expensive.  You can use CinchShare to schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Their target audience is women in direct sales and MLM companies.  They offer free online Facebook training on their Facebook page geared towards people in direct sales, such as:

  • Creating Amazing Customer Groups,
  • Instagram 101 for Direct Sellers,
  • How to Sell Yourself on Facebook,
  • and much more.

When you logon to CinchShare for the first time, it connects all of your Facebook pages, it links any groups that you’ve created.  You have access to all of your Facebook photos and it advises you to register for Canva which is a design program that makes it really easy to make creative content to post.  Many of the photos in Canva are free and there are some with a small cost.  Many are only $1.  You have to link your Twitter and Instagram accounts, much like you would in Hootsuite.

I’m looking forward to using CinchShare and to share this great tool with others in direct sales.

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.

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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 Blog #4 Out of the box, into the cell

When I began the social media certificate at Algonquin College learning to use new tools was expected. What I did not expect was to fall back on a very handy (and powerful) tool – the spreadsheet. This tool has been in my toolbox for years and I didn’t expect it would be so useful as a building block for monitoring and measuring my social media platforms.

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I started off with a simple list using data from a Facebook page I administer.  I created columns for:

  • Date
  • Categories
  • Subcategories
  • Target
  • Calls to Action
  • Posts
  • Impressions
  • Comments (replies)
  • Likes (favorites)
  • Shares (retweets)
  • Clicks
  • Total Engagement
  • Total Reach

The data for each of the above can be imported from Facebook Insights, as an example. Without too much thought, I can see what content was most effective but simply sorting my data by descending order.

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Based on this, I can see a huge increase on October 29. On this day, a slide show was posted. Consistently, over the life of this page, slide shows have boosted engagement.

Once the top content is identified, it can be compared to trends upward or downward over a certain period of time. Did this trend result in a change in ROI – did more participants enrol at the next registration?

This is just a very simplistic example of how an old tool can be used to keep things new.

Targeting Photographers and Models

Flash Designs Studio has five target audiences: photographers, models, stock agencies, people wanting family portraits and businesses wanting event photos. FDS has targeted the first two in marketing efforts so far, so let’s focus on them. These photographers and models are in Ottawa, ethnically diverse and artistic, visual people.

Most photographers who attend workshops and Meetups enjoy photography as a hobby, while some use it as a retirement business (local key players lead these sessions, as FDS soon will). As photography can be expensive, most in this target audience have post-secondary education, established careers and good salaries with disposable incomes. Most are open to sharing their images and insights, as seen at clubs and Meetups and on Facebook and online forums like PhotoNEWS, Photo Life, Outdoor Photography Canada and Canadian Geographic’s photo club (national key players).

While most photographers are men, models are young women who are in post-secondary school or just starting their careers and have modest incomes. An effective strategy has been doing “time-for-print” shoots; the only payment for models and FDS is to build each other’s portfolio.

According to Facebook Insights, 64% of people reached are female and 45% are ages 35 to 54. According to Google Analytics, 54% of FlashDesignsStudio.com visitors are male and 61% are ages 18 to 44. While 95% of Facebook visitors are Canadian, 43% of website visitors are Canadian and 24% are British (some of the more active Twitter photographers).

FDS does not have enough Twitter nor Instagram followers to generate statistics. These platforms and blogs are not as popular as Facebook with these target audiences. Instagram’s former square format and Twitter’s former text-only format may have deterred these groups. Advertising saturates Twitter feeds, possibly further deterring use. Because of this, FDS focuses more attention on Facebook than any other platform.

COM0015 – Assignment 1 -Blog 4 – Out of the Box

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.

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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

Tools & Sources COM0015

Tools & Sources COM0015

My two favorite Social Media listening tools currently would have to be Facebook and Twitter.  The two best sources that I use most often for news and updates of interest, would be Flipboard and Google Alerts.

My Facebook community contains a large group of friends and family combined with many long term customers that interact and share positive stories. Facebook can keep me current with regards to graduations, major life moments, vacations etc. that help with common ground and conversation starters to have the next time to I see my customers or family members. Facebook helps connect us in-between our extremely busy schedules, and large gaps of time that we go through without seeing many friends, family, and customers. Facebook keeps me informed and social; even when I am at a physical distance from many of these people, I CAN connect, relate, share and learn.FacebookTwitter

Twitter is my quick scan source of industry information that I can briefly look and see if a headline grabs my attention! Does “It Pays to Know” have any new articles my customers may like? Or perhaps I can look at quick link to “Mind Your Brain” for a positive quote on “mindfulness”. Or “My Money Coach” links to an awesome article on becoming debt free and living simply. As quick as the chickadee flies by I can glide through the Tweets when I don’t have much time – hence my love of Twitter!

Google Alerts come to my Gmail Account every morning!  I do have to mention I use Feedly as well, as it’s in my Google Account too.  Feedly is pretty awesome, however, my Google Alert Articles are keyword specific which help narrow down the articles and Google Alerts doesn’t keep asking me to pay for the service as Feedly does,  hence I prefer Google Alerts. These articles, Google Alerts generates for me, help me know what is current in my industry and assist me in everyday conversation about mortgage industry news my colleagues and customers are reading & talking about.

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I will use Flipboard on a Friday Morning, when work is not as overwhelming, I absolutely love the abundant amount of News Sources and Choice Flip Board gives one access too! I use Flipboard when I want to find articles on Travel, Art, Science, Sports, Architecture or Design. I can source out very “cool” articles that are great conversation starters and create positive connections to other aspects of your life. In addition to News Articles, Flipboard will source Blogs as well. This is how I found two really awesome Blogs; “Young and Thrifty”, and “My Alternative Life”. Both awesome Blogs about managing debts, mortgages, and managing your money. Flipboard and Google Alerts are both solid sources to gather your industry news and articles of personal interest!

COM0015 – Blog # 1 – SOCIAL MEDIA Meets Business

COM0015 – Blog # 1 – SOCIAL MEDIA Meets Business

Images included from the following sources:

My Tools for Social Media Monitoring

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Sourced on Pixabay 

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The social media trend monitoring tools that I use are Google Alerts, my Twitter feed, LinkedIn, Vimeo, and Youtube.

I do advanced searches on Keyword Planner on Google Adwords with an eye to keywords on topics I want to follow.   From there I create Google alerts (although some are saying Mention is better, and Alerts might disappear), and content feeds in my TweetDeck.  I spend time on LinkedIn and use Groups and Interests to monitor influencers and join groups that can provide me with interesting information on trends.  It’s a bit of a feedback loop as I find that they all feed into, and amplify one another—subject matter can influence who I follow and who I follow can lead to a deeper dive into subject matter.   I also use keywords, and other search methods, to subscribe to relevant channels that interest me on YouTube and Vimeo.

I am a freelance digital content provider specializing in video production, and I am usually working to monitor trends in two main streams.  I follow subject matter and influencers relevant to my clients, and I follow specific marketing content niches, like branded content and video marketing in branded content.

In terms of news sources and updates, I don’t know if I can isolate that from the trend monitoring tools.  I do use Flipboard and follow topics and people there.  Why Flipboard?  I like it is ease of layout and user interface.  I would say it’s a bit of a proverbial feedback loop between listening tools and news and updates.   Am I missing something?  Does anybody else have some ideas on that one?  I haven’t really made a lot of use of RSS streams and I think I might be missing out there.

Why these tools and not others?   Well I think part of it is that over time I have found there’s a simplicity to my method that works well for me.   I need to be a generalist and a niche specialist when it comes to information so the broad search and then the drill down is effective.

I haven’t found much use for Facebook, but I am not sure that is because it isn’t useful, or I just haven’t put energy into figuring out how it might be.  I use Facebook on a personal level, but not so much on a professional level.  Again I welcome thoughts.

I also have found that to date I can make my world overly complex with monitoring, and when I have it hasn’t served me well.  I prefer to niche, niche, and niche some more.   The other way leads to information overload and diffuses the desired results.

There are some monitoring tools that I tend to use more as delivery tools like Bit.ly and I want to get going with Buffer to program my Twitter activity.

I think there is probably a lot more strategy and intelligence I could do with paid tools.  I would be keen to mine more insights with options available from companies like Radian6, but I would perhaps be more likely to run into it through a client using it.

 

I Quit!…For Now…

OMG! Big news! Ed Sheeran has quit social media!

Meh, I don’t really care because I’m not a fan. But for his faithful millions who use the most popular apps, there will be a void. I am sure some followers will mourn his absence; they’ll miss his Twitter thoughts and Instagram images. Some will forget about him entirely. And others will just shrug, knowing that he will eventually return. Almost all of them do.

Taking a break from social media is not an unusual move. It can become oppressive. Time-consuming. Even depressing. I have friends who have done it. I’ve done it too. But when celebrities do it, it starts trending on Twitter (that’s irony, right?).

There are plenty of great reasons to take a breather from social media; to step back and regroup. Because, depending on how you use it, social networking can take a negative toll on anyone. It can waste time, hurt relationships, cause unnecessary drama, batter self-esteem, compromise privacy, and turn people into hermits.

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Sheeran said social media was narrowing his world view, forcing him to see things through a screen instead of through his own eyes. And so he has decided to step back and look at the world in a different way. He isn’t the first person to do this. And he is not the first celebrity to push social media to the side, hoping for more privacy and a renewed sense of self.

Whether it was because they were dealing with serious online trolling and abuse or just weren’t allowed to post risqué pictures, many celebrities have had a rocky relationship with social media. Chelsea Handler, Rihanna, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj – all of these celebrities have pulled the plug on their social media network, either temporarily or long-term.

There are so many valid reasons for giving social media a rest. And for a lot of people, the risk of losing followers, publicity, and attention because they need to step away from their screens is worth it.

But many return, as Sheeran will (he even says so in his Instagram message). Our relationship with social media can be fickle. Bumpy. And we’ve all had the urge to quit.

Have you ever taken a break from social media? How long did it last? And how did it feel when you unmoored yourself from it all?