Marketing and Social Media Tools that Surprised Me

Photo found on Unsplash

During the last few months, while taking this social media certificate at Algonquin College, I have found quite a few new social media marketing tools and applications. Some were completely unexpected to me.
The two applications that I am going to mention in today’s blog, I want to explore more in the next few months.


I started exploring a few new tools and I must say that I thought that I would be too old for TikTok because their demographic is between the ages of 16-24. But after giving it a closer look I started to like it and made an account. I am not sure yet how often I will post something there, because I am still figuring out the platform but the more time I spent on it the more I like it.
And quite honestly, I never thought I would say that about TikTok.

With 800 million active users this app can just be worth a try and be a powerful tool in the marketing strategy of any business.

Photo by:


The second social media marketing tool that was unexpected for me is Canva. Before I took the courses at Algonquin College I had heard about Canva, but I was surprised how user-friendly the tool is and that even the free version lets you create beautiful content for your social media platforms.
Recently I started using Canva to help create content for my first client that she used on her Instagram page (see screenshot below). This will be my go-to tool for the future for creating content.

What social media marketing tools and applications surprised you? Let me know in the comments below.

Are Paid Social Media Ads Really Worth It?

Marketing has evolved a lot in the last few decades. TV and radio ads aren’t the first marketing choice for many businesses anymore. Social Media marketing has now taken all of the traditional marketing’s power. More and more people spend now hours every day on Facebook, Instagram or any other platforms more than ever. It’s normal for businesses to want to promote their products on this “not so new anymore” platform for marketing. The real question is, are paid social media ads really worth it?

In facts, paid social medias ads are worth it. According to Statista, Social media ad impressions are up to almost 20% year over year. The reason for that statistic is that people are most likely to believe in this kind of ads than radio or TV publicities. People are most likely to click on the businesses’ accounts and get more information about the brand because social media ads can target people that would be interested in them. It’s also easy to get access to the company’s account or website since every ad bring you back to one of these options. Something that traditional marketing can’t do. 

Yes, Social Media ads can be beneficial for your brand but, it can also make you lose money if you don’t do it the right way. Here’s what you need to do for it to be worth it.

Target The Right Audience

As I said in my previous blog Choose The Right Influencer To Promote Your Products In 5 Steps, it’s important to know your target audience. In other words, you need to create a persona. If this is easier for you, you can also draw your persona. Is it a male or a female? What does s\he look like? It’s also important to create a personality. What does s\he like? What are her\his interests? What is her\his profession? The small details are really important in this step, you need to bring this persona to life!

Clear Light Bulb on Black Surface from Pixabay

Social Medias publicities target people that would be interested in your post because of the options you decided to choose. You need to name your target audience’s interest, age, location and even more. The more details you have, the more chances you will get to reach the right audience. You need people that would take actions to your post, get more information about your brand and maybe even buy your products. If you choose interests that isn’t related to your business, you will reach people that will just scroll pass your publication. It’s something that you definitely don’t want. This is also valid for your location. If you choose Australia, for example, and you have a restaurant in Canada, you will reach the wrong people and your publicity will be useless. 

There is plenty of platforms to choose from when it comes to Social Media marketing. It might even be hard to choose from all of those options because most of them have a lot of similarities. That is why you need to choose the right platform. You need to make sure that your target audience is present on the platform that you want to use. There are a few questions that you can ask yourself to find the responses you need. Does my target audience watch long videos on YouTube or short ones on TikTok? Does my target audience prefer looking at pictures on Instagram or stories on Snapchat? Does my target audience like to read small publications on Twitter or longer ones on Facebook? You need to find questions that match every social media you might want to promote your business on. After that, you just need to make sure that the responses you get, corresponds to your target audience.

Be Unique

So many brands are promoting their businesses online and most of them promote the same way as their competitors. The key to have a successful ad is to be unique. Create content that hasn’t been done. Make your business stand out because we all know that the publicities, we remember are the ones that are either weird or out of the ordinary. You will most likely not remember the publication that is identical to all the ones you’ve already seen on your feed. We, as humans, like change, things that are different and things that we have never seen before.

Broken Eggshells on a Plain Background by Anna Shvets

Not only do you need to create unique content, but you also need to make sure that the quality is great. If you choose a picture, make sure that it isn’t blurry not only on a small screen but also on a big one. Remember that some people might look at it on their phones but others might look at it on their computers. If it is a video, you need to make sure that the sound is great, the information said in this video is interesting for the audience and the visual is appealing for the eye. You can’t rush the content. You need to make sure that every little detail represents perfectly your brand. If you decide to rush it, people might see your brand as unprofessional and maybe even think it is fake. I’m pretty sure you don’t want a bad reputation from the beginning.

Be Active

You need to make sure that your brand has already some publications before paying for any ads. Think about it, if you see a publicity on Instagram and you go on their profile and they don’t have any other publications, you might think that it isn’t a real brand. Your ads don’t have any credibility if your business account is totally new. Publish some brand related content and don’t forget to ask questions as well so that people have something to say in your comment sections. 

Person Holding White Android Smartphone by Cottonbro

Yes, having more followers on your account is great. You just need to make sure that your audience is interested in your post. Make sure they participate in the conversation, like and share your post. Social medias platforms don’t show your post to all of your followers anymore. To make sure that people will see your post, you need to have lots of likes and comments. The more people react to a post, the more Instagram or Facebook, for example, will show your post to their viewers. At the end of the day, followers aren’t worth it if they are not active on your account.

The Reasons Why You Should Choose Facebook

First of all, Facebook ads help you reach new people all over the platform, generate leads and can help you get more sales in a shorter amount of time. It’s great because you’re able to target the right audience with detailed options. It looks pretty similar to the Instagram ad options because both of them are owned by Facebook.

Gold Iphone 6 With Note Pads by

You’re able to choose the location you want to reach, your audience interests and even more. If you choose the right target audience, with the right interests, you’ll be able to reach people that might take action. They might follow you, comment on your post and might even buy products on your website. 

The Reasons Why You Should Choose Instagram

First of all, Instagram has been growing a lot in the past few years. Users are most likely to spend around 50 minutes a day on Instagram, Facebook and messenger. It’s a good opportunity because to reach people, you want to be able to talk to them on a regular basis. As I mentioned earlier, followers aren’t worth it if they don’t engage with your business. The more your target audience see your post or your business on their feed, the more chances you have to get new followers or even purchases. 

Instagram’s ads are really interesting because they give brands the opportunity to create ads even with a very low budget. I tried to create an ad to show you the budget options. If you pay 2$ daily for 30 days, which is the cheapest options, it will cost your brand 60$ only for the month. With that price, you would get between 5.2k and 14k views on your post. If you want to pay a little more daily (10$), it will cost you 300$ a month and you would get between 26k and 68k of views. Finally, if you have the budget to pay 25$ daily for 750$ for a month, you will get between 65k and 170k views. Your brand also has the option to pay even more if you have the budget for that. One thing that is also great about Instagram ads is that you can choose how many days you want your post to be seen. You don’t need to pay for 30 days but it is strongly recommended. 

Budget & Duration on Instagram by Audrey-Ann Grenier


The platform also consists mostly of pictures and videos. This is a plus because viewers are most likely to remember your ads because it is visual. I searched online and 65% of the population is visual to be exact (Mind Tools, 1998). Be honest with yourself, do you remember more the written ads that you have seen in the past or the ones with pictures and\or videos? I remember last year I was watching my favorite show on my TV and this really weird ad about the brand Poppers kept playing each week. People on Facebook kept talking about this publicity and even made memes out of it. Viewers are most likely to remember weird or unique ads as well so you might take that in consideration.

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you also have the option to connect your Instagram ads to your Facebook ads. This option makes your life easier and you don’t need to go look on 5 different platforms for your statistics.

Social Media’s ads are in facts, worth it. You just need to make sure that you choose the right audience to target the right viewers. It’s important to also remember that even if you have thousands of viewers on your publicity, if they don’t engage with the post or your brand, it is not worth it. 

Would you choose Social Media ads over any other marketing strategies?

Twitter: You want to know if Social Medias ads are really worth it? This blog has all the answers for you.

Facebook: Marketing has changed a lot in the last decade as we all know. The thing is, is Social Medias ads really worth it? Should we choose them over any other marketing strategies? This blog has all the answers that you need.


Butters K. (2020, July 14). Is Facebook Advertising Really Worth It?.

Caramela S. (2020, August 26). Is Advertising on Instagram Worth It?.  

Carmicheal K. (2020, February 5). Paid Social Media: Worth The Investment?.  

Cooper P. (2020, April 23). 43 Social Media Advertising Statistics that Matter to Marketers in 2020.

DeMers J. (2020, March 4). Is Social Media Marketing Still Worth  It?.

DMI Blog. (n.d.). The Cost of Social Media Advertising: Where’s The Value?

Dsparks. (2018, March 27). Is Paid Social Media Marketing Worth It?.

Guttmann A. (2020, September 7). Social Media Ads CPM Worldwide Q2 2018- Q2 2020.

Heinig I. (2018, June 28). 7 Reasons to Consider Paid Social Media Advertising.

Leanne. (2020, November 5). Are Instagram Ads Worth it? Here’s Why They Are!.

Ochoa F. (2017, June 1). Paying Social Media Advertisements, Is It Worth It?.

 Sirohi A. (2020, December 3). Understanding Paid Social Media for your Business.

TeachThought Staff. (2015, January 12). Shifting To Visual Teaching.

COM0015 – Blog 1: Social Media Trends and News Sources

Social media trends

There are two ways in which I keep track of social media trends. First, I am subscribed to daily newsletters from Social Media Today, SocialBakers Blog, Hootsuite Blog, and Influencer Marketing Hub. Newsletters from these platforms go directly to a dedicated folder in my email inbox. I look at these newsletters daily to get a sense of major developments around social platform updates, social media marketing, digital marketing, etc.

On a typical work day, when I am glued to a computer screen, receiving a newsletter via email is the best way to make sure I pay attention to it. Source: Giphy

Second, I use LinkedIn and Twitter search functionality to find content that contains keywords and hashtags of interest to me. This allows me to track what various thought leaders and influencers think about where the world of social media is moving.

I use these particular listening and monitoring tools because they provide a good coverage of the topics that I am interested in. I use insights I get through these tools to develop and tweak social media plans and content. I also use these insights to learn about what is happening in the social media world beyond my area of expertise.

News and updates sources

I use Google Alerts to stay abreast of news and updates of interest. I currently receive daily alerts for 18 keywords, and I change these keywords quite often.

I also use Flipboard, a free news aggregator, that fetches news from all the websites I follow and organizes them into “magazines” for my convenience.

Google Alerts and Flipboard help me stay up-to-date with news and updates of personal and professional interest. GIF source: @rjblomberg on Giphy.

I prefer Google Alerts and Flipboard to other tools because they are easy to use, reliable and free. They help me stay up-to-date with major developments that are important for the organization I work for and for my personal professional development.

And what tools do you use to track social media trends or news of interest? Let me know in the comments section below.

COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools & Sources

adult chill computer connection

Photo by on

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 (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 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.



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.


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.


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 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

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 =

Getting a Pinterest tab for your Facebook Page =

Pinterest stuff = Courtesy of Melanie Duncan (

> The BLOGEME poster thingy I built (featured image)  still lives on which I’ve embedded on my personal blog (backdoor access = click expand button on bottom corner)

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.


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!