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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 8.06.17 PM

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 #3 – Social Media Audiences

I presently work as a contractor at the Department of National Defence producing videos for the department’s social media outlets, and other online platforms. When developing or editing a video I always need to keep the audience in mind.

Here is what of the videos I have worked on:

When developing a story line I always have to keep the audience in mind, even though it is quite broad. I need to target Canadian Armed Forces members, their families, potential recruits, CAF retirees and anyone with an interest in the military. What I do when thinking of my audience I think of which portion of my audience would most appreciate the story that I am molding.

Watch this video before continuing to read:

When editing this video, I had a specific audience in mind, I was thinking of parents, young adults or anyone who has helped someone that is ill. I wanted to pull at the audience’s heart strings and so started off with the challenge: Zak had cancer that had taken over 75% of his body.

For other videos such as the Cpl Reyda story above, the audience was more specifically people with a dream, in this case it was a dream to fly, however this could be for anyone with a dream career who has struggled on the way to their goal.

How do you target your audience?

COM0011 – Can Snapchat Become a Primary Social Media Tool for Small Business Marketing?


By: Kamal Hylton

When it comes to how useful a social media platform is to the business world, I zero in on how effective it is at interacting with an audience, sharing ideas and/or getting a message across.

During the current era of social media boom, the impact of tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn on big business have made a clear impression. However it has made an even bigger mark on small businesses, startup companies and given local entrepreneurs marketing power and global reach like never before. Twitter have allowed owner/customer relations to blossom and build productive long-term relationships through short and simple messages, Facebook has enabled startups to unleash detailed marketing campaigns that are professional quality at little to no cost, Instagram is tailor-made for video or image marketing equal to any big advertising firm and LinkedIn has done away with the old rolodex in its ability to keep up with contacts and find like-minded professionals.

That said, one social media platform I personally can’t wrap my head around as a “go to” tool for small businesses social media marketing is Snapchat – the video messaging app that allows viewers to see short videos up to 10 seconds in length before being deleted permanently.

Being a writer/social media marketer on behalf of a media company, part of my job is to help startups acquire and sustain an online following. Typically these are companies with little to no advertising budgets or are in fields like healthcare, data security and employment services that although important aren’t exactly sexy or exude excitement like the music or art industries nor do they have the ability to get a big star like Justin Bieber or Drake to do a social media takeover of their brand. When it comes to Snapchat, I’ve found it hard even suggest as a primary tool to our clients simply due to its premise and main selling points not making sense for them. There are some good selling points to Snapchat that I’d love to use for specific projects like the “Discover” feature, giving companies a 24 hour channel of videos and short articles. The easy way Sanpchat can be used to promote specific events is also a plus, its immediacy perfect for pop up giveaways or the creation of citywide treasure hunts all in the name of publicity.

The issues I’m presented with in regard to Snapchat could come down to demographic  or nature, with more than half of Snapchat users under the age of 25 and companies I tend to work with not catering to the flashy nature of the app. It could also be as simple as Snapchat still being a new tool that hasn’t reached its full potential enough to make it a primary social media pillar like the others mentioned. Whatever the case, right now I can’t recommend Snapchat for a company right out of the gate in the same vein as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

I’d love to hear from you (especially if you are a regular Snapchat user). What makes Snapchat appeal to you? How could a small business make best use of Snapchat? How do you see Snapchat evolving in the future?

Reference Material:

Snapchat for Beginners: 6 Ways To Use It For Business –

Making Sense of Snapchat for your Small Business

Guide to How Snapchat is being used today

Branded Content and Why it Matters

Branded content is marketing content which takes on the characteristics of the home environment it lives in.   It can appear as a great investigative journalism story, a funny video series on YouTube, or an informative podcast.

While it most likely will include the goals of informing or entertaining, the content also has another agenda which is to meet the marketing objectives of the companies that pay to produce it.

Most controversy around branded content centers on the authenticity of the content and how it is presented to viewers.   In some cases, particularly in news organizations, there’s a lot of concern about maintaining the integrity of news content and ensuring that branded content is clearly marked so viewers aren’t “fooled” by it.

With video being the fastest growing, and most viewed content on-line, news sites are setting internal branded content production divisions.

Organizations like Buzz Feed consider branded content as part of their lifeblood and don’t even take banner ads.  Hailed as the go forward on-line business model for journalism it focuses relentlessly on providing shareable content like listicles, celebrity gossip, pictures and breaking news.

It launched its commercial video studio in California in the summer of 2014 and has scaled rapidly trying to capture as much of the 1B dollar branded content pies as possible.  (See full article by Jennifer Fall at the Drum).

Other legacy news organizations like the New York Times are also coming to the party, as the pressure of banner and pop up ad blockers makes diversifying their ad revenues essential.  According to Business Insider It has launched its T Brand Studio to produce what it calls native advertising (branded content by another name).

So what does any of this have to do with you or your organization?

If you are thinking about producing video, looking at the branded content that these news organizations produce on-line can be helpful in thinking about your own strategies for video, and how suitable your content/channel “fit” is.

It also highlights that when you produce your video you want to  try to pick producers who have the right expertise for the content.

Here are two branded content examples which reinforce the points above.

When Netflix wanted to produce branded content to support their widely successful series Orange is the New Black they chose to work with the NYT.   The result was an in depth interactive piece of journalism that took a hard look at how the penal system designed on male models was failing women inmates.   You can see the piece here.  While it is branded content the form of that content brings the journalistic strengths and integrity of the NYT brand to the endeavor.

When Purina wanted an on-line video campaign for their new wet cat food they went to Buzz Feed.  Along with its other attributes, Buzz Feed is well noted for its adorably shareable pet pictures.   Purina’s Dear Kitten campaign was a viral hit.  You can see the first video in the series here.



Provided by Pixabay

With social media we all have the capacity to be publishers of video stories, but that doesn’t mean we will do it well.

Video, like any multi-media tool, needs to add value to a story in a very clear way; simply to use it for its own sake doesn’t work.   While video watchers on the web may be willing to tolerate lower quality images they won’t tolerate irrelevant content.

When businesses or individuals start to think about a video content strategy there’s one primary question that needs answering to get everything else right.

When does video add real value to your story?

Media organizations have been figuring out the answer to this question for a while now as they’ve continued to experiment with best uses of video in their operations.

Here are my top answers to when does video add value to your content along with some examples.

     When it “brings to life” in a unique way an element of a story that would not be as good without it.

In 2007, Washington Post reporter Gene Weingarten wanted to do a story on how rush hour morning commuters would react to a world class violinist  posing as a common street performer.  With the headline Pearls Before Breakfast Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out.  The story ran as a feature in the Sunday magazine.  In the on-line version they posted the text and pictures along with small embedded video clips that allowed users to see and hear passer by reactions to the playing.   The story ran and was the most viewed in the history of the site.

When you think about using video it should add something to a story that you might otherwise just tell in print.  Here the video is a social experiment with an intriguing question that could only be answered by watching what unfolds.  This story is much more impactual because you want to “see” what is going to happen.

     When it tells emotional and personal human stories with central characters that are compelling

Video is an emotional medium that works really well when it captures a human story with really strong central characters.   While some writers would argue this point, I don’t think the printed word and/or even pictures can compete with video when it comes to telling emotional stories about human beings.   Take a look at the use of video in this piece by Ian Brown, a Globe and Mail columnist, who wrote a book called “Man in Moon”, based on a series of articles he published in the paper.

     When it provides a voice to users and a place for them to participate

Whether communities are posting video themselves, or being given a place to express themselves video can be a very strong medium to give voice to community on topics of concern to them.  Watch this compelling interactive video project created by the Washington Post called the N Word.

     When it gives you valuable information and/or shows you how to do something that you didn’t know how to do before.

The how-to genre is very video friendly.   People look up all kinds of practical information on how to do things on-line and often turn to video to get help.  Great how-to video is clear, concise, and well shot.  It’s a lot harder to do well than you may think.  One of my favourite channels for how-to is epicurious .


Has the #hashtag gone too far? Well, in some situations I think so. I will start off by mentioning where it seems to work wonders. On Instagram for instance, it is used in overkill listing ingredients of someone’s full supper. In many ways Instagram tends to lend itself freely to the use of #hashtags. Post a simple photo of your meal and list every ingredient seems to be a trend in itself.

On Twitter it works well for following a trend, newsworthy event, or awareness campaign. For example #BringBackOurGirls, received and continues to receive world attention as it should.

The #hashtag is a simple and useful tool bringing attention to causes and items worthy of being searched, thus starting a trend that can be followed.

People even adopted a new way of talking using #hashtags in their speech. Something that Jimmy Fallon jumped on and was part of a skit with Justin Timberlake.

A little too far? Maybe in the skit it took it a little far but the one area I feel the #hashtag has been taken a bit far in Social Media is #hashtaging words like “the”, “and”, “it” and so on. On its own who is going to search the word “the” for latest trends? Certainly not the general public. I think the #hashtag is best served being used sparingly and with a sense of focus.

The #hashtag has been seen as the butt of many jokes and I think it’s healthy to have a sense of humour around the use of #hashtags.



Video courtesy of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Picture courtesy of

COM0015 – Blog Post #4 Out of the Box

I used to use Facebook a lot in my previous job, as for a flower shop visuals are essential.  As a software company, I find that Twitter and blogging are more relevant to our followers. They are looking for news on mobile threats, security solutions for enterprises that want to protect their confidential data, and so on.

I did find some unexpected and extremely useful tools that helped us a lot to stay in touch with our audience, reach out to them, and provide useful information.

For video creation I use a screencast tool (the video screen capturing software) used along with Camtasia, a very easy to use professional screen recording & video editing software. We create “how-to” videos to guide our users into learning how to use our software.

CamCard: a free tool to scan business cards for Android or IOS phones. After a trade show you end up with tons of business cards, therefore a free tool like Camcard is the extremely useful alternative to manually inputting contact details into an excel file. You scan the business cards and the soft is giving you the option to save them into your phone or export into an excel file.

Mailchimp a free email marketing service provider for email blasts. You can stay in touch with your contacts by sending them information regularly about what we are up to.  I used Constant Contact as well and for a monthly fee you get more flexibly with regard to template layouts and usability, vs Mailchimp.