Archive for ‘Algonquin College’

October 26, 2011

MOvember social media strategy from CKDJ 107.9 [Video + Interview]

The idea for this post first struck me when I saw this YouTube video:

Pretty great, right? As you can see, CKDJ 107.9 Ottawa’s New Music (a station run by Algonquin College’s Radio Broadcasting students) is once again joining the Movember campaign to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues. Their hook? Get Canada’s Prime Minister to grow a mustache and be a “MoBro”.

After watching CKDJ’s campaign unfold over a few days, I noticed that it relied heavily on social media to get the word out. Given that this is a student group whose primary focus is NOT marketing or communications, I thought the campaign was being handled quite well.

I wanted to talk strategy, so I tracked down the man in the video (@RyanPaulGibson) for a quick discussion. We had a great conversation, and I was rather impressed by the thought and effort that went into this campaign. Here are a few of the highlights from our conversation.

Q1. Before we talk about your strategy, what are your goals?

First of all it’s about raising awareness for a good cause. My family has been impacted by prostate cancer, and it’s something that is not talked about enough. If we can raise a little money along the way, all the better.

Q2. What metrics determine your success?

We want:

Even if we don’t get the Prime Minister to grow a mo, we would have still raised awareness by creating content that engages our audience.

Q3. Did you really create a social media strategy, or is this stuff just common sense for CKDJ?

Absolutely we created a social media strategy. If I just posted the video on YouTube, I don’t think it would have done much. It would have gotten lost within the thousands of hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every second. If we didn’t use social media to promote it, it would not have been picked up by mainstream media, and the dominoes wouldn’t have fallen into place. If you want to get your message heard, you need to find a way to get it out there to the people who will get it on another channel.  Sometimes you just have to light the fire a little bit.

Q4. Boil down your strategy and tactical approach for me

Well, step one was make the video, and then promote it on Twitter. I tweeted (and emailed) 40-50 news organizations and around 100 journalists that I follow or knew existed. I also tweeted key cultural figures, such as George Stroumboulopoulos (@Strombo), Alan Cross (@AlanCross), or Algonquin College graduate Tom Green (@TomGreenLive), in hopes that they would retweet the message and share the video. I even sent our news release to some press secretaries on Parliament Hill.

Within our Twitter strategy, we created a hashtag (#MoHarper), and added the hashtag for #Movember. Then we made sure that every single tweet was sent with our station’s handle (@CKDJ1079) and the @MovemberCanada handle so that everything we did was noticed by Movember Canada. Next thing I knew, the phone rang and it was one of the head organizers of Movember Canada calling me from Toronto. He thanked me for being involved and gave us the heads-up on some things that they were doing this week to help build momentum. But if I didn’t use social media to reach out in the first place, the video would have just sat on YouTube with a couple dozen views.

Ryan Gibson and his 2010 "Mo"

Ryan Gibson and his 2010 "Mo"

We’ve also created a Facebook page where we share our events, media coverage, and news about the campaign. It’s turning out to be a great place to connect with our audience.

Once I had the social media structure and protocols established to manage our brand, I then looked to other students in the program to leverage their social networks and share our message about Movember beyond just the social media properties owned by CKDJ.

Q5. Did you look at social media and traditional media as separate, or complementary?

This is the first time I’ve tried anything like this; I’ve never even run a campaign before. At first I saw them as separate, but as I started to implement the plan, I saw for the first time how those properties overlap.

Q6. Tell me about the YouTube video

It stemmed from the professors here at Algonquin College telling us that the skill-sets needed to succeed in a career in media require expertise in a variety of sectors including video, audio, writing, social, and web. With that in mind, this was done very quickly, very guerrilla, and very unsophisticated. It was shot in one take with big signs and fake mustaches. We wanted to keep it simple and include a call to action to sign our petition and visit our Facebook page. Ninety seconds is all the time you have to deliver your message online; a video any longer than that often drags.

Q7. How can people can get involved?

It’s easy:

There you have it, a quick behind-the-scenes look at how some Canadian students are leveraging social media to raise money and awareness on men’s health.  During our conversation, Ryan and I touched on a number of best practices, but his understanding of where social media fits in an organization was spot on. Social media strategies are not something you create for campaigns; they should be created and integrated into your everyday business operations.  Using social media needs to be baked into everything your business does.

Are you a “MoBro” or “MoSista”? Let us know if/how you are getting involved in Movember this year.

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September 22, 2011

Do you STILL hate the new Facebook? [Video]

I’ve written this post before, at the end of 2010, the last time Facebook made a significant update. Every time Facebook unveils their new innovations, users get up in arms and turn to Facebook itself to vent their frustration. I can understand the shock that some people feel when the login to see that their photos, news, friends, and lists are not in same place. Facebook has updated their service a lot over the past few months, including new subscriptions, news feeds, mobile versions, games, photos, lists, and more. Change is good.

Here’s what I see:

News ticker: It’s that little box on the top-right side of the page that follows you as you navigate around the page. It keeps me posted on the minute-by-minute updates from friends and I don’t have to click back to the main news feed to see the updates. I like it.

Better lists: We have Google+ Circles to thank for this upgrade. Facebook has gone one step further and has started to suggest how to categorize our friends. Though, they can’t get it 100% right with their suggestions, I like to have a place to start from.

Subscribe button: This is another page out of the Google+ (and Twitter) playbook. You can now follow anybody on Facebook, without having to be their friend, as long as they have enabled their subscribe feature. I’m still experimenting with this and don’t know if I’ll keep it.

Privacy: They claim to have added a “new suite of safety tools” to the network, including advanced security settings, and tools for families. Before you go any further with the new Facebook, it’s a good idea to revisit your privacy settings to make sure nothing has been unknowingly changed. I do this after every Facebook upgrade.

User backlash: It happened in 2008, it happened in 2010, it happened in February of 2011 with the photo viewer update, and now it’s happening again. People are freaking out about the upgrades. I would encourage those who are upset to take a breath, give the new features a try, and then decide if they work for you. If you don’t like them, don’t use them – that sends a message to Facebook.

Remember, this type of upgrading is essential. If we were faced today with Facebook as it existed in 2006, surely we wouldn’t be satisfied. Yes, they are “keeping up with the Jones'” in some respects (Google+ and Twitter), but that’s a good thing. The more pressure these companies put on each other the faster they are forced to innovate and improve their services. At the end of the day, it’s the user who benefits most from these perpetual upgrades. You may not love them all, but we’re definitely better off today then we were way back in 2006.

What do you think about the new Facebook? Love it? Hate it? or meh? I would love some thoughts on this one.

Here’s a quick video from Facebook explaining some of their new features:

September 6, 2011

Social media can be your key to better grades this year [Infographic]

Today is the unofficial end of summer in Canada, and many places around the world, as students from kindergarden to post-secondary return to school for another year of study. Social media is often demonized as a classroom (and workplace) distraction that negatively affects students. Early research from the Whittmore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire shows that this isn’t the case at all. It turns out that social media doesn’t mean lower grades; it actually helps create the environment that encourages discussion and knowledge transfer, ultimately resulting in higher grades for students who engage in social media the most.

This research has been captured in the infographic below, thanks to mastersineducation.org, and a few things really jumped out at me when I first saw it:

1. Better grades: It is interesting to note that this research suggests that better grades aren’t simply tied to whether you use social media or not, but it found that the more hours a student spends using social media the more likely it would be that they had higher grades.

2. Increase of peer-to-peer learning: When teachers integrate social media in the classroom, this research shows learning through discussion increases and students achieve higher grades. Often, this can be as simple as a Facebook page where students can discuss course content and assignments, Twitter accounts to send students reminders, or even YouTube videos of past lectures.

3. Use for education: After social media’s social and entertainment value, this research indicates that the third most common thing students use social media for is education.

Have your grades changed since you began using social media?

July 7, 2011

Responding to negative posts about you or your company – Tips from the US Air Force

This morning I had a conversation with @LyaraPR, Algonquin College PR student, about how to respond to negative posts about you, or your company, on social media networks. I shared the following flowchart that I’ve been using for a few years that helps keep in perspective what to consider when you encounter a negative, or erroneous, post. It was developed by the United States Air Force Public Affairs Agency – Emerging Technology Division and it’s a good document to print and keep close-by your computer, especially if you are a community manager on behalf of an organization. It’s been around for a while, but it’s still quite useful. Take a look…

NOTE: They also have a 25+ page Social Media and the Air Force document (PDF) that details guidelines, trends, and best practices.

June 21, 2011

The Social Media Yearbook – If social media was a school, how would each social network fit in?

I came across this fun little infographic from FlowTown a few months ago, and I decided to hold on to it until we were in the full-swing of convocation season at colleges, universities, and high-schools around the country. Since today marks the first of five graduation ceremonies at Algonquin College (my alma mater and current employer), I thought it would be the perfect time to share.

So, if social media was a school, how would each social network fit in? Who’s the AV nerd? Who’s the hip art kid? Who’s the over-achieving class president?  Who’s the dumb jock? Take a look below and see what the Class of 2011 has in store…

April 20, 2011

8 great steps to start a blog: The “Blogging 101” checklist

Often I hear “I want to start a blog, can you help me get started?” The more I answered those questions the more obvious this blog post became – A simple list of steps to help guide others through starting their own blog.

There’s so much to cover, so I’m going to break up my “blogging” series into a number of posts: the first, “8 great steps to start a blog,” followed by a post on “content creation,” then a post on “blog promotion,” and finally one on “blogger tools (free software and apps).”

Let’s get started, and yes, the order is important.

1. Decide what you are going to blog about. This may seem obvious, but it’s critical to put some concrete thought into your blog topic before you go any further. The biggest mistake when starting a blog is that people are too diverse in what they want to blog about and just write about what they are interested in. This approach ultimately makes the topic of the blog about the author and, to be honest, nobody really wants to read a blog about you, what you do in your spare time, what your favourite restaurants are, how great your amateur band is, etc. The key is to pick a topic that you are knowledgeable about, passionate about, have experience in and stick to it.

2. Determine who your intended audience is. Who will most likely want to read your thoughts about this topic? Be specific and really start to think about the ideal demographic profile of the person who will be reading your blog. Consider age, gender, career level, industry, education, etc. This can change and grow as your blog matures and you get some insights from your web traffic analytics, but always write with an intended reader in mind.

3. Choose your platform. You know what you are going to blog about and who you are writing for, now it’s time to choose a blogging platform. You want to spend a bit of time on this because you need to make sure you will be happy with your choice now, and for years to come. I use WordPress.com, and I’m quite happy with it. It has several free, well-designed, functional themes that are customizable – very important in my decision.  WordPress (and other sites) also provide “site stats” to help you learn a bit more about who your readers are. Besides WordPress, you may want to also consider Blogger, Posterous, Live Journal, Tumblr, and Typepad. Here’s a decent comparison of some of the tools from bizchickblogs.com.

4. Choose a design template for your blog (often called a theme). This is where WordPress leads the way. They have so many free themes to choose from ranging from highly customizable to the very simple what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Spend a day or two looking at dozens of theme options to find one that serves your needs just right.

5. Customize the look and feel of your blog. Your chance to really make your blog your own. Once you have your theme, there are often many options you can use to make your blog like none other. Try to avoid using too many default design and layout settings. The first thing to do is choose a colour scheme (palette) that you will use in all of your design decisions . For those of us with a less-than-perfect design flair, www.colourlovers.com can help you figure out what looks good together and what doesn’t.

Next step to customize your blog is to incorporate your colours and name of your blog into your header. Your header should be simple. Include the name of your blog and a recognizable image that fits with your theme. Not all blog themes have a custom header capability, so take  a quick look through a few of your options on WordPress.

6. Make sure there are social components to your design. This is what social media is all about. Shares, comments, rankings, etc. You have to add these elements when you are customizing your theme, but it is such a critical component I decided to make it it’s own entry on this checklist.  The idea is to empower your readers to share your blog with their own networks, and also provide you feedback on what readers like and don’t like about your blog.

On the sharing front, I encourage my users to share using Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg, and email. For feedback, I enabled the ranking system and also allowed open comments – this means that all users who want to comment on a blog post can do it without moderation (I am yet to have to remove a comment due to inappropriate content).

7. Buy your domain name. This may not be for everybody, but if you want to communicate professionalism you are going to want to buy a unique domain name. It costs about $20 a year and is well worth it. It takes your blog from the appearance of a free, homemade diary, to a very professional and focused image. If the blogger thinks their content is worth investing some money in, the reader may think it’s worth investing 90 seconds of their time to read the blog.

8. Stop worrying that people will think your ideas are stupid, and start writing. Now your fingers hit the keys. After you are all set up with your blog, it is ultimately your content that will determine how much response you will get.  One of the big stumbling blocks for bloggers (both rookie and veteran) is they may be worried too much about what others think. Stop worrying about it and start writing, and you’ll be able to figure it out as you go. After all, nobody is going to shut your blog down for a few bad posts.

My next post in this “blogging” series will be “Blogging 201: tips on creating content”. Look for that in a few weeks.

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