Back to School 101


 Digital & Social Media Lesson of the Day


I recently made the transition back to full-time student; something I haven’t been in a several years.  I was accepted into the Public Relations Marketing Management Diploma Program at the U of W PACE Division (Professional, Applied & Continuing Education).  I’ve been interested in this program for some time, however it wasn’t until I sat down with the full-time director that I believed that this might be a real option for me.  In the past I’ve dabbled with the idea of taking the Cre-Comm program at Red River College (even went through the application process and was in the portfolio stage), but I never really gave a college program serious consideration.  Having been through 2 full days of classes, along with 2 prep days last week I am more convinced than ever that I made the right decision.

Today’s class was digital & social media – with a teacher who is more like big brother than a professor.  A good part of the faculty in the PACE program are real SME (subject matter experts) who work in their field – which is a great way to overcome the classic conundrum of theory vs. reality.  What I really loved from today’s class was @JosephRanseth  used quotes from people such as George Bernard Shaw & Ralph Waldo Emerson.  In this class we’re expected to use many social platforms to varying degrees, and the little I used Pinterest before today was to pin inspirational quotes!

"Being powerful is like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren't"

“Being powerful is like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t”

Over the course of the next 6 weeks as well as for the rest of the school year (which is 13 months in length!) I will be posting our weekly challenges.  This week was simply to discover and become a member of multiple social media platforms – I bet you think you know them all, but I swear to you that you don’t!  There was one that I had never heard of, and a couple that I personally don’t see the point of.

I’m excited for this course for many reasons, but perhaps mainly because it requires a shift in thinking about how I approach social media and how I use it.  One of my classmates said it best when she said that instead of identifying a product to promote, we are in fact becoming the product and promoting ourselves.  Check out Mia’s incredible blog here!

In my other life, I take part in partisan politics – which requires careful consideration of how one carries themselves, whether it be online or IRL.  I’m careful about what I post on both Facebook & Twitter (which were really the only two platforms I used) and keep my personal Facebook page for family and close friends only.  But how does that translate into being an effective communication professional?  Is there such a thing as a private life anymore?  To what extent do I blur those lines?  These are just some of the questions that I hope to answer by the end of this course.

There is one overriding truth in marketing, one that has already been ingrained in us from day one:  KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!  The way that you reach your audience is what communication & PR professionals get excited about.  Each social media platform caters to a specific audience and has a primary demographic.  For instance, Facebook has become to purview of the grandma generation who are using it to stay up to date with grand-kids and loved ones.  Tweens are using Instagram more and more to communicate vs just for pictures, and perhaps even more-so, are using SnapChat.  Professionals are increasingly found on LinkedIn, and use this platform to not only communicate with one another to find new careers, but to continually learn and keep abreast of industry trends.  The point to take away from this is that most networks give us the ability to target our audience with pinpoint accuracy.

There is a lot more to this social media thing than just doing status updates or tweeting; there is real theory emerging.  Joseph has managed to package all of this and pass this information on to us, with guest lecturers (@FearlessPRGirl was last week) as well as his own social media footprint.  The best way to learn is by doing, which is something that will be key in this class.  There are some key points to keep in mind as we make our way through this social media journey together:

  1. There are 3 ways to  your social media effectiveness:
    1. what is your audience and is it legitimate?  you build an audience by commenting, following & re-blogging others out there, who in turn will do the same for you.  A legitimate audience is one made up of real people, versus the fake followers that you can buy (apparently this is a real thing.  Do people not have more important things to spend their money on?!)
    2. Level of engagement – if people aren’t engaging with you online (be it comments or sharing or re-tweeting or liking), you need to either change your content or start salting/teasing your content.  An example on engagement with regards to Twitter is this:  most tweets receive less than 2 levels of engagement (re-tweets); if you receive 3 or more, you are above average and on your way to becoming an influencer.
    3. Sharing – success in social media isn’t success until it transcends the virtual world to offline,real life.
      1. Content is king when it comes to online, or at least this was the mantra during web 1.0.  Now that we are in web 2.0, it is more like contribution is king.  You need to be commenting, sharing and supporting to receive comments, shares & support from others.  Once people are talking about you independent of your engagement (they randomly praise you on Facebook which results in a new follower outside your immediate connection circle), you have created brand loyalty.  Congratulations!
  2. The key to a successful social media presence (no matter how you personally define success)isto be authentic.  There are millions of blogs out there, and people only have a finite amount of time.  People wantengagingindividuals,realindividuals.
    1. People get on social media for one of two reasons:  either to talk or to listen.  The ones who do it to talk need to have followers who want to listen to them.  This goes right back to level of engagement.  Put another way, the more people who are engaged with your online brand, the more others will become engage.  We judge things by how other people view and engage in something – in a way we are stuck in a popularity contest with quantity sometimes rules over quality.  At a base level people need to feel important, desire recognition and stroking of ego, and feel a sense of belonging.
    2. A key thought to remember is that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  What does this mean for us?  You need to listen and follow others and be more engaged.  This in turn leads to an increased awareness which results in a stronger influence that you will exert.

My goal for this blog is to generate new content at least once a week, although we were all challenged to write a blog post everyday summarizing what we learned in our classes.  I think that is a little too ambitious for me, however the thought of having that much content for my portfolio at the end of this program is very enticing.  At the end of each blog, I intend to pose a question or provoke some sort of thought.  The thought for today is how do you feel the advent of social media has most affected your life?  Leave a comment with you answer and don’t forget to follow this blog!

I leave you with this inspiring TedX video my professor presented at the TedX Manitoba convention last year.

Watch on YouTube:  Who Moved My Unicorn? 

Talk to you soon!




About Dani K

Passionate young professional with a commitment to positive change. Partisan politico. Sometimes runner.
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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