When Social Media No Longer Works Pt 2.

I wrote a blog earlier tonight called When Social Media No Longer Works addressing a pet peeve of mine and using the JLC as an example.

That blog, if you don’t wish to go read it, was about how organizations/venues/groups sometimes become an annoyance when they send out event invites for absolutely everything to the people who like or follow them.

I’d had that problem with the JLC (among others) in the past. Every time they announced an event I’d get an event invite. Which yes it’s an event invite, it’s really not hard to get rid of the notification and click Not Attending, Attending or Maybe, but still after the first dozen you get tired of them.

Now let me just say once again, I love the JLC and have total respect for their marketing and communication team. They do a great job with their marketing, especially their social media. Very few organizations put that much effort into their social media, answering questions, finding information, sharing information, asking questions, offering contests, engaging the audience in every way. How their marketing department works is probably why my resume has appeared in the department a couple of times over the years.

That post got me thinking about some of the mistakes that organizations make with their social media, or even their websites.

  • Stale Content / Lack of New Content
    It has always bothered me when I visit a website and return months later to find the exact same content. Websites should be informative and should spark communication. When there is stale information, it can be hard to put your confidence in it and it can make you wonder where else a company or organization is dated/lacking attention.
    Facebook & Twitter are more about the Lack of New Content. Information may not necessarily become stale, but there is a need for a constant stream of new communication in social media. Social Media is meant to be social. It is about engaging your audience and it is hard to engage your audience if you aren’t present creating a dialogue or the opportunity for a dialogue.
  • TMI – Too Much Information – if you tweet or share anything and everything you are going to lose your following. Tweeting or Sharing this way might be alright for personal accounts but, business accounts function a bit better when they focus on what they do best or things that are relate. Some information, while it may be entertaining, may not be valuable or relevant to those who follow what you are saying. Also if you post/tweet too much, you’re going to drown out everything else for your followers. You will make it hard for them to find other content that is important to them. Ultimately people will unfollow the few (you) for the greater good of the many if you are tweeting/sharing too much that isn’t relevant.
  • Broadcasting vs. Engaging – as I said, Social Media is social. Some companies start a Twitter Account and don’t follow anyone and post nothing more than links to their website or company focused updates or they create a Facebook Page and turn off the wall. Twitter and Facebook are about talking to people, or contributing content that can create a dialogue. These virtual environments are also about recognizing people, sharing information, growing ideas – in other words about establishing relationships and engaging communities. It is amazing the things that people can do if they engage in social media. There are a ton of initiatives that have gained momentum through social media, just in this area.
  • Forgetting – Creating Social Media and forgetting about it. If you are going to create a Twitter Account or a Facebook Page, use it. If you don’t use it it’s probably better to delete it, because a Facebook Page or Twitter Account that is not maintained is doing way more harm than good.
  • Lack of Response – If someone posts a question on your Facebook Page or @mentions you on twitter with a question respond to it as soon as possible. I had a recent situation with a local company, I tweeted them about a month ago with a question and got a response two days ago, this to me is not acceptable. Social Media has an expectation of immediacy attached to it. In Twitter I (personally) expect a response within 2 days at most. In Facebook, I give it a week at most to have a question addressed. After those periods of time I’m lost. I have either forgotten what I said, because it happened ‘so long ago’ or I’ve moved on to someone else who can answer my question. It’s basically customer service; how happy are you when you’re kept on hold for 2 hours? Or if you call a company and they don’t return the call? If it is a post on a Facebook Page that really doesn’t require a response, hit the “Like” button, that can show that you’re reading and paying attention to what is being said on your page.
  • Individual vs Community – Twitter is not really about the individual, well it maybe is, but only in the sense of the individual’s contribution to the community. If a company or individual on social media is all about hearing themselves talk (reading themselves write) there is no room for the community to participate. It is important to interact with the people around you in social media. Engage with what other people are saying, answer questions, ask questions, start a conversation or retweet a message. If someone you are following announces a success or something, congratulate them, share the success (if you think others who follow you would find it valuable), this builds a relationship; if you are there to support someone, they will be more inclined to be there to support you.
  • Listen! Twitter and Facebook are, in my opinion, a wealth of knowledge, Twitter especially. Some of the most interesting and intelligent people I know are people who I follow on Twitter (and if you follow me on twitter and are reading this, I probably mean you). The people I follow on twitter (and those who I don’t) come from a variety of backgrounds. It is amazing the knowledge and experience people have and who knows some of that knowledge and experience could help make your next project even better.
  • Over Following  (This is for twitter) – some people make the mistake of following everyone they come across. This is often in an attempt to inflate their following/followers numbers. If you are following too many people it is hard to filter the conversations and find the hidden gems that could be relevant or beneficial to you. If you do follow a lot of people, I highly suggest you use Lists and categorize the people you are following. This way you can focus on certain streams at certain times and follow along or participate in conversations.

These are just a few of the things I have noticed over time, but I will continue to add tips, tricks and mistakes for social media on this blog, heck I may even (or will likely) make some mistakes myself. I am by no means perfect, but I’ll keep trying to get close.

My Dream Job

The phrase “dream job” has for some reason always thrown me for a loop. People ask me what my dream job is and I blank, or ramble on in a wishy-washy kind of manner.

I don’t know why defining my dream job trips me up so much. Maybe I’m afraid if say it out loud someone will take it from me, which is ridiculous because if I don’t say it out loud, no one is taking it from me, but I am keeping it from myself.

I think part of it is that I often been told that my dreams are unrealistic or childish.  For a decade now (since high school) my focus has been on finding a career and job that I love. I do not want to be one of those miserable people who dreads going to work on a daily basis and who lets their dislike of their job negatively impact every other aspect of their life. I want a job that makes me happy, but others have told me that I need a job that makes me financially stable. I don’t see why I can’t have both.

I want to be the person that looks forward to waking up each morning and going to work. I want to be the person who can’t help but brag about how great their jobs is. I want to enjoy the work that I do and feel like it is making a difference or helping someone else to be or do the best they can.

That’s what I love about technology, it has the potential to help people be or do the best they can. Technology has the power to bridge gaps and connect people in ways previously inconceivable. It is not the technology itself though, it is how people use the technology that gives it power.

I’ve had a computer in my house my entire life. I’m 26 (almost 27), so I’m not part of the generation where this fact would be the norm. My grade 8 graduation class prediction (by my class) was that I would be a computer programmer.

Well that didn’t happen, I fell in love with media and journalism in high school and followed that path to Brock University where I studied Popular Culture. While I was at Brock I met a 3M Award winning Professor named Barry Joe who taught classes on Computer Mediated Communications, which in 2003 was something still relatively new. It may not have new, but it was still somewhat ‘niche’ it hadn’t grabbed a hold of the mass market yet.

These classes combined the two things I loved the most, technology and communications. This was the path I saw my career heading down, I wanted a career in digital communications. During my post-secondary career, at both Brock and Fanshawe I was an advocate for Virtual Educational Environments. I believed that digital communications in an educational setting helped to elevate the academic experience. The traditional education model was Professors Lecturing or Dictating information to their students. Digital environments helped to collapse the educational hierarchy and allowed students to take control over the direction of their education. Digital environments offered students freedom, which gave them the confidence (often through anonymity) to ask questions and present ideas that they were otherwise hesitant to verbalize in a real life classroom

So what is my dream job?

Social Media Coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays would be great, but since that probably isn’t in the cards (at least not yet) my dream job is:

  • A job where I can help others (or a company/organization) achieve their communications goals through the use of technology (website, social media), and possibly traditional communications.

Arguably that would be an ideal position for me, but I wouldn’t mind a position that included that either or that included any/all of the following:

  • Communications Planning
  • Social Media Planning
  • Writing/Researching/Interviewing
  • Web Content Management
  • Event Planning
  • Graphic Design
  • Client Relations/Facilitation
  • Media Relation

In additional to these things I would really like to work with a company/organization that has a strong corporate culture. By that I mean work within a company where people know each other, interact with each other, help and support each other.  A place where people yes get their work done and are professional, but also know how to laugh and have fun. A company that is not only engaged internally, but engaged externally in  community initiatives or projects. A place that encourage continuous growth and development.

So if you know of any jobs that fit this description please feel free to comment below. Or if you have a job like this available, I’m your girl!

Job Hunting Blues

Today when I woke up I went through my usual routine. Check Facebook, check Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo, check Twitter and check LinkedIn. A tiny part of me is now wishing I hadn’t checked LinkedIn. I went into one of the groups I subscribe to and found an individual in my field talking about how difficult it has been to find work in London. I felt bad for the guy and could relate. I’ve had a rough time finding permanent employment myself. I am extremely smart, hardworking and talented, but my resume seems to lack those years of experience everyone wants. I’ve gone to interviews and made it to final two and been told my interviewers were so impressed by my attitude, my energy and my ideas (which they planned on using), but that the other candidate had X more years of experience, so they hired them.

So I went into the discussion to maybe offer some support and understanding to the man struggling to find a communications job here in London. I entered the discussion and found people offering suggestions of positions to apply to, all of which he gratefully accepted or replied that he’d already applied to the position. One of those position was a position I applied to the other night and immediately tweeted “Just applied to a job that I really really want. Fingers tightly crossed on this one #fingerscrossed #jobs”

After reading the conversation on LinkedIn and creeping his profile I feel a bit deflated. This job is one that I’ve basically been applying to since I graduated. It’s the perfect job for me. It’s the right environment, with the right kind of people, doing the work I know and love. I am now painfully aware that I am once again up against at least one person with vastly more experience than me, as he graduated university before I even finish elementary school. I wish him the best and hope he finds something soon, as I know how hard it is and he is clearly more than qualified for a good position in the field.

Maybe this time for me it won’t matter that I don’t have the ‘years experience’, maybe someone will see something in my resume and be so impressed by my interview that they can’t help but hire me over the person with X years more experience. I know I deserve the opportunity, I know I am good at what I do. What I lack in experience I make up for in drive and ability to learn. I didn’t graduate at the top class for no reason, I work hard and learn fast.

I guess though if this job opportunity doesn’t pan out, there are still the other applications I sent out to positions that I thought sounded interesting.  Hopefully one of the cool job opportunities I have found will pan out, though I fear there are over qualified individuals lurking there too.

But I will remain positive! I am a great catch!

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For anyone interested in my background:

I graduated from Brock University in 2006 with an Honours Bachelor of Art in Popular Culture. I then graduated from Fanshawe College in 2008 with a post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications and Public Relations (CC&PR). I graduated from that program at the top of my class earning the London Life Student Award of Excellence, awarded annually at the IABC Virtuoso Awards to the student with the top GPA in the Fanshawe CC&PR program.

Examples of projects I’ve worked on:

  • Middlesex … We’re On the Way Tourism Guide 2010 (writer)
  • Me Inc. A Young Entrepreneurs Magazine (primary writer)
  • Middlesex Tourism Online Events Guide 2010
  • Middlesex Tourism Symposium 2010
  • London Chamber of Commerce Bell Comedy Auction 2008 ( Laff Your Assets Off)
  • Brock Blood Donor Campaign – with Canadian Blood Services (primary organizer)
  • Brock Residence Food and Clothing Drive (primary organizer)

I have also created numerous marketing materials for various businesses and organizations and run social media training for two not-for profits.

You can view my LinkedIn profile by visiting http://ca.linkedin.com/in/sarahcarruthers

Here we go …

So I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a while, but I’ve felt like I’ve been missing that one thing that you need to start a blog, something to say. I’ve decided to take the plunge though and just do it, maybe something will come to me. So here we go …

I’m a 25 (almost 26) year old university and college graduate. I received my Honours Bachelor of Arts in Popular Culture from Brock University in 2006 and in 2008 I received my post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications & Public Relations from Fanshawe College. I’ve always had an insatiable appetite for learning, so the academic world was a pretty seamless fit for me. The transition from the academic world to the professional world though hasn’t been the smoothest.

After graduating at the top of my class I thought that finding a job would be relatively easy. Of course it would be a lot of work, job hunting always is, but I was confident that I had the skills that a lot of companies would be looking for. I was so sure of myself and my abilities; I was young, creative, energetic and highly determined. What I didn’t foresee was graduating during an economic crisis and finding myself up against people with 5 to 10 years of experience. I’ve applied to many jobs, and gone to many interviews, and even made it to final two in a lot of interviews, but actually landing a job has proven to be a challenge. I’ve gotten numerous calls from interviewers saying how impressed they were by me and my ideas, how they loved my energy and personality, but how they’d gone with another candidate because they had more years of experience.

“Experience” has been my primary hurdle. It’s been a bit of a catch-22: To get a job I need to have experience, to have experience, I need to get a job. Someone somewhere needs to take a chance so I can get one or both of these things.

Job hunting has been frustrating to say the least. I’ve had a number of people tell me that my problem is my location. I keep getting told that I need to pack it up and move to Toronto, that I’m not going to find anything by staying here in London. That sentiment frustrates me. London is a fairly large, established city, I should be able to find a job here and work in the city that I’ve grown up in. Is it really inevitable that I’m going to have to move to Toronto? For a long time I was completely against the idea. I am not a big city girl, Toronto is overwhelming to me. The longer though that I sit unemployed and unhappy with my current situation, the more I consider the option of packing up, leaving London and heading to Toronto. So much for retaining this graduate!

So I’ve started to look at jobs and PR firms in Toronto, still hesitant about relocating to a very large and unfamiliar city. I’m not sure though how to approach job hunting in a city that is 2.5 hours away. Applying to jobs in London is easy, I can usually find a car to borrow for a couple of hours to get to an interview and I can navigate my way through the city. Toronto though is a different story. Public Transit confuses me, I haven’t driven in the city enough to be comfortable in the traffic and I have no clue where anything is in Toronto. I may have to call up my old roommate and see if she minds having a guest for a week while I go pimp myself out in Toronto trying to find a job in my field.

People asking me what kind of job I want and I’m never sure how to answer that question. I want a job that lets me do some of everything. I don’t want to be bored and I don’t want to hate my job. I want a job that lets me continue to learn and grow. For example I’d love to learn more about web design and graphic design. I have some skills and I can more than get by I would like to think, but I am nowhere near where I’d like to be or where professional designers are.

Back to the question, what kind of job do I want? I thought I wanted a communication job in a non-communication company, and I kind of still like that idea, but I’m warming up more and more to the idea of working in a firm. I look at other people working in firms and at the firms themselves and I find the work and companies interesting, so maybe it is an option.

What am I looking for in a job though?

  • I want to work with social media – it inspires and interests me.
  • I would like to keep designing and improving my design skills.
  • I wouldn’t mind some event planning either. I’ve worked on three now and have really enjoyed it.
  • I want something that challenges me to be creative and innovative; something that challenges me to keep learning and growing.

Mostly I want a job that I love, that keeps me wanting to wake up each morning and go to work. I want to be having fun and working hard.

I know that I will find a job like this at some point, I just hope it is soon because I hate being unemployed, but probably not as much as I hate job hunting. Graduating from college, or even university, I did not expect to be almost 26 and still trying to get my career off the ground. I know though that it will happen. I am smart, hard-working and talented, and  any company would be lucky to have me, I just have to find the right opportunity and someone has to take a chance.