Where do we start in 2015?

Will it be a good year, a bad year or one that just fades into the collection of years lived?  In my case I have to decide what I am going to do next in my career.  Do I start my own consulting business or seek employment in the marketplace?  Deciding is the hardest part.  Over the holidays I have spent time reading Alan Weiss’s book the Million Dollar Consulting Toolkit  which has been very useful in providing me food for thought as to what approach I should take to set up a consulting practise.  Going out on my own  is exciting and scary all at the same time but the hardest part for me right now is  figuring out what my value proposition is for potential clients as my background  ranges from accounting, operations and business development but currently my interest lies in board governance.   All I know for now is that 2015 will be a transitional year but it will be fun to look back next December and see how far I have come. Along the way I will  post some thoughts and insights.  Cheers!

You, Me and SMRTCCE – Our Final Mile

One Last Turn

Well today is the last day of my Social Media Research & Techniques course and I have been asked to write this final blog explaining what I have learned in class and what I  want to learn or try next.  For me this course certainly has been a journey and like all good road trips I have gotten lost a few times along the way, discovered things I didn’t know and enjoyed the company.

 Along The Way

1)One of the most important skills  that I have learned during class  is how to write a blog.  Prior to taking this course I had never written whereas now I feel comfortable using this form of social media and have even enjoyed the feeling one gets when a comment is posted to my site.  I have also discovered that it is incredibly difficult to write a blog in a way that makes a reader want to participate in the discussion. 

2) In the video shown in class Brian Solis:Actions,Transactions and Reactions I was introduced to the concept of  9 Inch Marketing.   What this phrase is referring to is the 9 inches between the heart and mind and that  to be effective in social media engagement you need to appeal to the heart, mind or both. Social media allows us to connect with others but it is how we build relevent content that will lead to meaningful relationships.

3)You can’t run  a contest on Facebook.  This was probably one of the biggest surprises that I learned in class but I am not alone as it appears many people and businesses are unaware of this fact as well.   Your account can be  deactivated if for example  you use  the Like feature in order to have people vote for something on their site. So be careful.

Where To Now?

I think for me the next area of social media  I would like to learn about is Google Analytics.  I am very interested in learning how it works and how it can trace the actions of individuals and the Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics is of special interest to me.  It  focuses  on conversion tracking  of the on-line activities of the individuals looking at or using the different marketing channels of a company.  This ability is key in knowing where and how to spend my time and which social media platforms will work best for the desired outcomes I am trying to achieve.

 The End Of The Road

Well this is the end of my final blog for my course in social media but before I sign off I wanted to take a look back at my first blog, You, Me and SMRTCCE. In this blog posting I wrote about what I wanted to learn by the end of this course. I realize now  that it would be impossible to complete this wish list because learning to use social media is on going and constantly changing but I do feel this course as started me off in the right direction, so thanks Jared.

My Wee Timbit

 

The Timbit a true Canadian invention. How  lonely my wee donut looks all by itself  it needs friend perhaps a  hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk.   It sits  on a brown paper towel  just begging to be bitten but I must resist.  The coconut that covers  this little chocolate jewel looks divine and  continues to beckon me to try it.   But alas it will have to go on alone with out me into the vast unknown.   One of many Tim-bits in the world alone.  Good luck little guy!  Tim-voyage!

Natures Guardians Part 3

Picture from HCA Website

In this my last blog regarding the Hamilton Conservation Authority and the use of social media tools  I will be focusing on the HCA’s use  You Tube, Facebook and Twitter in determining what can be done to improve upon its use of social media to drive membership.  In this  HCA’s SWOT Analysis  it is clear that the organization is off to a good start using You Tube, Facebook and Twitter as part of  an overall marketing plan to build awareness and drive individuals to action to buy a HCA Nature’s Reward membership. But I believe more can be done to increase the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s on-line presence and below I have outline a few of my ideas.  

  • Create playlists for You Tube videos by different topics or themes such as: Interesting Things, Beautiful Places, Wildlife, Kids Stuff, The Cyclist’s Notes, Hiking Tips. Also create a 30 second mini commercial to run prior to the most popular videos promoting the Nature’s Rewards benefits. 
  • Create a spokes person(s) to represent the HCA and have them do videos doing fun, funny or interesting things at different locations throughout the year . Get volunteers involved as well and highlight the benefits of the membership.
  •  Send out the videos on Facebook and Twitter  and ask what people like about them. Explain how the HCA is trying improve on the information they provide to viewers.
  • Create a contest such as “Whats Your View” where children and adults alike submit what their favorite place is and why at the Hamilton Conservation Area. Have the HCA’s Facebook Friends vote on which video they “Like”  and on Twitter ask people vote as well by sending them to the HCA Facebook page.
  • On the HCA’s Facebook page create ad space for businesses and highlight the discounts given by participating businesses.
  • Contact  primary schools and high schools and inform teachers about the HCA’s You Tube, Facebook and Twitter activities.

In doing some of these activities  the Hamilton Conservation Authority will be able to heighten the organization’s online profile which in turn will increase the social media “word of mouth” discussions that are needed to drive individuals to inquire first and then take action.  I would make the Nature’s Reward Membership the first measure to determine effectiveness.  If over a 3-6 month period there is an increase in memberships over previous years then in can be presumed that the social media campaign has been of value in achieving the goal of revenue generation. Other measures to be considered are if  the number of videos viewed increases by 20%, on Facebook the current “164 Talking About” statistic increases by 30% and on Tweeter if there an increase of followers by 10%.  

In taking these actions the HCA’s profile will be changed by becoming more active and interactive with its community while at the same time reaching new participants and future members.   This new level of interaction may potentially mean more time is needed to manage the organization’s social media but if in the end it helps to raise needed funds it will be worth it. As a final note if you haven’t already joined the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Nature’s Reward program maybe you should consider it. As a result of this assignment I am getting my membership. Lulu and Dublin are pleased.

Natures Guardians Part 2

How HCA Uses Social Media

Currently the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) is using 5 forms of social media, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, flickr and Google Blog.  In ranking these communication tools based on the level of activity You Tube is  the most actively used with 9,235 views from the 60 videos posted,  followed by Facebook  with 5,777 Likes and Twitter with 1976 Tweets.

In the table below a comparison was made against Conservation Halton’s (CH)  use  of Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Flickr to determine if HCA is performing well in comparison to a similar organizations.  

Facebook HCA 5,777 Like, 164 Talking About
  CH   828 Like, 63 Talking About
Twitter HCA   1976 Tweets, 326 Following, 1708 Followers
  CH 2,210 Tweets, 631 Following, 1,224 Followers
You Tube HCA   60 Videos, 255 Subscribers, 9,235 Video Views
  CH 16 Videos, 38 Subscribers, Video View 43,611
flickr HCA 380 Items, 86 Members
  CH   196 Items, 12 Members
Google Blog HCA 136 Viewers, Average about 2 blog entries a month
  CH   None

Note:  All the above information was obtained from the Hamilton Conservation Authority and the Conservation Halton Websites

At first glance the use of  Hamilton Conservation Authority’s  You Tube videos appear to be doing well  with 60 videos having been watched  by 9,235 viewers.  But when compared with Conservation Halton’s 16 videos  and 43,611 viewers there is a vast difference in effectiveness in the  use of You Tube .  The main reason for this difference I believe is due to the fact that  the majority of the HCA’s videos are educational  with the most viewed video being of the Hamilton Waterfalls. In contrast one video alone for Glen Eden Day has been viewed 22,785 times and rather than being educational it is entertaining for the viewer.  Click on the 2 videos above to see the difference in style. The CH videos in general are also more upbeat and fun and significantly shorter in length than those posted at the HCA You Tube site.  I believe it is the shortness in  length of the videos that is the key reason for such a high audiences engagement on the CH  You Tube site.

 HCA’s use of Facebook when compared to CH is more active with 2 times the “Like” status indicated which is great as it shows the positive value  the community places on HCA’s use Facebook.  The quality and the number of posting is at least one per day throughout the week and  there is a mix of event listings, interesting information, status reports, images and quiz questions for prizes for those who have the Nature’s Rewards membership.  The variety of topics  posted keeps the site interesting and useful.

The Hamilton Conservation Authority use of Twitter is on par with Conservation Halton.  The HCA averages two to four tweets a day.  The number of followers stands at 1708 and the majority of tweets are to promote events happening at the HCA and the services it provides.  An interesting promotion called “Hide and Tweet” has the HCA tweet questions about  event happenings or places  and the person who responds first wins a prize but only if they hold a membership pass.

The HCA flickr site has wonderful photos of animals and beautiful landscapes and landmarks in the region. Of all the social media sites used this one is the most artistic and simple in purpose.

The HCA blog is the least active of all the  social media tools and averages about two entries per month and pertains to events and information.

Natures Guardians

While walking my two dogs Lulu and Dublin along the rail trail  I came  across this sign and it got me thinking about the important work that is being done by the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) on behalf of community. Yet I really know very little about this organization and it is for this reason I have chosen the HCA for my social media profile assignment.    

Let Me Tell You About The HCA

The Hamilton Conservation Area is responsible for many activities but I think the organization’s most important responsibilities are:

  • To protect  the water, land and wildlife   
  • To educate the community
  • To provide safe and sustainable areas of recreation
  • Maintain all properties and heritage sites

 In doing a little reading  I discovered that the HCA has some unique properties one of which is the Eramosa Karst.  Do you know what a karst is? I didn’t.  It’s what happens when carbonated bedrock such as limestone, dolomite or marble  is shaped by water creating a unique topography. This process  happens over 1000 of years  and creates a landscape of sinkholes, underground streams, springs and caves. What makes Eramosa Karst special is it has been recognized as the best example of a karst in Ontario and has the 10th largest cave from this type of formation in the province.   Another unique quality is that the HCA owns 100  of the 126 area waterfalls throughout the region such as Webster’s Falls, Tews Falls and Tiffany Falls in comparison to other areas in Ontario this is very impressive. 

Through the use of  the social media tools, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, You Tube and Google Blog the Hamilton Conservation Authority is reaching out to the community at large  and attempting to engage, educate and involve individuals in friendly and helpful ways.  The HCA audience is very diverse and difficult to categorize as those that use the HCA services, facilities and conservation areas can be multi-purpose users  from the Hamilton region as well it attracts visitors from outside of the region.  From cyclist to naturalist there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

In my opinion, the HCA’s current main goal is to find ways to increase their cash reserves to invest in such projects as:   

  •   Eramosa Karst – implementation of the EKCA Master Plan which is expected to cost $750,000 dollars
  •   Crook’s Hollow- the removal of the dam and completion of the channel work required at a cost of $1,200,00 dollars
  •  The purchase of adjacent and vulnerable lands in and around the Dundas Valley over the next 50 years – Vision and Strategy

In my next blog posting  I will be reviewing how the Hamilton Conservation Authority uses social media and consider how effective it is at engaging  it’s community while also comparing it to  Conservation Halton . Finally,  I will also explore how HCA is using social media to obtain what I perceive as their main goal of  revenue generation.  But for now, I am off to take  Lulu and Dublin  for their next walk on the rail trail as it is a highlight of their day. Happy trails make for happy tails!

KLOUT Get OUT

We had an interesting debate in class yesterday regarding Klout. It’s funny but if you  asked me a month ago what Klout  was I would have to say I have no idea.  But look at me now I am debating its negative effects and why it is  a flawed social media tool.  It was a fun exercise. Thanks Jared. 

Both sides made compelling arguments as to the pros and cons of using Klout. But  for me  I think Klout has some serious flaws which are:

  • there is confusion as to how a score is calculated and its accuracy
  • that a  point score really can’t measure influence  
  • how and where it is used – privacy issues
  • Klout scores can be increased by gaming
  • the amount of time it takes to get  reasonable score of  50

For me I am not going to lose any sleep over my sad Klout score of 13 and I am not alone there appears to many people who just don’t care for Klout (5-Reasons) .  Like many things in life time will tell whether or not people will “buy in” and this is where the real power potentially lies  in Klout.