The New Basics

back-to-basics-social-media-marketingOn of the great things about being a Digital Communications blogger is that there’s always something new to write about. I’d like to say that the “Basics” never change in communications, and maybe they don’t. But, things change quickly in this field, and what was a new concept maybe a year ago, is now simply a requirement of keeping up with this world.  Here’s a few examples:

OLD BASIC – You’ve Got To Have a Website

That’s very true. Websites are a given now. In fact in the United States, many people simply don’t think of you as being legit without one. But, the kind of website you have makes a difference too. Having some sort of Blog component that is updated regularly is also essential for a couple of reasons. The first is fresh content will keep folks coming back to your site to see what’s  new. But secondly and more importantly, fresh, relative content also helps with SEO (you know that Google/Bing/Yahoo thing) that will keep your site relevant in web searches.

OLD BASIC – A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

As a writer, I can say this is 100% true. As a Digital Communications Specialist however, I’m here to tell you that pictures are not enough. First, let’s talk Meta Data. Did you know that the Internet is blind? That’s right. It can only see what you tell it to see, and the way it does that is through Meta Data. Meta Data is the background information that you add to media, you know,  pictures and videos. It usually consists of the file name, a title, a description and maybe a caption. If you do not tell the, ever so wise, Internet what you’re putting out there, it will have no idea, and thus your media will not be findable.

Now, besides the Meta Data, actual content is not a crime. Now I know in this age of all things pictures thanks to sites like Instagram and Pinterest, it’s easy to think that the picture is enough. But, if you are trying to reach a wider audience, always be sure to write a caption or some sort of description to go with your images. Ultimately what you want is a hook that will entice the view to want to know more, click the pic, and go to your website.

OLD BASIC – Everyone is on Facebook 

It does seem that way, doesn’t it? In a matter of 5 short years, Facebook is as ubiquitous as the internet itself. So, yes having a Facebook page is super important. But even more important is keeping it updated. Once a day is great if you can hack it, but do more than simply posting a pic. Use Facebook as an opportunity to tell an ongoing story. The whole point of Facebook, besides massive data collection, is to share things with your friends. If you are using Facebook for a business or project think of that audience as your friends as well. Keep them up to date with what you are working on, what excites you about your work, about the process. A friend of mine who recently started a flower business does a great job of this. Take a look at what she is doing and see how that might work for you.

OLD BASIC – You Must Be on Social Media

Of course you must be on Social Media, but maybe not all of it. There area literally thousands upon thousands of options for your Social Media time investment. While Facebook, I’m sorry to say, is a given, choose your other Social Media outlets wisely. Consider who your audience is and where they spend their time. Then cross post. If you have a Pinterest, cross post some items to Facebook, to let people know you’re there. The same can be said for Tumblr or Instagram and don’t forget your Meta Data here too!

There’s more to all of this of course: message, engagement, and the all important click count. This is just a start of things I will discuss here that are simply now the New Basics.

 

 

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Content Junk Food

Junk Food ContentThe pop culture mantra goes something like this: junk food is a poor substitution for a well balanced meal; it is only temporarily satisfying and has far less nutritional value than something prepared with unprocessed ingredients; junk food is a poor lifestyle choice. There’s a lot of reasons not to eat junk food. It’s bad on your system, it has a lot of extra salt and fat content, it makes you want to eat more junk but leaves you feeling kinda gnarly.

Much of the same can be said for Content Junk Food. What is Content Junk Food you ask? It’s what we’ve been seeing a lot of on social media lately in the form of narcissistic quizzes and mundane lists that contain warmed over information gleaned from Google. The quizzes I’ve found are merely a temporary diversion with a less than satisfying outcome. “Which Piece of Bedroom Furniture Are You?” After answering a series of multiple choice questions, of which many of the choices either don’t apply to me or are unrecognizable altogether, I may find out I’m a hamper.  I am then invited to share this new insight with my friends, so they too can see if maybe they are a dresser or a night stand. It’s a formula that uses inclusion as it’s primary lure. These quizzes reenforce in-group psychology, with homogenous predetermined outcomes intended to make us feel like individuals.

What’s worse, are the lists, “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Your Shoelaces.” Ten things that make no real difference in our day to day operations. Without context, these ten things are but factoids cluttering our thoughts like pits of licorice that get stuck between your teeth.

Real information has context. Real information leaves us with evocative questions. Real information feeds our minds, nourishes our intellect, and spurs discourse and debate. It leaves thought behind, that lingers, waiting to be pondered in depth. I’m not likely to debate the merits of being a hamper because I chose Miss Piggy as my favorite muppet.

When all we consume is junk, it’s no wonder I come away from the Social Media feeling kind of gnarly. It’s not that hard to provide meaningful content with context that encourages thought. In an industry where click counts have usurped meaning, it’s hard to still think of it as the Information Age.

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Being Polite in Canada

Canadian MannersFor those who don’t know me, I’ve been away from the Bay Area this winter. I decided to winter in the Great White North to see how I like it. Although harsh in the colder months, I’ve found that the Saskatchewan prairies suit me. So the emigration process has begun.

After a careful search I found an employer that will sponsor my work permit, and the applications are in. It’s a bit of an arduous process. The employer must advertise the job for 30 days to guarantee that no Canadians are available before an offer is made, and the candidate, i.e. me, has to commit to work for two years, not take any social assistance, and attend a Canadian Culture Course aka Politeness Training.

That’s right. Within the Canadian Culture Course, newcomers to Canada not only learn the correct way to say sorry, pronounced “sore-ee,” but also the virtues of being helpful to strangers, and polite driving. The free one day course is held at the main library once a month.

It’s a lot harder than I would have thought to emigrate to another country. But at least systems are in place to assist in this transition.

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