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Social Animal

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Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

I like to follow people on Social Media with whom I share common interests: food, Social Media itself, photography, music, local events, food, Public Relations, food, parenting, etc. I used to unfollow people who would constantly post images of something I was not interested in: their pets.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

This changed, a bit, with the new addition to our family, Hazel the Catahoula puppy. When we decided we were looking for a pup, I started a board on Pinterest called: Puppy Love with images of dogs that made me go, “Awwww”.  There were lots of Catahoulas and Corgis, and this new interest caused some curiosity and raised some suspicions among my close friends. Of course, once we got our Catahoula home, I instantly started sharing many adorable photos of our sweet puppy on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Realizing, that I was turning into someone that I would unfollow in a heartbeat, I vowed to vary my sharings and never do two puppy posts in a row.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Surprisingly, to me, I had many requests for more dog pictures and constant updates of what she was up to. Especially on Instagram, I had questions and comments from dog-focused posters. Catahoulas are not very commonly seen in Canada, they are a Southern hunting dog and the State Dog of Louisiana. So, we get stopped a lot on walks and people often think she is an Australian Blue Heeler, due to her colouring.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Through these new interactions, I even made a connection through Instagram with another Catahoula owner who adopted one of Hazel’s relatives! This was pretty exciting to me and now I actually look forward to other people’s pet posting.

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Hazel the Catahoula by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Being a dog owner opened me up to a new interest group and automatically made me a member.

Relevant Articles:

Mystic the Catahoula (Dog Gone Funn)

Asher the Catahoula Leopard Dog (Clarke Studio Pet Photography)

Joey Lehrman and Keeping it Local (Joey Lehrman)

Do you like or dislike lots of personal pet photos on your Social feeds?

Fave Photos from 2013

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Frosted Mushrooms

Frosted Mushrooms

New Neighbours

New Neighbours

Snail Shell & Spring Shoots

Snail Shell & Spring Shoots

Ladybug Blossom Branch

Ladybug Blossom Branch

White Lilac

White Lilac

Buttercup Fields Forever

Buttercup Fields Forever

Matilija Poppies

Matilija Poppies

Boar Scarer

Boar Scarer

Blackberry Bramble

Blackberry Bramble

Feeling Cherished

Feeling Cherished

November Roses

November Roses

The Tree Is Up

The Tree Is Up

Going through my monthly photo streams, these are the images that stayed with me throughout the year. A year of challenges and changes that leaves me grateful for all that I have and all that I have become.

Wonder what 2014 will hold…

Blogging for the Team

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Yellow Bloom by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Yellow Bloom by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

I’ve blogged for school, I’ve blogged for myself, I’ve blogged for friends and family, but for the past few months I’ve been blogging for a team. I was trying to find a way to keep a group of part-time Service Associates with ever-changing schedules on the same page, in the loop and every other team cliché that exists. Meetings weren’t going to happen on a regular basis and email seemed clunky, so I set up a WordPress blog and started a dialogue.

Palmetto Halo by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Palmetto Halo by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

The very first blog post was an introduction to how it would work and what the expectations were for the team’s participation. Every post would include a question at the end that each person was expected to answer in the comments. This was to make sure that they had read and understood the post and I committed to replying to each and every comment. For some of the team, this was their first time reading and/or commenting on a blog. The topics included changes in procedure, the cultural shift that our team was making and re-blogs of posts that I found relevant.

Baby Snapdragons by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Baby Snapdragons by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

Once they had embraced the format and I was starting to run short on weekly topics, I turned the blog over to the team. Each person had to write a blog post (just over 400 words) about the project that they had been leading for the team. They also had to include one relevant image and a question for everyone to answer. The “guest” blogger was then responsible for replying to the comments. I was truly impressed with the quality of their blog posts and they really enjoyed the interaction through the posts and comments as, due to scheduling, some people rarely worked together.

City Exchange Bell by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

City Exchange Bell by Julia Austine for Meat of the Message

I would definitely recommend a blog format for keeping in touch and updated a team that is separated by time or space. It created a sense of camaraderie and connection that email just doesn’t have.

What do you think the greatest advantage or disadvantage of a team blog would be?

The Internet Will Wait, Flowers Won’t

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Social Vacation

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Calm Camellia

Calm Camellia

Sometimes it’s good to take a break. My family recently went to the opening of a brand new restaurant in Vancouver, Burdock & Co, at the beginning of the week and I had to set my phone down and pick up my fork. I was very excited to go to the restaurant and I had been tweeting about it on my food blog, Kitchenette Finds, Twitter account. After sharing a photo on Instagram and Twitter of the table setting and looking up to two pairs of blue eyes, I knew it was time to give it a rest. They tolerated me taking photos as the dishes were presented and I appreciated that. We had an amazing night with fantastic food and I’m glad that I was truly present to enjoy it.

First night @BurdockAndCo Looking forward to deliciousness. Beautiful space!

Don’t be afraid to unplug from the online world. It will always be there waiting for you. The real world should always take precedence over the virtual one. Twitter is not the only way that the world can reach you. If you are truly needed, you will be tracked down.

Pink Blossoms Blue Sky

Pink Blossoms Blue Sky

When your Twitter feed is suddenly filled with a tragic breaking news event, this is a good time to give your marketing messages a rest. The focus should be on the people affected and sharing information through your network. It’s not about shutting off and tuning out, it’s about respect and support. Your messages will not be given the attention you would like and there may be a negative association made with your brand.

When do you know it’s time to take a step back from your online communities?

Balcony View

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Path Less Taken

Path Less Taken

Roger Ebert, film lover, passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer. This news was shared all over the internet with people remembering his impact on their lives. I started watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s first show, Sneak Previews, on PBS and over the years I loved their dialogue and interaction even more than hearing the final thumbs up or thumbs down verdicts. A while ago I watched a TED video of Roger Ebert about losing the use of his voice and how he had a computerized voice created from the years of footage of his TV shows. His humour and positive attitude touched me deeply.

He had, as most of us do, taken for granted the ability to speak and easily communicate verbally with others. He remained active and prolific up to the very end and talked about all the projects that he was working on and looking forward to on his blog. It truly makes me appreciate the platforms that social networks provide us to speak our minds, share those thoughts and have people around the world respond to them.

Treeflection

Treeflection

Appreciate your voice and all the forms it takes.

Draft Daydream

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Spring Budding

Spring Budding

I was inspired to sign up for one of Hootsuite’s webinars when I spoke with one of the webinar wizards at the Hoot Hire open house at Hootsuite’s new headquarters in Vancouver. These free online web seminars are only 45 minutes long and a great way to make sure you are getting your money’s worth out your Hootsuite Pro account (or to see if it’s time to upgrade from the free version).

For my first webinar I chose the Hootsuite Pro Overview. Since I’ve been using Hootsuite for quite a while, I’ve got most of the basics down, but I picked up a few tips on how I can make it work for me even more effectively!

Pussywillows at Granville Island Public Market

Pussywillows at Granville Island Public Market

I regularly tweet and retweet links to my blog posts, which can be time-consuming to copy and paste and shrink the individual post’s web address each time. By creating a draft in Hootsuite, with the shortened link and info about the blog post, I can easily re-tweak and re-send the tweet multiple times. This only works in the desktop version of Hootsuite, as you can only save one draft in the mobile app.

Water Blossoms

Water Blossoms

Tutorial for creating a draft in Hootsuite: 

Compose a message in the upper left hand corner of your Hootsuite dashboard. Add in any links or photos. Click the little disc icon (“SAVE MESSAGE AS DRAFT” will pop up). You have just created your first draft!

To access your drafts, click on the little downward triangle next to the disc icon and all your drafts will appear. Click on the draft you want to use and make any additions or adjustments. You can then share it right away or schedule it for a later time.

If you click the SAVE icon after you make changes, it will save the new version as well as the old. If you click SEND NOW, it will keep the original draft.

ScienceWorld Outdoor Science Park

ScienceWorld Outdoor Science Park

This is a great way to easily reshare links, photos or event information. Say, for example, if you have a blog post about Follow Fridays on Twitter  that you’ve been tweeting on Fridays for over a year, you’re life just got easier! Now, as the days get warmer and longer there is more time for daydreaming.

What do you frequently re-share that would be a dream to have in draft form?

 

Stay Social

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Spanish Banks

Spanish Banks

In order to get the most out of your online social networks and social media, just remember that the word social always comes first.Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are communities built on the principles of give and take, and if you expect people to take the time to view your content you need to do them the courtesy of giving them your attention as well. This is not necessarily a one to one ratio or an exactly even exchange, more of a way of operating. If you just blast your info and message out without considering or connecting with your audience, they will quickly tune out. The great thing about social media compared to traditional media is the ability to have immediate interaction with your audience, don’t let that go to waste!

Point Grey

Point Grey

If you want comments, likes and retweets, you need to be dishing them out as well. Plus, if you ARE getting all these wonderful things make sure you are showing your appreciation.  Sometimes I wait until Friday to thank a week’s worth of re-tweeters or new followers on Twitter with a Follow Friday tweet or two. Sending a thank you in a direct message may seem more personal, but getting a public shout out is usually considered more valuable.

Steps Away

Steps Away

Commenting on blogs that share a similar subject is a great way to bring traffic to your own blog and broaden your readership. Encourage more people to comment on your posts by replying to comments, even a quick “Thanks for the comment” will usually do. You may also have noticed the links to other related articles at the bottom of my posts, It’s simple to add these in WordPress, as recommendations are provided in a handy little box in the Edit Post screen. I’ve been introduced to some fantastic articles and incredible bloggers through this one little thing and I always appreciate (and comment) when other bloggers link back to one of my posts.

Sky framed by branches

Sky framed by branches

To increase viewership, when I post a new image on Instagram, I add several relevant hashtags so people who don’t follow me can find my pictures and maybe click the “follow” button. Then I will click on one of two of the hashtags in my comment, which goes to a search for other photos with that hashtag, and “like” or comment on the ones I admire. This generates many more likes and comments for my pics, it also causes more spammy comments, but those are easy to clean up.

It’s all about engagement and the best way to make people care about your message is to show that you’re listening to what they have to say as well.

How do you show appreciation to your followers and likers?

Hootsuite Hiring Hootenanny

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While I do worship at the altar of technology, I also know that nothing can replace good old-fashioned face to face interaction. Never has this been so clear to me since I started my search for my next challenging and exciting source of employment. When I last went on a full-out job search, postings could be found online, but it was still appropriate and acceptable to walk in and present a résumé or fill in a paper application. Now personal interaction and paperwork is pretty much shunned. Yesterday, I practically had to force front-line employees to accept a paper resume at places where I had already applied online. The managers at both locations were not available for me to shake hands with or present my cover letter and resume in person. Both times I was directed me to the online application, which I had already filled out.

Signing in at the Hootsuite Hiring Fair

Signing in at the Hootsuite Hiring Fair

So it was a sweet-scented breath of fresh air when I showed up at the open house hiring fair at Hootsuite that evening. It was an energetic crowd that lined up for a look at Hootsuite’s new headquarters in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. After an efficient sign in process, where my paper resume was cheerfully accepted, we waited in the lobby for a bit and then were released into the rest of the building. Our name tags were colour coded with the department (Marketing, Sales, etc) that we expressed the most interest in at the entrance, but we were encouraged to talk to anyone. The staff wore the same style of name tags, with just their department or position added.

Friendly Wanna-be Owls

Friendly Wanna-be Owls

Everyone was ridiculously friendly and approachable. There was a buzz in the air and lots of stickers scattered everywhere with Hootsuite’s feathered mascot Owly. I had some great conversations with Hootsuite staff as well as other interested applicants. It was a fun and fantastic opportunity to get a peek inside their new nest and see all the interesting open-work spaces and hang-out places. The best part was just being able to meet people I had been getting to know through Twitter and Instagram and to actually be acknowledged back as a real person. It’s ironic that a high-tech company comes across as more human than places that have store fronts and are built on customer service. Thanks Hootsuiters, for giving a hoot about meeting me and shaking my hand!

Facebook Feed Filler

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Focaccia Bread

Focaccia Bread

My mother would always tell us not to fill up on bread at the dinner table. She knew that the other dishes had more nutrients and therefore more value for our growing bodies. Just as we have only so much appetite for food, people have a limited appetite for information. While reading about how a share on Facebook is 6 times more valuable than a share on Twitter, it made me think about all those Facebook pages that are filling our feeds with junk.

Paul Croteau by Julia Austine

Paul Croteau by Julia Austine

I recently “liked” a local photography business, but then “unliked” them not long after as they were posting multiple photos each day and I was getting tired of seeing pictures of people I didn’t know. Those images were taking up a lot of valuable visual real estate in my newsfeed and it became annoying. I actually went to their studio to have a video transfer done last week, but I didn’t find out from Facebook that they offered this service. Nope, I read it in a paper brochure in a neighbouring business. They obviously put time and effort into their Facebook presence, but it definitely could be paying off more. All the photos they share are posted to their timeline, when it would be much more effective to create albums (Weddings, Children, Portraits, etc) for prospective clients to browse. While they sometimes shared information about specials and services, the majority of the images had no text at all.

Frostings Cupcakes

Frosting’s Cupcakes

Another business that I “like” on Facebook (and that I’ve blogged about before), Frosting Cupcakery, shares their list of daily flavours, but since it is just text it doesn’t fill up the newsfeed and is easy to ignore if I’m not in the mood for cupcakes (yeah, right). They also share photos on their timeline as well,but the photos are relevant and timely (graduation cakes, pink cupcakes for Pink Shirt Day, etc) and include a description and often a call to action (eat cupcakes).

People want interaction, engagement and information from businesses that they follow on Facebook. Make sure you are always giving value to your followers with every post and keep it short and sweet (like a cupcake).

Have you ever “unliked” a business page for filling up your newsfeed?

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