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Thursday
Jul312014

Social Capital Conference: Four years of fabulous

Saying goodbye with a smile.As some of you may know, Lara and I announced a couple weeks ago that this year would be our last organizing the Social Capital Conference. As two of the founders - and since Lara had the idea in the first place - I’m sure you can imagine that it was a difficult decision. It’s something we’ve been talking about for two years, in fact. We could see that long ago that we’d have to do something that far back. 

The conference was born out of a need for an opportunity to learn more about social media without having to travel far and wide to do it. We wanted to focus on learning and partnered with uOttawa and then Algonquin to support that focus. It worked. Year after year, we’ve had such amazing feedback on the sessions and the vibe of the conference. We’ve even had people fly in from both ends of the country to attend! It has been wonderful to be in the position of helping people learn more, inspiring people to progress to new levels, and bring them together to make connections. (If you’re not meeting people in person that you connect with online, you’re really missing out - I promise.)

This year, we’ve been seeing a lot of growth in our business and it was as clear as it could be that it was time to step away from Social Capital. We made the decision and we have no regrets or second thoughts. Our final conference was a success that we’re very proud of - we’re leaving this chapter of our work on a definite high note. 

I must admit that I was nervous going into this year’s conference. The growth we’ve experienced in our business made it harder to give the conference the attention it deserves and needs. It has been a fabulous problem to have, but it was still a problem. It was also the catalyst for finally letting go. We managed to pull off the day successfully and I hope that our divided focus wasn’t too painfully obvious. 

The speakers I got to see (Ariadni Athanassiadis, Mel Coulson, and Jenna Jacobson) were all really good. I learned more about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation and other intellectual property concerns in social media from Ariadni - and had a chance to whine a wee bit about how frustrating it all is. Mel was so funny and engaging and gave amazing examples of great content and advice for creating great content. (Also, because she’s a professional writer, I was just wee bit nervous that she sat in on my writer’s block session! But I learned after it was over that she’s a very good live tweeter.) Jenna Jacobson, our closing kenote (sadly, logistics caused me to miss Trefor Munn-Venn’s in the morning…sigh) gave such a fun and informative overview of what “social capital” really is. I was excited about her presentation and she did a great job. I also think I want to get a PhD in information just like her. Because the things she’s studying sound incredibly fascinating (and also very cool)!

The networking is always my favourite part of the conference. Unfortunately, I get pulled in roughly a million different directions, so I miss out on a lot of the time for networking throughout the day. Maybe next year - if someone else takes it over - I’ll get to spend more time talking with all the amazing people who come.

To everyone who has supported us these last four years in any way - thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s been such an amazing experience for me and I’ve learned so much from the various speakers we’ve had as well as all the attendees who’ve come each year to learn with us.

Wednesday
Jul232014

Using social media for good

We have all read or experienced the negative side of social media: the bullying, the trolls and the negative publicity, but in recent months we have noticed the good side of social media. In particular, organizations such as Kindness Canada and Thank You Ninjas have shown us a more compassionate side. It’s easy for people to hide behind a computer screen and criticize companies or individuals, but what about the good things those same companies or individuals have done?

Compliment don’t complain

When we are angry at a department store or airline, it is easy to take to our social networks with our hundreds or thousands of followers and complain about them, but how often do you do that when a company goes out of their way to do something great? For every complaint that you tweet, why not send out two compliments? 

Become a part of the social media good

Submit a story to Kindness Canada. They promote kindness by asking their audience to submit something kind they did or that they know someone else did. By sharing stories of kindness they hope to inspire others to be kind. How nice. 

You could also send an anonymous “thank you” postcard to someone using Thank You Ninjas. It can be for something as small as holding a door open or as large as a kind paramedic who helped you out during a car accident. Thank You Ninjas believe that the more thank yous people send the better the world will be. They even list ideas on their website as to how people can secretly thank someone: http://thankyouninjas.com/be-a-ninja/

Think before you tweet

Before hitting “tweet” or hitting enter on that Facebook status, ask yourself if what you are sending out to the world is nice. Ask yourself if there is anyone that might be hurt by the message. If so, you might want to think twice about hitting that button.

Instead of using social media to broadcast a negative experience, use it to promote something good as well. Share the good things in life and respond to others who do the same. We all know there are bad things going on in the world and on social media, but there is a lot of good too.

If you are attending this year’s Social Capital Conference, you can start participating in social media for good by helping the Thank You Ninjas secretly thank people throughout the day. For more information on that check out the SoCap blog post about hem: http://socialcapitalconference.com/become-a-thank-you-ninja-at-social-capital-2014/

Do you know of any other social media accounts or websites that are designed to do good in the world? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Wednesday
Jul162014

What do I think? I think you should be more specific.

Most of you probably know that engagement is the key to social media success, but engagement is not, I repeat NOT following up a blog post, or social media post by asking your audience, “what do you think?” What do I think about what? The weather, my lunch, the colour of my shirt? Asking your audience what they think is one of the broadest questions you could possibly ask.

Be Specific

If you want to avoid silence, ask a specific question that directly relates to whatever it is you are posting. For example, if you posted a third party link regarding Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation, ask your audience what is one way the new CASL law will affect their marketing efforts or ask what one thing they hope CASL will do for marketers? By asking questions that directly relates to specific content, you better your chances of getting comments and creating genuine conversation.

Be Network Appropriate

Obviously, you can’t post an introductory paragraph before asking a question on Twitter, but you can on Facebook! If you are looking to engage on Twitter, try asking a question relating to a timely event, perhaps something everyone knows about. For example, if you are nearing a national holiday, such as Canada Day, ask your audience what their favourite Canada Day activity is. You could also tell them (in brief) what you’re doing to celebrate. On Facebook and Google+ you could include a link to Canada Day activities, ask what events they have attended in the past and also suggest activities no one may have thought of before – or ask your audience for suggestions. 

Be Prepared to Answer

When you do ask a question on social media that generates answers, reply! A lot of people on Twitter get frustrated when someone poses a question and they answer within seconds of the post publishing and their answers are followed up with… nothing. This tells your audience that your questions are not genuine and that your posts are scheduled. A good question will get an answer, so be prepared to answer in a timely fashion with more questions or information to keep the conversation going.

The key to engaging with your audience is to demonstrate that the questions you are asking serve a purpose. Why are you asking a question? What do you want to know? By asking a direct question regarding a specific subject you are telling your audience that you genuinely care about what they have to say and want to hear from them. If your question is too open-ended, you won’t get many responses because people won’t know how to answer. The more specific your questions are, the more answers you will receive.

What is one type of question you always answer? What’s the worst question you have ever seen asked on social media?

 

Tuesday
Jul082014

Social Capital Conference - Why you should be there

Social media is an opportunity to build relationships online, but getting together with people who work with social media on a daily basis is an opportunity to learn and make connections that will pump up your efforts in a significant way.

Social Capital is the conference we’ve been running for three years. It brings people together from all industries and levels of experience to share and learn from each other. Here are five reasons we think that you, as small business owners, should be there.

1) The sessions

We have great sessions this year (including Karen and I!) that will help you learn how to improve your social media efforts. We are going to be covering topics such as:

- Email newsletters

- Bringing the life back into your blog

- Not being selfish with your communications

- Case studies from small businesses

- Creating great content

- Canada Anti-Spam Legistlation and copyright

- Social media strategy

2) The chance to ask experts questions in small groups

Our roundtable sessions are always a highlight of the day. You get to take part in small groups with experts on topics you’re interested in and because the groups are so small you get the chance to ask the questions that apply specifically to you, and get advice and input from people in the know, as well as your peers.

3) The amazing keynotes

This year’s keynote speakers are delving into the psychology of social media. Understanding who you’re talking to is key and this year we’ll go a step further into figuring out why we’re doing what we’re doing and how to communicate effecitvely with our audiences.

4) The speakers

They come from all different industries and they really know what they’re talking about. Because of the size of the conference you get the oppotunity to meet them, ask them questions and then connect with them offline later and stay in touch. It’s what I plan to do. :)

5) Meet and hang out with awesome people

Seriously. One of the best parts of every conference for us as organizers is watching everyone at the conference come together, have fun and really connect. It’s amazing to watch and hear the stories of lasting business relationships and friendships that have come from the conference.

So there you have it, five reasons I think you should be at Social Capital this year. And here’s a bonus one: WWC20 will get you 20% off at checkout when you buy your ticket.  

I hope you’ll be there - and make sure to come and find us and say hi when you do!

Wednesday
Jun252014

The Professional Headshot: Your first chance to make a great impression.

As a professional photographer at Tripp Photography, I have been asked many times why someone should invest in a corporate headshot. Frankly, there are many reasons why you should replace that old social media avatar of you on vacation with a professional image. Firstly, unlike a “selfie,” a professional headshot will always be clear and if your photo is clear, it is more likely you will be remembered when seen on various websites, social networks or in person. Other reasons include:
 

Branding

A professional headshot helps keep your brand consistent – ideally, you should have a image that is consistent across all networks. This doesn’t have to be the same image, but it should be of the same consistency, clarity and professional level so people will know it’s you, even if the image is different.

The image should represent YOU. You represent your brand and your business – and as such, so does that image. A professional headshot shows others that “you mean business.”
 

Trust

A professional headshot builds trust. If I receive a new friend request on Facebook and the person is local, has several mutual friends and has a quality professional image, I typically do not hesitate to accept their friend request.
 

Recognition

Keep in mind that a professional headshot should be re-taken every few years, because if your photo is more than five years old, believe me, your friends and clients will notice. We have all seen photos of Realtors who had their picture taken in the 70’s and STILL use that same image! No one is brave enough to tell them that it needs to be updated… well, here you go, “It needs to be updated!” Think about it: there is nothing worse than someone not recognizing you at a networking event even though you have been “tweeting” them for months because they were expecting someone much younger.
 

Professionalism

If you own and operate a business and your profile picture is low-quality, has someone cropped out of it (but you can still see their hair and a shoulder), was taken with your iPhone, has a harsh shadow on the wall behind you, is pixelated, has been over-edited, or is of a cartoon version of you, then you could be saying to potential clients and connections: “I am not a professional. I am brand new. I am not making enough profit to afford a professional photo. I am afraid to show my real face (I have confidence issues). I don’t care. I think my old one is good enough. I am lazy. I am a procrastinator. I just don’t know any better.”  

A professional image is simply another way you can invest in your business’ future. Taking the time to get a professional headshot done tells people you take your business seriously, you are confident, and that you are trustworthy.
 
If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at studio@tripphotography.com    

-Christine Tripp

www.tripphotography.com

Christine Tripp became a professional photographer in 2001. As an instructor, Christine has helped hundreds of eager new photographers learn how to use their camera properly and has shown them how to make money with their photographic art. Whether she is behind her camera or teaching how to take great pictures, Christine’s proven skill, talent, patience and friendly demeanour is just a few of the many reasons she is a well-known and much-liked Ottawa photographer. Connect with Christine on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.