Lessons Learned

As a student coming to a close in the McMaster Social Media Research and Techniques course I want to link my ‘lessons learned’ assignment back to our first assignment about what I’ve hoped to learn from this course. 

Attracting ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ – Creativity and engagement are important, but having influencers is crucial.  It’s the influencers that can assist your business in its ROI.  They provide credibility toward your product/service and have the ability to spread information through their social media channels.

Audience engagement – As a reminder: keep it simple and edit your content down for clarity.  Social media is just that ‘social’ and conversations should be kept casual and brief, but remain professional.

Handling negative comments – Don’t freak out!  Be honest, transparent and timely your responses.  Get your facts straight and apologize if need be.

What else have I learned?

1.  Develop objectives before ‘jumping on the social media bandwagon’.   Throughout this course, I have researched many companies that have social media pages just because everyone’s doing it, but they fail to make an impact.  You have to identify the goals you are working toward and determine how you are going to measure your social media efforts toward your goals.

Social media is another element to your overall marketing plan and can be used as a vehicle to help achieve company goals such as:

  • Raise awareness of your business, brand, product or services
  • Build business relationships
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Increase customer base
  • Keep a pulse on how others feel about your business

2.    Determine your metrics.  Once you have your social media strategy and goals, you have to determine how you will measure and monitor them.  Metrics can be done in many ways:

  • Engagement from the people who comment on your social media pages
  • Increased followers
  • Keyword tracking (http://tweetstats.com/)
  • Prospect leads and sales
  • Online influence (www.klout.com)
  • Website hits

3.    Social media is not free.  Well, the tools aretechnically free, however the time needed to effectively maintain and evaluate them are not.  There are many facets involved when using these vehicles such as:

  • Developing a social media policy
  • Strategy, goals, and measurements
  • How much time your resource should spend on it per week
  • What platform best suits your industry

What do I want to learn next in social media?

  • How to handle ‘information overload’.  Reading what your customers, prospects, competitors and industry experts are blogging about on Twitter and Facebook can almost be a full-time job, how do you stay on top of this when social media is about 5% of your job?
  • How to plan ahead with content for your social media sites.  It can get daunting trying to determine what to write on company social media pages.  I believe that developing an editorial calendar and acting proactive rather than reactive is critical in doing this, but you also have to get creative. Social media writing is very different than writing a story or a press release – it is more timely, brief and quite frequent.

An Optimist Sees the Doughnut. A Pessimist Sees the Hole.

I of course got the ‘hole’ – a stupid Timbit.

Which really relates to the day I’ve been having.  Rough day at the office, I race to school, only to find out (after being in class for 20 minutes) that my car has been hit in the parking lot.  Argh!

So, being given a Timbit Hole in class – really suits my mood right now!

However . . .

On the flip side.  I am usually ‘hole’ – ly optimistic.  Actually overly optimistic.  So, come to think of it, the stupid Timbit hole suits me just fine – and fewer calories than a whole doughnut!


A More Holistic Approach

Part 3 of Social Media Profile Assignment as referenced from Part 2


“People are making the choice to be social” – Phil Gourlay,Special Events and Fundraising Coordinator

Wellspring, like every other non-profit organization, has limited resources to maintain its social media platforms, so a clear strategy would benefit in using its resources effectively.

There are three social media communication objectives that could help Wellspring Niagara reach their ongoing financial and community goals.


This objective is intended to educate people on current news about cancer and enhance interest and awareness of Wellspring’s programs and services.

By aligning themselves with their competition or other valuable organizations, Wellspring can post relevant information about cancer to its social media platforms (Twitter and Facebook) without having to do much work.  (But be sure to have clear guidelines on what can be posted)

Measurement – Increased traffic to its website, ‘likes’ and comments posted to its Facebook page as well as ‘retweets’ and replies on Twitter.

Some of these posts might include what they’re doing already:

The competition and other organizations can help too!

  • Setting up Google Alerts to get timely information on cancer sent directly to Wellspring’s inbox instead of having to spend the time on searching the web.

The Canadian Cancer Society website has an abundance of information about the disease including Canadian statistics, prevention, research, and insights

F— Cancer is a website that speaks to Generation Y about cancer, where many cool news, tips and education materials can be found.




This objective is intended for Wellspring Niagara to stay visible to its members, sponsors, donors and community reminding them to take action.  The communication is meant to remind its people about Wellspring Niagara’s events, services and programs that they offer.

Measurement – Increased attendance at events, increased participation in its programs/services, ‘likes’ and comments posted to its Facebook page as well as ‘retweets’ and replies on Twitter.

Wellspring Niagara is currently doing a good job of reminding people about its events by posting photos after the events, although there is an opportunity to also remind people about the great programs and services they offer too.

  • The program schedule is already posted to their website, therefore all that has to be done is use their social media platforms to remind people of the dates, time and location.

Community Goodwill

This objective is intended to promote sponsorship, donations and attract/retain volunteers through targeting their connections within the community and fostering those relationships.

Wellspring Niagara does an excellent job at thanking their sponsors and volunteers on their social media platforms, however there are a few tips that can make these acknowledgements more directed.

Measurement – Increase in Twitter followers, @replies, @mentions, and retweets.

  • @mentions – Mentioning the people and companies who support Wellspring Niagara will also add Wellspring Niagara’s  @mention tweet to other peoples @mention tabs in their Twitter account.
  • #hashtags – Setting up a hashtag such as #WellspringNiag and promoting the hashtag in Twitter posts will help to categorize the tweets from Wellspring Niagara.  Additionally, when people search for that hashtag they can find Wellspring’s Twitter account and hopefully ‘follow’ their ‘tweets’.

Sources:  http://organizedleader.com/3-key-objectives-to-marketing-communications.html, http://www.chrisbrogan.com/10-communications-objectives-of-social-media/ , https://support.twitter.com/articles/49309-what-are-hashtags-symbols#, http://www.letsfcancer.com/, telephone interview with Phil Gourlay 6.19.2012

Social Media Profile

I chose to do my Social Media Profile Assignment on an organization that I hold close to my heart – Wellspring Niagara.  Having played the role of a caregiver and seeing many of my friends and their families struggle with the emotional effects of cancer, I am a firm believer that Wellspring plays an integral role in helping its communities cope with cancer.

Part 2 of my Social Media Profile Assignment as referenced from Part 1

Wellspring Niagara’s social media profile provides an avenue to promote their events, information about its services and news about cancer.  With a staff of three, Wellspring Niagara has a dedicated staff member to manage the accounts, but that is not their primary responsibility.  Wellspring Niagara’s website has a ‘Social Media’ page that explains what information is shared on their social media platforms, providing people with additional insights into the organization.

With its modest volume of followers, Wellspring Niagara has over 400 ‘friends’ that joined its Facebook page and the Wellspring Niagara Cancer Support Centre ‘group’.  They also provide content to the Wellspring Cancer Support Network Facebook site (its Toronto affiliate) where applicable.  On average, there are 3 to 4 posts per month however there doesn’t appear to have many comments from its followers.

Its Twitter presence began in January of this year and has ‘tweets’ from the corporate brand with an average of about four ‘tweets’ per month, and as of the 18th of May, reached 100 followers (congratulations @WellspringNiaga!).  These ‘tweets’ include ‘@mentions’ of other companies that have supported their endeavours, thanking them for various sponsorships and donations.

Their YouTube videos (‘Wellspring Cancer’s Channel’) include professionally taped stories from its members and public service announcements about Wellspring’s support services.

(Click on the image below to view the videos)

The Power of a ‘Thank you’

Throughout Wellspring Niagara’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, you get a strong feeling of how much they appreciate the support from volunteers, organizations and the community.  They recognize that a strong support system will help them achieve their fundraising goals, promote their services, and ultimately enhance the lives of people coping with cancer.

Engaging the People

Wellspring Niagara’s social media platforms are mostly used for push communications around their events with limited engagement from the people.

The Competition

Other non-profit cancer related organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society could pose as a potential threat to Wellspring Niagara’s social media presence. The Canadian Cancer Society’s Facebook page includes information and education about cancer research with a large volume of over 34,000 ‘followers’ and comments from its ‘followers’.


Providing tips on coping with cancer, news on cancer research, recipes for nutrition and how members can take care of themselves while going through treatment could increase their followers and be a good use of Wellspring Niagara’s social media platform – ultimately complementing its bricks and mortar facilities.

With limited resources of a small non-profit organization that has a large volume of members to support, Wellspring Niagara might benefit in developing a social media strategy to build awareness and promote its programs and services.

Sources:  http://www.cancer.ca/,  http://www.wellspring.ca/, http://www.wellspring.ca/Niagara, https://twitter.com/#!/WellspringNiaga, https://www.facebook.com/#!/wellspring.niagara, https://www.facebook.com/#!/CanadianCancerSociety, https://twitter.com/#!/cancersociety

An Important Role in The Community

I chose to do my Social Media Profile Assignment on an organization that I hold close to my heart – Wellspring Niagara.  Having played the role of a caregiver and seeing many of my friends and their families struggle with the emotional effects of cancer, I am a firm believer that Wellspring plays an integral role in helping its communities cope with cancer.

Wellspring – An Important Role in the Community

Wellspring Niagara opened its doors in 2001 and seven years later opened its second location due to demand for individuals in areas outside of Niagara.  It is a non-profit organization that provides free support to individuals living with cancer, caregivers and close supporters.  Its programs are innovative and responsive to the social, emotional, psychological, informational and spiritual needs of these individuals.

Wellspring operates through a network of centres where each centre offers similar programs and services that have been tailored to meet the needs of the community it serves.  It is funded by the kindness of donors and every dollar raised in Niagara supports Wellspring Niagara.

Healthcare professionals who are caring for cancer patients promote the various services and programs that Wellspring offers.  The need for non-medical support for cancer patients and their families is an important area that the healthcare system does not have the resources to meet.  Wellspring fills the gap to meet those needs.

What Makes Wellspring Niagara Different

The Wellspring models a collaborative approach working closely with oncology experts, cancer patients, family members and caregivers to provide supportive care.

Wellspring also recognizes that the financial impact of cancer can become overwhelming and has removed this barrier for its members by providing all of its programs free of charge.

However, the intimacy that makes Wellspring Niagara different is that it was built on a legacy.  Wellspring Niagara was founded from the legacy of Aldo Mantini, who had succumbed to cancer and dreamed of helping other cancer sufferers deal with the disease and bring supportive care to the Niagara Region.  His sister Ann is the Executive Director, who understands the emotional effects of the disease on those not only impacted by it, but who support others that are struggling with cancer.

The Wellspring Niagara Personality

Wellspring provides a welcoming, compassionate, confidential, and safe environment for cancer patients.  Included in this community are supporters and volunteers, many who have also gone through an experience with cancer.  It is accessible to all cancer patients, regardless of the type of cancer they have.

Goals That Go Beyond Fundraising

Financial – For Wellspring, as in all non-profit organizations, financial goals are an important aspect for the continuance of services.  However in addition to this, its Thorold location has reached its capacity and must find a larger facility to meet the growing needs of the community.  Along with the rise in cancer rates and increasing awareness of Wellspring, attendance for its services has grown on average of 10% per year.

Community – To complement Wellspring’s financial goals, it also has a goal to continue to meet the psychosocial needs of the community by providing a variety of programs, services, education and information, and access to additional resources.

Source:  www.wellspring.ca

Are You Worried About Your ‘Klout’ Score?

We had a debate in our Social Media class on the question:”Is Klout an effective measure of someone’s online influence?”  Well, to tell you the truth, I never even heard about Klout until last week!

Our team was chosen to be ‘against’ Klout, so we began Googling all the CONs about the tool and here are some of the comments that I truly resonate with.

1.  Klout Can Be Gamed to get a high score. For as hard as they worked on the system, it’s easy to break. Spambots can get scores of 25 and higher.  (Source : www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/04/26/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-care-about-your-klout-score)

My comments – Heck yeah!  It can be gamed, and now that I know more about it I might just game away to get free Perks (that’s free products for me!).  It comes with a price though, companies who give you ‘free’ stuff usually want something in return.

2.  Klout Can Be Misleading  – It’s tough to judge Klout today, because it is still a work in progress.  Klout uses its own Klout score to decide if your network is influential. Think about this: How did Klout’s algorithm decide the first Klout score if part of the score is decided by others’ Klout scores? Is this a fatal flaw in the system?   (Source: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/is-klout-a-good-judge-of-your-social-media-influence/)

My comments – I found it was subjective and a little misleading, especially with the “influential topics”.  One of the student’s in our class found out that “Pancakes’ was an influential topic for her, another student’s “influential topics” were ‘cats’ and ‘Adobe Photoshop’.  (He doesn’t even own a cat.)

So, my final words are – Klout is a work in progress, and just a tool to complement other social media measuring tools.

Maybe if they get the ‘gamers’ interested in it, the tool will get more exposure.

From People Watching to Surveillance

Come on, be honest. How many of you have sat on a park bench just watching what people do . . . and wonder what they’re thinking about?

I recently attended Food Truck eats with 2,999 other people and as I sat there nibbling on my delicacies and sipping a glass of Pino Gris I thought it would be kind of cool to hold up my camera and just take random photos of the crowd. (You have to love digital cameras.  Having the ability to take as many photos as you want and delete what you don’t like all before printing – such freedom!)

Anyway, I previewed the photos that night and they reminded me of surveillance photos.   My inner detective is calling.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.