It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later

If you are still following this blog, you may have noticed the lack of activity over the past few months. Thank you, by the way, for sticking it out. Since the Foundations course ended, I’ve turned my attention to building my personal website.

The Great Digital North was started as part of the Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media course that gives students an introduction to blogging and social media. It’s one of three courses that make up the Certificate in Digital Strategy & Communications Management offered by the University of Toronto. I’d highly recommend it for those looking to learn more and upgrade their skills in the digital and social space.

Anyways, I’m still in the process of obtaining the certificate with two of the three courses under my belt so far. As I make up my mind with what to do with this blog, you can find me at for now. Drop by and say hello. So long for now.


Digital Opportunities and Implications Moving Forward

We have covered a lot of ground over the past couple months. Looking at Internet penetration and usage, media consumption, mobile, and social media, all from a Canadian perspective. As Internet connectivity in Canada reaches a near-saturation point and people spend even more waking moments online, we can continue to use data and insights to navigate the great digital north.

The combination of increased Internet access and usage brings both digital opportunities and implications for the future. The expansion of information communication technology will continue to narrow the gap between developed and developing nations aboard as well as urban and rural regions here at home. Opportunities include further flattening the globe by sharing knowledge, information, and skills from across the world. The economic growth potential that information communication technology enhancements also helps the developing world keep pace and connects rural communities of developed nations. Implications include further limiting the amount of face-to-face human interaction, more security and privacy issues over the amount of personal data online, and exploiting the lack of Internet governance on a national and global level.

Those on the leading edge of evolving information communication technology will hold a significant competitive advantage. While older generations slowly adapt to more and more aspects of their lives moving online, younger generations are born into it and grow up in cyberspace. As Internet penetration increases it will continue to pull more of the globe’s population online in the developed and developing world, providing greater accessibility and connectivity than ever before. Bringing our interconnected world closer together.

What digital opportunities or implications do you see for the future?

Building Community Around a Social Business

Over the last seven posts we’ve look at the role social media plays in our digital lives and the most popular platforms competing for our attention these days. The social media series included an introduction highlighting individual and enterprise usage, followed by platform-specific posts about: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest. These six platforms are having the largest impact on digital communications currently and many are already household names. Granted, there are still a ton emerging and established social networks out there. The image below gives you a sense of just how vast and crowded the social media landscape is:

Photo Credit: Conversation Prism by Brian Solis & JESS3
Photo Credit: Conversation Prism by Brian Solis & JESS3

Many of these platforms will come and go over the years, and the successful ones will continually evolve to provide a better social experience for us. The number of options can be overwhelming but it’s all about trying to find the right fit for you and your business. For personal use, you’re most likely to end up on the same platforms your family and friends using. From a business perspective, you can apply the same idea. Where are your stakeholders? Find out what social communities your employees, customers, clients, prospects, and suppliers belong too. Social listening can tell you who is talking about you and where. Investing the time and energy upfront will make it worth your while in the long run.

The Evolving Role of Community Management

For community management to work successfully, brands need honest and open communication. Trust your community managers. Maintaining a flat structure will limit the approval process and give them flexibility over what they post and how they respond. Some key responsibilities of community managers include:

  • Acting as the brand advocate and taking an always online, 24-7 approach
  • Taking corporate messaging and communicating it in a way that is consistent with the community’s language and the brand message overall
  • Monitoring conversations and user engagement as well as responding to inquiries
  • Setting editorial calendars, reporting analytics and metrics, and creating content
  • Liaising with colleagues or clients and providing insights for creative and strategy

Every organization should have their own social media policy or set of guidelines outlined for community managers and other employees to adhere too. Here are some basic tips to consider:

  • Manage and review online profiles on a regular basis to keep profiles and accounts updated
  • Use common sense when deciding what to post online and be aware that what you say and share is permanent
  • Be honest about who you are and be respectful and courteous to others
  • Ensure ideas and information are accurate and use good judgment in sharing only public information

This is the final post of an ongoing eight-part series on social media. The series looks at the role social media plays in our digital lives and the most popular platforms competing for our attention these days.

Pinterest Q&A: Pinning with a Canadian Millennial

I created a Pinterest account a couple months ago and joined some 3.8 million other Canadians using this platform. I don’t like to look at expensive clothes, funky hairstyles or cute animals, well maybe the cute animals, but I do find it extremely useful for recipes. I don’t eat or drink dairy so my diet can be limited and boring. Enter Pinterest, and the seemingly never-ending supply of recipes at your finger tips. It’s great for generating meal ideas, mixing in substitutes, and keeping the menu fresh. Seeing as recipe hunting is about all I do on Pinterest, I decided to call in a favour with my partner. She is what I would consider a “heavy user” or “pinhead”. Oh, that’s bad but clever, right? Meet Jenny, she’s a big fan of pinning and gives us her thoughts on using Pinterest:

Q1. Pinterest is a photo-sharing site that launched in 2011 where users create, share, and manage image collections on a variety of topics. How long have you been using Pinterest? What do you use it for?

I have been using Pinterest for about 2 years. I primarily use Pinterest to curate and catalogue ideas and inspiration – anything from interior design, fashion, food and drink, DIY projects, gift ideas, photography inspiration, and hair and beauty. I use it to “save ideas for later” or brainstorm ideas for something that I’m working on, such as meal planning or an upcoming wedding that I’m photographing.

Q2. You can collect ideas for projects and interests. Create, share, follow, and so much more. What’s your favourite thing about Pinterest?

Pinterest allows me to create custom boards so I can sort and categorize my own interests. For me, it replaces saving magazine clippings, and is one consolidated source of inspiration that I can access anywhere at any time online. I like that I can also share my boards and follow other user’s boards that I share similar interests or tastes.

Q3. Pinterest is more popular among women as 66 per cent of Canadian users are female. Think about your family and friends for a moment. Do you know many others that are Pinterest users?

Most of my female friends and family are on Pinterest. Based on who I see pinning, not everyone is a heavy user but most use it at least once a month.

Q4. The social media landscape is a crowded space with several platforms competing for our attention. How much time do you spend on Pinterest daily? Please include what times of day.

I would estimate that I spend up to an hour on Pinterest every day. Some days not at all, and others longer. I use Pinterest mainly in the evening, but sometimes sporadically throughout the day if I am searching for specific ideas.

Q5. We have multiple screens and devices at our disposal. What devices do you use to access Pinterest? Do you favour one over another?

I access Pinterest primarily on my iPad, but also on my laptop. I prefer to use it on my iPad, mostly because I am watching TV or doing something else while pinning. The odd time when I am out shopping, I will refer to something I have pinned to remind myself of what I’m looking for.

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Q6. Some of us suffer from social media fatigue with all the options for sharing available. Think about some of the other social media platforms you use (ie. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Where does Pinterest rank in priority for sharing?

Pinterest ranks #2 for me, after Facebook. It’s the app I check almost as often as Facebook.

Q7. Pinterest can be a powerful tool for brands and B2C marketers, particularly in the retail industry. Are there any brands you follow that stand out as leaders on Pinterest? Why do you think they are successful?

Off the top of my head, there are three brands/personalities that stand out as being leaders on Pinterest.

  •  Lululemon: Yoga and fitness apparel. This brand is constantly posting everything from new clothing and accessories, to recipes, workout tips, and words of encouragement. They embrace the platform and everything they pin is on-brand, reflecting what they stand for.
  • Scott McGillivray: HGTV personality. He hosts a number of shows on HGTV such as Property Income, and is also a steady contributor. The great thing about following this account is that they often post the final room designs from the show, as well as other practical design tips and DIY projects for the home.
  • Crate & Barrel: Products for the home. Again, this brand is similar to Lululemon in that everything they pin is on-brand. From products to showing examples of table settings, seasonal trends, and other ideas for the home, they always seem to have a presence on Pinterest.

Q8. Building a community around these brands is important but so is return on investment (ROI). Do you ever purchase anything that you have pinned?

Yes, I have purchased a few clothing items that I have pinned. Retailers like Roots, Lululemon and Aritzia do a great job at linking their pins back to the website where you can find out more information about a clothing item.

Q9. There is always room for improvement. If you could change one thing about Pinterest, what would it be?

Since I use Pinterest frequently to refer to recipes, I find it frustrating that there isn’t a search function within a board. It would be great to have the ability to search for specific pins and would make it easier to sort and catalogue information. Currently, I have to remember roughly when I pinned a particular recipe, and scroll to find it. The larger my boards grow, the more cumbersome it is to find things.

Q10. Word of mouth recommendations from family and friends go a long way. Would you recommended Pinterest to others?

For sure. If you like magazines or enjoy collecting ideas or inspiration then Pinterest is a great tool to use. It’s very easy to learn and regardless of age, gender or life stage, there is something to be found for every user. Anything from art, to technology, to architecture, travel, film, sports, and pretty much everything under the sun.


This is the seventh post of an ongoing eight-part series on social media. The series looks at the role social media plays in our digital lives and the most popular platforms competing for our attention these days.

Source: Strategic Objectives, 2014:


Where Does Google+ Fit in Your Social Media Mix?

Google+ has heard it all. From the predictions of it flopping right out of the gate because of their invite-only release to expectations of it being the next big social network to give Facebook a run for its money. Similar debates are still happening today. Yet, Google+ is still here three years later and seems to be headed in the right direction. I’ve seen a wide range of membership numbers in various articles quoting anywhere between 500 million to a one billion users on the social network.

Photo Credit: Google+
Photo Credit: Google+

So full disclosure here, I do have a Google+ account that I use for professional sharing only. I was a very early adopter and signed up as soon as I had the chance. When the platform launched in 2011, I wanted to be part of the next biggest thing, right from the beginning. As a young marketing and communications professional, I thought being an early adopter and Google+ supporter would give me an opportunity to stand out from the crowd of other recent grads. It was wishful thinking.

To be honest, Google+ is pretty low on the priority list for me. If it wasn’t for posting news, polls, and other thought leadership from work in this space, I’m not sure if I would even use it. Between Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I have all the tools I need for personal and professional sharing so I struggle to give it the time and energy it deserves. Social media fatigue is my excuse. There are so many options to choose from and some platforms are blurring into versions of each other using similar tried and tested functionality. The use of hashtags is a great example of this. Twitter perfected it, then Facebook, Google+ and others copied it. Another example is the emphasis on more visually appealing profile designs with a large header image with a smaller profile picture, all while giving more prominence to videos and images in the news feeds and timelines of our accounts. This look can be seen across many social media platforms today.

All that said, I believe Google+ has a lot to offer and it may be a great fit for you. I just don’t feel like I have given it a fair shake. They offer step by step instructions and videos for getting started and exploring the tools available. Check it out and see if it’s right for you.

Photo Credit: Google+
Photo Credit: Google+

I’m curious what your thoughts are on Google+. Where does it fit in your social media mix? Or does it?

This is the sixth post of an ongoing eight-part series on social media. The series looks at the role social media plays in our digital lives and the most popular platforms competing for our attention these days.

Source: Social Media Today, 2014: