Social Media Audit

Brand recognition on social media is very important to the success of a company. For this week’s assignment I was tasked with completing an analysis of a company’s use of social media channels; I chose my hair salon New Beginnings Salon and Spa. I enjoy going to this salon for their use of nature-based products for color and care. They are very active on Facebook and I wanted to see how deep their social media use goes.

About New Beginning Salon and Spa

New Beginning Salon and Spa is an Aveda Lifestyle Salon and Day Spa focused on healthier lifestyle, our environment and its future. Aveda products are created using advanced plant technology and formulated with pure plant essences without animal testing. Their Aveda-trained Lifestyle Salon and Spa Team provide hair, skin, cosmetic and body wellness services using Aveda products. They were the winner of the Salon200 award in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Analysis and competition

My analysis of New Beginning Salon and Spa included an audit review of their social media channels. My review was from July 2019 to September 2019 to evaluate how they were using social media to promote their brand identity. The channels that I analyzed were Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

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  • Facebook – The salon uses Facebook to highlight recent color and hair styles as well as promote in-house events using Aveda products. They also highlight their stylists’ awards, time with the salon and finished results showing customer styles.
  • Instagram – The salon uses Instagram to promote recent client’s hair color and style.
  • Twitter – The salon uses twitter to make announcements, highlight products and give environmental healthy lifestyle tips.
  • Pinterest – They have created boards for color, cuts, age and makeup inspiration.

Also included in my analysis was the review of two local competitors’ use of social media. I chose Adam Broderick and Whip Salon.

  • Facebook:
    • Adam Broderick uses Facebook to primarily promote products sold at the salon.
    • Whip Salon uses Facebook to promote before/after pictures, in-house events and contests to increase online sharing.
  • Instagram:
    • Adam Broderick mostly promotes the products sold in salon with a few images of clients’ styles.
    • Whip Salon showcases clients’ color and styles.
  • Twitter:
    • Adam Broderick uses the same content/images on twitter as they do on Facebook promoting products.
    • Whip Salon uses Twitter to highlight current promotions and give inspiration on the season’s hottest looks.
  • Pinterest
    • Adam Broderick uses Pinterest to promote salon products.
    • Whip Salon has boards for color and seasonal inspiration as well as hair tips.

View my full analysis. Social Media Channels Analysis

Summary

I found that New Beginnings has a large presence on social media and they use several different channels to stay present. I think the most successful posts they have are the client color and cuts. Reviewing their competitors, I recommend two things that New Beginnings could use to create more conversation and traffic.

  • Having contests on Facebook that require the user to tag a friend and share their page.
  • Sharing client’s before/after pictures. This will get the user excited about obtaining the same or similar look as well as sharing it with friends for their opinions.

 

 

Social Media Strategy for a Nonprofit Organization

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Every year, over 1.5 million unwanted animals are euthanized in the US. When someone adopts, they save the life of one of the many dogs who are waiting in rescues and shelters for someone to love them. Their choice also makes room for another animal to be saved. In rescues, you will find dogs of different ages, breeds, sizes, and temperaments waiting to be adopted.

For my assignment this week, I will be taking a look at the social strategy of a local non-profit organization. I chose to examine Companion Pet Rescue located in Southbury CT. This organization is very close to my heart. We have fostered a couple of dogs for CPR in the past and I have on several occasions donated my time as a designer for their promotional materials. I find the dedication of the volunteers inspiring. Although our dog is not from CPR, the importance of fostering and adopting means a lot to me and my family and we do all we can to promote and donate.

About CPR

CPR is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, registered with the states of Tennessee and Connecticut. They have been in business since 2004 rescuing over 2,000 dogs each year. 75% of CPR’s dogs come from high kill shelters in Tennessee and Mississippi. The other 25% of the dogs come from the public who ask for assistance. The main goal of CPR is not adoption but to end the cycle of unwanted dogs through spay/neuter programs which will end overpopulation.

CPR has fundraising events, local get togethers and adoption events on a monthly basis. The amount of time and love that goes into saving all of the CPR dogs is heartwarming and contagious. We are no longer able to foster because our family dog gets very nervous. I remember feeling so guilty when we made this decision to end our fostering; then one of the volunteers told me we still need you. She continued to tell me how important it was to share the posts, donate to their Amazon wish list and continue the conversations among friends about adoption. Helping the animals goes beyond adoption, it encompasses using all the channels that make a rescue work.

CPR website and social media channels

According to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey pet owners have an incredible amount of love to give and rescue efforts need to be able to extend their reach to tap into this love.

Key personal statements:
• 85% of owners believe pets are a good source of affection
• 82% agree that interacting with a pet can help them relax
• 81% are aware that owning a pet can be beneficial to their own health
• 81% feel unconditional love for their pet

CPR uses a website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to communicate with potential adopters and donors. By using these channels they are able to raise awareness, promote current and future events as well as encourage people to volunteer their time.

CPR Website

CPR has a newly designed website which communicates their mission, adoption process and application, calendar of events, how to help and how the transport from down south works. The website shows available dogs for adoption and how to get started with volunteer opportunities. The blog has tips on how to introduce a pet to a new home as well as meet and greets with pets already residing in the home.

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Website:
• Link to blog
• Link to wish list on Amazon
• Calendar of events
• Getting started as a volunteer
• Link to partner organizations
• Adoptable dogs
• Adoption application

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CPR’s Facebook page has the most traffic and updated information of all their social media channels. They are able to share adoptable dogs and their upcoming events which will in turn increase traffic to their website. Not everyone is able to take in a new pet but many online are eager to promote, share and donate. The more times a post is seen or shared, the more chances of a dog being adopted.

 

IMG_2825Instagram

The CPR Instagram page is a social way to promote adoptable dogs and current events as well as funny meme’s through images. The images help give a face to their organization and encourage adoption as well as donations to help their cause of saving lives. The event posters are posted on Instagram to provide dates and locations of the events.

Instagram:
• Current events posted
• Highlighted dog of the day
• Funny dog meme’s

 

Twitter

CPR’s twitter account is used for current events, adoptable dogs, events and successful transport from down south to the Southbury CT location. Twitter can easily be shared on Facebook for ongoing promotion of the organization.

Twitter:
• Current events
• Adoptable pets
• Events
• Transport success

Recommendations

I think overall CPR does an amazing job at creating awareness for their organization as well as helping elevate awareness about adoption. Locally I see their name in pet stores and hear their name among social groups. I think the biggest issue that I saw, when looking through all of their channels, was that the channels don’t link to one another. I had to do a google search to find all of their channels, where they could easily have links on their website to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Creating social link buttons would increase traffic which in turn would increase sharing of their events and adoptable dogs.

Being consistent across all channels will help create awareness. I noticed that an event might be posted on Facebook but not appear on Instagram for several days. Their blog hasn’t been touched since 2018; it contains helpful information and could be shared across social media. Creating increased visibility across all channels will keep CPR in the forefront of users’ awareness. This will lead to more shares and increased traffic.

Adding gamification to social channels will help increase traffic. This could be having a contest on Pet Halloween costumes, to a poll on best names for a new CPR adoptable pet. Prizes do not have to be costly, they can be a simple shout out or a window cling sent to the winner. Additionally, highlighting foster homes and volunteers would show their support matters and in turn encourage others to do the same. Creating a goal infographic and updating it daily as to where you are in achieving that goal can be shared on social media. This will encourage others to donate to meet the goal.

YouTube is a popular social media channel. Taking videos of adoptable dogs as well as showcasing successful events and transports will increase online activity. People love to see dogs in action especially around other dogs and kids to show the CPR temperament. This will help show prospective adopters how the dogs might fit into their home with kids or other dogs.

Final thoughts

I know how hard it is to get all the work done for a non-profit organization in a short window of time. I think CPR does an amazing job and the volunteers go above and beyond. It’s hard to find people with the required skills and available time to dedicate to the cause. Don’t be shy to ask for help on social media as well as the website. People want to help but aren’t sure how they can. College students are always looking for jobs to add to their resume and volunteering is the perfect way. Keeping active online is the best way to reach people for adoptions, donations and the hard part of encouraging and obtaining volunteers.

 

My World of Social Media

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The incredible growth of social media has made a huge impact on our daily lives. Nearly a quarter of the total time an adult spends online is spent using social media. It has become an influencing factor in our lives and the way we make decisions about topics or products we purchase. Social media sites have also changed the way we interact with each other. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn make it easy to stay connected with other people. Social media is not just important personally, it is also a wonderful resource for business to help build a professional network or look for a job.

The social interactions with teenagers has changed quite a bit since I was a teenager. Testing my freedom meant staying out past curfew or sneaking away to see my friends. Today, their freedom is at arm’s length wrapped in social media. They spend their time posting, snap chatting and creating videos on Tik Tok. Yet when they are together, you find a room full of kids with their phones in hand posting about being together.

Detoxing from Facebook

I consider myself a passive Facebook user. I click like on pictures, I post pictures of my family but I will rarely post my opinion on anything. Despite considering myself a passive user, I find myself constantly checking Facebook for alerts on pictures I have posted or a new item posted in one of the pages that I follow. As silly as I feel saying this, if I don’t check the feed I feel anxiety about what I might have missed.

During my first term as a graduate student, we were tasked with taking a look at our social media usage. I thought this was a good way to reassess my Facebook usage. I used this time to do a 5-day detox from Facebook and I learned that I don’t really need it. I found that I am much more attached to the idea of Facebook than I should be. Once I broke the pattern, I truly didn’t miss it. Although I enjoy seeing what people I know and/or love are up to, I certainly don’t need to be checking throughout the day. I also found that I wanted more interaction with others and disconnecting was good for my soul.

Social media campaign

Over half of social networkers follow a brand or person that influences how they interact daily.  In 2019, there are currently over 2.4 billion monthly Facebook users in the world. Twitter is 330 million monthly active users and Instagram has 1 billion users every month. Everyday you see #tags for all different topics from politics, products to world events.

Most recently I realized that, I hadn’t heard anything more about the fires in the rain forest until I started seeing the shared photos on Instagram and Facebook. This was important to me to know and understand. I soon realized that many of the photos being shared were not recent but the facts were true and needed to be talked about.

Mass shootings which have become political and unfortunately all too common are often linked in social media to organizations that support safe gun sense. I live in Sandy Hook, CT with children, so the idea of a mass shooting happening close to home is very real and raw. I follow several groups including Sandy Hook Promise which keeps me up to date on the local, state and federal advancements as well as news in the media. Topics that are important to me show up in my feed throughout social media, so I know what is happening throughout the day.

Globally social campaign

The #MeToo movement took on a life of its own. So many women have been sexually assaulted and kept it to themselves out of fear. This movement gave the women of abuse a voice and the courage to stand up. The movement made people realize they weren’t alone, that they needed to speak up in order to heal. And while the stories come from all different walks of life and severities of the assaults, the message is still the same. No more, together we are not alone and we will fight.

Tarana Burke, a social activist and community organizer, began using the phrase “Me Too” in 2006, to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who have been sexually abused.  It wasn’t until 2017 following the accusations of sexual assault against Harvey Wienstein, that Alyssa Milano encouraged the use of hashtag #MeToo. They wanted to draw attention to sexual assault and harassment. The movement took off and people started adding to their stories #MeToo. Some would retell their story while others, myself included, just simply put #MeToo which was more than enough to show empowerment and empathy.

The Future of Social Media

Social media has a tie with mental health issues that arise from the need to always be connected. People risk becoming addicted to the instant gratification that social media provides and it gives dark outlets to sexual predators, cyber bullies and violence.  Privacy has also become a topic of concern and has led to an increase of private messaging such as snap chat and other small group apps for online communication.

We have been taught and teach our children that what goes online stays online. This makes us think about what we are posting knowing that once information, images, video, etc. make their way onto the internet they will remain there indefinitely.  You essentially give away your right to privacy when posting online.  It is because of this and the shift of social media users demanding that their privacy be protected that social media is going through an evolution.  Apps like Snapchat allow users to send secure content to their private connections; the content disappears after being viewed, even their use of public stories get deleted once viewed.  And if another user does save an image or video, it alerts the content creator immediately. The new social media giants will be companies that put their users’ privacy first.

I am afraid for the younger generations. They have become isolated and wanting to be like the fantasy worlds they see posted online. I don’t know what the future is but I hope that new technology and apps help lead the future generations to happier fulfilled lives that are not always Instagram worthy.

The why in user testing

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To design the best UX, you need to understand what the users do within your site or app. Usability testing lets you see users in real time and how they interact with your product. You can observe the behavior of the user to see what works and what doesn’t work with specifics tasks they are given. The users are encouraged to vocalize their thought processes in order to further identify issues they encounter.

If done at an early stage when the product is at paper prototyping stage, you will find the problems when they are easy to fix. Doing usability testing reduces the risk of building the wrong product; thereby saving time and money. This will help to understand user’s success rate and time spent to complete a task. You will be able to:

  • check if product meets user’s expectations
  • match business decisions to real-world use
  • remove flaws in the design
  • see what works well and is successfull
  • receive user’s initial reaction and user feedback

Usability tests are done at different times in the design process. First this is done with low-fidelity tests to gain quick insights. During the initial development phase, paper prototypes are used for user testing. It can be done anywhere and little design is needed. The results from a formative test should include users’ reactions and comments while thinking aloud. This will show any confusion and the reason for their actions.

Next will be high fidelity tests to capture metrics. This is done at the end of the development stage to show how usable a product is from the user’s perspective. The testing is conducted in a controlled setting or remotely using their computers and mobile phones.

Doing usability testing, will enable you to find solutions to existing problems as well as find problems you didn’t know existed. Testing will increase user satisfaction and a positive outcome to the final product.

 

User flowchart

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A user flowchart helps the designer visualize the experience a user will take to complete a task or meet a goal on a site or app. Understanding how a user will navigate a site will help you identify their needs. Flowcharts are made up of a set of basic symbols that show the decision process to the users final destination.

To begin designing a flowchart, you must first identify who the user is. This can be done though user research or designing personas. This will help define the target audience and what the needs are. Next you will need to identify the entry point by understanding how the user will access the site or app. The entry point is where the user is when they first arrive on the site/app.

There are several people that are involved in UX that will bring a product to a successful completion. These can include UI designers, information architects, programmers and developers. They all have a large part in a successful UX experience.  But getting everyone on the same page can be a battle, as each one will need different types of information in order to reach different goals within the product development. For example, a UI designers main concern is user and how they can create something that fits the user. They will focus on the user’s needs, wants and preferences. While a developer will have a different view of the product in order to understand the inner workings of the system.

Using your UX flowchart as a communication tool can be successful in helping to illustrate the product in a way everyone on the team can understand. To keep everyone on the team involved in the user flowchart, you want to stay away from the visual design and focus on how the system will react with the user’s experience within the site.

 

 

Information Architecture

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Information architecture (IA) is found in websites, apps and software we download. It is the structural design of information in a shared environment as well as the organization and labeling of a website. The IA supports usability and a connection of design principles for the digital space. It takes information that is being used and applies it to activities which require complex detail.

Information architecture creates a structure for a website, app, or other project, that allows you to understand the user’s actions and where the information we want to be used lives. Information architecture involves the creation of site maps, categories, navigations, and metadata. For example when a designer puts together a top navigation to help users understand where they are on a site, they are exercising IA architecture. IA helps people to understand what they are looking at and where to find it in the real world as well as online. Practicing information architecture helps others understand the importance of site structure and content.

For some information architects, wireframes are the best way to start the process to make connections and identify how the site will work from a user’s perspective. After researching, an IA will be designed around certain screens in order to show how a user will interact with the information before them. Designers tend to think visually and will often use this visual technique to show the structure of information. Wireframes are also a valuable deliverable to share with clients, developers and visual designers as they build mockups, prototypes, and final products.

Ideation Sessions in UX design

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Ideation sessions challenge you to think outside the box. These sessions encourage you to explore as many ideas as possible to find solutions. The focus is on quantity of ideas rather than quality. In a judgement free zone,  you are free to uncover, sometimes unconventional, ideas to build upon. This ideation phase transitions you from learning about the users to finding a solution to the problem. This is where innovation grows and you find what the users has been missing.

The ideation session should be focused on the users to get their perspective.
The more user views you have, the more diverse the ideas will be.

The ideation process can be done several different ways depending on the needs of the user and the problem you need to find a solution for. The session can be done alone or in a group and short or over several hours. It could be a one-time session or over several sessions, as well as being formal or informal as needed. Use the research you have gathered to define the ideation problem that you want to solve. Be clear about the needs of the users. Ensure that the focus in the ideation session is on improving the user experience. Set aside any technical constraints or business viability. At this stage, no idea is too farfetched. It is much easier to scale back a crazy idea that addresses a true user need, than to try to make a very simply idea desirable.

Ideation is the process of generating a broad set of ideas on a given topic,
with no attempt to judge or evaluate them.

 

Role of the audience

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In his book, On Writing Well, William Zinsser states that “you are writing for yourself.” He explains that if you write with enjoyment, “you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for.” Try to write about smaller events that are active in memories. They contain more information that will readers will connect with in their own lives.

Although I agree with much of what Zinsser writes, I do think we are always writing for an audience. Whether it is for a group of readers, specific individuals or yourself, as Zinsser suggests, there is always an audience. Keeping your audience in mind while you write can help you strategize how to tell your story or market an idea. Writing is a form of expression that can be used to tell a story, an opinion or even to market a product. Understanding who you are writing for is essential in establishing a tone.

It’s important to write for your audience. If you are writing the local news, you will be writing for that region with specifics the reader will relate to. I think it’s important to envision who your reader will be in order to properly write to this audience. When you know who you are talking to, your tone, use of vocabulary, and personal style will adapt. This will help you connect to the reader as you figure out how to write for them. In E.B. White’s, Approach to Style, he states to make sure the reader knows who is speaking. “Dialogue is a total loss unless you indicate who the speaker is.”

I agree with Zinsser’s statement, “Don’t try to visualize the great mass audience. There is no such audience—every reader is a different person.” The reader will have their own interpretation. It is essential to understand the reader to set your tone and direction throughout your writing without trying to please a larger group. It is a balance. It comes down to what you are writing about and who it is for. The important thing to remember is to have passion and creativity in everything you write and you will always have the readers attention.

Effective Online Writing

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The Battle for my Life in the New Yorker, is a perfect example of a well-written long-form essay. Long-form essays are articles with large amounts of content, usually between 1,000 and 20,000 words. They are often written in the form of narrative journalism or creative non-fiction. Due to the length of these articles, it’s incredibly important to write in a way that draws in the reader.

The article immediately drew me in. It was as if Emilia was speaking directly to me, telling me her story of absolute bravery. The content of the essay as structured is an easy to read format that brings you through her struggles both in the present and the past. There was no confusion in going back and forth as it was organized in a way that made sense to the reader. Each point is broken into different paragraphs for easy readability from one scenario to the next. The style of the writing and the layout of the page were simple and kept me focused on the content.

She describes specific details such as her mum slumped in the chair to really give the reader a visual. This pulls you further into her story, really feeling her emotion. “My mum slept in my hospital ward, slumped in a chair, as I kept falling in and out of sleep, in a state of drugged wooziness, shooting pain, and persistent nightmares.” I actually found myself reading it in her voice which connected me on an even deeper level.

The way the article was written will appeal to a large audience of readers. The format is organized well and the narrative content is very easy to read and connect with. It has a simplicity to the style and usage of words that flows easily as you read. It has a clear direction and attitude throughout.

Compare and contrast: Is sunscreen dangerous?

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The two articles that I picked to compare this week are about the safety of sunscreen. The articles take on different viewpoints, and I found the online readability to be better in one of the articles. I chose this topic for a several reasons. I am about to go to the Caribbean with my family and we are all very fair, so the concerns that have been in the news lately are in the front of my mind.

The first article is from Men’s magazine called Two-Thirds of Sunscreens Could Be Hurting You, Report Says. The article did a wonderful job in breaking down the report issued by the Environmental Working Group. The article’s comprehension was easy to follow and understand. The layout was clean with a lot of open white space that did not take away from the content of the article. The overall experience of the content had a nice flow delivering information and was written in a pleasing manner. The informative article kept my attention while giving me points on both sides of the argument. Below is a good example.

“The Environmental Working Group released its 2019 Guide to Sunscreens today—the 13th annual report of its kind—and it finds that two-thirds of sunscreen products on the market “offer inferior protection or contain worrisome ingredients.” But not everyone agrees you should be scared.”

The article listed the concerns in an easy to read list while summarizing that the major issue. They also consulted with a dermatologist to understand their point of view and give advice for safe sunscreen use which kept my interest to find out more from an expert. I found the article to be very informative but it left me coming up with my own conclusion on how I want to protect my family. The delivery of facts did not develop an opinion but rather kept me interested. I was intrigued to keep reading for more information.

The second article is from CNN called Avoid sunscreens with potentially harmful ingredients, group warns. I found the article to have several useful tips towards the end but the beginning was one sided to pull you in. The experience was not written in a manner which was entertaining or pleasing but rather very opinionated. The facts were not given until much later in the article which left me frustrated. This flow would leave many readers to abandon their reading before getting all the information towards the end. Due to the heavy opinions early on, this article was not easy to read. The layout was not clean design and had a lot of advertisements that were distracting. An example of the comprehension that I felt was hard to read is below.

“The Environmental Working Group says 56% of beach and sport sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone. The primary function of oxybenzone is to absorb ultraviolet light, but some research shows oxybenzone can be absorbed through the skin.”

Although I was using the two articles to compare what I liked and did not like about the readability of each, I was able to walk away with some useful information I can share. Until the FDA puts stronger regulations on sunscreen it is recommended to :

  • Not use a sunscreen over SPF 50
  • Make sure labels list both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum protection)
  • Avoid products with oxybenzone and retinyl palminate
  • Choose lotions over sprays

 

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