Dolla, Dolla Bills, Y’All

So why does an organization choose to advertise on social media instead of via traditional broadcast or print media?

The answer is really simple.

Social Media






If you are truly strategic about your campaigning, you can easily save your shareholders/CEO/the big headshot a huge amount of money that is potentially wasted in traditional marketing that might not be as effective or as demographically specific to your client base. As someone who is worked within a plethora of industries including the music industry, advertising and promotional campaigns, organizing and planning art and fashion shows and now, as an entrepreneur photographer with my own studio on the 104 street Promenade downtown, I really have discerned how to minimize marketing dollars while simultaneously maximizing the exposure to the public.

First and foremost, advertising is a numbers game when large multinational corporations pour millions into advertising campaigns just to hike up their bottom line sales a little for the satisfaction of shareholder/s, who easily levy the most control over a companies destiny. Keeping investment dollars low will appease any one who may benefit from an increase. It’s a really, really smart move. First, you can do SEO optimization for people looking for you. However, you can now target your advertisers based on the information that individuals volunteer to you. Which is an incredibly easy way to inject your demographic profiles right into the advertisements you are curating. The thing that is different about now is that you are taking less shots in the dark and utilizing cost-efficient resources to amplify your presence directly to the audience it’s catered for? If you are a new organic baby food distributor in Calgary, you can target women 16-49 within a 100 kilometre radius of Calgary by offering them a free trial offer of your product that can be shipped directly to your home.

Also, an article that came out in 2014, said that studies have shown that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing, and a higher number of social media followers tends to improve trust and credibility in your brand, representing social proof. (Forbes: The 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing)

Earlier this year, Forbes printed: “90% of young adults—ages 18 to 29—use social media (compared to just 35% of those over age 65). Fully a third of Millennials say social media is one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses.” (Forbes: How To Convince Your Boss That Your Marketing Is Old School)

The audience is tailored to your exact specifications at a low cost and with a huge potential for reach. It’s a win-win-win situation and if bosses haven’t gone this route yet, they need to jump on the proverbial bandwagon.

Melissa L.A. Bishop

One Shot, A Million Scores

Athleticism and Computers.

They don’t exactly go hand-in-hand.

Yet, todays sports heroes and stars have to know how to effectively manage their online profiles to engage the public positively.

Recently, I worked on a VIP team alongside Mark Messier and Ron Maclean for Rogers Hometown Hockey event in Edmonton.  I got to take a picture with Mark Messier and I got a free book from Ron Maclean. Of course, meeting such legends in a private setting was an amazing experience. However, when I posted my Mark Messier photo on Facebook, I amplified him as a nice, approachable person and thats what people in the public eye want. To sustain a particular image via effective interactions with the public.

In this example, Messier did not even have to do anything but smile. Yet, this example shines so much light on him (rather than me) because he seems like a good guy for doing that.

I also worked Edmonton Oiler games recently taking virtual photographs with Connor McDavid and then sent photos to the people who posed so that they would hopefully show off a) the application of cool technology, and b) utilize technology to increase Connor McDavids online presence without even needing him in person.

He would personalize his “autograph” session with you and then “pose” in a realistic looking holographic photograph.

The result? This:


Again, he had to do nothing and yet, had I chose to post this photo on social media, I would have simply amplified his status as a hockey God.

Currently, I am working The International Curling Championships, and I posed with all of Team USA over the weekend after they attempted our interactive Escape the 2017 Ford Escape game. We are paid to take images at a photo booth that encourages people to put on retro curling gear and then we snap shots of them on their cell phones and we encourage them to post the images on any social media with the hashtag #FordCurling. This successfully increases Ford’s presence at an event they sponsor and it encourages interactive engagement with a particular demographic. It’s simply brilliant. People love photos and the key to successful campaigns for many sports personalities is through the utilization of photographic images.


Fahrenheit 451 – The Printing Press in The Digital Era

Everyone presumes that as technology is embraced by even Grandma, Grandpa and Santa Claus, that print media is coming to the end of its life cycle. However, this could not be further from the truth. A research survey conducted by Canadian company Vividata released data on the readership for 117 Canadian newspapers and magazines and discovered that while 8/10 Canadians still read a physical newspaper in a weeks time, and at least 54% of Canadians are reading at least some of their news digitally, and of those, 70% of all digital consumption is done on a mobile device.

fahrenheit-451Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury 

What I find most interesting however, is the statistics given on the Canadian millennial:

“More than half of millennials are reading a Monday to Friday edition of a newspaper, with 38% exclusively accessing content via a digital device and 25% reading a print copy only. The study also found that 60% of millennials read magazines, yet only 16% use a digital version exclusively and 37% read only a print copy.”

The fact that millennials are consuming news at all in print shocks me. We know that selling physical copies of music is absolutely terrible because of the fact HMV will have to shut down all 102 of its stores by April 30th, 2017. Blockbuster and other video rental stores suffered the same fate with only The Lobby Video Store, a lone wolf still surviving on the same hope that horror fans can sustain the business longer than the victims in the movies they so love.

Ray Bradbury published the dystopian Fahrenheit 451 in October of 1953, without any foresight of what the future may hold for authors and journalists just half a century later. However, his imagination allowed him to conceive of a world where the dissemination of knowledge could be a serious threat to the authotarian government that tries to drown people in sensations and fear, penalizing anyone who tries to enlighten themselves and challenge the status quo.

As promising as the data is from Vividata, I foresee the eventual demise of the printing press in the not-so-far-off future. It’s more environmentally savvy anyways. However, what I worry more about is the literacy rates in Canada and the quality of what people are reading. Social media is just not sufficient enough for expanding our minds

That is really depressing.
40% of Canadians are incompetent at their jobs based on their literacy rate?

Maybe the education system needs to check the elimination of cursive writing, because after all, reading and writing go hand-in-hand.

Anyways, I will just leave this here for your contemplation:

Burn Books

News Medium Focus Group

I created a small focus group that was asked about their preference of either physical newspapers, or online news articles.

The majority of the people in the focus group would rather read their news from a physical newspaper. However, accessibility and cost are the reasons they do not. The consensus was why would anyone go out to buy a newspaper when you can go online and get all your news for free. The preference for newspapers was mainly to do with the ability of physically picking up and reading a newspaper.

Additionally, they felt that newspapers have more credibility. This may have to do with the recent surge of fake news articles online. There was a common feeling that newspapers have more steps to verify the news they publish.

The reasons for going online was accessibility. The ability of simply going online and reading all the news stories of the days is a big reason people use online news sources.


The general agreement was that newspapers would be the preferred medium for news if it was accessible and free. So, if newspapers had the advertising revenue that many of these digital companies have, newspapers would still be may still be successful among the focus group I questioned.

Social Media’s Political Polarization

Social media helps to create a safe haven for people with similar political beliefs. This, in turn, creates a climate online where political extremism is promoted and debate is neglected.

Cass Sustein, a Harvard Professor, states, “to the extent that social media allow us to create our very own feeds, and essentially live in them, they create serious problems.” Our Facebook feeds become packed with people that have similar beliefs to our own. Thus, our beliefs are never challenged or put to the test. This self-protection, while having some benefits, helps “spread falsehoods, and promote polarization and fragmentation” states Sustein.

But of course, you cannot avoid everyone with a different opinion online. So what does happen when we run into a different opinion on Facebook or Twitter? Do we start an effective debate, in hopes of coming to some sort of middle ground? No, we end up arguing with them and spewing out labels to prove them wrong. After that, we have the choice of deleting them and never having to hear their opinion again. If we want to take it a step further, we can attempt to ban them and suppress their opinion, indefinitely.

This type of argumentative method ends up bleeding into our real lives. We see a political polarization in America, similar to the political polarization on Twitter. We must be accepting of different opinions, and be willing to openly debate our own opinions. Through proper debate, great ideas become stronger, and weak ideas become obsolete.


Social Media’s Privacy Problem

Social media has made privacy an idea of the past. Nowadays, if you want to find someone online, a quick Facebook search makes it relatively easy to find the person’s pictures, interests, and personal information. We have all given up some aspect of privacy when we sign up for social media online. Our loss of privacy starts with the information that we freely give out to the online public.

A study done by Pew Research Center concluded, “Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past. For the five different types of personal information that we measured in both 2006 and 2012, each is significantly more likely to be shared by teen social media users in our most recent survey.”

People on social media have their pictures, phone numbers, addresses, and birthdays for the public to see. We give out this information without hesitation. This type of information can be used in many cases of identity theft. Additionally, with location trackers, people can see wherever you are in the world at any time. This makes it easier for people to know when you are not home, which makes your home vulnerable for robberies.

“Many identity thieves tend to hack their victim’s email accounts by simply using the personal information available on social media profile.”

By gathering all the information above, a person, with ill intentions, can hack into accounts containing sensitive information. So, we are freely giving out the information that makes it possible for hackers to access our accounts.


Social Media and Human Behaviour

As great as social media has been in connecting the globe online, its effects on human behaviour are still somewhat unknown. Many studies have been conducted to better understand the effect social media has on the human brain. These studies mostly focus on why humans have become so addicted to social media and how this addiction affects human behaviour.

A study done by researchers at UCLA concluded that “By watching the activity inside different regions of the brain as the teens used the app, the team found certain regions became activated by ‘likes’, with the brain’s reward centre becoming especially active.”

This explains how so many people become addicted to social media. The same pathways of the brain that release dopamine when we eat or, do something enjoyable, are being activated when we receive a like online. So, just as the release of dopamine makes the human mind want to repeat that meal, or enjoyable activity, the release of dopamine when we get a like makes our brain want to be on that particular social media site all the time.

This type of validation online negates the need for validation in everyday life. “In a more recent study, conducted by Dr. Rauch and colleagues, the team found that social interaction on social media sites, specifically Facebook, may have a negative impact on face-to-face encounters for individuals who already have high levels of anxiety.” So as we communicate more online, the quality of face-to-face interactions is deteriorating.

Social media has connected us globally but disconnected us from reality.


A Pharmacy of Awesomeness

Dopamine, one of many neurotransmitters in the brain, triggers feelings of euphoria when you complete a task. (“dopamine” licensed by AJ Cann under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Earlier this year, design specialist and business consultant Richard Banfield spoke to a crowded lecture hall at MacEwan University about digital tech companies and how they’re toying with our brains.

Have you ever wondered what alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and social media have in common?

Maybe you can’t speak to all of the above, but I’m sure everyone’s felt that fleeting rush from getting “likes” on pictures and posts. All of the above trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that creates feelings of euphoria.

Companies like Facebook are basing their business model on how we feel, Banfield says. And it all comes down to brain chemistry.

Oxytocin (the love drug) is triggered by inclusion, like when friends add you to their social network. Serotonin triggers feelings of pride and value when a goal is accomplished. Think about Endomodo or Strava, workout apps that let you share your progress with your friends. And who doesn’t like feeling proud and loved? Emotions like these keep us coming back for more, and that’s why apps like Facebook and Instagram are so addictive.

I’ve never been very active on social media, but in the personal branding assignment, I was HOOKED on the likes from friends and strangers responding to my Instagram posts. At one point during the assignment, I literally sat still for two hours straight, sending out pictures and taking in the love. It was a vicious cycle.


Interaction notifications, like those from social media apps, releases the flow of addictive chemicals in the brain, and keep users coming back for more. (“Facebook Feed Notification” licensed by Chris Messina under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Companies like Facebook and Strava know that emotions drive behaviour – that if it feels good, we’ll keep coming back for more. And all this adds up to dollars for apps that generate revenue from display ads (or subscription fees for those who want to go ad-free). Just think about how many times you’ve checked your Facebook feed today.

Citizen Journalism: a new hope?

citizen journalism
Far from replacing professionals, citizen journalists make up an important part of the new media landscape, working alongside the pros to produce more information. “Objectivity in Journalism Worlde” licensed by Spot Us under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Before enrolling in the program, I got a taste for journalism as a contributor to Terra Informa, an environmental news program at CJSR 88.5 FM, the University of Alberta’s campus radio station. I learned to interview, edit audio, structure stories and broadcast, all without any academic training.

(My first ever interview as a citizen journalist – originally broadcast in September 2012)

Training is the biggest factor that sets citizen and professional journalists apart. That and the pay (the pros usually work for media companies, and we were all volunteers at Terra Informa). But that doesn’t mean citizen journalists aren’t useful to the public or helpful in the democratic process.

People need accurate and reliable information to make informed decisions at the polls. And as much as we’d like to think that professional journalism serves that role, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the industry is in crisis right now. With declining ad revenues, media organizations and conglomerates are laying off reporters left and right to cut costs, thereby diluting the quality and reducing quantity of public interest information.

But at the same time, the means to publishing have been democratized. Even without a radio station at your disposal, anybody with a computer and an internet connection can act as a journalist in the information age. You can live-tweet public events and breaking news using Twitter from your phone. Add a microphone and you’ve got the means to podcast. Put that HD camera to use and now you’re a multimedia reporter. Slap it all together on a website or blog and you’ve got everything you need to start your own publication.

Today more that ever, people have incredible access to information, and the means to produce it as well. It may not all be “professional” journalism, but there are no regulations on who can be a journalist. In Canada, our constitutionally protected freedoms of expression and the press allow anybody to share their stories with the world. In The Elements of Journalism, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel write that

“the two sides, citizen and professional journalists, are not in competition. They must work in combination. the new citizen sentinel will not replicate the work of the professional journalist, or even displace it, but rather inform, interact with, and elevate it” (p.289).

Just look at Edmonton’s Dave Cournoyer, a local politics-watcher and writer. Using his own website, Dave reports stories that draw upon and fill-out news reports from professional outlets as well as his own; and they call on him in kind, as a knowledgable source to offer commentary on their own news stories. Together, citizen and professional journalists can work hand in hand to create a richer media landscape.

Twitter’s Hate Speech

Twitter’s new initiative to clamp down on hate speech and abuse could have detrimental consequences on free speech. Twitter should not ignore blatant acts of harassment that would not be tolerated in open society. However, Twitter’s inconsistency in what they recognize as harassment could cause major problems.

For example, in 2016, Twitter banned outspoken conservative Milo Yiannaopoulos stating that he was harassing Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones. These were the tweets he was banned for:

MILO.pngMILO 2.png

Twitter subsequently banned him from twitter for “repeated violation of Twitter rules, specifically our rules prohibiting participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.” If twitter gave him multiple chances, and he continued to break the rules, his banning is justified. However, Leslie Jones made some “racist” remarks and promoted harassment of a user online, so why was she not temporarily banned?

Additionally, on the opposite side of the political spectrum, a Buzzfeed writer, Scaachi Koul had tweets that someone might find sexist and racist:


However, she was not banned. The consensus is that Twitter will not ban someone that identifies as a Liberal or on the left. Although there is little evidence supporting this consensus, one cannot be faulted for thinking this way.

Twitter is a public domain for people to express their thoughts and beliefs, regardless of how offensive they may be. Banning people, or groups, that are offensive only galvanizes them more. We want people to be open and accepting of different opinions, yet we are closed and dismissive of people that have different opinions.

In my opinion, Twitter has to have a clearer outline of what they see as hate speech and abuse, or it will continue to seem that they are feeding towards a particular political side.