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Sidewalk Labs to improve Toronto living

Toronto is a great city and I am happy to have called it my home for over a decade. But there are flaws that have me thinking about moving to the suburbs and even to the Hamilton region. Mainly this has to do with the astronomical cost of living , and the unavoidable congestion on roadways and delays experienced on transit.  But even a move to the suburbs would mean a more expensive and time-consuming commute to central Toronto for work.

I dwell on the thought of moving for a moment, and I remind myself why I love Toronto so much- the culture, the activity and the people.

Organizations are stepping in to attempt to better our great city. Sidewalk Labs is a Google-affiliated high-tech company, which is pushing to develop a technological hub on Queen’s Quay. The Manhattan-based firm that specializes in urban innovation, seeks to use its technology to include sensors that will collect and analyze data. This will then be used to  assist with solving problems in Toronto — such as high housing costs, road safety and safety of citizens as well as other issues that go along with urban living.

This all sounds beneficial, but worries have arisen over how the data collected will be used. On the heels of the Cambridge Analytica case, which saw a privacy breach on 600,000 Canadians and over 80 million Facebook users, this is a growing concern. Questions as to whether the U.S. government will have access to private data were also posed.

Sidewalk Labs won a Waterfront Toronto contest last October to develop a live-and-work neighbourhood on 12 acres of land that stretches from Queens Quay to Parliament Street. The firm released a “summery report” on Wednesday.

In the report, residents said their wish is for any data collected to be “transparent and consensual.”

If the Sidewalk Toronto project is fully approved, it will be partially paid for by Canadian taxpayers through a public-private partnership. Any councillors who know insider details about the project have signed a non-disclosure agreement.

The pitch made by Sidewalk Labs last fall was quite attractive- proposing the neighbourhood would serve as “a hub for innovation-related companies and entrepreneurs,” while offering residents more opportunities to “live, work, learn and play.”

While some developers are concerned the benefits that may result if the plan is executed in a transparent  and effective way could be massive for the city.

Facebook: a politician’s best friend

Gone are the days when Facebook was simply used to reconnect with old pals and to stay updated.  I’ll admit that sometimes I do still get sidetracked scrolling through old photos , but the platform functions have certainly changed.

The social platform is about far more than staying in touch with friends and creeping on old flames. Many businesses use it to promote their products and services. When poll time rolls around, politicians turn to Facebook to build their following.

Ontario residents are preparing to cast ballots in  the provincial election this year, and as June 7th approaches, many politicians are relying on Facebook, by posting ads that cater to individual interests of voters.

The platform now allows campaigns to micro-target voters based on age, location, interests, gender and political positions. This tactic is helpful to  parties because it targets a more widespread audience.

Facebook stores such a massive amount of data that outlines users’ interests and the new techniques used by politicians to capitalize on it. It’s for this reason that one person might see an ad from a political party about slashing taxes, and someone else, might see an ad from the same party focusing on health care.

Although political ads on Facebook were used by Canadian parties for a number of years, it is the variation and intricate targeting that has now reached a new level. The ads are much more sophisticated.

They are not only far-reaching, but are also extremely low in cost, which makes it an even more effective campaigning tool for politicians.

 I do find the pooling of information worrisome, especially after the Cambridge Analytica issue that brought Zuckerberg to a formal inquiry. The Cambridge firm had access to  private information of more than 600,000 Canadians, and over 80 million Facebook users globally while execs of the social media platform sat on the information knowingly until outed by a whistleblower.

I  am not a fan of the platform currently, because the ads and sponsored posts that are meant to target my interests, seem to have taken over my homepage. I miss the days when Facebook was for catching up and daydreaming over my friends’ travel photos and becoming nostalgic over relatives’ family photos. But the business and entrepreneurial  side of me gets it.

The secret behind social media couples

As you boast in your chocolates and flowers, and prepare to get jiggy tonight with your significant other, you may also be thinking about ways to aesthetically document everything in a way that will get you the most likes on social media. Whether it be your caption, your strategic ring finger positioning, or a snapchat of bae being bae — it’s time someone expose the truth behind Instagram Couples. Let’s begin.

To all those single ladies scrolling past PDA pics and teddy bears all over your news feed, just know – it’s all fake love. The statement, so eloquently sung by Drake, is also backed up by science. A report from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin recently concluded that people who overshare about #bae on social media are also the most insecure about them.

#Yikes.

So, to the couple who stare into one another’s eyes at fancy restaurants three times a week – we see you. And your cry for help. I don’t want to assume your night will end up in an argument over why your significant other’s phone went off one too many times or how the bill is going to be split, but according to science; I have to. And while I want to be empathetic for your situation, the narcissism behind your posts and the way you make my single ladies sob make me not want to.

The secret behind becoming a successful social media couple is to have so much fun with your significant other that you forget to take a picture. It’s to go to a fancy restaurant and enjoy the food while it’s still hot, instead of standing up on your seat trying to get the perfect shot. And the juiciest secret of all? Post so seldom that your followers have to message and ask you how your life is going, in which you can respond ‘great, just busy with #bae!’

That’s not to say you need to deactivate your Facebook account and delete your social media. Your loved ones enjoy seeing highlights in your relationships; whether that be a recent engagement or wedding photos. Sitting at your desk on a cold, winter afternoon can become a whole lot better with a few vacation photos of your favourite couple at a tropical destination.

However, if bae is mad at you and you’re cooking dinner for them – maybe ask for suggestions on what to cook for dinner instead of boasting about a #datenight that’s really another #forgiveme night. Work on your relationship. If your partner photographs that well, I’m sure they look much better in person. Embrace it. Cherish it.

Remember, happiness doesn’t come in the form of likes and retweets. It comes in the forms of smiles and a whole lot of good loving.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Why is no one #PrayingForEgypt?

Over 300 people were killed Friday during a militant attack on a mosque in northern Sinai. At least 27 were children. The last number of wounded was recorded at 128.

During the imam’s sermon, the attackers opened fire. They were positioned at the doors and windows, which meant no one could escape. Explosions erupted. Officials say at least two dozen people carrying a black Daesh banner were shooting into the crowd of innocent worshippers.

It is being called one of the deadliest assault by Islamic extremists in modern history.

And yet — no one is praying for Egypt on social media.

In November 2016, 128 people died in a suicide bombing and shooting in Paris. Six worshipers were killed and 19 injured when a lone gunman fired into a Quebec mosque in January. In June, a bomb went off at an Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester. Twenty two people died. The Las Vegas shooting left 58 people dead and 546 injured.

In each of these occasions, people #prayed. They filtered their social media pictures and marked themselves “safe” on Facebook. You couldn’t open Twitter without seeing a heart emoji or a trending hashtag. Families sat in their living rooms watching CNN or CBC, glued to the television screen in horrified silence.

And yet, an attack that left over 300 people dead received little public attention. There was no Facebook check-in that I’m aware of. No image filter. There was a trending hashtag – #PrayForEgypt – but most of the people using it were from the region or had a connection to the region.

On my own social media feed, there was practically nothing. I pride myself on following a diverse set of people, but still my westernized twitter lists had very little information on the tragedy, and even less personal messages. The same people who prayed for Manchester were not praying for Egypt.

Why the discrepancy? Is it because Egypt is a predominately Muslim country or that the atrocity took place in a mosque? Is it because the country is not a typical Western ally? Is it because people just don’t care about things that don’t happen in their home or neighbouring countries?

The news has reported the incident, but it has been largely overshadowed by the political shakeup in Zimbabwe or the engagement of Prince Harry. That’s not an excuse, but a reality of the news cycle. It’s up to everyone to individually pay attention to what is happening around the world and not pass judgement on who to care about.

Three hundred people are dead. Twenty-seven children are dead. Their only sin is that they were praying in a mosque frequented by Sufis, one of the muslim sects in Egypt.

Whether it’s a shooting at a popular tourist attraction, a bombing in a war-torn country like Iraq, or a shooting in a place of worship in Egypt, a human life is a human life. If you are going to pray for one, you should pray for all.

#PrayFor Egypt.

Featured image provided by Andini Prian . 

5 ways to spring clean your social media

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the snow has finally melted down into the depths of the soil, making the grass green again. Life is good! And while you may take this new form of life as a way to begin spring cleaning, there are a few other things you may want to consider. For example, although the clutter in your closet needs immediate attention, so does your virtual presence. Millions of people don’t have access to your closet like they do with your Facebook album, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. So, take time this season and clean your social media platforms using these few friendly tips!


1. Get to know thyself 

Before you start cleaning anything, you have to determine what exactly is out there with your name on it. Sometimes, things slip. To prevent this from happening, it is important to stalk yourself. Do what you would do when a potential bae rolls around; put the FBI and CIA to shame. Because once you think about the countless selfies that provide evidence of your 2007 eyebrows, there will be no stopping you. No one wants to be reminded of those monstrosities. Especially your potential bae. So, do a quick Google search of yourself and see if anything suspicious arises. Finding the source of any unwanted videos, blogs, and even awkward, tone-deaf comments you’ve left on any public postings can help eliminate any kind of future embarrassment. Employers, curious bees, your future fans (just in case your modelling career actually takes off one day) don’t need access to all that old information. Because you’re better than that now. Vigilant and woke with the brows of a goddess. Remember that.

2. Unfriend, Unsubscribe, and Unfollow

Yes, she’s a great woman, but your second cousin’s roommate is not exactly the type of friend that should be popping up on your newsfeed. If you haven’t spoken to someone since bell bottoms were in fashion, it’s time to part ways with them. It just wasn’t meant to be. Mindless scrolling through your social media accounts should bring pleasure into your life. Follow accounts that can help you learn something. Whether they’re news sources that provide up to date info on current events or blogs that push content on subjects you’re passionate about, social media can prove to be quite the learning experience – if you so choose it to be. Remove the girl who always seems to be on vacation wearing skimpy outfits with a body you can never seem to attain. And although her life may seem fun, yours will be too – without her. Do the same for your Twitter and Instagram accounts. Unfollow anyone that causes extreme rolling of the eyes, and noises that showcase distress and utter annoyance. No one needs that sort of negativity in their lives!

3. Put your junk in the trunk 

Trunk, trash – you get the point. The added stress that comes at the checkout counter during your shopping spree is when the retailer asks you for an email address. You know what comes next; emails after emails about upcoming sales and promotions, including new arrivals. It floods your inbox, but empties out your bank account. Don’t forget the countless other emails you get from third party organizations, along with other friendly reminders, telling you not to forget to update your website information from way back when you tried to make it big as a blogger. Switch over to a more minimalist lifestyle by unsubscribing to unwanted programs and stores by using certain apps. It helps decrease the amount of notifications on your phone, allowing for an increased amount of productivity towards more important things. Let’s face it, nothing is more upsetting than hearing your phone beep, jumping with excitement to receive an important, life altering email, and finding out its another alert from Clearly Contacts – telling you its time to get your eyes checked.

4. Build it back up 

Now that you’ve deleted all your old pictures, and removed some much needed people from your life, it’s time to rebuild your brand. Update your social media platforms. Change your profile picture to a professional headshot, if you’re trying to look more employable. Start sharing more political articles and tidbits if the recent presidential election has you seeking change. It’s important to find an intention behind your presence on social media. Whether its for sh*ts and giggles or starting a revolution, your personal brand must be relevant to the message you’re trying to send across to your followers. Change your privacy settings to restrict your content solely for the audience you wish to reach out to. Once you’ve attained the overall look you’re going for, go ahead and start using your social media platforms to their full advantage. There’s a lot of power in that send button. So choose wisely and act accordingly!

5. Turn it off!

After you’ve cleaned out your social media platforms, backed up your files, and regained power over your desktop space, do yourself a favour and turn it off. Take some time away from social media and technology for an extended amount of time at least once a month. Refrain from answering emails, updating your status, and tweeting. Get in tune with the three dimensional world of reality. Say hi to your dog without the need to Snapchat his every reaction, visit your mom instead of calling her. And hey, clean out the clutter in your closet! Research proves that shutting down technology can help clear your mind, providing for some much needed oxygen and giving leeway to make better decisions in life. Besides, people will like you better when you’re looking at them and not their screen. You’ll like yourself better too. Trust.

Good luck and happy cleaning!

Hang up on your social media hang-out

Has social media made it easier to make friends, or is it even more difficult with our mobile devices in hand?

Technology has vastly changed the way younger generations make friends. With the overconsumption of various social media apps ranging from Facebook to Snapchat, the rules have changed on the how-to’s of finding your bestie.

There are many pros and cons of the social media world people live in today. There is a lot of accessibility, opportunity, and connection that can happen because of computers and cellphones. On the other hand, these positive developments in technology are also paired with pressure to constantly be plugged in and responsive, resulting in face to face interactions becoming less valued. Remember when people used to call a friend’s house and make plans in order to hang out? Now, it’s possible to have a Skype date with a friend across the world and watch a movie without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Though there are perks to social media, there are still some issues that need to be ironed out. Call me a skeptic, but I’m very hesitant about social media. There is something innately creepy about having your every breathing moment tracked online. It’s also clear that people are addicted to their phones. It also puts more pressure on friendships. If someone doesn’t answer immediately, it is quickly assumed that something is wrong (guilty as charged). This need for immediacy and instant gratification creates a lot of issues and useless drama. It is also anxiety provoking to be expected to be available at all times.

It is all too easy to hide behind the computer screen and utter disrespectful statements on a whim that would never fly in person. Social media’s accessibility has made people quicker to cut another person off permanently with the flick of a button. Being able to ‘block’ someone so easily or bully them online has caused a lot of hurt, and instigates more issues. I’d like to believe that most people are decent human beings, but online communication can turn even the kindest friend into a ruthless beast if an argument occurs over the interweb. The golden rule folks: if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online.

So far, I’ve only touched on the direct affects of social media on friendships, but there are also a a lot of unusual rules and social patterns developing. Instead of watching concerts, people are often too busy taking a video of themselves being “cool” or appearing “valued.” When people hang out in groups, oftentimes it feels like the other person isn’t there because of the phone they can’t tear their eyes from. And of course, there is the “don’t eat until I’ve taken three dozen photos for my Instagram” phase.

It is time to put down the phone or computer! Relying on social media to build and maintain friendships is not the way to go. Instead, try the good old-fashioned in person hang-out without phones. You will find yourself looking at the world in a whole new way without any distractions in your face. There is still hope for people to interact without a social media hang-up, all is not lost, but it is vital to put down your phone first.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

How to use social media for your business

When my boss asked me to start an Instagram page for our business, I was dumbfounded. The crotchety old grandma inside me couldn’t fathom the necessity of taking random photos with my phone and posting it to an app that wouldn’t even allow me to link to a website post.

Social media has become such a critical aspect of business that it’s getting harder to ignore. Even the silly ones like Instagram and Snapchat have a purpose. This is the 21st century, and everyone is accessing the world through their phones. Shopping, news, maps, music, it’s all done via mobile technology nowadays. It’s time to adapt. So, I made that Instagram account and starting reading about how to use it. Turns out, my boss was right — there is a place for Instagram in business.

Still a bit confused? Don’t worry, Women’s Post has you covered. Here are a few things you need to know before you start using social media (all types) for your business:

Focus/Know your audience: Understanding the demographics you are targeting with your social media campaign is vital to its success. Are you targeting young people, health-conscious people, business women, or working moms? This will help you frame your content. Make every post, picture, and link associated to that audience! Just because you think a picture of a squirrel is cute, doesn’t mean your clients do.

Find influencers: Before you start posting, gather a list of journalists bloggers, business leaders and other entrepreneurs. Follow them on social media, and retweet or comment on their posts if appropriate. The hope is that they will start to recognize your name and be more receptive to your work.

Make it about the conversation: It’s important that you don’t just throw information at your clients. Have a conversation with them. Respond to their comments on Facebook or their questions on Twitter. Ask questions and actually do something with their answers.  You can even go a step further and get involved in other similar social networks, like online hangouts or message boards. Join groups that follow the same influencers and engage in conversations. This will help spread awareness about your work and your business.

 Quality over Quantity: Sure, it’s great to tweet and post on social media numerous times a day — but if those posts are poor quality, then your clients won’t bother going to your website. Make sure that everything you post is professionally crafted, even if it’s something silly like a meme or a gif. Everything you do should be done with the purpose of expanding and spreading awareness of your business. Make sure your words are well chosen and your images are high-resolution and high-quality.

Use appropriate hashtags and tags: This is one of the most annoying and frustrating things about social media, but it’s the number one way your message or your business can hope to reach new clientele. Unless people share your posts, the things you write on the Internet are simply…there. You want people to find your stuff, share it on their own social media feeds, and then potentially go to your website to find out more. This is impossible without hashtags. If your post involves a specific person, make sure to tag them so they are aware of its existence. As the stars of the show, so to say, they will most likely pass it around the office, inspiring a whole new set of readers.

Know the network: Using Instagram is vastly different than using Facebook or Linkedin, but there is a way to use it properly in order to market your business. Using the right hashtags is much more important as the only link to your website is in your bio. For Linkedin, it’s all about the introduction to your post, what people read that hooks them in. Prepare individual posts for each network to ensure effective use.

Be creative: If your posts are repetitive, your audience will lose interest. You want them to always be wondering what you will do next. This will involve some out of the box thinking and real brainstorming sessions. Maybe try a campaign? Get involved in #MondayMotivation. Or play around with photoshop. The more creative, controversial, and outlandish the photo — the more attention it will receive.

Be patient: It will take a while for you to develop “followers” on social media. It may even take years for you to get to a point where you can compete with other businesses. The Internet is BIG and there is a lot out there. You will eventually find your loyal followers, but until then, keep plugging away. Slowly, you will build up more “likes” or “reactions” and your business will start to flourish.

Good luck!

Check out our Instagram account and let us know how we are doing!       

What it means to be an attention wh*re and what you can do about it

I don’t know about you guys, but if I see a funny moment about to ensue, my mind automatically goes to Snapchat. My hands reach for my phone and I scurry to open the app in time. The thought of catching the laugh-out-loud moment in a 10-second video to share with my friends and family brings me even more joy than the actual experience. The comments that are followed by these said friends watching my Snapchats are not only fulfilling to my duties as a social media user, but almost makes me feel like I have a purpose in life.

And that’s a little sad.

But I’ve come to accept the fact that my excessive need to share things on social media with my friends and family for validation does, in fact, make me what is known in today’s society as an attention wh*re.

It’s safe to say that the new age of social media has made most users “attention wh*res.” Whether it’s posting a picture of your face during it’s peak hours of fresh makeup and glow, or updating your status when you’ve received that promotion you were hoping for, it has evidently become a norm for people to seek confirmation for their need in society. To know that their contouring has, in fact, made a difference in someone’s life. To be told: yes, you are beautiful. You are smart. You are needed. However, the problem with this type of behaviour, is that is slowly makes its way into everyday, three-dimensional life. Soon enough, you find yourself sitting there, merely 30 minutes after you’ve sent your significant other a text, wondering why they haven’t texted back yet. It’s been thirty minutes, babe. Calm down. Take a deep breath. Watch an episode of Friends. Yeah, see Ross? Don’t be him.

I’m a writer. So, the attention-seeking nature in me was present for over a decade now. My career choice itself is a cry for attention. As Nayirrah Waheed so beautifully explains it, “If someone falls in love with my work, they’ve fallen in love with my mind.” And once you’ve taken the time to understand the true meaning behind that; I must say — it’s rather flattering. But, when I sought this attention in places they shouldn’t be sought, I began to understand a few things. I was wanting more than I was receiving — knowing full well I wouldn’t be receiving anymore. I answered to his every call and beckoned to his every need. He knew. He knew full well that even if I didn’t pick up, I would call him back. Because I wanted to. And once he knows that you want more than he wants, it’s over, ladies. Never tip your hand in the game of love. Get the f*ck out of there.

Although I somehow managed to exceed my wants, I’ve never been one to express my desires for them – to him. For one thing, I’m too shy to ask for anything. Receiving compliments make me feel awkward and telling someone about what’s bothering me is more difficult than pulling teeth. I don’t feel the need for validation in most aspects of my life- especially my fashion sense- and multiple people have labelled me as pompous. So, it’s quite surprising to think that I, too, have showcased being ‘needy.’ But, everyone’s ‘needy.’ It’s human nature. It’s why babies cry. It’s why women pout.

However, the key to being the right amount of ‘needy’ is knowing exactly what you need, and acquiring it without being well… needy. And if you can’t acquire it, even after an amount of strenuous labour that could have birthed triplets, do yourself a favour, and let it go.

Let’s stop hating on women through social media, shall we?

Over the past week, the world witnessed some rather high profile women get into some rather uncomfortable situations. And while life is bound to get messy at times, the problem with modern day society is that spectators are now able to watch the events unfold time and time again, while at the same time adding their thoughts and opinions on the matter — anonymously — through the click of a button.

And while this way of life has brought the world closer together and has provided insight on the mindset of today’s society, it has also allowed people to lack in forgiveness and spread negative dialogue. What hurts the most however, is to see independent, well educated and woke women engaging in the same negative dialogue – to criticize other women. Not only are we pushing the feminism movement back a couple of years by doing this, but we are doing our gender a disservice by dragging our colleagues through the mud.

Just last week, Qandeel Baloch split the world in two after being strangled by her brother because of the “kind of pictures she had been posting online.” Like many of you, I found myself scrolling through the deceased social media star’s Instagram, coming across sexually suggestive pictures and videos of an attractive South Asian woman boldly expressing herself.  The think pieces and blogs flooded my newsfeed, with comments from mourners condoning the death and asking people to take a stand against these types of ‘honour killings’. However, in the same comment section, there were people — many of them women — who felt bad, but understood what provoked her brother to brutally murder her in the first place.

“She was asking for it.”

In a very different situation, the Internet witnessed Taylor Swift being ripped apart by Kim Kardashian West on Snapchat when the reality-tv star posted a telephone conversation between her husband, rapper Kanye West, and what is believed to be singer herself. The topic of the telephone conversation was the allegedly misogynistic lyrics directed at Swift in one of West’s singles. Swift had previously released a statement saying she wished the couple would ”just leave me alone.” Kim, listen up: A hundred years have passed since this shit storm started and Kanye West’s single released. Since then, we’ve already seen you and Swift publicly lash out at each other, while the Internet followed along, taking sides. So why don’t you exclude us from this narrative, and give each other a call?

Because here’s the thing, ladies. There are a lot of women out here that are fighting for your rights and freedom. Women that are currently driving on streets they are not allowed to drive on. Women that are interviewing for a job they are deemed unqualified for. Women that are being utilized for their body without their permission. The least you can do, is offer a little support. They’re not asking for billboards of heartfelt messages with a hashtag, or a protest in lieu of every mistreatment that takes place. However, when someone is strangled to death in the comfort of their own home for essentially being themselves, it is not an invitation to slut shame the victim and justify their killer’s actions. She wasn’t asking for it. No one ever is.

Neither was Leslie Jones; one of the stars of the new Ghostbusters movie, which has been getting mixed reviews. Jones announced early this week that she was leaving Twitter “with tears and a very sad heart” after receiving racist and sexist abuse that she describes as her own “personal hell.” Her response to the incident was not only relevant to the situation at hand, but also to the events that have occurred in the past weeks regarding social media hate.

Jones called on Twitter to crack down on the hate, posting, “Twitter I understand you got free speech I get it. But there has to be some guidelines when you let spread like that.” She had a few things to say about the negative comments as well. “You have to hate yourself to put out that type of hate. I mean on my worst day I can’t think of this type of hate to put out. I don’t know how to feel. I’m numb. Actually numb. I see the words and pics and videos. Videos y’all. Meaning people took time to sprew hate. I’m more human and real than you fucking think. I work my ass off. I’m not different than any of you who has a dream to do what they love. I’ve never claim to be better or special. I just try to do my job as best as I can. Isn’t that any of us yall. So Yea this hurts me!”

The question arises; how do we overcome this girl-on-girl hate? Social media has evidently fuelled gender violence. Comment sections will make you lose faith in humanity while trending hashtags will encourage you to take part in a social media cleanse. Imagine the difference we could make if women gushed about what they love about other women by merely swapping hate and jealousy for support and encouragement?

A big difference. Let’s start THAT hashtag!

What are your thoughts on social media hate against women? Let us know in the comments below! 

How to successfully market your non-profit online

It can be challenging running a charity or not-for-profit organization in the digital age. With so much information available on the Internet, how do you get your message across? How do you make people care about your cause?

Last week, Women’s Post attended Digital Leap 2016, a digital marketing conference for non-profits. The one-day conference was hosted by Stephen Thomas, a Canadian agency that produces and develops marketing campaigns for charities and not-for-profit organizations. The focus of the conference was three-fold: how to embrace the digital realm, how to be brave enough to think outside the box, and how to optimize and brand your work.

For not-for-profits and charities, the concept of a digital campaign can be difficult. Even more questions arise: Where do you start? How do you drive people to your website? How do you ensure people take more than 30 seconds looking at your work?

The first thing to remember is that it is all about content. A banner or square advertisement on a webpage doesn’t get nearly as many hits as marketed content. Peter Coish, founder and lead strategist of Toronto marketing firm Kuration, asked the following question at the beginning of his keynote speech: “How many people actually click on a banner advertisement…on purpose?”

The answer was almost no one. Curated and original content is the key to a campaign’s success. The content must be entertaining, but it also must inform and activate. Make a plan that outlines your organization’s goals, target audience, and campaign themes so that content isn’t being created in the last minute. Digital marketing takes time and if you don’t plan accordingly, it won’t be successful.

Fifty per cent of your content should contain relevant information about your cause or organization, but according to Alice Ferris, founding partner of GoalBusters Consulting, “sometimes, you just need a picture of a squirrel.” It’s important to make sure your content is entertaining and interesting. If you don’t, people won’t follow your work on a regular basis.

Now you have great content, what’s next? Getting your message across to the general public is the next challenge. There is so much noise on social media nowadays that organic reach is not really possible. It is necessary to spend some money pushing out your content on the Internet. This may mean buying Facebook advertisements and creating sponsored posts to bring new readers and donors to your cause. Knowing your audience is key: do they consume media on their mobile phones or do they watch a lot television? That will make a difference on how you spend your advertisement budget.

At the same time, Coish says that email is your biggest resource. Contacting your supporters directly — or people who are interested in your organization’s work — is the most productive and effective way to reach your audience. Don’t completely rule out traditional media as well. Mail is now considered a novelty, so if someone gets a personal letter with information about a specific cause, there is a higher likelihood they will actually read it.

Lastly, it’s important to be authentic. As Simren Deogun, Director of Digital Innovation at Stephen Thomas, says: “These are real missions and real causes and we are trying to create real change. Be real and authentic. That is almost more important than anything else.”

“Digital is not the future,” Deogun said in her panel. “It’s happening around you. From the small charity with three employees to the multi-million non-profit, it’s the fight. It’s not size that drives their bravery.”

It takes a lot of courage to approach your CEO or charity founder and propose a digital campaign. It requires a lot of creative thinking, knowledge of the return, and an ability to take a risk. While making your proposal, remember to take your audience into account and tailor your content to their interests. If you plan, write informative yet entertaining content, and drive your cause out on the appropriate social channels, there is nothing you can’t do!

Do you have any tips for digital campaigns? Post them in the comments below!