Digital Marketing, SEO and My Life as a 20-Something

Tag: thoughts

5 Things I Learned In My First Semester Studying Digital Marketing

After returning to school in January to begin a post-graduate program in digital media marketing, I often get asked, what the heck is digital marketing? What do you learn about? It was a whirlwind three months and I learned more than I could list here, but here are 5 key takeaways from my first semester.

Five Things I Learned In My First Semester of Digital Marketing

A whole lot of hard skills

Content marketing, Facebook ads, marketing strategy, Google Analytics, social listening, e-mail marketing, RFM, LTV, marketing research, building personas, paid ads, SEO…you name it, I probably learned it. Digital marketers require a multitude of skills and an extensive toolbox to draw from and I certainly got a good start on building mine.

Everything must come back to your marketing and business objectives

It’s easy to stray from your game plan when you’re focused on creating engaging content and making the most of all the tools digital marketers have at our disposal. But one thing that was really drilled into my head is that everything you do must help achieve your business objectives. The ultimate goal of marketing and business is to be profitable, and if that doesn’t happen then the only thing you’ll be managing is your own LinkedIn while searching for a new job.

Marketers are constantly learning

(I mean, this is true for everybody, but especially important in digital marketing) Our world is changing at an increasing pace, and marketing is no exception to that rule. Many of our courses didn’t even have textbooks, because they would be out of date by the time they were published. Digital marketers need to stay on top of changes and trends to make the most of what’s available and to be where their audiences are. Stay current by reading industry blogs and publications, and always find ways to keep upgrading and adding new skills.

You can’t be an expert at everything

As a professor once said ‘you don’t need to know how to do everything yourself, but you need to understand how it works so you can pay someone to do it for you.’ We laughed, but it’s true! You can’t do everything, but you need to understand enough to know what can be done and to communicate effectively with the person tasked with the job. You don’t need to code your own website, but you should know enough to talk with your web developer, and you should be able to do basic things like a blog post or update copy on a website without expert help! Stay informed, but know your limit and bring others on board when you need them

Data…data…and more data!

There’s so much data out there which presents many opportunities as well as nightmares for marketers. On the downside, there are increasing concerns and legislation about consumer privacy and use of data (Cambridge Analytica and GDPR anyone?), and even many marketers don’t know how to interpret the data and analytics available and how to act it it. On the plus side, data helps us better understand and segment our audiences, do incredibly targeted communications and understand the impact of our communications, from impressions and engagement to the all important ROI. Regardless, in an increasingly data driven world, data and analytics are two things digital marketers must understand and be able to act on.

It’s an exciting time to be in the digital marketing field, and I couldn’t be happier with my career choice. Do you have any questions about studying digital marketing? Do you need help with your own digital marketing? Let’s connect.

Why Real Young Women Make Real Good Role Models

“Role models really matter.  It’s hard to imagine yourself as something you don’t see.” –Chelsea Clinton

The Oxford Dictionary defines a role model as ‘a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated’. Despite this seemingly clear and simple definition, it is often widely debated whom and what constitutes a ‘proper’ role model. That’s not the topic of this post, because who am I to determine whether or not someone is a good role model to another person, who has life experiences, circumstances, and dreams different than my own?

What I will highlight, is one group who I think is greatly overlooked, despite being very important role models for our young girls. This group is young women.

It’s something that’s really dawned on me in recent months, and has been probably both the most profound, as well as unexpected, revelation of my time in Québec.

Camp counsellors, student teachers, coaches, babysitters, cousins. I hope everybody can think of a few teenagers or young adults who you viewed as a God during your youth, I’m fortunate to have had many. Based on my many years of working with young people, I can conclude that young adults are a source of great mystery to children, sometimes to the point of absolute hilarity (ohhh the questions I’ve been asked!). We’re adults to them in terms of age and authority, yet in a different way than their parents, aunts, uncles, and teachers, with our lack of cars, houses, children, and matching socks. But I guess that’s what makes us so intriguing, and why they relate to us differently.

Furthermore, tweens, particularly girls, really seem to gravitate towards young women, and this is something we should not and cannot ignore.

A lot of the girls I’ve worked with over the years have helped me come to this realization, but there are a few who really stand out to me, because I think I stand out to them. I can’t talk about them here, oh I wish I could, as their beautiful smiles and courageous hearts are the reason I am writing this, and why I have promised myself to always try to be in touch with this age group somehow.

Now, the young women who (I hope) are reading this, you may be thinking ‘What can I do, I still need role models of my own, I can’t be a role model to anybody else’. I used to think this too, and sometimes still doubt myself in this regard. But trust me when I say that you are being watched and you can have an incredible impact on some younger lives. The late elementary and middle school years are a time where girls’ confidence and self-esteem often plummets, but with your help it doesn’t have to be that way, perhaps it could even be a time where it soars.

But what they need, is they need you to silence the boy who speaks over them. They need you to pass them the ball during a soccer game. They need you to ask them a second, maybe third time to attend an extra-curricular activity they weren’t quite sure about but deep down really want to attend. And most importantly, they need you to say Hi. How are you? See you next time!

You don’t need to be a celebrity to do this, you don’t even need to have a job, you only need to be you, because that’s what our girls need most. They need you to be real and present in their everyday lives, not someone who only exists to them on television screens and Instagram posts. They need to see you wearing clothes from the local mall, not expensive designer items. They need to see you walking in the rain because you don’t have a car, never mind an expensive luxury one. They need to see that your skin and hair are not always perfect (mine sure aren’t). They need to see you eating your lunch with your fingers because you forgot a fork and were too lazy to walk to the staff room (true story, maybe I shouldn’t admit to this stuff online). Believe it or not, these things are really, really important.

There’s room for role models who make mistakes. -Taylor Swift

They need you to not just be relatable in the present, but a preview of who they can be in the future. Yes, some of them could go on to be famous musicians, athletes and politicians, and we shouldn’t stop them from dreaming big. But most of them are going to end up like you. You may be either horrified or laughing at that but I mean it in a good way. Because you are real. Unlike celebrities or fictional characters, they can, and most likely will, be like you one day.

That’s not to say that all media is terrible, and I can think of many who take being a role model seriously and try to use the platforms they have in a positive way, and I sincerely applaud their efforts. Role models in media can be important; this could be a young person’s only connection to people like them. This is not something I experienced growing up but for many this is true. Yet still, at the end of the day, are they the best we can do for our girls?

So, what am I trying to say here? Ladies, you are being watched. Don’t worry, not in a ‘walk holding your keys pretending to talk to someone on the phone’ kind of way. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you don’t need to become a crusader for female empowerment. But a little bit of time here and there, maybe volunteering in a community or school program, or simply spending some time with a cousin or neighborhood child, all while simply being yourself, has the potential to change a girl’s world. They will admire you even more when they see that you really are being your true self and not someone that other people want or tell you to be. Don’t let this stress you out, but don’t waste this opportunity either. I don’t want to say you owe it to them, but I don’t think you’ll regret it either.

If each generation takes a little bit of time to nurture the next one, we will unleash even more of the incredible, positive power that already lies within all of us. Young ladies, you can help unleash more of this power than you may realize, and our girls are waiting for you to go and turn that key together.

Role models can inspire. Campaigns can motivate. But if we want all girls everywhere to rise up, then we must find them, befriend them and support them. –Queen Rania of Jordan
















Leadership Where We’re Not Looking

There’s a lot of things that baffle me about this crazy world we live in. And I don’t mind not understanding it all. But there’s one thing that’s been really bothering me for a while now, and it’s something we need to have a discussion about.

And that is, how many times I’ve been asked “Are you studying business?”

I laugh every time because I really don’t understand why people who know almost nothing about me jump to that conclusion. Is it because I ventured into the community beyond the campus bubble? Is it because I care about things like politics and volunteering? Because of how I dress? Because I’ve taken the time to network and attend community events? Because I’m a young, white, educated middle-class person?

Whatever it is, it reflects a wider problem in our communities and society of how we envision leadership and who should step up into those roles. We shouldn’t presume that someone doesn’t have the capability or interest to be a leader based on their field of study or career.

We should be encouraging everybody to take some sort of leadership, volunteering or other role creating some sort of a positive impact in a community/other people’s lives, because everybody is capable of doing so, although it may not be in traditionally thought of ways.

Furthermore, why do business programs seem to be the only ones that teach their students about networking, innovation and entrepreneurship? Why do politicians only visit political science classes and student government meetings? If we truly want students to receive a well-rounded education to contribute to society in meaningful and diverse ways, then we need to offer well-rounded and diverse opportunities to all. We should be encouraging our education and psychology students to volunteer on a non-profit board. And we should be encouraging our business and engineering students to go volunteer in a school. And when a politician comes to talk on campus, we need to make sure everybody is invited, because their work impacts every single person on that campus, and voices from all areas should be represented and shared with them.

Diversity of leadership needs to be about more than race, gender and other traditionally thought of indicators of diversity. We need to be mindful of diversity of education, life experience, passions, skills, and whatever other unique perspectives individuals can bring to the table. I think it’s pretty cool that our current prime minister was a teacher, and not just your standard economist/lawyer/political scientist/other old rich white dude career, and I want to see this more often. We need to see this more often.

Now I know not every so-called ‘leader’ is a business person or political science major. I’ve been learning more and more that life tends to take you down unexpected paths, and those who are meant to lead seem to eventually find their way there no matter what their initial path was. But imagine what our communities could be like if we searched for and nurtured these leaders earlier on, instead of leaving them to find their own way there?

So in the meantime, I will continue to chuckle every time I respond with “I study childhood and I work in a school.” I’ll continue to not quite fit the stereotype of what a leader should look like, and I hope that you too can push aside your preconceived notions of who a leader should be, especially young ones, and offer such opportunities to all those who seek and are suited for them, regardless of whatever life or career path they’ve set out upon.


Homecoming is More Than Broughdale

I knew I wanted to write something about homecoming, but as I sit down to write this I’m a little bit stuck on what to say. A lot has already been said, and from the practical perspective (policing measures, university collaboration etc.) I don’t really have anything new to add. So I figured I’d throw out my own homecoming experience (which was absolutely FANTASTIC), to remind everybody there’s more to homecoming than what happens on Broughdale.

My homecoming was a 16 hour day and I’m not afraid to say that there was alcohol involved, just not in ridiculous amounts and never consumed on the street. My morning was spent on campus; what the USC organized was great and I they need to continue to build upon it to get more students on campus for homecoming. The pancake breakfast could turn into a barbecue, bring more musicians up on stage…there’s so much that could be done with that event and I encourage the USC to continue to explore and experiment with the possibilities. It will take time to get the homecoming culture off the (literal) street, but I do believe students will be receptive to this if presented with the right alternatives.

After lunch and a purple beer at the Spoke, I had fun at the football game, where Western just defines ‘go big or go home’. I mean, we have a horse at our football games, a horse! My sister is an alumni of U of T so I took extra joy in watching their defeat. Walking home through the Broughdale area things were quiet and while I was honestly embarrassed to see the mess, I did have a little chuckle at the 6 cross-armed, tough looking cops standing at the start of the infamous, now empty Broughdale Avenue. A quick stop at a house party confirmed that it’s not my idea of fun, and I left as soon as I could.

My evening started at a friend’s place, and soon migrated to downtown. There was a large but not unreasonable police presence, and I personally never saw anybody causing trouble. I think closing Richmond in the Richmond Row area is a smart move for the safety of all, and something else that has potential for positive celebration. Small street festival anybody? Music? Food trucks? (Oh wait, I forgot I was back in London). But you get the point. The street usually gets closed anyways, so why don’t we make the most of it? Yes it was busy but there was a fantastic vibe; nobody was looking to cause trouble, we were just wanted to have a good time and celebrate our fantastic school. I very rarely go to bars but if I had nights like that more often then I sure would!

I guess you can make the argument that the people on the street in Broughdale were also just wanted to have a good time and weren’t necessarily looking to cause trouble. That’s certainly a case where we need to find a better balance, but Broughdale is just one street of one big city that’s home to one big university. Please remember that most were celebrating like me, in respectful and safe ways, if they even celebrated at all.

I love my school, and I can honestly say that coming here was one of the best decisions I ever made. I never seriously considered attending until I visited for an open house, but I left knowing deep down that it was the place for me. My final student homecoming is one that I will always remember, and I can guarantee that I’ll be back as a very proud alumni.

Western is an amazing institution, one that we are incredibly lucky to have in this city. Homecoming is a celebration of this school and what it has done for the thousands over the years who have trudged up UC hill, braved the geese, spent hours in our libraries, survived London’s crazy winters, and who have gone on to make this city, this country, and this world a better place because of what they learned and who they became during their time at Western.

To be honest, I don’t have a perfect solution to the homecoming problem. But I do know that whatever way we do address this problem will need to involve collaboration, understanding, and celebrating each other’s strengths. Let’s celebrate with Western, because Western deserves to be celebrated. It’s possible, I know it is, so let’s keep working towards a real solution instead of a polarizing, band-aid “fix”.


Despite The Bad Press, Don’t Paint All Student Leaders With The Same Brush

Recent events that have happened on post-secondary campuses are entirely unacceptable and need the attention and discussion they have rightfully gained. However, for every student leader who does something attracting negative attention, there are countless others doing incredible things on our post-secondary campuses, incredible things in their own right as well as a lot of hard work to educate people about and discourage the events that we have become all too familiar with.

This is my third year as a resident assistant, and each year I go through approximately 8 full days of training to help me do my job. Some of the topics we cover include mental health, SafeTALK (suicide alertness), gender diversity and LGBTQ issues, and sexual assault disclosure support. This training is not left behind in August. We work hard everyday to educate our students, support those who need it, and to promote a community, a campus, and a world that is safer and more inclusive for all. 

I’ve dealt with some pretty heavy stuff. Stuff that even if I was allowed to talk about it, I’d rather not. Many people question why I do my job, and how I deal with some of the things that come up. I do it because I know I make a difference, and I know I’ve kept people safe, maybe even saved lives. I do it because of the people who have influenced my life in the past and so I can hopefully do the same for those who follow behind me. 

The student leaders you sometimes hear about in the media wear shirts saying “Fuck Safe Space”. The student leaders you don’t often hear about wear their staff/organization shirts with pride (and to be honest they might be a little bit smelly because sometimes laundry takes low priority in our busy schedules!). The student leaders you sometimes hear about in the media write articles about how to “date” (aka sexually harass) your TA. The student leaders you don’t often hear about are busy writing notes of encouragement to their students during midterm season, maybe with some candy attached that they paid for with their own money. The student leaders you sometimes hear about in the media are using cheers promoting rape culture. The student leaders you don’t often hear about are cheering on their student who is a varsity athlete at a game, or providing a supportive listening ear to a student who is homesick. 

These events are unfortunate, and each time they happen I am utterly shocked that people think such actions are still acceptable in this day and age. As a student leader myself I am also embarrassed, particularly when they happen at the school I am extremely proud to be a student of. But remember, the ones who receive the most attention are not the norm. Next time you see a student leader, ask them about they work they do; they will probably be eager to share, because what they do really is incredible. Sit down for a bite to eat with them because they probably forgot to schedule that in, or better yet, buy them a coffee. (yes, definitely buy them a coffee, and none of this decaf crap please) And remember to say thank you, because they make our post-secondary institutions wonderful places and I am confident that our work will trickle beyond the ivory towers to make our world a better place.

Sharing the Road the Swedish Way

One of the most depressing parts of coming back home from Europe was getting on my bike again. It wasn’t the bike itself that was the problem (although I can definitely feel that I haven’t been biking much for 3 weeks, owww), but rather where I am forced to ride. I spent most of my time in Malmö, Sweden on foot, but also got the chance to bike a bit, so I was really able to get a good sense of how the streets there work, and I was beyond impressed. Of the 5 countries/cities I visited during this trip (Malmö, Copenhagen, London, Berlin, and Amsterdam), Malmö is where I felt the balance between cars/bikes/and pedestrians was the best and where I felt the safest and most relaxed getting around.

A bit jet lagged, but ready to head out after class on my first full day in Malmö!

A bit jet lagged, but ready to head out after class on my first full day in Malmö!

In North America we often hear about the “war on the car”. This drives me nuts as it shouldn’t be this way. There should be no war on anybody. In Malmö, I felt that everybody respected each other’s place on the road and the infrastructure helped to facilitate and ease this process. We need to create streets that provide a safe place for everyone to get where they need to be. Most importantly, we need to respect everybody’s choice in how they get around. Obviously I am a supporter of walking, biking, and public transit, but simple respect and awareness of everybody on the street, regardless of their mode of transportation, will make our streets safer for everybody.

One of my favorite things about the bike infrastructure in Malmö is that most of it isn’t actually on the road. Generally speaking the sidewalks are much wider than ours, leaving enough space for both pedestrians and cyclists. Depending where you are there may be a marked lane for cyclists, or it may be a shared path. This is generally well signed, although on the first day it took a bit of time as a pedestrian to figure out where I could walk! Crosswalks have a marked area for pedestrians and another for bikes, and often have a signal light specifically for cyclists. Generally speaking cyclists have the right of way over both cars and pedestrians, there are some crossings etc. where a car would have to stop for a pedestrian but not necessarily for a bike, but that’s not totally relevant and difficult to explain here. Those of you who follow me on twitter may remember my tweet about how my Swedish visitors to Canada laughed when they saw our bike lanes and how unprotected and dangerous they are. Once I saw theirs, I understood!

I don’t really have that much more to say on the topic, I plan on sharing a bit more about what I saw in the other cities I visited, but that will have to wait for later, I just wanted to share a bit about my experience and try to show it to you! To finish off this post, here’s some pictures that I took in Malmö of the streets and cycling infrastructure. My fingers are crossed that I won’t have to go back to Sweden to experience this type of infrastructure and safety again on the street, but that we will finally bring it to Canada to create safer streets for everybody, particularly those who choose active forms of transportation.

Sign signalling that bikes are on the left, pedestrians on the right (generally bikes would have smooth asphalt, while the pedestrians would have interlocking brick, etc.)

Sign signalling that bikes are on the left, pedestrians on the right (generally bikes would have smooth asphalt, while the pedestrians would have interlocking brick, etc. to designate a boundary between the two)

Out front of Malmö Hogskola, where I studied for the week. SO MANY BIKES! The sign notes a shared bike/pedestrian sidewalk with no designated space/lane for bikes.

Out front of Malmö Hogskola, where I studied for the week. SO MANY BIKES! The sign notes a shared bike/pedestrian sidewalk with no designated space/lane for bikes.

I found this really powerful, a representation of how many bikes can take the space of one car.

I found this really powerful, a representation of how many bikes can take the space of one car.

It was hard to get pictures of the intersections, but the right is where pedestrians cross and the left (between the diamonds) is for bikes. The pedestrian signal is on the right and the skinny signal in the middle of the picture is for bikes.

It was hard to get pictures of the intersections, but the right is where pedestrians cross and the left (between the diamonds) is for bikes. The pedestrian signal is on the right and the skinny signal in the middle of the picture is for bikes.

What I’ve Learned in Seven Months of Physiotherapy

-no pain no gain. but not too much pain, back off when you need to, especially if you’re in the middle of a flare up.

-I will always take pleasure in the looks on people’s faces when my wrist cracks so loud that they can hear it.

-your physiotherapist is just as frustrated as you are that you’re still not better after 7 months of treatment.

-don’t take the medication that makes you drowsy before a 3 hour night class.

-it is a truly exciting day when you finally get to go to the fun area and do new exercises, even if those exercises are exhausting and boy have I lost strength in my entire arm.

-those times where I can’t feel my fingers? they suck. and they just won’t go away.

-sometimes, even the best doctors in the world can’t find a diagnosis.

-but your pain is still legitimate and don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

-it’s fun to make up stories to tell drunk boys on new years about how you hurt your wrist, stories that involve bears, falling out of trees, Algonquin Park, and “that thing where you have to carry the canoe yourself, ugh”.

-i used to hate early morning appointments, but now i intentionally schedule them for the beautiful sunrises and morning peace that I get to enjoy on the walk there.

-the polar vortex is a legitimate excuse to cancel physio.

– life tends to take you down the most unexpected paths, and every cloud has a silver lining, some are just harder to spot than others.

-I have a whole new level of respect for anybody living with chronic pain or a physical disability.

-and the most important thing i’ve learned? Don’t go roller skating. Just trust me on this one.