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How Nova Scotia has used social media to nudge people to follow COVID-19 restrictions – CBC.ca

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While then premier Stephen McNeil implored people to “Stay the blazes home” during the first COVID-19 lockdown last year, Nova Scotia’s social media messaging has consistently taken a gentler, often humorous approach to encourage people to follow public health restrictions.

An undated photo shows a Nova Scotia health-care worker wearing personal protective equipment holding up a sticker that says, ‘I got my COVID-19 vaccine’ and a round Band-Aid with a smiley face drawn on it. Nova Scotia’s social media approach during the COVID-19 pandemic has adopted a similarly cheery tone. (Robert Short/CBC)

While then premier Stephen McNeil implored people to “Stay the blazes home” during the first COVID-19 lockdown last year, Nova Scotia’s social media messaging has consistently taken a gentler, often humorous approach to encourage people to follow public health restrictions.

Whether it’s two amorous Nova Scotians looking to “take things to the next level” by getting tested for COVID-19 or on “the worst Noël, the experts did say, limit our social circles and stay six feet away,” examples are abundant.

“In a heavy situation, it’s a way to break the ice with people,” said David Denny, the managing director of marketing for Communications Nova Scotia.

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He said the province’s social media channels have seen exponential growth since the pandemic began and record engagement on its posts.

For example, the province’s number of Facebook followers has tripled to almost 110,000 since the pandemic began, while its Instagram followers have increased almost tenfold to more than 36,000.

Denny attributes that in part to the videos that private companies have produced for the province to share on its social media channels.

Besides these videos, the province has paid for promoted posts, mainly on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These posts have included everything from geo-targeted promotion of a regional popup testing site to targeting a message to a specific demographic.

But it’s unclear how much this marketing effort has cost taxpayers.

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Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil made his ‘Stay the blazes home’ comment at a briefing in April 2020. (CBC)

A CBC News access-to-information request for invoices relating to the province’s COVID-19 social media marketing strategy revealed that 61 of the 196 invoices covering March 1, 2020, to July 15, 2021, did not have a total amount included. The incomplete invoices came from Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Invoices from the marketing firms and video production companies the province worked with included the full amounts. Part of that effort included working with paid influencers.

The use of influencers

“Sometimes people just don’t want to hear from government and the message is going to resonate more from a peer or someone that they feel is a peer, that they they look up to … they also have a larger [following] than we do, so it gets more eyeballs on the message and it sometimes can be delivered in a way that only that segment of the population can deliver it,” said Denny.

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One of those influencers is Halifax’s Alicia McCarvell, a body-positivity advocate who has 3.3 million followers on TikTok and 386,000 on Instagram.

The province paid Toronto marketing agency Shine Influencers $11,025 for McCarvell’s services for this video, as well as $15,687.50 to Canadian Content Studios to produce the video, which encourages people to get tested for COVID-19.

Another influencer, Andy Hay of Andy’s East Coast Kitchen, produced a video on how to make a Christmas dinner for under $50.

The province paid $3,955 to Toronto firm Diner Agency Inc. for the influencer partnership and video creation.

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Nova Scotia also used unpaid collaborations with local athletes and people within Black Nova Scotian and Indigenous communities to spread the word about getting vaccinated.

Dalhousie University marketing professor Mohammed El Hazzouri says Nova Scotia’s decision to use humour and thank people for following public health restrictions in their social media campaigns is effective. (Submitted by Mohammed El Hazzouri)

Dalhousie University marketing professor Mohammed El Hazzouri, who researches how people respond to public health messaging, said the province’s social media strategy adopts the right tone.

“When you use humour, when you are funny in your advertising, I think people are more receptive to that advertising,” he said. “People are not thinking about details of the advertisement or coming up with counter arguments to what you’re saying and so the message becomes more accepted.”

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Denny said that was part of the aim.

“That’s kind of our end goal because it was information that was important and information that at the end of the day was about keeping Nova Scotians safe,” he said. “And anything we could do to make that more shareable, we looked at.”

‘It’s a weird time’

At the end of some videos, a narrator thanks Nova Scotians for following public health restrictions.

“We know it’s a weird time and we know you get it, so thank you for staying home, following health advice and looking out for one another,” said the narrator.

El Hazzouri liked this.

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“I think this is very important, this acknowledgement of, ‘We’re working together on this,’” he said. “This is not a highly common approach. I haven’t seen it widely in Canada, so this one stood out for me, thanking Nova Scotians for following the rules.”

As the pandemic has evolved from staying home during the first lockdown to gradual reopenings and vaccinations — with some more lockdowns sprinkled in — Denny said the province is working to get more people vaccinated.

As of Friday, 75.9 per cent of Nova Scotians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“There are pockets of people who are harder to reach or who may be more hesitant,” said Denny. “We’ve taken steps to reach them and through targeted marketing efforts.”

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But while the province’s social media messaging has consistently offered a carrot to people, recent policies such as proof of vaccination to participate in non-essential activities and mandatory vaccinations for provincial civil servants amount to more of a stick.

“With these new policies in place … hopefully, that encourages people to to get vaccinated,” said Denny.

View Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 social media invoices covering March 1, 2020, to July 15, 2021.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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