#YEG Twitter Leaders Share Their Social Media Golden Rule

1. Karen Unland (@KarenUnland)

What she’s known for: She co-founded Taproot Edmonton. She also blogs and podcasts for Seen and Heard Edmonton, and is a pioneer for local journalism.

capture“Listen more than you talk.”

Social media gives you a license to hear people who care about the things you care about, so use it.


2. Rayanne Boychuk (@RayanneForbes)

What she’s known for: Previously, her “Heart of the City” column in the Edmonton Examiner, which promoted local charitable organizations. Now she is the Founder and Executive Director of The Graves Disease Foundation of Edmonton and a dedicated Community Engagement Coordinator at YESS.


“Use social media for the greater good of the community.”

I was lucky enough to meet countless non-profit workers in our city during my two-year run as a charity columnist at The Edmonton Examiner. I learned what our local organizations needed and didn’t need to succeed in helping Edmonton’s less fortunate and I continue to try to help spread their requests for assistance through my social media accounts. I believe that if you can help, you should! How great that we’re able to do that these days with a simple click of the ‘share’ button!

3. Deanne Ferguson (@BoxSocialYEG)

What she’s known for: She’s the founder and creator of Box Social Event Planning. She’s always tweeting things to do in the city, and is the go-to-girl for all things that keep your kids occupied!


“Talk to everyone.”

So many people start a social media account and wait for people to approach them to start a conversation. It loses the “social” part when you don’t put yourself out there. Jump into conversations, answer questions people ask, start a random conversation with someone else. I have met some of the coolest people through social media just by starting a random conversation with them one day.

4. Marty Chan (@Marty_Chan)

What he’s known for: He has written books, stage plays, radio dramas, television scripts and humor articles. But on Twitter, no one does a good socially relevant quip like Marty!

marty“Before you elbow your way into a Twitter conversation or post about a trending topic, take five minutes to figure out the context.”

It’ll save you hours of having to apologize for a misguided and ill-informed comment.

5. Linda Hong (@Lindork)

What she’s known for: Food and cats! Specifically, posting all the best Edmonton eats on her blog and promoting Edmonton Cat Festival (She’s the founder!).

Linda.PNG“Don’t just shout.”

Always take time to engage and interact with your followers, don’t just make your social media all about you. That applies if you’re posting personally or if you’re posting for a company. Social media is far more fun and interesting when you’re talking with people not just at them! Also, you can never go wrong with a cat photo. Ha!

6. Alexis Kienlen (@alexiskienlen)

What she’s known for: She’s an Edmonton based poet, journalist and fiction dabbler. On Twitter however, she’s shares great journalistic content and engaging articles.

Alexis.PNGYou don’t need to reply to everything.”

Sometimes listening to others is the best way to go. Don’t say things you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.



7. Kathleen Smith (@KikkiPlanet)

What she’s known for: Heating up the #Ableg feed with her sassy political tweets. Also for Cheetos, photos of heavenly home cooked meals, and using her voice for social justice (in no particular order).

kathleen.PNG“Don’t lose your humanity.”

In the heat of online interaction it’s far too easy to not only dehumanize the real live person on the other end of the connection, but to lose who we are as a result of feeling safe behind a computer screen that we often use as a shield. Don’t become one with your computer or device. Do your best to interact with others as though you are sitting face to face in a crowded coffee shop. Try to imagine the other person sitting across the table from you and how you would converse with them in person. Or think about meeting the person you’re engaging with someday and how you’d want that meeting to go. See them as a human being with their own stresses and life factors and you’re more likely to not forget who you are, as well. Hold on to your own humanity and you’re more likely to value the same in others. After all, it’s “social” media, not “seek and destroy” media. And if an online conversation gets very heated, remember that a sassy bit of self-deprecation can make just about anyone smile.

8.Devin Komarniski (@DevinKomarniski)

What he’s known for: Devin is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Bissell Centre, one of Edmonton’s most prominent non-profit agencies. He also co-owns Newley Sound Service with his wife. On Twitter, Devin can always be relied on to share a good motivational quote and local feel-good stories.

devin“Quality over quantity!”

By quality, I mean content that has a focus, tells a story, is aesthetically pleasing, and ultimately provides value to your audience. Ask yourself: would I comment on this and/or share it with my friends? If not, perhaps you should reconsider posting it. Your goal is to break through the noise, not add to it! Content that has a strong point of view and a standard of quality attracts and retains followers. Of course, if you can achieve quality and quantity, even better. Quality comes first though!

9. Dani Paradis (@DaniParadis)

What she’s known for: She writes for Metro Edmonton as their Urban Affairs Columnist, so if you’re looking to have your finger on the pulse of #YEG, her Twitter feed is a good place to start!

dani“Ask yourself ‘Why am I pressing send?'”

I always ask myself this question. Social media is good for all sorts of things- information, provocation, and wasting time to name a few. All of those things have a place, but it’s important to be mindful of why you’re engaging.


10. Dave Breakenridge (@BreakenridgeYEG)

What he’s known for: He’s the Managing Editor of Edmonton Journal so his two cents hold more weight than the average #YEG Tweeter. You’ll find up-to-the-minute news on his feed, sprinkled with some golden nuggets about fatherhood.

Dave.PNG“Try to know your own brand and your audience.”

Be yourself and be professional, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

These Food Brands Are Doing Holiday Visuals Right

If you’re in the business of selling food, there’s nothing more powerful than mouth-watering visual content. Below are five food brands that are using graphics to grow social media engagement in a stellar away.

1. REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups (@ReesesPBCups)

CwrGwfoVEAAf1oM.jpg large.jpg

One of REESE’S social media strengths is that they bring their personality in every post.

Here, they do this by letting their audience know that you don’t have to be a culinary connoisseur to make this Peanut Butter Temptations recipe. By placing the skill level text over each recipe graphic, and playfully referring to beginner level recipes as “Newbie”, they make their content more approachable for their audience. Humor, enthusiasm, and playfulness are contagious! And it shows here.

Let’s not forget about the strategic logo placement and the visually branded orange used on top of the image, too. This ensures that everyone who views this image (whether directly on REESE’S Twitter profile or from a retweet) will know exactly where it came from without having to click-through to the full recipe.

Humor, enthusiasm, and playfulness are contagious!

With 434 retweets and 1,800 likes on this post, this a social media marketing success that any food brand would be wise to replicate.

2. Becel Canada (@BecelCA)


The victory in this Lemon Crinkle Cookie recipe post is in its subtlety.

Here, the cookies take center stage, and let’s be honest – that’s what viewers want to see! By placing the branded butter tub in the background (just in focus enough to be identifiable) the branding is less overt.

For followers or social media users who see this post, it now feels more like an organic straight-from-the-kitchen cell phone snap, as opposed to the result of a branded product photo shoot. A great bonus for Becel! Now their post registers as authentic in the minds of viewers, in a world where many posts come across as “spammy”.

Remember, social media shouldn’t be all about you!

What makes this post even better? Becel Canada didn’t create it! A food blogger by the name of Jennifer (@momvstheboys on Twitter) did. Becel Canada simply retweeted the post! A fantastic way to reach their audience organically.

Remember, social media shouldn’t be all about you! Instead of sharing tweets that come across as “Look! We are great.” time after time, retweeting posts from others that show support for your product tells your followers “This person likes our product, and we appreciate that” instead. Much more credible!

3. Quaker Oats (@Quaker)


Sometimes, the no-nonsense, straightforward approach works. This post by Quaker is a testament to that.

Here, the branding is minimal: a simple logo in the top left hand corner. Quaker consistently uses this template when sharing photos of recipes, and that cohesion makes their Twitter feed visibly pleasing when visitors scroll through their tweets.

By sticking to what you do best, and doing it often, followers begin to trust your brand. Your profile, website, or blog becomes a resource they know they can depend on.

On Quaker’s profile, there are no unexpected surprises. Just quality images with food at the forefront, and it works! It makes finding an appetizing recipe easy for their audience, while still working in their favor for brand recognition and reach.

By sticking to what you do best, and doing it often, followers begin to trust your brand. Your profile, website, or blog becomes a resource they know they can depend on.

With 187,000 Twitter followers, Quaker is a prime example of a trusted brand doing visual content correctly.

4. Kahlua (@KahluaUS)


People on the internet consume content faster than ever before. People form a first impression online in a mere 50 milliseconds. That’s not a lot of time to convince someone to share or engage with your content.

The average click-through rate on Twitter is 1.64 per cent. If you have 5,000 followers, that means on average 80 people will click the links you share. And the more followers you have, the lower your click through rate is.

With this post, Kahlua understood that. They could have easily only posted the image, directly viewers to click on a link to the recipe…but they didn’t. Instead, they took the time to place the recipe on the graphic itself. Why?

Putting an extra step in between viewers and the purpose of your content only hurts you. The purpose of this post for Kahlua was to entice their audience to want to buy their product to make this particular drink. But if the viewer has to click-through to see the recipe in order to decide if this is a drink they would like, you’ve now put a hurdle in their way.

The average click-through rate on Twitter is 1.64 per cent. If you have 5,000 followers, that means on average 80 people will click the links you share. And the more followers you have, the lower your click-through rate is.

So what does it all mean? Sometimes, it’s less effective to ask people to click a link. And this was one of those cases.

By putting the recipe on the image, Kahlua enabled their viewers to decide if they liked the recipe immediately. This increased the likelihood of them hitting retweet if the recipe appealed to them.With each retweet, exponentially more people will see the recipe, which means more people will consider buying Kahlua in order to make it.

If you have a particular goal in mind with your visual content, consider taking this same step yourself!

5. Maple Leaf Foods (@MapleLeafFoods)


Sometimes the best branding doesn’t seem like branding at all. With this image, Maple Leaf Foods has marketed itself to 23,000 Twitter followers, and many of them may not even know that it’s happened.

Appehtite.ca is Maple Leaf Food’s online recipe magazine (we love the Canadian quip in App”eh”tite). When you visit the site though, there isn’t much that tells visitors the site is owned by Maple Leaf Foods. You’d have to scroll wayyy down to the bottom and read the copyright text in the footer to put two and two together!

However, when you start reading the recipes, it becomes more clear. Each recipe calls for a Maple Leaf Foods product of some kind.

This is a wonderful example of marketing that puts the audience first! Maple Leaf Foods understands that recipes are of major appeal to their viewers, and the less they feel propositioned to buy into a specific brand, the more open they are to viewing them.

Appehtite is their way of reaching interested audience members, while making their content less about Maple Leaf Foods and more about delicious meals. The fact that these delicious meals can just-so-happen to be made with Maple Leaf products, well, that’s a bonus!

This image tells viewers that they can make this delicious bowl of hearty turkey chili by visiting appehtite.ca, and for Maple Leaf Foods, that’s enough.

From there, their audience can decide to purchase their products to complete the recipe. But it’s up to them! And that the beauty of subtle (but effective) marketing.

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3 Ways to Improve Your Hashtag Game

If you have any social media marketing knowledge at all, you are likely aware that hashtags are one of the most crucial parts of building a strong online brand (especially on Twitter).

With that being said, not just any hashtag will do. It seems silly that the little pound sign in front of words in a Tweet can be a complex marketing tool, but it truly is.

So, how can you make the most of this tool? I’d recommend the following.

3 Ways to Improve Your Hashtag Game

1. Be specific

Any word can be made into a hashtag, but that doesn’t mean that word will be effective, especially if the word is generic. For example, if you own a take-out pizza place, you could use #Pizza in your tweets. The issue with this, however, would be that people all over the world are using #Pizza. So, when one of your followers clicks on this hashtag, it’s doubtful they will find anything that relates to your business. Instead, they’ll be left sorting through millions of tweets from across the globe about this favorite food staple.

If your hashtag is too generic, your followers will be left sorting through millions of tweets from across the globe to find the content that is relevant to them. Help them get to that content more quickly with a more tailored tag.

Instead, try getting a little more specific. One example of this comes from my own city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Many pizza joints and restaurants use the hashtag #YEGPizza (YEG being the airport code for Edmonton). This is much more productive, since it narrows down the results to pizza that is in Edmonton only.

By doing this, followers of your pizza place will be able to click on #YEGPizza and find tweets from eateries within their own city – a much more relevant feed of content. Also, seeing you engage in this online feed will position you as an active, engaged participant in the Edmonton pizza community. A great boost for your brand!

There are many ways that you can make your hashtags more specific. You can add your location (as done above), reference specific brands (using #Starbucks as opposed to #Coffee), or even create your own hashtag that followers will readily identify with (Nike has taken their infamous “Just Do It” slogan and turned it into #JustDoIt on Twitter. They use this hashtag whenever they reply to a follower who has Tweeted to them about working out, and it has now become a motivational feed for athletic Twitter users around the world).

So before your next tweet, ask yourself “Am I being specific enough?”.

2. Don’t commit hashtag spam – it’s a crime!


Too many hashtags can result in your tweets looking like spam to your followers. Stick to one or two to keep your viewers engaged!

Have you found yourself wanting to fit as many hashtags into a tweet as you possibly can? Well, I’m here to tell you to stop.

Tweets that contain more than two hashtags immediately see a 17 per cent decrease in engagement.

To viewers, tweets with numerous hashtags can look like spam. The abundance of tags can seem desperate, and your tweet loses credibility. To keep viewers from scrolling past your tweets, stick to one or two hashtags (three at absolute maximum), and make them as pertinent to your audience as possible.

For example, are you tweeting about the upcoming 2017 Superbowl? Use their #SB51 hashtag as opposed to the blanket #Superbowl one. That way, your viewers know you are speaking about this year’s event. Using the latter means your tweet will be buried in with every #Superbowl tweet ever posted, from any year. Way less effective!

Tweets that contain more than two hashtags immediately see a 17 per cent decrease in engagement.

Also, this is the Superbowl-approved hashtag for the event, so it will deliver the most results. It’s the hashtag that sports channels will be using, as well as all official team accounts. Thus, there’s no need to keep adding tags like #Football or #Sports. Your audience will be watching the #SB51 feed, so that’s the best place to connect.

In the end, one succinct, fitting tag is better than a tweet full of hashtag spam!

3. Who else is using this hashtag?

This is a question every person utilizing social media should ask themselves when selecting a hashtag. Twitter has 317 million users, which makes it outstandingly likely that someone else is using the same hashtag as you.

In some cases, it’s okay that someone else is using your hashtag. For example, if you are a bakery that has just made a fresh batch of macarons, using #Macarons is a great idea! That way, people who are interested in delicious confections (and who don’t already know who you are) can see your talent. However, you may want to pair this hashtag with another one that is more specific. For example, if your bakery is in New York City, you could use #Macarons and #NYCBakery, so that people know where to find you.

Twitter has 317 million users, which makes it outstandingly likely that someone else is using the same hashtag as you.

However, if you are a company that is planning a charity fundraising event, you don’t want people clicking on your hashtag and finding other charity events that are also taking place. You want them to find YOUR event, and give to YOUR cause. This is an example of why it’s beneficial to always ask “Who else is using this hashtag?”.

Maybe someone else has already been using #CharityGala, but you can make it unique by adding your company’s name, like so: #SunSpaCharityGala. Or, you can create a specific name for your event and use it as the hashtag, with the year (Ex. #SunnyGala2016).

You may have to get a little creative, but it will pay off in the end when your social media followers are finding you easily and engaging at higher rates.

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Welcome to The Social Pen

When considering the creation of The Social Pen, it was imperative to me that there be value in my vision. There had to be something that could be taken away from this blog, something that readers could use and implement in their own lives.

Social Media, by nature, is a selfish concept. It allows you to broadcast to the world what you are doing, the things you like, and all the details of your life. Hundreds upon thousands of accounts, both personal and business, utilize social media in this way. Heck, I’m one of them. I’m guilty of snapping photos of the meals I cook for Instagram, or tweeting out my own opinions about politics. There’s something therapeutic about sending your thoughts out into the world-wide web, like casting a coin into a wishing well. It’s part of the human condition, I believe, to want to toss your line out into the endless pond that is the internet. Partly because of curiosity (there really isn’t any knowing what you’ll hook). But also because there’s that small chance that someone out there shares your same thoughts, feelings or opinions. There are connections to be made, of all kinds, and all it takes it one “like” on a post to remind us of that.


The Social Pen: Where we take the timeless writing fundamentals of the past, the cutting edge social media tools of today, and use them both to create content for the future.

But I believe there is power in social media beyond self-indulgence. When used properly, much like any form of media, it has the ability to truly create change.

People have been using the pen to write the truth since it was invented.

Fighters, revolutionary’s, and free-thinkers have seen this opportunity in media for much longer than I can attest to. People have been using the pen to write the truth since it was invented. And before it, they used their voices to tell stories.

Today, the potential to communicate in a way that results in change is the same. It’s the ability to be heard by the masses in (essentially) an instant that is different.

And that’s where social media comes in.

Social media hasn’t rewritten the message. People largely still want to communicate the same things they have for hundreds of years – love, comedy, knowledge. At its core, content endures time. But what social media has done is this: it’s taken the carrier pigeon, and replaced it with a lightening-speed delivery system, where stories travel nearly as fast as the thoughts that conceive them.

Hopefully, through The Social Pen, we’ll all be inspired to use social media (and the web) for far more than selfies and cat videos (although there will always be a need for the occasional cat video).

So, how do we use this system? How do we make the most of it so the messages that need to be heard, are heard?

After much thought, that is the purpose of this blog. It’s about learning how to adjust the knobs of the machine that is the internet, program the settings just-so, and use the most effective fuel, so that it gets you to where you need to go, as fast as you need to get there.

That’s what The Social Pen is. It’s a new take on an old classic. I’ll be writing (as people always have), but in a 21st century way. I’ll be penning articles that teach you how to navigate the ever-evolving world-wide web. And hopefully, through The Social Pen, we’ll all be inspired to use social media (and the web) for far more than selfies and cat videos (although there will always be a need for the occasional cat video).

Let’s use it as the tool of influence it really is. So, what do you say?

Click the SUBSCRIBE button to your right if you’re interested, and be sure to follow The Social Pen on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest info!