I recently launched a new website featuring my visual art (aside from photography). My work is also represented through R Studio Home Gallery, which is a private gallery featuring the work of several Edmonton artists. One of my pieces recently sold, which is very exciting.
On November 18, I presented a professional development talk for artists on the topic of “Social Media for Beginners.” It was organized by Visual Arts Alberta/CARFAC and was held in Stony Plain at the Multicultural Heritage Centre. We covered a lot of information and I was asked to post my notes and video so that the participants could review what they had learned. The video is about an hour long – for some reason it stopped recording during the second part of my talk/first part of the Q&A, but most of the presentation is there.
Short Biographical Introduction
I am a freelance writer, photographer, and videographer who has also been working as a social media consultant for the past decade or so. I became interested in social media especially after starting to document Edmonton’s activist scene visually, and using social media as a platform to share my photos and videos. Some of you may be familiar with VAAA’s exhibit Art + Activism in 2016, which featured a number of my photos. Over the years, I have learned a lot about the use of social media for community organizing, for marketing, and for communications in general.
Why market using social media/online?
- Broader audience
- Audience is often self-selecting – reaching people who are truly interested in your work.
- Can sometimes be a younger, more savvy audience.
- Relevance – using social media today is like having a website was 10 years ago. It is essential to present yourself as active in your art.
Specific Media/Online Platforms and their Benefits & Pitfalls (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr/photo sharing sites, Blogs)
- DO use hashtags – makes posts searchable
- DON’T tag people in pictures they do not appear in. Good way to get de-friended. There are other ways to get people’s attention.
- DO make a page for your art. Pages are always public. This way you don’t have to make things on your personal page public and have security concerns about strangers trolling your profile. Use your logo (if you have one) as your profile pictures. Use a compelling cover photo, such as one of your best pieces.
- 1-2 posts per day, spread out by 1/2 to 1 hour (they can be pre-set to roll out at specific times).
- Multimedia posts get better audience engagement. Add photos and videos whenever possible.
- Hashtags are key. Otherwise you get lost in the noise.
- Pictures no longer take away from the 140 characters, so post.
- Engage – don’t just advertise
- 3-5 tweets per day, maximum, on average. Space them out. They can be scheduled in advance.
- Optimum tweeting time during business hours Mon.-Fri.
- Between 5-8 p.m. people are coming home from work, occupied with getting fed, etc.
- If you are going to post a lot, Twitter is the place to do it, like live-tweeting events.
- Be descriptive – you have the room.
- Hashtags. Hashtags. Hashtags.
- Can be connected to Twitter and other social media platform for cross-posting ease.
- 2-4 posts per day, spread out timewise.
- Algorithm is such that fewer posts over a longer period do better.
Hootsuite allow you to cross-post between multiple social media platforms, making individual posts for each. This is ideal as it lets you work from your desktop (or phone) and write up your posts at once, instead of having to visit each platform individually, including all of your hashtags. You can time posts, and have your Instagram posts sent to your phone to post (Instagram only works on phones, not iPads or laptops). The only drawback is you can’t tag people in Tweets. There is a small fee to use it professionally and have up to 10 social profiles.
There are ways to “push” posts between platforms. You can set your Facebook statuses to also Tweet, and Instagram posts to appear on FB and Twitter. However: for key posts, post separately between your different platforms. FB, Twitter, and Instagram can have different audiences. Post “pushes” create links in Twitter that someone has to choose to click through on Someone may not click through on an Instagram link that appears in a tweet – and the photo does not otherwise appear – but they may notice a tweet with an actual photo in it.
The least “personal” of all social media sites, but it gives you an extra presence online and it is considered highly professional to have one. Good way to make professional connections.
Flickr/Photo Sharing Sites
- Good way to upload and keep images organized in albums
- Ideal for photographers
- Almost can work like a virtual storage backup system without depending on the Cloud
WordPress – most intuitive, free. Allows you to set up a blog and a website at the same time. Easy to upload media and make galleries of images.
Blogger – was the go-to site before WordPress, still used
Tumblr – can be used like a photo blog; used more by the younger, hipster set, mostly images and memes
Social Media Marketing Best Practices (Including writing and photography tips for posts)
- Reserve your user name, even if you are not going to use that platform immediately. You’re protecting your brand. (eg. Boyle McCauley News – we wanted on Instagram @bmcnews to match our Twitter and FB but it was already taken by the time we registered).
- Put your best efforts forward – you can take good photos with an iPhone of visual art. Make sure the lighting is good, the images are straight, and never hesitate to edit your work afterwards. If your goal is to sell your work, then you want to post something that is sellable.
- At the same time, you might want to also show other sides of your work – maybe shots of you working in your studio, images hanging in a gallery – variety builds engagement.
- Interactions also builds engagement. Don’t just post with a sales pitch – get into conversations. Take part. This helps you get known in an online community.
- If you’re not a naturally good writer, don’t worry. Keep your sentences short. Use spellcheck. You can write posts in a word processing program first and then copy/paste them into Facebook or Twitter.
- Connect your website with your social media – include links to your social media from your website. WordPress makes this easy with social media “plug ins.”
- Always try to include a link to your website from your social media posts. The goal is to get traffic to see your work, and sell your work, and promote your work for shows.
Copyright Issues and Protecting Your Work
Read the fine print: some platforms, when you post on them, make a claim to “own” your work. That they can use it for their own marketing purposes. The chances this would happen are slim, but if it’s real and it bothers you, then there are ways around that. Watermark your visual images – this is also a way to deter others from downloading them and re-posting them without credit. There can be opt-outs too, like with Facebook, you can opt out of having your image used in ads.
Make sure you know the copyright options – for example, on Flickr you can have your images be All Rights Reserved, or you can set them for Creative Commons where they can be used for non-profit purposes.
In my opinion, the benefits of marketing on social media outweigh the drawbacks.
The results are in for VUE Weekly’s Best of Edmonton 2017 (an annual readers’ survey), and I am overjoyed to have been voted First Runner Up in the category of Best Activist! Thank you to everyone who voted.
On September 17, 2017, I was invited to speak to Church in the World monthly session at Garneau United Church. This is a session over lunch following a Sunday morning service, dealing with some aspect of social justice. My topic was Reconciliation and what Edmonton United Churches are doing to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. I presented my short talk in the context of Moving Forward with Reconciliation, a group I have been involved with for a couple of years. Below is a video, as well as the notes from my talk and a summary of the responses to the questions I was asked afterwards.
My work: I have an interest in documentation and communication, particularly bringing groups together that have a common cause or interest. To that end, I have been documenting local activism in Edmonton and posting on social media, which is building greater awareness of progressive movements in the city. This extends to Indigenous issues and Reconciliation.
I’ve been involved with a group called Moving Forward with Reconciliation for a couple of years. It’s a ministry of Edmonton Presbytery and we have members from a number of Edmonton United Church congregations. I got involved with the group through a woman named Debbie Hubbard. Debbie and I knew each other through Palestine solidarity work, and I later found out she had formed the Moving Forward group and was facilitating it at the time. I was also writing for an Indigenous newspaper (I’m a multi-media journalist by profession) and was following what the group was doing, which was working on building bridges between the United Church and Indigenous communities, through meetings, events, dialogues – all of this was in the planning stages at the time but I started to attend planning meetings of the working group.
A large part of Moving Forward was the building of an email list to send out announcements concerning events relating to Reconciliation and Indigenous education that are open to non-Indigenous people. Last summer, Debbie moved to Kelowna with her husband, and needed someone to take over the list. She felt I was the natural person to that given my background with communications and, although I am not of a United Church background, I am involved with the United Church on a professional basis as Marketing Project Coordinator with Mill Woods United Church, where I assist the congregation with its website and social media. So, I did indeed take over the email list after she moved.
What I have built: The email list has grown quite a bit since last year. I send out more event notices than in the past, although I try to limit to one per day because it is quite a large list. I also built a Facebook page where the events, which mostly have Facebook event pages associated with them, are also posted. People were requesting this, particularly younger people who tend to check Facebook more than their email. Some kind of list of events was also requested, so that people did not have to go back-tracking through their email to look something up, so I built a Reconciliation Calendar as part of the Mill Woods website. (I am paid an honorarium for my Moving Forward work through a grant that is administrated through Mill Woods, hence it being the logical connection). Many of the events I post I find on Facebook – I spend time searching through pages of Indigenous and Reconciliation-related organizations – and also I am contacted personally with request to post information and events.
Ongoing work/integration: The working group itself continues to be dynamic and finding its way in terms of mission and purpose, while its members are a presence at many events as participants and volunteers. Why are we doing this? As we know, the United Church has been responding to the Calls for Action and there is an excellent section of the main United Church website that deals with Reconciliation:
The response to the email list is overwhelmingly positive. A resource such as the Moving Forward list is a relatively simple, inexpensive way to make church people aware of events and bring people out in greater numbers. Reconciliation can’t happen in a vacuum – it’s definitely great to have church-based discussion groups because there are many things that need to be discussed on a church level in terms of what the role in Reconciliation should be, and people’s experiences and such, but in order to take it to the next level (so to speak), we really need to be out there at events and learning and volunteering and taking part.
Speaking of which, we need people from Garneau to be involved. The church is on the email list, as are a number of you, and I notice a number of the items I post make it into your weekly newsletter, but the only person who was attending meetings regularly was Jim Graves, who as we all know was very passionate about reconciliation. Since he passed away in April, there has been no official representation from Garneau. We miss Jim terribly, and know that he would want someone from Garneau to be a part of Moving Forward.
Here are some issues and information that have been raised in previous talks I have given on this topic.
The Calls to Action pertaining to the Churches are 58-61.
58. We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.
59. “We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.
60. We call upon leaders of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders, Survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other religious training centres, to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsibility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.
61. We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement, in collaboration with Survivors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, to establish permanent funding to Aboriginal people for:
i. Community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects.
ii. Community-controlled culture- and language revitalization projects.
iii. Community-controlled education and relationship building projects.
iv. Regional dialogues for Indigenous spiritual leaders and youth to discuss Indigenous spirituality, self-determination, and reconciliation.
Apologies need action. Saying you’re sorry and acknowledging what you did wrong is the first step – but what are you going to do, moving forward, to effect change?
Go to events and listen and learn. Offer to volunteer, where appropriate.
Have conversations. Get to know people as individuals, where they are at. We all have different backgrounds and stories. When we get to know people, we stop seeing them as “other.”
Ask questions. If you are unsure if something is cultural appropriation, or if you can take photographs, or in any situation where you don’t know how to proceed – ask. Asking shows respect.
I made my main presentation short on purpose, because Reconciliation needs to have discussions, not some white person talking non-stop for an hour. Several people in the congregation spoke about their experiences learning about residential schools and with Indigenous people, such as a retired physician who worked for a time in an Indigenous community and witnessed a high rate of tuberculosis there.
I was asked what churches are doing specifically to address Reconciliation in Edmonton, and the answer is that it is really a church-by-church sort of thing. Each congregation is doing different things, some more than others, in terms of events and such.
I was also asked about how seminaries and theological schools are addressing Call to Action #60. I am definitely not in the loop when it comes to what is being taught in seminaries, but I did say that when I was growing up as a student in Edmonton’s public school system, I never learned anything about residential schools. It was only more recently, when I attended the final TRC event in Edmonton in 2014 on assignment for a newspaper I was writing for at the time, that I learned about them. My mind was blown when I found out that the last residential school closed in the mid-90s. And I felt angry that such a gap existed in my education, and that what I received was a sanitized version of history. A younger man in the audience said that he learned about residential schools, so this is something that is changing with the generations. Someone added that this has indeed been added to the curriculum.
The conversation shifted at one point to the current controversy surrounding the removal of monuments and the changing of place names because of a historical figure’s attitudes and actions towards Indigenous people and others. I acknowledged that this is a complicated issue, and that one way to deal with it is, instead of removing something, to add to a monument by indicating those negative actions and beliefs – complete the story, so to speak, instead of replacing it. Also, the practise of naming places and things after people is inherently flawed, because in many cases people have beliefs or have done things that do not stand the test of history. I discussed this in the context of my involvement with Completing the Story, which seeks to increase the visual representation of women in public places.
Finally, someone mentioned about having to be careful when it comes to building things where it is known there are sacred burial grounds, as well as building tributes to Elders. My response is that any project that is about Indigenous people should involve Indigenous people.
I am the Marketing/Social Media Coordinator for Mill Woods United Church. On September 3, I presented a reflection on my faith journey and the work I do for the church.
Subtitle: Activism and Spirituality, or, “What’s a Nice Jewish Girl Doing In the United Church?”
I was asked to make a presentation about my spiritual journey, activism, and accomplishments, in the context of what exactly I do for Mill Woods United, in approximately 20 minutes or less. So, please fasten your seat belts. Here we go.
I recall my job interview in the spring of 2016 with Ian, Brian, Mary-Anne, and Janice. It was going pretty well, but there was something I had to fess up to: I wasn’t from a United Church background. In fact – get ready for it – I’m Jewish. “That’s okay,” replied Ian, “So is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” I tell this story quite often and it always elicits laughter.
Many of you also know me as being involved as the email list and social media coordinator with the Moving Forward with Reconciliation group which is comprised of members from a number of Edmonton’s United Churches. So, how did a nice Jewish girl end up working with the United Church?
I was raised in a fairly traditional Modern Orthodox family. Saturday was the Sabbath. We observed all of the Jewish holy days: the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana (also known as the “Jewish New Year”) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement and the holiest day on the Jewish calendar), but also Passover and the other feasts and festivals as well. It was fun – I got to take a lot of days off of school for “religious observance.” We also strictly observed the dietary laws, the most well-known of which are no pork products and no shellfish (Levitical restrictions), both of which I still observe to this day.
Then came the teenage years of rebellion, and I, like many of my peers, fell away from the faith of my family. I still always identified as being Jewish but stopped being as observant. Saturday became just another day. I considered myself secular. I didn’t need a spiritual life as such. And so my teens became my 20s and I started to feel a spiritual longing that led me on a path that included everything from east to west, from Buddhism to even a time spent in the Messianic Jewish movement, which is basically Evangelical Christians who celebrate the Jewish roots of Christianity, and Jewish people interested in exploring Christianity in a Jewish context.
It was ironically during my time in this extremely right-wing, Zionist movement that I became interested in getting involved in Edmonton’s activist community – and by activist, I mean of the politically progressive kind. I had always been interested in issues of human rights and social justice but never found a way to connect. Enter the Internet, which I had been spending a lot of time on since my university days. I taught myself how to make web pages, and was starting to learn the ways of what was going to be known as social media.
Eventually, I connected with local groups that dealt with independent media, peace, the environment, women, and Indigenous issues, and as I left organized religion behind yet again I felt more affirmed in my Jewish identity as ever. There is a value in Judaism called Tikkun Olam, which roughly translates to “healing or repairing the world.” In many ways, activism has become a form of spiritual expression for me.
My role as an activist has largely been documenting local social movements through photography and video, posting my work online on my blog RadicalCitizenMedia.com as well as on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and more recently, Instagram. As a result, I have gained a large following online while learning the ins and outs of social media, which I have been able to apply to my work as a communications consultant who works largely with non-profits and NGOs.
For example, in my (just a little over a) year with Mill Woods, I have helped fix up the website, make sure it is updated regularly, while ensuring timely and relevant posts on Facebook, Twitter, and the Instagram account that I set up for the congregation. Ian’s reflections go up every week, announcements are posted, events are promoted, and at the same time I curate material to go online that pertain to the work of the congregation and the wider United Church, particularly concerning Reconciliation and LGBTQ issues, since we are an affirming congregation. Numbers on social media are growing and hopefully this is translating into both communication to congregational members, and inspiring others to attend. In addition, I help proof newsletters and print/promotional materials when required. You get all of this and more, packed into what is now five hours per week.
I heard about the position, which was called Marketing Project Coordinator but is now simply referred to as Social Media, through my involvement with the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action, where I am a board member. The building that hosts the Interfaith Centre’s office also houses Garneau United Church, where I occasionally attended as a guest, particularly to video the sermons of a friend of mine who occasionally led services as a layperson. Quite simply, I saw a posting for the job on the communal bulletin board and I applied. And so, here I am.
Last summer I also began working with the group Moving Forward with Reconciliation, which is made up of people from several Edmonton United Churches. I took over the email list announcing events in Edmonton and area pertaining to Reconciliation and Indigenous educational opportunities when the original founder of the group moved to another province. I wanted to enhance and augment the position, and created a Facebook page for the group, as well as a Reconciliation calendar that is now part of the Mill Woods website.
My work in social media, combined with my involvement in activism, started to receive recognition from my community in 2012, when I received the Salvos Prelorentzos Peace Award, an award annually given by Project Ploughshares Edmonton (historically an ecumenical Christian peace organization), to an individual or organization in Edmonton working for the cause of peace, who has not previously been honoured for their work. Around this time I began working with the founding steering committee for the annual Daughters Day event, held in City Hall to honour women and girls for their achievements, the first Daughters Day being held in September of 2012. In 2014, I was named one of the Daughters of the Year at that year’s Daughters Day event for my leadership and being an example to women in activism. Most recently, I was named a Human Rights Champion by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights in December of 2016, and was a co-organizer of the Women’s March on Washington Edmonton “sister march” on January 21, 2017, which saw over 4000 people converge at the Alberta Legislature grounds to proclaim and affirm that women’s rights are human rights.
Most recently, I have become involved with an initiative called Completing the Story. We’re a grassroots group of women who came together last year to address the lack of visual representation of women in public spaces, not only in Edmonton, but throughout Canada and elsewhere. It was a logical move from my experiences with Daughters Day and the Women’s March, to work on projects that work towards an equitable society.
So even though I don’t come from a United Church background, I have always been attracted to the United Church of Canada’s commitment to social justice and a better world. I’ve often told people that if I was Christian by birth, I would have chosen the United Church as my spiritual home. From peace to reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations, to a just resolution to the conflict in Israel/Palestine, the United Church has been a part of all of these struggles, and I am very grateful to have been welcomed into this congregation and to be able to serve you in the capacity of Social Media/Marketing Coordinator.
To have an historical record
To protect yourself/colleagues by having recorded details that the memory may otherwise lose
To share your movement and experiences online and connect with like-minded groups/individuals and grow beyond your borders
Helps build grassroots community locally and beyond through the sharing of resources.
Helps attract others to the movement by presenting who you are and what you do. Pictures (and videos) speak volumes beyond just written descriptions (but writing is important too, as we will discuss later).
Be the media: cover important gaps in coverage. Citizen journalism is a “thing” – there are unprecedented opportunities in today’s world for our voices to be heard.
For yourself: just like there are those people who always take pictures at family gatherings, events and protests can make important memories for us as well.
Can be an issue of access/privilege (equipment – you need a camera, and ideally you need a computer)
However, one does not need a fancy camera – a smartphone/tablet can suffice. Technology has come a long way.
Most phones can also take video, most cameras (DSLR and point-and-shoot) can take video, and some video cameras can also take decent stills.
Benefit of the above: items can be shared immediately via data or wifi (be careful about eating up data plan). You can even edit in your phone or tablet now with apps.
Instagram & Flickr, Facebook & Twitter, YouTube – all places to post immediately. Don’t forget to tag and add hashtags. Tags are like keywords; hashtags use the # symbol and also work as keywords that can be clicked on to be taken to materials using that same term. Eg. #yeg in Twitter for Edmonton-related posts.
Photos should tell a story. Include backdrops, crowds. Don’t always focus in one individuals without context or else you end up with photos that look like they could have been taken anywhere. Eg. Festival photo of family on grass that could have been taken anywhere.
No issues in Canada taking photos and videos at and posting photos from public gatherings on public space. However, respect it if a colleague does not want his/her photo taken and posted. Could be a job-related issue, family issue etc. Or, maybe they just don’t like their picture being taken. Legal issues vs. moral/ethical issues in this case err on the side of caution.
Children: if singled out in a photo, always a good idea to get permission from parents/guardians. Again, morality/ethics should take precedence over legality.
In Canada, police/law enforcement can be photographed. They, nor anyone else, have the right to tell you to delete photos.
I’m not a lawyer – my information comes from my experience and what I believe to be true, but don’t take anything I have said here as legal advice.
Editing: I try to shoot in a way that would require minimal editing, if at all, afterwards. Depends what you are trying to do. Documentation, to me, means being true to what I see, so I don’t want to change or enhance it much. You can crop and make some adjustments right in your phone. Most computer operating systems come with a basic photo editor (as well as a video editor).
Captures the moments, describes them, another way of sharing information.
Blogs: WordPress, Blogger. WordPress is better for making full-fledged websites. If you just want a plain blog, Blogger might be more intuitive to use for some.
Facebook posts: keep succinct, add hashtags (a more recent development on FB)
You don’t have to be an English major or wonderful writer.
Be descriptive, be succinct.
Letters to the Editor at newspapers – don’t be surprised if you don’t get published or it gets edited way down. Keep as short as possible – increases chances of getting printed.
Contributions to activist websites. Usually are hungry for submissions because they can’t pay.
Work as a team; have someone edit your work
Be careful what you write: “say it and forget it, write it and regret it.” Nothing ever really permanently vanishes from the Internet (eg. Deborah Drever). You don’t want something coming back at you down the road.
Published work online usually has a unique link that can be shared on social media.
Seems like common sense: make sure batteries in phone and cameras are charged.
Carry charger and battery packs for phones.
Some camera batteries are proprietary; have a spare (if economical) and/or make sure it is charged in advance.
Lots of hashtags
Settings to share on other social media like FB and Twitter
Don’t tag people who are not in photos. Pet peeve of many; good way to get defriended.
Respect it when people don’t want to be tagged. Easier now that people can remove tags themselves.
Same as the above with regard to descriptions, keywords, sharing, adding people (the equivalent of tagging).
Have someone else edit your work
Share links to your work on social media
I used to write for Alberta Sweetgrass on a regular basis, until the publication went completely online in 2015, merging with Windspeaker.com. So, I was quite enthusiastic to be contacted by the editor and assigned my first piece for the website, which went online yesterday.