I’m still here, just not on Facebook anymore

UPDATE (May 2017): I did re-join Facebook, after completing my Graduate Certificate, for a simple reason: to keep in touch with friends and family. But I certainly have a better relationship with social media now than I did before….

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I deleted my Facebook account, but I probably could have written this post before I did that.

My first clue was through my partner, Ken, who was messaging with his daughter living in Australia. “Did Tori unfriend me on Facebook?”

“No, of course not. She just deleted her Facebook account.”

Then this morning it was a friend and classmate from my cohort in the program I’m taking at Royal Roads University.

“Did you block me on Facebook?” she texted, after inviting me for coffee. After explaining how I would’t do that, and that I had dropped my account, she offered: “I guess knowing that you are a comms person I was doubting you had shut it down…” I guess I didn’t manage that change very well!

Indeed, Facebook is an important marketing tool I need to be aware of, but for the past three years I haven’t been the one with my hands on social media accounts at work; and although I keep up with the latest news, I no longer use it for work on a daily basis, except to dip in and monitor regularly. And, at work, we have a social media management tool for that.

I ditched my FB account because work, studying, taking care of myself and my family, cooking, exercising, reading books, they all are more important to me. I have 202 books on my Goodreads “Want To Read” list alone – not to mention the lists I have in Trello, Notes, and my low-tech paper journal. Facebook was, in my humble assessment, taking away from all that rather than adding to it. Also, my privacy is important to me (see below).

I’m still on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, even though I have scaled back my involvement with them over the past two years. They don’t seem to be as “addictive” as Facebook was for me, although I find myself scrolling through Instagram a lot more recently. I am aware there are still a great deal of privacy concerns with them, too. I will keep reviewing and assessing my participation in all social media.

Who knows, it may mean I’ll write here more often.

In the meantime, here are some books/articles I found (not via social media, actually – but rather through my RSS feed) that contributed to my decision:

Universities make up for lack of technology with great staff

So, besides getting a new job and getting engaged, all within two weeks, I’m also applying to a a six-month blended-delivery graduate certificate program at RRU. Because I’m not busy enough, apparently. Don’t worry, I already gave up the volunteer Board position and the extra teaching gig for the fall – because I’m not completely insane. I like sleep and exercise and occasionally a date night with my fiancé (it still feels all tingly and exciting to ay that word!).

The deadline for admissions to the Graduate Certificate in Organization Design and Development is next week. A week or two ago I wrote my personal statement, solicited my letters of reference, arranged for my transcript from University of Regina, where I completed my undergrad and my graduate degrees.

Today I got an email from RRU saying they also need my transcript from the year I spent at Carleton University — thirty one (31!) years ago. While I remember my year on Ottawa fondly, it had not entered my mind that I would need to get a transcript from there ever again.

With a deadline looming, and knowing that official transcript exchange is still – except in limited circumstances – in the dark ages of official paper copies only – no faxes, no emails, I am trying not to bite my nails. I can’t event get Carleton to email me an unofficial transcript, which RRU will happily consider while they wait for the official version.

Nevertheless, I think it can be done. The folks at both institutions are responsive and happy to help out in any way they can. Carleton sent me detailed instructions for arranging for a courier to get my transcript to RRU by next Friday.

The new job, by the way, is at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, where I will be the Executive Director, Communications. If there’s a way I could feel any more blessed and grateful in my life right now, I don’t know how.

 

Three simple but compelling reasons to follow Canada’s anti-spam legislation, even if you’re exempt

It’s coming up on two years since Canada’s latest anti-spam legislation (CASL) was passed. In short, the legislation applies to almost anyone in Canada wanting to send “electronic communications”) (mass emails like newsletters, sale notices, etc.) for commercial/marketing purposes, and compels senders of such emails to follow three basic steps:

  1. Get consent: ensure you have permission to send follow up communications to people who have given you their address;
  2. Opt-out: in every message, give people an easy way of opting out of further email communications;
  3. Transparency: ensure that you provide your name and address on each email and keep that information valid for at least 60 days following.

There are other provisions that are best described by internet and e-commerce law expert Michael Geist.

There are also some important exemptions to the legislation, including much of what post-secondary institution communications, marketing, or fundraising departments would use mass email for on a regular basis: recruiting new students and raising funds from alumni or anyone else. The legal department at University of British Columbia published a handy at-a-glance guide (PDF) explaining what University activities may or may not be subject to CASL.

Seeing as post-secondary institutions are largely exempt from its provisions, why would they follow CASL? I counsel my clients/employers to comply with CASL whether they’re exempt or not – even for internal communications. In my professional opinion, forcing mass emails on employees, students, possible students, alumni, customers, potential customers, is at best ineffective and at worst downright disrespectful. (The oft-abused all-staff email, for instance, should be used sparingly and in emergent situations, or for news that has an impact on the audience a year or more hence: changes in top administrators, for instance. But that’s a post for another day.)

Here are the three reasons why even exempt organizations should follow CASL provisions:

1. Your audience expects it of you

Most legitimate businesses employees, students, prospective students, donors, and alumni interact with are not exempt from CASL. People are being taught to expect consent-based practices from nearly every large organization they deal with. Give them what they expect.

2. Let’s face it: you’re always “selling” something

Consumers are being taught that consent-based marketing is the norm. Those same consumers are students, employees, alumni, and donors, and they largely do not make the distinction between their alma mater and their automobile association or their financial institution. Even if there’s no money “ask” in your campaign and you think you’re doing your audience a service, don’t fool yourself. There is always a “call to action” (or there should be!), however subtle, in mass electronic communications. You’re always demanding at least a bit of your audience’s time and attention.

3. You need to protect your reputation.

Your email communications are always designed to compel and persuade; your audiences have a right to decide when your communications are no longer relevant. Your job is to make your content so compelling they can’t ignore it, let alone trash it. Wouldn’t you rather be forced to keep track of your open, clickthrough and unsubscribe rates than blindly keep spamming your hard-earned database with messages they want to get rid of but can’t? Unwanted messages are at best ignored; at worst they engender ill will towards the sender. Good email practice is good reputation management.

Even if you’re exempt from CASL, its provisions contain some great practices you should be following anyway. In a nutshell, they are: be transparent, get unambiguous consent, make it easy as heck to unsubscribe.

I’m happy to say at my most recent gig at VIU, I didn’t need to make the case that, despite being exempt, they were better off following CASL provisions; they were already there. If your organization isn’t there yet, contact me! I’m available to help you make the transition.

It’s all about doing the right thing. It’s all about respecting our audiences’ time and attention.