Exploring Monroe: A Social Media Scavenger Hunt

For our social media scavenger hunt, there was one main guideline. Get off campus.

I decided to take a solo adventure down towards Monroe Street, the border street between suburban Madison and the UW campus, and explore the local shops, restaurants and neighborhoods that contribute its own unique voice to Madison.

IMG_3160 I first started with a quick breakfast at a Madison favorite, Mickie’s Dairy Bar. This family-style diner invokes a 1950s style that could any resident could enjoy. I particularly enjoy the food and the friendly service. People are always with families, friends or they just enjoying chatting with strangers by themselves. I met a gentleman named Frankie who seat at the counter next to me. He chatted with me and my boyfriend about his days at Madison and also how he only likes black coffee (I differed as I shoved more sugar into mine).

After breakfast, I toured through various shops further down the street. I started inIMG_3173 Orange Tree Imports that sold various gifts, knick-knacks, and other pieces. I really appreciated how unique the pieces were. The women at the front counter told me many of the products are actually exclusive to this same shop in Madison. I wasn’t happy that I decided to leave my wallet at home and avoided buying all the cute plushes that I found inside.

IMG_3183I also ventured into Art Gecko, an art store specializing in arts and crafts from other countries. I experimented more with the photography styles and the different ways Instagram lets you organize and edits your photos. Luckily I had an assistant (aka my boyfriend) for modeling. I also was able to speak with an employee about her appreciate for the art and culture represented in the store, and her love for the Madison community. Out of all the shops, this was my favorite place to explore.

My final stop on Monroe was the Mystery  to Me book shop. Despite the name, the independent bookstore sold many genres of books and the employees showed great pride in the books they sold. One of the women at the desk told me that the post it notes are personal favorites and recommendations from the employees. She said “I think it adds a personal touch to the shopping experience.” As a book lover, I loved reading the suggestions on each book and just taking in the atmosphere the store offered.  IMG_3195

It was funny that when I saw what people were posting about on Ban.jo, the most popular postings were about Mickie’s Dairy Bar and Bloom’s Bakery. I walked by the bakery, but suppressed the urge to go in and eat one of everything. I really felt that seeing Ban.jo and experiencing Monroe for myself, I have a better understanding of a community that I have lived near for two years, but haven’t deeply explored until now.

I ‘m looking forward to my next adventure! But until then, check out all the scavenger hunt posts I did on Twitter and Instagram via storify.

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Building a Personal Brand

Our internet presence is apart of our identity.

Whether or not we want to admit it, everything we post online is open to the public. Every. Single. Thing. And pretending that our posts don’t reflect us is ignorance.

That’s why news outlets, journalists, and every blogger on the internet is trying to build their personal brand.

Recently, I’ve started narrowing in on what my personal brand will be since I am approaching graduation. I know that I want to carve a profile emphasizing professionalism without losing the authenticity of my voice, but the ability to incorporate both has been difficult to find.

As of late, I’ve been using advice from media professionals and bloggers to compile a strategy for how I will build my personal brand and begin narrowing my niche to appeal to my target audience.

My strategy includes:

1. Stating objectives

According to Evan LePage, every strategy needs “to establish the objectives and goals that you hope to achieve.” These objectives can be simple goals such as gathering more followers or page views. Or the goals can be as complex as building credibility and influence around a targeted audience.

He recommended using the SMART frame; SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Using this frame can create achievable goals and keep people focused. For me, my goals center on building a niche for myself and finding what my voice can be on my social media platforms. Once I do this, I can expand to establishing an audience, developing techniques, and other goals.

2. Finding a niche

Aviation blogger Benet Wilson emphasized the importance of finding your niche. It’s not enough to write solely about fashion; you have to differentiate your content to fit your voice. For example, Wilson discussed her friend’s blog that focuses on vintage clothing from the 1940s. It’s very specialized, but it attracts an audience that enjoys the unique components to it.

I find this component to be the most difficult aspect as of now. I know that I have skills and beliefs that many journalists have. So what makes me different? My passion for food? Creating content with a camera? An interest in international relations? As of now, I continue to slowly narrow in on what I want to write about, but it will take to to establish my niche and voice.

3. Choosing the right medium

Don Stanley from 3 Rhino Media really honed in on the importance of choosing the right medium for your brand. Stanley mentioned that many businesses try to do every social media platform because “that’s what everyone else is doing”. His advice was to find where your audience is at, whether that be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and etc, focus on that medium. It will making your platforms easier to manage and better quality.

Matthew Barby also emphasized the point in his article that keeping your focus and mediums condense will naturally expand your target audience and appealing your content to more viewers. As of now, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, WordPress and Instagram. Although many of those accounts are private, personal accounts, I will need to decide if I really need all these platforms to express my personal identity or now.

4. Making original context 

I think it’s obvious that if you want to have an authentic voice, you need to create original content that let’s your voice be heard. Mindy McAdams recommends that many first time bloggers miss the opportunity to integrate material from influencers and point out new insights in their personal posts.

For my strategy, I hope to incorporate my articles, projects, and blog posts to represent the work fields that I would love to contribute to. Whether I write about restaurants experimenting with food or the newest travel destination in Asia, I want people in the industry to see that I can create original content that attracts readers.

5. Getting engaged with your audience

Rachel Bartee, a content marketer, said one of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is automatization of their posts. They forget that it’s about engaging with the platform and your audience. Social media is meant to be social. The more you can engage with your followers and commenters, the more you’ll attract others to engage with you as well.

Once I actually gain followers, I intend to keep my engagement level high. Until then, I will engage with influencers and reporters that inspire me, so I can show people why they might want to follow me, as an individual and a professional.

I’m really excited to further my brand and craft my personality online. This way, I can better recognized in the field and as a professional.