Nick Kossovan

Digitized Koffee With Nick

Challenges Living in the Age of Social Media      May 2022

Social media is changing you and me in profound ways we couldn’t have imagined. Among the most significant changes in our psyche due to social media is we’re becoming more concerned about what other people think of us. It’s no wonder why mental health issues (e.g., anxiety) have increased.

The addictive nature of social media is alarming to me, as is how rapidly it’s eroding the foundations of our social fabric. Today almost everyone has two audiences: the audience we actually know (family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues) and the digital audience (via social media) we don’t know.

We now inhabit a new world order, where intangible digital worlds create opportunities never before experienced, but also create unhealthy temptations. Social media is disrupting our social architecture. Before it’s too late, we must learn to master our real world versus our digital world. Each deserves our attention, just not equally.

Understand social media causes you to:

  1. Ignore those around you while you try to attract an audience.

It’s no secret I’m a heavy social media consumer; therefore, I have a bias toward growth and expansion. As a result, I often find myself focusing more on the people I hope to reach through social media than my family and friends. I keep having to remind myself not to do this—I know better (I’m a work in progress). 

Everybody is trying to get digitally noticed at the expense of the person in front of them. 

You know the now cliché scene: people eating while holding their cellphone in one hand, scrolling through their social media feeds and mindlessly shovelling down their meal, oblivious to the other people sitting with them.

Do you know what gets you noticed? Loving, caring, being grateful for and focusing on the people in your life. It took me a long time to realize this. Things grow when you focus on what you have rather than on what you don’t have.

  1. Spend more time with people you don’t know than with people you do.

Every day it’s becoming easier to spend a significant part of your life in the online world. People who value healthy relationships spend much more time in the real world with people they know than with strangers online.

Be careful! With social media, you can quickly find yourself in a world where you feel constantly connected with like-minded people, even though you aren’t. How can you be connected to someone you don’t know?

  1. Try to impress strangers.

If you’re on social media hoping to be noticed, gain followers, become an “influencer,” and be discovered, you’re in for a lot of frustration and heartache.

For starters, you’re prone to fall victim to imitation. Instead of being yourself, you’ll spend your time trying to be (look like, act like) someone you think you must be to become a social media celebrity. This kills your voice and stifles your creativity. Ironically, being authentic is the key to achieving social media success.

Imitation is a recipe for unhappiness. How can being who you’re not (a fake) make you happy? Stop trying to impress people you don’t know, be yourself. You may be surprised at how many people you attract with the real you (yes, there’ll be haters).

  1. You’ll focus more on image and less on substance.

Social media has made us too concerned with our image. Filters and apps will make you look thinner, erase wrinkles, shrink your nose or slightly expand your eyes. So much of our respective mental turmoil stems from it.

God willing, you’ll be blessed with a long and healthy life. Every year I get a few new wrinkles; that’s the price you pay for being blessed to age. 

Social media makes us focus too much on our image and little, if any, on producing substance—on doing good. Instead, let your character, actions and results be your image. These are much easier to relate to than your physical image that’ll inevitably fade. 

  1. Your sense of self-worth will rise and fall with likes and shares.

Everyone wants to be liked, which is why we often let others determine our sense of self-worth.

If you’re not careful, your sense of self-worth and success will rise and fall with your number of followers, likes and shares, which will cause you to pursue the affections of people you don’t know. Does it really matter whether or not a stranger on the other side of the country thinks you’re awesome?

Nick Kossovan is the Customer Service Professionals Network’s Social Media Director (Executive Board Member). Feel free to send you social media questions to nick.kossovan@gmail.com. On Twitter and Instagram follow @NKossovan

As Restrictions Lift, Support Local Businesses Using Your Social Media      April 2022

When the local economy is strong, the community is strong, which is good for everyone. With restrictions being lifted, it’s time to show local businesses some love and assist them in returning to their pre-pandemic level of business.

The obvious way to support local businesses is to frequent them. Another way to support businesses in your community is to use your social media to get the word out about businesses that offer products/services you feel are worth digitally evangelizing. Social media engagement and shout-outs can have far-reaching effects. Besides helping your local economy, you’re helping shape a business’s online reputation, being a part of their success, which I assure you’ll feel good about.

Here are six ‘social media ways’ you can help local businesses get back on their feet post-pandemic:

  1. Use Facebook’s ‘Businesses Nearby’ tool.

The first step is to discover local businesses you’re not aware of. Though you probably shop at businesses near your home, I guarantee there are more nearby, within your community, businesses you can give your business to. In May 2020, Facebook and Instagram added a feature to help their users find local businesses. ‘Businesses Nearby’ is a section within Facebook and Instagram that lets you see what businesses are posting within a geographical radius, which you can set and adjust, view the hours they’re open and options they offer for pickup/delivery, make a booking, or message them.Check out ‘Businesses Nearby’ if you haven’t already. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how many businesses you weren’t aware of are in your community. 

  1. Like their stuff and follow their page/account.

When it comes to showing your support for a local business, the lowest-hanging fruit is to like (press the heart) and follow their social media page/account. When you follow a business, its promotions, events, and updates will appear in your feed which you can then like and share. So, give local businesses some much needed love with a thumbs up or double-tap and take a few minutes to go the extra mile and leave a comment.

  1. Write a glowing review.

Online reviews are enormously vital to business success!Like word-of-mouth, favourable recommendations create traffic to a business. Today most people use the Internet to research purchases or find a restaurant or service (accountant, lawyer, landscaping, plumber). Over 70% of consumers give significant weight to reviews before making a buying decision or visiting a business establishment; therefore, a business’s online reputation is a critical component to its success.

Top 8 places to leave a review.

  1. Facebook Ratings and Reviews
  2. Foursquare
  3. Google My Business
  4. Homestars (appliance repair professionals, contractors, renovators, handyman)
  5. OpenTable (restaurants)
  6. TripAdvisor (hotels, travel, restaurants, entertainment venues)
  7. Yelp
  8. Zomato (restaurants)

Take five minutes to write a review on one or two of these sites. If you can only leave four or five stars, that’s better than nothing.

  1. Share your experience.

When you have a positive experience with a local business—great food/service, attentive customer service, or great deals—don’t keep it to yourself. Share your experience, uploading photos and videos. Make sure you tag the business, so they’ll be notified of your post and use relevant hashtags (e.g., #Ward24, #ScarbTO, #pizza, #localbusiness).

Sharing photos of you using the product or service or shopping at the business will bring your physical support online. Include the business’s address in your post, their website, and telephone number, so your followers can easily locate and/or contact the business. Also, use the social media platform’s ‘tag location’ feature. When you’re at a business location on the business’s Facebook page, you can ‘Check In.’ 

  1. Repost/Retweet.

Whenever a business posts something of interest, such as a video, picture, or link to a new blog post, repost/retweet to increase engagement and give the post visibility to your followers (you get extra positive Karma points if you add a thoughtful comment along with relevant hashtags). 

  1. Subscribe

Many businesses rely on email marketing to communicate with and expand their customer base. Therefore, they focus on building their lists to whom they can email marketing content and promotions. Sign-up for your local business’s newsletter, and if relevant, forward it to your family and friends and share on your social media accounts.

Small businesses are the backbone of our community. They’ve been the hardest hit by the COVID pandemic. With social media, you can support local businesses easily, conveniently, and most importantly, efficiently. Show the world you are proud of the community you live in. 

Nick Kossovan is the Customer Service Professionals Network’s Social Media Director (Executive Board Member). Feel free to send you social media questions to nick.kossovan@gmail.com. On Twitter and Instagram follow @NKossovan

Key to Social Media Success: Creating Shareable Content      March 2022

From my experience, I would say most people join social media expecting instant recognition. They expect their business, or side hustle, to increase fivefold overnight, or they’ll become social media influencers in a matter of days. Never considered is the amount of digital noise a person must overcome to even begin getting recognition online, let alone to have their messages seen and their account(s) followed. 

Today there are over 4.55 billion social media users.

  • The average daily social media usage is 2 hours and 27 minutes.
  • Facebook has 2.8 billion MAU (monthly active users).
  • YouTube has 2.3 billion MAU.
  • Instagram has 1.4 billion MAU.
  • Pinterest has 454 million MAU.
  • Twitter has 363 million MAU.

Today, more than half of the world’s population (57.6%) uses social media. That’s a lot of people online consuming news, information, entertainment, shopping, and of course, looking to be noticed. Getting your posts seen, never mind engaged with, in a 24/7/365 crowded online environment poses a daunting challenge. 

The road to social media success—becoming a social media darling of sorts—requires patience, focus, and understanding that social media success doesn’t require you to be followed by the entire Internet universe. All the social media success you need can be garnered by simply engaging with your community and tribe of like-minded people. 

Does a plumber located in southeast Scarborough who has 3,263 Facebook followers, mainly located in Hamilton and Winnipeg, for example, have social media success? Don’t focus on how many people follow your social media accounts—that’s “5 years ago” thinking. Instead, focus on having the right people following you (a topic for a future column) and your engagement numbers.

Social media success = number of engagements.

Generating engagement on social media boils down to creating and posting content that’s:

  • Unique
  • Eye-catching
  • Informative and/or entertaining
  • Shareable

I often find myself readjusting a person’s expectation that the minute they post something on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., they’ll receive a flood of attention. When I created my LinkedIn account over 10 years ago, I naively thought I just had to show up, and I’d be loved. How wrong I was. 

Whether in your personal life or career, achieving a goal requires daily effort; social media isn’t an exception of this truism. Therefore, to reach your social media goals, you need constant effort. 

To build your digital presence takes time. Step by step, your efforts need to be intentional. Begin with simple, clear messages (posts) about who you are and what you stand for (e.g., Maintaining Lake Ontario’s ecosystem, Scarborough’s diversity and the resulting political landscape, food insecurity, Toronto’s country music scene).

Start by posting about your purpose and passions. What gets you up in the morning? Do you make a delicious cup of coffee you look forward to having every morning? Like me, are you a coffee aficionado, which I mention in my Twitter bio? Then consider posting all things related to coffee and local coffee shops as a starting point to build a following. 

Here are 5 general guidelines to creating sharable social media content which—fingers crossed—will eventually led to a semblance of social media success. 

  • Add Value. Informative content is “okay,” however, content that your followers can benefit from (e.g., Where Scarborough foodbanks are located and how to donate to them) is much more sharable.
  • Use Smart Structuring. Internet users scan content, usually on their smartphone. A wall of text is a turn-off. Be concise; format your content in bullet points.
  • Keep it visual. Visual content (pictures, video, graphs, memes) is much more likely to be shared.
  • Create Infographics. Infographics are informative and easy to understand and visual! With tools like Piktochart, you can easily create high-quality infographics. Go for it!
  • Use relevant hashtags (#). I can’t overstress the importance of hashtag usage. A post without any hashtags is invisible. Hashtags are how others find your posts and how you reach your target audience. Readers who live within the Bluffs Monitor’s circulation area should use hashtags such as #Ward20, #Ward24, #Ward25 and #ScarbTO in addition to general hashtags that are relevant to their post (e.g., #pizza, #news, #Toronto, #foodie).

Creating shareable content isn’t a science, it’s an art. As you manage your social media accounts, you’ll develop your own methods, strategies, and most important, unique voice. When it comes to social media success, there’s no “one size fits all.” Your direction (slowly gaining the right followers, increasing your number of engagements) is how you’ll eventually achieve social media success.

Nick Kossovan is the Customer Service Professionals Network’s Social Media Director (Executive Board Member). Feel free to send you social media questions to nick.kossovan@gmail.com. On Twitter and Instagram follow @NKossovan.