Digging Deeper With Nicola Doherty

At Top Draw, we’re always curious about what other people in our industry are doing. Local Edmonton online media personality, Nicola Doherty, is one of these people who we have been dying to learn more about.

nicola doherty headshot


Recently, Nicola sat down with our Social Media Strategist, Beverley Theresa, to chat current projects, social networking, and must-have tools to master all things digital.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I’ve lived in the great city of Edmonton for the last 8 years. I moved here from Vancouver when my son, James, was 1-year and I was pregnant with my second child, Madeline. I came from a (very) corporate background, having spent several years working in Human Resources. I have a degree in Communication Studies and love to talk and communicate…a lot. When my third child was born, I chose to start an online store in hopes of jumping on the online train. It wasn’t long after its launch that I realized how this one small website was pretty much invisible on the Internet, so I started using social media to get the name of the business and myself “out there.” It was during that time that I met some of my now closest friends on Twitter and began undertake other ventures.

How did you get started in social media? What first sparked your interest in using it as a marketing tool?

I started on social media in 2007 for my personal accounts and then started using Twitter and Facebook for business in 2009. I loved the community building aspect, especially on Twitter, and how supportive the Edmonton online community was with new businesses. As a naturally chatty person and a stay at home mom, I loved the freedom of being able to speak to such a great variety of people in Edmonton, all the while building momentum for the business and building credibility as a business owner.

Do you use a management tool such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social? 

I use two programs, Sprout Social and Buffer, as well as the native apps themselves. I tried to like Hootsuite but it’s just not as intuitive to use as Buffer in terms of scheduling. I’m a visual person and like to see things laid out with the images, the text and the links. Sprout Social generated really great reports for me to give back to clients.


They have the scheduling capabilities as well as it connects with Feed.ly for finding content, but I love Buffer. I need to break up with Buffer, but you know… I can’t. #SendmetoBufferRehab Unfortunately Instagram doesn’t have an API so it’s old school login and logout for that. I prefer to use Pinterest on it’s own and not use any platforms for that.

icon128-2xWhat other tools or mobile apps do you find are most useful to manage multiple accounts? 

It’s not a tool that I use for managing accounts, but more of a tool that I use to connect with my team or with some of my bigger clients — Slack. It’s so great to be able to ask a really quick question, almost like a text, without having to send an email. You can attach links, images and files and set up different Channels say for “Christmas Planning” and then dump all your files in there.

Which stats have you found to be beneficial to look at when strategizing and planning content?

I like to go back and look at previous content, what we wrote, what blogs we shared and go with that, but the problem being that content is ever changing and audience expectations are changing as well. When you’re working on a new account it’s exciting finding out what content their audience engages with, but it has to be a fluid strategy, and a lot of trial with timing.

262174_242279452457173_1992018_nAs one of the people in charge of the Urban Mommy Expo, can you tell us what kind of online marketing you do for the event?

It’s funny because in the past we’ve done a lot of traditional media for Urban Mommy Expo, including flyers, television and radio spots and this year we pared it down to one traditional media (Edmonton’s Child Magazine), TV spots and Facebook ads. We decided that since our target demographic was on Facebook we’d just spend the money on Facebook ads and boosted posts. This year our attendance was up and the people that attended were our people: young families in Edmonton. Now that could be due to weather, the location of the moon to an iceberg on the north pole and other elements, but I’d definitely say that Facebook was a great driver to the event.

What tools do you use to measure how sales and attendance are being converted from these campaigns?

You could ask every person that came in to the event where they heard about the show, but to directly say that the attendees all came from our Facebook page and event would be a lie. Other vendors did a great job of telling their customers that they’d be at the event. Often attendees are coming to see one particular vendor and they’re not interested in who the event is fundraising for or any of the other vendors. One tool that was useful for us though was setting up an Eventbrite link where attendees could buy advanced tickets. Eventbrite is able to tell you where your customers are coming from and any/all social shares.

Is there a defining line between your personal account and your business accounts?

Yes there is, but, your brand has to sound like you, including the occasional tweet about insane summer heat (I’m partial to 25 degrees all year round). Being yourself online is what draws customers and people to you, and then when they meet you “IRL” they’re not shocked by a completely different person. Businesses have to be careful though, you can’t be 100% of yourself all the time online, you need to be cognisant of your customers and making sure that as a business you’re not offending anyone. Stay away from controversy.

Periscope-IconHave you ventured into Blab or Periscope yet? 

Not Blab, but Periscope, I think Periscope is fantastic! I’ve live streamed an event and it went really well. I hope they stick around, they’re very fun, and engaging. Video is becoming the norm because they are able to get the message across fast whether that’s funny cat videos or a quick live stream of an event, it’s instant.

What trends in social business stand out as carryovers into the future?

Using social media for customer service – talking with your customers online is a simple way to help customer share their experiences. I see the trend of data overload from algorithms and interactions getting more complicated as we learn more from our customers from their usage online which can be really frustrating. Sharing content that people find online I think will carry on into the future, but the panels that people are choosing, from Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram to Periscope. It’s going to be challenging for many brands to keep up on keeping their content relevant and on the right platform.

What is your favourite technique for leveraging social for a new brand/enterprise? Can you share an example of success?

Getting a new brand/enterprise and going through their accounts and checking hashtags in my favourite. Oftentimes companies do not know that their customers are talking about them online. An example is on Instagram; one company I work with did not have an Instagram account although this was a platform that I thought was vital platform for them. I set up the account and found that there were MANY people that had set up their own hashtags to talk about the company and the products. It wasn’t hard in this scenario to find the customers and potential customers by finding the hashtags and easily finding 200 followers in a week, the customers were already on the platform, and they wanted to interact with the brand.

Where do you see social going?

That’s a tricky question because it’s already changing all the time, but I think it’s going back to less of a global experience and more of a local and niche experience.


Have questions about social media after reading Nicola’s interview? Get in touch with me and let’s talk!