Monday, April 15, 2024

Francine Long: Shaping the Discourse around Mining Communication – Insights Success


Social media has transformed the mining industry by impacting various aspects, from communication and community engagement to marketing and recruitment.

Effective mining content often incorporates storytelling elements to humanize the industry. By sharing personal experiences, challenges faced in the field, and success stories, creators can connect with their audience on a more emotional level, making the content more relatable.

Francine Long, a Professional Geologist, became a pioneer in leveraging social media platforms for mining content creation, aiming to bring transparency, education, entertainment, and positivity to the exploration and mining sector. As the founder of her own company, she envisions becoming Canada’s top mining content creator, showcasing the industry’s fascinating stories and fostering a sense of community. While discovering the most influential business leaders in Canada, we came across her content on various platforms and decided to learn more about her leadership approach.

Below are the excerpts from the interview!

Kindly brief our readers about yourself and your professional journey so far.

I am both a Canadian and American citizen and grew up in Southern Ontario on a farm surrounded by lots of space and animals. As a family, we spent a lot of time traveling through Canada and the United States, camping, skiing, and hiking. It was great; we all saw a lot of the world at a young age. I remember, as a child, being fascinated by the natural world, dinosaurs, and glaciation; for example, I spent hours reading books. So did the marine world; it was natural to fall into a stream of science.

I started as a biologist, and my dream was to be a marine biologist. After the first year, I took a class on the history of life and decided to switch my degree to the Geology department at Queens University. The smaller class sizes and the professors we had hooked me. After graduation, I stepped into the world of the mining industry. My first job was with Vale, and it brought me to Northern Manitoba, where I started learning about the nickel and copper base metal industry. I moved back to Ontario, worked as a GIS Analyst in Toronto, and then moved to northern Ontario, where I now have spent the majority of my adult life living/working in these mining camps.

I was able to continue my passion for travel through my work and my personal drive, and I have been able to visit for either work projects or travel to many countries and cultures, 40 or so and counting. I can embrace cultures, and I make lasting relationships wherever I go. With social media now connecting the world, these connections are lifelong. I have a deep love of all animals; I love exercising but prefer solo exercising such as swimming, running, and hot yoga, which take a little less hand/eye coordination.

I love people and empowering them – making people laugh and building up the team skills I work on. I fell in love with the mining industry early on, the idea of building up mineral resources and creating wealth, as well as helping to establish good, meaningful careers in the communities I work in. I fell in love with living, working, and learning the history of these mining camps.

I have had some fantastic mentors championing me along this journey and met the most incredible colleagues. I specialized in resource geology and spent the majority of the last 16 years focused on building up resources for clients from around the world in various commodities (Gold, Silver, Copper, Zinc, Nickel, Rare Earth Elements (Scandium, Niobium, Titanium).

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to present and show the mining industry to all streams of the industry and beyond, be it to my everyday colleagues, to all shareholders/stakeholders in the company, or to other industries. The idea is to always bring everyone to the same page and continue working together on our exploration or mining goals.

Highlights of my career included two years spent in Eritrea, Eastern Africa, where, as an expat, I did everything from GIS graphics, planning exploration programs, building up resources, resource modeling, and training. Another highlight was working with the Cordoba team down in Colombia on a copper-gold resource.

Another highlight is that I am currently based in Bosnia Herzegovina and building up the exploration procedure set. This has combined my love of creating content and putting it together into a detailed, proper documentation. I have always been relatively nomadic, and this became more so last summer. When I am not working or creating/viewing content, I am planning my next adventures.

Please tell us about your company, its mission, and its vision. What role did you play in furthering its development and outreach?

My company is still in the early stages. The idea came about when I was thinking about how to add validation to the Junior Mining Market. I felt the way of waiting for press releases to be distributed had become slightly out of date, especially when we now had access to SMART phones and the ability to leverage social media platforms at no cost but time.

If a picture is a thousand words, what would a video be worth to my clients/potential investors?

I started leveraging multiple platforms by creating heaps of what my vision was: Entertaining but also educational and motivational content with a bit of authentic edge. The vision behind this is that my posts would spark educational conversation and thoughts and motivate others to have a voice if they wish.

I had started watching #Linkedin in content as early as 2008 when, in the early days, it really was for trying to just ‘find a job.’ I would not end up creating my first post until ten years later (2018). It was about Oman because I had traveled through there and seen a picture of an arch. I knew we had also driven under.

I was at first extremely intimate about the type of content I wanted to post or what others would think about it, and it was not until later that year that I even learned what a hashtag was. What has developed now, especially in the last four years, has turned into a company with a mission and vision.

The mission is to provide transparency, education, entertainment, positivity, and humor into the Exploration and Mining Industry, and now I think beyond to Geotourism, Tourism, and Motivational Lifestyle Content.

What was your inspiration to step into the industry that you are now serving?

I have over 16 years of experience in resource development, technical knowledge, and a growing network of some of the best mining professionals/mentors in the industry. I was moving to Australia to work with a large mining company when the pandemic hit. By the summer of 2020, I accepted that the move was not going to happen. Everything was at a standstill in the industry, so I was left with no job prospects, and my intuition told me the industry needed something to keep us united. I also had to do something with my time and with limited resources.

I asked myself the question, “With the resources I have, what could I do best to help my industry through this new challenging time.” Turns out the answer was creating content. All I needed was my computer, phone, internet, vehicle, and my creativity.

By this time, I had a small #LinkedIn following, so I just started posting lots and lots of content.

I still laugh at myself about my week when the pandemic started in mid-March 2020 in Canada. There I was posting a published article I wrote about a few years ago and encouraging people that with a bit of freedom from day-to-day operation, this would be the perfect time to start tackling how to put your structural data together.

I just started posting, and the more and more I posted, the easier the posting got. I would have to schedule my posts, as I knew that posting too often or too frequently would flood my audience.

The secret about creating content is that the more you create, the more ideas you have. Nowadays, I have too many ideas for posts. At the same time, I was not sitting behind my desk anymore, building up resources. I started to use that extra time in the summer of 2020 to get out to the field as much as I could.

Going to the field when you live in a mining camp such as Timmins, Kirkland Lake, or Cobalt could mean 5 minutes away, or in Cobalt, a simple walk out the door. So, I coined the hashtag #boots-on-ground to explain what I was doing. I physically went out to various mining properties in Ontario camps and put my own #boots on the ground. Sometimes, that just meant going to Kirkland and driving along the Cadillac fault, taking photos of all the headframes and resources you pass.

In the past, they often didn’t have SMART phones, so my phone became my biggest tool. I started visiting mining claims and taking content (photos/videos) of what prospecting met and what is met to go to the field. What an adit was, what it meant to take bedrock samples. This grew and grew to what resulted to 1000’s of posts across multiple social media platforms and an audience that kept liking and encouraging my content to support continued growth.

“Without the supporting audience, I would not be where I am today.”

#miningindustry has always worked well on #Linkedin, so that was a bonus. Many mining connections I either met in person, worked with, or heard of were on there, supporting me on my journey.

I watched #Linkedin change over the years from being just a place to post about jobs to becoming a leader in professional social media content.

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