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Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’

Who Inspires You?

April 17, 2011 5 comments

I went into journalism thinking it would be a way of meeting and building up already fantastic people, and got out of it because in fact it was more about tearing them down. The things that sold newspapers was not what I wanted to write about, for the most part.

Real people and real stories can inspire me to move mountains. And it has always been thus. Long ago, whenever I happened upon a Shape magazine, I would flip to the success stories. Irregardless of the fact losing weight has never been a big priority, I love to read about these people who overcome personal hurdles and achieve their goal of a svelte silhouette and healthier lifestyle.

Since starting my blog, I have been introduced to interesting, dynamic, energetic people. They are bold in their mandates, incredibly hard-working, often see obstacles as opportunities, and motivate me like nothing else.

I’m planning on profiling one of these people a week. Mothers, fathers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and business people, they have achieved great things in life on the heels of their hard work. Inspired like I am by Twitter, I’m calling it Motivational Monday, my blogging answer to Thankful Thursday and Follow Friday.

Because in social media we like to spread the love and highlight the positive, I’m hoping these people will inspire you as well.

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Parents Need to Get Their Hands Dirty With Social Media

April 11, 2011 7 comments

When I visit my family each summer, I watch my nieces and nephews text each other furiously. Their fingers are working overtime to host constant communication. I asked if their professors had any trouble with this during lectures, and my niece replied that they all have their phones on silent, but can still easily text without looking at them.

So while a professor may see a sea of attentive faces, quite likely they are deep in thought texting.

Tcchnology has changed the way our children communicate. How you feel about this personally is irrelevant. Texting, skyping, and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are only gaining in popularity and children are finding ways of adapting them earlier.

Your mission as a parent, if you choose to accept it, is to become versed in social media before your child has to teach it to you.

There are two reasons for this:  If they are on Facebook or another social networking site, you can (attempt, at any rate) to be on their contact list, or ‘friend’, and therefore watch what they are doing more closely.

Being knowledgeble yourself in social media is to take away another layer of potential misunderstanding between you and your children. You are bridging a gap. If you are using social media effectively, your children are more likely to see you as an ally when they most need one.

Cyber-bullying is a nasty consequence of the proliferation of online communication. It’s easier than ever to be mean behind the cloak of anonymity. The rash of suicides amongst teenagers citing online bullying as the cause is rapidly increasing. As governments and teachers rush to react with preventative policies, teenagers will continue to circulate hurtful lists on their smartphones with a vengeance. They will start nasty Facebook campaigns and they will tweet nasty comments. Cyber-bullying won’t disappear, so arm yourself and your child against it.

Yet I know a lot of parents who know nothing about social media. They view it as a waste of time. They can’t get their head around it. They prefer traditional methods of communication. Knowledge is powerful, and learning this strange new world of interacting and socializing is to learn the language of our children.

Adapting the attitude that social media is child’s play will only keep you out of the conversation.

Getting a Handle on Twitter

January 19, 2011 8 comments
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Twitter confounds me.  Although I’ve never been to a rodeo, I feel like it’s the feisty calf that my cowgirl self can’t lasso.

I have had trouble wrapping my head around this site, and was immediately dismissive of its necessity.  Who cares what Ashton Kutcher is saying about anything?  And pith has never been my strong point, so that 140 character minimum equates to writer’s block for me.

But it’s hung around, and in fact is growing in leaps and bounds, getting harder to ignore.  I had coffee with a Vancouver marketing dynamo, Jennifer Maloney, of Sip Publicity, and she encouraged me to get on Twitter. Her explanation was that Twitter was like one big cocktail party, where you meander around catching snippets of conversation which will occasionally interest you, and some which will not.  Facebook, on the other hand, is more like a barbecue, where you are in the company of those you know personally.

Equating any site on the internet with a cocktail party is music to any SAHM’s ears.  SIGN. ME. UP.

I love the game of cocktail parties, as everyone is ducking and jiving to have an interesting conversation with someone they barely know.   I’ve used the old “I just need to refresh my drink” phrase in efforts to dodge conversations containing the words “projectile vomiting” on more than one occasion.  Conversely I’ve lurked on the outskirts of tight circles discussing shoe sales or juicy tidbits of gossip, straining my ears so hard to hear that I practically fell on top of their cosmopolitans.  Yet my social calendar is devoid of these swanky little numbers.  Could Twitter really fill this crater?

I took a deep breath and created a Twitter handle, although I still had no idea what I should be tweeting about.  The next step was getting a list of followers, because what is the point of tweeting if no one is listening?  I already talk to myself far too much.  Jennifer had recommended looking at lists that interesting people are following.  If you’re interested in yoga, you might follow people who are following Lululemon.  I know, that’s a lot of following for one sentence, but welcome to the Twitter world of tweets.

There are many different people on this social networking site for many different reasons.  Like anything on the internet, watch out for spammers and anyone who tries to tell you how to make quick, easy money, and of course anyone who wants you to take your clothes off.  In fact, it’s really no different from real life; spidey senses should prevail.

As with any worthwhile achievement, the key to Twitter is patience and perseverance.  You are not going gain followers overnight, something that bothered me for a couple of months.   It’s a numbers game, where people generally follow people who have a large number of followers. These people are called influencers, and there is a certain amount of notoriety to be gained from hanging around them.  Exactly in the same way as everyone wants to be associated with the popular kid in school.  We grow, but we never really change.

The Twitter world at first seemed like a strange universe, where people were speaking a language I had never learned, with weird symbols like @, #, RT and DM.  But like skinny jeans, I’m slowly coming around to this fashion fad which seems to be here to stay.

The days of drinking and driving are firmly gone, but drinking and tweeting is encouraged!  Mix yourself a cosmo and join the party.

The Groupon Buzz

December 23, 2010 3 comments
Groupon logo.

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever noticed little pockets of conversation, or keywords themselves, that follow you everywhere you go?  Little words that, if the world was one big comic strip, would be the bubble thought above almost all heads, right up there with ‘sex’ and ‘chocolate’?  Buzz words that our collective pop culture speaks of, almost uncannily in unison?

Right now, that buzz word is Groupon.  As though I was freshly dipped in honey, this word is following me everywhere I go.  Move over Twitter, there is a new phenomenon in town.

For those who live in a vacuum, Groupon is an online discounter that provides you with mega deals on local stuff – anything under the sun that I know exists although I haven’t personally seen it for weeks.  Today’s Groupon deals offer a 3D golf lesson using a simulator, or a revitalizing facial, both at 60% off the normal cost.  Restaurant deals, weekend getaways, and merchandise at greatly reduced cost also figure prominently.  Once you sign up, you get an email each day announcing its main deal, with a couple of other promotions in the side bar.  So if golf lessons aren’t your thing, perhaps you could be enticed to open your wallet for some bling, or a river rafting adventure.

I frequently hear about Groupon during my favorite pastime, grocery shopping.  “I bought it today on Groupon for 75% off!”  The other night on our way to dinner, our chauffeur/designated driver somehow parlayed into “… Groupon, the fastest growing company in history!”  Last night, getting a pedicure at Edgemont Village’s newest nail bar, aptly named Get Nailed, I casually asked the store owner how business was.  “I did a Groupon promotion and now, it’s great!  3000 people bought the deal in a day!”  She now has enough business to ride out 2011.

Groupon has got to be the greatest invention since the hula hoop for small business owners.  It cleverly puts those with something to sell in front of thousands with money to burn, so long as they are getting the deal of the century.  Many who wouldn’t normally consider river rafting will find themselves donning life jackets and facing the rapids this coming May to cash in on their skookum deal they got today on Groupon.  Even better for the companies offering the deal, are those who buy today on Groupon only to completely forget about their prepaid adventure.  This cash infusion can be used to propel these small businesses into the new year and beyond.

It is a brilliant business model, as Groupon’s stupendous revenue attests.  By helping businesses grow, and arguably helping consumers save money, they are in turn helping themselves to become a dynasty that thumbs its nose at the likes of Google and its six billion dollar offers.

I have yet to buy something on Groupon, although I have mentioned its deals to people who may be interested in its offerings – and by that old method of word of mouth, not via email in order to reap the $10 reward for referring a client.  A friend mentioned he was looking for a picture on canvas for a bare wall; next day low and behold Groupon was offering a deal on such pictures, with free shipping.  One strange coincidence, or were magical powers involved?  No wonder Groupon turned down Google.

This could be my day for buying a Groupon deal.  I am not one for lying naked on a bed while a stranger examines my pores with a magnifying glass, and then proceeds to torture me with a variety of instruments under the futile guise of returning my skin to its former glow.  But for half the price, maybe I’ll buy two and bring a friend.

Such is the power of Groupon.

To Facebook or not to Facebook

December 22, 2010 2 comments
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

This is a question that can easily divide a room in half at a party amongst people my age: “Are you on Facebook?”  Unlike teenagers and twenty-somethings, my peers are more hesitant to adapt new social networking practices, treading cautiously and making sure no credit card numbers are required before joining.  On the other hand, just like some school aged children, those not using Facebook are quick to sling arrows and insults towards those that are.  Just like all of those insecure bullies on the playground.

In the same way that a gun can be used to protect yourself, or murder someone, Facebook can be put to good, productive use, or it can be abused and exploited.  If you’re careful, Facebook doesn’t need to be the three headed monster lurking in your closet, contrary to what its critics tell me.

I have been on Facebook for a few years now, and am happy to count amongst my random list of friends some of my oldest and dearest childhood buddies.  I don’t exchange messages with them on a regular basis, but am happy that I know how to reach them if I want to share a memory with them, and if I’m ever in their city, I will look them up, since I now know where to find them.

Naysayers tell me they are in touch with all of the friends they want to be, they don’t need an online presence for this purpose.  That’s their prerogative.  But if life wasn’t so busy and these people still lived in my neighborhood, I would still ask Kyla if she could go bike riding after dinner, and ask Trina to come over, see if Jacqui could pick me up on her scooter, or ask Angie to go to a movie.  I would love to be able to do this, but these friends are now scattered across the country and busy with careers and families.  Facebook is as close to a playdate as we can come.

With almost my entire family on the opposite coast of Canada, Facebook is a great way of sharing photos.  We tried Flickr after our family cruise, but I have long since forgotten both the site name (Regan Cruise? Family Cruise? Booze Cruise?) and password.  Facebook is so much easier.  Every now and then I post an album of recent photos, and although I can almost hear a collective groan from the rest of my Facebook friends, it helps my family recognize my children who are growing like weeds when they disembark from the airplane each summer.

As for people who say it is nothing but a pick up place, or a place to connect with old boyfriends, I’m still waiting with bated breath, but no one has tried to pick me up.  There’s always next year, I guess.

Besides all of its obvious uses, Facebook is a huge part of our pop culture.  Ignoring it is like ignoring the World Wide Web.  Whether or not the powers that be at Facebook should install a “dislike” button has sparked a massive online debate – over the top, in my opinion, but fascinating to see how passionate Facebook users are about their network.   Or to see how much time people have on their hands.

Like an overused toy on Christmas that doesn’t see the light of Boxing Day, I go on Facebook sporadically these days, it has lost its shiny luster.  I don’t check my news feed everyday to see who has updated their status.   But I’m happy to be there in case an old friend looks me up, and I’m not above creeping – the Facebook term for looking at your friends profiles and pictures – in my spare time.  The world is becoming a smaller, more intimate place, and that has its benefits.