Dear friends and followers, your patience is requested

Do you remember times when your social life seemed complicated and overwhelming?  Perhaps in those early grade school years, and then again in high school and college?  Friendships and social networks could provide you with satisfying highs and depressing lows.  These were times where we awkwardly needed to figure out who our friends were, how much time did they require from us, and did we need to do everything they did?  Our self-esteem and happiness were held in a delicate balance based on the perceptions of others and how we felt we fit in.

Photo: Pexels

Despite many grey hairs and not being able to do a cartwheel without feeling ill, the age of 40 was great – it was freeing from this social pressure…or so I thought.  I had finally let go of friendships that weren’t comfortable, and I did so without guilt.  I focused on smaller social circles that I could manage in a more productive way, for example people in my neighbourhood, and people who were engaged with us at a family level. 

But had I achieved this contentment in my new social network – on platforms such as Facebook?  Engaging in these platforms seemed like starting from scratch again.  It took time to get over the idea that more was better.  I didn’t need to accept every friend request.  If I had no intention of communicating with that person from high school in a social setting, why did I need them on Facebook?  And the reverse seemed to be true as well.  I recall the sting of realizing that some people just wanted to see what I was doing or how life “turned out”, or perhaps I was just adding to their friend statistic.

Over time, I decided what worked for me. I cut down my network to close friends and family – to a group I was comfortable with and felt I could reciprocate with.  Having too many people connected to me made me feel like I was creating a circle I could never really keep up with.  Perhaps here was the problem – I couldn’t distinguish the expectations of my in-person network to my online network.  Of course those Facebook friends didn’t all expect a dinner invite, but if they were engaged in my life online, what were their expectations? 

Photo: Pexels

From a professional perspective, LinkedIn is still a challenge for me.  Yes, you will find me there, but what do you want to see from me other than my “online resume”?  Should I be posting interesting articles?  But if I do, am I honestly sharing them because I think my network will enjoy them or am I just trying to look active and engaged?  In all honesty, the latter is probably true. 

My online social network is a work in progress, but isn’t everything?  Any tips and lessons you’ve experienced with your own social media network is greatly appreciated!

Facebook and Twitter:  Online friendship – what expectations apply?

Social Media – Powering the Little Engine that Could

I love to cheer for the underdog.  Maybe that’s why I loved reading my daughter the classic tale of the Little Engine that Could.  You know the story, the little unlikely engine who helped get the train full of toys and sweets for the kids up the mountain.  This wasn’t a big powerful commercial train, it didn’t have lots of experience in this area, but it had determination and spirit.

Photo: Pexels

I feel that social media has the power to get the underdog up the proverbial hill.  In the past, large corporations held marketing power with their large media budgets.  Television advertising, billboards, full-page magazine ads – these weren’t cheap.  Not to mention full branding campaigns complete with logos, taglines and jingles.  I admit, back then my clean had to be as real as Ivory, it had to be 99.44 (this may sound familiar to some of you, if not check out the popular jingle on this ivory commercial).  Now however, I buy a lot of my soap from an Ottawa-based social enterprise called Soap2Hope.  I’m connected to this entrepreneur on Facebook and love to get her posts on new products (I’m interested in trying her latest tub tea soaks!). 

Photo: Pexels

Small businesses who take to social media don’t need large budgets to reach their target audience.  They need platforms that enable them to demonstrate their niche, their uniqueness and a way to engage with clients.  And now it’s easier than ever to get instant feedback.  I recall joining a focus group almost 20 years ago, spending my whole evening in a room, eating a cold sub that was my provided dinner, and giving feedback to an insurance company on their services and branding.  With social media, that can be done in minutes from the comfort of home.  In fact, Architectual Digest sends me surveys every now and then regarding various ads and products that they feature.  It’s fun for me and fast and free focus testing for them!

Speaking of media outlets, this is another area where I feel that power has shifted to the underdog. It’s not as common for people to have the physical newspaper delivered to their door anymore.  Platforms like Twitter and Facebook provide “breaking news” almost instantly.  And we don’t need to rely on major news outlets to give us our information – almost anyone can report on world issues, sports, local events and more.  Food and movie critics can be an average citizen with a passion for either and with a well-written and respected blog.  If you have enough followers and content perhaps you too can be an “influencer”.

Photo: Pexels

Do you have an underdog story to tell? Did social media help you gain traction? Or, did social media introduce you to some underdogs that you have helped up the hill?  Feel free to share!

Facebook:  Can underdogs get ahead with social media?  Share your story!

Twitter:  Have local enterprises peaked your interest through social media?  Share your thoughts!

Click here to Save Whales

The environment is a global issue that raises much debate and activism.  Whether we are talking about climate change, plastic pollution, or endangered species we all have a role to play and there are many champions seeking our support.

Photo: Pexels

Social media provides a platform to raise our awareness of environmental issues, as well as to engage directly in the causes that speak to us.  By design, social media itself nudges us in the direction of using less paper by getting our news via Twitter, Facebook and other sources. 

With information on environmental causes being so readily available, and photos showing us the shocking realities of everything from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to emaciated polar bears, issues are hard to ignore. 

Social media continues to shape my own experience of developing better habits and making better choices in support of our Earth in the following ways:

Access to organizations that educate me
It only took following a couple of organizations that I trusted on Facebook (namely National Geographic and Oceana) for tips and information to flow in on a daily basis.  I have gained so much with minimal effort involved.  While passively sitting on my 30 minute commute by bus I can be actively engaged in learning about microplastics, waste reduction and more. 

What I like is that social media has allowed groups that may not be in our backyard to share and promote common ideas and values across the globe. 1 Million Women is a movement started by one women, Natalie Isaacs, in Australia to empower women and girls everywhere to act on climate change through the way they live.

Introduction to products that are more sustainable choices
Yes, social media has enabled some of my retail therapy habits – but in positive ways!  Once I started following various environmental groups, I was receiving ads on Facebook for various sustainable products.  My reusable straws, bamboo cutlery set for my purse, and compostable smart phone case are serving me well. 

Photo: Pexels

Ability to share my enthusiasm
To me, one of the best features of social media is the ability to share interesting and important information.  I personally have learned a lot from the interests I have followed on Facebook and Twitter.  I have since created my own page, Be the Change, to share with friends. Here I share articles, pictures and products that support the environment and a philosophy of buying less and buying stuff that makes sense. 

And along with this information and product placement, yes, you can actually help save whales.

Photo: Pexels

Can social media change your lifestyle and help the environment? Surf here and save whales

Can social media change your environmental habits? Find out! #Savewhales

3 Tips to Dining at the Social Media Buffet

Ok, here’s my full confession.  I only read books on paper, I’ve never had an Instagram account and halfway through a long text message I give up and call the person instead.

The adoption of social media has not been fast or natural for me.  As a result, it has forced me to be more deliberate in how I want to engage on these platforms.  Similar with my experience at a buffet, social media presents a lot to take in, overindulgence is probable, and it’s best to have a plan.

My social media strategy so far can be summarized into three principles:

Know what you like to eat

Photo: Canva

It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole scanning posts on Pinterest, Facebook or elsewhere.  There are so many articles and ideas that it can be overwhelming. Your starting and ending point can take you on a winding path.  Once I determined my key areas of personal interest (such as environmental issues and minimalism), I found myself centred around those topics in my engagement with platforms.  It gives me a purpose for the time I spend on social media and I feel like I’m advancing my goals.  It’s harder to be disappointed when you stick to what you like. 

Stick to items that keep you feeling good

Photo: istockphoto, Deagreez

Just like bad food choices can bring down your mood, so can spending time reading tweets, comments, or articles that you find frustrating or negative.  Along with the bad, there is plenty of good – mindfulness platforms, positive quotes, good news stories as well as tips to help us be our best.  I try not to engage in reading comments that are negative or to dwell on subject matter that doesn’t leave me inspired to act or learn more.  My mom always said to hang out with the friends that were good influences – I suppose the same goes for those on social media that you “follow”. 

Know when to say when

Photo: Insung Yoon

Too many times I’ve had the feeling that I should have stopped eating 15 minutes ago.  I’ve had this same feeling scrolling through social media platforms.  Inevitably I’ve ended up going to bed too late and feeling like I’ll never create a great birthday party for my daughter. You know, like the 100 perfect ones I saw on Pinterest (another example of stick to what makes you feel good!). 

This is where setting timers or specific goals for my social media usage helps.  There are many apps for assistance with this too, including Forest where a digital tree grows to show the time you are successfully OFF of your phone. 

These are just a few principles that guide me in my early adoption of social media. I’m interested to hear what works for you, and what recommendations you have for managing your appetite with so many available options.