COM0015 – Blog Post #4 – Out of the Box

Where to start? I’ve learned so much over the past year with this program that it’s hard to pinpoint just a few things that I’ve learned. I thought I knew a lot about social media but was I wrong. It’s all been a bit unexpected. There is so much happening in social media and I’m sure there will be a lot more to come as technology develops.

When I started this program earlier this year like many of you, I had been tasked with developing my facility’s social media plan. Needless to say, my original plan has been reworked a few times with the new knowledge that I have developed throughout this course. Like how much value do you put on social influencers? How important is the listening in social media? As well as the numerous tools that are available for monitoring feeds. And I finally understand and got the hang of RSS feeds.


One of the most recent apps that I’ve tried (thanks to Sharon Sinfield) is the use of

Grammarly. I’ve been using it regularly now and am so thankful that she mentioned it. I find that it has helped me write without worrying about what’s grammatically correct off the top. And even if I don’t agree with their suggestions, I have the power to change it. It’s a cool app.



One of the other things that happened is that I forgot how much I loved writing. I come from a journalism background (many moons ago) and used to love writing; but moved away from for various reasons. Now as part of this program’s progress, I have found that love again with the blogs. I am planning to create my own blog now; just have to figure out which platform will work best for me and my subject matter. One of my friends suggested that I write about “The Ramblings of Mrs. Claus”. My husband and I played Santa and Mrs. Claus for our wedding photographer last year and are doing it again in December. I can’t wait.

SANTA 2017

hoto credit: The Wright House Photography Studio, Dec. 2017 Newmarket ON



Moving forward though, I will take this new knowledge and use it in both my personal and professional lives. What knowledge will you take with you in your future endeavours? It’s going to be an exciting ride for all of us.



COM0015– Blog Post #3 – Professional Networking Now and in the Future

Networking has always been one of those things that most people should do, but sometimes don’t do, or don’t do well. There are a variety of networking opportunities available out there in most industries, and a little research goes a long way to find good options for yourself. When deciding upon these options though, I think that you need to choose the best opportunity, for yourself and your business, or at least the best combination. And it always should revolve around your goals.

Gone are the days where you may have simply attended a meeting in your

geographic area or had a simple telephone conversation with a colleague in the field. So much has developed with the advent of the World Wide Web that now you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate in networking opportunities.


Whether you choose online networking through LinkedIn for example or face to face through business functions, your choice really needs to work for you. And don’t stop at just one type of networking; why not create a strategy that includes a variety of opportunities including face to face and online? You might find that one type works better for you personally but don’t limit yourself. You might miss out on a wonderful opportunity.

 Being in the recreation field, there are a number of networking opportunities that come across my desk on a regular basis; some in-person workshops or conferences and others as part of an online community network. I can’t really say that I prefer in-person or online better. But I think that it depends on the type of opportunity it is. For example, I correspond quite regularly with colleagues in my field from other municipalities; so much so that many of us were receiving an overabundance of emails on the same subject material. I’m sure you can relate. One of the colleagues developed an online forum or chat room for us to post questions on various topics and we could post replies at our leisure and search for information. And voila, the Municipal Fitness Forum was born.


Not only is this a great resource for me, but it has now recently morphed into an in-person forum through another network. It’s great how things develop.

I cannot say that I currently have a set strategy for professional networking or at least not a formal one. But I do participate in a variety of networks and professional development opportunities that help guide my way. Some examples of these are listed here:

  • LinkedIn
  • Older Adult Centres of Ontario (OACAO) has a Listserve available for its members
  • Aurora-based Older Adult networking group
  • Subscribe to various organizations and newsletters online…i.e. Mind Tools

Although some of these require a paid membership, I have found it has been quite useful to me in developing my skill set in my field as well as networking with other professionals in a variety of industries.

As far as my commitments in the next 6-12 months to continue this development of my networks? I am planning to continue on the current road I am on, hoping those wonderful opportunities will develop along the way. Through the Social Media Program, I have also developed some networking contacts that I’m hoping will continue once the program is completed. We can all learn from one another, no matter what our industry or business.

Networking is not only a wonderful approach to develop your skills and knowledge but it’s a great way to connect with others in your chosen field, near and far. What’s best for you may not be best for me, but let’s chat about that.


COM0015 – Blog 2 – Strong and Weak Organizations


What’s strong? What’s weak? Is it in the eye of the beholder? I guess what I consider strong may not be the same as you but it’s all relative. And doesn’t it all comes down to your goals? Are they being met or not? From the outside looking in it might be difficult to gauge success of a social media strategy, but if you look at each of their platforms, you can see how engaging they are, and then determine how strong or weak they may be in their attempts.


I took a slight turn on this and started thinking outside the box a bit. Sure, large corporations tend to budget funds towards marketing, advertising and communications, and some may have their own social media manager in place. But what about the little guy or girl? How do they do social media? Ten to one, they don’t have the large budget to work with but somehow, they make do and with relatively good success.

Let’s take a look at one of the big fishes in the fitness industry first, Canfitpro.

Canfitpro was founded in 1993 by David Patchell-Evans, yes, the founder of Goodlife fitness, and provides a variety of fitness education opportunities in Canada. Not only do they provide courses and programs for the budding fitness professional, they offer continued education, certifications, conferences and trade shows for its members and the fitness industry. As a fitness professional myself, they have been my certifying agency for over 20 years. “Canfitpro’s over 24,000 members include some of the world’s finest fitness professionals, health club operators, industry suppliers, and fitness consumers.” (Source:

As a major corporation, not only do they subscribe to two of the most widely used social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, but they also have a big presence on Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. One of their greatest hits has been the promotion of their annual conferences which are held in major cities across the country. Although I didn’t attend this past Toronto show in August, I recall from previous years that there was always a camera around and people posting live updates on almost every aspect of the conference. And watching the feeds from this year’s World fitness expo was no different. Even during the event, there were thousands of posts by the organization requesting members to post their own experiences from the conference. There was a lot of engagement on their Twitter and Facebook pages.



Now gearing up for Vancouver on November 15, I’m sure they will be doing a similar strategy to engage the participants in attendance and show those not present, what’s happening on the east coast.

In addition to promoting events and educational opportunities, I also appreciated that they have really gotten the members engaged on their platforms. Every month they highlight one of the many members of their organization, which gets shared several times over on their Facebook page. Canfitpro knows its audience quite well and I feel they are doing a great job with their social media efforts.

Another organization that I feel hits the mark on social media is Thirty-One Gifts.

Empowering women to run their own business by giving them the tools and opportunities to do so, Thirty-One was created in 2003 and has been going strong ever since. An international business with consultants across North America, Thirty-One has become successful in its own right. Yes, it is a home party-based business for some and yes, you can certainly shop online for their products, but what struck me was the intimacy of their consultants’ business. What I mean to say is that the consultant creates a personal relationship with each and every customer. My consultant Jacquie, is an amazing woman. A d has made incredible strides in her business. Not only does she have a career in another industry, but she runs her Thirty-One business with amazing success using social media as a marketing tool. She started her business 4 years ago in Ontario and in that time has become a top salesperson in the company, winning numerous accolades for her work. Two years ago, she packed up and moved to Calgary for her career and Thirty-One blossomed that much more.

Creating her own Facebook group has given her the tools to market her business in a way don’t think traditional sales would have worked. Not only does she reach a lot of people, but reaches them across the country. From hosting live videos on product launches, contest giveaways, and just posting photos of new products to personally using the products she endorses, Jacquie and her Thirty-One business has made a great impact.


Nationally Thirty-One gifts have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest; which allows each consultant to use their photos and videos for their own pages. It’s great to see the ‘little guy’ succeed with little funds.

Although these are just two examples of strong social media campaigns, there are several other organizations that are just as effective. But what about those that are not? Or those that have quickly reacted to something and didn’t think ahead. We all remember the United Airlines debacle last year when a passenger was forcibly dragged from the plane because he refused to give up his seat when the airline had overbooked. Video of the event went viral and the CEO went on social media apologizing a few times, which didn’t go over very well. “United failed to show empathy with its paying customers and came across as uncaring, insincere, and brutal”



So much for flying the friendly skies.

Regardless of whether you consider your business as a strong or weak organization when it comes to social media, there are a few tips to consider when setting up any social media platform.

According to LYFE Marketing, if you follow their 10 easy tips, you’ll be taking your social media strategy to new heights. You can find more detail on these tips here.

  1. Identify Your Goals
  2. Identify Your Audience
  3. Select the Best Platforms
  4. Employ a Qualified Manager
  5. Deliver Consistently
  6. Woo Influence
  7. Grow Your Audience
  8. Engage Your Audience
  9. Measure your results
  10. Lather, rinse, repeat

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. But when dealing on social media, it can become quite daunting if you have a little blooper. Have you ever posted something that you regretted putting out there? Or tried to fix but it just made it worse? Tell me your social media blunders and how you fixed it.



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COM0015 – Blog #1 – Tools and Sources

How many times have you gone looking for the right tool to perform a task, whether ittools be a DIY project or a work task, only to realize that you either don’t have it or you cannot find the right tool? I can sure relate t that when it comes to the DIY projects. But when it comes to online sources, how do you determine which online tool is the best one for you?

First and foremost, rely on the goals you have set for social media. You want to ensure that how you measure your success or failure, can be measured accurately. And any feedback, positive or negative can be determined and responded to in a timely manner.

Prior to starting this social media program, like many of you, I had only delved into the worlds of Facebook and Twitter, not counting online news on the web. However my world quickly opened up with all of the possibilities of social media resources that are out there. There are a few tools, new to me, that I’ve been getting used to over the past months – Sprout Social, Facebook Insights and Feedly. Although I’m no expert with Feedly (still trying to figure it all out), Sprout Social has been my go-to tool for work. I have found their analytics quite helpful on all of the posts that I’ve created for the fitness centre. (oh, by the way, I manage a fitness facility for a small municipality in York Region). There is so much opportunity to use social media with our centre, but unfortunately, there is a lot of red tape that comes with it. I am limited at work to using Sprout Social as our social media tool. At this point, we’ve been asking to have our own Facebook page, but no luck yet. I’ll keep trying.

As an Administrator for the Aurora Seniors Association’s Facebook page, I have found the Facebook Insights Metrix very informative. Not only can I see the likes, shares and comments, but it also shows me how each post has been doing overall and gives me an option to boost it. And since these posts directly relate to our programs and services, if something needs to change, it can be done quickly.

infographicWhen it comes to additional source material though, since beginning this program, I have subscribed to Social Media Today’s online newsletter and find their website quite educational for my purpose. Finding information on trending, marketing, and all things social media, it has helped me to develop our social media strategy for the fitness centre. The ‘Ultimate Social Media Checklist’ in this infographic from Social Media Today, shows daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks to keep track of on your social media pages and platforms. Definitely a cool little graphic to have posted at my desk as a reminder to constantly keep monitoring my posts and pages.

There are so many tools and sources in the online world that at times, I have found it difficult to pick just a few. As I mentioned, try to align any of the tools to your goal; some will work and some will not. And with the ever-changing online world, I’m sure there are many tools that will be developed that will impact my work and yours.

Are your social media goals a match made in heaven with the tools that you use? Do you think there is a better one out there to be developed? I know that I’ll be doing a lot more research into the multitude of tools and sources out there; Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Google Alerts and Trends to name a few. Keeping up with the constant changes in social media will be a bit like Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Sources for photos:

Tools: ttps://


COM0014 – Personal Reflection

Have you ever thought about the courses you have taken over time, what you have learned and how you have been able to apply that learned

information? It’s always different for every one to take learned knowledge and apply it to your life or career or both.

Whether it is a verbal story or a written one, I’ve learned the importance of knowing who you want to know your story. Knowing your target audience is a key element in being a successful story teller. Would you tell a story about your greatest achievement to a child? Perhaps if that child could benefit from your mentorship. But in all honesty, you would probably tell it to someone older.

Writing a book, the format you use will generally be leaving the climax of the story or the most important part near the end, when all will be revealed. When writing for social media, you really want to have that important piece at the beginning to create interest so the reader will read on.

As I reflect on my life and of those who have impacted me, I continue to come back to the 2 most important people in my life: my parents. Being the youngest of six had its advantages for sure. But it also had its drawbacks:

– I was the last to do everything
– Always got the hand me down clothes
– Always had someone watching over me; to some that is a good thing
– Was always given lots of advice on everything

Perhaps the single most piece of advice I received was from my dad when I was 16. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket“. Now he was talking about boyfriends at the time but I’ve carried that little tidbit with me for many years now. And it’s proven to be a pretty good piece of advice for my life. I’ve always diversified my career options and my education, as well as my social life and activities. Who would have guessed that my dad was right? At 16 I sure didn’t.

I want my stories to be not only a reflection of me and what I’ve gone through, but also to have meaning for the person reading it. I was never as close to my dad as I was to my mom, but those 8 little words have made such an impact on my life. If my words can be remembered like my dad’s were for me after 40 years, that would be so amazing. And if what I say can resonate with the person reading them, then I know I’ve been successful.

Do you remember a piece of advice you received and how it impacted your life? Would it be something you’d want to be remembered for? I bet if you think about it, something will come to you.

Photo sources:

Scrabble photo:

Proverb photo:

COM0014 – The start of many great achievements

I was always one of those kids who wanted to stand out. No matter what the occasion, I wanted people to take notice of me. We moved around a lot when I was younger so making friends became difficult the older I got. I had a few close friends but my circle was small. Once I hit high school though I had become painfully shy, and many of those in my class actually thought I was a snob because I didn’t talk to too many people. Needless to say high school was not a fun time for me.

Going through university and subsequently in my first few jobs, not much changed. I was still quite shy especially around new people. But underneath there was a young girl who just wanted to stand out and be noticed.

It wasn’t until I decided to change careers that life took a different turn for me. Moving into the Recreation and Fitness industry had its bumps and challenges for me, especially teaching. I’d always hated public speaking to the point of avoiding it wherever possible. Writing was always my thing. But when your boss calls in sick and you’re now having to teach a fitness class in a college triple gymnasium for 40 people you don’t know for the first time, what choice do you have. Stephen King had nothing on the terror I felt that day.

I had 2 hours to prepare a class. I had none of my own music prepared, no choreography planned and not much time to create it. Thankfully she had a tape cassette (you remember those right) in the office that I borrowed and played for the next hour to figure out what I was going to do.
Fast forward to class time, here I was watching all these staff and students come in to the gym for my class, and boy was I nervous. “Shaking in my boots” took on a whole new meaning that day. Here I was, a very shy young woman who didn’t want to speak in public, standing in front of 40+ people ready to teach a fitness class. If you’ve ever watched Don Knotts in the ‘Shakiest Gun in the West’ movie, that was me or at least how I felt.

As I started the music and looked around, I froze for a second and then I met my friends eyes, smiling at me. He was so encouraging with his smile that it made me feel like I could do anything. So I began to teach and every few minutes when I felt that panic creep back in, I would look at him and his smile kept me going. Forty-five minutes had never felt so long before, but when it was all over, I had never felt so much relief.
Then to my surprise, everyone was saying thank you and how much they enjoyed the class. It gave me the much needed boost of confidence I needed to continue to the next class and the one after that and the one after that and so on.

I was never so grateful to my boss that day for calling in sick. Unbeknownst to her, she gave me the greatest gift and one of my greatest achievements, confidence. Almost 30 years later, that young woman is still teaching and not afraid to speak in public any longer. I have so much fun now working with the public in my recreation centre that I can’t imagine my life any other way. So I say Thank You Raylene for being sick and pushing me to step way out of my comfort zone and giving me an accomplishment I don’t think I could have had without you. Do you have someone who has given you that little extra push to succeed? Maybe you didn’t know it at the time but I bet if you thought about it, you would find that person or time of your life when it happened.

Sources for photos:

Shy girl:
Man on top of the mountain :

COM0014 – Blog #4 – B2C Case Study

To buy or not to buy. Is that the right question? Or should it be how to buy? buyWe’ve all been there when the sales are on and you make a mad dash to get to the store to purchase something before the store runs out or the sale ends, right? But how many of you still shop in person? With the arrival of online and home party shopping, that whole go-to-the-store experience has gone by the wayside for many of us.

I was first introduced to Thirty-One Gifts by my step-daughter a few years back. Her best friend was starting a new business venture and to help her out, she held a home party.

In the time of non-traditional business operations, home parties have started to become an integral part of a B2C industry. Not only can you purchase products online and have delivered to your home, but you can have a group of your friends and family over and have those products showcased and presented at your own convenience. Companies such as Avon, PartyLite, Thirty-One Gifts and Tupperware are just a few of these types of companies where a lot of their sales are done through independent consultants and home parties.

avonAs a child in the late 1960’s, my mother sold Avon door to door. I remember going with her quite a few times and sitting quietly while she showed her abundance of fragrances and makeup to her customers, secretly wanting to try each one myself. I guess you could say that that was my first business experience. When I look back though, I can only imagine how hard my mom worked to get the sales she did. Walking from house to house, having tea and selling her products face to face; not the easiest of things to do for some people. But in those days, that was probably one of the few ways to sell. In today’s era though, social media and the web have placed sales in an entirely new category.

Back to my experience with Thirty-One Gifts. This company founded in 2003 by Cindy Monroe, has “one simple goal in mind – to help women by giving them the opportunity to run their own successful business. That goal remains our No. 1 priority today.” (Source: With over 860,000 Facebook followers, 42.1K Twitter followers, 78.1K Instagram followers, and 1,268 subscribers to their YouTube Channel, I think that Thirty-One Gifts has made incredible strides in the online B2C market.

The consultant that I purchase from, Jacquie Emes, has taken to Facebook over the past year, creating a social group to showcase her products and promotions. Every time there is a new product launch or a great sale, an invitation can be found in my inbox. Her launch party which is done by a live video feed, is very creative and engaging and gets you excited to want to try the new products and patterns in your favourite item. She has also recently held online auctions with her products that are either going offline or getting rid of her inventory. And again, amazing success with that. I’m sure she is not the only consultant to use social media to boost sales and engage with customers. Jacquie engages with her customers on a regular basis, daily in most cases not just when there are specials occurring; answers questions on all of the products she sells and is very supportive all around.

Now that she has moved to Alberta, not only does she have an entirely new group of AB customers, but she maintains contact with her Ontario customers to continue to provide great customer services. Since she can no longer do home parties for her ON customers, she has started online party options, a great way to keep engagement strong. I must say that over the past 5 years that Jacquie has been involved in the business, her success has been outstanding. Thirty-one gifts as a company uses a variety of social media platforms in their business. And since they have consultants all over the world, they work quite well.

So, back to my original question, how do you decide whether to buy or not to buy? And then, how do you buy?


Photo ‘Buy Now’ and ‘Don’t Buy Now’, Microsoft Word 2016

Sales photo:



A picture may say a thousand words but are they the same words for everyone?

No matter what you decide to write about whether it be for a blog or social metbtdia post, you need to know and understand who your post is aimed at – know your audience. Not only does that include words but also photos. For example, if your story is geared towards an older adult population, would you use slang words that the teenagers use? Or even go as far as using acronyms such as TBT (throwback Thursday) or LOL (laugh out loud).

Now I imagine that some tech savvy seniors might know what that means but I think that could be limited to the younger seniors or those just recently retired. In all honesty I’m approaching the senior age of 55 and I don’t even understand some other younger generation’s words.

Many older adult Centres are now using social media to promote their programs and services which is terrific. The majority are definitely using Facebook; some use Twitter as well as Instagram. I have yet to find this demographic using tools like Snapchat, which is popular with the teens; even YouTube can be tricky for this population.

When writing social media posts geared to the older adult population, try these tips from the Ontario Association of Older Adult Centres (OACAO).

  1. Know your community
  2. Plug into the lifestyle interests of your seniors
  3. Ask satisfied members to write reviews of your pages. This will get them more engaged with your centre.
  4. Acknowledge new followers and group members
  5. Include photos and videos

The International Council on Active Aging has guidelines for effective communication with older adults – Communication guidelines

Although this can be used for verbal conversation, you can also use these tips when writing. After all, whether verbal or written, it is still communication. There are a variety of words and combinations of words that can be used when representing older adults. Just remember what is most appropriate for your community. Would you want to be called elderly, a geezer or even a codger? Most of the seniors I know even have an issue with being referred to as a senior.

After all is said and done, can you describe your target audience? And would you be able to tell your story effectively to them? I’m still figuring it out, are you?

Sources: ,



COM0014 – Blog #2 – Storytelling and Communication Styles

Once upon a time…..isn’t that how most stories begin? When you are telling your story, do you know who you’re talking to? Do you know how they understand and relate to what you are saying? If you don’t then perhaps you need to take a good look at what and how your story is perceived.


Photo by

I work a lot with seniors and needless to say, calling them seniors doesn’t always go over well. In my work community, the senior age is 55. Now how many of you consider yourself a senior at that age? And if you are that age, would you like to be called a senior? Is older adult any better?

Learning how to speak and communicate in a way that you can get your message across is paramount to storytelling. What do you want your audience to know? Who is your audience? How do you want them to react to your story? These are just some questions you need to answer when writing your story.

No matter the subject, you need to get your message across as efficiently as possible. Catch the readers attention as quickly as possible or at least within the first few sentences. Try to leave them wanting more or at the very least, wanting to take action towards something.

Storytelling comes easy to some people and not so much to others. I myself find it easier with a subject I’m passionate about. Could you write about a passion you have?

close up of paper over white background

Photo by Pixabay on

So, what’s stopping you? Pick up your pencil and tell me your once upon a time.

What I did on my vacation

Like many of us, when vacation rolls around, it’s a time for fun, relaxation and enjoyment; whether you travel to far off places or stay in your own backyard, it’s a time to rejuvenate and re-energize yourself.






For me, vacation has always been a time for family, whether it’s been discovering places together or just hanging out. It’s a time to just be together.

My vacation last year was spent with 2 of my sisters and their families in Nova Scotia, the land of my ancestors. Following a difficult health crisis that hit our family quite hard last year, I felt that I needed to be there.

Now I’m sure many of us have had our share of bad news with the big C….and my family is no different. I’ve lost both my parents and countless aunts and uncles, but when 2 of your siblings are diagnosed within two months of each other, it really opens your eyes as to what is important in life.

I come from a family of 6 siblings from 2 different marriages. Being the youngest always had its advantages. Although I didn’t find out that I had 3 older sisters until I was 10, it was one of the best things that has happened to me. So, when the thought of losing not one but two was in front of me, I decided to travel to their homes to spend time with them.

Now I’ve been to Nova Scotia several times in my lifetime. And anyone who’s travelled

beach meadows
Beach Meadows, Brooklin NS Photo credit: D. Dawson-Young July 2017



there knows how beautiful that part of the country is and how wonderful and friendly the people are. From Halifax along the south shore to Yarmouth and back towards the Valley, there is so much to do and see and it’s rich in culture and history. My Mom was from a family of 15 and I have cousins galore in Nova Scotia. So, you can find some member of my family along the way.

That vacation was spent relaxing on the porch telling yarns, watching my great niece and nephew play ball and traveling to the local beach to name just a few. But the best part for me was being there for my sister through her cancer journey. Now I’m sure you’re thinking how much fun could that have been, sitting through a chemo treatment and watching her get her head shaved. But as I said before, the experience opens your eyes to its importance. Nova Scotia will always be there for me to visit again. The time spent with my sisters is priceless. I’m so grateful I had that opportunity.

Now being from Acadian ancestry and from such a large family has been its own



experience. A good one no less. A few of the cousins decided last year that we should get together on an annual basis rather than at funerals, which are happening more often at our age. So this August I’ll be travelling to Nova Scotia once again for the Pothier family reunion. Every time I go there, I always seem to bring back a piece of my heritage. Something that I can now pass along to my granddaughter.

Have you visited or travelled to a place that was part of your ancestry and heritage?

(And in case you are wondering, thankfully, both of my sisters are doing very well.)