COM005: Blog #1 What’s In Your Toolbox?

By Katie Lingard

Photo by Monstera

This fall I embarked on a new journey, going back to school! It had been about 20 years since I had been in a class and while it was a little scary, I was also excited to learn! I had just been handed my workplace’s social media accounts and I wanted to learn how to use them and expand our reach. I work at an independent elementary school in Ontario and our survival depends on new enrollments every year as well as financial supporters. Through my courses, I have learned many valuable lessons and have grown in my understanding of social media, but the one lesson that will always be at the forefront of my posting is creating quality authentic contact that will resonate with my audience. The best way to do that is by listening. There are many tools that can be used to listen to an online audience and I would like to share my favourites with you. 

The first is Meta Business Insights. I have linked our Facebook and Instagram accounts together and can easily monitor both platforms in one place. Time is precious and being able to see both sets of stats at the same time is very valuable. I am able to quickly see how similar or the same post has been received by our audience and then adjust as needed going forward. It has been very helpful in helping me create better content that has a further reach. 

The second is the insights from Wix hosts our website and in their insights, I can easily see how each part of our website is being viewed and where our visitors come from as well as how long and how often they are visiting a certain page. It helps me see if we are having success from our social media if our visitors come from there or if they come from a web search. I can also see geographical information to see where our market is located. Knowing what pages and information visitors most frequently visit has given us a fabulous advantage. It allows us to see what people are most interested in and make sure that information is helpful and easy to find. 

Keeping up current on trends in our industry is also a very valuable commodity. In a world of cancel culture and with how fast negative media can spread, it is so important to keep on top of trends to avoid faux pas as well as to be able to adjust your content to remain relevant in your industry. For me, my favourite tool is Twitter. It is so fast and easy to run a search and see what people are currently saying about a given trend or topic in our field. Valuable insight into how people are feeling and conversations being had are easily accessible. With real-time updates, trends and fads are right at your fingertips at a moment’s notice. I often do a small search before posting what may be considered a potentially controversial topic or language just to check what people are feeling or saying about it. Sometimes I will still post it to be a part of the conversation and sometimes I will change the tone or use different words to avoid negative feedback. 

The second tool I use most is an RSS feed that I created in Feeder. Feeder is a free online tool that you can design to your specific needs and capture content that others are posting online about your industry. I really like using this tool to see what the competition is doing. It gives me a better awareness of education in Ontario as well as at other independent schools and my direct competition in my region. All of which again, gives me an advantage when creating content and engaging with my audience. 

There are so many tools available today and it can be hard to pick one! In my experience, you may need to try a few to find the right fit that will gather the information you need or are looking for. But once you have the right tools in place, the sky is the limit! Good luck friends!

Until next time, dear readers. 

COMM0014 – Blog #7: Let’s Get Emotional.

Katie Lingard

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Everyone has a story. Maybe they are a traveller who has been too far off places, or maybe they have been married 50 years to their high school sweetheart. Maybe they were raised by a single parent. Maybe they have had great loss and grief. Maybe they are starting over mid-way through life and have an epic adventure on the horizon. Whatever a person’s background is, the best way to reach them is through storytelling.

Sharing a story when creating online content has never been more important than it is today. The internet is brimming with information and opinions and it is easy for your message to get lost. Carefully selecting a target audience and crafting storytelling into your content is essential to stand out from others. Readers are more willing to engage in what they read or view when they can connect to the emotion of the story that comes with it.  An excellent and beautiful example of this is Chevrolet’s recent Christmas ad. You can see the ad on YouTube here. The ad they created brings the viewer into the emotion of the story. At the time of this writing, it has already had more than 3 million views and I expect it will be one of the most shared Christmas content this year. 

Moving forward, I plan to be diligent in developing my story when creating online content. I hope that adding that personal touch will help my content stand out from the rest and help further my personal brand. 

Until next time, dear friends.

COM0014 – Blog #6: I Left My Heart In Africa.

Katie Lingard

In the village.

When a person asks you what your greatest achievement is, what comes to mind? Lots of people would probably say their children or family and be absolutely correct, my daughter is my joy. But I choose to think of her as my greatest gift. Have you ever made a decision that altered your entire trajectory in life? One that when you look back on it and study it, you realize that because of that one choice, you recognise your life has been put on its current path? My choice was to travel and serve in Africa.

The year was 1999. I was in my last year of high school and had fast-tracked to graduate early with plans to take a gap year before pursuing post-secondary school. I happened to read of a need to billet some children from Africa for one night when their choir was visiting our city. Knowing my family to be very welcoming and having a penchant for taking in people in need, I took the notice home, handed it to my mom and said, “Call this number. Some kids from Africa need a place for the night,” and walked away. 

The day arrived and we attended the concert and I learned all about Uganda and the choir called Watoto. My heart leapt in my chest as I heard their sweet voices. I knew where I wanted to go for my gap year. 

Fast forward 8 months after working at a fast-food restaurant to raise the money needed, I was on a plane at 18 years old heading halfway around the world. I think back now and see how trusting my parents really were. This was before Social Media and smartphones and I was heading to a country where electricity was spotty at best. I am not sure I would be able to send my child off today with the same faith my parents had for me then!

Arriving in Uganda, I was immediately put at ease with their friendly greetings and felt very much like I was coming home to a family I did not know I was missing. I ended up joining another team from Canada and worked with them to construct two and a half homes for families of orphans. From there I moved to a remote village approximately one hour from the capital city and assisted in teaching in a Kindergarten class. My time in the village holds a very special place in my memories. The children were so precious. 

After extending my time in Africa twice I eventually ran out of money and had to return home. It was bittersweet. I missed my family, but those people and their culture had firmly taken root in my heart and transformed my life forever. While I did go on to pursue a career in hospitality, little did I know that I would actually end up working in education. My time working in that kindergarten classroom helped prepare me for my current career at a private elementary school. I had no idea when I saw that ad looking for families to billet children would lead to my working with them every day, I only saw some people in need and wanted to help out. Little did I know that they would help ME even more. 

How about you dear reader? Can you look back on your life and see how the path you are currently on was a result of a single choice you made? Do you have a time in your life that helped prepare you for where you are now but at the time had no idea that it would strongly influence your future? Share your thoughts! 

Until next time, dear friends!

COM0014 – Blog #5: The Kindness Brand

Katie Lingard

Photo by Pexels

More than any other time in our history, the digital age has become prevalent in business, education and personal social circles thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the entire world flipped a switch to living life online to prevent the spread of illness, people are now more aware than ever of digital platforms being used to further careers and make job changes. We see examples of this with things like video-conferencing for job interviews and work conventions. We learn in school and in business that having a personal brand is essential to promoting oneself to the world and enhancing your opportunities to achieve your goals. Having a consistent presence both online and in-person is important to maintain an authentic message to set yourself apart from the crowd. My personal brand is kindness. 

In a conversation with a friend recently, we considered the current shift to online, the increase of general hostility towards others of opposing views and the rise in hostile engagements on Social Media posts, blogs and news articles. The world has never seemed more divided than it is now. The depth of pain that comes with some of these hurtful and aggressive words is pretty damaging. At this time, a smile and small act of kindness go a long way. 

Courtesy of Quote Fancy

I work in the office of a private elementary school where I have the opportunity to interact with many people every day. From phone calls to emails to people stopping by, I am constantly in conversation with others. This gives me the opportunity to practice my brand in every situation. One former colleague used to call me “Mary Sunshine” because of how I consistently greet people with a smile and listening ear.  Morgan Freeman once said. “ How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.” It is always amazing to me how a friendly smile and kind words can chase away even the grumpiest of faces. In a time when our society is persistently at odds and angry with each other, I want to offer a place where for a brief moment they can feel the sunshine and peace of a happy place. I believe that being consistent and putting this into practice, really can change a person’s life-if even for a few moments. 

What about you dear readers? What is your personal brand? How does the world see you? Share your thoughts!

Until next time, dear friends!

COM0014 – Blog #4: Changing the World, One Sale at a Time.

Katie Lingard

Under One Sun Instagram

Today’s business Social Media users understand the importance of engaging and interacting with their audience. Communicating with and listening to a target audience is what helps grow an online voice. An excellent example of this is a favourite local business of mine, Under One Sun. 

Under One Sun is located in Peterborough Ontario and was founded by Stephanie Fennell after she travelled to Haiti in 2012. Impacted by what she saw and experienced, she came back to Canada and created her business Under One Sun. Under One Sun’s motto is “Restoring Dignity Through Artistry” and their focus is on fair trade goods and creating jobs through fair employment. While most of the products come from Haiti, Under One Sun has grown to support several countries and artists around the world. Goods range from art pieces to home decor, clothing, jewellery and skincare. Each piece that is sold has its own story and buying them, supports single parents and families and their children. 

The content of Under One Sun’s posts is colourful, bright and engaging. The quality and frequency of the posts are on point and the products shared are fresh and relevant. Stephanie has a charming personality and her passion to help others overflows from every content she shares. She is very intentional about how she shares Under One Sun’s story on Social Media and her audience is invited into each artisan’s story. Often a picture of the product that is being showcased is paired with a photo of the artisan who created it or the children that are being supported. 

She also empowers her viewers by including them in the work that she does. An example of this is last August she posted that 20% of online sales were to be donated to helping children in Haiti attend school. Not only did she sacrifice some of her sales money but she spearheaded an opportunity for her audience to partner with her and give above towards a child’s education. In the end, the money from the sales and donations enabled 18 children to attend school for the 2021-2022 school year! It was a fantastic success and there are plans to offer the same next year. 

Not only has Under One Sun successfully grown a business with a significant social media presence, but it had literally changed lives. 

So dear readers, do you know of a local business that is killing it on Social Media? How have they captured your interest? Share your thoughts!

Until next time, dear friends.

PS….If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet, check out Under One Sun!! You won’t be disappointed!! 

COM0014 – Blog Post #3: Near and Dear to My Heart: Connecting With My Target Audience

Katie Lingard

Photo by Josh Willink from Pexels

When I became a single parent it meant a lot of changes. I never went into parenting expecting to be raising my child on my own, but life happens and I found myself completely reevaluating my life and the new path I was on. I started with a mind view of feeling like this new status meant I had to “give up” all the things love. My biggest love is Travel and it felt like I wouldn’t ever be able to enjoy that again. However, the truth is, I did have to have a mind shift, but not to one of giving up but rather to an outlook of getting creative with choices and resources. Single-Parent families CAN enjoy travel with a little cleverness. 

Statista says that as of 2020 there are just below two million single parents families in Canada. That is a very large and specific audience. The demographics for this group vary. While Statista also reports that the median income of single-parent or lone-parent families, as they call them, is CAD 48,750, many would fall below that number. Travel is most likely considered a discretionary expense and therefore any communication or content shared would have to be delicate and helpful for those experiencing this. The other demographics of this group such as ethnicity, religion and gender would also vary as single-parent families are quite diverse and many factors could have led to them becoming a single-parent family. The main demographic that they all have in common is that they are responsible for raising their children on their own. 

Using tools like Facebook groups and Google trends would be an excellent way to dialogue with this audience and to learn about their aspirations. Facebook groups in particular would be a great place to share tips and tricks for parents to learn and share with one another about Single-Parent family travel. There are so many places to visit and tour operators that have options exactly designed for this audience.

Some tips for Single-Parent travel I have learned along the way are:

  1. Join Forces! Find another Single-Parent family and travel together. Groups often get discounts and having another adult around to share the experience is not only more fun but helpful.
  1. Loyalty, Loyalty, Loyalty!  Collect those and cash in those points! If you are planning a road trip or camping trip, save up your loyalty points and use them to purchase your food for the trip! Or maybe your credit card has pints that are connected to travel services. Buy everything on your card (just make sure you pay it off each month!) and all those points accumulated can be used for vacations.
  1. Save it up! Have an automatic withdrawal set up on your account like a bill that will withdraw an amount each month or paycheck and have it placed in a travel account. Those small amounts will add up!!
  2. Zip It Baby! Always, always, always pack Ziplock bags. They are great for dirty clothes, leftover food or snacks, souvenirs and paperwork that you collect along the way. They are lightweight and easy to slip into a side pocket.

Here is a list of tour operators that offer vacations for Single-Parent families:

Trafalgar Tours


Transat Vacations

Or maybe you prefer road trips. Here is an article with some great tips:

Rock Your Solo Mom Road Trip

So dear readers, what is your passion and who would you share it with? Do you have any tips to share about mine? 

Until next time, dear friends.

COM0014 – Blog #2: I Have A Story About That….

Katie Lingard

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to tell stories. She loved to share her thoughts and dreams with all she knew. Her favourite pastime was talking on the phone with her grandparents and best friends regaling them with tales of school and hobbies. Then one day, she discovered Social Media and everything changed. She now had the ability to share her stories with everyone and include pictures to deepen the connection with others. The direct connection she had to her readers through her stories resulted in enhanced communication and her ability to reach the masses.

Everyone loves a good story. The connection we feel to one another, the emotional bond created through shared experiences is what ties us to each other. In recent years the creation of Social Media has had a direct impact on how we tell stories. We now have the ability to connect directly with large groups of people and share our stories. An article from Forbes says, “Stories aren’t just for movies, books, or podcasts – they are interwoven in everything we come across on a daily basis. And that includes short-form storytelling on social media.”

With the addition of Social Media to the business world, storytelling has become an essential part of the marketing process. “According to market research, online storytelling via social media platforms can directly impact the purchasing behaviour of consumers. (Houlahan, 2021, para 6). Brand loyalty is deepened when the consumer can personally identify with the story that they are telling. 

How does one create a successful story on Social Media? An important key of storytelling to keep in mind is that communication goes both ways. A great storyteller knows their audience and listens to what they say back. To successfully invite people into the story you are telling, one must first discover who they are talking to. What are their wants, their needs? Then sculpt your communication style around the interests of your audience.  The best way to go about this is by listening. Take time to get to know your audience. Once they are engaged their loyalty to you will grow because they have confidence that you know them. 

So dear readers, what Social Media story are you going to tell? Who is your audience? Share your thoughts!!

Until next time, dear friends. 


Houlahan A., (2021, April 10) The Importance of Storytelling and How Social Media Can Help.

COM0014 – Blog #1: Feeding the Wanderlust

Katie Lingard

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels

This fall I embarked on a new adventure, I have chosen to go back to school! It has been 20 years since I graduated from college and it has been an adjustment. Let me tell you, full-time ‘moming’ on top of full-time working and adding in part-time school, is not for the faint of heart. So when I was given the assignment to write about a recent vacation experience I thought, I so got this! I have been a world traveller for decades and have visited 35 different countries so far. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Right?

My background is actually in tourism. I studied it in school and have practised it in life. I am quite convinced that when God created me He mixed in a heap of wanderlust because it surges through my veins on a regular basis eagerly needing to be fed with adventure. Sadly due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, I have not had any recent travels to write about.

When the pandemic lockdowns began and my wanderlust wings were clipped, I entered into one of the toughest times of my life. In speaking with other people, all shared how they missed concerts and sporting events or eating out in restaurants. Not me. I missed the feel of sand between my toes and the soft sound of palm trees in the breeze or getting lost in tiny ancient streets with the flow of foreign language swirling around me. I missed meeting strangers that would become friends. I was on the search for something that would fill my hunger for adventure.

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs from Pexels

Emily Dickinson said, “To travel far, there is no greater ship than a book.” So that’s what I did. I buried myself in travel books. I read about London and remembered the feeling of treasure hunting in Portobello market and looking up to the sky to find Big Ben’s face. I read about Paris and remembered the feeling as I sat in sidewalk cafes enjoying a Chocolate Chaud and admiring the sparkle of the Effiel Tower glistening in the evening skyline view. I read about Australia and remembered the hot sun beating down on me and the softness of feeding kangaroos from my hand. I read about Maui and remembered the sweet smell of damp soil after a Maui rain. Through the pages of a book, I remembered the sticky air of New Orleans filled with jazz music and I remembered the feel of the ancient ground beneath my feet in Venice and Rome.

I filled my downtime with visiting foreign places and remembering my past adventures and making a list of new places to visit. It didn’t completely feed the wanderlust but it did help appease it. The world seems to be slowly opening up again and I am hoping to once again dust off my travelling shoes and hit the road or sky once again. But until that time comes, I am going to keep visiting foreign places in books and dreaming of where the wanderlust will take me next!

How about you dear readers? Do you have the wanderlust coursing through your veins? How have you “travelled” during lockdowns? Share your thoughts! 

Until next time, dear friends.


So You Are a Person of Influence….Now What?

Katie Lingard

Photo by Erik Mclean from Pexels

In recent years with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I have been drawn into the world of superheroes. Introduced to me by friends, I have gotten into all of the hype of each new release, storyline and new character. I was never a big comics fan and as a younger person probably would have thought they were a waste of time or weird. But alas, here I am a diehard fan counting down the days until the newest battle on-screen takes place. 

I have completely fallen in love with the idea of people who have been gifted special powers, using them for good or saving the world from destruction. The depiction of our heroes carrying the weight of making life-altering decisions and the burden to save others by making the right choices fascinates me. 

One of my favourite quotes is that of a Spiderman issue from 1962. “ …with great power, there must also come—great responsibility! ” (Lee, 1962). This has struck a chord with me. I looked into the quote further and found that many people of influence have quoted it or paraphrased it before Spiderman. Here is a great article from Quote Investigator exploring the quote further. Many people claim its roots go all the way back to a Biblical reference to the gospel Luke 12:48 which says “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  On social media today, one has an opportunity to accumulate followers and friends infinitely and share thoughts, ideas and content ad nauseam. Sure there are the “police” that censor inappropriate content, but what about ethical content? What prevents a person of influence from using their powers for less than good? 

A friend and I got into a discussion about this very thing when I was sharing my thoughts on this topic. She pointed out that anyone can be a person of influence. Even with a small number of connections in a network or two, one can bring about small and simple change. We agreed that no one really knows who their circle of influence is or how far it might reach.

So here is my question. Today in a world of influencers and people making money by sharing or endorsing products and brands on social media, what is our responsibility? When anyone can get online and amass a following, and have been given the power to influence others, how can we use it for good and what does that look like? How does one become a superhero influencer? Share your thoughts!

Until next time, dear friends. 


Lee, S. (1962). The Narrator, Amazing Fantasy #15.

Facebook: What responsibilities do influencers have? Check out my new blog!

Twitter: Are you an influencer? Check out my new blog! #ethicalresponsibilities #becomingagoodinfluencer #marvelsuperheros

How young is too young for Social Media?

Katie Lingard

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

One of my favourite things about Social Media is how fast information can be shared with a large number of people. I use it often to spread exciting news to family and friends, like the birth of a new family member, and I use it in my job to communicate exciting events or important news. However, as with most all other things in life, there is a very negative possibility that comes with this privilege: cyberbullying. 

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I work at an elementary school and have seen first-hand the effects of cyberbullying. This article from the Government of Canada says that “More than one-third (35 per cent) of Canadian teens with a profile on a social networking site have seen mean or inappropriate comments about someone they know.”  That’s a big number and a big problem. With the ease of many digital social connections, it is so easy to spread hurtful words or images or videos to a very large number of people and it is not possible to ever take it back. 

The challenge of mitigating this risk is a really tough one. To be honest I am not sure there is one easy answer. The same article says, “90 per cent of Canadians would support a law that would make it illegal to use any electronic means to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause other substantial emotional distress.” In an age where people lie about their age to get accounts or create hidden accounts their parents don’t know about, how is something like this to be managed? 

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Talking to friends, one suggested raising the age of when people can have an account or harsher/ stricter laws and consequences for violators could be a solution. To get a car license one has to be 16 and with graduated licensing, it takes until they are about 18 to earn their final level. Could something like that be a solution? Maybe creating a “Healthy Social Media Use” curriculum and making it a significant topic to be taught in school at a younger age before they start using it? Of course, this doesn’t take into account the cyberbullying of adults which is also a notable risk and a topic to explore another day. 

Either way, I wonder if we are setting our young up for failure by just releasing them into this digital world without stronger guidelines, access and consequences. The pain caused by cyberbullying is one that could have life-long effects. 

What do you think dear readers? Is there a way to truly mitigate the risk of cyberbullying or do we just need to accept that this is a risk of Social Media use? Have you had a cyberbullying incident? How did you handle it? Let me know your thoughts. 

Until next time, dear friends. 

Parents here is a great place for some Social Media tips for kids:

Facebook: Worried about cyberbullying? Check out my new blog!

Twitter: Is thirteen too young for social media? #cyberbullying Check my new blog!