Customers in Control…

As a conscientious shopper, I find myself turning more and more to online reviews when I am looking to purchase big-ticket items like vacations and cars however since the pandemic even the smallest item like dining out has become a “special occasion”. My go-to for reviews typically are google or trip advisor Reading reviews, I take into consideration all opinions and come to my own conclusion based on responses and I have had good success in making decisions based on what I have read. Five years ago I booked my first all-inclusive trip to Mexico and since this was a new experience I decided to look online at reviews. During my research, I found a resort that really appealed to me and the majority of the reviews were terrific. The resort had a good online presence with a well-put-together website and an interactive Facebook page that I followed. In the end, lived up to everything I read and I loved it so much that returned 3 years later.

Since I have found online reviews successful, I have started to write reviews to assist others when they are looking to invest their money. I typically like to comment on exceptional customer service as I feel this can really make a difference in an experience, a restaurant can have good food however if you combine it with fantastic customer service and it will make the world of difference. This past weekend we dined out at a restaurant we had been to once before. This time our meal was just as incredible and our waiter was exceptional, one of the best if not the best service I have experienced. I felt he was defiantly share-worthy and so I wrote my review on travel advisor;

Harbour 60 Toronto

648 reviews#117 of 5,528 Restaurants in Toronto$$$$AmericanSteakhouseCanadian

60 Harbour St, Toronto, Ontario M5J 1B7 Canada+1 416-777-2111Website+ Add hours

Kathleen G

Reviewed yesterday

Service was exceptional and the food delicious

Enjoyed a wonderful valentines dinner. This was our second visit and it does not disappoint. Alex our waiter is the perfect example of exceptional customer service. The flowers were stunning and set the mood for a romantic meal. Sea Bass melts in your mouth and is full of flavor. Coconut pie was the piece de resistance!

Date of visit: February 2022

During my research regarding Trip Advisor, I did find concerns about fake reviews, which didn’t surprise me due to the fact that competitors and disgruntled former employees can use hurtful comments for their own vengeful purpose. I have come to my own conclusion, that reading a number of reviews will eventually reveal a common thread, whether it is positive or negative and this will assist me in making the right decision. Based on my experiences thus far, none of my choices have disappointed me.

Do you look to reviews when making a purchase whether big or small? Have you written a review yourself?

Facebook: Which site is your go-to for reviews ?

Twitter: How many reviews have you posted?

Blurring the Truth, When does the use of Social Media Influencers cross the line?

Two people protesting the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing, holding signs.
Presumably, the sponcon won’t include photos like this. Credit: Abdulhamid Hosbas / Getty

As the lighting of the Olympic torch began on February 4th, 2022, all eyes were on Beijing, and China was hard at work to ensure the world only saw positive images. These Olympics were filled with controversy however this is not the first time that this has plagued a hosting country. What was new was the fact that a country took to social media to create a positive and polished image.

At the same time when the U.S Diplomats announced a boycott of the Olympics due to their poor human rights record, China was negotiating a deal with an American businessman, Vipinder Jaswal who owns Vippi Media and is a former Fox News and Newsweek contributor, to create a campaign of positive Social Media stories using Influencers to promote the Beijing Winter Olympics and China.

According to the contract, Jaswa will help the CCP launch its social media offensive, hiring a large number of Western influencers to do shows on TikTok, Instagram and Twitch to promote the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics to Americans.”

According to the agreement with the influences, they are responsible to create three to five shows. Each influencer has been categorized according to their influence based on several followers and platforms from ” celebrity” which has a following of 2.5 million to “nano” with less than 10,000. Each show has a very specific breakdown;

According to the contract, the CCP requires that 70% of the propaganda content be related to culture – highlighting Beijing’s history, cultural relics, modern life and current trends, 20% related to “cooperation and any good things” in US-China relations, and the remaining 10% of the content will be Related to consulate general news and trends.”

When does good PR become dangerous? The concern with this trend is the fact that Social Media Influencers do a great job at influencing, even if is not morally or ethically the right thing and when and where do we draw the line?

Do you feel there should be guidelines around the use of Social Media Influencers? Would you be influenced by your favorite influencer even if was a questionable subject?

Facebook: Should there be guidelines around the use of Social Media Influencers?

Twitter: Do Social Media Influencers, influence you?


Bell Lets NOT Talk

Let’s talk. In 2010, Bell Canada launched a program to bring attention and change to the stigma regarding mental illness. The campaign was the biggest and the largest campaign to date dedicated to mental health in Canada. Pretty impressive campaign when you consider this was initiated 20 years ago when many people were not discussing mental health. What was even more impressive was the fact social media was still in its infancy stages, Facebook had been around for 15 years but other prominent social media platforms had only been in existence for 10 years . The originally investment by Bell Canada was $50 million based on a 5 year program, this was renewed in another 5 years with a commitment of investing 100 million and again in 2020 with an investment of 155 million. However the real success story of the campaign was Bell Let’s Talk Day and according to Wikipedia “The most prominent part of the initiative is “Bell Let’s Talk Day,” an annual one-day advertising campaign where money is donated to mental health funds based on the number of social media and communication “interactions” that include the branded hashtag, #BellLetsTalk, or its Canadian French equivalent, #BellCause.”

This campaign was incredibly successful and in 2018 , #BellLetsTalk was the most used Canadian hashtag on twitter, let’s be honest who hasn’t heard of this campaign? To date the numbers are astonishing, according to their website has had a total of 1,491,774, 955 interactions and 129,588,747.75 committed to mental health issues. This campaign brought a lot of attention and even celebrities started to get on board with the likes of Howie Mandel, Ryan Seacrest and Justin Trudeau. The idea was simple, Bell donates five cents to Canadian mental health programs for every text, call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk. Using celebrities really has a two fold effect, draws more viewers who are hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity and the message that even celebrities need to be cognizant of their mental. health, they are human and so are we, we are all in this together.

Sounds a little to good to be true? maybe. Digging a little deeper there are a number of controversial issues in regards to this campaign including the fact that Bell charges prisoners obscene fees for calls and are currently facing a lawsuit. Why is this an issue? many prisoners’ face mental health issues and due to the costs related to making a phone call they cannot connect with their support circle of family and friends.

“Lead plaintiffs Vanessa Fareau and Ransome Capay claim that those who are incarcerated in Ontario are forced to use a service provided by Bell Canada to make phone calls. Allegedly, the system charges more than $30 a call and phone calls are limited to under 20 minutes each.”

Another big issue with the campaign is the fact that it only recognizes “certain mental health issues” ones that are seen as “popular” such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic disorders. Highly stigmatized conditions such as schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder are not discussed as they are not mainstream and reality “not popular”.

In conclusion, Bell Let’s Talk is a well planned and exicutated social media campaign and has brought much needed media coverage to our mental health. However, the bottom line is that Bell Canada is a highly profitable business which will protect revenues and a “safe” image is paramount.

Facebook – have you participated in #BellLetsTalk ?

Twitter – Join the discussion on Bell Canada and Bell Lets Talk? positive or negative ?

Did Lush get it right?

As a lover of shopping deals, I look forward to two occasions, Boxing Day and Black Friday. In anticipation of these big days I start to troll sites looking for hints of sales to come. This year I was excited by the news that Lush whom sells creams, lotions, soaps and those wonderful scented bath bombs had a big Black Friday announcement. I began to quickly comprise my Christmas gift list of family and friends whom would delight in a spa like experience of a melting bath bomb in an array of colors and heavenly smells. As always, I had scheduled black Friday off work, got up early to fight the crowds and was quickly enjoying a cup of coffee when I heard the news over the radio, the black Friday promotion that Lush was offering was a mental health reminder: they had quit social media

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – 2020/03/15: Exterior view of Lush in London, UK. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Why you may ask a company such as Lush would be concerned about their consumers mental health and how does this relate to bath bombs? The following quote explains their perspective;

“I’ve spent all my life avoiding putting harmful ingredients in my products,” added Mark Constantine Obe, the co-founder, CEO and product inventor at Lush. “There is now overwhelming evidence we are being put at risk when using social media. I’m not willing to expose my customers to this harm, so it’s time to take it out of the mix.”

The question remains, how could social media be deemed harmful? New research has been linking the use of social media to our mental health and the numbers are astonishing; “According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of adults and 81% of teens in the U.S. use social media. This puts a large amount of the population at an increased risk of feeling anxious, depressed, or ill over their social media use.”

How does this affect me? I thought about this a bit more and started to consider my own “screen time” as my phone likes to remind me on a weekly basis if I am up or down in usage. Normally my phone tells me that I am spending at least an hour of screen time if not more on a daily basis. Although this is below the average of two hours daily, it made me really consider what this meant and I quickly calculated my usage. It turns out that I would spend in the range of 375 – 400 hours a year, in retrospect a full time job for 10 weeks! Was this a good use of my time? did I benefit from this ? Good questions to reflect on when we are looking at our usage.

But the most important question to ask ourselves is “how does it make me feel” ? Social media has given me the tools to keep me up to date with family and friends as well has given me a feeling that I was a part of their social network. When reading posts and scanning recent pictures, I find myself smiling or even experiencing an outburst of laughter. It is a time I look forward to at the end of the day as I wind down. During the pandemic, I have found it even more rewarding due to the fact I had not seen some family members in two years and it gave me a feeling that I was playing a part in their lives. As well, I follow specific facebook “groups” which have given me the opportunity to reconnect with past friends and even schoolmates. One of the “groups” actually arranged a reunion of our grade 8 class and it was wonderful to be able to connect with everyone and learn about their life’s journey. In essence for the most part, social media has played a positive role in my life.

However this is not true for everyone and it is good to question ourselves from time to time and revaluate if we are starting to feel some negative emotions that can be directly linked to our social media usage. A mental health quiz is a good tool that can assist with this process like the test found on Omega Recovery I took the quiz and was delighted at the results confirming that I remain in the “safe zone” when it comes to my usage time. Are you prepared to take the quiz?

What are your thoughts on Lush? Are they an example of a modern company making an ethical stand or do you consider it a slick marketing move? Do you feel that your are in the “safe zone” when it comes to your social media usage?

Facebook – Did Lush get it right? Should you take the social media quiz

Twitter – Did Lush get it right? Should we be concerned with our social media usage