New Career Choice: Social Influencer

New Career Choice: Social Influencer

  • Do you ever click “Like” on Facebook, or add a comment on Amazon about a product you’ve bought?
  • Do you ever post a link or tweet about a restaurant you like or a business you’ve visited?
  • Do you create Instragram photos of products, places, businesses or things you love?

Then you are well on your way to becoming a social influencer.

(Wolf drawing source:  stilg4r, 2013:

The Superstars

Everyone is familiar with the Kardashians, or sportstars like Lebron James, John Cena and Cristiano Ronaldo. These folks promote all kinds of products from sportswear, to cars, to food via Instagram, Twitter and other social media. But do you know the following people?

These people are all promoting their ideas or products, making a living or enhancing their finances using their social influence.

What is a social influencer?

According to Megan Willet (2016), “An ‘influencer’ is the umbrella term to describe creatives, typically those with large social media followings on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. These influencers work with brands on ad campaigns specifically aimed at their followers”.

According to 2012 data from Nielsen, 90% of customers trust peer recommendations and 70% trust consumer reviews. Only 33% trust ads.

According to Global Yodel (2016), “Influencer marketing is simply the action of promoting and selling products or services through people (influencers) who have the capacity to have an effect on the character of a brand.”

New twist on an old idea

This kind of word-of-mouth marketing has been used by companies for decades. There’s always been the “cool kid” or “early adopter” who breaks out those new trends. (Remember parachute pants, neon clothing, leg warmers, and feathered bangs?) But now anyone and everyone can share their opinions, ideas and experiences on the internet.

Global Yodel (2016) points out that “The most intriguing people will rise above the rest.” You don’t even have to be a famous celebrity or sports star to get involved: you just have to be different, interesting or appealing. Many companies are hiring marketing agencies to add “Influencer Marketing” into their mix, and some newer companies are using it exclusively.

How it works

According to Eric Dahan (2015), the “The social economy is driven by its own markers of social currency, like recognition, status and attention from others, but its main commodity is content.” For many companies, the bits of “organic content” come from its customers, clients and allies.

Dahan points out that “It all starts with content — blogs, videos, images, editorial content, for example — through which you provide valuable information. Indeed, quality content can become a crucial part of your online presence, enabling you to establish yourself as an expert on a particular topic.”

However, the landscape of social media is based on “relationship-building”: its foundations are trust, expertise and authenticity. So you have to believable, credible, and truthful.

Marketing companies (or departments) hire individuals who have experienced a particular product or service to post on their websites, or they may even collect “comments” from customers via Facebook or Twitter to include in their marketing campaigns. Check out Global Yodel Media’s samples:

According to Sujan Patel (2017), Entrepreneur, companies like Staples, Denny’s, NASA, Old Spice, and Newcastle Brown Ale are using social media influencers to promote their services and products, and to engage customers.   Check it out at Social-Media Marketing Is Not Dead

Get paid to be a social influencer

If you’re an expert on a particular topic (i.e. cooking or gardening, car repairs, wine, etc.) or you have a lot of experience, your comments are gold in social marketing.

Individuals can get paid to write reviews, make comments and fill in surveys on various products. Check out the list at MoneyPantry

Getting starting: the basics

To build your social media influence for your own business or brand, Dahan (2015) recommends the following steps:

  • 1. Start with what you know – that’s what will make your comments stand out

2. Be consistent and focus on quality over quantity – good content and ideas will draw the audience

3. Pay attention to the demand and what people are talking about

(Best of climbing photo, created by GB, 2009, Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0), Flickr.)

Content is King

If you’re creating your own blog, Instagram, FB or youtube channel, Morad (2016) points out that having high-quality content, both visually and in writing are important excellent content-creation skills is important if you’re going to pull in thousands or millions of followers: “instagrammable photos…solid writing skills…fantastic videos” are expected online.

Aligning brands with your personal brand – finding a good match – is important so that the audience sees products/services that they want. If you’re really connecting with your audience, the brands will come to you so they will reach your audience.

(Paper photo by Dale Simonson, 2012, P5232650, Flickr, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) 

For example, Mr. Money Mustache, a financial frugalist blogger, has a combination of his faves plus other companies that offer sponsorships to his website: Betterment, Capital One, YNAB, SoFi, Chase Ink plus Republic Wireless. Check it out at

Making money online

Now some social influencers make a lot of money, according to Clare O’Connor (2017) and Ivana Stoshevski (2016):

  • Lyzabeth Lopez – fitness guru — $3000-5000 per post
  • Rachel Brathen – yogi — $25,000 per post
  • Liz Eswein – New York City photo blogger — $15,000 per shot
  • Amy Song – charges $50,000 per big-brand collaboration for her fashion and interior design blog Song of Style
  • Nash Grier – Vine superstar — $25000-100,000 contracts with various companies, including Virgin Mobile

Beware the dark side: fake influencers!!

There is a shady side to all of these postings: recently some businesses have been slammed for “paying” people to create testimonials: CBC Marketplace (2017) investigated the use of fake video testimonials whereby one person was paid via Fiverr to create customer reviews for various companies. One woman appeared as a licensed dietician, promoted private intelligence firms and maid services (CBC, 2017).

I recently travelled to Toronto and used Airbnb to find a place where they “treat you like you’re at home”, complete with dog, patio and gluten-free brekky. You bet I read all of the reviews before I booked. Now I have to go write my reviews for “Peaceful Oasis in the City” on Airbnb …social influencers never rest!

Are you a “social influencer”?  Do you ever write reviews or recommendations on Facebook, Instagram, or your favourite websites?


Facebook: Want to make more or influence people online?  Learn about social influencers by reading my blog:

Twitter:  Learn how to flex your social influencing muscles #socialinfluencers

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Lovin’ Bloglovin’

Are you overwhelmed with all of the great blogs on the Internet?

Can’t keep up with Instagram, Twitter, podcasts, vlogs, blogs?

The World Wide Web provides a wealth of the latest information, how-to-sites, DIY.  For those of us from a slower era, or those of us who don’t have 18 hours a day to be on the Internet, it’s impossible to stay current, even when we want to.

(Wave graphic credit: Flickr, Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) 

A little history of the WWW…

Way back when the Internet first started in the Dark Ages (1965), it was based initially on “ARPANET” (1969), used first by government and military types and then by researchers (1970s); the general public started using it for electronic mail and commercial uses in the 1990s, and the name “Internet” was adopted in 1995.  Some people called it “the internet highway” but they quickly realized it was more of a web (World Wide Web).220px-BH_LMC

And now it is more of a black hole.

It just keeps growing…

How fast is the Internet growing?

Simon Kemp (2017) gives us the stats from

  • Internet users have grown by 82%, or almost 1.7 billion people, since January 2012: almost 1 million new users each day, or more than 10 new users every second;
  • More than 1.3 billion people started using social media – that’s a rise of 88% in just five years, and equates to more than 8 new users every second;
  • mobile social media user numbers have grown by more than 50% from 2015-2017

(Black hole source:  Source:

No wonder it’s so hard for us to keep up.

Finally a solution to keeping, sorting and staying on top of your favourite blogs!

Bloglovin’ offers a great solution for keeping us up-to-date and avoiding fear-of-missing-out (FOMO), two of the most common complaints of web surfers.

The Urban Dictionary has several definitions for FOMO: | fōmō |noun

a state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out.

A form of social anxiety – a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event, often aroused by posts seen on social media websites.

Why do all that internet searching when someone else has already found the best sharing websites?

Founded in 2007, Bloglovin has over 25,000,000 followers and pulls together millions of bloggers from around the world in one place.  By signing up for Bloglovin, you can select the blogs that interest you by clicking the handy-dandy “Find blogs” button and then you can “follow” them by setting up your own “feed”.

Here are my faves:

I also enjoy reading (and consuming) wine and chocolate, so I have a few on those topics as well.  But you may be interested in fashion, films, car repair, gadgets, or travel.  It’s all there, neatly and tidily organized so you can grab a coffee or a beer and get to reading (or watching) the good stuff.

Your Daily Dose

If you choose, you can have selected blogs or new blogs emailed to you in a convenient email, on a daily or weekly basis. I love getting all of my latest blog-news coming to my email, rather than having a string of emails, one from each blog.  This also allows you to tame the information overload you may feel from multiple emails.  You can schedule your online addictions. Kinda like binge-watching Netflix. Or reading your favourite magazine.

Prefer to see all this on your phone or mobile device? Bloglovin has an App for that:

You can set up your own Bloglovin blog about whatever you’re interested in, and then share with all the other Bloglovin’ bloglovers.  This is helpful if you have friends who are interested in the same topics as you – no more emailing or texting “great websites” to your BFFs.

Bloglovin: It’s a beautiful thing. 

Do you subscribe to any blogs?  Would you use an app like Bloglovin?


Bloglovin website.

How to get started on Bloglovin:

More sources below…

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Snooping on Steroids: your privacy on sale

Have you ever had a snoopy neighbour, coworker, or relative who made it their business to know where you were going, what you were doing, and who you were doing it with? Maybe they asked a lot of questions, or snooped in your drawers or computer or even checked your mobile phone.

Well if you’re on the Internet today, you’re probably being surveilled more thoroughly than your little sister or your ex-girlfriend, or even your mom ever did.

How tracking and following works

“Tracking” or “following” occurs when companies employ technology to record your viewing history and online activity. Then you see unexpected pop-ups or sidebar advertisements on Facebook, Snapchat or other social media platforms appear, showing deals for items you have browsed on Amazon or Google.

Mildly annoying at first, the sudden onslaught of ads based on your personal preferences becomes downright creepy. 

What kind of information is being record, saved and used for other purposes? While the degree and depth of snooping varies according to the app or website, here are some possibilities:

  • Personal information such as passwords, access codes
  • Website visits and views, including time spent on the page
  • Clicks, “likes” and “shares”
  • Shopping cart storage and browsing
  • Online purchases
  • Voice recordings (i.e. on Google)
  • Sent messages, photos and videos
  • Your location

Dr. Andrew Hilts, at the 2017 Data Privacy Activism panel at Brock University presented a simple (!) analysis of these connections and risks:

Created by Giulia Forsythe, Behind the Screen by @andrewchilts;
attribution: 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

The super sleuths – our frenemies!

Here are some prime examples of how some of our favourite apps and technologies are using super-sleuthing techniques:

Google has a tracking program that creates “a profile Google has built for you based on your search history, Youtube history and interests.

  • Check your Google Profile settings to see your personal information that has been stored
  • According to Becca Caddy (2017), Google records your location, specific dates and times, specific technologies you’ve used (i.e. phone, tablet, computer).

Facebook uses aggressive technologies that track and record its members’ viewing habits, website visits and time spent, “likes” and “shares”, and a variety of other online activities.

  • According to Nate Hanson (2016), all this personal information is funnelled into databases and then Facebook employs “algorithms to show you the exact stories and videos they know you will click on”: targeted advertisements.
  • Facebook’s goal is to encourage you to spend more time on its own website.

WhatsApp is a free text messaging app that also uses targeted advertising; you can “turn off” the information sharing in the settings.

  • WhatsApp has been acquired by Facebook, so the two share information.
  • Taylor Martin (2016) on CNET, says that“end-to-end encryption will not allow Facebook to see your messages, photos or other media you share”.  (hmmm, not sure about this!)
  • Apparently you can opt out of information sharing by changing the WhatsApp setting on your phone.

Physical stores can also track your shopping behaviours:

  • open wifi networks in malls and coffee shops can be used to record customer’s patterns: for example, which aisles you visit in a store.
  • Store loyalty cards can be used to track purchases.
  • According to Abigail Pesta (2017) on Real Simple, this information can then be sold to third party brokers who then sell it to marketers.

Spamming: Bob Sullivan (2013) on NBC News reported that one of the worst technologies:

  • software that contains spyware or viruses that embed themselves in your computer/mobile device and store copies of everything on the computer; the information can then be secretly e-mailed to the mastermind spy regularly.
  • recent viruses that shut down hospitals across England in spring 2017,
  • Canadians have received fraudulent emails allegedly from Canada Post, the Canada Revenue Agency and various banks.

Protecting yourself – going incognito

So what can you do if you don’t want your personal information tracked, stored and accessed for a variety of purposes?

Many technology specialists have some suggestions to avoid being tracked, or having your information unknowingly recorded and shared or sold. Asli Omur (2017), provides some great suggestions on

  • Change your privacy or sharing settings and options on your computer, mobile phone or device
  • Read “terms and conditions” carefully on any apps or websites you visit
  • shut your device off when you’re not using it
  • Clear your browsing history daily or hourly
  • Store all of your personal files and documents on a separate, secure harddrive
  • Have a variety of emails, including one for shopping or browsing so that suspect emails can be sent there without affecting your regular email on your computer/mobile device
  • Limit your sharing on social media apps like Facebook to those people you now; remove and block contacts you don’t know
  • Set pop-up blockers, adblockers
  • Download an IP scrambler like Tor or Tails; this will scramble your online and physical identity, maintaining your personal freedom and privacy Tor:
  • Tails:

Surveillance fatigue

Many people today know that their choices, viewings, purchases and anything else that happens online is being tracked, stored and accessed by organizations they don’t know about, without their permission. And many people are okay with this.  As long as they can access their browsing or purchase history online, they’re alright with it.

Remember, there’s always someone watching!

TMI on the web

When is this subtle invasion like ants at a picnic more than annoying?

Image created by Bernard Goldbach: The Internet and Privacy Venn Diagram.
Shared from


Too much information: when one’s personal browsing history and information is shared with others who seek to use your personal information to access bank accounts, set up social media in your name, and otherwise use parts of your identity or social tools to become you, whether it’s a social you, educational you, working you or financial you.

Asli Omur’s final option may be appealing to the truly cautious and private individual: “use only paper, pen, typewriters and in-person chats and photo-sharing, the old-fashioned way”.

Two People - Business Meeting

Created by Stephen D, Digital Desktop Wallpaper, August 3, 2009. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Source:

Sources / More information:

Anderson, M. Arbel, T. & Ortutay, B.  (2017, March 8).  Should you worry about wikileaks CIA hacking.  The Associated Press.  Tech News, Toronto Sun. Retrieved from

Caddy, B. (March 20, 2017).  Google tracks everything you do: here’s how to delete it.  Wired Technology.  Retrieved from

Hanson, N. (2015).  How to stop facebook from tracking all your web activitiy.  Huffpost.

Omur, A. (n.d.). Big Brother is watching you online: how to avoid being tracked.  Lifehack.  Retrieved from

Pesta, A. (2014).  Are you being tracked online? Stop Facebook from using your web history for ad targeting.  Wired.  Retrieved from

Sullivan, B. (2017).  Are you being watched online?  NBC News. Retrieved from


Why we love watching cat videos online

Are you addicted to watching cat videos at work or school?  Do you secretly tune in to videos of adorable puppies?  Or are pandas more your thing?  You’re not alone.  According to (2015), there are are over 2 million cat videos on Youtube, and they have 25 billion views.

Are pet videos timewasters?

Many employers consider this as a contributing factor to “time wasting”.  A recent study by of American workers found that employees are spending longer periods than ever before “wasting time”:

•  31% waste roughly 30 minutes daily
•  31% waste roughly 1 hour daily
•  16% waste roughly 2 hours daily
•  6% waste roughly 3 hours daily
•  2% waste roughly 4 hours daily
•  2% waste 5 or more hours daily”

That’s a lot of time.  The article goes on to cite the many ways workplaces are cracking down on this abuse of time, especially when 38% of workers claim to waste time on non-work related social media.  Banning websites and viewing trackers are some of the technological tools companies are using.

 Pet videos push productivity

But research has shown a positive side to the human fascination with our furry (or scaly) friends.  In a 2016 article on, Scott Stump reports that new research actually points to a rise in productivity when workers view animal videos:

“In a paper published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, a study involving 124 students from a large Australian university found that when they were given a boring task and then exposed to funny videos, they worked twice as long as those who watched videos about neutral subjects”.

Evidence from the original study shows that watching cat videos actually does make us feel happier, less stressed, and more positive:


Researchers think that the “happy vibes” and positive effects that humans share when they encounter live pets occurs when we encounter these virtual pets online, and this is why productivity is improved.

(Disclaimer:  Hal Herzo, Ph.D. (2017) acknowledges the body of research that supports this positive news he points out the many holes in the research into pet therapy that need to be addressed.)

How Pet Therapy Works

So why do we experience these happy feelings when we encounter our furry friends, even online?

Research about pet therapy effectiveness has shown that animal therapy can help people recover from various illnesses and mental health issues (including heart disease, cancer, PTSD, anxiety and depression); even the Mayo Clinic (2017) has an established Pet Therapy program for its patients: Caring Canines.

The exposure to a pet doesn’t have to be long:  even 10-15 minutes can bring on the warm and fuzzies, resulting from the release of positive natural hormones –like oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins (Uyemura, 2017).


(source: Gerald B. Shreiber Pet Therapy Program | Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)



Live-in pet therapy in Canadian homes

In Canada, dogs and cats remain the most popular domesticated family members:  according to a nation-wide Canadian survey of more than 4,200 pet-owning households, “36.5% of households owning a dog and 30.4% of households reporting cat ownership” (CAHI, 2015).

However, many household cannot have pets for various reasons: allergies, cost, time, etc. stop Canadians from having pets even though they would love to have one. Many workers compensate by getting a daily dose of cuteness from online sources.

Increase your productivity: Book a pet therapy break

To use animal therapy to increase your productivity at work, you can limit your cat-or-dog viewing to set break times during the work day, or use this as a reward for getting work done.  Try using online trackers or set reminders to take those mental health breaks.

My theory:  we’re all cat or dog wannabees

I have another theory to support our love affair with online cat and dog videos:

We admire the lives of these animals who share our animal urges.  These domesticated animals provide us with unconditional love but they also possess those wild attributes that we have lost but still lurk within us.

Yes, we secretly wish we could be them. 

  • Who wouldn’t want to sleep on the couch all day while the family is gone?
  • Who wouldn’t want to jump off the top of the fridge onto a counter to retrieve the yummy food lying there?
  • Who wouldn’t want to ride the Roomba?  Or make a hiding spot in a cardboard box?
  • Or eat whatever we find on the ground?  (well, that one’s kind of gross…)

The opportunities are endless.

Join the Animal Kingdom

How can we deal with this longing for our primordial roots in the wild kingdom?
Here are some suggestions:

  • Start your day with a good backstretch, like a downward dog or a cat stretch.
  • Find a sunbeam and sit in it for awhile; try not to purr.  (Wear sunscreen when doing this.)
  • Catch up on your sleep by taking a cat nap.  (Not at work, at home.)  Spend an hour or two on the couch this weekend just relaxing.
  • Work on developing your sense of smell:  do some aromatherapy by surrounding yourself with great smells:  vanilla, strawberry, garlic, the rain.  Try to identify your friends or significant others by their smell alone.
  • Get outside and run in the field.  Or chase a ball with your friends.  Walk barefoot on the beach.  Dig a hole in the sand or climb a tree.  Roll in the dirt.
  • Meet people you’ve never meet before:  Walk up to them, take a sniff and say hello. You can’t wag your tail so maybe just smile at someone you’ve never met.
  • Go climb something and then jump off.  Something not too high, like the couch, a snowbank, or a climbing wall (be safe though – wear a helmet!)
  • Hang your head out the car window and feel the air rush over you.  (Watch for bugs!)

All of these activities will help you reconnect with your animal self – the animal self that enjoys the moment and doesn’t really worry so much about the future.

Hands-on animal therapy

Alternately, you can get a dose of real-life animal therapy to keep you going: 

  • Walk your neighbour’s dog or play with a friend’s cat.  Many people own pets but don’t have time to teach it tricks, pet it or groom it.  Pets love to spend time with humans.
  • If you have a pet, take it to visit an elderly friend or family member (only if your pet has good manners and the friend is alright with this and has no allergies)
  • If you have children, teach them how to approach pets they may encounter on leashes in a safe and respectful way.
  • Feed the birds in the park on your lunch hour.
  • Volunteer at your local humane society, or get involved with a pet therapy program, if you have a dog or cat.

Have some fun – maybe that’s what we’re really missing when we watch animal videos online.

Share your online pet video addiction/health habits….

Do you watch cat or dog videos online?  How often?  Tell us about your guilty pleasure using these unscientific polls:

Or maybe just watch some of these cute videos.

Bat cam: Best viewing times are after dark.

Goat cam:

Kitten cam:

Owl cam:

Panda Cam at the San Diego zoo:

Puppy Cam:

Rare Owl Baby Bird Cam:

Squirrel cam:

Tropical Reef Cam: You can access the Great Gray owl, Shark, and Wisconsin Pasture cams here as well.

More information/sources:

Baer, Drake. (June 17, 2015).  Here’s the surprising psychological reason the Internet loves cat videos. Business Insidier.  Retrieved from

Canadian Animal Health Institution. (2015).  Latest Canadian Pet Population Figures Released. Retrieved from

Conner, Cheryl. (July 31, 2015). Wasting Time at Work: The Epidemic Continues. Forbes.  Retrieved from

Herzog, H. Ph.D. (Nov. 17, 2014). Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Really Work? Psychology Today.  Rretrieved from

Pet Therapy. (2017). Healthline. Retrieved from

Pet Therapy: Man’s best friend as healer. (2017).  Mayo Clinic.  Retrieved from

Stump, S. (March 15, 2016).  Watching funny cat videos at work can boost your productivity according to study, TODAY. Retrieved from

Uyemura, B. (2017).  The truth about animal assisted therapy. Pysch Central.  Retrieved from

Animal Therapy Services in Ontario

Train your dog to be a therapy dog, or assist in training someone else’s pet. (2017). St. John Ambulance, Therapy Dog Services. Retrieved from

Ontario SPCA – find a humane society or dog rescue organization near you: transfer, foster, visit or assist animals in need. (2017). Ontario SPCA.  Retrieved from

Animal and Pet Therapy. (2017).  CHEO, Ementalhealth.   Organizations and Services available in Ontario.  Retrieved from

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