Making Memories

Winterfest at Kings Dominion in Virginia

Each year over the Christmas vacation, my children and I go to Virginia to visit family. Even on years when we might enjoy an extended stay at home, the kids have come to value this experience as one of our holiday family traditions and truly love our end of the year trip to see family in Virginia.

We each have our favourite things to do or see while we are there. Each year, we also try to have a new or different experience as well.

There is an amusement park near my family home in Richmond Virginia, called Kings Dominion. My children have been several times in the summer to enjoy the traditional thrill rides and indulgences that are standard at an amusement park.

Last year, we discovered that they park had a new holiday opening over Christmas, called Winterfest. We missed arriving in time to go last year, but this year planned our dates to accommodate a Winterfest family outing.

The park was dressed up in literally millions of the most beautiful lights, many programmed to play along with the holiday music. There were roaming performers in intricate costumes, dripping with sparkle. Holiday treats were abundantly available. The large outdoor fountain at the entrance had been transformed into an outdoor skating rink and the replica of the Eiffel Tower become an enormous Christmas tree, visible for miles around.

View from the bottom of the Eiffel Tower

We all simply loved the rides, glowing in a variety of Christmas patterns, and the shows were fantastic. But most important for us all was taking time out to make memories together with those we love. Hope you were able to share many special times with those that warm your heart too.

Social Media and Mental Health

Does social media have a positive or negative impact on mental health?

Ironically, most people are looking for connection on social media, when in many ways it actually leads to more, not less, social isolation. Online connection has become a lazy and inadequate substitute for real, authentic, face to face relationships.

According to a poll by the The American Psychiatric Association ( APA ) . More than one in three adults (38%) see social media usage as harmful to mental health. When asked how about the effects on teens and adolescents, most people believe the negative effects are even stronger.

Excessive social media use can lead to low self esteem, loss of human connection skills, sleep loss, memory loss, shortened attention spans, increased risk of suicide and has been linked to both anxiety and depression.

How do we practice safe social media use and avoid some of the negative mental health side effects? Some effective strategies are:

  • Turn your phone off during quality time with friends and family. Set appropriate boundaries for yourself and your family like no phones while eating and all phones stay out of the bedroom.
  • View other’s posts with a critical eye, not simply accepting what is shown as truth. View them for the purpose of inspiration and connection, not comparison.
  • Be selective of what you share online, mindful of your purpose, and selective of who you are willing to share information with.
  • Connect with real people you know online, and make sure to balance online interactions with real face to face interactions as well.
  • Make your mental health a priority. Instead of always grabbing your phone for a lift, alternate with other healthy choices like taking a walk, meeting up with a friend, or choosing a healthy drink or snack.

Remember that a social media post represents a moment in time. It is only what the poster wants you to see. They will share the most flattering picture, comments and perspective, but if never fully represents or replaces reality. Comparison is the killer of joy online and in real life. Remember to “check in” with how your social media use is working for you regularly and use the above strategies to protect your mental health. Most importantly, remember to keep your real life relationships a priority over online interactions.

“Here’s the bottom line,” said Melissa G. Hunt in a statement. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”

Do you have healthy habits around your social media usage that keep your use positive and productive? Do you have a pet peeve with how friends and family use social media? Comment below.


American Psychiatric Association, retrieved from:

Wolff, Carina, (2016, June 6 ) retrieved from:

Are you concerned about the effects of social media on mental health? Read more here.

Social media and mental health #socialmedia #mentalhealth #healthyhabits

Growing your Business through Social Advertising

Social Advertising is advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or leveraging social relationships and social networks to promote a product/service and reach out to its target audience.

Many articles at this time are referring to the decline in Facebook users, but this dropping trend has been incremental, and the increase in use of Instagram, their sister company, has more than made up the difference in the slight decline. Even with this decline, Facebook still is the dominant social media platform, in terms of number of users across age categories.

Why advertise on Social Media?

  • Your customers are already there. Go where you can speak directly to your current and potential customers
  • Social selling allows you to build and maintain relationships with your client base before and after they purchase from you.
  • Advertising on social media has a low entry price level with campaigns that are customizable to every budget
  • The audience targeting possibilities are endless. Choose who sees your ad by gender, location, interests, age, language spoken and more.
  • Customers prefer to be able to message businesses today and social advertising allows them to message you directly, at any time that is convenient for them.

One feature that is appealing is Facebook’s “lookalike audiences” Which allows you to market directly to people who share many features of the people who already buy from you. This is a great way to reach out to the people most likely to want to do business with you.

Facebook as well offers several ad support tools and tutorials to help you get started in social selling. If you are looking for inspiration and some short educational videos to begin with social advertising, I highly recommend Facebook blueprint. Another great starting point is the Advertising Best Practices Facebook Group.

Have you advertised your business on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platforms? Do you appreciate it when you see sponsored posts or ads from local businesses or products you are interested in? Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.

Facebook: Read more about growing your business with Social advertising here

Twitter: Growing your business through Social Advertising #socialmedia #socialadvertising #facebook #blog


Barysevich, Aleh (2019, June 8) 5 Data-Backed Social Media Trends Retrieved from:

Social Advertising, Retrieved from:

How to Strengthen your Instagram Presence for Small Businesses

Today, it is expected for most businesses to have a presence on social media. Social media gives us the opportunity to show a more complete picture of your business. You can highlight your staff, your work, your customers, your product lines, and give your customers a more complete picture of what your business is really about.

The social platform that you will want to focus on most will depend on your business and where you are most likely to find most of your current and potential clients are already engaging. Currently, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram are the most used social media platforms in terms of numbers of account users.

Our small business is in the automotive field and because one of our primary target audiences in the 16-29 year old demographic, its important for us to have a strong Instagram because that is the social media that most of our clients are primarily using daily. As seen in the infographic below, 59% of those 18-29 have an Instagram account that they use daily.

Have a Compelling Profile

Your Instagram profile gives you 150 charachters to summarize your business. Use bullet points to cover more information here. Emojis can also be helpful for a visual representation in conveying messages in your profile. Consider your first 3-9 photos and your Highlighted Stories to be a part of your profile. Choose wisely what you wish to highlight in these important areas.

Use Geotagging to grow your Local presence

Tagging your location or your city with locally used hashtags will give you more visibility among people looking for local connections. You can make a list of location specific hashtags and store them as a note that you can then add to your business posts. Encourage your clients to “check in” at your business on social media. Using geotags will increase your local discoverability.

Increase to Daily Consistent Posting

Most Social Media algorithms, and particularly those for Instagram prefer a regular consistent posting pattern. The chart above shows the rapid increase in followers when posting daily. Interacting daily with your followers creates a sense of relationship and community for your online presence. As the Quote below shows, most people who use Instagram, engage daily.

Over 60 percent of users log in to Instagram daily , making it the second most engaged social network after Facebook(Source:

Are you a daily consumer of Instagram? Do you have a personal Instagram? Do you manage a business or organizational Instagram? What strategies have you used to grow followers and increase engagement for your Instagram?

Read more about Growing your Instagram following here –>

Read more about Growing your Instagram following here –>

Engagement Building Strategies for Facebook Business Pages


With more than 2.2 Billion Facebook users worldwide today, most businesses can connect with a large portion of their customers through their Facebook business page. Some businesses simply use their page to broadcast sales information, some interact with their customers through tools such as Messenger, but the sweet spot for small businesses comes from  intentional focus on meaningful engagement with their customer base and community.


Choosing to Build Engagement for your business through Social Media gives you an opportunity to transform your business from a faceless entity into a trusted brand, the value of which spreads far beyond your online presence.  Through a Facebook business page, you are able to share the personality of your business, behind the scenes information, and more education and stories which will build trust and community with your customers.

Tell Your Stories 

Through your Facebook business page, you have the place to share more about who you are and what you do as a business.   People love to see and read about people just like them.    It gives great confidence to your organization to highlight real customers and real stories that your clients can relate to.   Sharing customer generated content gives an additional layer of credibility to your business.

The new Facebook tool of Stories which are usually pictures or visual content which expires in 24 hours is giving a new tool to engage your base in “top of the mind” awareness by sharing time sensitive and user generated content.

Focus on Giving Value through Quality Content

Giving away value without expecting anything in return is part of how we build trusting and lasting relationships with our customers.   Give your customers what they want: Answers to their questions, product education, behind the scenes stories, and genuine and authentic photos  and video.     Use your social media space as a place to provide interesting information and education that your community is interested in.   Business Pages really allow us to customize our communication for the interest that are relevant for our customers.    Some social media experts advise businesses to make fewer, but more consistent high quality posts to build engagement.

Produce Authentic Video Posts

Facebook has picked up on our insatiable appetite to consume online video content.  Their current algorithm favors video posts and Facebook Live videos.    The default video settings are to play the video with muted sound.  It is recommended to put compelling content in the first 30 seconds of your video and to use captions to highlight message to prompt to turn on sound.    With the current trend toward consumer driven demand for authenticity, your Facebook audience prefers organic natural videos to the overly produced slick advertisements on traditional media outlets.   Make short direct video clips that answer the questions that your target market is already thinking of.

Interacting with your clients through a Facebook business page allows you to interact with your clients as they are personal friends.     Address your private message responses using their first name.  Social Media gives us powerful electronic tools to connect with your business community in a whole new way.

Have you been using any of the above strategies to increase your page likes or build engagement?  What do you find works best for you?   What other strategies are you currently using?   Please share your experiences in the comments.

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Facebook stats from   Social Media Statistics 2019

Facebook Marketing for Small Business

14 Ways to Increase Your Facebook Engagement