Social media is good for business, even yours!

 

Your Story Here  writing service (416) 912-2610

Your Story Here
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(416) 912-2610

 Contrary to what naysayers may nay-say, social media is not a passing fad populated by farming games and notices about what your high school classmates or favourite celebrity had for lunch. In reality, social media is transforming the way many sectors do business, because unlike traditional marketing that pumps out a message in one direction only, social media fosters active two-way communication between business and customer. Successful marketing strategies now depend heavily on those connections, and on the reputation you build for yourself and your business online.

 

Despite the power of social media to bring business and customer together, a Ipsos Reid survey released at the end of February noted that only 41% of Canadian small businesses have a dedicated website for promoting their enterprise, and only 39% use social media.

Seems to me, many small businesses are missing the boat.

You are in your business for some very good reasons. That means you have a story to tell, possibly many stories, about your enterprise or brand or project. Social media (whether Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, blogs or one of the many other “platforms”) offers you excellent outlets for sharing those stories, so that customers can feel a connection with you.

As you are exploring options for getting started, do keep a couple of things in mind.

Not every “platform” is right for every company, and it’s not uncommon for some people get overwhelmed when first starting out, by thinking they need to have accounts everywhere.  Better to start small and build than to take on too much all at once and give up within a month.  It’s true that social media takes time to maintain, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of time; even 10-15 minutes a day can be enough to keep your presence fresh with your online community and potential customers.
Social media is about people talking to people, and people doing business with people. There can be a lot of jargon in the field, and it can be off-putting to a lot of people. You can ignore the jargon, and in fact, you would be making the Internet a nicer place if you did.  Some words are helpful for reminding us what social media is about: connection, communication, community-building.  Ignore all the nonsense of gurus and ninjas and buzzwords: just be yourself, because your personal voice is what matters on your sites.
Keep your online reputation in the hands of someone level-headed and experienced. We’ve seen some pretty spectacular disasters when business owners didn’t pay attention to what’s happening online.  Maybe your sister-in-law’s nephew is a wiz at World of Warcraft and seems to know social media because he tweets all day; that doesn’t mean he will be able to respond with calm maturity when one of your customers wants to discuss in problem with you online (and they will, and that’s a good thing).

Above all, interact.  That’s where the “social” part comes in.  Without the interactions, it’s just old-school marketing, putting out a message and hoping someone pays attention. Start a discussion. Invite feedback. Offer expertise.  Comment constructively on posts. Share information from other people’s posts that you find interesting.  Ask questions.  Answer queries. These social interactions humanize you with your customers.  And a well-maintained online presence can give you an edge over your competition, who might still be lagging behind.

Lisa Nabieszko is a professional writer, editor, and online communications strategist. As the owner of  Your Story Here – Social Media Made Simple, her goal is to help businesses use social media in the way that makes the most sense for them, and to help craft engaging online content for regular people.  She can be reached at hellolisa@yourstoryhere.ca.

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Trustworthy Auto Mechanics (Toronto East)

A great mechanic is worth a million bucks!

My auto mechanic blues

To see the portion of the Ontario Consumer Protection Act relevant to Vehicle Repair, click here.

Feel free to add your own auto mechanic recommendation in the comments.

I highly recommend Don Valley Auto at Carlaw and Dundas. Good, honest, friendly, competent people.

Collected from Facebook comments:

“I can recommend Downtown Gas & Auto at Eastern & Carlaw.”

“Danforth and Robinson Auto Works 3312 Danforth Ave, 416-467-0305. Tom and his family are simply awesome, and I’ve been using them for years and have yet to have a negative experience on any level.”

“Sure Choice Auto Services Centre Ltd 
1285 Woodbine Ave, East York, ON M4C 4E8 
416-423-9161, I been using them for almost 7 years and we never have a problem or over price.”

“I LOVE G&T Service on Birchmount, just North of Danforth Ave. and the Go Bridge.”

“I’ve never had a problem with Green + Ross at Jarvis…

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Going Green with your Spring Cleaning

By Paula Begley – The Saucy Southerner

Green spring cleaning

Join the Saucy Southerner on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheSaucySoutherner

 

As the days lengthen, and the weather turns warmer, and the birds start singing at the top of their sweet melodious voices, my mind turns to Spring and the renewal of Mother Earth for a new season. There is nothing more beautiful to me than that very first hint of light and lovely new green bursting forth on bush and bough. This, inevitably, causes my mind to turn toward that seemingly thankless task (certainly devised by some evil entity) called Spring cleaning.

 

 

 

 

If you are like me, this chore is met with a growing concern; that being the introduction into house and home of toxic chemicals used for cleaning. Fortunately, there are simple and cost-effective alternatives to those chemical-laden household cleansers. As everyone watches their pocketbooks, such cleanser alternatives become more and more appealing to us all; not only are they inexpensive to make, they are simple to prepare, and offer us non-toxic solutions to our household cleaning chores.

Most conventional cleaning products contain petroleum-based ingredients which, by their very nature, have dubious health and environmental implications. And, they are everywhere; coating our dishes, countertops, clothes, furniture, windows and permeating the very air we breathe. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural products and methods to use that will keep our houses clean and fresh-smelling, and all without any of the toxic side-effects of commercial cleansers.

While more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon of green cleaning products for our household use, and while this is commendable on their part, those products are still expensive. If you aren’t concerned with the cost of those green cleansers, and if you don’t want to take the minutes it takes to prepare your own solutions, by all means buy and use those products.

If you are looking for a way to not only go green with Spring cleaning, but also to save a lot of money, this article will offer you “recipes” for a variety of cleaning dilemmas.

Here is a list of items you will need for a variety of uses:

Baking Soda: Eliminates odors and works as a mild scouring agent.

Cinnamon Sticks and Whole Clove: Aromatics used for air-freshening.

Club Soda: This is a polisher and stain-remover.

Corn Meal: Works as a stain absorber and is great as a carpet cleaner.

Essential Oils: (Optional and I don’t use them): Used for their fragrance, if you are used to “perfumed” products, there are some – such as eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and tea tree which may have antibacterial, antifungal or insect-repelling properties to them.

Hydrogen Peroxide: This is also a non-toxic bleaching substance and will work well as a disinfectant.

Kosher Salt: Works as an abrasive scouring agent.

Whole Lemons and Oranges: Citric acid is a non-toxic bleaching agent that is fresh-smelling and works as a grease-cutter and stain remover.

Olive Oil: Works as a furniture polish.

White vinegar (buy gallon jugs for economy): An antifungal which also kills bacteria and germs.

Water: Used to dilute solutions.

Now, on to their uses:

Air Freshener:

1 stick cinnamon

1 teaspoon whole cloves

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 cups water

Instructions: In a small sauce pan, add all of the ingredients and bring to a boil on the stove-top. The steam from the vinegar in the water will reduce airborne odors, and the cinnamon and cloves will impart a nice fragrance.

 

All-Purpose Cleaner:

12 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon baking soda

Peels from an orange and a lemon

6 cups hot water

Instructions: In a large jar, add the vinegar and baking soda and stir to dissolve the baking soda. This will bubble up, don’t be concerned. Let it settle and add the peels from an orange and from a lemon, and the hot water. Stir and let sit for a day. Remove the citrus peel, and pour into a spray bottle for use.

 

Bathroom Surface Cleaner:

The all-purpose cleaner is good for bathroom surfaces too, but if you have stubborn soap scum, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water to make a paste; this will work like a scouring powder. This also works very well for a kitchen sink or stove-top cleanser too.

You can also use half of an orange or grapefruit sprinkled with kosher salt to use as a scrubber. The salt will remove the stubborn soap scum and the citrus will leave a clean, fresh scent. Just rinse the surfaces with water.

 

Carpet Cleaner: Combine ½ cup baking soda with 1 cup of corn meal. Sprinkle this mixture on the rug, and rub with a dry cloth. Let the powder sit for several hours, or overnight, then vacuum it up. For removing acidic stains, such as wine, juice or coffee, use club soda to dampen a cloth to rub the stain.

 

Garbage Disposal Freshener: Use the lemon and orange (or any citrus) peel you’ve used to make your All-Purpose cleanser (or that you use for cooking) and grind it up in the disposal.

 

Glass Cleanser:  A mixture of water and white vinegar (2 cups water and ¼ cup white vinegar) in a spray bottle; use a lint-free cloth, or old newspaper (surprisingly) with the spray for a streak-free shine.

 

Hardwood Floor Cleaner:  Mix ½ cup white vinegar to 2 gallons of warm water in your mop bucket; mop with a sponge or mop.

 

Mold Remover: Mix ½ cup hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar with 1 cup of water. Pour into a spray bottle and spray the moldy area. Do not rinse.

 

Wood Furniture Polish: Dab olive oil on a soft cloth and rub the wood surface.

 

These are just a few of the basic cleansers and ideas that will help you with your green Spring cleaning. Spring is just around the corner, so stock up now, and go GREEN!

Find the Saucy Southerner on Facebook or website for all sorts of great kitchen tips and recipes!

 

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“Love Your Neighbourhood” Contest

Enter on our Facebook page to WIN!

Enter on our Facebook page to WIN!

 

Enter to WIN here

“Your Today” is looking for the best stories about why your neighbourhood is a great one! We will feature ONE story from each neighbourhood – Riverside, The Beach, Leslieville, and Little India in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to showcase in our summer edition of “Your Today”.

 

 
(You must be willing to have your photo published at a location in your ‘hood for the magazine feature)

Each winner will also be able to give mention to their favourite business, and we’ll run a story on them as well!

Win/Win for community and business! 

1. Post your story on our Facebook page under the contest post.

2. Have your neighbours vote on your story (most votes wins)

3. Entry and voting ends June 1st, 2013

4. Please begin your story with your neighbourhood name

5. A prize pack of neighbourhood gift certificates will also be awarded to the 4 winners!

6. Only stories on the original Facebook post will be considered “entered to win”

 

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Canadian Couples With Kids More Likely To “Cheat”

23% of those in a relationship who have children in their home indicated that they have "cheated" on their spouse/partner/significant other by streaming a TV program(s) before their partner had a chance to watch.

23% of those in a relationship who have children in their home indicated that they have “cheated” on their spouse/partner/significant other by streaming a TV program(s) before their partner had a chance to watch.

 

TORONTO, May 16, 2013 – Canadians in relationships who also have children at home are almost twice as likely as those without to have “cheated” on their spouse/partner/significant other by streaming a TV program(s) before/without them, according to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Netflix1. But don’t start grilling your significant other or giving them the evil eye just yet.

 

 

Twenty-three per cent of those in a relationship who have children in their home indicated that they have “cheated” on their spouse/partner/significant other by streaming a TV program(s) before their partner had a chance to watch, versus just 12 per cent of those without children. Additionally, 29 per cent of those with children indicated that they have been “cheated” on in the past.

Those in a relationship who have kids in their home are more likely to “cheat” by streaming a TV program(s) while in the bathroom, before their significant other had a chance to watch.

Fourteen per cent of those in a relationship who have kids in their home confessed to their partner they watched a streamed program before them and 36 per cent of those in a relationship who have kids said they would feel guilty after streaming a show without their partner.

“For all of the joy and innovation that comes with streaming TV shows on Netflix, it’s clear this paradigm shift has had a cultural impact and effect on human behavior,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix. “Our researchers investigated the situation, and it’s clear many people are ‘cheating’ on their significant other by watching ahead. Let me be clear: Netflix does not condone adultery. As always—our message is to Watch Responsibly.”

Fourteen per cent of those in a relationship who have kids in their home confessed to their partner they watched a streamed program before them and 36 per cent of those in a relationship who have kids said they would feel guilty after streaming a show without their partner.

Fourteen per cent of those in a relationship who have kids in their home confessed to their partner they watched a streamed program before them and 36 per cent of those in a relationship who have kids said they would feel guilty after streaming a show without their partner.

Other interesting data from the survey:

  • “Cheaters” chose a number of different locations:
    • 64 per cent would be likely to do so at home by themselves on the main TV
    • 18 per cent admitted they would watch while their significant other was traveling for work
    • Seven per cent would watch during a break at work, while six per cent would watch while traveling for work
    • Four per cent admit that they would “cheat” by streaming a TV program in the bathroom.

 

  • Perhaps to get out of sleeping on the couch, results showed that many of those in a relationship would do any of the listed behaviors to try to hide that they watched a TV program via streaming before their significant other. Of those who would do any of the listed actions:
    • 34 per cent would not spoil scenes before they happened
    • 39 per cent would re-watch with their partner without saying anything
    • Eight percent would re-watch and “fake it” with emotion
    • 16 per cent would feel so guilty that they would need to confess to their partner.
  • A little more reckless with their viewing habits, younger couples (31 per cent of those ages 18-39) were more likely to have “cheated4” than older couples (six per cent of those ages 50+).
  • Younger adults appear more likely to come clean about “cheating” than their older counterparts—21 per cent of those ages 18-39 vs. five per cent of those ages 40-49; and three per cent of those ages 50+.

Netflix continues to revolutionize entertainment by letting viewers control what and when they watch. Netflix is not responsible for trust issues, lovers’ spats, or marital troubles that arise because the programming offered is just too addictive.

Survey was conducted online within Canada by Harris Interactive on behalf of Netflix from April 23-26, 2013 among 1,011 Canadian adults (of whom 664 are married, living with a partner or dating) ages 18 and older.

2 Their spouse/partner/significant other watched a program(s) via streaming before/without them.

3 Those in a relationship who would “cheat” by streaming TV program(s) before their spouse/partner significant other had a chance to watch.

4 Have watched a program(s) via streaming before their spouse/partner/significant other had a chance to watch it/them.

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted online within Canada by Harris Interactive on behalf of Netflix between April 23rd and April 26th, 2013 among 1,011 adults ages 18 and older (of whom 664 are married, living with a partner or dating) via its Global Omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, education, region, household income and ethnicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. This data were weighted to reflect the composition of the general adult population.

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My Medical Choice By ANGELINA JOLIE

MY MOTHER fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me. I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a “faulty” gene, BRCA1, which sharply increases my risk of developing breast cancer andovarian cancer.

My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman.

Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average.

Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.

On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.

But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.

My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.

Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.

Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.

I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.

It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.

I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive. So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.

For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.

I acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery. My own regimen will be posted in due course on the Web site of the Pink Lotus Breast Center. I hope that this will be helpful to other women.

Breast cancer alone kills some 458,000 people each year, according to the World Health Organization, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. It has got to be a priority to ensure that more women can access gene testing and lifesaving preventive treatment, whatever their means and background, wherever they live. The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.

I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.

Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on May 14, 2013, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: My Medical Choice.
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