Monthly Archives: January 2012

How social do you think you are?

Are you using your teenage daughter’s Facebook to get the word out? Are you hounding your staff about Tweeting on the job? Was your website built by your sisters son’s best friend’s cousin? Don’t just play Mafia Wars or Retweet because he’s your buddy. Use the tools for a purpose.

It’s time to take control and face reality: social media plays one of the largest roles in marketing today. Do you have a social media plan? You should. It’s as important today as a business or marketing plan is. Everyone uses social media today or at least those who are social do. But to do it right takes time and effort to learn what the tools mean.

Things to consider:

Try to post positive tips more than self-promotional ones, at least four or five times more. One of the top reasons people unfollow is because of overwhelming marketing, boring or repetitive posts.

Retweet an article because it makes good business sense to you and your clients. Make sure the offering is sound. Link it to your Facebook page or latest news from your company blog.

Spread your posts out so that when your followers log in, they’re not inundated with only your posts. It’s a sure way to get unfollowed.

Always try to put a link in a post for more information. You can only say so much in Social Media. Use simple and positive language. Remember that it is ‘social’ media. Include an action phrase to motivate your followers like saying ‘please retweet or please like. Research shows that more LIKES are made on posts at the end of the week, so make the ones on Friday count. Be polite. Thank your followers for retweeting or mentioning. It’s all about relationship-building.

Remember that when sending email newsletters to customers and prospects that they need to benefit from the message or they’ll opt-out from further mailings. It’s not just about you.

If you can keep these basics in your head, they’ll help you become more social. The Internet’s not going away, so leverage it’s power and grow your business!


Franklin Beecham is a visual artist. His paintings are collected internationally. He is also the Founder of an online visual art resource.




No one invented peoples’ names; names simply developed and then expanded as the world became more populated. The history of names is a comprehensive one as not only did names advance differently in every country; naming customs within those countries kept changing from generation to generation.

Before William the Conqueror set out to ‘affix England to Normandy’ people were called simple names like Fox, Wildgoose, Smalldove, Toogood … What do you think yours might have been?

When standardised spelling arrived in later centuries names became more creative reflecting landscapes and trades among many other identifiable themes. Smalldove might instead now be known as Mary of the Wood and ToogoodJohn the Butcher. As villages and towns grew and more than one John appeared they had to find ways to differentiate the two.  This gave rise to names like John, son of Robert, which eventually evolved to John Robertson and so on.

Surnames became a requirement when rulers, starting back with William, began keeping census records for tax purposes.

Later on middle names further complicated things. At a time when children had a spiritual name plus a day to day name, the spiritual name was eventually adopted as a middle name. By the early part of the twentieth century, most people had middle names.

When doing your family genealogy you may find yourself hitting many roadblocks because your name could have changed several times over the centuries. My paternal surname ‘Byrne’, Gaelic for ‘raven’, was first O’Byrne, the ‘O’ standing for ‘son of’ or ‘God’.  My ancestors did however drop the ‘O’ at some point. If they were Christians they likely didn’t want to flaunt their spiritual devotion during times of religious suppression.

Have fun tracing your paternal and maternal family names to their origin; the history of these names will add a fascinating layer to your life story.  

Signed: Lesley from the Newmarket

Artists Giving Back

We’ve just finished a month of festivities and now life resumes it’s normal pace.

No more wishing strangers well, shaking hands, and holding the door for little O’Ladies.

The spirit of giving ends for many people, but not for artists.

Artists, through the generosity of spirit give their inspiration visually in every brushstroke.

Artists love to give; need to give; and in this pleasure of giving become stronger people.

Art gives hope and inspiration – in children’s hospitals; school walls; cancer research clinics; and in your own home.

A gift that happens to be personally crafted by the giver is most likely to be a treasure to the receiver. All the more reason to make a New Years resolution to open your creativity. Break out some brushes and give.

Don’t think your an artist? Hum Bug. Creativity lies within each of us. All we need to do is eliminate any expectations and ‘just do it’.

A healthier lifestyle is a New Years resolution for many, so here is another reason to be creative. Put simply; art makes you feel good and happy people are healthier people.

On a more scientific note, when anyone practices an exercise that involves using their imagination, an amino acid is released in the brain. It is the same protein that regulates our sleep; encourages proper appetite and builds our immune system.

Being an artist is a big sack of abundance. Presents come down the chimney every time we squeeze a tube of paint.

It takes some courage to begin and resilience to continue; but soon your patience will be rewarded with joy when you’re signing your name on the canvas.


Herbert Pryke teaches acrylic painting classes for the Town of Richmond Hill.

Herbert Pryke is founder of Artcures Inc. an organization that engages the community into exploring the healing power of art.

Are We Musicians or Digital Slaves?

Nowadays if you’re a musician, it’s not enough to write songs or sing or play an instrument. You have to be a digital marketer and in some cases a digital wizard.

 Digital presence

You’re expected, first, to have a website and to keep refreshing it. Then you have to appear on social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Tumblr, Wynken, Blynken, or NOD. (Okay, I made the last three up, but trust me, if they don’t exist right now, they will within the next 4 microseconds.)

You also have to get your music up on sites so it can be bought (you hope) and downloaded from the Net. And you have to video your latest gig so that it too can go up on YouTube, because the one you put there of last week’s gig is, well, so last week.

And then of course, you’d better blog about the gig and tweet about it, both before and after—and preferably even during!

 Cyber smarts

And you must also learn how to DO all of the above. Some of it’s easy, some of it’s harder, especially if, like me, you weren’t born with a digital device in your hand.

So recently, and belatedly, I learned how to use Windows Movie Maker. While a couple of other people have done videos for YouTube for songs of mine, I’ve been told my YouTube presence is sorely lacking, so it was time to try my hand at one myself.

Now I could have just put the credits up with the audio track and no images at all, but I wanted something that would stand out a bit more (on the Web we’re all competing for eyeballs and earballs, after all), especially since this song honours the memory of one of my sisters.

Sourcing images

But it wasn’t easy, in part because I didn’t want to steal images from other people’s websites or Flickr streams, etc. (which I’m sure millions of others do). And contacting them to ask permission would have been time consuming. I was finally able to find a few images I could use because they’re licensed with Creative Commons, and then I added images of my own.

So here’s my first original video, of a song from my 2003 CD Pegasus. I kept it simple in order not to distract from the story.

Digital slaves?

Movie Maker 7 isn’t that complicated, but I still spent many hours fine-tuning this little video—hours I should have spent trying to get gigs, practising new chords, or working out harmonies for the CD I’m recording. But this is 2012, and this is the current reality.

Or is it? If you’re a musician, how much time do you spend on your Web presence? Is it helping? Do we have to be digital slaves? Please share!


Marie-Lynn Hammond is a co-founder of Stringband, a seminal Canadian folk group, and a critically acclaimed songwriter living in York Region. In past lives she’s written plays and magazine articles and hosted national CBC radio shows. In between working on two new CDs, she freelances as an editor of both fiction and nonfiction.