Instagram post

Instagram evolves again

Wasn’t it just a few months ago when Instagram turned smartphone photography on its head by opening the platform up to Android users?

Now they’re turning the social media sphere on its head again by moving to web-based profiles. Until this week, one could only access Instagram on the web with a very basic platform, unable to like or comment on the photos.

Some web-based viewers, like Webstagram, started to pop up but once Facebook bought the little photo startup, you had to know Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t take too kindly to someone drafting off his heat.

And mobile purists don’t like the move.

“The trouble is that Facebook is not understanding part of what made Instagram ‘cool’ in the first place,” says Forbes contributor Eric Jackson. “Web isn’t cool any more. Mobile is.”

OK, sure. Mobile is the way of the land. If you’re a business with the slightest bit of interactivity and you aren’t working on your mobile app, you’re about three years behind the times.

But maybe Jackson and his ilk have missed this niggling little fact: more than 40 per cent of brands surveyed by Simply Measured in August have adopted Instagram as part of their marketing plan.

Since the survey, brand adoption has jumped to 54% adoption rate as of Nov. 1.

Money talks.

Zuckerberg and Facebook will bow to what brands with deep pockets want. After all, the test profile page for Instagram’s web debut was Nike’s.

Me? I like it. After all, a lot of people still view Instagram photos on a web browser by finding them on our Twitter feeds. Why not make the experience pretty for them, too?

The photos on the bar at the top rotate, always giving a page visitor a fresh look at my most recent shots of Shep, beautiful scenery and — yawn — what I made for dinner.

If you’re logged into your Instagram account, you can like photos and comment on them, a convenient access route for people who burn through their mobile’s battery power in a few scant hours.

And it’s a much easier way to grab a shot and use its HTML code for embedding in blog posts. You know … like this:

Oh, now you’re shocked I didn’t use a picture of Shep. OK, wait …

Whew … there, that feels better.

Now don’t worry, mobile users, there’s no need to get too knotted up in your knickers.

While Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom says further web functionality is on its way, mobile remains the company’s priority.

“We’re not going to add web uploading, we’re still primarily mobile focused,” Systrom told TechCrunch. “This is doing what’s good for users. Right now Instagram is really contained to the mobile phone. We grew to 100 million users on mobile alone, so this is perfectly timed now that we’ve built a critical mass of users. Now it’s time to share Instagram with the broader world.”

After all, the more the merrier, right?

Hmmm … sometimes anyway.


The great divide between professional, personal Twitter accounts

Full disclosure.

I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.

I’ve managed (and manage) a handful of Twitter accounts, whether for clients or for charitable events.

I have — whew, this is tough to admit — accidentally posted personal opinion or information on the wrong account.

Now I say a lot of stupid stuff on Twitter. I fully admit I’m part jackass and it runs deeply in my family. But I don’t think I ever say anything inflammatory or insulting to anyone specifically.

And I immediately delete the offending tweets.

Where I fall on the lucky side is my misplaced tweets have never gone viral.

Not like this one:

Or the other one off the same account: Obama is a baby-eating monster whose yellowed teeth drip with ichor.

Ichor, by the way, is the ‘ethereal golden fluid that is the blood of the gods and/or immortals.’ I had to look it up.

In typical fashion, Twitter went apeshit and Mashable got the story up post haste.

The tweets were deleted and an apology — retweeted 517 times and favourited 97 times at this very moment — went up:

And now the following statement has just been tweeted:





Ms. Soledad is doing the right thing. She’s taking responsibility, apologizing and ensuring the situation is aright.

And it sure as heck isn’t the first time someone mis-tweeted on a major brand’s account. A Red Cross employee tweeted about her beer drinking and Chrysler’s (now former) PR agency had an employee bitch about bad drivers in Detroit, of all places.

It’s time we all learn a valuable lesson from these moments.

Don’t worry. It’s a little more simple than trying to be two different people all the time, creating the great divide between being a human being and a professional social media manager.

It’s so simple you’ll shake your ahead at the obviousness of it all.

Take your professional or client accounts and move them off the same Twitter client as your personal account.

That’s it. Open up a second Hootsuite account or create a new Tweetdeck window.

Whatever the heck API you use, use two.

Do it now.

Tweeting from your smartphone? Come on, haven’t we all lost count of how many different Twitter apps are out there?

And even then double check and triple check which account you’re using before you hit Submit.

Especially if you’re an asshole.

Breaking news … it ain’t what it used to be

Breaking News!

The alert hit my inbox at about 8:30 this morning, while I was still lying in bed and sorting through my Google Reader headlines.

Oh dear … what fresh hell could this be, I thought.

Following “breaking news” on the subject line, I read: How to Use LinkedIn’s NEW Company Pages for Marketing.

Now sometimes I find myself being a bit of a journalism snob. After 15 years in the industry, I think I know a thing or two about it.

First, breaking news should be fresh, up-to-the-minute, the most recent, most world-affecting news possible. It is traditionally reserved for the most important news of the day.

As defined by Wikipedia, “breaking news” is:

current event which broadcasters feel compelled to temporarily interrupt scheduled programming and/or current news in order to report its details

LinkedIn’s new company pages, however, were unveiled five days ago on the social network’s own blog. It’s also been written about already on WebProNews, PCWorld and even Hubspot, the source of this morning’s email.

And so somehow, a guide on how to use LinkedIn’s new company pages — essentially a followup story (a.k.a. a ‘follow’) on what could be considered breaking news, I suppose — just doesn’t seem to resonate with me.

Maybe there’s some value in considering that social media has changed the idea of “breaking news.” A new Tumblr account tracks the mentions of breaking news on Twitter and we get to see — amid posts from USA Today and other news outlets — that people have brushed their teeth, yawned and fell in love with eating fish.

Sure, social media is all about disruption and dragging the old world kicking and screaming into the new. But it’s difficult to stomach when a professional organization like Hubspot participates in the watering-down of a concept that should be reserved for such immediacy and importance.

After all, look at the calendar. What day is it?

Imagine if our precious social networks had existed 11 years ago today. And amid the news that was truly breaking, the news that truly deserved our attention, we were faced with: ZOMG, somebody at Twitter farted!

I’m not even the only one questioning the decay of breaking news as a foundation of journalism. The new social network, Branch, has a thread on the same topic.

Craig Kanalley, the fellow who started the aforementioned Tumblr account, weighs in:

I think the term’s become so ubiquitous that it’s lost meaning. Now it seems to signify anything “important” or “worth knowing about,” I suppose, whereas at one time it may have meant “this just happened.”

And, God bless their souls, a news media outlet from Great Falls, MT, adds:

We try to use the phrase very sparingly – lives in danger (wildfires, etc); major collisions and traffic incidents that affect lots of people or a large community. Very, very rarely use it for anything political/legislative.

KRTV gets it. We seem to too easily forget that words have meaning and power and profundity.

When I see “breaking news,” I expect to hear about tragedies, great victories or important matters that are going to change the world.

Not how to use a new tool on a social media site.

So, Hubspot, please, in the future, take care to reserve “breaking news” for only the most important events in the world of social media.

To me, that will probably register somewhere around “FACEBOOK IS DEAD.”

And won’t that be good news?

Sssssshhhhh … happy birthday to me

I did it.

I kept my birthday a secret.

A secret to Facebook, that is.

I took inspiration from my lovely friend Sarah, a.k.a. I Speak Canadian. She wrote an post about birthdays and the muddled mess of inauthentic wishes one receives on the good ol’ Facebook.

When I read her post in the spring, I thought ‘hmmmm … let’s just take the old birthday date off the wall and see what happens.’

Very little happened.

And it was lovely.

My 41st belly button day, as Sarah calls it, went unnoticed, unacknowledged and unposted by many. The first recognition came as a bit of a surprise. An old friend from my four-year stop in Gander, Newfoundland, posted in the morning:

Happy Birthday to you!!! Today is your Birthday??

A handful of messages straggled in, mostly from people who did know when my birthday was. My cousin for whom I was often mistaken as a child (and vice versa), my brothers, former teammates (and forever friends) at Shaw, some childhood friends.

And then I went about my day. I was in the States with My American. We spent the afternoon on a drive through the country, heading to the Ice Age landmark at Dry Falls, WA.

That means my phone was off. No roaming charges for this old broad and, thus, no network access.

We got home, made dinner and spent the rest of the day relaxing in front of the TV. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birthday.

I posted a Facebook status:

I woke up next to my beloved and then we made breakfast, went to visit an Ice Age landmark, came home and had cold beer, made dinner and spent the rest of the night watching Chopped and Sweet Genius. That’s a perfect birthday.

Posts started coming in then. I ‘liked’ each one as a ‘thank you’ for their good wishes. Many commented on my status that they didn’t know it was my birthday.

And that’s OK.

What was I trying to achieve? In the beginning, I wanted to see how many people remembered my day without a prompt from the behemoth that is Facebook.

In truth, I’m guilty of it myself. I remember the birthdays of my mom, my brothers, my boyfriend and my dog.

We don’t need to remember special occasions or phone numbers or the little details of life any more. We have Facebook or calendars on our smartphones to remind us.

And ultimately, it reminded me of a valuable lesson.

That life is better served living. Instead of letting Facebook remind everyone when my birthday is and spending the day ‘liking’ or commenting on post after post after post, I was out doing stuff.

Not paying attention to Facebook and the notifications bar on my phone.

But paying attention to me. And my boyfriend.

And life.

Gamifying my fitness

You’ve heard the term “gamification” by now, yeah?

Oh, OK … well then.

Gamification, according to Wikipedia, is the “use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts.”

For instance, Foursquare allows a user to collect points for check-ins at various locations and become the mayor of frequent stops. There are no real-world prizes, although some businesses could choose to offer discounts and special deals to those who check in.

When I realized Foursquare just wasn’t taking off with businesses in Calgary, I nuked my account. I failed to see any return on investment of my time and keyboard pounding, while I gave free promotion on my Twitter feed to pubs, restaurants and shoe stores.

It was part of a trim-down effort on my social media presence. I wanted to unify and streamline, focusing my attention on Twitter and this site (yeah, yeah, my writing has been spotty lately, shuddit).

But in the quest to attract clients and show them I can incorporate tools into their online strategies, I have to explore new frontiers and try new platforms.

Oh Pinterest, you evil bitch … but we’ll get to that some other time.

Enter Fitocracy.

It’s billed as the game you play to improve your fitness.

Track your progress, compete against your friends, and get real world results. It’s time to be fitter and look better naked.


Huh … look better naked. Who the heck doesn’t want to do that?

I heard about Fitocracy through my pal James Fell, a.k.a. Body for Wife. He thought it might be a gold-mine for potential clients, fitness professionals who need some help and training in getting their websites and social media presences off the ground.

OK, I said. I’ll try it.

I tracked my workouts, gained points and levelled up quickly. I earned a badge for squatting at least 1.2 times my bodyweight and another one for cycling 100 kilometres in my lifetime. Phphpht … I do that in three days every week.

I gained followers. They gave me props. Yes, props.  Fist bumps, if you will.

I participated in discussions.

Then I noticed two factors keeping me from enjoying the platform:

1. It was a monumental pain in the ass to remember logging in and tracking my workouts. In no time at all, it became an afterthought, a last-minute thing at the end of the day that was an annoyance more than anything.

B. Advice is given out freely among the discussions … by people who don’t have the slightest clue what they’re talking about. It’s a wasteland of bad advice, including stories about how AWESOME the hip abduction/adduction machine is. Quite simply, it isn’t.

Look, I get it.

Some people want the “props.” Some people need to track their workouts and gain points. Fitness comes easier to them when they have a source of motivation, a community to turn to for encouragement and advice.

I’m lucky like that. My motivation comes from fatiguing my muscles, sometimes to the point where I can’t walk. It comes from the adrenalin rush of pushing big weight on the squat rack, from the natural endorphin high of riding my bike for 40 clicks, from the way my body starts to look when I care enough to stop eating ice cream and pounding back a few Grasshoppers on the weekend.

And I’m fortunate enough to know several people like James, to whom I can turn for fitness advice when I need it.

So if it’s all right with Fitocracy, I’m out.

It just isn’t my bag.

I just wished they’d answer my Twitter question on how to delete my account.

To Jaguar or not to Jaguar

It’s so easy to get pissed off these days.

It’s almost like people are walking around with hair-trigger tempers, just waiting to get outraged at something.

And they’ll get so mad that they’ll just … well … post on Facebook or Twitter or a news story about just how pissed off they are.

We react so vociferously. Remember about a year ago when Theo Fleury said the Canucks wouldn’t win the Stanley Cup, even though they’d won the Presidents Trophy? He encountered Tweets telling him to go kill himself, that he enjoyed his sexual assault at the hands of Graham James, that he was just a fag Flame anyway.

Then there was the L.A. Kings (awesome) Twitter account who tweeted ‘to everyone in Canada outside of B.C., you’re welcome’ when they went up 2-0 in the first round of this year’s playoffs.

And Canucks fans were pissed, demanding the person behind the account be fired, or at the very least drawn and quartered.

Wait … maybe there’s a Canucks pattern there …

Ah, let’s not get into that

But today’s outrage?

Jacksonville Jaguars fans are embarrassed at a video made by a summer intern with the city’s tourism committee, trying to capitalize off the success of planking and Tebowing.

He tried to get people “to Jaguar.”

Watch it. It’s unoriginal, it’s uninteresting and, ultimately, pretty benign.

It fails.

And Jaguars fans are HORRIFIED.

A writer with The Bleacher Report incorrectly blames the Jaguars team and says:

Pardon my grumpy ass, but this is not my kind of silly. The Jacksonville Jaguars would like you to “Jaguar”—a practice that negates your chances of ever getting into any place cool if you do it…even once.

One guy says in the comments:

This is possibly one of the saddest and most embarrassing things I’ve ever seen. Period. I feel so bad for ACTUAL Jaguars fans that love football and have to deal with things like that putting a bad name for their team. As a team that has to deal with Gabbert, no offense, it’s hard as is…

Yeah? This is one of the most embarrassing things you’ve ever seen? Even worse than the time you peed your pants in Grade 2 because you were scared to put your hand up and ask for permission to go to the bathroom?

I mean … ah … that never happened to me.

Come on, fellas. Relax.

I know y’all Americans take your football seriously but let’s step back for a second and look.

1. It’s just a game.

2. It’s a rinky-dink little video trying to be cute and trendy made by a tourism committee that cares about its city and its team.

3. The Jaguars haven’t even made the playoffs since 2007 and this is what fans are getting pissed off about?

The video isn’t going to have any effect on whether the Jaguars suck or not this year, whether they sell seats, or whether anyone decides to visit your beautiful city.

It really doesn’t affect your lives much more than a three-minute blip on your computer screen and you can choose to turn it off.

Just like you can change the channel when you see something on TV you don’t like, or walk away from someone you don’t want to talk to, or choose to click on that little X in the upper-right corner of your browser.

(So, sorry, Safari users … left. Please don’t yell at me.)

If you’re horribly embarrassed by this video, realize that you’re the ones who have caused it to go viral, spreading your embarrassment around the internet and demanding your humiliation be noticed and recognized.

We all need to settle the heck down and figure out how something like this truly affects us before we go crying and wailing and stomping and pounding.

Or, you can do what I did in Grade 2.

Call your mom, tell her what happened and get to go home early.


I know smart people, part 1

I know smart people.

They stimulate my brain. They challenge me. They even — occasionally — change my mind.

Doug Lacombe is one of those people. He’s an entrepreneur over at Communicatto, an integrated communications agency specializing in all things digital and social media. He takes a company’s online presence and whips it into shape.

He’s an entertaining speaker.


A bit of a comedian.

And a Maritimer.

That means we have to stick together.

I challenged Doug yesterday on a topic that’s been simmering in my brain for months. You see, during my job search, I noticed a lot of oil and gas companies had communications openings demanding social media skills.

I applied for some of them, mostly hesitantly, because I knew the oil and gas industry isn’t for me. Mostly, I learned at Shaw, the big corporation game isn’t my style.

In any case, Doug posted a link to his Communicato blog. Guest poster Kelly Ferrier wrote a piece on Kate Trgovac, a digital marketer I remember being at the first social media conference I ever attended four years ago.

Kate was key in Petro-Canada’s early entry into the social media landscape with the PumpTalk blog. It’s an excellent case study on big business engaging with customers who love to complain (oh you know it’s true, how often do you bitch about the price of gas?).

In the interview, The skinny on social media for oil and gas from Kate Trgovac, Kate talks about the current digital marketing trends facing oil and gas companies: crisis communications, mobile readiness and employee engagement.

And it sparked all of those doubts I had about oil and gas companies barging into our little corner of the world, those bastards who have put us at the mercy of the sweet sweet black gold.

So I asked Doug if he thought this signaled that social media had, at long last, jumped the shark.

He said:

I gave him that point. We’ve seen any number of cases where social media has been the saviour or downfall of a company in trouble spots: the famous Motrin Moms episode, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the FedEx guy tossing a computer monitor over a fence.

I also conceded social media is a terrific tool for human resources, instilling trust in potential employees and recruits, engaging current employees, and maintaining contact with temporary/seasonal workers.

But big business loves spin. The one concern I had with the whole thing was how polished or filtered the message would be.

Translation: how natural or authentic would these companies allow their employees to be on their accounts.

After all, that’s the very heart of social media, isn’t it? You have to be yourself, be honest and be open to letting your followers see who you really are.

And Doug said:

You see how he likes to drive home a point with a little humour, yeah? That’s why I love Doug.

Of course, I’d also forgotten the No. 1 rule behind social media: if you don’t want to hear what someone or some company has to say, don’t follow that account.

It’s simple really. But sometimes I get all caught up in an idea and forget the most basic of rules, like using a fill flash when I’m shooting on a sunny day.

And it just takes a little reminder from the smart people, like Doug, to get me back on track.

Thus, I will leave him with the last word on this, looking forward to more discussions.

Friends off

Dear Naughty Monkey,

I’m afraid this is the end of the road for us.

It’s been quite a ride, really. I first learned of you several years ago when my friend Jill extolled your virtues on the internet discussion board where we met. I bought a pair of Live Wires off ebay. I was especially drawn to them because Live Wire is also the name of my all-time favourite Motley Crue song.

Every time a pair of shoes or boots was delivered to my door, I let out a little squeal and shared my joy by posting pictures of my new prizes to Facebook and Twitter. Several friends were turned over to your brand as a result.

Your style was fun, colourful and yet wearable for the everyday professional.

Over the last few years, I have amassed quite the collection of Naughty Monkey footwear, even drifting over to your sister brand Not Rated for a couple of times.

Engaging with your social media accounts was enjoyable. I even won a pair of red Emerald City pumps during a Valentine’s Day promotion in 2011.

That ended this week.


I sent the following email to your brand director and marketing director earlier this week:

First, let me introduce myself by saying I have been a loyal customer of Naughty Monkey shoes for several years. I have been a brand advocate, turning several of my friends onto the name and ensuring they engaged with your social media accounts.

I was a bit taken aback this afternoon when your social media representative posted on your Facebook timeline what I thought was a whiny post about the new Facebook timeline. She found it ‘soooooo confusing.’ I posted a couple of links to help her out.

I have been involved with social media for several years. I was the social media strategist for a national telecommunications company in Canada. I kind of know a thing or two about Facebook and the timeline, especially that the timeline for brands has been known since last September. This timeline thing should not be taking anyone by surprise or confusing them.

I posted to my Twitter account that I found it funny Naughty Monkey would be ‘whining’ about the Facebook timeline publicly when it’s likely the reason the person has a job. Harsh? Maybe so. But I like to expect bigger things from people in my own industry of marketing and communications. A conversation with your social media representative ensued. She has since deleted not only the Facebook post but her Twitter replies to me as well.

You can see her replies to me here:

You can see my end of the conversation here:

One of the first rules of social media marketing and engagement is to be yourself. The message I received from Naughty Monkey today is that it is snarky and flippant. And while I — of all people — respect the ability to be snarky and flippant, I sure don’t expect it from the brands I follow. Instead, I expect a level of professionalism and an ability to be ahead of the trends, not to be so confused by them.

You may not agree with my perspective on the matter. That’s OK. That’s what opinions are all about. For now, however, Naughty Monkey has lost one of its biggest champions in Canada. 

I received a reply this afternoon.

Dear Angela,

I thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. Your email to Jay was probably not answered in a timely manner because  a group of us were traveling overseas and our internet access was inconsistent.

Now for the issue at hand, I will bring it up to our social media person. It is not our intention to insult our fans who have helped us get to where we are. The continued support of our fans whether they be big or small matters to us and losing a brand supporters like yourself hurts no less.

Ismael “Mike” Cortez
Marketing Director
Naughty Monkey

I think Mike gets it. I thanked him and let him know I thought it should be of great concern that his social media person deletes her comments in an attempt to cover her tracks.

Many of of my friends know this goes against the very grain of the authenticity and transparency that social media represents.

Oddly enough, in a completely unrelated incident, my friend Chelsea — whom I’m assuming knew nothing of my interactions on Tuesday — addressed the Naughty Monkey Twitter account with a language error in one of her Tweets.

Chelsea — smart, beautiful, creative, ambitious and destined to rule the world — received this Tweet in response:

When Chelsea, another professional trained and experienced in corporate use of social media, called the account out for being snide, the Tweet was deleted.

Now some of you may see this as a whole lot of nothing, but it does speak to the importance of ensuring the tone and voice a company wants to express to its followers and fans.

I will always take issue with corporate accounts that designate the content to someone who has a tenuous grasp on the English language.

And I will always take issue with corporate accounts handled by people who see everything as a big haha, no matter how flippant or snarky I can be on my personal feeds.

Companies need to aim higher, no matter how small or large they are.

And they sure as heck need to be better prepared (and trained) to handle negative feedback.

That being said, I’ve looked at the new spring line for Naughty Monkey. I’ve realized I’m no longer your target demographic. That has nothing to do with my age but more with my fashion sense.

If anyone is a Snooki wannabe, however, I do suggest checking out the new styles.

And yeah … meow.

Yours in footwear,


Feeding frenzy

I’ve been hating to read the #Flames hashtag for the last while.

Too many Suzie Sunshines have been talking about the team turning a corner when they post an occasional win.

Too many Cheery Charlies have been talking about how the team needs to keep Jarome Iginla for his heart and his leadership.

Too many Happy Harrys have been talking about ‘next game we’ll get ’em!’


A 3-1 loss is in the books after playing the Columbus Blue Jackets. That’s preceded by a pair of losses to the Minnesota Wild.

And a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs.

Big fucking deal.

The Leafs have a 12-17-4 record in the East, only slightly worse than the Flames at 14-18-3.

So, no. It’s no big deal to beat the Leafs.

Nor would it have been a big deal to beat the Wild or the Blue Jackets.

It really isn’t a big deal to lose to them either.

Because, folks, this is not a good team.

No matter how you slice it and dice it, Brent Sutter is handcuffed by a roster of old and slow plugs in a game that’s speeding past with youth and flash and dash.

That defence we keep being told is one of the best in the league … on paper? The top four combined for a minus-6 rating tonight.

Strange decisions are being made. The one with the youth and flash? Mikael Backlund was a healthy scratch tonight, in favour of guys who aren’t lifting feathers let alone pulling their own weight.

In complete honesty, I didn’t watch until the last three minutes. I had better things to do, figuring the Flames would be putting in a tired, heartless effort after losing to the Wild last night.

I followed along on the Twitter stream while I was in the hairdresser’s chair and at the gym.

Fans are pissed.

“So happy the world juniors is starting. Watching the #flames is painfull (sic).”

“#flames some kind of failure tonight…again”

“Wow, the #flames continue to struggle, and yet do NOTHING to help themselves. How #pathetic AND #stupid can a professional #hockey team be?”

“The #Flames are just so bad. It hurts my soul.”

“3 in a row… NOW can we fire Sutter? Waiting for management/ownership to do something is as frustrating as watching this team play. #Flames”

“If DSutter isn’t fired by the time I get back from States, I’m gonna … I’m gonna … I’ll probably just swear and tweet about it. #Flames”

Oh wait … that last one was me.

So yeah, how much longer will this go on without someone, i.e. general manager Darryl Sutter, being held accountable for the dreary season we’re facing?

For the fact the Flames don’t have a complement of players who can score.

For the fact the Flames don’t have the stalwart defence we’ve been led to believe it is.

For the fact this team is pushing the salary cap this year and next and has no future.

Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Now that’s a big deal.

Shopping socially

An interesting phenomenon is sweeping across Calgary.

I suppose some might call it social shopping. The trouble is, some people aren’t being very social about it.

A number of cost-savings opportunities are cropping up, from Living Social to Groupon and the Canadian-operated Steal the Deal. Others exist, I just can’t remember their names.

I’ve partaken in several of these deals since they started, mostly massages and facials. A day at the spa isn’t something I’m normally inclined to spend $200 on, but if it’s knocked down to 49 bucks … sure, what the hell?

You can pick up on hot deals on ski passes, candle shops, hair cuts, food and more. Some of the offers are pretty basic … get 20 bucks worth of whatever for $5. Some are more high-end, like the aforementioned spa trip which I have yet to book.

I call these ‘social’ shopping because they employ the internet as their main vehicle of advertising. They use Twitter, Facebook and email — all the hot tools for social networking.

Along my journey on the social shopping trail, I ask how the whole dealio is working out for the business in question.

I have learned that a lot of you are cheap sunsabitches.

You don’t tip. You’re rude. You’re there to get the biggest bang for your buck and you really don’t care much for the trail of distaste you leave in your wake.

Folks, we have to remember that even though we’re getting a discount on a service, we still have to act like civilized, social beings … no matter how much we’re saving.

Sure, these deals might expose some of us to experiences we might not otherwise be able to afford.

And we aren’t the only ones investing in these deals. Sometimes, these deals can attract hundreds of shoppers.

So don’t be surprised when you call to book your appointment and you can’t get in for a few weeks.

And for heaven’s sakes, tip.

Trust me, your facialist will understand if you say ‘I’m sorry, I would give you more but this is all I have right now’ and promise to spread the word about the good service you received.

But when you need to pay the GST on the service, it amounts to $1.75, you flip a twoonie onto the counter and demand your quarter back … well …

I’ve only been disappointed once using one of these services. I sat through a three-and-a-half-hour cut-and-colour at a salon. Three and a half hours. For a cut and colour. The guy kept bouncing around and doing other stuff at the salon.

They had my email address and a couple months later, I received a notice saying the salon was shutting down.

Colour me surprised. And that colour didn’t take twice as long as it should.

At the same time, let’s remember that these businesses are putting these deals out to get new traffic through the door.

They want your business. They want to serve you and they want to serve you well.

And they want you to come back.

Thus far, I have found myself a new massage therapist and a new esthetician.

I encourage you to take advantage of the deals you can get from Groupon or Living Social or whatever.

But don’t take advantage of the people serving you.