Do you have a happy place? Do you have special memories that will never leave you? How about experiences that shaped your life and gave you lifelong friends?

There are so many challenges we face—even on a normal day or year. So, it’s important for us, children and adults, to have moments of mindfulness and days or weeks of turning off work and electronics and taking deep breaths in our happy places with our loved ones (including those we haven’t met yet).

Right now, try hearing this song in your head—the one that starts, “Once I was seven years old, my mama told me go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely.” Well, once I was 12 years old and my mama drove me to Camp Tockwogh. I was nervous and almost went home, but so glad I didn’t. I met new friends, learned how to sail, ski, and make friendship bracelets, and had the best time of my life. So much so that I kept going back.

Once I was 14 years old, and a junior counselor in my village (groupings of similar aged campers) came bounding over to me, introduced herself, and started talking to me about swimming. She heard I was a competitive swimmer and wanted to get to know me.

Once I was 20 years old, and that JC, Amy Lessack, had become a very good friend of mine. As I was still working at camp, my friends and I would keep an extra staff bed in our cabin so she could come down each weekend and play with us and the kids.

Once I was 30 something years old and Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the course of the next year and a half she fought like a warrior and “beat” cancer. Or so we thought. Our camp friends came from far and wide for a survivor party.

Once I was 50 years old and my friend Amy said she was letting go of her cancer fight of 18 years. And 10 days later I had to finally face the reality that she was gone. I’ve not gone a day since without tears.

But with each tear I’m reminded of a happy memory. A large and wonderful laugh. A spontaneous adventure. A hug. An important talk. A lot of that happened at Camp Tockwogh but the friendship and adventures could not be contained and were year-round and all over the world. That was Amy, a global gift giver of love.

Amy gave so much of herself—her time, money, expertise, advice, and an abundance of love. Some of her gifts included teaching countless kids how to get up on skis, serving on the boards of

Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and Camp Tockwogh, listening to friends talk about their problems and being present with them while doing so, hugging the children of her friends, and donating money to causes—especially to her happy place—Camp Tockwogh, so that others could be blessed with the experience of camp.

If you are still with me, I’m going to ask, in honor of my friend Amy, and so many other phenomenal counselors who have passed through camp, to please donate to Camp Tockwogh’s Keep Our Campfire Burning Campaign. Tockwogh (like so many others) took a big hit because of the pandemic. Tears flowed from campers, staff, and alumni who were not able to visit our hamlet of hope and happiness on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. They are still in great need of our help to bring to thousands of children (and adults, who’s kidding who here) the gifts of fun, new skills, confidence, friendship, and experiences they will never forget. Will you bless a child who otherwise would not be able to have this experience? Camp shaped my life and gave me so much, including a lifelong friend who God put on this earth to help shape the lives of so many others.

For Amy and the kids, please donate. Frankly, this last year stunk. Bring some light into 2021.

Donate Today to Keep Our Campfire Burning

“Soon I’ll be 60 years old, will I think the world is cold or will I have a lot of children who can warm me?”

After working for a security organization, I normally would consider using the platform to be a real threat with the knowledge that a Chinese-owned company may have access to so much of our personal data, but the public has been assured the data is protected in the U.S. I’ll leave the privacy issues to you to research and make decisions on, but I want to talk briefly about the business opportunities.

If we can survive the threat of Trump banning the amazing social channel TikTok, that has surpassed Facebook, Instagram ,and Snapchat for downloads of its app, then businesses have another great opportunity to get in front of millions of people, many of who are in the younger generations. TikTok also needs to keep an eye on innovation and relevance in the wake of the brand-new launch of Instagram’s new Reels, basically a copycat of the TikTok platform. Instagram went all out trying to lure TikTok influencers in, and because it has a strong base—which is somewhat different from TikTok’s—it has a chance to undermine the new giant.

One reason it’s become so popular—even among older Millennials and Gen Xers—is that it is perceived as more authentic and real than Instagram and Facebook. Not so picture perfect when you’re dancing around and being video bombed by Dad, which makes it addictive to watch. And it’s a nice platform for younger people who are feeling the pressures of social media and being perfect.

Most professionals know that content is king—having that relevant, funny, practical post is a must. But these social sites have algorithms that are more complicated—you’ve got to know how to migrate them and stay up to date or you’ll be lost in cyber space with an audience of family and friends.

So how to do it?

Hashtags

Hashtags are the way to be seen, found, and searched for—they’re the key to find trending topics and going viral. You can start hashtag challenges on your own and then seed them through creators and influencers.

One more expensive way to trend is have TikTok promote the hashtag. To get your own to go viral, the key is speed and size. You need a lot of people creating videos using that hashtag within the first 30-60 minutes. This tells the TikTok algorithm that the hashtag is popular, so therefore they show videos using it to more people on the platform.

Content

With all social media channels, it’s important to have the right tone and type of content for that audience. For TikTok, successful content can be categorized into comedy and inspirational.

TikTok challenge

The platform started as a musical platform and many of the posts still use music, which helps to make it more interesting and fun to watch.

Ready to start?

You need to create a profile—called an artist’s profile. This is where you can upload videos and where fans can have direct access to your profile page and content.

Content can be curated and used in a number of ways.

  • Repurposed—do you have a library of videos or some raw material you can grab quick bites from? Try pulling 20-40 seconds of your best and get started with that.
  • Approach an influencer to create content for you. They have mastered the platform and can expand your reach and direct people to your profile.
  • Whether you are using repurposed content or can create a new video with trending hashtags, start populating your profile with ones that make sense to your business. If you are in the security field, you may want to try using something like #firstresponders. If you’re selling products for cat lovers use #catsoftiktok.
  • You can start from scratch and purchase sponsored ads that include shop now buttons that run in the feeds. Remember, it’s important to make the videos creative and fun.

Visit the business learning center on TikTok to get details on formats, testing, reporting, and best practices. They have sessions that take you through the process and help you succeed.

Tip—go ahead and post your short videos on Reels as well if you already have an Instagram account. Those are limited to 15 seconds while TikTok’s can be longer—test them both if you have limited resources and repurpose your videos for multiple channels and sites (like those YouTube and Facebook videos you already have). Keep in mind that Reels is still new, and TikTok’s algorithm helps users see what would be interesting for them. It also keeps a level playing field allowing new users the same opportunities of being seen as big influencers—so don’t hesitate to try the platform and gain a new audience for your brand!

Go explore and then let me know what hashtags you like and what you think TikTok can do for your business.

Here are some fun hashtags you may be interested in (well I like them, so….).

#newteacher—prank for you home schooling parents who need/want to mess with your kids.

#tiktoktips—anyone from Rachel Ray or mask-making friends at home can post and help others.

#dogsoftiktok—They’re dogs. And they are cute. What can I say?

#therealindiandad—stumbled on this and can’t stop laughing with this family.

I’ve been on a number of networking group calls lately and realized there are some small business executives and some younger professionals that may need assistance on crafting a comprehensive marketing and communications plan. Here are some tips to get you started on a template. 

Download the PDF for a step-by-step overview to get you started on a successful plan!

Key Insights:

• Take the time to articulate your Unique Value Proposition.
• Collaborate with team members and stakeholders throughout the process.
• Know your audience—what language they use, what they care about, and what channels they use/visit.
• Stay up-to-date on emerging technology and apply it as appropriate.
• Take care of your brand! Be consistent with design and messaging. Pay attention to details—don’t be sloppy or you’ll look second rate.
• Use data and conduct research to inform decisions.
• Track, monitor, analyze, and be flexible.
• Make an investment to get expert help—whether that’s a designer, writer, digital marketing specialist, or strategist. It will pay off with higher engagement and profits.