New York

New York mom charged with murder in deaths of twin girls

MONTAUK, N.Y. (AP) — Police say a woman is charged with murder in the deaths of her twin 2-year-old daughters, who were found in cardiac arrest inside a car at a Long Island park.

Suffolk County police say they received a 911 call from 24-year-old Tenia Campbell's mother, saying her daughter was threatening to kill herself and her children at an unknown location.Read more on

Keep Your Contact Center in North America Without Breaking the Bank

A quick trip down memory lane reminds us that the 1990s saw a massive rise in the practice of offshoring call centers. With the convergence of economic factors and technological advancement, it was seen as the cheap alternative for companies who required basic customer support solutions.
But times change – and so do customers. Today’s consumers expect personalized experiences – especially in complex care scenarios that transcend basic, transactional interactions. And that can only really happen with close cultural alignment as well as an environment that empowers agents to make better decisions.
Simply put, offshore doesn’t cut it. You know it – and your customers know it too.
More and more companies are choosing contact center locations closer to home with rich talent pools where agents are not only fluent in their customers’ language but can also pick up on cultural nuances that are difficult to teach non-native speakers. Business leaders are realizing that linguistic and cultural barriers are detrimental to complex support scenarios.
That said, keeping your contact center onshore is, well, costly – mostly thanks to stronger economies and higher costs of living. Of course, if a differentiated customer experience and brand is important, it’s worth it.
Still, North American contact centers vary wildly in their costs and in their quality – how do you find what works best for you?
TL;DR – A differentiated customer experience is critical, but keeping it onshore can be expensive. Outsourcing your contact center to Canada can help you stretch your dollar while still gaining access to highly-educated, culturally-aligned talent.
Look North of the Border
We believe we have the answer to keeping your contact center in North America without breaking the bank – and without sacrificing quality: Look North of the border.
Most people think onshore means their search for an outsourcer is confined to the 50 US states (or even just 48 continental states). But despite being separated by politics, economies, and lines on a map, Canada – particularly metropolitan Canada – is an excellent alternative.
We explore a number of reasons for this below, but the short version is that Canada offers competitive cost factors, close cultural alignment, readily-available top talent, and attractive proximity. Read on!
Stretching Your Dollar in Canada
The US Dollar is strong right now, giving American businesses a lot of buying power outside their borders (one US Dollar currently equates to 1.33 Canadian Dollars). That’s not to mention the fact that the US and Canadian economies are closely linked, and the exchange rate hasn’t varied much for most of the last couple of decades. Economic outlooks project that this will be sustained for the foreseeable future.
Ultimately, you’re getting more bang for your buck by outsourcing to a Canadian contact center partner. Although your decision is more complex than price alone, there’s no denying that it is an important component. When all other factors are comparable, the projected ROI is what may ultimately lead you to choose one outsourcer over another. In Canada, that ROI may look significantly more attractive.
Of course, we know you’re not just looking for a “cheaper” way to outsource your contact center. You want a more affordable option that doesn’t come at the sacrifice of amazing quality. Let’s explore some other ways Canada may be the answer for you.
Tapping into a Deeper Talent Pool
The US unemployment rate is at a record low, generally touted as a good thing. That said, it does make hiring significantly more difficult. With fewer people actively looking for jobs, companies are forced to get more creative in their recruitment strategies, poaching talent from competitors and overhauling their benefits programs to attract more people.
Though Canada’s unemployment rate is at near-historic lows also, it’s about two percent higher than the US – a difference that’s just significant enough to create a deeper talent pool. And those people are well-educated – more than 70% of adults in Halifax have completed a post-secondary program. That means we have extensive access to people who have the skills and competence to handle complex service scenarios in support of our clients and their customers.
Cultural Alignment Between the US and Canada
Canadians can chit-chat about the latest Superbowl/World Series/Stanley Cup playoffs just as easily as Americans – and you may be surprised by how often that conversation comes up on a customer call. Your friendly neighbors to the North are also equally adept at interpreting passing comments, slang, or tone of voice that indicate a customer’s attitude – information that can help these agents deliver a better customer experience.
Ensuring cultural alignment in your contact center program is likely why you’re choosing to onshore in the first place. These types of interactions are hard to measure and may seem inconsequential, but they are at the heart of next-level customer service. Being able to pick up on tiny details or chat about everyday topics are what makes a customer feel heard and valued. Those are the customers who stay loyal to your brand and often end up evangelizing their family, friends, and networks.
Canada: Closer to Home Than You Think
Before you worry that the money you save in heading North will be eaten up by hours spent flying and driving to some remote Canadian town, bear in mind that provinces like Nova Scotia – home to our very own Blue Ocean offices – are a stone’s throw from New York. Not so remote after all.
Proximity matters because we do recommend that you get face-to-face with your outsourced contact center on a regular basis – and even before you make a decision to partner up (read why here). Most metropolitan Canadian cities, including our very own Halifax, offer nonstop flights to most major US cities. That’s a big deal.
Keeping Your Contact Center in North America Without Breaking the Bank
Choosing to keep your contact center onshore doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paying through the nose. If you want a more affordable option while maintaining high quality “wow” customer experiences, consider looking North of the border to Canada (we love it here!).

Can You Influence Your Audience With Influencer Marketing?

I bet if I asked you what lipstick your favourite blogger wears, you’d know. How about their favourite restaurant in Toronto? Or the new bag they just received? This is how influencer marketing works, in a nutshell.
While this is nothing new in the PR and advertising world, what’s interesting is the fact that “influencers,” not celebrities, are capitalizing on this new trend.
So how are brands finding these people? Who really qualifies as an “influencer”? More importantly, should you be doing this to promote your brand? I mean, it obviously works, right? Well, not always.
How Instagram Brought Influencers to the Surface
Before we dive into the glamorous world of influencing, let’s take a look at where it all began. Influencers are individuals whose content is relatable and whose lifestyle you’d want to emulate. With Instagram’s explosive entry into the social media world in 2010, many bloggers and content creators took to the platform to promote their thriving YouTube channels and popular blogs assuming it was just another promotional platform to add alongside their Facebook and Twitter pages. What they didn’t know was just how big the platform was going to get.
The early birds of Instagram saw tremendous growth to their following which got a lot of brands and PR agencies to sit up and take notice. While celebrities were late to this platform, these influencers (a term dubbed just for them) were rising stars with their 100K+ following. Soon the same brands that used to pay celebrities for talking about them, were reaching out to these influencers to send them free products. What followed was the birth of “Instagram Influencers” — individuals who may or may not have been content creators on other platforms but they sure were on Instagram. From dedicated content to a planned feed, Instagram was suddenly THE platform to be on.
Brands & Their Race to the Top
Brands were soon trying to get as many, if not more, influencers to work with them instead of their competitors. The only one winning here was the – they could cherry pick the brands they wanted to work with. What ensued was not just promotional content but brands coming out with products in collaboration with these very influencers. And it wasn’t just t-shirts or caps, we’re talking eye shadow palettes and lipsticks that were sold worldwide, makeup collections that cost hundreds of dollars and jewellery collections featuring diamonds. The reason it worked was that they weren’t celebrities. They were relatable, they were people like us, they could have been anybody.
So Who Benefits from Influencer Marketing?
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “great so it works best for beauty and apparel brands.” Well, you are kind of right. While this rapid growth may have been made possible by these industries, it’s really everybody that’s profiting. With restaurants inviting them for free dining experiences to car companies lending them their brand new cars for a weekend getaway, it was only getting better.
Around 2017, even airlines had jumped on the bandwagon. They started sending these influencers on special trips to cities like Paris and New York, in business class. Countries were inviting them to promote tourism opportunities and companies like Mastercard were sponsoring their expenses. It really couldn’t get better. Or could it? Well if you count front row seats to fashion shows, free mobile phones and gadgets, and the big bucks to promote these brands, it really does.
How to Get Started with Influencer Marketing
So, how can you get influencers to talk about your brand and where do you even start?
The best place to start would be with some research. Say you’re a local jewellery brand looking to promote yourself or you run a national eCommerce store selling handmade soaps, there are influencers who work for your specific needs. Here’s what we suggest:
1. Find the right platform
If you have 100,000 followers on Facebook but a few thousand on Instagram, you probably want an influencer whose Facebook stats outweigh their Instagram stats. Better cross-promotion opportunity on the right platform.
2. Right Location
If you’re a local business in Ottawa, do you really want influencers from Vancouver talking about your business? It’s better to work with a local influencer whose followers are more receptive to their advice than a national one with just the numbers.
3. Numbers are not everything
If you find 10 influencers with 40K following each, rest assured it’s better than working with someone with 200K following. Why? Look at how many comments and likes they’re getting. Micro-influencers (under 40-100K followers) have higher engagement levels than macro-influencers (100K+ followers). The only time you should prioritize macro-influencers is when you’re looking at reach and brand awareness over everything else.
4. Do your research
Finding the right influencer who fits your brand and your voice isn’t luck, it’s time and research. Do they often promote brands in your industry? Are they experts or do they work in the same industry as yours? These are questions you need to ask before deciding on who to work with.
5. Can it fit your marketing strategy?
If you’ve planned out your campaigns for the next six months, influencer marketing may be a great way to supplement those initiatives. The beauty of influencer marketing is how easily it ties in with your other advertising and marketing efforts. Planning to launch a new product? Why not promote it through influencers. Have a social cause to talk about? Work with influencers for content. The possibilities are endless.
6. Clarify what you’re offering
There are various types of collaboration, you can send them a free product or sponsor their next social media update. It could be a dedicated blog article or a video at your store for a fee. All of these work very well but figure out what your budget encompasses.
7. Define the deliverables
If there’s one thing to learn from all the success and drama surrounding collaborations, it’s to clarify (or have it in writing) what’s decided in terms of assets. Is it a video? Or 3 dedicated posts. Have it signed and agreed on. It also helps to plan out the timeline in advance, so your sponsored content isn’t buried under 20 outfit pictures.
A bonus tip, make sure you’re not only looking at their follower counts. With the opportunities of buying followers and engagement, it’s not difficult to have 500K followers. Take a look at their last 50 posts, do they have people commenting on it? Are they engaging with their followers? Do you see their replies? Do you see people asking questions? Or do the comments look like spam? You need to consider all of this before you actually decide to go ahead with these influencers.
If after reading this you’re still unsure about how to work with influencers, you may as well enlist the help of professionals. Influencer marketing is a service now offered by digital and PR agencies. From finding the right influencers for your brand to taking care of the deliverables and communication, we offer an end-to-end influencer marketing solution for your brand.

How to Use Instagram Stories to Engage with Your Customers

PhotoMIX-Company / Pixabay
Instagram is an extremely popular social media network that over ⅛ of the world, or 7.7 billion people, is currently enjoying! It allows users to share their photos and videos, follow others and search for content based on keywords.
While Instagram is not intended specifically for business use, such as LinkedIn, all of the biggest and many of the smaller brands around the globe are seizing the opportunity to connect with a broader audience. Learning how to use Instagram stories, a great newer feature of this platform, is a proven way to engage with your customers.
Instagram Stories Explained
Instagram users are able to share content by uploading it to their profile grid, but they can also create stories, which is a feature that shows photos and videos in a bar at the top of the main feed. Unlike regular content on the feed, stories disappear within 24 hours, making it more tempting for your followers to view your stories daily, or risk the chance of never seeing them again.
When your followers open their Instagram account, they are able to see circles with the accounts they follow that uploaded an Insta-story. All they need to do to see it is to click on it to see it. In addition to uploading your content, you can add music, text, images, and locations to your stories. Note that your followers can’t like or comment on stories like they can on other content.
How to Use Instagram Stories
Creating a story is extremely easy; just click the “+” sign on the top left of your screen. You will have the option to upload content from your phone or to use the camera to take a new video or photo.
The screen will provide you with the options to customize your content with filters, stickers, drawings, and text. You can check the analytics of who has viewed your story by clicking on it; you will be able to see every single person who saw the story, along with a total count.
Tips to Encourage Engagement with Instagram Stories
Tag Your Location
If your business has a physical storefront, make sure to tag it in every single Insta-story you create. The location tag will show up right on the story, allowing your followers to clearly see your business name.
Instagram allows users to search for companies in certain locations, such as “hair salon New York,” and is a great way to connect to a new customer base.
Add Hashtags
Hashtags are keywords that you can add to your story along with the # sign. Examples include:


Instagram now allows users to search stories by hashtags, so as long as you know what keywords your customer base will use, you can attract them to your profile with your hashtags.
Use Polls
Polls are a fun feature on Instagram stories that allows you to ask your followers to vote on a certain topic. After adding a photo or video, add the “Poll” sticker to your story and write your question with two answer choices. Voters will be able to choose their selection right on your story, and you can see the answers.
This is a great way to engage with your followers and ask them what they prefer to see in your stories, what questions they may have, what products or services they are mostly interested in and more!
Instagram is a fun way for you to connect with a wide range of audience online. It can be a great marketing strategy, but since there is so much competition, it may be helpful to work with an Instagram specialist or influencer to truly make your business stand out on this social media channel.

Why You Should Accept Credit Card Payments Despite Processing Fees

No matter what type of business you run, accepting credit card payments is strongly recommended. When I was 18, I used to work at a minimum wage telemarketing job where I’d call small business owners to persuade them to buy our company’s credit card processing machine/system.
I knew very little about what I was selling at the time but now that I’m an entrepreneur, I completely understand the importance of accepting credit cards. Sure, there may be some fees involved but it’s still worth it. Plus depending on who you work with, the fees can be very minimal compared to your overall profit.
Here are a few key reasons why you should accept credit card payments despite any processing fees.
Increased Sales
It’s no secret that most businesses accept card payments. In fact, customers expect you to accept their debit and credit cards. This is why 83% of businesses that accept credit card payments see increased sales. When I went to New York a few weeks ago, my husband I were really hungry after a tour and started to look for a place to eat.
To our surprise, most of the restaurants in the area only accepted cash as a form of payment. We didn’t have enough cash on us and didn’t want to pay the high ATM fee so we passed on most of the restaurants. The places that didn’t accept cards missed out on our business and I’m sure they missed out on a lot of other business too.
Easier to Sell and Offer Payment Plans
Could your business benefit from offering payment plans? If you have some high ticket products or a subscription program, accepting credit card payments will be much more convenient for your customers.
No one wants to mail checks or time out of their day to hand you cash anymore. You can accept regular payments online via a quick and easy payment processor.
If you’re getting recurring income from payment plans and subscriptions, it will likely be worth the small fee required to accept payments.
Factor Fees Into Your Pricing
Don’t forget, you can always factor the fees to accept credit card payments into your pricing. I work with a contractor who didn’t realize that PayPal charged a transaction fee which meant that whenever I paid one of her invoices, a small amount was deducted from the payment.
After realizing that the fee was cutting into her payment, she asked if she could bill me a slightly higher amount with the fee in mind. That way, she could earn closer to the amount that we agreed upon and I had no problem doing this.
Depending on how you run your business, you may or may not feel like letting customers and clients know that you’ve increased your prices to factor in credit card processing fees. Some banks do charge high fees but Due’s rates start at just 2.8% per transaction with no hidden or monthly fees.
Being equipt to accept credit card payments is a must if you want to increase sales and outshine competitors. Even if you have the best products that provide tons of value, people won’t buy if it’s too difficult for them to do so.
Consider choosing an affordable payment processing solution that meets the needs of your business and has reasonable fees. That way, your profit will definitely outweigh any of the costs.

New York ends religious exemption to vaccine mandates

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York eliminated the religious exemption to vaccine requirements for schoolchildren Thursday, as the nation's worst measles outbreak in decades prompts states to reconsider giving parents ways to opt out of immunization rules.

The Democrat-led Senate and Assembly voted Thursday to repeal the exemption, which allows parents to cite religious beliefs to forego getting their child the vaccines required for school enrollment.

Gov.

New York man, Ronald Stolarczyk inherits gun from father, shoots burglars and now faces felony over gun laws

An elderly man in New York was arrested for shooting two burglars in his house, not facing murder, or even assault charges, but for using an unregistered gun he inherited from his father. Ronald Stolarczyk did what he had to do when two burglars had broken into his home, defending himself, but in doing so, […]
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New York poised to become first state to ban cat declawing

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York would be the first state in the U.S. to ban the declawing of cats under legislation approved by lawmakers at the request of cat owners, animal welfare advocates and many veterinarians who call the procedure cruel and needless.

The bill, which would subject veterinarians to $1,000 fines for performing the operation, now heads to the desk of Gov.Read more on

Border patrol arrests four illegal aliens hiding in Vermont woods, near New York, Canada

U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Swanton Station apprehended four illegal aliens attempting to hide in a wooded area on May 27. On Monday, the Tactical Communications Center (TCC) at the Swanton Sector Headquarters notified Border Patrol agents of a potential illegal border crossing near Rainville Road in Highgate. Agents responded to the area and deployed […]
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6 Easy Steps to Better Targeting With Facebook Audience Insights

Take the guesswork out of your Facebook targeting with Facebook Audience Insights!
Your Facebook Audience Insights are essential to ensuring you are targeting the right people at the right time. Allowing you to create in-depth customer profiles, this free tool is a powerful way to tailor your messaging for better reach and clicks.
Not only does it help you answer the most basic (yet important) questions like what content your customers like on Facebook and where they live, but it ensures you are able to compare and create similar audiences.
Newbie Tip: You need at least 1,000 people in an audience to get good audience insights and for it to be allocated to a campaign.
In this post, we will guide you on how to find the best audiences on Facebook with your Facebook Audience Insights in six steps.
Step 1: Choosing Your Audience
The first thing you want to do is choose the audience you require insights for. This can be done by selecting a campaign through the Audience Insights dashboard of your Facebook Ads account. Here, you will be able to narrow down your audience to either the overall audience of that campaign, custom audiences or audiences made up of your Facebook fans. For the sake of this guide, we will select ‘Everyone on Facebook.’

You can add your fan insights to your audience by using tab as shown below, but more on tab options later.

Step 2: Using Demographics to Build Your Audience
Now it’s time to build your target audience demographics, refining your selection as you go along, based on the graphs on the right of your dashboard. Here is a breakdown of your demographic options when finding the best audiences using Facebook Audience Insights.

1. Interest Audience Insights
Interest insights are the crown jewel of Facebook marketing. They are what make Facebook a vital component of an eCommerce cross-channel marketing strategy. By refining your audiences through the drop-down menu, you can create highly segmented audiences that, when used in conjunction with other demographics, can hone in on potential shoppers.
2. Location Audience Insights
Here you can choose to either include or exclude a country, a city or a region. If you are selling globally, segmenting your audiences by market will ensure you are not offering a one-size-fits-all marketing campaign strategy.
3. Age and Gender Audience Insights
Next is your age and gender demographics segmentation. This will allow you to market specific products to specific audiences, keeping your ads highly relevant.
Let’s say you are selling kids’ clothing. You could then use these three determinators to refine an audience of women aged 35 in New York.

You could then narrow down your audiences further by using your Audience Insights advanced menu. This includes:

Relationship status
Market segments
Politics (US)
Life events

Taking the above example, you could then narrow down your audience to liberal mothers, aged 35, in New York, who have kids under two years old with an upcoming birthday.

The advanced sections don’t just help you create audiences based on your buyer profiles but can help you find new audiences that you can target on Facebook with your campaigns. In the above example, for instance, you could find possible segments within that audience you hadn’t thought of – based on professions.

Step 3: Finding Out What Your Potential Shopper Really Wants
The next step is to take your segmented audience and use the ‘Page Likes’ tab to asses their biggest likes. Here, your segmented audience will be divided by ‘Top Categories’ and ‘Page Likes.’ Let’s look at each, taking the above example further.
Top Categories
The ‘Top Categories’ section gives the general interests of your segmented audiences. This is highly valuable as it can point to interests you hadn’t even thought of. Insights that you can then match to the relevant product or use to create highly converting ads.

As you can see in the above screenshot of our audience segment’s top interests, there are some logical interests you could use including parenting blogs, positive parenting tips and popular products. However, there are also slightly surprising interests including Crock Pot cooking and jewelry design.
Pro Tip: Looking for blog topic ideas to boost SEO and push content marketing strategies? Use these Facebook insights of audience profiles to brainstorm the kinds of topics your potential shopper is interested in. You can learn more about the power of adding a blog to your online store in our DIY SEO post.
Page Likes
The ‘Page Likes’ interest section points to Facebook pages your potential shopper is already engaging and connecting with. Here, you can rank the pages by relevance (how relevant the page is to your audience), affinity (how likely the audience is to like a page), Facebook (number of active monthly users) and audience size.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the most relevant page to the audience example we’ve used is Freshly Picked, an online store with over 400k followers on Facebook. Therefore, ‘Page Likes’ will not only help gauge what the audience likes most but help you find your biggest competitors.

Additionally, from here you are able to click through to the respective Facebook page to do a little competitor spying. You may also want to cut and past these lists into an Excel sheet for later use.
Step 4: Discovering Language and Location Details
The next segmentation and insight review options include device, language and location, which can be found by clicking the ‘Location’ tab.

As you can see, the ‘Location’ tab provides the top towns, countries (if you haven’t narrowed down your audience to one country) and languages of your audience segment. This can help you decide which language to run your ads in and drill down locations for highly segmented ads and promotions.
Pro Tip: This is particularly helpful if you have a buyer profile – excluding location – that you could then input using all the steps above to find new markets/regions to expand into.
Step 5: Learning About Potential Shoppers’ Activity and Device Details
Lastly, Facebook Audience Insights will help you discover which device your potential shopper is likely using and when they are using it. This is highly valuable information that you can then apply to Facebook ad placement and scheduling to test.

For example, using our example audience, over half use iPhone and 98% of them only use mobile.

Therefore, including desktop placements for campaigns to this segment could be a waste of valuable ad spend.
Step 6: Applying and Testing Your Audiences and Creating Potential Buyer Profiles
You are now ready to click ‘save’ on your new audience profile and allocate it to a new campaign to test. Remember: this audience needs to include at least 1,000 potential shoppers to be used for ad targeting.

Newbie Tip: Bear in mind, you won’t be able to edit an audience if it is included in an active ad campaign.
To add your new audience to test ads, click open. Then choose the relevant audience and then click the ‘Create Ad’ button.

When it comes to testing and optimizing your Facebook ads with this audience, it is not just a matter of creating one campaign. You will want to test a variety of images, titles, descriptions, products, etc. This will help you find the most optimized, high-performing ad for max ROIs.
Once you have tested an audience with a campaign and discovered huge potential, you then have a buyer persona to use throughout your marketing channels. Creating audiences within Facebook, capitalizing on the power of insights, gives you a clearer look at different potential shopper segments.
These personas can then be used for your content marketing, Facebook and Google advertising, and SEO content strategies. This includes highly valuable data that you can use throughout your marketing strategies – regardless of whether you’ve got Facebook fans or not.

There you have it, 6 steps to finding the best audiences on Facebook with your Facebook Audience Insights and how to use them to find new pockets of highly-converting potential shoppers.
Have Facebook targeting questions for your eCommerce business? Put them in the comments below; our Facebook ad gurus are standing by!