Social Media Notes (#46) – Links for the Week of October 13 – 19

Social Media Notes

Here’s this week’s round-up of social media (& tech) news. Come by each week for what I hope to be a fun & informative blog post on social stories that caught my eye throughout the week!

  • Have you seen Edmonton’s new augmented reality magazine – #YEGWeekend?. Download an app and place your phone over the magazine’s pages to get additional videos and information. So neat! Though I wonder how many would actually take the effort to download and digest a publication this way.

Thoughts on these stories? Tweet @ me or leave a comment below!


Social Media Spotlight: Edmonton-based GozAround a social network for volunteering

Edmonton-based GozAround a social network for volunteering

by Linda Hoang

Ben Block likes to help people. He’s volunteered for different organizations over the years, including doing big volunteer jobs like an overseas Habitat for Humanity build in Kyrgyzstan. But mostly he likes those small acts that make a big impact.

“In my life, I can think back to instances of just helping someone out that is just really small but makes you feel surprisingly good,” Block (@benjaminblock) says.

“All of us have a unique set of skills and abilities and resources and time and whatever that to us is probably not that big a deal to share with somebody but to someone who doesn’t have that, it’s huge. For the helper, you have a huge emotional pay off and for the person getting the help, it could be life-altering.”

Connecting those who need help and those who want to help, is the purpose of GozAround, a new social network founded by Block.

GozAround - Ben Block - Edmonton

New social network GozAround helps people find volunteer opportunities in their community

It’s kind of like crowd sourcing for favours.

On GozAround, you have your more formal, traditional volunteer opportunities, posted by non-profit community groups, but you also have smaller, one-to-one requests for help.

“If you need help moving a couch on the weekend, or maybe you broke your foot and need someone to take your dog for a walk, that sort of thing,” Block says.

“Basically we’re just trying to make it quicker and easier for people to get involved in the community.”

Block, a 34-year-old lawyer born and raised in Edmonton, has been working on GozAround for about a year. The site officially launched in late August and about a month ago Block took a leave of absence from the law firm he’s been working with, to focus efforts on growing GozAround.

GozAround - Ben Block - Edmonton

Edmontonian Ben Block is the founder of GozAround

Although as it hasn’t caught on as quickly as he’d hoped, the new network is growing.

“Every day there’s new members and new organizations coming on,” Block says. “More formal volunteer opportunities are starting to pop up and also more people coming on with those individual requests.”

In the last few weeks, Block’s seen users help a woman throw her daughter a birthday party, help with a Thanksgiving meal, and answered a call to help rake up leaves for a senior. The Salvation Army recently signed on and is seeking volunteers for their annual kettle campaign.

“It’s starting to take life.”

The volunteer opportunities vary in topics – as well as in location. Although the platform is Edmonton-based, there are users posting from across Canada and in the U.S.

There’s this idea of paying it forward – and karma – built into the site (what ‘gozaround’ comes around), and there’s also a gamification aspect too. The more you engage by volunteering, the more points you gain. The points can be redeemed for rewards. Non-profit organizations who use the site can also buy more points to give to their volunteers as a thank you – think of them as the modern-day volunteer T-shirts or gift cards.

GozAround - Ben Block - Edmonton

Ask for help or choose to help someone on GozAround, a social network connecting volunteers

It’s been an exciting time for Block and his wife Krista, who he credits as playing an integral role in supporting and advising Block as he’s worked on GozAround.

Block is looking forward to growing the small start-up, and thinks working the local angle will help.

“How does Facebook turn into Facebook? There’s nothing stopping us, but being a small startup, it became pretty clear to me that it’s probably better to focus my efforts here. It’s better to have a bigger user base in a smaller area,” he says.

He knows Albertans are kind and thinks a site like GozAround will just amplify that.

“Hopefully it will just be a platform for what’s already there,” Block says.

“You see it all the time (people helping people), GozAround is just going to become a connector for what people already do.”

Click here to sign up for GozAround.

Also related: Oct 20-24 is Edmonton Startup Week 2014!

Review: Dog Birthday Party at the Doggy Style Deli

The Doggy Style Deli at 15131 Stony Plain Road

The Doggy Style Deli at 15131 Stony Plain Road

For months now, I’ve been wanting to take our beagle Olive to the Doggy Style Deli – a dog restaurant/grooming/store in west Edmonton (15131 Stony Plain Road).

I’ve been driving by the place for years and remember it had been a part of Dragon’s Den and the unfortunate victim to a fire. Despite the fire, and what seems like constant construction on Stony Plain Road, the Doggy Style Deli seemed to persevere.

Inside the Doggy Style Deli!

Inside the Doggy Style Deli!

Thank goodness for that! I think the Doggy Style Deli is an absolute gem for dog owners in Edmonton. When I started telling people we were planning on throwing a birthday party for Olive at a dog restaurant, everyone was so surprised that there was even such a thing here.

Doggy Style Deli also acts as a dog store and dog grooming service.

Doggy Style Deli also acts as a dog store and dog grooming service.

Along with the ‘eat-in’ dog restaurant idea (that includes hosting dog birthday parties!), the Doggy Style Deli sells their own raw dog food and acts as a dog store and dog grooming service.

We had Olive’s birthday party at the Doggy Style Deli and I would recommend it to all dog owners! For $20 per dog, you get:

  • A dog meal (small size) for each dog
  • A dog party favour for each dog
  • A dog birthday place setting
  • Table decorated with birthday banners and balloons
  • A trivia game for dog owners (includes treats for dogs)
  • Birthday cake for each dog
  • A present for the birthday dog
Olive and friends being classy diners at the table.

Olive and friends being classy diners at the table.

We invited Olive’s friends Flynn, Milo, Fang, and Bowie. None of us knew what to expect and I think we were all pleasantly surprised. Before the food came out, the dogs just ran around sniffing each other, wagging their tails and playing.

The delicious menu at Doggy Style Deli!

The delicious menu at Doggy Style Deli!

The food options for the dogs are presented so adorably. Each dish name is a dog pun. We ordered the Pug Fried Rice for Olive and some of other dogs got Shih Tzu Stews and the Turkey Duck Lasagnage (off menu). Some other fun dishes included Maltese Meatloaf and Bulldog Spaghetti. Everything is made in-house.

Olive eats her 'hot dog wiener candle' from the birthday cake!

Olive eats her ‘hot dog wiener candle’ from the birthday cake!

The small (Yorkie Size) was enough for Olive. Normally it’s priced at $4. With the birthday package it is included for the dog meals. You can get a Mastiff Size (large) for $7 or additional dollars to upgrade within the birthday package meal.

Fantastic dog cake made out of liver, mashed potatoes and cream cheese.

Fantastic dog cake made out of liver, mashed potatoes and cream cheese.

The owners are very friendly. The space is very clean and nice. There was some loud barking and growling from some of our bigger dog guests (Bowie and Fang lol) but I imagine that’s what would be normal happenings at a doggy daycare. Overall everyone got along quite well and Olive was very social, visiting with all of her friends!

Great turnout + time for Olive's birthday!

Great turnout + time for Olive’s birthday!

In total, the birthday party for 5 dogs (with some meals upgraded to large) was $113. I think this is totally reasonable, lol. But I’m also a crazy pet parent. :) But even just the normal price for dropping in with your dog though I think is totally reasonable and plan to do it with Olive way more now that we’ve tried the Doggy Style Deli for the first time!

Happy birthday Olive!

Happy birthday Olive!

I think this is such a neat, novel thing to do for your dog in Edmonton. A couple weeks ago I googled “dog-friendly stores in Edmonton” and got things like “Rona, PetSmart, The Movie Studio” and that was almost it. If you’re looking for somewhere to take your dog beyond the dog parks and outdoor markets (which there won’t really be much of now that we’re going into the winter season), then the Doggy Style Deli is a great destination!

It’s totally cute, and honestly, the pet industry is huge right now and pet owners are looking for fun things to do and buy for their animals, this is perfect for that.

Check out the Doggy Style Deli pitch on Dragon’s Den below:

I hope this place sticks around forever! They’ve already endured quite a bit, and have come out strong so I hope that continues. It’s also a great spot for the area. Stony Plain Road is trying to revitalize (all of the construction will help with that too so we just need to be patient lol). Something a lot of people might not be aware of as well is the dog-loving family who owns Doggy Style Deli also experience a lot of dogs being abandoned at their shop. They lovingly take the dogs in, keep them for a couple of weeks to figure out their personalities, and then try to find foster homes for the animals. On the day we were there, there were two chihuahuas and a couple of German Shepherds in need of homes too. So sad! But so great that the family cares for the animals and try to find them homes. Huge hearts here!

So have you been to the Doggy Style Deli?! What did you think?