60 Days In Paradise — 60 Reasons Why Casey Palmer Should Be Your Island Connoisseur Logo

THE GREAT SOCIAL MEDIA STORY: What I Learned from Applying to be an Island Connoisseur

What up world? I know — it’s been a while and the world hasn’t stopped turning in my absence, but to put it simply, this boy’s been busy.


One major item that flooded my headspace was the 60 Days in Paradise contest, which sought to award one Canadian $50,000 ($30,000 pay for documenting a $20,000 trip). Though I didn’t place in the Top 10 and advance, it was a great wake-up call to get my head out of the clouds and return to taking care of house and all the opportunities I already have around me.

But losing in a contest with such an attractive prize, especially when you’ve convinced yourself that you must stand a good chance with a killer music video, heartwarming bio; and plenty of interaction about the contest while the judges made their decision — it can take a toll. Once upon a time, I’d sulk it out. I still remember to this day what it felt like to get 8th in the 8th Annual Ontario Spelling Bee finals, tripped up on a word as simple as “perusal” (which I swear was pronounced by a man with a heavy Southern twang, making it sound like “puh-rooz-e-ul”). Or when I flunked my driver’s test in 2003, getting me so down that I wouldn’t try again until my 30th birthday.

This is a different me, though.

I live a semi-charmed life, winning more than I lose with luck, knowledge, stringent work ethic and the strength of the friends I’ve made over time. It’s no secret that my life’s forever different because of the time I’ve invested in social media, and it’s largely due to an attitude where I won’t accept defeat. You can be sour grapes about a loss, seeing what happened and thinking on how the world’s unfair with everything stacked against you… or you can learn from your experience, taking that knowledge to do better the next time an opportunity arises.

This is my attempt to take the better path.

Deconstructing the Island Connoisseur


So looking at 60 Days in Paradise’s Top 10 finalists, what makes a good Island Connoisseur? Looking at the site, the key criteria were the following:

  • SOMEONE WHO LOVES THE WATER…
  • SOMEONE WHO LIVES FOR ADVENTURE, ABOVE THE LAND AND UNDER…
  • …BUT ALSO LIKES TO CHILL…
  • SOMEONE WHO LOVES TO CAPTURE, WRITE ABOUT, SHARE, AND EAT GOOD FOOD…
  • SOMEONE WHO’S SOCIAL, BOTH ONLINE AND OFFLINE…

Obviously, that’s wide net. Where were the judges really looking for? The best presentation? The strongest metrics with social media views and site hits? Someone proving their willingness to do anything to get the gig?

To get a better understanding of what I needed to do better the next time something like this came along, I did a little analysis.

Numbers Can Lie

Over-reliance on metrics can be your downfall. If we look at the numbers for the Top 10 across the major social media channels (with my own inserted for comparison), they look like this:

Contestant Facebook Fans Twitter Followers YouTube Subscribers Instagram Followers
Casey Palmer 1,6331 3,379 86 650
Kristi Keller 3,580 1,531 333 64
Maxwell Moulson n/a 83 64 2,987
Shannon Boodram 2,038  7,021  4 22,728 
Maxwel Hohn2 2,016 3,281 90 335
Cailin O’Neil 3,957 14,200 2,050 1,489
Nadine Sykora 16,627 24,400 159,511 8,432
Christopher Evans  n/a3 14,000 258 932
Elaine Atkins 1,105
4,055 0 1,234
Megan Shier 159 773 108 267
Gariele Braaksma  n/a4 127 6 714

1 Used my Facebook profile’s figure of 1600+ friends rather than my Facebook page’s figure of 320+ for the competition. No shame.

2 Maxwel’s bio must be invisible, if it even exists. I’m convinced he just posted a link to his homepage — he is a scuba instructor, after all!

3 In his video, Christopher links to his Facebook profile with 1,684 friends.

4 Links to a Facebook profile with an indeterminate amount of friends.

What’s immediately clear is this:

  1. Pretty much everyone specializes in one social media channel. Even when you have heavy hitters like Nadine Sykora with her 160K YouTube subscribers or Shannon Boodram, Cailin O’Neil and Christopher Evans with their stats in the tens of thousands, there’s a strong leaning toward expertise in one channel above the others, with following on the other channels stemming from that. LESSON: Find one avenue that you use best and focus on it. Trying to be everywhere and do everything isn’t to your advantage.
  2. I’m a small fish in a massive sea. Looking at these numbers, I can’t even kid myself. I’ve come a long way in my social media journey so far, but nowhere near the point where my followers on one given channel could fill the Rogers Centre, Air Canada Centre and BMO Field to capacity combined.
    BMO Field Capacity Screenshot

    Nadine still wouldn’t have enough room for all her YouTube subscribers, FYI.

    If I didn’t realize it before, it’s damn sure sunk in now — stagnating is not an option, and if I want to open the door to better opportunities, I need to shell out the kind of content that’ll appeal to larger audiences — Toronto is not the sum total of everything that’s out there!

  3. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS. While true that there’re some scary numbers in here, you have finalists who don’t have any figures over 1,000 for any channel, which only yields one conclusion — the decision wasn’t just about the numbers.

Quantifiable data can only tell you so much. You need to read between the lines for the qualitative data to understand the solutions that satisfy both sides of the equation — in this case, the 60 Days in Paradise contestants putting compelling applications together on one side, and convincing Tobago’s Division of Tourism & Transportation and their Canadian PR liaison of the best pick for an Island Connoisseur on the other.

Reading Between the Tweets

If numbers don’t tell the entire story, I needed to look at the videos and bios (where possible) to get a better idea of what it was that really made these 10 stand apart. This is what I found (again, compared to myself as a control):

Contestant Location Story Nickname1
Casey Palmer Toronto, ON
  • travelled a fair bit
  • father
  • lifestyle blogger
n/a
Kristi Keller Calgary, AB
  •  award-winning travel blogger
  • travel writer
  • travel agent
  • lived in Jamaica for several years
“The Jamaican”
Maxwell Moulson Mississauga, ON
  •  travels a lot
  • went to Tobago when he was 4
  • very energetic
“The Chatterbox”
Shannon Boodram Pickering, ON
  • TV personality
  • wedding photographer
  • been to Tobago twice (for 1 day each time) 
“The TV Host”
Maxwel Hohn Kelowna, BC
  • scuba instructor for 8 years
  • GoPro enthusiast
  • contributor to Scuba Blog (23K+ Facebook fans) 
“The Scuba Instructor”
Cailin O’Neil Halifax, NS
  • travel/food vlogger
  • sommelier in training
  • loves water 
“The Maritimer”
Nadine Sykora Vancouver, BC
  • travel videographer
  • 33 MILLION+ video views 
“The Vlogger”
Christopher Evans London, ON
  • filmmaker 
“The Filmmaker”
Elaine Atkins Toronto, ON
  • beauty/fashion blogger
  • adventures/travels often 
“The Comedian”
Megan Shier Toronto, ON
  • travel blogger
  • adventurous 
“The Underdog”
Gariele Braaksma Victoria, BC
  • born in Trinidad, raised in Canada
  • marketing/communications student 
“The Native”

1 These are nicknames I came up with per  finalist that I felt best captured either their approach to the competition, one of the key reasons why I thought they made the Top 10, or simply something distinguishing them from the rest of the pack.


Starting to understand the stories behind the numbers, while not the case for all the finalists, you could definitely see that there were those who seemed pre-destined for an opportunity like this, and while I’m an adventurous, energetic guy who loves talking to people I might not have been the perfect fit they were looking for. My blog focuses on happenings around Toronto. While not camera-shy, my YouTube’s nothing to write home about. With more time, I could’ve cleaned the sound in my video submission a little more. While my head’s full of “coulda, shoulda, wouldas”, it quickly became clear that there’s an entire breed of content creator out there who lives for travel — not just travelling for vacation’s sake!

If you’re entering a competition at this scale, it’s best to know the lay of the land. Justin’s been egging me on for ages to get more knowledgeable about video and all it has to offer in Toronto’s community, and he’s totally right. Before this contest, I’d never even heard of Nadine Sykora — now, I’m shocked that I hadn’t! This contest has been a reminder that your world is only as small as you allow it to be, and our growth is only limited to the scale of our imagination and efforts.

This contest reminded me that I need to dream bigger.

Onward and Upward


This isn’t a post to whine over how I didn’t make the Top 10 and how I should’ve got in — there’s already plenty of salt on Twitter about the contest from the contestants who didn’t make it:

For me, I’m looking at who got chosen to figure out what I can learn from the experience. With social media as my side hustle, I’d be a fool to think I’m the best there is at what I do when plenty of others are out there putting more time, effort and dedication to their craft than I do every single day.

But I’m not a quitter. I don’t get bitter. I was obviously disappointed at first, but the best reaction to news like this isn’t to sulk, but to show the judging panel what they’re missing out on, and find a future opportunity that may be exactly what you were looking for all along.

So in the end, I thank the 60 Days in Paradise selection committee. This might not have been the conclusion I was looking for, but it gave me the kick I needed to get back to doing what I should be doing —

PUTTING THE BEST DAMN CONTENT TOGETHER THAT I POSSIBLY CAN.

Until the next post,

–case p.

SodaStream at My Little One's Dedication — Kool-Aid Tropical Punch, Cranberry Ocean Spray, Cranberry Raspberry Ocean Spray, Cranberry Grape Ocean Spray

I’M NOT DEAD, I’M JUST A DAD: Having Some #BubblesMyWay at My Son’s Baby Dedication!

What’s up, world?!

I know, I know it’s been a bit, but when you’re balancing three competing yet utterly important parts of your life, they don’t always play well together!

But while I’m weeks behind for my monthly wrap-up, there’re tales to be told before I get there, starting with a celebration for my (not-so-) little guy and how we quenches the thirst of dozens with as little fuss and muss as possible!

Baby Dedications: Because Little Guys Don’t Stay Little FOREVER

You know who had his baby dedication this past weekend?

This guy.

The Little One's Dedication — A Happy Little Guy

It’s kind of ironic that Baptist Christians do baby dedications instead of child baptisms, but with a Dad who slipped and splashed into the baptismal tank back when he did his in ’09, I’ll take what I can get.

CONTINUE READING: How SodaStream made my family reception a lot more DELICIOUS!

I AM NOT A FOODIE: The #DIYSandwich, Round 1 — Pulling the Pork — The Final Pulled Pork Sandwich

I AM NOT A FOODIE: The #DIYSandwich, Round 1 — Pulling the Pork

If one thing unifies my friends and I, it’s food. Sarah’s always said that I merely eat to live — I don’t salivate at the thought of delicious meals, but let’s get one thing straight — I know delicious food when I taste it!

Since becoming a parent, I don’t get out much. Save a birthday party, I spent March largely as a shut-in, wavering from my routine of work, home and church only for trips to the parents and the dentist. While the days of luxurious ice cream and dining at 350 metres are behind me for now, it doesn’t mean I can’t eat tasty food at home!

This year, Dempster’s challenged me to change my thinking on the sandwich, seeing whether I could eat them for dinner instead of lunch! Though it’s the last thing I’d expect on a plate to finish a long day, what is a sandwich really, but a stack of deliciousness between two slices of bread?

So with my limited culinary skills, there was only one place to find a recipe that would make for amazing sandwich fare — the Internet. More specifically, Epicurious, the one-stop shop for leaving your taste buds senseless! Without further ado, let’s drive into a pork sandwich that’ll knock your socks off!!!

CONTINUE READING: The recipe for a slow-roasted pork sandwich done to perfection in the slow cooker with photos and more!

#100HappyDays — Days 32-36 — My Sock Story — Socking Behaviour Socks — Bugatchi

#100HappyDays — Five Days in the Life of Casey Palmer, Father Blogger

When Sarah got me doing the #100HappyDays, I thought it’d be a good exercise to teach me how to write shorter posts, giving my readers a break from the lengthy novellas I usually write.  A daily picture with a short description — not that hard, right? Except that all too soon, I’d lapse back to my old habits, and contextualized them with lengthy stories instead of posting pictures that simply spoke for themselves (a thousand words and all)!

It worked well enough until I just didn’t have the energy to keep it up.

With enough real-time stuff to keep me busy (visiting my parents in Mississauga, celebrating a friend’s birthday and having company over); side projects to work on (archiving old drawings at 1200 dpi so I can resurrect my Fish ‘n’ Chimps webcomic, marathoning through Seinfeld and playing this stupid game); and of course, the stuff that pays the bills and keeps my family flourishing (spending time with Sarah and our son, writing for The Hooray Collective, PTPA and other clients, and — of course — the 9-5), the weekend got away from me, the blog posts I planned to write fleeting with it.

But stumbling blocks only last forever if you let them win, and my blog posts won’t write themselves!

Welcome back, Mr. Palmer — it’s time to get your blog on!

CONTINUE READING: Five days filled with antics, food and more words than you could shake a stick at!

100 Happy Days — Can You Be Happy for 100 Days in a Row?

#100HappyDays — Day 31 — As Simple as Pi

#100HappyDays Day 31 was a busy one, returning me downtown for some training, instantly feeling at home with its slushy sidewalks and people reminding me of the times I’d spend at the mall or wandering with friends, taking the energy of everything in. When I wasn’t dashing through the snow, I kept busy with many events — but which one made me happy?

#100HappyDays — Day 31 —  Pogue Mahone — Steak and Mushroom Pie

The first adventure had me wishing an old boss well, hanging with my old team at Pogue Mahone, a regular haunt for many working in Toronto’s Yonge/College area. I got my Steak and Mushroom Pie — my favourite item on their menu —and shared laughs with some of the best people I’ve worked with yet. It made me wistful for past days, and though I had a great lunch and great times, it also made me a little sad and contemplative about the future, so I don’t think this is the winner.

CONTINUE READING: If it’s not a steak and mushroom pie, what could it be?

I'm not a blogger, I just talk a lot.

%d bloggers like this: