Building A Community Through Social Media

Social Media Breakfast Club

 

Have you ever been a part of a community through Social Media? Here in North Iowa we are making things happen when it comes to Social Media. Several people from all across North Iowa gather once a month to chat about all things Social Media.

June of 2013, I took the plunge and decided that I was tired of having to travel hours away to find people that were interested in Social Media. I kept telling myself, “I know they are here but I just don’t know where to find them!” So, I set up a time to meet at the local coffee shop and was praying that three to four people would show up to set around a table to chat about Social Media.

At that first meeting we were six people and over the course of the past 11 months, we have had more than 45 different people attend. We have now graduated to a room that can hold 100 people. Real life connections still matter, Social Media is just the icing on the cake! This is exciting for me, as I have been involved in Social Media for more than five years and so many events have been out of state. I have had to travel many miles to find folks with the same interests as me. Five years ago people in North Iowa said to me, “Oh, Twitter? I don’t get that!” Now, five years later they say to me, “Oh, I’d like to learn about Twitter!”

If you have considered doing something different with your life or your business, I would highly encourage you to build a community through Social Media. The business connections that are being made at these monthly Social Media Breakfast get togethers are priceless. The friendships are fun to watch and after we meet, it’s all taken online to an online Social Media group through Facebook.

If you build it, they will come! Social Media is a terrific way to build a community and I would encourage anyone to do it. Whatever your passion is, make the real life connections happen and build your community through Social Media. Hey, if I can do this here in North Iowa, you can too!

Have you ever built a community through Social Media? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Creating The “Buzz” In North Iowa: How To Run A Successful Facebook Contest & More

Contests are a popular way for businesses to bring awareness to their products. Facebook and other social media platforms have rules that many do not know exist. It’s important to be smart when you use social media to promote your business.

On June 17, 2014, you have the opportunity to learn more about using social media to engage with contests. Attendees will learn how to run contests through Facebook that meet Facebook’s current (TOS) Terms of Service. Other platforms will be discussed, but not in as much depth as Facebook. We are offering a HANDS ON class at the North Iowa Regional Commerce Center at 9 North Federal, Downtown Mason City.

Donna Hup will be our lead presenter! Here’s the expertise that Donna brings to this class:

donnahup

 

Donna Hup blogs at donnahup.com. She blogs about giveaways, recipes, reviews and much more. She has 2 years experience of running daily giveaways on and with Facebook as well as other social media channels. She has worked with numerous companies including Disney, Staples, Build a Bear, Suave, Hasbro, P&G, Hickory Farms and more. She has run more than 3,000 giveaways and all have been Facebook and FTC compliant. She builds bridges between companies and their consumers. She is able to increase both fan base and interaction through giveaways on multiple social media platforms.

 

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Sara Broers of Travel With Sara and All In An Iowa Mom’s Day will also present at this session. Sara has worked with several companies to help them grow their social media presence by hosting giveaways through social media. From Universal Studios Orlando, Cedar Point Amusement Park, to  U.S. Cellular, Sara has participated in several social media promotions to help promote several businesses. Jane Fischer Century 21 and Hoover’s Hatchery are two local businesses she continues to work with.

Social Media promotions are a fun way to grow your business and even a better way when you do them the right way! Be smart and your presence through social media will continue to grow!

What: Creating The “Buzz” In North Iowa:  How To Run A Successful Facebook Contest & More

When: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 2:30- 3:45 p.m.

Where: North Iowa Regional Commerce Center 9 North Federal Mason City, Iowa

Cost: $35 per attendee, payable at the door (cash or checks made out to Social Connections, LLC)

Please register here, as there is limited seating for 22 people!

To get the most out of this hands on session, it is recommended that you bring your laptop with you.

Once you attend this class you will understand why it’s important to understand the rules of contests through social media. You will also be inspired with new ideas on how to make your next Facebook Contest a successful one!

See you on June 17th!

 

 

 

Facebook Groups: Why They Matter

If you are like me, you often find yourself in a Facebook group and wonder why you are there. Well, take a glance through the last five threads and analyze the status updates. If you find relevant information there, you need to stay in the group. If you don’t, you will want to ask yourself, “Why am I in this group?” If you get to that point, it’s time to remove yourself from the group. But it’s not all bad- here are some reasons Facebook groups work and why you should connect with others in them. I’ve never been much of a gamer, so for me, interacting in groups is much more engaging than pushing a button and “farming” on line.

If you are launching into a new career or a new business, Facebook can give you the opportunity to grow your business through social media. The connections you will find in a group of like minded people can really give you a boost. Did you know there are groups for auctioneers? Imagine the ideas auctioneers can bounce off of each other, and the opportunity to help each other out along the way.

Are you navigating through your life with a troubled teen in the house? There are even Facebook groups for parents dealing with those issues. Facebook provides an opportunity for families to support each other and offer assistance in ways that many never dreamed were possible. And again, if you do not find a group that meets your needs, start one! You will surprise yourself at the connections you will make through a Facebook group.

If you are a homeschooling family there are several homeschooling groups on Facebook to support you. Several localized homeschooling families have their own Facebook groups. If you don’t see one for your area, why not start one? Through a homeschooling Facebook group you could help each other out with curriculum, p.e., crafts, and again, the information goes as far as the mind will take you.

Are you a roller coaster enthusiast? There’s even a Facebook group for National Rollercoaster Day. If you don’t see something being discussed in a group and you are interested in the topic, bring it up. Chances are that someone else in the group has the same interest you do.

Cedar Point Roller Coaster

 

Facebook groups are just one small place online for you to connect. They are an important place for you when you take the time to indulge in a positive manner. As with anything related to social media, if it’s not informative, fun, and educational- it’s time to move on to a new place online. Connect with people you enjoy, that’s what matters in social media. It’s all about being social and meeting new people!

Relationships matter and it’s no secret that it’s through these relationships you will grow as a business and as a a person. Facebook groups also matter and they can help you move forward in the next phase of your life. I have personally witnessed people in groups find jobs and help each other out in these Facebook groups. It’s a win-win!

So, tell me. What are your favorite Facebook groups and why? Do you ever find yourself involved in too many groups? If so, how do you handle the over load?

 

New To Twitter? Symbols and Abbreviations You Should Know About

Twitter seems to be where people are flocking to, when it comes to social media platforms. It’s also  interesting how Twitter has evolved. Four or five years ago people rolled their eyes when I said I was on Twitter. Today they are saying, “Will you show me how to use Twitter?” It’s a good thing, but thinking back; I guess I hopped on the social media train before many people realized what it had to offer.

I know many of you are new to Twitter and several of you have asked for an explanation of some of the symbols and abbreviations that are on Twitter.

# HASHTAGS – Hashtags are used when you want to identify a specific word. For example: Many farmers will be using #plant14 this Spring season. When you type in #plant14 in the search box on Twitter, you will see all tweets that are tagged with #plant14.If there’s a specific topic you are interested in, type in a hashtag with the word you would like to search in the search box on Twitter, and boom, there you have information about what you are searching for. I recently participated in Blog Chat which is held on Sunday evenings. Everyone that participates in the chat tags #blogchat in each tweet, so folks can easily follow the chat.

 

@USERNAME- Tag @Username when you want to interact with someone. When you find  a tweet that you want to share, be sure to give the person credit with their username. You can use “via” or “by” and then place their username in the tweet. Social media is all about sharing, this gives everyone credit where credit is due. Keep in mind if you type in the username before anything else in the tweet, only the recipient will see the tweet.

Here is an example of a blog post that I shared through Twitter from a local North Iowa blogger. One person favorited the tweet and the person who wrote the article will receive notification that I shared her content on Twitter.

RE-Tweet Button Highlighted

 

RETWEETS- There is a simple Re-Tweet button that you can use. It’s fine to use it occasionally, but not all the time. The Re-Tweet button is the middle symbol in the above tweet. It is between the  arrow and star. All you need to do is click on the button and hit send.  A nice variety to sharing a tweet is to notify the original Tweeter that you are sharing their tweet by sharing. You can use RT @USERNAME and then add your comment. Find a style that works for you. Here is an example of my interaction during #blogchat.

Blog Chat Tweet Interaction RT

Some common courtesy tips when tweeting:

  • Do not use more than two hashtags per tweet. One is ideal.
  • Social media is not a selling platform, do not use it to sell merchandise. Social media is for  interaction  and engagement with your friends and customers. The quickest way to kill your Twitter following is to constantly try to sell people something.
  • Be present. If you are using Twitter for business and cannot commit, remove the twitter account, as it makes you look lazy.

Hands on is by far the best way to learn Twitter. I jumped in and immediately found Twitter to be a great platform for meeting new people and developing relationships. Several of my closest friends today are people that I met on Twitter.

I’d love to hear about your Twitter experience. Follow me at @socialsarab and/or @travelwithsara and I will follow you back!

 

 

 

 

Tips From The Best Of The Best On Being Safe Online

I recently spent a week-end in St. Augustine, Florida, surrounded with some of the best of the best when it comes to keeping all of us safe online. The community of St. Augustine is blessed to be home to CES (Community Empowerment Series). I wondered if I would come home thinking, ” Should I go offline?” Well, of course not. What it boils down to is being smarter online. When we take the time to educate ourselves, it makes our online experience a whole lot safer.

I am proud to call each of these presenters my friends. These folks are truly the best of the best and they are making a positive difference in the lives of many 24/7.

Stacey Honowitz shared about her passion in keeping kids safe as she addresses stranger danger and sex crimes. Stacey offered great tips for parents on how to address “tough” issues with their kids. These sex crimes can happen on and off line. Stacey Honotwitz  works hard 24/7 to educate families on awareness of a topic that many are afraid to address. Stacey’s books are designed to guide parents as they talk to their kids about sex crimes. Child sexual abuse is the fastest growing crime in the country, which makes child sex crimes a huge national problem.

 

Theresa Payton, author of Privacy In The Age of Big Data.Theresa embraced a nice sized group of people, as they had several questions for her. Theresa is a cyber security expert as she works to keep individuals and businesses safe online. Theresa engaged with folks and answered several questions in regards to being smarter online.

Theresa Payton

 

It’s important to remember to change your passwords on a regular basis. Never share your password with anyone. You would be surprised at how many folks share their passwords on a daily basis. There’s a reason they are called passwords, so make sure you own them, not someone else. Be careful about what you share through social media. If it’s not positive, helpful information ask yourself, “Do I really need to put this out in social media?”

The day moved right along and the topics really flowed together nicely. Dr. Sameer Hinduja, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University, spoke on a popular topic, Cyber-bullying.

Dr. Sameer Hinduja

 

I loved how he shared how kindness works so well online. Social media opens the doorway of anonymity, but everyone needs to realize, once it’s out there online, it’s out there forever. His latest book School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying And Sexting One Classroom At A Time is available and one that families and educators should read.

Sarah Burningham launched her new book at CES, GIRL TO GIRL: Honest Talk About Growing Up And Your Changing Body.

Girl to Girl book

Sarah is a positive role model for young girls and moms looking for advice on the tween/teen years. Sarah is the “dear sarah” advice columnist for the ABC Family Network and is a regular contributor to many major media organizations.

Meet Sarah Burningham
Photo Courtesy of Sarah Burningham/CES

 

Mothers and daughters appreciated the information that Sarah Burningham brought to St. Augustine. I told you that this event had the best of the best…. the day just got better all day long!

Dr.  Michele Borba rounded the day out. Her message in regards to bullying is one that everyone should hear. Bully prevention programs are not working and she is on a mission to help communities change their attitudes about bullying. Take a listen!

Some statistics I took away from Dr. Michele Borba’s session.

  • 85% of students witness bullying when adults are not present
  • Bullies want an audience, it is not ok for bystanders to stand and watch
  • Zero tolerance is not working- empathy is not taught

Can you say wow? Then toss in the online activity and we’ve got ourselves into a mess. One big change that’s happening in our culture is the fact that narcissism is up and empathy is down. We all need to work on empathy, as that’s a HUGE contributor to success in everything we do!

Michele Borba is the author of several parenting books. Take a swing over to Michele Borba’s  website to view her books, upcoming events, and learn more from her.

This is just a small glimpse of my day at CES in St. Augustine, Florida. I wish every community in the United States had the opportunity to learn from these amazing people, under one roof, in one day! I am glad I made the trek to Florida to get to know all of these folks a little better. I learned so much and am much more educated on these serious topics thanks to the folks that put CES together and made it happen!

A special shout-out to my friend, Sue Scheff. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to your community. You are making a difference in the lives of thousands of people! Sue knows all about the good and the bad when it comes to being online. Read Sue’s book Google Bomb for insight into the untold story of the internet.

 

Creating “Buzz” In Social Media: May 20th, 2014 (1-4 P.M.)

Creating “Buzz” In Social Media is coming to Mason City on May 20th!

Creating Buzz In Social Media

We are bringing together three of North Iowa’s finest presenters for a one day event. Social Media is changing how we all interact. We have put together fun topics to motivate, inspire, and challenge you in your day to day use of Social Media.

Where: 9 North Federal
Regional Commerce Center
Mason City, Iowa

When: 1-4 P.M.

SPEAKERS:

Andy O'Brien

Andy O’Brien of Coach Action Andy is an expert when it comes to growing your business and working smarter on a day to day basis. Andy will be speaking on how customers, employees, and employers can all get along and grow through social media. We are excited to have him presenting! Andy will excite and motivate you to smile everywhere you go.

 

Randy Martinson

Randy Martinson of Culligan Water of Mason City is an expert when it comes to growing your business through Facebook. Randy will show you how to best use Facebook to gain the traction you need when it comes to using social media on a day to day basis. Randy will show you some ins and outs of Facebook that you may have never heard of. We are excited to have him on board on May 20th! Randy brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to bringing the “buzz” in social media to North Iowa.

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Sara Broers of Social Connections, LLC has worked with several large and small companies when it comes to utilizing social media. Sara is going to show you why social media matters. Social media impacts all of us every single day. Sara will show you why it’s important to harness the energy that social media has to offer. From Twitter to Google+, Sara will show you insight as to how all of these social media platforms can work for you.

An opportunity to meet Rachel Smith, author of Home. Rachel will have books available for book signings. If you have always wanted to meet an author and find out what writing a book is all about, this event is for you. Rachel will be available to answer your questions and share about her experience.

Rachel Smith Home

Cost: $30.00 per attendee (Payable at the Door)

Checks/Cash accepted- Checks payable to Social Connections, LLC

Space is limited- RSVP Here!

Parking is limited in the downtown area for three hours or more. We would suggest parking in the Southbridge Mall parking lot. You can walk through the mall and continue North 1 1/2 blocks to the Regional Commerce Center.

We hope to see you on May 20th! It’s an exciting time in North Iowa for social media and businesses.

 

 

Finding The Ideal Marketing Mix For Your Business

 

Finding The Ideal Marketing Mix

 

Marketing today is very complex. Folks still listen to the radio, they still read newspapers, and they are involved in social media. So, what’s a business owner to do when it comes to marketing? Is it possible to be in all of these places?  Each community is different and your audience is as unique as your business is. Through trial and error you will find what works best for you and your business.

Radio

Folks still listen to local radio. Contact someone at your local radio station to see what your potential reach is. If you feel the demographics match with your business, by all means, give it a shot. Connect with someone in your area that may have a business similar to yours, they could give you insight as to how radio has worked for them.

Newspapers

Newspapers are in the news a lot. Many have online access as well as “real” newspapers to purchase. Print media, in general, has really changed the past five years. You may want to consider the demographics of your area. Communities that are home to older folks, do have more people purchasing actual newspapers than areas that have younger populations. Again, it’s worth a try, as newspapers offer another avenue of reaching your customers.

Twitter

Twitter is  a social media platform that allows you to share your experience and interact with others in 140 characters or less. Photos work great on Twitter and offer another tool of engagement. Most importantly, interact and engage with your followers. Social media was never designed to be a selling platform.  This may or may not surprise you, but the fastest growing audience on Twitter is adults age 55-64.

Facebook

Facebook has been in the news a lot lately, as Facebook Business pages have been around a long time. It is true, Facebook is not showing every fan that likes your page, your status updates. You will need to make some effort to be creative and remind all of your customers in person or through an e-mail blast to be sure to visit your Facebook Business page. Paid posts are also proven to work for many business owners.

Patrick Palmer, of The Computer Guy, has had great luck with paid posts through Facebook.

Pat is quoted as saying, “Well, for me, to pay $40 to boost a post to 12,000 people trumps the local media everytime. However, for local products or services, the local newspaper or radio may be a good choice. Find the demographic of the radio station and/or newspapers and compare it to the target market you wish to serve, and the local radio station and/or newspaper should be a good fit.” 

If you are engaging and providing content that is valuable to them, they will find you on Facebook. Most importantly, you need to be there. If you cannot be being an active participant on your Facebook Business page, take it down. Current and potential customers do not want to do business with someone that is lazy and does not appear to care.
Google+ 

Google+ is a big game changer for everyone. When you engage, share, and interact on Google+, it helps your business with SEO and page rank. Currently Google+ is not jumbled up with ads, but who knows? That day may come soon. Google+ is a great place to showcase who you and your business are.

Have you found your ideal marketing mix? Chances are, that once you think you have found it, your business is changing and growing. It’s important to remember that traditional marketing still matters and social media will plan an important role as you move forward with your business. Keep in mind that Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are just three small slices of social media marketing. If you don’t try, you will never what would have worked. Dig in, make things happen, and watch your business grow.

 

I’d love to hear about your experience. How are you reaching your customers and are you changing things up as you see needed?

People Or Gadgets?

It’s no secret that I love social media and I know many of you do too. In today’s world we have a gazillion ways to communicate and social media opens up a whole new way of communicating. I still say that the number one way to communicate is through face to face communication. Wow! What a concept, huh?

I see so many young kids that have no clue how to look at someone when they speak to them that it blows me away. Now I do realize that not every child loves to talk like I do, but they still need to know the basic skill of looking at others when they are speaking to them. Many of today’s youngsters, ages 5- 18 only want to text. Would someone enlighten me as to how these folks will ever get along in the real world?

The argument may be given that the kids of the generation of today will be able to order everything they need online. OK- I get that.  I fear that we may be losing the basics of communication due to all of our gadgets. Life is all about relationships, it’s not about the gadgets. Life to me is full of experiences, meeting new people, and interacting with others. It’s enjoying the company of those around you, not a gadget!

People or Gadgets

 

Most young adults will tell you that some of the fondest memories of their youth was when Mom and Dad took the time to spend time with them. That entails putting a phone to the side and talking as a family. Tossing a football or frisbee around in a yard has merits. And we can’t forget our pets, as there’s something to be said about the pet of the family. Our family pets communicate in ways everyone can appreciate and it usually entails eye contact.

Let’s not lose our basic skill of communicating through face to face interaction. Sitting down with someone and sharing eye contact is truly worth its weight in gold.

Social media has its place. It’s great that we have Skype, Google+ hangouts, Twitter, and Facebook to stay in communication with each other, but we all need to remember life is about people, not gadgets.

So, tell me! Is your life about the people or your gadgets? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Tips For Finding Sponsorship To Attend A Blog Conference

You’ve decided you want to attend a blog conference and realize it may cost you a little more than your budget currently reflects. So, what should you do? Opt to forget about the blog conference or dig your heels in and find a way to go? If you want to grow your blog and/or your business, I’d suggest you dig those heels in! By attending, you will be a step ahead of the game.

Find Companies You Like

Twitter is a great resource for looking for blog conference sponsorship. Find companies you are connected with and see if they would be a good fit for you. If a company offers a product you enjoy and would like to learn more about, by all means, reach out to them through a private message. If you have never interacted with them through Twitter, you need to start interacting with them before you reach out to them. Companies want to know that you are an influencer and are someone that reflects their company values.

Sara speaking at Cedar Point

 

The Pitch

A personal E-mail is in order here as you share your blog stats and your reach. Potential blog conference sponsors want to know why they should sponsor you. Let them know about the conference you want to attend and why you want to attend. Then show them how you will showcase their brand while attending the conference. You may offer to Tweet, share photos on Instagram, update to Facebook, and Pin with a hashtag you have mutually agreed upon. Then, when you come home you can offer to write one or two blog posts about their product, in exchange for blog conference sponsorship. Maybe you rock at video- Offer a couple videos on your YouTube channel featuring their company. Show that you are an influencer and something unique to offer them. Between the two of you, a brain storming session could produce something new and exciting! The big numbers are not always important, it’s the fact that you are present in social media. An example would be: You need to interact on Twitter, not have a stream filled with scheduled tweets and NO interaction!

Most importantly, you need to be positive and be supportive of bloggers and brands. Let’s face it, nobody wants to partner with a Negative Nelly! If your Tweets are a little questionable and you are searching for blog conference sponsorship. I’d suggest that you take a year to clean it up and then pitch a company for sponsorship to attend a blog conference.

If you take the time and spend some money to attend a blog conference, your business will grow! By partnering with a brand that you love, it’s a win/win for everyone. And remember, to do what you say you will do. Blog conference sponsorship is an opportunity to show how you can work with others and opens the doorway for future opportunities.

Have you ever partnered with a company for blog conference sponsorship? Did you find the experience to be fun and exciting? I’d love to hear the brand side of this, specifically how bloggers can help brands while attending blog conferences.

Now, go make it happen-  Attend the blog conference of your dreams and grow your business!

 

I Opened A Twitter Account, Now What?

 

 

This past week, I have crossed paths with several folks that have recently opened a Twitter account and are now asking, “What do I do now?” Here are three tips to help you engage on this fun social media platform. Remember, it’s all about those 140 Characters. Tweets should be short, sweet and to the point.

  •  Find people that have the same interests as you. The easiest way to do this is to use a hashtag (#) and then type in the word that interests you. For instance, if you want to find people that tweet about Iowa, use this in your search- #Iowa. Be sure to put a hashtag in front of the word Iowa in your tweets. This will connect those of you tweeting with the same word. And the hashtags can go as far as your brain will take you! Just think of the million things that people are interested in. It’s all kind of mind boggling and fun at the same time.
  • Add a profile picture of you to your profile. Twitter is a social media platform and it is a place to be social. When you sign up for Twitter you will become an egghead, the generic picture that Twitter uses. One of the easiest way to let people know who you are is to put a current photo up. If you are setting up a business on Twitter, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a clean, cut logo. Many people on Twitter will not follow folks that don’t have a real photo or legitimate logo for a profile picture. If you want to grow your following on Twitter, this is one of the most important things to do.
  • Be sure to complete the Profile section. This is the section that showcases who you are. If you have a website, by all means enter it. This is how people will connect with you. Twitter is an extension of you and your business, make it work for you.

By adding a profile picture or logo for your business you will be one step ahead of others on Twitter. Take the time to find folks that have the same interests as you and complete the profile section. These are three simple things you can do to start a nice following on Twitter.

One other tip, if someone follows you and there profile does not look complete, you do not have to follow them. It’s ok to not follow everyone that follows you. On the other hand, if you are followed by someone you know and would like to get to know better, hit that follow button as fast as you can. Those are the connections you want!

Are we connected on Twitter? I will follow you back!