Laptop and Phone Social Media

Reasons Why Your Community Needs To Be Instagram Worthy

My eyes were again opened to the fact that there are many places that are losing out on getting their name out there because they are home to a historical landmark that is not Instagram worthy. I was recently in a large city in the Midwest, traveling with two friends. One lives on the east coast and the other lives on the west coast. Many of you know that I pride myself on what we have to offer here in the midwest, but I will admit it, I was downright embarrassed when I took them to a site that should have been warm and welcoming. Lo and behold, the site was downright dirty and disgusting.

Sticks and Leaves On Sidewalk

 

Here’s the issue at hand. I know that the general argument is, “We are coming out of winter.” My traveling friends from the east and west coast don’t care, they expected to take photos of this historical site, possibly write a story about it and even pitch it to a large magazine or newspaper. Due to the fact that it was so downright ugly and not Instagram worthy, not one story will be written or a photo shared on social media. Living here in the Midwest, we often become immune to how things look around us during the cooler months of the year. This photo that I took captured what the rest of the area looked like. If you live in the Midwest, I’m assuming you are thinking, “So what?” Well, it’s time we start turning the “So what?” into something that is Instagram worthy.

This should be a wake-up call to business owners everywhere. How many times have you lost out on a story, social media shares or positive conversations about your business at your local coffee shop due to the fact that you were not paying attention to how your business appeared? With more than 800 million people using Instagram it makes sense to have used a broom or maybe opened up a gallon of paint.

The irony of this particular place is that someone opened the gates so we could walk through this historical site. The windows that held clothing and other items worth viewing were so dirty that a one minute wipe down of the window would have done wonders. The person that opened the gates, in my opinion, could have used a broom and/or rake in places. Again, I’m sure there’s an excuse.

The point being, if you make excuses for everything that drives business away, in the long run, you will not have a business. So, my challenge to you is to look around. Does your business need a little tlc to make things Instagram worthy? If it’s not Instagram worthy, it’s probably turning business away.

 

 

Laptop and Phone Social Media

It’s Time To Bring Back The Social In Social Media

Do you remember the day you first hopped on a social media platform? I do and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I signed up for a Twitter account and spent a lot of time watching how to use the platform. I am grateful that I took the time to observe before I jumped in with both feet. I quickly realized that Twitter was a place for conversations and a place to meet new people.

We are now more than 10 years later and it is really disheartening to see how social media has evolved. There are good people in the world, but those trolls seem to be appearing fiercer than ever before. It’s discouraging to see people be so mean and uncaring to each other through social media. It’s also disheartening to see friendships split in half over a post through social media. In the grand scheme of things, I am here to tell you that being mean has never and will never get you very far in life. Use social media for good and life will treat you well.

Social Media Thrivent

So, you may now be asking me, “How do I do that?” Start with the Grandma Rule. If you don’t want your Grandma to see it online, don’t post it. Don’t get caught up in an emotion, your post will catch up with you in a way you did not imagine it would. Common sense goes a long way. Have conversations that matter with people. Listen! I challenge you to listen to what your friends are saying. If you don’t like what your friends are saying, chances are, they are not your friends. It’s time to find new friends that are nice, caring and genuine. Life is too short to fill it with people you don’t like or trust.

Be social on social media. Treat it as though you are having a conversation *gasp*! Yes, I’m saying that you do need to talk to people online. It’s not a place to link drop and treat others in a rude way. I challenge you to have real conversations with your friends and see where social media takes you. If you treat others the way you wish to be treated, social media will be good to you.

Swing by a friend’s Facebook page and say Hi, both of you will be glad you did. If you received awesome service from a business, swing by their Facebook page and give them the five-star rating that they deserve. If you see a Tweet that speaks to you, re-tweet it and share it with your followers. When you fall in love with a Pin on Pinterest, repin it. See how simple it is to be social on social media? I challenge you to step up your social game and see where you find the good in all of this.

 

Blog Buttons

Blogging Into 2018 And Beyond

There’s a lot of talk about how blogging is dead. Here’s my take on this topic. If you believe blogging is dead, it is. If you believe it is not, it is not. Sounds simple, right? Your blog is your online resume and if you don’t look at it this way, it will probably die out at some point.

Many people blog for different reasons. One of these is the fact that many blog for therapy and an outlet to write. That is perfectly fine. One of my favorite bloggers that writes with a passion of doing good for others, is Beth Ann of It’s Just Life. If you have not visited her blog, do it now! When you read her stories, you can hear her voice. Authenticity is the key when it comes to building your blogging community.

books and blogging

It’s true, a blog on your company website gives you the opportunity to share your story. Who doesn’t love reading a good story? Write stories that showcase your business and boom, you have new customers. Once they land on your company blog, this encourages people to click around and shop. This is one simple way to grow your business through online activity. If you are not a writer, your money could be well spent hiring someone to write stories on your company blog.

If you are new to the blogging space, as many are. The best advice I can give you is to write. The more you write, the more you share, the better you will become. I can tell you that Travel With Sara has evolved and continues to evolve. The Walking Tourists have worked hard and their new book is scheduled for release this spring.The blogging space is not dead. Make sure you have a plan. What does your plan look like and what is your end goal?

If you want to be a part of an accountability group in 2018, I have some spots open. The group is limited to 5 people and during our three-month journey together, we will take your blog & business to a new space. If you would like more information on this opportunity, email me at socialmediasara@yahoo.com and I will email you the details. The first five people to commit, will complete our group this go around.

Happy Blogging and here’s to business success in 2018!

 

Social Media Thrivent

Tips For Helping Your Business Shine In The New Year

With a new year upon us, it’s never been easier for business owners to introduce themselves to others. Social media has changed how we all shop, receive information and educate others about our businesses. How will you step up your marketing game in the new year? Here are some tips on how you can shine above the competition.

BE PRESENT

This is something we all hear often, but it is true. A recent study with a local business through Home Grown Social Media proved this point. When you do have a presence through social media, local media will quickly pick up on who you are and what your business is about. The business Home Grown Social Media was studying landed in a feature story in the local newspaper, due to the fact that they were present on their Facebook Business Page. When you are present, you and your business are easy to find and it’s easy for traditional media to feature your business.

POLISH UP ON YOUR GRAMMAR

Do you wonder if you are using the correct words or terms? When your spelling and punctuation are correct, you do look like a professional. A simple way to check up on yourself is to install Grammarly. 

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

If you do not know how to do something, hire a professional. It is NEVER ok to hire your 13 year old niece to manage your Facebook Business Page. And yes, I have personally dealt with three businesses that did this in 2017. The clean up of this practice is ongoing and does take months. If you know that hiring a professional is out of the question, I would highly encourage you to purchase the Beginning Tips For Facebook Business Pages Course. This course walks you through the set up of your Facebook Business Page, so you can get the best organic reach through your page. If you need a professional to manage your page, let’s talk!

Sara at SM Summit

ENGAGE

When you engage through social media, your business shines and takes on a whole new meaning. Your business looks smart and sharp online. You quickly become the knowledgeable person in your industry and it gives you credibility. Many in the business of social media will argue that numbers are what give you credibility. I will not argue that the numbers look good, but when it comes to credibility; engaging and building relationships is where your business will benefit.

The new year brings exciting things to social media. Stay in tune with what is new, as your checkbook will thank you. If you are local to North Iowa, I would highly encourage you to join us for social media breakfast, which meets the 4th Wednesday of every month from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at Fieldhouse, located at 14 N 3rd Street in Clear Lake, Iowa. It’s free to attend with networking opportunities available. When you partner with other businesses, the opportunities for growth are endless. If you are interested in showcasing your business at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club, send me an email at socialmediasara@yahoo.com and we can discuss the details.

 

Social Media

Tips For Rocking Your Facebook Group

Facebook Groups are all the rage right now. If you don’t have one attached to your Facebook Business Page, now may be the ideal time to get it going. Let’s face it, we are all struggling with the constant change of the algorithms of Facebook and looking for the best ways to connect with our customers. Here are some tips on how you can keep the group active.

BE PRESENT

I cannot stress this tip enough. Often times business owners wonder why they are not reaching their customers through Facebook marketing and the answer is often that they are not present. Posting one thing, once a week is not going to help you reach your customers. Facebook recognizes the fact that you are asleep at the wheel and therefore, does not show your content to others on the social media platform.  Make it a point to have a minimum of one daily post to keep your group active. The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club Facebook Group is an active group that shares relevant content related to social media.

Social Media Thrivent

ASK QUESTIONS

Ask questions that are related to your business. For example, if you own a Tupperware business, your Facebook Group would love to learn more about food storage. You could ask, “How long would you keep a container full of chili in your fridge?” This opens up the doorway for discussion about food safety, food storage and allows you, the business owner, an opportunity to share your knowledge. Again, you will need to be present to respond to the comments and questions your Facebook Group Members respond to.

SHARE RELEVANT CONTENT

The members of your Facebook Group expect you to be the expert. Share current content that is relevant to your industry. This can be an article, video, blog post or photo that relates to your industry. When you share the content of others, it shows that you are always learning what is new to your industry and willing to share what others are producing. After all, wouldn’t you like others to share your content? You can share from your Facebook Business Page, as this is a good way to build community. Keep in mind, that you don’t want to share everything from your Facebook Business Page, share the content that will make the most difference.  In the world of social media, it’s important to remember that everything that goes around, will come back around.

If you have been asleep while trying to lead your Facebook Group, I’d love to hear how you will be changing things up. If you are present, ask questions and share relevant content on a regular basis, your Facebook Group will grow and you will quickly become the expert in your field.

Iowa Bloggers Conference

Tips For Attending The Iowa Bloggers Conference: 2017

 

There’s a blog conference coming to my hometown and I’m excited to be a part of it. Mason City, Iowa is not a large metropolitan area, it’s approximately 26,000 people and offers stunning architecture and art experiences. The Iowa Bloggers Conference is going to be held in the offices of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce, 9 North Federal, in the heart of downtown. The fun will start the evening before, for a smaller get together for those wishing to arrive the evening before.

BUSINESS CASUAL

One of the biggest worries that people have when they attend an event, such as a bloggers conference; the biggest hangup seems to be what to wear. Remember that first impressions can often be last impressions, so my advice is to dress for business casual. This can be a nice pair of jeans paired with a sweater and/or top. If you want to wear a jacket and dress pants, by all means, go for it. But know, that it’s most important to dress for you! When you are comfortable, you will enjoy the day much more.

Rascal Flatts

LODGING

The Hampton Inn & Suites is our host hotel. It’s located a couple miles from our venue, but easy to get to.  This is one of Mason City’s newer hotels and you will be greeted with smiles and will have a hot, complimentary breakfast. Email: HomeGrownSocialMedia@gmail.com for a discount code for the hotel.

MENTORSHIPS ARE AVAILABLE

There are not many places where you can book an appointment with a mentor. We have two mentors at the Iowa Bloggers Conference, available for you. Jody Halsted & Miriah Whitehurst are experts at what they do. If you want to kick up your blogging game to the next level, we would encourage you to reach out and book a session with one or both of them.

FROM BEGINNER TO ADVANCED BLOGGERS

We have geared this conference towards bloggers or want to be bloggers that want to do things the right way. Each presenter will offer tidbits of information that beginner bloggers, as well as advanced bloggers, will find value in.  For myself, the networking opportunities that a blogging conference provides, are simply priceless! Come ready to learn and you will find yourself eager to apply the things that you learned while at the conference.

BRING BUSINESS CARDS

Some people don’t like carrying business cards around, but in reality, they still work. If you are a beginning blogger, make sure that you have some way for others to stay in contact with you. Business cards may be your answer.

I look forward to seeing YOU at the Iowa Bloggers Conference. Do you need a ticket? Here you go!

http://homegrownsocialmedia.com/iowa-bloggers-conference/  (VIP tickets are still available, as of today)

Note: Sponsorships & Tables are available for business owners & destinations to showcase their community.

 

Barn at Enchanted Acres

How To Keep Your Seasonal Business Active On Social Media 365 Days Of The Year

Seasonal businesses are seasonal. This does not mean that your business goes to sleep in regards to social media during your offseason. Here are some tips on how you can keep the conversation going, all year long.

BE PRESENT

Many of you have heard me say this over and over. It does matter! If you are not present, your customers will move on to your competition. Customers want to know that you are serious about your business and they want to know that you care. If you own a Christmas tree business, you are more than likely ramping up your social media game by the time October rolls around. For example, a Christmas tree farm waters their trees, they may have to mow around the trees, and they may even offer seasonal merchandise. A great way to drum up some conversation in the offseason is to ask questions that relate to your business. You, the business owner, can take that information and apply that to your marketing and products for the next season

ENCOURAGE REVIEWS

Encourage your past customers to leave you reviews during the offseason. You can incorporate this into your email signature. Incorporate your asking for a review in a blog post and share it through all of your social media channels. You may need to lead the conversion by asking, “What is your favorite memory of your day with us?” or “Share your pictures of your day with us!”

PROVIDE HELPFUL CONTENT

During the offseason, you can gain a lot of traction by sharing helpful information. For example, if you own a boating business, you could write blog posts about tips for storing your boat, tips for taking your boat our of storage, tips for keeping things nice in your boat while it’s in storage, or even offering stories about the best lakes and streams for boating in your area. If you own a pumpkin patch, such as Enchanted Acres, you may want to talk about how to choose the ultimate pumpkin during the offseason.

Enchanted Acres Iowa

Most importantly, make the time to grow your business during the offseason. The people that you meet along the way, will quite often turn into your biggest fans.

 

Laptop and Phone Social Media

Tips For Using Facebook For Your Church

Facebook is evolving and continues to evolve at a very rapid pace. Many churches have not hopped on the Facebook train due to budget constraints or the fact that they don’t have members that can run the page. In our world today, a Facebook Business Page is part of marketing. Churches do have to market themselves and Facebook needs to be included in that plan. Here are some tips for using Facebook for your church.

PROFESSIONALISM

The first thing that church members tell me, is the fact that they do not have money budgeted for a Facebook Business Page. Do not give the “ok” for the 13-year-old in your congregation to be in charge of Facebook or hire someone because they are “cheap.” A 13-year-old barely crosses the “legal” line to be using this social media platform and cheap, speaks for itself.  Hire a professional that understands marketing and why your church has a Facebook page. In an ideal world, this person is a church member and would love to “give” their time to this. Keep in mind, running a Facebook Business Page is more than posting status updates, it takes a lot of time and attention.

PROMOTE EVENTS

Churches have activities going on every day. You can post the activities that are happening in the status updates on your Facebook page. If you are posting pictures that include kids, be sure you have the parents sign a consent form before you share their child’s photo online. Keep in mind, your events should be welcoming for members and future members. Ideally, an event should be created through Facebook and then shared to your church’s Facebook page. You can then share the event to your Facebook page. Events do show up daily in reminders through Facebook. Is a Thrivent event on your calendar? Share, share and share!

Social Media Thrivent

INVITE MEMBERS TO PARTICIPATE

Let your church members know that they are welcome to share on your church’s Facebook page. Relevant content from happy church members is always attractive.

MONITOR THE PAGE

The page needs to be monitored regularly. This is something that needs to be discussed when the page is off and running. There’s nothing more frustrating for a church member to inquire about something through Facebook and to not get a response. This is where your church has the opportunity to shine and be a resource for people.

If you and your church are getting your feet wet in the world of Facebook marketing. We have put together a step by step guide for beginner Facebook users. It’s a class that is accessible on your time and your pace. Mos importantly, hop on Facebook and watch your church grow! It’s a tool that you can have in your marketing toolbox, so why not invest today? It’s an easy way to reach new members and a great way to stay connected with your current members.

desk black and white

Building Your Online Community Organically

There’s a lot of discussion about building community organically or paying to build that community. In today’s social media world, it seems that it’s all about the numbers. Truth be told, the numbers do matter. We live in a society where the number of friends, followers and likes often determine if we do business with a brand or company. Which leads us to ponder the thought of, is it possible to build a community on an organic level? Of course it is! Here are some tips to help you build your community organically.

BE PRESENT

This should be simple, but it becomes difficult as we get busy going about our day to day lives. If you want to grow your online community, it’s a fact that you do need to be present. I often hear business owners complain that their online communities are shrinking or not growing. A glance at their online activity will show that they have been non existent. Take some time to be present and you will be pleasantly surprised at the growth within your online community.

POST SHAREABLE CONTENT

With Facebook’s Algorithms changing so frequently, it’s important to keep track of your reach. For people with smaller Facebook pages, under 30,000 “likes”, shareable content will help your reach.

calendar for editorial post

If you share from a Business Facebook Page with more follower than your page, your reach should be very good. Keep in mind, the content you are sharing,  should be of interest to your followers. Try it and see if it works for you.

ASK QUESTIONS

Engage your community with questions. Facebook Business Pages and Facebook Groups will grow when you involve your community in the growth. Most importantly, be ready to engage with your followers when you ask a question. There’s nothing worse than asking a question and the community goes dormant.

As always, if you are like most, you enjoy doing business with those you like. When you begin to have conversations with people online, your community will grow. Go ahead, give these things a try and let me know how they worked for you.

 

 

 

 

Fearless Tractor

Tips For Marketing Your Small Town Event

Small towns have many events that raise a lot of money to stay within the community. Here are some tips to help you get the best ROI out of using social media to market your event.

BE CONSISTENT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

Being consistent with social media is of the utmost importance. Here is where you can connect with new sponsorships for the current and next year. When you are consistent in your social media postings, people begin to watch for your updates.

TAG SPONSORS

If your sponsors are using social media, be sure you tag them through social media. Often times, they will not respond, but it’s a small token of appreciation that you can offer them. Other fans will see their business and hopefully thank them for their support of your event, by spending a few dollars with their business.

NTPA Pull

PARTNER WITH A LOCAL RADIO PERSONALITY

Local radio folks can drive a lot of people to your event. They understand the importance of social media and will often share your event through their personal social media pages. A conversation on the radio can go miles for you. Tip: When doing an interview with a local radio show, take a selfie and share it to your social media pages.

HASHTAGS

Have a hashtag for your event. Make sure the hashtag is used throughout social media and included on handouts. A  lot of people are looking to use a hashtag on the photos they share through social media, so why not put them to work for you? The best part, there is no charge to you the event operator. Tip: Paint the hashtag on a 2×4 and distribute them throughout the grounds of your event.

Be sure to utilize your Facebook Business Page for your event, as well as an event page. Share things from your Business Page to your Event Page. This will help you track your insights and numbers. When you post directly to a Facebook Event Page, you will not receive the demographics, etc. that are often vital to events.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your event! When you have an event and it’s been running for 50+ years, it’s often hard to see that things need to change. Marketing through social media is one of the biggest changes that have occurred during that time frame and provide challenges for those that don’t want to change. Be the change, make things happen and introduce new people to your event through the use of social media.