Cupcake Bakers

The 1st Annual North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown Was A Smashing Success

The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club was recently home to the 1st Annual North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown. Several cupcake makers from all across North Iowa brought their cupcakes to share, and social media breakfast club attendees learned how online reviews work. This event came to fruition after a few of our attendees noticed that North Iowans were flocking to the out of town cupcake truck that comes to North Iowa. We thought this would be a great way to showcase what our North Iowa Cupcake bakers have to offer.

I would personally like to give a shout out to Sweet Tooth Cupcakes, Cupcakes By Ivy, Nameless Gourmet and taste by Unc’s Cheesecakes, Inc. and Happy Sweets Cupcakes.

cupcakes

Without these participants this event would not have been held. Pat Palmer of The Computer Guy put a program together that shared how online reviews impact businesses. He also hosted a Facebook for Business Class that was held a couple days before the event.

The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club is a group of people that meet monthly to learn how to be smarter and safer online. From online safety to building your business through social media, several topics are covered throughout the year. Meetings are held in the Heritage Room at First Citizens Bank, 2601 4th SW Mason City, on the fourth Wed. of every month from 8:30-10:00 a.m.

If you have an interest in social media, you will enjoy these meetings. The group is casual and eager to learn more in regards to social media.

Congratulations to Kim of Sweet Tooth~ Kim was the winner of the North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown.

Kim of Sweet Tooth

Online reviews are important when it comes to your business. If you are a business owner, are you paying attention to what people are saying online about your business? It’s important to remember that it’s up to you, the business owner, to share your story. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t, someone else will share it for you and it may not be in the way you would like it shared.

If you are a cupcake baker we would love to see you participate in our 2017 event. Follow Social Connections, LLC Facebook page for business and social media tips, as well as information about the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club.

Social Media Signs

Has Sharing Through Social Media Gone Too Far When It Comes To Elections?

Social media is an interesting space. In 2012, very few people were sharing who they voted for through social media. Fast forward to 2016 and it seems that everyone expects everyone else to share who they voted for and why. This process is tearing friends apart, breaking up families and it’s even causing division in business relationships. Can I say this, “Stop it! Just stop it!”

We are better than this. To the best of my knowledge it’s ok to vote and be done. All because of social media, there are people that believe everyone has to share who they voted for. Not so. There’s a reason we have “secret” ballots in our country and you know what? There are some that like to keep parts of their lives private. I can respect people for that and will continue to. A young adult said this to me the other day, “Why should I go vote? All of my Facebook friends expect me to share who I voted for.”

Laptop and Phone Social Media
If I don’t see you posting who you voted for on social media, I will continue to be your friend. If you choose to post who you voted for on social media, I will continue to be your friend. Would someone enlighten me as to why this concept is so hard to comprehend?

I love social media, but it truly saddens me that an election has brought such divide in our country through expectations that are only hurting people. If you feel you are in too deep when it comes to pressure from your social media friends, by all means, take a break from social media. It’s OK to take a break from social media, as your mental health comes first.

I challenge you to do something good in your local communities. Go out and make a difference. When you can be part of exciting change in your local community you will feel good. Talk to your friends in real life, go for a walk in the park with your friends or mail an actual card to a friend. There are options when it comes to moving on after an election.

From my observations on social media, on the day after an election; it appears that many of you will benefit from a little break from social media. Let’s be kind to one another and make a dent in our local communities. We can be the positive change that our communities desire.

Tips On How To Use Social Media To Plan Your Next Vacation

Social media is one of those things that we all use on a daily basis and we often times forget that it’s a great tool for planning vacations. Here are some tips on how you can use social media to aid in your planning.

POST A STATUS UPDATE ON FACEBOOK

Ask your friends on your personal Facebook page where their favorite vacation spot is. Chances are, you will see photos, read stories and your friends may even link you to the resort they stayed at. This does not mean that you have to disclose the dates you will be gone, all it does is gets the conversation going. And let’s face it, our friends are going to be honest with you when it comes to recommending a spot for your next vacation.

Business connections through social media

SEARCH HASHTAGS ON INSTAGRAM

Instagram is the ideal place to follow up on your vacation ideas. Key in the hashtag of where you would like to visit. If you want to visit Iowa, type in #Iowa. Here you will find several posts that others have shared that show Iowa. Maybe you want to go to California, key in the hashtag, #California. These may not be the official hashtags for these destinations, but they may be the key words that other travelers, as yourself, are using. There was that one time when my husband and I found a dream vacation spot in Florida, all due to a hashtag search on Instagram.

SEARCH HASHTAGS ON TWITTER

Type in a hashtag of a destination you would like to visit. Search #FindYourPark to find all things related to national parks. If you are looking for a particular attraction, you can often search an attraction with a hashtag in front of it. Remember that tweets are short, as they are limited to 140 characters. Twitter is a quick, simple way to search out anything.

There you have it! These three tips will easily help you plan your next vacation. When you ask your friends and search out hashtags that interest you, things will come together nicely. Have you planned a vacation through social media? If so, I’d love to hear about your vacation.

 

 

Social Media

Tips For Not Letting Social Media Consume Your Life

There are certain times of the year that social media can consume your life. Election time is an easy time to get sucked in. If you find yourself searching social media for all things related to an upcoming election, it’s time to take a break.  And if you are not careful, your friendships will suffer.

As I was recently scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, it was sad to see that many are consumed with the current election season. I understand that an election is important. In the United States we do have the opportunity to vote and we should exercise our right to vote. Why do we turn to social media to vent and share our anger? Life is too short to become angry.

CALL A FRIEND

Call a friend. This means you actually call them. A private message through social media does not replace an actual phone call. I challenge you to call a friend that you have not spoken to in months. This will keep you off of social media and remind you how important those actual conversations are.

Donna and bloggers

 

Friendships are important. These North Iowa Bloggers “get it” and have real life conversations with each other.

MEET A FRIEND AT A LOCAL COFFEE SHOP

Local coffee shops are a fantastic way to meet up with friends. The biggest challenge is for you to not take your smart phone with you. Talk and laugh with your friend. Trust me, you will feel good about yourself.

FIND YOUR MISSION

I know that many of you have a purpose when it comes to social media. I love that my friend Beth Ann of It’s Just Life writes a blog post every month featuring a different cause. She encourages her readers to leave a comment and then she donates money to the organization she features each month. She shares through social media and it’s a positive message. And then there’s my friend Pat, of The Computer Guy. He’s on a mission to help locals deal with issues they are currently having with the local cable company. He’s asking what types of issues people are having through social media and people are responding. He’s on a mission to offer solutions for more reliable cable service to his rural community.

Let’s turn our social media pages to positive messages. I honestly tune 90% of the political posts out, so for those of you continuing to post, I’m not sure who you are reaching. I think it’s fair to say that you are reaching and connecting with some angry folks. I will not partake in the negativity and will march forward and continue to make a positive difference in my little corner of the world.

 

 

Laptop and Phone Social Media

Simple Tips For Using Instagram In Your Small Business

Instagram is a beautiful place to be on social media. From photos to life experiences, there’s a lot of beauty shared on this social media platform. Do you recall the last photo you loved on Instagram? Chances are, you probably do and you will return to that Instagram account.

Social Media

Small business owners have an opportunity to share what they do on a daily basis through Instagram. It’s one of the simplest ways to share your story. Here are some simple tips to help you grow your business through Instagram.

INVEST IN A SMARTPHONE

I meet many small business owners on a weekly basis that do not own a smartphone. That is the first step you need to take when it comes to using Instagram in your business. Small business owners need to invest in a smartphone. Posting photos to Instagram is so easy and it will seriously take less than five minutes out of your day.

SHARE QUALITY PHOTOS

Post photos on Instagram that are eye catching. This means that your photo is not blurry and rich in color. I personally own the Samsung Galaxy S7 Smartphone and love the photos that it takes. I have very little photo editing to do with the majority of the photos I post.

USE HASHTAGS

Hashtags are fantastic on Instagram! Be sure to use several. On Instagram it’s OK to use 10-15 hashtags on a post. Keep in mind, this large number of hashtags is spam on other social media platforms. Use hashtags that are relevant to your business. For example, if you are a farmer, you can use #agriculture #harvest16 #soybeans #wheat #corn. If you own a jewelry store, your post could include the hashtags #jewelry #bracelet #fashion #MothersDay or others specific to your area. When you use these hashtags, more people will stumble on your Instagram account and hopefully click on follow.

Instagram is a fun platform to use. I use Instagram a lot when I travel. In fact, my husband and I rerouted on a recent road trip, due to a hashtag search on Instagram. We found an area in Florida that we had no idea existed, due to a quick Instagram search.

I’d love to hear how you are using Instagram in your small business. It’s an easy social media platform to use and it will not take a lot of time to use. These simple tips can help you grow your business through Instagram. Most importantly, download the Instagram App and start!

Looking for a new Instagram account to follow? Travel With Sara has some great travel ideas for you on Instagram.

Angie and Andy

My Three Biggest Takeaways From The Global Leadership Summit 2016

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Global Leadership Summit in Clear Lake, Iowa. It was a couple days filled with excitement and “my people.” Have you ever felt like you needed time to be with the people that really understand you? If your answer is yes, make it happen today or tomorrow! I always feel re energized when I am surrounded by like minded people. There were three big things from these two days that stood out for me and I thought I would share them with all of you.

ADD VALUE TO PEOPLE

This one really hit home with me, as I find that it’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking “that” person doesn’t need anything. Fact of the matter is, we all need friends, support and people that believe in us. When we add value to people, we all win.

DON’T TALK ABOUT DOING SOMETHING- DO IT

Ever have a brilliant idea? We all do at different times and we often talk about it and fail to act. When we do something we actually have an opportunity to be a ripple and make positive changes in the lives of those around us. Sounds pretty simple, right? The next time I find myself talking about doing something I am going to take a long hard look at how I can bring it to fruition.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH DREAMERS

When I surround myself with people that want to dream with me, I find that lots of amazing things begin to happen. Bishop T.D. Jakes said, “If you can accomplish your dream on your own, your dream is too small.” Boy, those words hit home with me. I hope the fellow dreamers in my community are ready to dream big, because my mind is spinning with lots of awesome things.

Global Leadership Summit

If you want to connect with like minded people I would encourage you to attend the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club. We meet the fourth Wednesday of every month in the Heritage Room of First Citizens National Bank in Mason City from 8:30- 10:00 a.m.. There are many dreamers and connectors in attendance that will help move you and your business to the next level. If you have an interest in social media, you will find value in attending. And if you are reading this post, you are interested in social media; so plan now to attend. Blogs are a part of social media and help people make new daily online connections.

I would encourage you to plan to attend the Global Leadership Summit in 2017 at a host site near you. Stay tuned to the website for speakers and be ready to be inspired to make a difference in the lives of those around you. If you attended the 2016 Global Leadership Summit, I’d love to hear what your biggest takeaways were.

*Thank you for Clear Lake sponsors for providing me with a Media Pass.

Social Media

True Colors Shine Through Social Media

I watch a lot of what happens on social media and it saddens me that people can be so brazen. I recently met a new person in my community and thought they were a nice person, until they left a very rude, threatening comment to a Facebook friend of mine, through Facebook. This made me think…. do your true colors shine through social media?

So, what did I learn from this observation? I learned that some people cannot be trusted. I have always been a trusting person and it’s obvious, a little too trusting. I am now going to look at this person in a different light. Right or wrong, I’m not sure. If there’s one thing I do know, it’s the fact that I don’t need those kind of people in my life. I choose to surround myself with upbeat and encouraging people. North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club attendees are some of the most positive, upbeat North Iowans that I know.

December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

Are you the person online that you wish to be? Do you think before you actually post or do you just let it all roll? It’s in your best interest to “think” before you post. We all can get caught in the heat of the moment and post something we regret. What’s interesting is the fact that this brazen comment is still there…… this person must have meant to post what they did.

Here’s how your true colors can shine through social media in a good way!

  • Make it a point to make one positive comment to one social media friend, every single day you are on that social media platform.
  • Do not post when you are in the heat of a moment.
  • If you have a positive experience at a local business, leave them a positive review on social media. Lets face it, it’s often easier to leave a negative comment, so let’s make a difference in that!
  • Share the good things happening in your community through social media.

I firmly believe that if we all focused on the good in others, we would have happier communities and healthier relationships. Are your true colors shining through social media? I believe mine are and I’d like to think I’m making a positive difference, in a good way.

Rascal Flatts

Top Three Reasons To Start A Blog

I have been blogging for 7 1/2 years and there’s one thing for certain, a blog, is still a blog. Over time, social media platforms have come and gone. But, blogging in general has not changed. Blogs are still a fun way for you to share your thoughts with the world wide web. I am often asked, “Do you think I should start a blog?” Here are my top three reasons why you should start a blog.

YOU HAVE A COMPELLING STORY TO TELL

When you have a compelling story to share, you will quickly find blogging very easy. Your blog is an easy way to share your thoughts, opinions, and ideas with the world wide web. Once you put it on the world wide web, it’s out there for the whole world to see. If you like the idea of your thoughts being shared all around the world, start blogging!

Blogging

YOUR BUSINESS HAS A WEBSITE

If your business has a website, you should have a blog on it. According to a HubSpot Survey, 60% of businesses that blog, acquire more customers. If you struggle with content, find a good writer. There are several bloggers out there that would love to be paid to write content for your company blog.

BLOGGING ALLOWS YOUR VOICE TO BE HEARD

Do you feel as though your voice is not heard? When you start a blog, you will have a reader. There’s always one person that will read your blog. In my mind, that’s all I needed when I started blogging 7 1/2 years ago. Share your passions, your life, your inspirations and anything and everything you want the world to know about. Your voice will be heard, once you start blogging.

Blogging is a fantastic way to heal. Many people start blogging out of some type of tragedy. They often have a story to tell and blogging offers a great platform to get started sharing. If you love to talk, I can tell you that you will be happy that you hopped on the blogging train. Once you find your spot on the train, you will only evolve. You will meet new people, build relationships through your online activity that you never thought were possible.

So, what’s stopping you? These are three top reasons why you should start a blog and never look back! I’d love to hear what you blog about or what you are considering blogging about. I can guarantee you that someone will want to hear your story.

Girl with phone

I Am Embracing Snapchat And Here’s What I Have Learned

I jumped on the Snapchat train a few months ago and hopped off. In the meantime, Snapchat became a major social media player in the world of business. As someone who travels alot, it made sense for me to jump back on the train. I hope you can see how easy Snapchat is to use, when used in a smart, safe manner.

MYTH: SNAPCHAT IS SCARY

Many people think Snapchat is a scary social media platform. In all honesty, it’s as scary as you make it. When you choose who you are engaging with, it becomes a fun platform to engage in. As with any platform, if your kids are using Snapchat; it’s vital that parents install the app and “snap” with their kids. In fact, I know of a church youth group director who snaps regularly with middle school kids. She knows that many of the kids in her youth group have parents that are not following their kids on Snapchat, and she saw this as an educational opportunity. The kids in her youth group look forward to snapping with her on Snapchat and when she misses a day, her kids miss her. In a perfect world, parents should be there, as well. Fact of the matter is, many parents simply won’t do it. By engaging with our youth on the social media platforms they are on, the doorway of communication stays open.

FACT: SNAPCHAT IS A GREAT WAY TO TELL YOUR STORY

If you don’t tell your story, it’s a fact that someone else will tell your story.

Laptop and Phone Social Media

When you use Snapchat to tell your story, it’s fun, inviting and a simple way to invite people into your life. Business owners can showcase their products, share how their products are used and even give demonstrations on how to use their products. From recipes to travel destinations, Snapchat is a fun place to tell your story.

As with any social media platform, be smart on how you use the platform. Your Snaps do disappear from the Snapchat feed in 24 hours, but keep in mind, once something lands on the world wide web; it’s for everyone to view.

I would love to connect with you through Snapchat. You can follow me at http://snapchat.com/add/travelwithsara1. See you on Snapchat!

If you are using Snapchat for business, I’d love to hear how you are using it.

 

 

Business connections through social media

How To Grow Your Twitter Account Organically

You can grow your Twitter account organically, with patience and time. I am asked on a weekly basis, “How do I get Twitter followers?” My answer every single time is, “You need to be there.”

When I hopped on the Twitter train in 2009, I honestly had no clue what was going on. I did watch and observe and quickly learned that #FF was a thing. I know that early on, I did not use it correctly. Over time, I have learned that #FF is important and it can help you grow your following. Here are my best tips to help you grow your Twitter account organically.

Laptop and Phone Social Media

BE PRESENT

With smartphones prevalent today, it’s so easy to be present on Twitter. Many people think that when they set up a Twitter account they can schedule all their tweets. That, in my eyes, is the quickest way to not gain new followers. Make it a point to spend a minimum of 30 minutes on Twitter per day, and talk with people. Talking on Twitter is tweeting with others. It’s important to remember that social media is not designed for link dropping, it’s a place to be social.

HASHTAGS

Search hashtags that interest you and those that are related to your business. By following people with the same interests as you, you can build a nice following. Engage, retweet, love and share their content. You will quickly learn that the people using Twitter are social people.

JOIN TWITTER CHATS & PARTIES

If you are new to Twitter, here is a step by step guide on how to participate in Twitter Chats and Twitter Parties. Follow people that are attending the same chat and party that you are. Here you will find people with the same interests as you and it will be easy to connect with them. Keep in mind, most of these are an hour in length. If you can attend the full length of the chat or party, it will be to your benefit. It’s also ok to hop in for a few minutes to say hi and acknowledge the people that are attending it.

How to Use #FF

#FF stands for Follow Friday. If you have a relationship with a business or friend on Twitter that you think others need to follow, give them a shout out on Friday with the Hashtag #FF. Give your Twitter friends a reason to follow them.

I have 11,000 followers on Twitter and they did not magically appear overnight. Keep in mind, my SocialSarab account was started in 2009. That account has made it through being shut down by Twitter for suspicious activity and reinstated a few weeks later, when Twitter determined I had done nothing wrong. By being there and joining in several Twitter Chats & Parties through the years, I’ve made many genuine friendships through Twitter and to this day, it’s my favorite social media platform

I’d love for you to follow me:

SocialSarab

TravelWithSara

Are you a Twitter enthusiast? I’d love to hear about your experience and what you enjoy most about Twitter.