Social Media Is More Than Just Facebook

World Wide Web

When people hear the words social media they often think of Facebook. It is true, Facebook is a part of social media, but it is not the only thing that makes up social media. Social media is a place that you can go online and share an experience or a story. It allows you to engage and meet new people online, while  it allows you to grow your digital foot print.

Man With Keyboard

I often hear people say, “Oh social media, that’s Facebook.” When I try to explain that social media is much more than just Facebook I am often met with blank stares. Why is that? Is it because Facebook is so widely used in the circle of people I find myself in? It very well could be. Facebook is a small sliver of what makes up social media.

Did you know that the comments that you make on a Facebook status update can show up anywhere on the world wide web? If you don’t want your comments to show up anywhere, please don’t make them. Make sure your comments are how you want your digital footprint to be online. If you make a status update that is available to the public, your comments can show up through a google search. My advice, keep your comments close to home, with your friends. Not friends of friends, just your friends. Or, better yet, customize who you share certain things with.

Settings for Facebook

How many of you use Instagram? This is a powerful photo app that is growing by leaps and bounds. Instagram allows you to share your message through a photo, which is powerful in regards to social media. Remember that old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” So true in regards to social media.

Most importantly social media is your online story. It’s not Facebook’s story, social media is your story. Share your story in a way that represents you, who you are and what you want others to learn about you through the world wide web.

So, tell me! Where do you like to share your story online? Is it through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Vine, SnapChat or Google+?

How To Be A Social Media Rock Star With #Hashtags

Just a few years ago most of us had never heard of the word hashtag. Fast forward to 2014 and wow, we’ve got ourselves a major player in social media. Hashtags are used on all social media platforms. If you use them properly, you can be a rock star. Hashtags are used as a search tool. Key in what you are searching for  in the search box on a social media platform, and you will find what you are searching for.

Instagram is an awesome place to use hashtags. Be careful not to use too many of them in your status updates. If you have more words with hashtags than without, you may lose followers. This would be an example of using too many hashtags:  #Harvest14 In #Iowa #Fall #2014 #Cornfields A much better way to use hashtags would be:  The Cornfields In #Iowa are full of lots of yellow corn as #Harvest 14 continues. Take note how much easier it is to read the 2nd post with hashtags. The post with all of the hashtags also looks like a lot of spam, which for me, is an automatic turn off.

Twitter is another great place to utilize hashtags. Remember with Twitter you are limited to 140 characters, so it’s important to use hashtags wisely. I would not use more than three hashtags in one tweet. Ideally, one to two looks clean and professional. Here is an example of what I found while searching #Iowa on Twitter.

Hashtag #Iowa

 

Hashtags are also used on Facebook. The #NorthIowaBloggers hashtag has been used a lot over the course of the last month. Try it yourself and see what pops up.

North Iowa Bloggers Hashtag

 

Hashtags are definitely changing how we all engage through social media. With the holidays upon us, you will be seeing a lot of hashtags. Go ahead, click on them, use them and see where they take you. This search tool makes it super easy for you to find things that interest you. These are just three social media platforms that you can utilize hashtags on. With new platforms popping up all the time, find the social media platform you enjoy and use those hashtags! But remember, be a rockstar by taking note of how you are using hashtags. Do you have a specific hashtag that you check in on daily through social media? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

 

A New School Year Brings A Fresh Start To Everything, Including Social Media

A new school year is here and it does offer a fresh start to everything we do, including social media. Maybe you have not been paying attention to what you post through social media and it’s time to clean up your act. A new school year provides good reason to take note and step up your game plan when it comes to social media. Let’s address three separate social media platforms: Your personal Facebook page, Your Business Facebook page, and your personal Twitter account.

 

Social Connections Connecting

 

Personal Facebook Page

I am going to go straight to the point on this one. It is never ok to talk trash about your employer. Think about it? Why should they pay you money to work for them when all you want to do is go online and dig them a hole? With a new school year, it’s time for you to stop talking trash about your employer and clean up your act. If you take the time to make a simple adjustment like this, you will find it easier to keep a job and even find a new one.

Business Facebook Page

The quickest way to turn current and potential customers away is to not respond to their questions through social media. I know of several local North Iowa businesses that have lost customers by not responding to a customers question. The questions have been as simple as, “What are your hours?” “How can I apply to work here?” This is a simple fix, BE PRESENT! Make time each day to answer questions that are asked on your Business Facebook Page, as it will make your business look busy and respectful. Let’s face it, who wants to do business with someone that appears lazy?

Personal Twitter Account

It is no secret that I personally love Twitter! Twitter is short, sweet and to the point. Four years ago I personally found a job on Twitter. A company out of Ohio hired me to manage their social media accounts. I was hired because my tweets were clean and respectful. Start cruising around Twitter and you know what? It won’t take you long to find Tweets that are not clean and respectful. So, with a new school year upon us, make it a point to clean up your personal Twitter account. Think about those 140 characters before you hit, “Tweet.”

Social media is a fun place to be and it’s even better when folks are smart about how they use it. A fresh start is what is offered in the classroom, so make it a fresh start in your appearance online. Pay attention to your personal status update on Facebook, engage with your clients through your Business Facebook page, and clean up your Tweets. Simple enough, right? Make this new school year a successful one in the classroom and in your online world!

Engage In A Face To Face Conversation- Your Conscience Will Thank You

Social Media has changed how we all interact. As you know, I love social media and the new experiences that come with it. Some of my closest friends are folks that I have met online through social media. The best part of it, is getting to know them in real life. Yes, meeting them in person and having a face to face conversation is the icing on the cake! There’s something to be said about attending blog conferences, such as Bloggy Conference and other events.

Bloggy Conference

 

I have continued to watch some groups online and their behavior in general makes me a little sad. Why is it that people no longer feel it is necessary to have a face to face conversation with others? Is it too easy to send out an e-mail, “like” a post on Facebook, “favorite” a Tweet, or send a text? I am guilty as charged, as I do all of the above. However, I make it a goal to have a face to face conversation with a lot of people I have met online. I love meeting people in real life and getting to know them as a person.

These groups that I have watched online seem to have a goal of bringing others down. I’m not sure what the joy of this type of behavior is; but I can tell you that it is tearing communities apart. Due to the fact that we can hide behind a computer and post things anonymously, the doorway to bring others down is wide open.

My solution: Instead of going online and ranting on and on about something, pick up the telephone and schedule an appointment to talk to the person or group you have a complaint about. There are times in our lives when a face to face conversation is warranted, right?

I wish it was all this simple, yet in all reality it is not. We cannot lose the ability to sit down and have a civil, face to face conversation with others. Will you make a conscientious effort to have a face to face conversation with someone in your life? I do think you will reap the benefits and quite honestly, you will probably feel a little better about yourself.

Locally, our Social Media Breakfast Club is a great way to have face to face conversations with others here in North Iowa. I challenge you to start one of these in your hometown. It’s a great way to have face to face conversations!

Social Media Breakfast Conversation

So, the next time you want to go online in a group and rant about the same thing over and over. Make it a point to have a face to face conversation. I can guarantee you that your conscience will thank you.

Meet Jason Smith of Dream Dirt: An Iowan Utilizing Social Media Day In And Day Out

When I hopped on the Twitter train several years ago, I looked for Iowa folks to connect with. I will admit, that in 2009, it was hard to find Iowans on Twitter.  And my own first tweet was pathetic! It is clear that I had no clue what Twitter was and what the proper terms were.
                 First Tweet Screen Shot

I found Iowan Jason Smith, of DreamDirt.  I followed Dream Dirt on Twitter and found him to be a fun person to converse with. Fast forward to February 2014. After presenting a session on social media at the World Wide College of Auctioneering auction school, I saw a student sporting DreamDirt clothing. I began chatting with him and learned that he was a cousin of Jason Smith, the owner of Dream Dirt. I was ecstatic to have indirectly met the founder of Dream Dirt. I asked Jason Smith to tell his story here of how he uses social media. I think you will find it interesting and intriguing. He’s had a lot of success with social media, as I’ve watched him grow over the past five years into a social media success story!  Meet Jason Smith of Dream Dirt.

 

Jason Smith Broker/Auctioneer

Prior to my life as an auctioneer and real estate broker I spent nearly 20 years as a police officer and police chief.  I was no stranger to talking to people I didn’t know, and as a policeman I’d learned ways to communicate with every person I encountered.  When I retired I was faced with moving to my 2nd career.  The lure of selling appealed to me,as I would get paid what I was worth.  Meaning if I went to work and worked hard I’d get paid for it, if I decided not to I wouldn’t get paid.  I had already discovered as a police chief that the Internet was a quick and inexpensive way to get the word out about anything, but in 2006 when I left that job social media had not quite caught on.  Everybody had a website and that was great, but getting people to your website often cost something.  I can remember the first time I saw Facebook.  A light went on for me, I knew this was a way that I could get people to visit my website to read my blog posts and see what was for sale and it wouldn’t cost me much more than the effort.  I went on to join Twitter as well and the two are our main staples.  We have spent time experimenting with other sites but to be honest the big 2 keep us as busy as we want to be right now.  

Something we have learned over the years of using social media is that its always changing and if you don’t have something you have nothing.  We go to great lengths to portray the lifestyles of our client base.  Our company DreamDirt is a land brokerage and auctioneering firm.  Our typical buyer client is a hunter or a farmer.  Our typical seller client is literally anybody!  Connecting with sellers is much more difficult for us using social media than buyers but to date we have completed 9 real estate transactions with sellers that stumbled across us on social websites.

Our buyers have a dream to fulfill and the sellers will likely only once in their life work with a company that provides our services.  High quality photography has been the best tool we’ve found to connect.  We work to instill pride in the hunting or farming lifestyle through our own story of being hunters and farmers.  Because we do actually live the lifestyle of our buyer clients its easy to connect with them, its very natural for us to create photography that shows something that appeals to them. With today’s cell phones and photo apps life in social media has become almost unbelievable simple.  In the past we used to carry around a large DSLR camera and then transfer photos to a computer, edit them prior to posting.  Mixed between those things they like are short commercial messages, blog posts, occasional auction photos that are not overbearing, we try to make them as natural and tasteful as possible and we never reach beyond that imaginary boundary our followers would expect from us.  We prefer to show them what we do versus telling them what we do and it has worked very well for us.

Connect with Jason on Twitter and Facebook and be sure to visit his website, as you will have a new friend for life!

Thank you Jason for sharing your story with us!

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!

 

 

 

 

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!