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.

Editorial Calendar

Tips For Creating An Editorial Calendar That Works For You

If you are a writer or a social media account manager, you are very familiar with the term editorial calendar. The challenge seems to be implementing what you write down. Here are some tips to help you follow through with your editorial calendar and how you can have a successful experience using one.

EVERGREEN CONTENT

Depending on the type of business you are marketing, your evergreen content will vary around your business. Evergreen content can be used over and over. I often describe it as “generic” to people, as it’s something related to their business; yet pulls people in. It’s important to not use it too often, but it can be recycled through blog posts, social media and even put together as a program for an event you may be speaking at. I would place evergreen content onto your editorial calendar, when you feel like your content for the day is weak. A little extra juice with some evergreen content, can help with visibility of your busines.

CENTRALIZED CALENDAR

Have a centralized calendar for all people involved in the marketing of your business. This calendar can keep everyone on track and in check.

calendar for editorial post

If you know you have a topic that will take more than two days to share through social media, be sure to allot that amount of time on your calendar. An actual calendar that you write on, calendar on your phone or a shared google calendar may be what you need.

SCHEDULING SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

The best way to share through social media is to post everything live. If you do need to schedule, be sure to not use a third party app when using Facebook. It’s important to use Facebook’s scheduling tool to keep your algorithms in check. Make sure your notifications are set, so you know when a customer or potential customer engages through your social channels. Social media is all about engaging, it is not about link dropping. Hootsuite, Buffer and Co-schedule are three third party apps that many have success with. The quickest way to lose your fan base is to not be present in your social media. You need to be present and get those conversations rolling.

SOCIAL MEDIA POST SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR EDITORIAL CALENDAR

Sunday: Share a tip for the upcoming week related to your business
Monday: Offer words of wisdom from one of the employees of your business, share a picture of people visiting your business and how you help them, or ask a question related to an upcoming event in your industry?
Tuesday: Share a picture of people working in your business
Wednesday: Fill in the blank status update. Example: If I were to purchase a heated thermal mug, I would take it with me to _____________. (Fill in the blank)
Thursday: Share a customer testimonial.
Friday: Offer an opportunity for your fans to engage with you by sharing a national news story related to your industry.
Saturday: Share a video related to your industry or better yet, share a Facebook Live video if possible.

Most importantly, be consistent with your social media presence.

KEEP YOUR CUSTOMER IN MIND

When putting your editorial calendar to use, make sure you always keep your customer in mind. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Would I want to see “that” on social media? If you can say yes, proceed. Your customer will guide you, when you listen to them.

Most importantly, stick to a schedule and put your thoughts to work for you. Those blog posts and social media posts will help you grow your business. Be consistent and know that you are making a difference.

How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club

Are you someone that enjoys being a connector? A fun way to help connect people in your home town is to start a social media breakfast club. Here in my hometown of Mason City, Iowa we have been gathering to talk about social media for 3 1/2 years now. Our meetings are very simple and they bring people together. Each meeting is different an it’s not uncommon for us to focus on doing something good through social media for our community, as well.

Social Media Thrivent

Let’s face it, everyone is going this way and that way. Nobody wants to take the time to slow down and talk to their neighbors. Our North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club is just that. We talk to each other, we share stories and we also talk about social media. Some of us do have our smartphones out and others have a notepad and paper. But, the best part out of the day is that people are making new business connections.

When people connect with others, they have more self confidence and their communities begin to thrive. The most rewarding part of leading our social media group in North Iowa has been the fact that businesses are growing, out of the contacts that they are making at these monthly meetings. It’s not uncommon for an attendee to walk away with a “paid” gig in their pocket and a new friend or two.

My phone started ringing a year ago and it was then that I started to write my experience down. Several communities are now hosting their own social media breakfast clubs, as many started based out of the model we have in North Iowa. If you would like to start a social media breakfast club in your area, here you go How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club is available for purchase at$2.99.

SM Breakfast Book Cover

As an entreprenuer, I have found that this is a great way to meet other people that are also working in their homes. Those that work from home are often longing for the opportunity to meet new people that think like they do, and this is the perfect opportunity. Go ahead, start your social media breakfast club and update me as to how it is going. I’d love to hear about it!

Tips For Networking At The Women In Travel Summit

The Women In Travel Summit is a conference where travelers and connectors unite. If you have not purchased your ticket to attend this year, I’d encourage you to do so here. I attended last year, and it’s fair to say that I made some connections that literally changed my career in the space of a travel blogger.

I would also like to invite 2017 Women In Travel Summit attendees to the Wanderful Happy Hour that Midwest Travel Bloggers is excited to be sponsoring!

Lisa and Sara

Join us for a drink and pizza on April 20th from 6-8 p.m.. Lisa, of The Walking Tourists, and I will be introducing you to six amazing midwest destinations that helped bring this event to fruition.

Here are some networking tips to help you get the biggest return on your investment.

ATTEND SESSIONS

There are several opportunities for you to hone in on your skills. From taking stellar photos to pitching magazines, there’s a lot to be learned while attending the Women In Travel Summit. The other neat thing about attending sessions is that you will meet someone new. Last year, I reconnected with Suzanne of Adventures of Empty Nesters, met Tam of Travels With Tam and Melody of WhereverImayroamblog. Guess what? We all four had something in common. We were all midlife travel bloggers. Fast forward to 2017, Suzanne and myself, along with Anne Parris of Mildlife Boulevard, are on a panel at the summit talking about how you can soar while writing travel in midlife.

Suzanee, Anne, Sara

Again, attend the sessions, that is where the magic can happen. The four of us now have a private Facebook group where we encourage each other and plan events together.

MENTOR SESSIONS OFFER 1:1 MEETINGS

I attended a mentor session last year at the Women In Travel Summit and again, it helped me grow my blog. This year, I am honored to be offering mentor sessions to attendees.

Sara WITS Speaker Badge

Local is very important to me. If you are wanting to step up your game on the local front, I have tips and some secrets to help you be the rock star blogger in your hometown. Want to start your own social media breakfast club, I’ve shared how to do it and now it’s up to you to start!

You can register here to sign up for one or two of these sessions. Again, by stepping out of my comfort zone while attending WITS and booking a 1:1 session, I was able to take things up a couple notches.

SMILE AND OFFER A HANDSHAKE

A smile and an occasional handshake go miles when it comes to meeting new people. The last time you met someone were you smiling or hanging your head low? Raise your head, smile, and offer your hand. It’s simple, yet very easy to do.

These are three very simple things that you can do while attending the Women In Travel Summit in Milwaukee. I hope to see you there and I’ll be ready to shake your hand!

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media

Tips For Reaching New People Through Your Business

Business owners are always looking for new ways to reach new people. Social media, in my opinion, is one of the simplest ways to do this. Find people that have the same passions as you and start talking. Yes, social media is a place to talk. Have a conversation on a Facebook Business Page, send an open tweet through Twitter, and comment on Instagram photos. When you have a conversation through social media, you are having a conversation with people.

North Iowa Bloggers Tweeting
Bloggers having an online conversation with others about their experience at a local restaurant.

I often find that business owners have a “private” Twitter account and my advice is to make it public. You will not find new people with any private social media account. People want to know who they are doing business with and why they should do business with you. They will quickly learn who you are through the things that you post online. Remember, as a business owner, people are watching.

Once you have developed an online relationship, take the relationship offline. Meet up at a local coffee shop or meet up at a conference. Chances are you have a lot in common and you will find that you both have the same needs and desires. This is where your entrepreneurial skills comes into play. This is an opportunity to brainstorm as to how you can partner together and grow your businesses together. Let’s face it, when you have someone cheering you on in your court, it’s a lot easier to meet even more new people.

Find a local social media gathering. Here in North Iowa, we have the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club that meets the 4th Wednesday of every month from 8:30- 10:00 a.m.. The best tip I can give you, is to attend! Have a conversation with attendees and then meet up with them outside of this group. Folks with an interest in social media usually enjoy people and want to learn more about what makes you “click.” As an entrepreneur or business owner, this is one simple way to meet new people.

Owning a business is fun and challenging at the same time. What’s stopping you from taking your business to the next level? Step up today and make it happen!

Want to meet people in North Iowa that are also interested in growing their business using social media? Make plans now to enroll in “Bringing Social Home” on April 6th in North Iowa. You will walk away with new business connections and tools that you can implement to grow your bottom line. There are limited seats available, as this is a hands on event.

 

Social Media

How To Manage All Of The Facebook Groups That You Are In

Facebook groups have gained in popularity over the past 18 months, due to the ever changing algorithms that Facebook continues to have. If you belong to a group of two, there are some things that you do need to know.

READ THE GROUP RULES

Do not request to a join a group and then think that you can post whatever your heart desires. Facebook groups do not work that way. If the group administrators have said you cannot post ads in the group, this means you do not show up posting ads in the group. Saying, “I’m sorry,” is often not enough to let you stay in the group. Facebook Group administrators do not have time to babysit members, so make it easy on them and know the group rules.

If you are in a group that is working on sharing each other’s content, make sure you offer new content to share AND have updated information on your social media platforms.

NEVER ADD SOMEONE TO A GROUP WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION

I know this sounds like a broken record, but there are still people adding people to Facebook Groups without asking for permission. If you own a business, this is the quickest way to send business the other way.

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BE A GIVER, NOT A TAKER

When you give, your life will become much fuller. Seriously, Facebook Groups make it easy for people to be takers. Do not fall into that trap. Get to know the other members of the group, talk to them and work together as a team.

PLAY NICE

Remember, we’d all like to think that everyone in a “secret” Facebook Group will keep everything secret. It’s a good idea to remember that screen shots do exist and often times people are not afraid to take them.

GET TO KNOW THE GROUP ADMINISTRATOR(S)

The Facebook Group administrators are there to help you. If you have an issue, be sure to go to group members and click on Admin. Here you will find out who they are. If you have a question about the group, it’s perfectly acceptable to send them a direct message through Facebook. If you don’t have to, do not clog the feed of the group with please call me, please return my email, etc……..

So you see, Facebook Groups can be fun. Use some common sense and play nice! Are you enjoying Facebook Groups? I enjoy the groups I am in, although I will say that I get frustrated when people do not follow the rules of the groups. I’ve noticed more Facebook Group administrators are no longer giving people second chances when they post something they should not. Therefore, my advice is to follow the group rules and your life will be good!