Digital Wichita: May 18, 2011

May 19, 2011 | Comments Off on Digital Wichita: May 18, 2011 | Engaging Events

For me, part of the joy of social media is that through it I have deepened my existing friendships in many cases, and made many new acquaintances that I later met and connected with in person.

One bridge from the online world to the “real life” one (funny how that’s what we put in quotes these days) in my community is called Digital Wichita, a group that meets once a month at a local coffee shop to discuss the latest happenings in social media, marketing, and technology, as well as share ideas, mention upcoming events of interest, and of course, enjoy coffee and a light breakfast since it starts at 7:30 in the morning!

I might be starting to sound like a broken record, but because of my busy college schedule this past semester, on most occasions I was unable to join the group for their informal meetings. So it was a welcome treat to rejoin them now that the semester is over, and chat with the 16 people in attendance (great turnout) today. In case you’re curious, those who came included:

  • @jdpatton
  • @superdumb
  • @jennyboyd77
  • @Cox_Jessica
  • @jdecesaro
  • @kdecesaro
  • @teamup22
  • @ted3davis
  • @JenniferLKeller/@redcrossks
  • @RevCindyLee
  • @klohrenz
  • @StephanieHuff77
  • @susandyer
  • @socialfocusbyCG
  • @toddramsey
  • @journeyscript/@NumanaInc (me)
  • one more, whose Twitter handle I didn’t catch…

We got off to a late start, at five till 8 a.m., with introductions around the table (always fun to welcome a few new faces), and then got started talking about community service-type events that Digital Wichita members had participated in since last time or are planning to soon, such as a #bleedup with the Red Cross, and a build with Habitat for Humanity.

The Digital Wichita website domain has lapsed, and discussion took place on whether to keep the name or to associate ourselves more obviously with the Social Media Breakfast Club (we’re already a sub-chapter/affiliate, but weren’t sure if the “Breakfast” label would limit us). We talked about how it could help bring new traveling visitors or speakers to the group.

Conversation then shifted to upcoming events in the social media world. A quick list follows, and you can find more info on the Facebook Group page, or by searching the Twitter hashtag #digitalICT. You can also find a Twitter list of group members here. (We do have a website, but are currently in transition – link to be added later.)

Last, but not least, we discussed ways to improve productivity online, as well as the impacts of gamification on business and social media. One tool that was shared by Katie Lohrenz, for helping get through one’s email inbox faster was The Email Game, while Todd Ramsey mentioned both Obtract, an app that makes you complete a maze if you spend too long on a distracting site, and RescueTime, which helps you rank sites according to level of distraction and block them out when you need to focus for a period of time.

With that, we broke for a few last minute individual conversations before people had to get to the office, and as they say, a good time was had by all.




Blueberries, Business Cards, and Books

May 18, 2011 | Comments Off on Blueberries, Business Cards, and Books | Social Media & Marketing

One of my clients, Chautauqua Hills Farm, is nearing their blueberry picking season. We recently sent out an email update showing pictures of the early fruiting bushes, and let customers know that they could sign up to be on a list to be notified when the “Nickel-Size Blueberries” are ready to harvest. Eager, swift replies showed a definite pent-up demand for the tasty, naturally grown berries.

What’s exciting for me is not only seeing the word spread through email, in-person, and social media avenues, but the fact that I get to promote products and services I believe in. In this case, I absolutely love blueberries, and I also appreciate the use of healthy, natural growing methods.

Early Fruiting Variety - Growing Blueberries!

So it was a win-win for me when Lance, the owner, spoke as a guest speaker in one of my classes last fall, and I was able to approach him about developing Chautauqua Hill’s use of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and an email newsletter.

I’ve really enjoyed working with CHF. Not only have they been patient with my busy school schedule, but they bring lots of ideas to the table for content and marketing with their values and style in mind.

I’ve continued to develop my WordPress skills, worked back and forth with another freelancer who set up their website and is currently developing the e-commerce side, and learned a lot about blueberries and healthy food in the process.

Blueberries aren’t grown to a great extent in KS, and besides being pretty, tasty, and fun to eat, there’s a certain delight in picking and eating food yourself. But enough about blueberries. My takeaways for you today are simple, but sometimes simple things are the most important to implement.

I think the reminder Chautauqua Hills Farm provides is to provide something of value, something people want. If that happens, people will talk it up for you. Once you’ve earned that trust and interest, the marketing of a quality niche product almost takes care of itself.

And if you feel you have a great product, but people haven’t caught on yet, hang in there…with consistent and relevant communication, you’ll eventually get through.

The other two “B’s” in my post today are business cards and books. I had the occasion to hand out a few more of my business cards this evening after attending a meeting, and one person really liked my card. The background is the same as this website, and I have a number of ways of contacting me listed on the front. I kept the back clear for writing notes (e.g. offers for free initial consults, etc…).

Already they’re a little outdated, as I now have an page and am working on my Facebook Page behind the scenes, the links for both of which I’ll probably put on my next printing of business cards, but I’m so glad I got them done when I did. Many times prior I’d wished I had one to give out, and finally had resorted to at least giving out small strips of paper printed with a color version of my avatar and a few links, to at least have something.

My takeaway here is to not always wait till something’s perfect before you move forward on it. Too often as perfectionists or procrastinators or both, it’s easy to put something on the back burner till we feel it’s completely ready. But even though I knew I’d probably eventually have more links, a P.O. Box, and more to put on business cards, I also knew I had enough to get started with for now. And you do too. Whether it’s printing business cards or some other project, doing something is progress.

As a side note, I did find this list of 10 Features of a Memorable Business Card invaluable,  from Interview Angel, as I created my cards and thought through what I wanted to accomplish. Even though I didn’t implement all 10 ideas, I felt my card turned out better for having thought through these suggestions.

Finally, my last topic of the night is books. I checked out a book at the library today which a friend told me about recently (the book version of The Princess Bride), and as I noted yesterday, one of my goals this summer is to take time to read a lot more. Besides just the knowledge value of being well-read and staying up on ideas, old and new, in one’s industry (and others, for that matter), books are valuable as a business example here because of the way they are shared.

Someone will lend a book out from his or her personal lending library, someone else will check a book out at a library, and still another will read on his Kindle (I’ve been seeing a LOT of people’s comments about reading more on Kindles and Nooks than they had been reading from regular books, and it makes me curious about trying one). You can summarize or narrate a story for someone else, convert it into a movie plot line, it can make you laugh or cry…in other words, a book is versatile.

For me, the lesson of blueberries, business cards, and books is in creating things that are quality and in-demand, shareable, and versatile. Your thoughts?


Summer: The Fun of Business

May 17, 2011 | Comments Off on Summer: The Fun of Business | Social Media & Marketing

As a busy college student, by the end of the semester school can feel like the only thing I have time for. But I took my last final today, and that means that for me, summer has begun. The past two summers I’ve taken 3-5 credit hours, but this year I’m taking the summer completely off from any official school. It won’t, however, be devoid of learning. In fact, I have a number of skills and projects I intend to work on, from further developing my programming skills to improving my photography knowledge and experience.

One of the things I’m most excited about is expanding my freelance marketing and social media business, and generally getting back into a connected world of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues on blogs, Twitter, and beyond. I’ve opted not to take on a traditional summer job, and instead, focus on my freelance business as something that allows me to do what I love (with the added benefit of being on a semi-flexible schedule): helping people, networking, learning about technology, and getting the word out about useful resources and great products and services.

In the past few months, I’ve slowly but surely begun to make preparations and do research on a number of topics from taxes to P.O. boxes, started to build my brand by purchasing this domain name and business cards (and am having a lot of fun giving them out), and looked into advertising and hosting social media workshops. Already I have more than enough business to keep me well-occupied for a while, which is very nice. I was particularly excited to be asked to speak at a workshop next month on nonprofits and social media which is held annually, and which I went to just as a participant/attendee last year.

Just today, I received another book in the mail, which I won in the last week or two on Facebook. I’m looking forward to reading it and a number of other business books from my list for the year soon. Other projects planned include starting a Facebook Page for my business, creating my portfolio here on my website, and getting a post schedule in place for myself.

I know myself well enough to not put a public timeline on those items…life is already busy and will get busier, and in general, the needs of my clients (which they’ve graciously let me put on hold with school demands) must come first. But I’m still excited to be back, to have you reading, and to be sharing once again. I’d love to hear your plans for the summer and/or business; feel free to comment below!