San Antonio to New Orleans #SMPBT

Rhea_Perry
Rhea Perry, Founder of Educating for Success

Today was the start of my journey. But before I could log one mile of the 1, 929 miles, I had to talk to the woman who is the founder and visionary behind Educating For Success.  For the last 13 years Rhea Perry has used her online community and annual events to help homeschooling families and others learn how to build their own businesses to gain their financial freedom.

Rhea talks about her upcoming home business conference in Huntsville, AL happening the weekend of August 9-11, 2013. The topics being discussed range from Internet Entrepreneurs to Real Estate Investing to Entrepreneurial Farming and more. You can probably guess that I will be sharing my knowledge about the practical application of social media for entrepreneurs, non-profits and small business.

Find out more information about the conference by visiting bit.ly/educationforsuccess

 

Travel Notes

My connectivity use has changed in the last two years since I conducted a Social Media Powered Business Trip. Two years ago I decided to go completely web based with my communications. I got rid of the cell phone plan and went with Skype and a wifi-hotspot. What started out as an experiment has become the only way I do business and stay connected with clients, friends and family.

For the most part it works out well and I love being connected without having to deal with cell companies who I feel overcharge for their services.  However, there are times when the hotspot is unable to deliver a strong signal and today was one of those days. In all fairness, in the past I have also experienced the same type of interrupted service from the traditional mobile carriers. When I look at an overview I feel I am still winning the connectivity battle. Overall, I was able to work with clients while traveling from San Antonio to New Orleans and count today as a #smpbt success.

Social Media, Clients and My Philosophy

photo credit: Darren Lewis
photo credit: Darren Lewis

As you all know, I am what I call a Social Media Gal. What that means for me is I get to work and play in this space for a living. What I enjoy most is sharing my knowledge with others through both community events and client interaction. Seeing those light bulb moments happen when an audience or a client recognizes the value social media could have on their business or cause is what I enjoy the most.

My philosophy when it comes to social media is that the folks with the boots on the ground should be the ones telling the story. We all know social media is not a “set it and forget it” tool. It is more like a newborn infant which needs to be watched and fed often. This “boots on the ground” philosophy does require the entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations I work with to invest in what I call the Three T’s:  Time | Team | Tools.

Time

Discoverability meetings, staff training and education, profile optimization, design, page creation, social media guidelines, response flowcharts et al., all take time to explain, understand and implement. Anyone who is delving into this social media needs to understand which platforms will work best for their needs, the use and languaging for each platform and how to participate in the space effectively.

Team

One of the decisions a company will have to make is who will be responsible for monitoring, posting and responding on their social channels. I stress the importance of this position so that they understand that every tweet, post and comment is a direct representation of their brand. This is not something that should be taken lightly nor maintained long term by an intern or someone who “will get to it when they have time”. So, making sure they have the person or team who can actively participate is key to the ongoing success of a company’s social media outreach.

Tools

The tools are fairly simple: computer, smartphone, tablet and of course internet access. Make sure your team members are equipped to represent and respond. You do not need all three to succeed, but removing barriers to access is important. You can post, audio record, live video stream, photograph and more all from a smartphone. I know some folks run their entire business from their phones. We are truly living in the Age of the Jetsons.

 

Not everyone I speak to is ready for this kind of commitment  That’s ok. There are plenty of companies that provide social media services who will do all the heavy lifting for you. They create, post and engage with your followers and fans on your behalf as if they were your brand. When I come across folks who want to hire me to “do it for them”, I smile politely and tell them, “I’m not your gal.”

Each company has what I call a unique flavor. In my mind the customers who frequent your company know how your receptionist answers the phone and how your team talks, walks and interacts with them on a daily basis. If your online presence doesn’t also reflect that same flavor then there can be some disconnect.

So, it should be no surprise that when I work with a client they are someone who subscribes to my “boots on the ground” philosophy and have put the Three T’s into action. In my line of work, I am fortunate in that I can be selective and choose the clients I enjoy spending time with and projects which interest me. One of the clients I have been working with for the last few months is Linda Elliott of Elliott Connection, LLC.

LInda Elliott, Connections Expert
LInda Elliott, Connections Expert

Linda contacted me when she made the decision to delve into the world of social media after she saw me speak at a local event last year. We had seen each other at events throughout the year so I already knew we got along. However, it wasn’t until we sat down to have our discoverability meeting I knew we would be a perfect fit. Linda is a Connections Expert and has a unique talent for finding the perfect partnerships for her clients. Personally, I would describe what she does as an elegant introduction. To experience it is to understand it. Once you have, you will never forget it. I know I never will (more about this in a future post).

As with all projects, you spend months building the platforms and training the team and then there is the moment when they are ready to go live. It is a true pleasure to share the news that today Linda Elliott is launching her Power of Connections blog. Wander over there, take a look and let her know what you think. As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.

 

The Journey Continues

Being a space that is not limited to 4 walls, city limits, state or country boundaries makes for lots of fun and interesting opportunities. From speaking engagements, to local trade shows to incredible travel opportunities where I have the added bonus of meeting people far and wide.

Media Fuse's Social Media Powered Business Trip sponsored by Rhea Perry's Educating For Success Conference

Recently I have traveled on a Social Media Powered Business Trip to showcase the power of a smartphone to do every single bit of business and multimedia while on the go. My travels took me from my home base in San Antonio, TX to Destin, FL where I was a speaker at the Educating For Success Home Business Conference. This coincided with the launch of a new company that my partner, Jackie Adame and I launched called Media Fuse. It is a company focused on Modern Marketing Practices, Mobile Tools and Social Media. Here is a sneak peek of what happened during the trip: I was able to visit with the online and social media team behind the highly successful Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau campaigns.  I also met with prolific foodie video blogger Daniel Delaney of What’s This Food at a neighborhood coffee shop in New Orleans. An interview with Tom Martin and Kami Huyse on my return trip helped to complete the adventure. A full synopsis of the trip which allowed me to interview folks I had never met before who were doing some amazing things in the social space can be found on Media Fuse. If you’ve been wondering how hard it is to use mobile tools for your business, let me give you a hint: It wasn’t.

 

Social Media Lounge at the San Antonio Manufacturing Association Trade Show. Photo courtesy of Larry Lentz aka @CRMLarry

For the last couple of years I have successfully hosted “Social Media Lounges” at trade shows. The main goal being to show business folks just how easy it is to use the social and mobile tools for their business. From live video stream interviews to audio interviews via a smartphone. The tools are simple but extremely effective. Interviews for my most recent shows at Innotech San Antonio and the San Antonio Manufacturer Association’s Trade Show can be found here and here.

There are some more exciting projects  in the works which I will be sharing with you soon. Things that are in the early stages but exciting none the less. If you have some fun things you are doing in the social space let me hear from you. I enjoy hearing success stories and the unique ways folks are using all the tools at our fingertips.

Fitness Tweetup

One of the cool things about being so active in this space are the opportunities that come my way. In a recent interview with George and Paula Roberts about Fitness and Social Media, the idea for a Fitness Tweetup was born. We all know that spending an inordinate amount of time on sedentary tasks leads to a phenomenon called “Blogger Butt”. Sheila Scarborough coined this term a few years back when she began to notice that as her online persona was becoming more widely known her behind followed suit. She is not alone in the observation. Many of us who spend most of our lives online have noticed our own “widening and expanding” presence.

There have been all kinds of tweetups around various topics: Networking, Drinking, Cupcakes, Movies, Entertainment, Comedy, Sneak Peeks, etc… However, I had never heard or seen a Fitness Tweetup. I RSVP’d for my first ever Fitness Tweetup with a little bit of trepidation. I’ve done a few 1/2 Marathon’s (13.1 miles) and can run on a treadmill for anywhere from 2-5 miles, but I am not in what I would consider “fighting shape”. Would I show up to a room of hard bodies? Would the instructors take a look at me and go into drill sergeant mode? I imagined Gunny yelling in my face demanding, “Drop and give me 20!” and any other number of scenarios in which I was likely to fail.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that although the 30 minute workout at the Fitness Tweetup was challenging, it was something a newbie like myself could do. By no means was I graceful, but by the end of 30 minutes I was sweaty and felt a sense of accomplishment. The workout was comprised of simple but effective moves and changed up so much and so often that before I had time to realize it, we were done. For me the hardest part of the entire workout was the Yoga Warmup.

Over the next couple of days I pondered the effectiveness of a Fitness Tweetup. Could this be something the geek and social media community could benefit from? The answer for me was a resounding, “Yes!” Even my husband who does weekly bike rides of 17-20 miles with the Otra Vez Biking and Adventure Club felt the soreness over the next couple of days. It really gave me food for thought when someone who I consider physically fit says, “Man, that was a workout”.

I admire this new and innovative approach to fitness and the online social community which George and Paula Roberts have embarked on.  I encourage folks to join them for their next Fitness Tweetup. It’s the kind of event we can all benefit from both physically and mentally which has a long-tail impact for the years to come.

Here is an interview I did with George, Paula and John post workout:

 

 

What’s New? Camps, Conference and Speaking

Want to know what is going on in Jen’s World? Let start with MobiCamp San Antonio on Saturday, February 26, 2011.

You may be wondering exactly what MobiCamp San Antonio is all about. Well here in a nutshell is an explanation:

“MobiCamp San Antonio is an UnConference being held to focus conversation around the use of mobile technology from smartphones to tablet devices to apps and beyond as it relates to business, nonprofits and our daily lives. It’s an “UnConference”, meaning that it’s a conference organized in an ad-hoc manner for everyone to attend and participate in.

The mantra of every camp is “Learn, Share, Grow” We hope that folks will come ready to do all three.

There are no keynote speakers or rigidly defined schedules. Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to join. Want to learn more about the business use of smartphones, mobile apps, fund-raising on the go, live video and audio streaming and how it can happen all from your mobile devices? Always wanted to know more about the staying connected and productive while on the go? Then MobiCamp San Antonio is the place to be. We are planning for a crowd of the most plugged-in, most active mobile, business, education, social media and connected folks from all around Texas.”

 

On March 3rd my company, Brewing Media,  will host another Social Media Lounge at Innotech San Antonio which is being held at the Norris Conference Center. Swing on by to learn how social media can be a part of your communication strategy and marketing campaigns. There will be a live streaming video interviews and audio podcasts being recorded throughout the day long event. By using these tools on the trade show floor we show folks just how easy it is to implement these tools into their existing campaigns.

I am also hosting a session in the afternoon titled, “Social Media Mobile Strategies: There’s An App For That” If you’re curious to learn how your phone could be your business partner then you might want to consider attending my session. Here is a brief description of what you can expect,

“The business world is in a fast paced transition. It has never been easier to stay productive and connected. Mobile tools and apps are leading the way.

The word mobile has gone beyond the word phone. In today’s world mobile = customers on the move. It means, staying productive regardless of location. It means business doesn’t stop just because you stepped out of the office.

The new generation of smartphones like iPhones, Androids, Windows 7 coupled with the explosion of tablet devices like iPad, Galaxy, Streak have changed the way business gets done.

Smart business uses all of the available smartphone apps, online and social tools at their disposal to get things done. Need to submit purchase orders? Process payments? Share contact information? There’s an app for that.

Learn the innovative ways that business, nonprofits and groups are using these tools to run their organizations. Specific social media strategies and productivity apps will be revealed.

Discover the true power of these tools to make business happen on the go.”


On March 9th I will be headed to Austin, TX for RISE Austin. RISE is a weeklong city-wide event focused on entrepreneurship.

“What is special about RISE? Unlike traditional conferences, RISE is about entrepreneurship FOR the people. Because our sessions are free, RISE attracts incredibly diverse participants, reflecting all ages, stages and industries.

The RISE conference is hands-on and creative, just like our participants. Anyone can organize and host a RISE session on the topic of his/her choice. Sessions are limited to 25 to promote a highly collaborative experience. Join us for RISE 2011: March 7-11, 2011.”

This is my 3rd year to present a session at RISE. It is such an amazing and unique event that I would love to see replicated in cities around the globe. You can find me presenting “Business On The Go: Smartphones, iPads and Apps, OH MY!” at the Bob Bullock Museum on Wednesday, March 9th from 12:00-1:30pm.

“Modern business is done on the go. We take our smartphones with us everywhere. Apps are the latest tools that have helped turn our phones into a powerhouse business tool. With the introduction of the iPad and other tablet devices, business have never been more mobile. In this session we will discover the ways that smart business, nonprofits and groups are using these tools to run their organizations. We will discuss specific productivity and social media apps, dissect a “Day In The Life” case study and have a hands-on session. Get ready to roll your sleeves up to experience the power of these tools to make business happen on the go. From mobile platforms to apps to audio and video streaming to Facebook and FourSquare check ins, the ability to be productive while staying connected has never been easier.”

There are lots of fun places you can fine me at but the easiest way to keep up is to connect with me online. Twitter and Facebook are the two main locations where my conversations tend to happen. Feel free to join me. The best way to start a relationship with me online is to introduce yourself. I recommend drinking a cup of coffee before diving into the chattiness.

The Things I’m Doing, The Places I’ll Be

If you’ve ever taken the time to look on the right side of my blog, you’ll see the section titled, “The Things I’m Doing, The Places I’ll Be”.  I started using this a few years ago in response to folks asking me, “What do you have coming up?” Since not everyone can keep track of my tweets, it made sense to have a place that folks could easily discover the various events I may be organizing, attending or presenting. It is a mixed bag of all three.

Today, tomorrow and next week are going to be a hot bed of activity for me:

Thursday, March 4th 9:30-10:30am Speaking at Innote6ch San Antonio about Social Media for Business

Friday, March 5th 10:00-11:30am Hands on session at RISE Austin

Tuesday, March 9th Houston-bound with the MoveforFREE team for their “On the Move” tour to celebrate their 10 year anniversary.

Thursday, March 11th 6:30-9:30pm Social Media Club at SeaWorld San Antonio’s new “AZUL: Lure of the Sea” show.

Friday, March 12th – Tuesday March 16th I’ll be attending South by Southwest Interactive aka SXSW (Look for some Tech in Twenty videos)

Wednesday, March 17th 7:30-900am Social Media Breakfast San Antonio

Friday, March 19th-Sunday March 21st South Texas Bike Show

In between all of that look for weekly Tech in Twenty SV shows which are released every Friday morning.

Still not sure you can keep up with this highly caffeinated social gal? Well you could always follow me on Twitter @epodcaster or catch some of my presentation session videos on Ustream

I am including the embed video of today’s sessions inside the Social Media Lounge sponsored by my company, Brewing Media

Streaming video by Brewing Media on Ustream.tv

Running image by Petr Kratochvil

Texas Social Media Awards: I’ve Been Nominated!

In case you missed all the hubbub surrounding the Second Annual Texas Social Media Awards put on by the Austin-American Statesman, here is a breakdown:

• Nominations are open to any resident of Texas
• Nominees are listed and commenting is open for judges to consider
• Judges pick top 25
• Winners are announced at SXSW

There are many amazing social media mavens in the nomination list. The list is worth a long look. As the title to this post states, “I’ve been nominated!” <–Many thanks to the fine folks who put me in the running. I am honored to be included alongside folks I look up to as well as many of my friends.  The judges will announce the top 25 nominees by March 3rd and winners will be announced at the awards ceremony during SXSW on March 14th.

The Social Media Scrooge

ScroogeWe have all seen them or more likely we have all heard them. They are the folks who make a face whenever we talk about our Twitter friends. Roll their eyes when we share Facebook stories. They are also the folks who will tell you that real business doesn’t happen when you waste time on the social networks.

Are they wrong?

Yes and no.

Yes, if your employees are playing Mafia Wars instead of filling out that all important TPS report. No, if the connection they make from a Twitter post (tweet) gets them a phone or face-to-face appointment with a potential client.

Yet, how can someone be convinced of the merit of adding social media to their business? One way is to introduce case studies and offer examples of social media gone right. Zappos, Comcast and Dell spring to mind. Take a real world example that you personally have done to showcase the effectiveness of social media. Whether that was a form of communication, customer service or promotional tool. Another option is to have them attend industry specific events where the topic of social media is being addressed.

I am often asked to speak to groups about the practical use of social media. While I have shared how much I enjoy watching light bulbs go off during a session, I’ve never talked about what it’s like to watch a Social Media Scrooge “get it”.

They are typically successful business owners. They also know that if they keep hearing something over and over again, they should pay attention. They usually walk in with a determined look on their face. They may or may not chat with folks beforehand. They are there, but probably feel they could have spent their time more productively.

It is apparent to me that this person is there because they keep getting told they need to “do social media”. They have no idea what that means, not sure if it is relevant for their business and feel that overall it is a waste of time. If we go back to the previous Yes and No explanation above, they may or may not be right. However, if they do not take the time to at least have a cursory understanding of what social media is, how can they make a fair judgment? So, the Social Media Scrooge will attend an event to find out for themselves.

What I have found is that one of the best ways to cut through the jargon and buzz words that are inherent in social media is to relate everything back to traditional terms. For example, when I talk about new media podcasts and live online audio streaming I quickly compare it to traditional radio programs and talk shows. The Social Media Scrooge understands radio and will nod their head. When I tell them that one of the biggest differences between the two is that podcasts and online audio are instantly archived and available to an entire connected global audience. Their eyes widen in understanding just a bit.

The session continues and by the end there is that moment when the light bulb goes off.  The former Social Media Scrooge now has an understanding of the basics of what social media is and an idea of how it just might be a powerful part of their business.

If you know someone who is a Social Media Scrooge, consider sending them to spend some time with me at the Technology Connexus Hi-Tech Mixer on Thursday, September 10th from 5:30-8pm.

image by striatic

Getting to know you…

conker-acorn-boyWhile connecting online is a great thing, connecting in person is even better.

There will be plenty of opportunities over the next few months to get some face-to-face time with the folks who are making Social Media happen in San Antonio.  In addition to the monthly gatherings, there are several Camp, Startup and Workshop opportunities coming up. The best way to become involved with the community is to participate. Stay tuned or better yet, show up to any and all upcoming events.

You may ask yourself, “What are these face-to-face meeting opportunities?” Well, here are just a few of the events I’m involved in:
PodCamp San Antonio 3.0 May 16th El Tropicano Hotel 9am-5pm: This is the event that started the whole UnConference movement in San Antonio. Organized by the San Antonio Podcasting Group, this event covers: Blogging, Podcasting, Online Video, Virtual Worlds & Social Media. Registration is open now.

Startup Weekend San Antonio II May 29-31st If you’re interested in the Startup Scene, then this is the event for you. This 2 1/2 day event will take you from the concept on Friday night to a fully launched business on Sunday evening.  Registration opens on May 1st.

TweetCamp San Antonio July 18th If you love everything Twitter, but want to know more then this is the event for you. Or if you don’t know what Twitter is but keep hearing about it on the Tonight Show and CNN then get ready to get immersed in the Twitter-sphere! From terminology to third party apps to  mobile tweeting, you won’t want to miss a minute of this micro-blogging event. Registration is open now.

For those of you who are early birds and like to get your Social Media fix in with a hearty breakfast and a strong cup of Joe, then Social Media Breakfast is the event for you. Every third Wednesday of the month you’ll find topics ranging from Journalism and Social Media to Social Media 101. Registration is ongoing.

There is also the group that attracts the tech and early adopter crowd, Social Media Club San Antonio. We think it might have something to do with the fact that most of the tech-centric crowd can more closely relate to the night owl than they can to the early bird.  Meetings are every second Thursday of the month from 6:00-8:00pm. Feel free to join the community site where we’re able to connect in between monthly meetings.

There are also impromptu gatherings which allow fans of the micro-blogging service Twitter to congregate for some face-to-face networking. These events are called Tweetups and can be organized and attended by anyone who is either part of Twitter or at least Twiter-curious. The best way to find out more about these events is to stay tuned into the Twitter stream or at least have a friend who keeps track of such things.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the events in town. I happen to know for a fact that every first Friday of the month, Susan Price hosts a First Friday Co-Working at Firecat Studio. This monthly event recently celebrated it’s one year anniversary. It has grown in popularity with each passing month. One reason is the highly interactive Brown Bag Lunch which is based around current points of interest in business, marketing and social media. There are additional Co-Working spaces around town such as T-14 in the San Antonio Technology Center as well as C4 to name a few. Find out more on the Co-Working San Antonio Blog.

These events are just the tip of the iceburg. Every day it seems I’m hearing about folks in the community coming up with new and innovative ways to connect. There has never been a better time to be involved. Jump in. The water is not only fine, your friends have already joined the fun.

Cheers!