4 BEGINNING TWITTER TIPS FOR BUSINESS

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From 2014-2015 the number of Twitter users grew by 50 million, and it’s estimated that close to 1/5 of Internet users have Twitter accounts. The average Twitter user follows 5 businesses so if you’re not trying to reach your customers on Twitter you’re missing an opportunity.

Twitter is easy enough to understand, just share something 140 characters or less. You can share links, images, or videos. Here are a few other tips for businesses just starting out on Twitter:

Use Hashtags

Twitter is as hard to follow as the ticker tape on a stock page. It’s a constant barrage of messaging, particularly for those accounts that follow a lot of people. Hashtags, or pound signs (#), help people search for the information they want.

Using an appropriate hashtag can expand your business’ reach and help potential customers find what they’re looking for. Employ one specific to your business and use hashtags that are relevant. For instance, Jake’s Jewelry Store might use all, or any, of the following hashtags in tweets with images of gifts for mom: #jakes, #mothersday, #gift.

You can also use popular hashtags of trending topics, when applicable, like #marchmadness or #50shadesofgrey.

Share Images

This tip applies to most of social media but Twitter will display images prominently in the stream so it’s a good way to get your followers’ attention.

Rise Above the Noise

Find ways to stand out from others who are merely posting articles they’ve written. Ask questions. Have conversations. Thank people for sharing your content.

One of the easiest ways to create loyal followers, at least initially, is through commenting on what they share – either by providing your own opinions or asking them follow-up questions.

Avoid sending out automated thank you messages to new followers. While the concept seems nice – thanking them for following you – they come off as exactly what they are, robotic. Plus many Twitter users don’t check their messages box because of a large number of these they receive.

In addition to finding customers and potential customers on Twitter, it’s good to connect with influencers in your industry or audience such as mommy bloggers or niche bloggers.

Follow the Golden Rule

To follow back or not to follow back. That is the question and the answer for business is follow back, or do unto others as you would like them to do to you.

There are exceptions to this rule.

Twitter will cap you at 2,000 following (people you follow) if your followers (number of people who follow you) are not fairly equal. For instance, if you followed 2,000 people but only 500 followed you, Twitter will not allow you to follow any more until those numbers get within (about) 200 of each other. Twitter won’t tell you the exact number that it takes but you will be limited until those follower numbers rise.

You also don’t want your followers and following number too far off of one another because:

  • If you are following too many people, and a relatively equal number is not following you back, it looks like you’re not sharing worthwhile information.

On the other hand,

  • If a lot of people are following you and you’re only following a handful, you look like a bit of a jerk. That’s okay for reality TV stars but people who are using Twitter for business should be a little more congenial.

You can manage your Twitter followers through tools like ManageFlitter, Followerwonk (a Moz app) or Friend or Follow. Many of these tools can help you tell which accounts are spambots or fake accounts or inactive accounts. (You don’t want to spend time engaging those.) They also help you isolate influencers in your area.

There are pages and pages of tips written on topics like Twitter for business but the best thing to keep in mind is your humanity. Don’t make it all about your business and be gracious. Find ways to connect with people on a more personal level and imagine every tweet you’re sending could be seen by your grandmother, unless you’re in the type of business you don’t want your grandmother to know about.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and Memberclicks.

Sarasota County Wins State FAFSA Completion Award

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The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership is proud to announce that Sarasota County Schools has won four awards for highest FAFSA completion rate in the state from the 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge, a campaign to increase the proportion of high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Through leading local efforts made by the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, 45.5% by Sarasota County high school seniors have completed the FAFSA. This is a 9.1% change over the previous application year, which equates to an estimated additional $513,180 in Pell grants awarded to Sarasota County students. Additionally, the Florida College Access Network (Florida CAN) has awarded Sarasota with the following honors:

  • Sarasota County Schools–“MVP for Large School District” (Having the highest FAFSA completion rate through March 31st, 2017)
  • Riverview High School–“Biggest Boost for Large Schools” (Largest week-to-week change in percentage of students completing the FAFSA)
  • All-Stars”—(Achieving an increase of FAFSA completion by at least 5% over last year):
  • Sarasota County School District
  • Suncoast Polytechnical High School
  • Sarasota Military Academy
  • Booker High School
  • Venice Senior High School
  • Sarasota High School
  • North Port High School
  • Riverview High School

 

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Talent4Tomorrow Partners and Sarasota County School District Officials accepting the award for “MVP for Large School District”

 

The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership is a community collaborative known as a “Local College Access Network”, and consists of CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Sarasota County Schools, UnidosNow, and United Way Suncoast. The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership seeks to increase career awareness and postsecondary attainment through increased college and career awareness, aspiration, and affordability initiatives. Kevin Cooper, President of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce stated, “Every dollar counts when it comes to accessing post-secondary education.  When we come together, focus together, and lead together, it’s gratifying to see results getting our students one step closer to where they and we want them to be.  This is a truly great example of leadership through collaboration.”

The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership has spent several months planning and executing FAFSA awareness and support activities, including FAFSA completion assistance during community- and school-based events. Community volunteers as well as financial aid officers from Ringling College of Art & Design, State College of Florida, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, and Keiser University assisted families of high school seniors in completing the FAFSA form at North Port High School, Booker High School, and Sarasota High School, as well as community-based FAFSA events and United Way Suncoast VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) programs.

According to the Florida College Access Network, less than half of all eligible Sarasota County high school students in 2012-2013 completed the FAFSA form, thus leaving over $2 million in Pell Grant dollars untapped. 59% of Florida students in 2013 were eligible to receive a Pell Grant, which awards up to $5,815 a year per student.


For more information regarding the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, contact Mimi Cirbusova at mcirbusova@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4038.

Member Tip Monday: HOW TO FIND TIME FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

Build Your Visibility

Small business owners, especially those businesses with under 10 employees, find it extremely difficult to justify the time on social media because it doesn’t lead to predictable, measurable cost savings or revenue.

Social media and content marketing is about becoming an engaging resource for your customers. What’s the yield of a relationship? If you can figure out what a relationship is worth in revenue dollars, you should be blogging about it.

The truth is, we can’t. Not exactly at least. But we know people buy from people they know, like, and trust and that’s why it’s important to invest time in building these connections and affections.

Finding that time is easier said than done. Still here are a couple of suggestions on how to carve out some time to increase your efforts on social media.

Keep Content Handy

The first thing you’ll need is a place to keep content you find. Not all content will be applicable for sharing the moment you come across it. We’ve all seen people on Twitter who post 10 tweets at a time and figure they are done for the day. It is better to deal out your posts at multiple times than all at once. Often you’ll find content that you’ll want to share later so select a system in which you can easily access your content gems in the future.

Upload content to DropBox, use Evernote or keep a notepad handy (paper or electronic). Doesn’t matter if you keep fortune cookie messages in a shoe box. Never let what you deem to be a valuable piece of content escape. Keep it somewhere handy and build a cache of it.

Find a Scheduler You Like

There are many options to help you pre-schedule posts. Scheduling is important because you can’t spend your whole day posting, nor do you want to be that person who bombards others with a firehose worth of content once a day.

Find a scheduler you’re comfortable with. Many systems allow you to control when you post and often give you the ability to do it several days out. One of the most basic is Buffer. It allows you to schedule across multiple platforms. It offers a free and paid version, but even the paid is only about $10 a month.

The most popular is Hootsuite, and while I use it occasionally because it offers greater capabilities than Buffer, I do prefer Buffer’s minimalist design. Hootsuite’s interface is busy but allows you to monitor in real time. If you’re developing relationships, this is a powerful ability to have.

Multi-task

I’m not telling you to turn off the TV when you get home, but there is no reason if you’re “vegging out” that you can’t use that time to schedule a few posts for the next day. Don’t let mindless tasks, like television watching, steal your productivity.

“Steal” Time

We all have moments where we’re waiting – before doctor’s appointments, before meetings, on the phone, while the kids finish up with practice, you get the idea. Many of us fill this time with other mindless tasks like scanning pictures of our friends’ pets on Facebook. Instead, use this time to be productive by finding content, scheduling it, or responding to people on social media.

I am a firm believer in scheduling posts but the interacting cannot be scheduled, so use this stolen time to reach out and connect with people.

Look for Content Everywhere

Content ideas are everywhere – airplane magazines, overheard conversations, commercials, popular TV shows, as well as all over social media. Use the many messages that bombard you daily to find gems you’d like to share. Retweets are only the beginning.

Take Pictures

Along that line, take pictures of everything that moves you and some ordinary things that don’t. Pictures you take can be used in blogs, memes, and image quotes without concern over cost or copyright. Links with pics are more likely to get shared and clicked. Encourage staff to do the same.

You don’t need huge chunks of time to make connections on social media. The key to success in this area is the same in most business- or relationship-building. Give people what they want/find valuable; do so without expectation. Become a resource for them and help them. Be consistent in your efforts so they know they can count on you. This takes minutes a day. Schedule good content and steal time for interacting. Then watch your relationships grow as people share your resources with others.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

6 Ways to Make the Most of Small Business Week

National Small Business Week 2017 is right around the corner… literally as we turn over our calendars to start May. Now, you’re probably asking yourself how you can support our local small business in Sarasota (at least that’s what I’m hoping you’re asking yourself!). We’ve come up with six simple ways for you get involved in National Small Business Week, April 30 through May 6, whether you own and operate a small business, employed by one, or just enjoy shopping locally!

Run Small Business Week Promotions

Need some inspiration? Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Reward Loyalty: offer coupons and discounts to your most loyal customers during this week. You can add coupons to your Chamber Directory listing here!

Seasonal Themed Promotions: make this week extra relevant by making spring/summer and outdoor items on sale or by offering warm weather services at a discount (such as A/C Repair or Landscaping).

Special Holiday & Fun Observance Promotions: Get ahead of the game by making Mother’s Day (5/14) & Father’s Day (6/18) gift packages or coupons with purchase that can be redeemed on fun observance days like Bike to Work Day (5/18) or Martini Day (6/19).

Support Other Local Businesses

Take a couple minutes on your way to work to stop into a local small business, snap a photo to share on social media and tag them in it (also, send your photos to communications@sarasotachamber.com so we can share your photos, too!).  Offer special discounts or service to other Small Business Owners. Strengthening your support for another small business will strengthen your messaging to your target audience and will encourage them to support you, too.

Don’t Dip Your Toe In, Jump In

Showing up is 50% of winning. Don’t just promote the week, participate in the week! Google is hosting free webinars and workshops all throughout the week focused on topics important to small businesses. So remember, there is an educational component to the week, as well.

Team Up

Team up with other local businesses to cross-promote each other. Expand your reach by hosting a joint sale, offer to put their business cards or coupons in your storefront for yours in theirs. For maximum success, think of a complementary business to partner with, like fitness centers with nutrition stores or hair salons with boutiques, for example.

Update Your Listings

With more focus on small business during this week, in addition to any promotions you may run, you’re likely to see increased traffic to your website and social media accounts. It’s so simple to update your listings. This means your Chamber Listing, Google listing, Yelp, Social Media Pages (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.), need to have accurate information displayed for customers to find you.

As a small business owner, the last thing you want is a person learning of a promotion you’re running, but not being able to find your business or get the information to be able to make a purchase. Don’t let misinformation deter your customers!

Leverage Your Social Media

SOCIAL MEDIA IS FREE! Use it. There are countless ways to utilize social media to your benefit business during Small Business Week!

Use popular hashtags like #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessWeek.

Follow the U.S. Small Business Administration on social media for updates during the week: Twitter @SBAgov and Facebook facebook.com/sbagov

Create a custom hashtag for your business or a promotion you are running.

Tag neighboring small businesses and use local hashtags to spark conversation.

Establish a theme for your Small Business Week social media posts.

While your out shopping at your favorite Chamber Member small businesses, snap a picture and send it to Communications@SarasotaChamber.com to be featured on our social media!

Encouraging awareness, building community, and expressing your passion for small business is the mission for National Small Business Week! Showing passion for small business will encourage your target audience to support you and other small businesses, as well. Have fun with the week and remember to put your money where your home is!

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To search The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Directory, please click here.


Partnering to Build Your Business

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

1945 Fruitville Road | Sarasota, FL 34236

http://www.SarasotaChamber.com

From the Chair’s Corner: Small Business is Big Business

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is committed to the support of business in

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Chair | George McGonagill | Questar Construction

the greater Sarasota region. As is common in most communities, your Chamber is certainly reflective of the community that invests in it. For Sarasota, that means that your Chamber is comprised mainly of businesses that carry less than 75 full-time employees. In fact, 80% of your membership is made up of those businesses.

Having worked for one of the largest employers in the region, Sarasota County Schools, and now as an entrepreneur with a small business, Questar Construction, I can say with certainty that the Chamber strongly supports the full spectrum of business sizes here in our area. However, it is the small business that drives so much of the economic engine in Sarasota and within your Chamber. It may come as a surprise to many that more than 60% of businesses in the United States have less than five employees. Furthermore, over 30% of workers in the United States are employed by businesses with less than 100 employees.

To be certain, regardless of size, business isn’t an easy endeavor. However, it is the small-business start-up that perhaps best embodies the spirit of entrepreneurialism. Roughly half of all small businesses will close within their first four years. That alone may speak to the importance of community support for small business. Those making the trek forward are our friends, family, and neighbors. It is critical for all layers of the community to support their efforts in hopes that our half is the half that succeeds, that our community be the place where small business beats the average. That’s not just something that would be nice, it is something we should strive for.

The Chamber is focused on promoting, supporting, and connecting the small businesses in our region. We are proud to include our annual Small Business Awards as a bridge across the entire spectrum of activities within those areas of focus. As we look to celebrating excellence in the small business community, I am always reminded of the fact that small business is big business in Sarasota. While your Chamber takes the opportunity to award small business excellence one day each year, it provides support for those businesses non-stop, all year long.

George McGonagill

Chair of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

President of Questar Construction, Inc.


The 2017 Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards will take place on Friday, June 2 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. The event is presented by The Herald-Tribune Media Group.

Save Your Seat for Small Business Awards!

Meet Our Members: Greater Sales Growth

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Give us a brief history of your business/organization.

Greater Sales Growth is the product of almost 30 Years specializing in Sales and Business Management. I have sold $30+Million in Products and Services. Along the way, I perfected many strategies that consistently produce explosive sales results. Using these methods I have repeatedly helped businesses grow 10% – 25% annually.

What are your business/organization’s core values, goals, and overall mission?
We help Small Businesses achieve financial success, peace of mind and a bright future.
How long have you been in business in the Greater Sarasota Community?
16 MONTHS
In a nutshell, what does your business/organization provide its customers/clients?
Greater Sales Growth | The Sales Experts | We Increase Sales Fast
Complete this sentence: “When a customer/client walks into my business/office, they can expect…”
The Most Experienced and Accomplished Sales Experts.
What makes your business/organization unique?
Greater Sales Growth is unique because of its primary focus on Small Businesses. We give Small Businesses, Big Company Resources. We use the same strategies that Fortune 500 Companies have used for decades. Using our methods any business can achieve DOUBLE DIGIT ANNUAL GROWTH
What benefit attracted you to The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce?
The Chamber does a great job supporting small businesses. Since our primary clients are Small Businesses it just made perfect sense for me to join.
Is your company/organization involved in any community/civic activities?
Giving back to the Community is a very high priority. We offer FREE SERVICES TO many SMALL BUSINESSES that are seriously in need providing expert guidance, mentoring and support.
Where do you see your organization in five years?
A Book is in the works. I also hope to add more experts to our Team. We want to help 50 – 100 small businesses in the next 5 years
What are three things your business/organization can’t live without?
No Business can live without (People + Process + Planning) As well as… (Tools + Tactics + Training). We make all of these critical business components work together seamlessly. That is our focus every day!

For more information about Greater Sales Growth, visit their website, follow Show Management on Facebook and Twitter.

Your business or organization could be featured in The Chamber Buzz. “Meet Our Members” is a member spotlight feature on The Chamber Buzz blog and e-newsletter, showcasing our member businesses, their products, and services. To be considered for the spotlight, simply complete this form.

2017 Small Business Awards Finalists Announced!

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On Friday, June 2, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce will honor six businesses at the 2017 Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m and one as Top Honor Small Business of the Year.

In its 27th year, The Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards recognizes member businesses and individuals with locally owned and operated business in six categories. Named in honor of the late Frank G. Berlin, Sr., whose legacy in the community and untiring support of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce epitomized the hopes and dreams of contemporary business entrepreneurs. We thank the Berlin Foundation for lending his name and financial support to our Small Business Awards program.

This year’s finalists include:

Health & Wellness Organization of the Year
Sponsored by: Lakewood Ranch Medical Center 
Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center
Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota
Thomas A. Bowles, D.D.S., P.A.
Hospitality & Tourism Organization of the Year
Sponsored by: Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport
Marina Jack – Marina Operations
Mixon Fruit Farms
Tableseide Restaurant Group
Non-Profit Organization of the Year
Sponsored by: Kerkering, Barberio & Co.
Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC)
Suncoast Blood Bank
Van Wezel Foundation, Inc.
Products & Services Business of the Year
*Award Sponsorship Available*
Canada Med Services
Coast to Coast Pools
Gilbert Design Build
Professional Services Business of the Year
Sponsored by: Hyatt Regency Sarasota
Caldwell Trust Company
J.E. Charlotte Construction Corp.
Hall Architects, P.A.
Retail Business of the Year
Sponsored by: Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
DutchCrafters
Millennium Shutters
Sunshine Baskets
The Top Honor Small Business of the Year will be selected from the winners of each category. The Top Honor Small Business of the Year is presented by the
Herald-Tribune Media Group.


For Sponsorship and Ticketing information, please visit our website or contact Brittany Lamont at (941) 556-4040.