, ,

40 Under 40: Colleen Chase

By Connect Staff, May 4, 2017 for Connect Association

Colleen Chase, 30, works in Seattle as senior account manager at Stewart Transportation Solutions Inc. As a 2017 40 Under 40 honoree, Chase discusses her passion for the events industry.

What I do: I plan, coordinate and execute transportation logistics for conferences and events all around the country for up to 50,000 attendees. We bridge the gap between event planners and the transportation industry. Our success is built upon strong and authentic relationships with our clients, vendor partners and staff. It’s my goal to make the attendee experience better through thoughtful transportation planning, as it is the first and last impression of an event or conference.

How I got here: I stumbled into working for this company and ended up falling in love. Since then, I have gone from contactor to program manager to senior program manager and, most recently, senior account manager.

My greatest career accomplishment: I came into this business nine years ago with no experience in the events industry. I was very shy and introverted. Today, I am managing event budgets of over $1 million with teams of up to 125 people at a time.

Impressive stats: Last year, I saved our clients $90,000 on four large programs. The transportation component on an event is fluid, so I always try to find creative solutions to save our clients money.

A specific improvement I’ve made: A few years ago, I worked with one of our contract staff to develop a live ridership tool for our clients. They were blown away we could capture attendee bus ridership as it happened and watch it on their smartphones or laptops. Next, I was tasked by leadership to work with our web developer to make our beta Live Count program even better. Today’s version is amazing, and our clients love it.

What I’m working on: I am excited to manage several complex conferences over the next year with 20,000 to 30,000 attendees. Moving them from hotels to multiple venues is a challenge, but I love a good puzzle!

What I do outside of work: I love to do jigsaw puzzles, play board games and travel.

Senior Account Manager, Colleen Chase, with Brandon Terpstra, Director of National Accounts, at Connect Association’s 40 Under 40 Breakfast in New Orleans, LA. #ConnectMP

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Celebrating 25 Years

, ,

Small Business Social Media Reality Check Part 2

By Liz DeJesus, Marketing Manager

Welcome Back (hopefully)!

In my previous post, I touched on the social media dilemma I experienced as a time-strapped employee of a small business. I’ve come up with some advice that I hope you will find helpful as you embark on your own social media journey.

Let’s start off with a brief and simplified summary of what I think the experts would say a proper B2B social media strategy should include.

Develop Social Media Strategy – should include goals, platforms, audience, messaging, metrics, ROI, campaigns and content development.

Unique Content Curation– can be in the form of blog posts, giveaways, freebies, contests, videos, etc.

Create and/or Update all Platforms – for all platforms, update header graphics, descriptions, contact information, links, etc.

Create Publishing Schedule – create calendar based on unique content and known company milestones, product releases, developments.

If you think you can do all of this, then you most certainly should. The experts will tell you that you should do all of the above and then some. However, my reality was a bit different and I think many of you might find yours to be a bit different as well.

I was finding it hard to understand where our company fit in with all of the guidelines. Our target audience isn’t huge – meeting planners don’t make up a huge portion of the population – and we provide a pretty niche service for the industry (a service that doesn’t get a lot of attention!). That being said, pursuing a strategy that encompassed all of the “right” things to do seemed pretty irrational.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about small business social media.

Get Staff on Board

This can be a doozy. Many businesses are blessed with a tech-savvy staff who are fully engaged with social media. They understand the different platforms, how they work and the languages of each. Then there are the businesses made up of folks who do not view social media as a priority. And of course, there are the businesses who are mix of both.

Regardless of where your company falls on this spectrum, it is important for your entire staff to have a basic understanding of social media as it relates to them professionally. We had a meeting at the beginning of this social endeavor and explained how social media can benefit our company and our bottom line. We connected the dots for everyone and made sure they were comfortable with our direction. The more they understand, the more likely they are to get excited and provide valuable, share-worthy information with you.

This was incredibly important for our team because I am pretty dependent on them to provide me with content. They are on the front line of what we do. They have the stories, the pictures and they are the essence of what we do and who we are as a company.

Know Your Voice

Figure out what your social media voice is going to be and stick with it. Is it informative? Playful? Funny? Direct? Serious? A mix? Regardless of what your voice sounds like, try to keep it consistent. Think about it, would you want to befriend a person whose personality changed from one day to the next? Nope. Not up for that roller coaster ride.

It’s About YOUR Brand

That’s right, when it comes to social media, your business is sort of a big deal. That means that while it’s important to connect with your audience, success is directly linked to how you (the individual tasked with the company’s social media) connect with social media. Do you know the brand? If you don’t understand the heart and soul of what the company stands for, what your coworkers do on a daily basis and what your industry is like, then this just won’t work.

I have found it incredibly helpful to get on the ground with our program managers. I have worked the curb with them, stood in the rain with them, put in 15 hour days with them, worked with clients and bus companies, and seen just how hard they work to make our company successful. Because of this, I have a much better understanding of our company and our brand.

Be Realistic

Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t do it all. The most important piece of advice I can give to anyone starting out in social media is to figure out what works best for you. Spend some time deciding which social media platforms you want to focus on and determine exactly how much time you can dedicate to each. You should probably know going into it that you will experience some guilt and feel like you could be doing more, if there were only more hours in the day! You’ve got a lot on your plate and spreading yourself too thin won’t help anyone.

Social media is important but it can be overwhelming. Remember, you are a human being who is doing your best with the resources at hand. Pay attention to the trends and what’s going on but don’t let what someone else says define your social media strategy. Be original and try not to be too afraid to take the plunge. Social media should be FUN!

,

Small Business Social Media Reality Check: Part 1

By Liz DeJesus, Marketing Manager

My name is Liz. I have been working for Stewart Transportation for almost a year and I am the company’s social media/marketing/digital/everything-in-between manager.

That being said, I have a confession to make – I knew little to nothing about B2B social media when I started this job. There. It’s out there.

Of course no one wants to publicly admit they have no idea what they’re doing, but sometimes we just have to get real! The truth is, I don’t think I’m alone in my ignorance, but I have found the social mediasphere to be a pretty intimidating landscape and the enlightened experts don’t exactly go out of their way to welcome newcomers. This perception, which is entirely my own, leads me to believe that there may very well be a large swath of folks out there who don’t feel comfortable asking the really rudimentary questions – the questions whose answers should serve as the foundation for anyone’s social media strategy. I believe that for every small business out there rocking their social media, there are just as many considering how to enter the fray and come out on the other side…alive.

I feel your pain! I know your resources are limited, you don’t have enough staff or time. You may not know the difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Profile. You’re probably intimidated by Twitter lingo and you may not even know what a hashtag is. Heck, you probably don’t even have a marketing plan, and if you do, it hasn’t been updated since 2003. Truth.

You may not know a lot about social media, but you do know it’s important. It’s the future! Everyone is doing it and you feel like you should too. I get it.

When you finally make the decision to take on the social media monster and begin researching, your brain starts to shut down. HOLY OVERLOAD. The very idea of deciding where to start is terrifying. There is an endless amount of information on the subject and it can often be conflicting. One website says one thing, one website says another, only post during certain times, certain days, don’t do this, do that, have a publishing schedule, make sure you have a strategy, don’t retweet without a quote, have your own hashtag, measure your ROI, create your own content, engage your audience… The list goes on. And what’s most baffling is that it all seems to be geared towards a mythical group of small businesses with a full-time social media staff.

Let me assure you that I went through this same roller coaster of emotions. I knew we needed it but I also knew that to do it the “right” way would dominate my time. On top of that, I personally only used Facebook and Instagram. I was TERRIFIED of Twitter and LinkedIn bored me to tears (still does if truth be told). But I was the company’s available resource so I did my best to dive into the abyss.

I started my research at the mecca of all things social media: Hubspot. If you don’t know Hubspot, you really should. They have an endless catalog of helpful templates, articles and so much more available for FREE! (With the exception of a few sales calls here and there.) It’s a great resource for establishing a current understanding of social media basics. Again, it’s still a lot to take in.

Using what I learned, my initial strategy was to play exactly by the rules set forth by the social media gods. It was probably around the middle of May 2014 when I decided to wave the white flag of surrender. I was exhausted. In between redesigning our website, finalizing ads, developing a new budget, designing new templates and marketing collateral, I did NOT have time to meticulously plan, execute and monitor our social media the way the experts said I should.

I decided that if this was going to work at all, it would have to be done my way, based on my resources and our company’s unique needs. I had to abandon the experts and embark on a journey all my own.

If this dilemma sounds all too familiar, you’ll definitely want to tune in for part 2 and I’ll share exactly what I’ve learned, how to get started and my tips for defining your own social media success.

What’s the Deal with the Penguin?

by Karen Robbins, President, Stewart Transportation Solutions

Adult Adele Penguins Grouped On Iceberg

If you’ve spent some time on our website, you may have noticed a few penguins here and there. No, it’s not an accident. Penguins are a part of our company culture. In fact, there’s quite a story behind our relationship with penguins.

It all started a few years ago when I came across a company that specializes in employee recognition, Baudville. They have some really cool stuff on their website, but it was the many different teamwork pins that caught my eye. Each one had a story, but the one that stuck with me the most was the story of the Australian Fairy Penguin.

The flightless fairy penguin of Australia stands less than a foot tall and is clumsy on land where the fox is its natural enemy. Alone, one penguin wouldn’t survive for long. So after each day, in the water, they gather where the surf meets the shore waiting until the last penguin joins them. Then, shoulder to shoulder, they march up the beach to their burrows. They support each other, they rely on each other and everyone except the fox wins. We’re a stronger team because of you.

I immediately thought about our team and how hard they work. I thought about how sometimes, the things they do together as a team are so enormous (moving 10,000 people five times in one 22 hour day) and challenging (moving 9,000 people in over 200+buses to Red Rocks Amphitheater in the Rocky Mountain Foothills) and in such undesirable conditions (heat over 110 degrees; cold under -10 degrees and rain & storms that, yes, brings tornadoes and microbursts) that they are a lot like the Australian fairy penguin. Or, any penguin for that matter!

Penguins are known for their loyalty, their devotion to their clan and their ability to create friendships for life. It doesn’t hurt that they are cute and almost always, without a doubt, make people smile when they see them. That’s our team, too.

I gave out the penguin pins to our entire staff that year. I told them the story and how I thought of each of them as penguins because of their trust and loyalty and their friendships to each other, to us and our clients. I give the pins to the newbies we hire and to people we meet that want to be a part of our culture – even if just for a little while.

And for a silly reason or maybe a really great reason – it stuck. Penguins were suddenly everywhere and the team started sending videos and pictures of penguins they saw somewhere on the road or shopping on a Saturday afternoon. Penguins are on wine bottles, on coffee cups, clothes and jewelry!

The penguin became a symbol of our culture – the little bit of glue that is a fun reminder that we don’t leave anyone behind and we always help each other out. And, if that doesn’t happen for one reason or another – we call each other on it and remind ourselves that penguins stick together through thick and thin.

The penguin has come to symbolize so many things that are good, happy and right in the world for us and our team. And don’t you think that we can all use a little bit of that every day?

So, that’s the deal with the penguin!

#STSPENGUINSRULE.