Author Archives: Bloomington Chamber Staff

7 Steps to Productive Business Use of Social Media

forbesForbes posted and article written by Ric Dragon, an expert on online marketing, about the best ways that a business can use its social media. Here is our summarized version of the article.

1. Focus on desired outcome first

Figure out what your “platform” is. Is it to increase brand awareness, lead generation, service and support, management? And make sure you focus on it. Pick one or two

2. Incorporate brand personality and voice

Make sure that all team members that administer your social media use the same voice. Customers these days want a “humanized” voice.

Ex: NPR has a twitter account called “today in 1960″ that tweets headlines from the corresponding day in 1960. How unique is that?!

3. Find the smallest segments of your constituents

Dont make your tweets, Facebook posts or what have you so general. Try to create a community that will engage with you and feels a connection with your company.

Here’s an example, Lady Gaga refers to her fans on twitter as “Little Monsters” and she is “Mother Monster.”Of course we do not suggest you calling your customers this, but you get the idea.

4. Identify the communities for these micro-segments

This aligns a lot with number 3. The best communities become your best advocates.

5. Identify the influencers of these communities

In the generation of social media, feedback is immediate compared to the old days of waiting months for results. Use this to your advantage and spend those months “influencing the influencers”

6. Create an action plan with metrics

Create a plan that aligns with your goals. The most common/useful plans include a listening plan, channel plan, SEO plan etc. Also make sure that you are using social media to build relationships and to start conversations.

7. Iteratively execute and measure results

You cannot expect to get the results you want immediately. So you have to make sure to tweak and adjust your plans according to the results you get. And its not something you do once.



The Strides That HYPE and The Franklin Initiative Program are Taking

MicrosoftRecently Microsoft and the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship posted an article talking about the benefits of entrepreneurship education for students.

We might just be a fly over state in the United States but the Chamber is proud to say that here in our little college town we have programs that mirror the essential characteristics talked about in the article.

Teaching young people the skills

Microsoft and DFE(Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship) stress the importance of teaching students the skills that encourage them to “take initiative, explore opportunities, and be enterprising.” They refer to these skills as entrepreneurship skills(no surprise there) and are not only useful for these young people and children in starting their own companies, but also helps them develop fundamental values that drive them in whatever path they choose in the future.

hype logo for wordpressBloomington  version: As many of you know, the Chamber has a program called HYPE which focuses specifically on young professionals and teaching them how to network, communicate with others effectively, as well as providing them with general tips on how to manage finances in order to be successful.

Businesses involvement

According to Microsoft, the corporate world has an important role in educating the young entrepreneurs of tomorrow. The key to success is bridging practice and theory which can only be achieved with real live involvement. DFE and Microsoft offers guest speakers, jury members and even business idea competitions in their program overseas.

tmp_447_8-31-2009_101251_Bloomington version: Here at the Chamber we might not have a partner with a name as big as Microsoft to help with our youth. However, we have The Franklin Initiative program which provides simulation programs that show a link between academics and salaries, job fairs and job shadowing with local businesses in the area, as well as a Speakers Bureau which focuses on real-life glimpses into the world of work.

What can you do?

If you are a business involved with the Chamber we encourage you to find ways to become more involved with the young entrepreneurs that are walking the halls of our high schools and middle schools today. This window of opportunity can be the difference between the struggling economy of today and the thriving economy of tomorrow.

For more information about the topics talked about today:

The article:


The Franklin Initiative:

Kudos from one of our Community Partners About hYPe!

We at the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce are very prohype logo for wordpressud of our hYPe (Helping Young Professionals Excel) program. It was started a few years ago as a way to engage our community’s young professionals, helping to deepen their roots here in Bloomington. As part of that program, we honor ten young professionals under the age of 40 at our “10 Under 40″ Awards. Not only is it a fun evening, but incredibly inspiring too as we see the achievements of the ten honorees.

You can’t blame us for being proud.   It’s a great program with resounding benefits for all involved. But what makes us even more proud is when others in our community take note and publicly applaud the program too. That’s what Ron Walker, President of the Bloomington Economic Development Corp., did recently. He used his Sunday column to talk about hYPe and the 10 Under 40 honorees.

We’d “proudly” like to share Ron’s words with you:

I’d like to use this month’s update to congratulate this year’s 10 Under 40 winners and encourage support for “helping Young Professionals excel” (hYPe), a program of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce that provides professional development and personal enrichment opportunities for young professionals.

The importance and role of hYPe and specifically, the annual 10 Under 40 awards, can easily be underestimated. However, if you look closely at what is happening among this growing group of young professionals you will find yourself inspired and impressed, and it will give you confidence in the quality and character of Bloomington’s growing millennial population.

I previously thought of this cohort of our population as comprised of future leaders.  I’ve since come to realize that many of them are already leading. Besides working here, they volunteer, serve on boards and commissions, organize events, and help new young professionals integrate into the community.

Helping people integrate into the community and feel welcome is a valuable and needed activity. A ready and talented labor pool is the critical factor affecting our economic success. Greater Bloomington’s ability to attract and retain talented young adults directly influences our capacity to be a creative, innovative and entrepreneurial community. It also affects the success of Monroe County’s existing employers in creating new jobs.

Knowing we have hYPE, and that our community recognizes the contributions and value of young professionals, gives the BEDC another resource to promote Bloomington. It is also another reason why greater Bloomington is a great place to live and work.

The BEDC’s approach to economic development is aimed at improving job opportunities, creating new wealth, increasing the tax base and serving the long-term vision of the community. We can be reached by visiting our website at

Thanks, Ron! We couldn’t have said it better!

Seven Incredible Women to be Honored with a Women Excel Bloomington Award

Seven local women have been chosen to be honored at the upcoming Women Excel Bloomington (WEB) Awards Lunch hosted by The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. This event is scheduled for Tuesday, July 9 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Liberty Ballroom in Bloomington.  Doors open at 11:00 a.m. for registration.

Those to be honored at the Women Excel Bloomington Awards Luncheon are:


  • Lisa Fulkerson – Children’s Organ Transplant Association, Vice President & C.F.O
  • Melanie Hart – TASUS Corporation, President
  • Beth Lodge-Rigal – Women Writing for Change Bloomington & Writing for Change, Owner/Founder & Creative Director
  • Natalia Rayzor – IU Credit Union, Employment Development Officer
  • Jean Willey Scallon – Bloomington Meadows Hospital, Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director
  • Melinda Seader – World Wide Automotive, Director of Marketing
  • Alisa Wright – BioConvergence, LLC., Chief Executive Officer & Compliance Officer

The honorees were selected based on their outstanding leadership and spirit in both the community and/or in their organization.  Like past awardees, this year’s recipients come from all areas of the community – both business and not-for-profit,  and from all levels within their organizations. They will be featured in the July issue of BizNet.

“This group of women exemplify the very definition of leadership and have made lasting contributions to their organizations and the community.  Their stories inspire and serve as wonderful examples for others – which is why they were selected to be honored this year,” said Kelley Brown, director of marketing & public relations for The Chamber.

This year’s keynote speaker is Jennifer Browning Holmes, founder and president of Integrating Woman Leaders, Inc., a WBE Certified Women Business and management consulting firm focused on helping women in all aspects of business.  Holmes is a dynamic executive coach who uses her more than 25 years of corporate and teaching experience to develop women’s leadership through empowerment, support and connections.

Brown adds, “Along with the examples set by our seven honorees, Jennifer’s message will resonate with our attendees as well.  We are honored that she will be with us on July 9th to reinforce the significant contributions women make in business and the community.”

This is the fourth year for the event which is expected to draw more than 250 people in attendance.  Cost is only $37 per person, and $450 for a table sponsorship. Advanced registration is required to attend the event, and space is limited. To learn more about the 2013 Women Excel Bloomington Awards or to reserve your seat, visit The Chamber’s website at or call the Chamber at (812) 336- 6381.


Our take on Mashable’s “5 Tactics to Grow Your Email List”

Mashable recently shared an article about “5 Tactics to Grow Your Email List” from Mike Holtz from ClickZ. We loved the five tactics and hope you can use them to grow your business or organization’s email contact list. Holtz did note that it is important to aim for ” your email list growth, in a safe, permission-based way.”

Tactics include:

1. Make It Easy to Opt In on Your Website

Be sure that your organization’s website homepage or landing page has a clearly marked way for individuals to opt in for your emails or newsletters. An eye-catching opt in form is better than a “Sign up for our Newsletter” button that takes individuals away from your homepage to a new screen.

2. Don’t Stop at Just One

Consider placing additional opt in forms around your website. Some individuals might be drawn to a form placed at the top of a website while others head to the footer for helpful information. Multiple opt in form locations gives more opportunities for point of entry.

3. Collect Emails at Your Stores

A simple contact sheet at checkout gives customers an additional option to opt in and stay in the loop with your organization.

4. Make It Mobile

“Don’t ask users to fill out lots of form fields. Keep the form short and simple. You can collect more information later in your welcome series using progressive profiling.”

Smartphone users will often skip an online form on their phone if it it too lengthy or not optimized for small mobile screens. Keep smartphone users in mind when designing a mobile version of your opt in form.

5. Remember Your Social Networks

“Consider using social login, also known as social sign-in. This uses existing login information from social networks such as Facebook or Twitter to sign in to a website without having to create a separate login account specifically for your website.”

Some users would rather log in with an existing account, such as Facebook or Twitter, rather than create another username and password they have to remember. Make things simple and streamlined by offering social login to opt in to your email list.

How to Use Pinterest: Tips from the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.

Start “Pinning” things you find “Pinteresting” on Pinterest!

What is Pinterest?

Launched in March of 2010, Pinterest is an online bulletin board where users collect and categorize images by “pinning” them onto various boards. Pinterest can be used to discover new recipes, create an online wish list, find inspiration for weddings or other events, plan trips, showcase blog content or share photos and information about an organization or businesses. Users collect and share images that they find interesting or “Pinteresting.”

How to join and use Pinterest:

1) Visit to join Pinterest.

You can create an personal Pinterest account using an existing Twitter or Facebook profile, or with your email address.

(If you are creating a Pinterest account for your business, company or non-profit organization, be sure to sign up for a Pinterest business account.)

2) Follow at least 5 boards on Pinterest.

Browse categories from Animals to DIY & Crafts and Health & Fitness to Technology and select boards that look interesting to you. The more boards you follow, the more new and interesting content you will be able to see.

3) Confirm your email address with Pinterest.

Check your email for a link to verify your Pinterest account and login information.

4) Start learning the basics of Pinterest.

Pin – a single image or video that you share on Pinterest. You can pin images from around the web or upload images from your computer.

Board – a collection of pins that relate to one another. You can have public boards, which anyone on Pinterest can view or secret boards, which are only able to be viewed by you.

Follow – following someone on Pinterest allows you to subscribe to their pins. You can follow individual boards or every board a person has.

Home Feed – the constantly updating visual list of pins from the people you follow.

Pin Etiquette – Pinterest outlines “a few simple rules to help you pin with care.”

  • Be respectful.
  • Be yourself.
  • Give credit.
  • Stay alert (Pinterest frowns upon hateful pins or pins that contain obscene images. If you see a questionable pin, click “Report Pin” to flag the pin for official review.)

5) Get your Pinterest Goodies.

Pinterest offers apps on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. With the Pintrest app, you can pin things from your web-enabled laptop, tablet or smartphone.

The “Pin It” button allows you to easily pin things you find on the internet by saving the “Pin It” button to your web browser’s toolbar.

6) Engage with the Pinterest community.

Upload unique images that show what you or your organization can do, say or create. Comment on other people’s pins that you find inspirational or helpful. Repin content that you find interesting to your own boards.

Check out existing Pinterest accounts from Bloomington organizations and businesses:



Proactive Crisis Management

You find out that a video has been uploaded to YouTube that refutes your product. What do you do next? Where do you start?

No matter how much effort you put into increasing your brand perception, incidents may occur that challenge your business’s product or service.

An example of such a media crisis occurred in 2004, when a BIC Pen brought the company, Kryptonite Locks, to its knees. A video of a BIC Pen breaking a Kryptonite lock went viral after its update to the site YouTube.  Kryptonite Locks didn’t respond publicly on social media networks until a week after the original YouTube post was published. A week equals eternity on social media. Thus, it isn’t surprising that critcis bombarded the company. Kryptonite Locks could’ve lessened the blow of the incident if it had a social media disaster plan in place, and acknowledged the situation sooner.

Nowadays, social media allows issues to become viral. So why wait until after a crisis occurs to take action?

Think proactively and plan for a crisis before the incident occurs.

The first step of instituting a disaster plan is ongoing monitoring and tracking of the sentiments of customers and stakeholders. Listening long before a situation escalates may help avert the crisis from even staring or spiraling out of control. If Kryptonite Locks monitored its social media network, the company could’ve acknowledged the negative sentiment and decreased the media attention.

Possible software and tools a business may want to utilize to monitore its social media platforms are: Klout, Peer Index, Alltop, Ad Age Power150, and Twitalyzer

Additionally, institute strategies for different channels that may cause the crisis. Anticipate situations that may occur, and know where the occurrence is covered in the company policy. Actions cause reactions, which in turn cause another action. Therefore, you must have a system in place to keep actions and reactions positive and moving toward a resolution.

When making a social media crisis plan:

  1. List all of the brand’s communication channels
  2. Pre-craft unique messages for each channel
  3. Then decide what messages are appropriate for certain situations and what channels would be better to use

Although planning for all possibilities may be taxing, it will prove worthwhile in the end. 

Adapted from “Social media and public relations: Eight new practices for the professional” by D Breakenridge


3 Tips for Follow-ups after a Business Expo

One of the biggest business expo mistakes is not following up with contacts and leads after the event. Instead of falling into the “I will follow up with them eventually” mindset, be proactive and follow up within 24 to 48 hours after the expo.

Keep these three follow-up tips in mind after you attend the 2013 Bloomington Business & Technology EXPO on April 18:

1)      Ensure multiple points of contact. If you call a lead and get put through to voicemail, send a quick email to make sure they have your information.

2)      Offer to set up a face to face meeting. A midday coffee or lunch meeting is one effective way to clearly communicate with your lead. You can start to build a business relationship by listening to what your lead’s needs and problems are and by offering specific ways your business can help with their specific needs.

3)      Do not be discouraged by an uninterested lead. Not every lead you come across will immediately feel drawn to your company. Someone who is not in need of your business’ help or service today might eventually need your assistance a few months from now. Even if a lead seems uninterested, it is important to hang on to contact information. You can even send a quick email three or four months later to check in on them, see how their business is doing and check if their needs or problems have changed.

Adapted from “MLM Leads From a Business Expo – Step By Step Instructions” by Jeremy Howie.


Use Google Tools to prepare for the 2013 Bloomington Business & Technology EXPO

Preparing for a business expo can seem like a time-consuming, labor intensive & expensive process. You can save time & money by using a few free online tools from Google to prepare your business for April 18th’s 2013 Bloomington Business & Technology EXPO. While it may be surprising to some, Google offers much more than just a simple way to search the Internet. Google offers many easy to use free online services that your business should be utilizing.

Google Places

Google Places is a free way to get your business’ information out on the web. Google hosts local “place pages” for businesses. You can claim your business’ free Google Places page and load it with contact info, coupons, videos and photos. Google Places also has a section where you can collect and view customer reviews about your business.

Learn more about Google Places.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a smart way to save your important documents online and instantly have access to them anywhere you have Internet access. Google Drive is essentially a free 5 GB virtual flash drive. Never lose an important business file again with Google Drive. Google Drive also offers an online word processor similar to Microsoft Word for online document creation and collaboration.

Learn more about Google Drive.

Google Forms

Google Forms, a component of Google Drive, is a free and simple way to create surveys and setup forms to collect contact info. Your business can setup a Google form and have it open on a laptop at the expo. Individuals who stop by your booth can type in their contact info and it will instantly be saved online and can even be emailed to you.

Learn more about Google Forms.

Google Drawing

Google Drawing is a free online tool that allows you to create drawings, charts and graphics from images on your computer, text, simple shapes, or freehand designs. You can create graphs and web-friendly images for your business and share them online, by email or print them out.

Learn more about Google Drawing.

Bonus tool: Google Fusion Tables

For the tech-savvy, Google Fusion Tables is a tool to help you get the most out of your raw data. Fusion Tables enables you to create interactive graphs and eye-pleasing visual displays of data. For instance, you can take contact information you collect at the expo and use Fusion Tables to display it in interactive charts and graphs.

Learn more about Google Fusion Tables.

 2013 Bloomington Business & Technology EXPO

This year’s business-to-business event will include an emphasis on technology. Be sure to attend the Kick-off Booth Registration Event on Feb. 20 at KRC Banquets & Catering from 9:00 a.m.-1:00p.m. to secure your business’ spot at the expo. The free Kick-off Booth Registration Event will feature three separate drawings to determine the order of  booth registration. Doors open at 9:00 a.m. with the first drawing scheduled to take place at 9:30 am. Those exhibitors that arrive after the close of the first drawing will be entered into the second drawing, which is scheduled for 10:15 am. Finally, the third drawing will take place at 10:45 a.m. for all those who might have missed the first two opportunities. For more information, visit the Chamber’s website: