Chambers of Commerce : Summary from May 26th, 2009

We talked a lot about the adventures in Chamber of Commerce this week on SBBuzz.  Locally many small businesses can gain a lot from getting involved in their Chamber of Commerce efforts.  We talked with several Chamber members about how they are using social media to reach members, organize events and tell small business owners about what’s going locally.

If you’ve always wondered what value you can find as a small business at your local Chamber and what they are doing with social media, this chat is bound to lead to some great ideas for small businesses and local communities alike.

If you have a small business question that you need answered or knowledge to share with others, here’s when, where and how to participate!

  • Next buzz-up is Tuesday, June 2nd from 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM Eastern Time.  Join us – We’ll get your small biz questions answered.
  • Know small businesses that need help?  Spread the word! The more voices, the better the conversation.
  • Instructions for participating are at
  • Below is a summary of the most recent discussion. To see the full conversation, go to:

sbbuzz: Seriously kids, let’s get down to biz. Q1)What has been most successful online marketing campaign (define success however you want)? #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q2 Any reason a small business should NOT have a presence in social media (Twitter, Facebook, any of them)? #sbbuzz

  • bradfordshimp: Q2 – They shouldn’t have a presence just to sell, sell, sell. #sbbuzz
  • rzazueta: Q2 #sbbuzz If you can;t handle the commitment to keep up the relationships you build, SM can hurt more than it can help.
  • helpbusinesses: Q2: only because they don’t understand how to use the media to help them build their business or customer base #sbbuzz
  • rzazueta: #sbbuzz Q2: Looks bad to have not tweeted, blogged of FBed in two months.
  • bradfordshimp: Q2 – Also, don’t venture in to social media until you have the time to figure out what you are doing and then do it right. #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q2 – If you can’t listen or talk back it might be better off not to start the conversation. #sbbuzz
  • Timberry: Q2: not if it isn’t part of a strategy. Not if they’re just doing it because people say they should. #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Q2 I think if it doesn’t come naturally, don’t do it. You won’t be happy devoting time to it, nor will you succeed. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q2: If you aren’t an “out of the box” type of thinker, social media isn’t for you. #sbbuzz
  • Timberry: Q2: I’d ask others about this, but I saw it’s not something to dabble in, takes a lot of time and effort. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q2: Small businesses shouldn’t use social media if they post less than once a week and/or don’t want to keep up with it. #sbbuzz
  • BethBridges: Q2: Don’t get on any SM until you understand how to be excellent Face2Face networker: ie, give first, don’t sell, longterm perspectv #sbbuzz
  • lisamcg: Q2: If the small business isn’t going to put in the time, then it’s a waste of time for them to even think about it! #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q2: If you expect returns within 30 days from social media, you shouldn’t play in this space. #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q2: social media for small business is a great task for them to delegate to a virtual assistant #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q2: just make sure the virtual assistant understand the goals you of using that media & you business as well #sbbuzz
  • eproulx: One person who follows you on twitter or registers for your blog is part of your “Tribe” and should be treated like royalty. #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q3 from @sanjeevaggarwal How much time do you spend looking at content on all the various social networking sites? Any process? #sbbuzz

  • Smallbizlabs: According to recent research by Network Solutions, 12% of smallbiz under 100 employees use social media #sbbuzz
  • fsphotography: Q3: I try to keep it around 30min to 1h a day – Except for tonight! #sbbuzz
  • DaivRawks: I leverage the social media to FIND me the content I want – ride the wave, rather than crashing against it. #sbbuzz
  • mmangen: @sbbuzz Q3: I get email alerts for groups on LI & spend a good time on Twitter connecting w/people. #sbbuzz
  • PricelessTeam: Q3: A little over an hour throughout the day to gain inspiration and learn new things. #sbbuzz
  • rzazueta: #sbbuzz Q3: Too much time! 😉 I break it down – once in the morning, once around lunch, opnce in the evening – keep it to an hour
  • deneki: Q3: Mostly ‘with my coffee’– 30-45 mins in the morning. #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q3: I follow people that provide timely information I can use for my clients and myself. If they are not content driven, no attentio #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q3: Uh, does that include Tweet Chats? 1 to 3 hours p/d on a non #sbbuzz day. Add 3 more to that on Tuesdays.
  • lindadessau: Q3 I usually try to batch my social media time and other tasks like email. I need to protect client project time & really focus. #sbbuzz
  • BrentLeary: Q3: Google Reader is great for frictionless content filtering/sharing with those you interact with through Gmail. #sbbuzz
  • rzazueta: #sbbuzz Q3: But I idle in Twitter all day because I can answer and ask questions that help myself and others. Very Easy.
  • BethBridges: Q3: More on Twitter than I should 😀 and less on LI and FB than I need. But Twitter is so easy to dip into for just a few minutes. #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q3 I read this people content in my down time. Evenings or when there is a lull in the day. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: Twitter plays in the background for me all day. I have to make time to read blogs. Sort of music vs. talk shows for me. #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q3 I spend “some” time each day, less than I would like to but more than I should. #sbbuzz
  • vpbx: Google Alerts are great for content; saves lots of time. Also, follow the buzzworthy that are relevant to your biz. #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Q3 I spend a lot of time per day, but that is a big part of my job as Comms Director. Average 40% of average workday? #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q4 from @joemagennis What are chambers using social media for? Attract members? How are you implementing? #sbbuzz

  • BethBridges: Q4: Attracting some members, communicating with exist members who pay more attn to Tweets than emails, noninvasive reminder on event #sbbuzz
  • Will_Burns: Q4 We use sm tools to attract members, engage local biz people, advocate public policy positions #sbbuzz
  • BethBridges: Q4: enhancing our rep as leaders w/business communty, helping members learn, give referrals to members (by seeing non-members needs) #sbbuzz
  • brownjc0: Our chamber is about 70 members and I doubt 10 ever tweeted. We call old members to get them to renew. Our dues are $15. Cheap. #sbbuzz
  • Will_Burns: Q4 It is also a great way to gather insights – listen to find out what’s important to local people and businesses #sbbuzz
  • wiseleo: @brownjc0 That’s simply too small. Not enough critical mass. Do you host joint events with other chambers? #sbbuzz
  • BethBridges: Q4: Even for members who don’t us SM, their opinion of us improves. They think we’re “cooler”, even if they dont kno what SM is 😀 #sbbuzz
  • jesshibb: Q4 @fredcochamber uses SM to provide community info & reach out to members & non-members we don’t always see at events. #sbbuzz
  • brownjc0: @wiseleo We sometimes do joint events but the closest chamber is over 25 mies away, younger, more business oriented as should be. #sbbuzz
  • vpbx: Q4: Also it’s about providing content that adds value – help followers by informing and not just selling. #sbbuzz
  • jesshibb: Q4 #sbbuzz One of our members told us she decided to renew because she was so excited about our social media outreach. Great for retention.
  • scoblitz: @bradfordshimp My local chamber links to an image of a sample home page for a possible site redesign. #sbbuzz
  • mmangen: @jesshibb that is really great. SM still seems to be catching on in our area but Chamber is hosting a SM class w/Hubspot this month #sbbuzz
  • rzazueta: #sbbuzz I know my local chamber is VERY behidn the times web-wise. Been trying to get them up to speed, but time and cost are issues.
  • joemagennis: @Will_Burns @BethBridges Do you end up “consulting” w/ members about adding SM to their marketing toolbox? #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Q4 Looks like there’s quite a few Chambers on Facebook. Seems like a good way to get started for less techie orgs. #sbbuzz
  • nrohrbach: Q4: our “under 40” group thru the chamber has LinkedIN & Facebook accounts. I think I’m still the only one who’s posted to either #sbbuzz
  • Will_Burns: @joemagennis We help people connect to local members who are smarter than me about sm strategies. #sbbuzz
  • BethBridges: @joemagennis Yes. 1 hr training every third month. I offer personal 1 on 1, lots ppl say they “want to learn” but few take up offer #sbbuzz
  • jesshibb: @mmangen We’ve received so much interest from members that we’re hosting an all-day SM conference on 6/5. #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q5 #sbbuzz What have been your most successful social media events? Online only or mix? #sbbuzz

  • Will_Burns: Face to fact still works best for us, but many chambers are working more sm elements into events, with live twitter, flickr streams #sbbuzz
  • brownjc0: We sponsor several events – Xmas Tree Lighting, Yard sale, Xmas fair, Squirrel roundup, basque BBQ, Citizen of Year Dinner etc. #sbbuzz
  • jesshibb: Q5 #sbbuzz Not sure, I’ll let you know after our social media conference on 6/5. 😉 #fredsmc
  • VenangoChamber: SM is a great compliment to our typical Chamber activities. Our members are catching on fast #sbbuzz
  • jesshibb: Ditto @will_burns – We like to refer members who do full-time SM consulting. #sbbuzz
  • curtmoss: @VenangoChamber I agree. I think Chambers can use SM tools to do the things they are already doing, but faster w/more input. #sbbuzz #sbbuzz
  • wiseleo: Q5. We have massively successful tweetups here in Silicon Valley. 100+ people and sometimes 200+ #sbbuzz
  • Will_Burns: Q5 Here is an old school chamber event in Michigan where they are adding sm elements
  • helpbusinesses: Q5: We give 30 Minutes free on Fridays & Small Business call with their questions usually end up retaining our services #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q6 What has been most successful for your members using social media for local networking? #sbbuzz

  • Will_Burns: Q6 I think it depends on the goals of individual member companies. Email and blogs are great ways to showcase your expertise. #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q6: Twitter has been great for my clients and even facebook but twitter has better ratings of translating followers to customers #sbbuzz
  • curtmoss: Q6 I’ve seen several chambers create nice communities of followers using Twitter where they all end up co-promoting each other. #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q6: Overall social media has made local business national and/or international business. More Exposure demographically #sbbuzz
  • Will_Burns: Q6 Some chambers, including @fredcochamber have great linkedin groups that really take advantage of the discussion features as well #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q7 from @mmangen What businesses will receive the most value by joining their local Chamber? #sbbuzz

  • bradfordshimp: Q7 Great question. And I think it depends on the make up of the Chamber and what they have to offer. #sbbuzz
  • CSuiteAdvisors: Q7 Not all Chambers are created equal…IMHO #sbbuzz
  • BethBridges: @mmangen This is not an early-adopter community. I think more ppl will get on board later, by then maybe have member co who’ll do it #sbbuzz
  • jesshibb: We’re strict about limiting our LinkedIn group to members only. Discussions are very active, members use to promote themselves. #sbbuzz
  • curtmoss: Q7 The ones that receive the most value are the ones that PERCEIVE the most value. Depends on how the chamber tells the story. #sbbuzz
  • Timberry: Q7: one factor affecting this is businesses serving local business, focused on local target markets, are obviusly good candidates. #sbbuzz
  • wiseleo: Q7 I am no longer a member of my local chamber. Wrong mix for my business. I get customers through adwords and tweetups. #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q7: Every Chamber is different & you should look to see who they members are & attend 1 of there free events to see if it works 4 U #sbbuzz
  • Will_Burns: Q7 Like anything else, I think the value you receive depends more on the goals of your business and your efforts #sbbuzz
  • Will_Burns: Q7 Our members who receive the most value are often those who add the most value – participate on committees, volunteer, etc #sbbuzz
  • jesshibb: Q7 Those who are willing to invest time, effort & make chamber part of their marketing & biz plan are the ones who gain the most. #sbbuzz
  • BethBridges: Q7: If your business can’t benefit from more connected w/other businesses & community, you have bigger ?’s than whether to join CoC #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Q7 I’ve met some great people at Chamber events. Not necessarily customers, but great vendors, other nice folks. #sbbuzz
  • BethBridges: Q7: If your Chamber doesn’t fit needs, you can work with it to add what you & others might want. I’ll never say “no” to volunteers! #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q8 from @rogersanchez What online social media have you found to be most successful in drawing members/client? #sbbuzz

  • wiseleo: Q8 Without a doubt, Twitter. Facebook is too personal. LinkedIn is TERRIFIC for tracking endorsements (I have some heavy hitters) #sbbuzz
  • Will_Burns: Q8 Twitter for connecting with interesting members and prospective members | Blogging for advocating pro-biz public policy #sbbuzz
  • curtmoss: Q8 I know that @danielklotz at Lancaster PA Chamber has found prospects and converted them to members via Twitter. #sbbuzz
  • curtmoss: Q8 I agree with Will_Burns Blogging offers chance to show members what you’re doing AND reach prosepcts, too. #sbbuzz
  • PricelessTeam: Q8: Twitter! Much easier to find like-minded entrepreneurs and create niche-specific connections. #sbbuzz
  • eproulx: Q8: Blog first, twitter second. I know LinkedIn has immense targeting power, but I haven’t taken the time to master it yet. #sbbuzz
  • BethBridges: @wiseleo I appreciate your comments. You’re giving me good perspective: ie there’s a bell curve of participation on SM, at a certain #sbbuzz
  • wiseleo: @eproulx I connect on Twitter first, and then sometimes we escalate it to LinkedIn. Different level of engagement. #sbbuzz
  • BethBridges: @wiseleo level, someone who is completely immersed in SM may be much less interested in CoC membership due to lack of local cnnxn. #sbbuzz
  • @helpbusinesses: Q8: The key is to have fun marketing online, meeting your objectives while winning your new customers #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q9 Do you have suggestions on things small bizzes can do to encourage their own chamber’s social media efforts? #sbbuzz


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