Archive for CTSO

From Likes to Followers: How to Increase Engagement at your Next Event

In the fall of 2004 I was a freshman at the University of Colorado at Boulder when rumblings of a new site were first being heard. My friends started to sign up for “The Facebook”, but I wasn’t sure if this site was worth my time. By January of 2005, I gave in to the peer pressure and never looked back. A lot has changed in these past twelve years – Facebook has grown from 1.2 million to 1.75 billion users, and the entire concept of social media has changed the way we communicate, connect, and consume.

When planning events for today’s young adults, you cannot lose Dino bouncers sight of the importance of social media. But just having a feed is not enough. Just making a post is not enough. Just picking a hashtag is not enough. In today’s social media-centric landscape, how do you truly engage your conference attendees and increase followership? Here are ten tips to raise the bar and help your event connect like never before. Some may seem obvious, but the key to successful engagement is quality execution.

  1. Go Live: Plan to go live during a few key moments! Perhaps you go Facebook Live as registration begins, the doors to the general session open, or the new officer team is being announced. This engages those not in attendance so they feel a part of the event.
  2. Social Media Wall: There are lots of great options out there, but one we have used before is Tint. Have a station setup in a prime conference location that shows a feed of all the posts from your conference hashtag. Attendees will want to see their posts on the wall, and it becomes a great focal point for your event.
  3. Social Media Shoutouts: Use your general sessions as a moment to recognize attendees who have been posting on social media. Read a few tweets and share a few of your favorite posts onstage in front of everyone. This is a simple way to make your social media shoutout more fun and exciting for the attendees.
  4. Name Badge Ribbons: Attendees love ribbons on their name badges! Have ribbons printed for each social media network your organization is on, and have your leaders hand them out to attendees who can show that they like or follow your page.
  5. Hashtags: Be sure to have an event hashtag identified early and promote it leading up to the event and during the event. Not only does it create dialogue and foster conversation, it also helps you collect great feedback and user generated content! Pick a hashtag that is easy to remember and promote it everywhere you can.
  6. Personalize Content: Think about each network and how your users interact on that network. Your content should look different on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Think creatively and have fun!
  7. Officer Handles: Do your officers want to engage with members more? Most likely, so make it easy for them! Promote your officer’s social media handles in the program and on screen during the general sessions.
  8. Raffle Prizes: Offer prizes exclusively through your social media channels! Promote them during the sessions, celebrate the winners, and recognize those who participate. But only offer the prizes through your desired social media channels so you are driving traffic where you want.
  9. Snapchat Geofilter: This one is a must for all youth-related events. Be sure to set up a geofilter for your event. Even better, create a few for different moments in the event! Maybe you have one primary conference geofilter, and then a special one for the awards session. Think of when your attendees will want to post the most, and customize geofilters for those moments!
  10. Conference Program: This may seem obvious, but it is not always utilized! The conference program is the number one resource attendees use for information on your event. Be sure to not just list your social media usernames in the program, but include each networks icons (we live in a visual world) and promote the hashtag.

Do you have more ideas? Share your ideas with me on Twitter (@teamtri_sean) and best of luck as you prepare for your upcoming event!


Lessons From Losing: The Four Things I Know To Be True

There are three things that I know to be true in life: my name is Valerie Caña, I am currently eighteen years old, and I just broke $200 worth of Christmas cat ornaments at the store I work at in a matter of six seconds.

A lot of my peers might know me from before as that girl who was a DECA State Officer for wayyy too long or as a former National Officer candidate from Nevada. Both of those were acceptable. But now? Well, now I’m just the clumsy sales associate who decided to defer college for a year. I believe I did awesome things in DECA, but honestly the titles I received back then don’t matter anymore. It’s in the past. I am irrelevant, and I’ve come to terms with that a long time ago.

Since I was invited to write this article, I’ve been struggling to come up with “THE END-ALL, BE-ALL” ultimate leadership lesson that summarizes everything I learned in my CTSO career and maybe help raise your spirits to the land of success.

Unfortunately, I possess no knowledge of the secret of life, nor the key ingredient of becoming a great leader. In a perfect world, I would have won DECA Executive Office, gone to a top college on a scholarship, and still be relevant enough to be featured on this awesome blog. Instead, I just remember crying against the concrete wall of the Closing Session room, watching a different reality take place instead of my dreams. So as you can see, I can’t exactly tell you how to be successful. I, myself, am wobbling on my own rocky path. But I can tell you, despite my seemingly failures, why I am inescapably and undeniably happy:

I decided to be.

There’s a lot of room for joy once you cry out all of your sorrow. The morning after our national conference ended, I waved all of the members of my organization goodbye and emptied the millions of used tissues out of my purse. Then, I ascended the elevator back to my hotel room and chose to enjoy the way the sun’s light stretched across the floor and onto me. I packed my bags and chose to love how my DECA blazer looked wrinkled into a tired heap and how my heals were scuffed with the memories of running all across Orlando. I chose to admit my defeat, and then I happily chose to take the path that completely contradicted my original plan.

I took a gap year. Not even an “exciting” gap year abroad or working on a farm on the East Coast. I stayed where I have always been and got a job I really liked…for no legitimate reason other than that life was tremendously great that I could make my own decisions.

My family and friends were quite shocked. I had always been the person they expected to be extremely accomplished, trying to do big, extravagant things every single day.

“No,” I told them, “I’m just a human being and I kinda wanna take a break.”

I’m not saying I wasn’t happy when I was in DECA. Of course I was ecstatic doing all those cool things standing under the spotlight. But when I woke up that one morning and the sun shone so brilliantly during my time of loss, that alone told me that this was still my time. I can do everything and I can do nothing, and it can still be a great day.

That said, YOU can do everything or do nothing, and have a great day. It’s important to realize that yes, you can absolutely move on and do crazy big things, but there is also a joy in taking time to rest and to experience the smaller aspects of life. There are many paths in this big world of ours, and sometimes you have to stop in the middle of the direction you’re moving to notice the million other directions available to you. Not all are major roads to mountaintops. Some are tiny detours and bumps in the road. And others are the in-betweens of a journey where you just have to sit down for a bit and love the world around you will keep on going. All is good. All is life.

I quite like this “small somebody” I am today, because it lets me feel how large our universe is and how wonderful every minuscule detail of it is. It’s the small things like how my best friend calls me in between her busy schedule, how my sister includes me by asking which headphones to buy, or how I can now afford to treat my parents out to dinner. What I never noticed before has become so incredibly significant. Even laughing together with strangers at the bus driver’s joke is miraculous to me.

We can be people who are larger than life, always doing something, always chasing our dreams into oblivion. But when we stumble on the ground, we don’t have to suck up our pride and get right back up immediately. Instead, I encourage you to lie back for a while, reflect, and see that life is probably a lot larger than you expected.

I decided to be happy in life, and that meant to be easily impressed and appreciative of every encounter. It meant to let go of what I wanted, and grab on to what the world had always had. I think it’s pretty cool to stop for a moment and feel fulfilled just by how alive and decent the world is around you. Especially to someone like me, an eighteen year old klutzy sales associate, things like are pretty awesome.

I suppose that’s the fourth thing I know to be true.

Valerie Caña is a former three-year DECA State Officer and a talented, inspirational young person. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Three Keys to Student Officer Success From a State Officer Alumnus!

As many students gear up for an amazing year of volunteer leadership in their organization, TeamTRI asked former Texas DECA State President Charles Hill to share a few lessons for success as an officer! Here is his advice:

If you’re just starting your term as a student officer, fear not! You have an organization full of supporters and a team of officers who are just as ambitious as yourself. As the former State President of Texas DECA, I am excited to share three powerful lessons that I learned from my experience.

1. Above all else, remember this: you have one year to serve the members and achieve your goals. Make each day count! There is always something that you can be doing to support your organization, from highlighting a recent event in a blog article to posting on the official social media platforms. You only have 365 days as an officer, so value each one! There’s not a more satisfying feeling than to look back at your term and know that you did everything you could.

2. Recognize that inspiring a shared vision is more complicated than you might believe right now. Whether it’s the creation of a year-long community service project or a workshop for other leaders, projects will always have more steps then you thought at first. Spend time talking with your officer team and delegating certain tasks to specific officers in order to simplify the process (and track these tasks in a central place like an Accountability Chart!). The time and effort you spent on your shared vision will be all worth it once you see the final product! If you work to develop your goal-processing skills as an officer, you’ll be able to use that ability successfully in school and beyond.

3. The final powerful lesson I’d like to share is that creating a new project is always nice, but improving an existing one can be equally rewarding. You probably have a few goals and plans, but don’t forget about the projects set up by the teams before you. My State Advisor once explained that a project may have been created before your term and may not be wildly successful during your term, but you have the ability to help set it up so that it can be successful for a future team after your time as a State Officer. That’s a key part of your legacy as a leader.

Each State Officer has different opportunities with unique lessons; learning from your lessons will amplify your experience. I commend you for the journey you’ve taken to become an officer: now get ready for a transformative experience!

Thanks Charles! Charles can be found on Twitter at @CharlesHillDECA.