MEMBER MINUTE WITH DIGITAL WICHITA
Digital Wichita joined the Chamber on Monday, April 2. We've interviewed their co-chair, Phil Mershon, for a profile of the organization and to introduce the group to our membership.What's the mission of Digital Wichita? Our nonprofit group elevates social media practices through access to educational events with nationally-known speakers and authors. How long has the group been bringing experts to Wichita? A group of four digital entrepreneurs (Naomi Shapiro, J.D. Patton, Eba Hamid and Cindy Kelly) formed Digital Wichita in 2010 to exchange best practices and improve their own social media skills. The group also wanted to learn from the best practitioners and began producing educational events in 2015. Our first event attracted 225 attendees. Over the years we've brought a number of experts to Wichita, including: Marcus Sheridan (The Sales Lion), Mark Schaefer (Schaefer Marketing Solutions), Shannon Johnson (Alaska Air) and Jeff Sieh (Social Media Examiner). It's very beneficial to Wichita when the nation's leading social media experts make connections with area business leaders. They become national ambassadors for our business community. To what do you owe your success? We have a very focused, passionate and well-connected group of about ten people on our planning team. They all volunteer their time to plan these events and they have a history of working well together. They have access to numerous local resources, but they've also developed valuable national connections so that we can secure some of the most sought-after speakers for our events. The partnerships we've developed with other area organizations have really expanded our outreach the last three years. Organizations like the Chamber, Applied Technology Acceleration Institute, Douglas Design District and WIBA share our passion for elevating their social media game. They help us reach more businesses and organizations who are interested in keeping on top of the latest social media tools, measurements and practices. What's your most recent success story? Convincing former Disney executive Duncan Wardle to offer an all-day innovation workshop focused on design thinking in Wichita on April 19 has been very rewarding. We're using a new model that makes it possible to offer the interactive and hands-on learning experience for $200 per person, a fraction of the usual price. His goal is to help people break through their creative blocks and push past ‘group think.’ Wichita's entrepreneurial community has been re-energized during the last few years and so the timing is perfect for this workshop. Transforming a great idea into a real working business model requires unleashing and capitalizing on creativity. And sharing those breakthroughs through social media channels is a powerful way to expand on them. We're offering Chamber members a reduced cost through the Chamber member-to-member discount program so we hope to meet many of them when they attend. Use the code Chamber50 for $50 off. How does your organization differ from other area marketing organizations? We focus solely on social media and we've cultivated professional and personal relationships with well-known experts who speak all over the country. We aren't trying to replace or compete with other marketing organizations. We really enjoy partnering with them and we're very open to new and innovative ways to work together. We don't have a monthly meeting or offer annual memberships. We stay laser-focused on one or two events per year. Why do you like doing business in Wichita? We really love the entrepreneurial spirit here. People are willing to keep trying until they succeed. This is a large community with a very tight-knit feel. People are very connected. You can generally get to anyone you need to reach with just a few conversations. Why did you join the Chamber? We went through the process of becoming a legal nonprofit entity last year. Joining the Chamber was the next logical step. Becoming more adept at social media helps businesses of all sizes thrive locally and expand their global reach. We want them to succeed in marketing their goods and services internationally. So our mission definitely aligns with the Chamber's efforts to improve the overall business environment in the region. We believe membership will increase our visibility and provide us with more opportunities to partner with other organizations and businesses. What's your favorite Chamber event? I attended the Chamber's Annual Meeting last year and I've always been impressed with the caliber of speakers who headline that event. Do you have a charity component to your work? We want our events to be affordable to companies and organizations of all sizes, so we just try to cover our basic expenses with a low registration fee. In the event that we do raise a little extra money, we'd definitely like to give back to the city that has helped shape us. We're interested in donating to local nonprofits, especially those that use and understand the power of social media. Please welcome Digital Wichita to the Chamber by following them on these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Contact Kresta Dundas at 316-268-1115 if you are interested in joining the Chamber or know a company/organization that would benefit from Chamber membership.