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Introducing Kerry Smith, Owner of Utah Family Fun Stuff

1. Tell me about yourself and your business.


I am Kerry Smith, owner of Utah Family Fun Stuff, with my husband Cole and two sons. We live in Davis County and enjoy sharing all the fun events, activities, classes, and resources available to families along the Wasatch Front. 


I'm originally from Preston, Idaho, and while it was a great place to grow up, I fell in love with Salt Lake City the first time I ever visited as a young woman. As an adult, I moved here and worked for the Ensign magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love journalism, and when I became a stay-at-home mom, I combined my love of writing with my love of venturing out with my kids. We lived in the Boise area for nine years, and when we moved back to Salt Lake City, I just knew I had to write about and share the fun events we were experiencing. Our family has more fun when we know other families are getting out and having fun too.


2. What kind of Growth & Local Business Support is your business experiencing?


We're a fairly new business and have grown rapidly. Now in the start of our third year, Utah Family Fun Stuff is excited to share new and different things, as we explore the area and learn from our followers. We also love to help local businesses. That's why we advertise for them. Our rates are nominal, and we're specializing in solid, local followers. We know that families often don't have a lot of money to spend on extracurricular activities, but they do have some to spend. So we show what we find in hopes that families will decide what best fits their interests and budgets. 



We started on Instagram and Facebook in 2018. A year later, we also added our website. SEO growth is very important to us, and we're proud to say that we're already showing on the first page of several local Google searches. We are happy to help Utah businesses spread the word about community events, classes, and resources of interest. Our monthly events calendars are great resources to our followers and local businesses. Basic event listings are free. They include the event date, event name, location, and link to more information. Boosted listings are available for a nominal fee and include an image, brief paragraph description, and social media shares. We're interested in helping businesses with SEO traffic, not just short-lived social media posts. 


3. What's New for 2020?


This year we are launching click-rate ads, an affordable, win-win opportunity for Utah businesses in our niche. Discounts and promo codes are popular with our followers, and businesses often ask us to share them. So we are creating a Discounts and Deals page that will feature ads from area businesses to promote events, classes, resources in the Greater Salt Lake City area. As the SEO grows for that page, the value of those ads will increase as well. The click-rate is a win-win because the ad stays up until the click limit is reached. That way a business isn't paying for an ad that isn't getting traffic, and we know which events, classes, and resources our followers are most interested in. We're very excited to promote businesses and bring the best deals to locals. Anyone who is interested in collaborating with us may email us at UtahFamilyFunStuff@gmail.com


Also, we share FREE events and resources in our weekly newsletters. Our subscribers know ahead of time when these events will occur. We share many things in our newsletters that we don't share anywhere else. Free events take a while for us to find, and we offer them as perks to our subscribers. The newsletters are free and there is no membership fee. We just ask our followers to open their weekly emails and click on any of the many links that interest them. Our open rates and click rates are high, so we're very encouraged by the results so far. Given that social media posts are so hard to direct to our actual followers, we feel that reaching out to our newsletter subscribers is the best way to communicate. Sign up is simple. Just provide a name and email. Click here to join. 


4. What challenges have you had to overcome and what are some of your accomplishments?


There are many advertising options in Salt Lake City. There are also many local bloggers who also share events in Utah. So sometimes it can be a challenge not to share the same things. We strive to be different, and we don't want to be copycats. We respect the work that others share online. Several of them have been sharing local events and things to do in Utah for a decade. So we respect them. We've mostly narrowed our niche to the Wasatch Front but will also share beyond, anywhere in Utah, if we feel our followers would be interested. 

Social media is also a challenge for us, as it is for many businesses. Our fantastic growth, especially on Instagram, launched our efforts, but social media algorithm changes are no fun. Posts are shown to only a fraction of the followers. We have such great information to share and spend hours gathering and verifying our information. It doesn't deserve to be shown to a small handful of Utahns. So we're overcoming the social media challenges by focusing on SEO and newsletter growth.


We really enjoy getting to know our followers, and though we are no local celebrities, it has been fun for us to be featured on Good Things Utah and recognized while shopping locally. We LOVE getting to know fellow Utahns and finding out what their families like to do. We are excited to approach more local news outlets, network, and share what we learn.


5. Do you have advice for new businesses in Utah?


For the events and entertainment niche in Utah, we'd definitely advise any business to price their event, class, or product correctly. Especially for events and classes, Utahns want value. We have rarely seen an expensive event do well here--unless it is really well done. Usually anything priced over about $20 a person (with live theater or professional sports events being an exception) has to really impress. And if you want families with young children to come, you should price things $10 a person or less and/or offer a family deal. We can hardly give away events that aren't priced correctly. In fact, if we feel an event isn't priced well, we are likely to attend just once and not offer to promote the event again. This pricing isn't a hard-fast rule, but the point is to offer economical events for the masses or expect to blow us away if the event is priced higher. Word of mouth is very critical in Utah, and you want your event to spread that way. We can help with that, but we can't make up things about an event just to sell it.


Also, be friendly to bloggers and social media influencers here. Utah has a lot of them. We actually don't love the term "influencer" and prefer "informer." We provide good, detailed information, and our followers decide what is best for them. That said, the most-used term is "influencer," so that's what we'll use here as well. You don't need to work with all local influencers, of course. But reach out to a handful, and be nice even when you decline a collaboration. Area bloggers and influencers talk. We're in social media groups together. If you're rude or hard to work with, we probably know it.


Work with an influencer you can afford. Rates vary widely, and we're not even sure what others charge. We do know that we are on the low end and will adjust as we grow. But ask around to find various rates. You don't necessarily need to work with the influencer who has the highest following. You don't have to take my word either, since I'm newish to the Utah influencer scene and my following isn't as big as some. Do the math. If their Facebook page, for instance, has thousands of followers and just an average amount of likes on posts, your post isn't likely to get any more engagement than if you work with a smaller influencer whose posts might be getting more engagement. So the key is to look at content and engagement, rather than total number of followers. Since we can no longer see the numbers of likes on Instagram, comments are especially good indicators of engagement. You can also ask for stats when you're trying to determine the best influencers to work with. Some questions to ask: How often did you post last week (or select a timeframe)? What was your total reach? What was your most successful post? 


Ask if an influencer shares a newsletter. If so, it may be a great, direct way to advertise. How can you tell? Everyone always asks how many followers. But also ask: What's your open rate? How many clicks on links? How often do you send the newsletter? Subscribe to the newsletter as well so you can see what types of things they send out. Try to make sure you're a good match before you collaborate.

Also, find out if the influencer has a website. SEO is a long-term investment for you. Social media posts are short lived. Personally, we'd invest more in an influencer who's built a well-rounded following with all the online options we've been discussing. There are many influencers who just do Instagram, for instance. You'll need to decide if that's in your best interest.


One last thing . . . Please don't ask online influencers to share about you for free. We are in the advertising business, and we need to grow to continue helping you and others. In order to do so, we need to make an income as well. Though offering us free stuff is a good place to start, please keep in mind that we have to report the freebies we receive for taxes. So free isn't really free for us. We may agree to do free the first time, just to meet you, but we can't do it continually. 



5. Where can people find you?

UtahFamilyFunStuff.com

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