VOL. 127 | NO. 131 | Friday, July 6, 2012
Memphis Standout Profile
Sanders Keeps Busy in Memphis Tech Scene
By Andy Meek
Beth Sanders is one of those people almost anyone knows if they’ve spent a significant amount of time in Memphis’ technology community.
A social media and online strategist, Sanders was part of the inaugural cohort of the Seed Hatchery startup mentoring program. And though she’s no longer involved with StiQRd, one of the startups that went through Seed Hatchery last year, she still looks back fondly on the relationships formed through that process, which she said helped shape her professionally.
StiQRd, which is still growing and going strong, is a startup with a smartphone app of the same name that’s built around the idea of digitizing paper-based loyalty and punch card programs for businesses.
Sanders is a supporter of LaunchYourCity and EmergeMemphis, encouraging the work those entities do to bring entrepreneurial opportunity to Memphis. And she’s on the founding board of GEEKMemphis, a community group to help increase the awareness, adoption and advancement of technology in the Memphis area, as well as being the organizer of MemphisGives, which holds quarterly social events to raise money for selected local charities.
A MemphisGives meetup in June at Boscos Squared raised $450 for Dress for Success, an organization that provides women with clothing for job interviews as well as career training.
Liz Jostes, another local social media strategist and small-business consultant, said Sanders’ “work, focus and heart are all in the right place – doing what’s best for her clients. She’s a big advocate for giving back to the Memphis community as well through GiveCamp and MemphisGives. I admire Beth as a leader in the social and tech space, and for her drive to help those who need it most.”
“It takes about 30 seconds to send a 140-character tweet, but it requires much more time to understand the audience.”
As part of her day job these days, Sanders has one foot in the nonprofit world and the other in freelance work.
“I work part time in marketing for a Memphis seminary that equips church leaders for urban ministry,” Sanders said. “In my freelance life, I help small businesses, churches and nonprofits with social media training and consulting, writing and editing, blogging and content strategy and general communications. I also design and customize WordPress websites and am the organizer of our local WordPress meetup group and a frequent speaker at local tech conferences.
“On the weekends, I coordinate and administer the social media presence for my church, Christ United Methodist, where I live tweet each Sunday service.”
She describes herself as a social media strategist. As such, she helps nonprofits and small businesses understand social media and figure out which platforms will help them accomplish their goals and best communicate their message and mission.
Among the problems she sees small businesses frequently run into – many are short-staffed and have limited expertise in technology and social media.
“With the daily responsibilities of staffing, bookkeeping, sales, marketing, fundraising and others, it’s easy to get overwhelmed,” Sanders said. “It takes about 30 seconds to send a 140-character tweet, but it requires much more time to understand the audience, how to engage and what kinds of content will be of interest. Leaders need training and coaching to help them incorporate these new media into the daily life of the organization. As each have different needs and assets, there is no one solution that’s appropriate for all. I help them tailor their approach to their audience and their mission.”
She said she loves the tech community in Memphis for reasons that include its diversity, friendliness and openness.
“I do wish more women, particularly of my generation, would get involved with tech, though I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing me say that,” Sanders said. “A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a group of technology professionals who donated an entire weekend, through GiveCamp Memphis, to help local nonprofits with technical challenges at no charge. It’s great to see top-level pros who are willing to donate their services to give back to the community. The conferences and events help draw new people into the fold and provide great learning opportunities.”
Speaking more broadly than that, there are also just as many things she loves about the city she calls home. Among them, she cited the Mississippi River at sunset; the rooftops of the Madison and Peabody hotels and EmergeMemphis; and AutoZone Park and the Redbirds, among other things.
“The best thing about this city is the diversity of its people,” Sanders said. “I love that I can hang out with 20- and 30-something techies one day and suburban empty nesters the next.”