Facebook & IG upgrades LIVE features + meetings

If you have been using Facebook and Instagram like many people and businesses during COVID19 to continue getting your message to your audience, you’ll be delighted to know they have just released an array of incredible functions to make it easier to reach your people!

Mark Zuckerberg went live on his Facebook channel to announce all the upgrades last week. Check out these incredible features!

🔹 Messenger Rooms launched
🔹 Paid Facebook Lives (coming)
🔹 ‘Live With’ is back (FB mobile)
🔹 Add the donate button to live videos 
🔹 Option to listen to audio only on Facebook Lives
🔹 Stars expanded to more Pages and countries
🔹#SupportSmallBusiness hashtag + “in support of” unpaid tag
🔹 Facebook Avatars rolling out in the US
🔹 Switch to New Facebook or revert back to Classic Facebook

🔸 Watch Instagram Live on desktop
🔸 Save IG Live to IGTV (soon)
🔸 Support Small Business sticker on IG Stories
🔸 Pin favorite comment on your IG posts
🔸 Bulk delete IG comments
🔸 New tag/mention controls on IG

Mari Smith also did a fantastic recap of all the unique ways to use these new functions and features for your personal gain and business successes. Check it out here.


Tampa’s Creative COVID-19 Pivots!

The spread of COVID-19 has caused many businesses worldwide to creatively pivot to support their business financially, as well as keep their brand awareness. Some of these strategies have worked better than others, but, one plus is that these efforts have helped businesses actively create new content rather than going dark, even when physically shut down! 

Locally in Tampa Bay, we’ve seen some creative adaptation strategies that are worth highlighting. From Naked Farmer switching it’s farm-to-table fast-casual restaurant to farm-to-your-front-door delivery options, to Woodie’s, a shutdown car wash that received permission to open back up to sanitize essential workers cars, businesses in Tampa Bay are adapting to the new norm.

Virtual Events

Synapse is best known for its annual summit in Tampa each year; but has grown beyond one event per year in an effort to bring Florida Entrepreneurs additional resources during COVID – 19. Synapse launched monthly Libate & Learn virtual webinars, where they’ve brought in local leaders to speak about relevant topics such as quickly pivoting to a remote business model, government leadership response, and community innovation tactics. Their monthly Libate & Learn events have brought in 40+ local Entrepreneurs and given them a space to network, ask questions, and learn something that may help them survive through the pandemic.

Their monthly Libate & Learn events have brought in 40+ local Entrepreneurs and given them a space to network, ask questions, and learn something that may help them survive through the pandemic.

The Entrepreneur Collaborative Center of Hillsborough County has been a valuable resource for entrepreneurs in the Tampa Bay area for many years. In the past, the ECC hosted weekly in-person meetings, lunch and learns, and networking events. However, they quickly had to pivot in order to keep Entrepreneurs connected and learning.

Their first strategy was to move their highest attended and most often recurring Wednesday morning new-business-pitch event, called 1 Million Cups Tampa, to virtual, offering people the opportunity to connect and build new partnerships. 1 Million Cups has been highly successful as a virtual event, and has allowed a larger more diverse group of people, including from outside of the Tampa Bay region, the opportunity to attend!

Creative Food Delivery

Naked Farmer is a locally sourced farm-to-table business that originally planned to open a fresh veggie-focused restaurant in downtown St. Pete in April. Due to obvious circumstances, they had to quickly pivot and recognized that they had the opportunity to deliver local fresh vegetables, so people can safely stay home but still eat healthily and eat local.

Their Harvest Box ranges from $37-96 and typically includes a half bushel’s worth of veggies such as lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, kale, zucchini, scallions, green beans, and basil, giving you weeks of fresh veggies to cook at home. Check out their online ordering platform to get you and your family a fresh Harvest Box!

In some ways, COVID-19 has generated brand new partnership opportunities for local businesses to collaborate and support each other, such as with the Brunch In a Box package. The Sunday Brunch box costs $25-$80 and includes products from multiple local restaurants and cafe’s, including MADE, Love Yourself OJ, The Blind Tiger, Bread & Roses Bakery, and LS Organics. They offer multiple sizes for delivery, brunch for 1, 2, or 4, bringing a Sunday Funday directly to your home!

After shutting down their dining room, The Barterhouse in Ybor City recently set up online pick up and delivery options for groceries and pantry items, plus $35 meal kits to-go! In an effort to support the community and provide home-cooked meals, you can pick up a Ribeye Steak dinner for two with sides, and cook them yourself at home. The restaurant is even offering groceries, meats, and vegetables delivered right to your doorstep. 

Other Businesses

After being shut down for the past month, among other local businesses, Woodies Wash Shack, an express car wash in downtown St. Pete, was given special permission to reopen as a sanitization facility for essential workers exclusively in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. It has been proven that the virus can live on all surfaces, including cars. 

Due to the cost of the equipment, Woodie’s is unable to offer these sanitization services for free to all essential workers, however, Woodie’s operates on a membership basis and is offering sanitization services free to members who are essential workers. Non-members pay $45, which includes a $30 car wash. 

Co-working spaces are feeling the hit from being forced to close down or minimize the number of people working in the space at a time.

In an effort to keep the community connected, the Rising Tide Innovation Center in St. Petersburg has pivoted to offering virtual round table events, launched a Brand Ambassador program to provide additional resources and connections to its members, and rather than cancel their monthly Member Town Hall; they hosted via Zoom, with a happy hour! RTIC is even offering a low-cost digital membership for those that are looking for coworking opportunities and resources.  

Do you have a local PiVOT story to share? We’d love to hear! Send your inquiries to


Virtual Gets an Upgrade!

Virtual platforms have existed for years, but the COVID quarantine has certainly done a number to innovate and expedite upgrades to some of our favorite platforms’ features.

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg made a bunch of announcements via his own Facebook Live, and we’ve recapped them for you here!

Charge for access to Facebook events
Charge for access to Facebook events

👉Charge for access to Facebook or IG Live events 

This is fantastic for the small businesses hosting their own virtual events, workshops, or live-streaming fitness classes… and beyond. You no longer need to arrange for a 3rd party streaming app to pipe your users into. You will be able to link a paid option to your Facebook event and VIOLA!

The best part, you don’t even need a Facebook account to participate.

Facebook live with another person
Add people to your Facebook Live

👉Multi-person Facebook Live

Facebook took away the option a while back to have others join you when you go Live on Facebook, (like on Instagram Live) so you can have a 2-way conversation, or “Live With”. Well, it’s coming back so you can host interviews Q&As or simply share the screen with a friend!

👉50+ person video chat via Facebook Messenger Rooms (think ZOOM)

These new messenger rooms will help facilitate larger group chats and events, similar to a Zoom Call.

Facebook Messenger Rooms for 50+ people

👉Instagram Live from your Desktop

If you’ve ever gone LIVE on Instagram, you know it’s tough because you can only do so from your mobile. Well, that is soon changing and you will have access from your desktop too. Move over DM’s, you’re getting another desktop friend – IG Live!

And, for even better news you will be able to save your IG Live to your IGTV for later viewing and make it even easier to find.

Instagram Live from Desktop
Instagram Live from Desktop

👉Virtual video DATES on Facebook!?

It’s true. You can now host a VIDEO date via “Facebook Dating” for those lonely nights at home. Pop the bubbles and sit back and find your match.

The releases were announced last week and Zuckerberg said they would be rolling out “very soon”.

You can read more here!


PiVOT Friday Series Recap – 4/17!

Last Friday, we featured THREE local businesses. First we spoke with Danielle Bayard Jackson who owns Tell Public Relations, an all-women PR agency supporting other female entrepreneurs. Danielle shared that prior to starting her PR agency, she was out in the community and noticed how many women were running amazing businesses but getting very little recognition, which forced them to struggle financially or even shut down! She launched Tell Public Relations to increase visibility of local female entrepreneurs to make sure other people are aware of their business and help them to flourish.

Danielle Jackson, TELL PR

While everyone else has been pivoting to virtual, Danielle and her agency are still working just as hard, being available the same hours as normal, but just happen to be working in pajama bottoms. Her focus recently has been to support her clients as they are struggling with canceling or rescheduling in-person events or speaking arrangements. Tell PR has pivoted to provide their clients creative ways to gain exposure, outside of the traditional media route, such as run social media campaigns, Instagram Live series, and their goal is to educate and empower each client to eventually back the reins on their own PR.  One main difference for Danielle and Tell PR during COVID-19 is that they were scheduled to host in-person educational trainings and events with their clients this month, which have now shifted to virtual. 

We were even lucky enough that Danielle spilled to us some of her secret sauce!

Tip #1: For businesses that thrived on demonstrations or tours, you CAN still give a virtual tour of a new property, demonstrate a recipe in a new kitchen, and launch a grand opening event! You just need to pivot your mindset. 

Tip #2: Did you know you can hire a celebrity on to share your virtual events to the public, and back up your product/service. Um, neither did we, but we may go check that our immediately!

Our second speaker was Brandon Bruce from Food Not Flowers, who interviewed with us directly from his garden!. This business is not exactly what you may think (move over, Edible Arrangements). Food Not Flowers provides consumers the opportunity to purchase a thoughtful, practical, and well presented care package and send it to someone in need. 

Brandon Bruce, Food Not Flowers


This is especially important now where you cannot be physically together. If someone has sick family members, or just lost a job, you can send them a care package by ordering through Food Not Flowers online. While they were already an ecommerce focused business and had made some recent pivots before COVID-19, they are finding that people are starting to engage with the brand more than ever! Purchasers have enjoyed the well thought out, nicely wrapped gift with a personal note to send to their loved ones. Better yet, they even offer free “Send Love” packages to people on the frontlines, such as Health Care Workers. You can nominate one online!! Go now!! 


Last but not least, we spoke with Lynn Kroesen from the Hillsborough County Entrepreneur Collaborative Center. The ECC is an amazing

 facility in Ybor that has for many years held training classes for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Each year they hosted 100 or more in-person events, totaling 1,000 or more attendees, and bringing in various partners to provide the best resources. The best part is, almost all 

of the workshops and events are free, or $10-15 max! 

Lynn Kroesen

When the pandemic first hit, this business was in emergency operation mode. They helped with handling small business loan applications and focused on providing resources to those in need. Now, they are pivoting back to the events world, and hosting educational and networking opportunities in a virtual space at no cost. They have increased the total number of events per month, and have seen a huge uptick in not only attendance, but the demographic of their attendees, due to the fact they are able to now serve and connect with even more people! Their weekly program, 1 Million Cups, has now moved virtual and has 50+ attendees each week and attendees are participating from all over the region. In the future, they hope to go back to in-person pitch practice and educational workshops, but plan to keep virtual events as well, such as offering resources on how to market your business online!


Tampa Bay Goes Live has launched a weekly Instagram LIVE series called: PiVOT. This series, hosted every Friday at noon, features local businesses and professionals, providing them a platform to share their story of how they have pivoted to virtual. In the first two weeks, we featured a diverse set of speakers, such as local organizations and networking groups, non profits, restaurant and food industry owners, and plan to continue bringing in more each week! 


Do you know someone who has a great PiVOT story? Send nominations to


How to Successfully Market a Virtual Event

Once you’ve selected your platform and your content for your virtual event, you may think you’re done with the logistics, but you’ve only just started! There’s a lot of content, virtual events and educational information flying around social media and into people’s inboxes right now, so it’s important that you set up a strategy for promoting and marketing your event to make it stand out amongst the busy-ness. 

How will you measure success? You will probably want to set a goal number of guests to yourself right away, so you can gage the engagement and RSVP count and make sure you’re meeting that goal amount.

To walk you through how to market your event, I will use a virtual event I planned for AAF Tampa Bay to provide examples! 

Step 1: Branding Guidelines

Select a variety of colors, fonts, and images that inspire you and match the messaging of your event. Organize them into a Google Doc or Folder so you have the ability to share with others who may be helping you build your event creative. It does not need to be overly complicated or time consuming, but it’s important that you use these as guidelines for all future promotions!


Inspiration image with font overlay for AAF #TBonTap event.

All future posts included the #TBonTap overlay text so guests could recognize the event promotion!


Step 2: Social Media & Email Promotion

Now that you have the overall branding set up, start playing around with optional social media postings for both Facebook and Instagram. It’s great to have a mixture of photos and images with graphic designs to add variety. Make sure that all social posts include a call to action and a consistent message, and ONLY link your event in an Instagram bio (not in the post directly. It won’t click through to the URL!). Tag your speakers and sponsors, and encourage them to share! If you have multiple people helping plan and organize the event, recommend they share on their personal pages as well! The more cross-promotion you can get on social media, the more people who will have eyes on your event. 

For email, it’s recommended you send one email to your full email distro a few days prior to the event. Include as many details as possible. Where on social media you may be slowly unveiling who your speakers are, in the email you should include all of these details at once. Your email should lead to an uptick in RSVPs, a bit higher conversion rates than via social media, because your audience is in work and plan-your-week mode while in their inbox! 


Social: We used the #TBonTap message in every post so our audience could recognize the consistency. We also slowly unveiled who our speakers were to increase excitement and provide more content. 


Step 3: Registration Micro-site

There are multiple reasons why you would want to include a micro-site for your event registration, rather than just using a Facebook event page or emails as confirmation. Building a microsite allows you to utilize your branding and messaging while driving all traffic to one place. By requiring people to register, you can charge attendees to attend and accept payment directly, or if you are offering the event for free, you can at least obtain all of the contact information from your guests who sign up. Not only is this a great way to generate leads, but you can now start building a relationship with these people!

What information do you need to include on your registration page?

Details such as the time, date, location/platform, and cost.

An overview of the agenda, the speakers, and the topic during your event.

What contact information should you obtain when people register?

Name, email, phone number, company


AAF Tampa Bay virtual happy hour event registration page built through WildApricot. Very simple, but includes all the necessary details!

Step 4: Include Giveaways

It’s highly recommended that you offer a giveaway of some sort to your guests! Whether it’s a gift card or a free membership, some small incentive can help you increase your RSVP’s and your show-up rate! One tip to obtain giveaways is to reach out to local businesses who can benefit from the audience you will be connecting with. They may be willing to sponsor with either a dollar amount or a product that would be worth offering to your guests. It’s a win-win for you and your sponsor(s) by providing value to both – you get your sponsor in front of a large audience and you provide your guests an incentive to attend your event! 


AAF used its programming budget to purchase $10 gift cards for three local businesses. This encouraged the overall #supportlocal message that was behind our event, while also offering a fun opportunity to raffle off gift cards live! We also set the raffle timing for after our panel, so our guests had to stay the whole time in order to win.

We then promoted the gift card giveaway on social media and in our email marketing.


How To Create A Successful Virtual Event during Covid19 disruption!

Thanks to the coronavirus causing cancelations of offline conferences and events, companies are trying to establish a new normal while embracing digital experiences and creating virtual events.

There’s a reason virtual & online events haven’t taken off the last 10 years!!!
Webinars Back to back get re-labeled as Online Conference Broadcasting a live stream of a keynote to video player is promoted as an interactive digital-first event
This must change!

The process in a nutshell
Brian has perfected the process needed to create a successful online event after producing over 3,000 live streams, speaking in 76 countries and helping Fortune 100 brands deploy their virtual events. He’s pretty much broken down to this:

1. Define Success and Set Measurable.

Success looks different for everyone involved in an offline conference — sponsors are looking for potential clients, the hosts may be looking to increase loyalty and the attendees might be looking for people to add to their network.

An online conference has the same dynamic, but often people don’t take that into consideration when they are planning. So, the first thing needs to be first when planning a virtual event — define what success looks like for everyone involved.

Where most people go wrong is defining success without setting goals. If success looks like creating brand loyalty and an engaged audience, your goals should be return customers, social media mentions and numbers of messages in the live chat. The number of attendees doesn’t matter, nor does the amount of money made.

Just remember, these should all be things that can be tracked and measured.

2. Determine the Content and Experience.

Once you have your goals laid out, it’s time to determine what kind of content can get you to your goal and create the experience you want to. In this step, you’ve got to think about what is going to get the point across, live video? Produced video? Ask me anything style?

How are you going to create your experience? Themed chat rooms? A choose your own adventure style event? What about podcasts for those not interested in the live video? There are so many ways we can facilitate a similar experience online to offline, but they require planning (something most forgets with online events).

3. Choose Your Platforms and Speakers.

Now that you know what kind of content and experience you want to create, you can start to determine the best platforms for hosting and interacting. Here is the thing though, just like everything else, the best results come from collaboration.

There is no such thing as a “do it all” platform.” They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s about finding the platforms that can work together to create the perfect experience.

After you have the who, what, when, where and why of your event set you can focus on hiring the best speakers. You want to make sure that the speakers are ready to make a great virtual event and that they understand that it’s not the same as a 30–90-minute keynote. You also want to make sure that they are able to create the type of content you are hoping to have.

4. Create a Digital-First Mindset

Creating the best virtual event experience requires a digital-first mindset. Again, what goes on offline can’t just be replicated online, it’s a much different venue, so you have to retrain everyone on what it means to create an engaging event.

If you’re looking for more resources and insights on virtual events, interactive webinars or moving your offline conference to online visit his new page “Re-inventing Virtual Event Resources.”

This was first posted on my blog at :


How to Select the Right Virtual Platform

With the world being forced to go completely virtual, our daily schedules, planners, and overall structure has been completely unhinged. The good news is, we can sleep later, spend less time getting ready, and avoid traffic altogether. What has become more complicated, is how we can continue to stay connected to not only our colleagues but our friends and family from the safety of our homes.

We quickly have had to pivot. The work meetings you had set up for this week, both internally and externally, had to be moved to a phone call or a Zoom meeting. The happy hour you had set up with your friends for Friday night will now be over Facetime. The new product you were planning to activate during a big launch event will have to be, as you’d assume, canceled. All big plans you’ve had set up for the next couple of months must either be canceled or recreated with a completely new vision.

You don’t need to necessarily cancel EVERYTHING you’ve got planned. Luckily, it’s 2020 so there is plenty of software and apps out there for you to conduct successful meetings, host a big launch event to promote a new product or service, or even have a happy hour with a group of people (colleagues or friends). What can be overwhelming is the number of options to choose from. How do you pick the right platform?

I have broken down the list of recommended software based on the type of event or meeting you will be hosting and provided a few options for you to consider!

Internal Company Meeting
Option 1: ZOOM
ZOOM has been everyone’s go-to video chatting technology. The good news is, most people will have downloaded it and used it before, so you’re not trying to teach a dog new tricks. The downside is with internal meetings, you may have to schedule back to back to back ZOOM calls and your entire team may be really sick of the platform by 2:00 pm. What I’d recommend is if it’s a 1:1 call with your employee, stick to a traditional phone call. If it’s a company-wide meeting with 50 executives, include a presentation in the background to keep everyone on track and focused.


Option 2: Microsoft Teams
Teams is another great platform for internal communications. What is unique about teams is that outside of video chatting capabilities, it’s also a collaboration tool. It has the capability to also host folders of work that your internal teams may need to collaborate on, outside of the company network, but still, security protected. For meetings, the video calling feature is easy to use and has little technical difficulties, keeping your teams on track!


External Client Meeting
Option 1: ZOOM
Similarly to your internal company meetings, your external clients will probably be most comfortable with ZOOM as well. This means less time trying to work through technical difficulties and more time getting to work! What is great about ZOOM is the ability to share your screen and/or share a presentation, so it’s very collaborative. It can host up to 100 people, so you can even still have your monthly sales update.


Option 2: Google Hangouts/ Hangouts Meet
Similarly to ZOOM, Google Hangouts is simple, easy to use, and set up through Gmail which most people have an account with already! You can easily jump on a video call, share your screen, and have chat capabilities. However, Google Hangouts can only host up to 10 people. For those that have G Suite, Hangouts Meet is the upgraded version with real-time captions, support for up to 250 participants, and 10,000 live stream viewers.


Launch Event
Option 1: Instagram LIVE
For a virtual launch event, you will want to consider multiple factors.

  1. Where is your audience? Do you gain more engagement on Instagram or Facebook, or somewhere else? What is the age group of your audience? If the answer is mostly Millennials and Gen Z, then Instagram LIVE will be the way to go!
  2. Don’t forget to bring in other partners and speakers. This will widen your IG LIVE audience because you will tap into both your followers AND your speaker/partners’ followers. Be sure to promote your event for at least a week beforehand and post a follow up thank you for attending after as well!

Option 2: Facebook LIVE
After considering your options, you may have decided your age group and audience is more likely to be on Facebook. OR, you decided to try both! We’d recommend you try both, but not at the same time. Host an Instagram LIVE first, then a Facebook LIVE the week after. You’re going after a completely different audience so it won’t overdo it. Again, make sure you do promotion before and after an event. This is a great way to build engaging content without being too sales-y.


Option 3: ZOOM
You may want to host an actual event where your listeners can feel like attendees, meet each other, participate in the discussion, and more! This is where ZOOM will come in for a great option for an event that feels almost like a real event! There are tips and tricks on how to host a great virtual event, including strategies leading up to, during, and after to continue the relationship you’ve now started with your audience and the education you’ve now given them about your product or service. This information will come soon in a future blog post, or you can contact Alexis Rose LLC at to get started immediately!


Networking Event or Conference
Option 1: ZOOM
Similar to the launch event, you can create a virtual networking event using ZOOM that allows your audience to engage with each other, have a speaker who is leading the conversation, utilize a presentation in the background, and even break your guests into mini break out groups (using the paid version of ZOOM). Make sure there is an overall topic or purpose behind your networking event, so that way you can tailor your content and discussion around this topic rather than having an open free-for-all. It will give your event more depth and meaning during a time when people could instead be, I don’t know, watching Netflix.


Option 2: Lunchpool
This one you’ve probably never heard of before. But, Lunchpool was launched just in time for a 100% virtual lifestyle and provides unique capabilities to its users! This software can host up to 100 people and allows for presenters, engaging speakers panels, live Q&A from your guests, and can break out your guests into groups of 8 at tables where they can interact in a smaller group. This software is also great for more casual meetings or events with colleagues or friends.


Happy Hour with Friends or Colleagues
Option 1: FaceTime
The traditional FaceTime never gets old – especially when it’s impossible to see your friends’ faces in person! FaceTime allows multiple users at once. Just start a group chat (with iPhone only friends, of course) and start a FaceTime call with all parties on the group chat. But first, pour yourself a glass of wine or a beer!


Option 2: House Party
Ready to party like it’s 1999? House Party is an app that allows larger groups to attend the same “party” but breaks people up into smaller groups of eight into separate “rooms”. The app allows you to send private messages while on the call, play a game such as trivia or heads up with the 8 people in your private room, and even send a facemail (a voicemail, but with your face). This app would be fun to try out with your friends or “cool” colleagues.

Option 3: Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger just launched a standalone messenger app for Desktop that allows unlimited and FREE group video calls! In an effort to compete with other platforms such as Zoom and Google, Facebook now allows free video desktop calling with an unlimited time limit using the account you most likely already have set up! Nothing new to download or logins to create. This one is great for video chats with friends that you already have on Facebook. However, it may not be best for a work environment, as this platform may mix business and pleasure by using your personal Facebook profile with your boss or client.


Just because we are stuck indoors, for the time being, does not mean you cannot make new connections, build business partnerships, or even make friends!


Take a look at the Tampa Bay Goes Live calendar to see what virtual events are coming up. Or, plan your own! Reach out to the team for help setting up and hosting a successful virtual event.

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