Communities Served:

Austin
Georgetown
Round Rock
Taylor
Cedar Park
Jollyville
Lakeway
Bee Cave
Dripping Springs
Wells Branch
Pflugerville
North Austin
Leander
Houston
San Antonio
Dallas
Fort Worth

Social Media as a PR Function

January 21, 2014 @ 6:37 AM posted by Joshua Carnes

Hello-I-am-your-brandSocial media is the rage these days, as well it should be, it is a new channel to access customers and that’s great.

Clearly, it’s having a big impact on marketing. Arguably, it has changed the face of marketing forever.

Social Media has changed our environment

People who have a problem with a company can make their opinions public quite easily, and reach a large audience. One famous example of this was a video of a Comcast technician sleeping on a customer’s couch that was put up on YouTube. The video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times. Individual consumers can easily access a large audience with their views. This gives the consumer a lot more power in the relationship with the companies they buy from.

On the other side of the coin, companies can use social media to improve their interactions with customers. Using Comcast as an example again, Comcast’s Frank Eliason has begun an active support channel on Twitter. This open channel allows consumers to air complaints, and get responses directly from Frank, or others in the customer service department.

Comcast is using this to provide another channel for dealing with customer complaints. Comcast scored a lot of points in the social media community for this initiative.

Bottom line is that thanks to social media, the pressure is on companies to be more transparent and accessible.

Why Social Media is Basically PR

That’s right. Social media is basically a PR / customer service function.

In the old days, you issued press releases, hoped a media person would pick them up, write a story, and then you would get your message out to consumers. The nature of the benefit you would receive from a press release wasn’t well defined, but one of the key goals you had was to create some real buzz in the market about your product or service. You sent it out, followed up with some direct outreach to key media people, and then hoped for the best. Sure, there was more to it than this, but you were basically dealing with a broadcast channel.

Social media is quite similar in that respect. The social sites are channels for communicating with media people and customers. Yes, you can have direct interactions with individual customers, but overall you’re looking to reach a mass of people and create buzz about your product or service. As with PR, you should also reach out to key influencers to get their endorsement of whatever you’re trying to promote.

That doesn’t mean you can’t affect the outcome by being smart about what you do. You absolutely can. It’s critical to put together a campaign that fits the medium you use, and will be well received by your audience. You need your idea to stand out and be distinctive, but you also need to do that with conventional PR.

These are all examples of broadcasting a message to an audience. Yes, you can interact with users, test ideas, tune what you are doing, but the scope of the end benefit isn’t well defined. Will it go viral and spread? Will a major influencer pick it up and write about it? You can use a number of tactics to help increase the likelihood of these things, but that was true in the pre-social media days too.

The medium has changed. It’s easier to create viral events, and you can more easily interact one on one with some of your customers. These are big changes, but the marketing goals and underlying structure of the activities to accomplish those goals haven’t changed at all, because of those similarities.

So, in the end will social media be handled by PR departments, marketing departments or both?

Twitter Rolls Out New Web Design

January 15, 2014 @ 5:22 AM posted by Joshua Carnes

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Twitter is rolling out a new design on the web today that eliminates the pop-up compose window and brings its look more in line with its mobile apps. We’ve been seeing Twitter test versions of this design for some time now, but this particular one appears to be the test bucket that got the best reaction from users.

It looks, in some ways, a lot like the old version of Twitter — with a profile box and other information presented to the left of the main timeline. One of the biggest changes, of course, is that there is now an inline compose box on the left side, allowing you to pound out tweets without having to deal with the pop-up compose box. The pop up is still accessible via the ‘new tweet’ button in the upper right corner and the keyboard shortcut.

Placing a compose box right in the left column should make the interface feel a bit lighter weight, inviting people to tweet out a bit more than placing it ‘under’ the compose button. I’d guess that this was aimed at converting lurkers to tweeters.

The alignment of Twitter’s web edition with its mobile versions for iOS and Android certainly makes sense. A large recent release saw major changes in both design and functionality. The web version has lagged a bit behind those releases in the interim, but now feels much more at home.

While it may not be the classic battle of apples vs. oranges, the differences between marketing products vs. services will have an affect on your content marketing efforts.

As you review both, keep in mind that none of this is truly hard-and-fast. Many of the goals, questions and topics that apply to products can also apply to services and vice-versa.

content-marketing-products-vs-services1Thanks to 1000 Content Ideas for the infographic

Primary Goals of Your Content
Products:
  • If your product is not a commodity, then create content that highlights the unique value it provides.
  • If your product is a commodity, or just plain boring, then hook folks in with helpful information and advice – both of which will build the trust needed to make sales happen.
Services:
  • It’s harder to differentiate yourself using benefits on the service side as many others will offer the same types of services.However, you can build trust by explaining the ins-and-outs and benefits of the services you provide. This is a great way to establish your expertise and qualifications, both of which build the trust needed to make sales happen.

 

Who and what are the biggest social influencers in the digital space today?

Recently, the editors at MBA in Marketing Degree Guide decided to find out and embarked on a research expedition that uncovered some interesting information.

The research began by probing who consumers trust when it comes to their purchasing decisions.

social-influencers-infographic

 

Thanks to CMO for sharing!

The Billion Dollar Start Ups

February 14, 2013 @ 9:10 AM posted by Joshua Carnes

 

There are not many start ups that made it to a billion dollar valuation, but here are the few that did make it.

A few of the successful startups in the last few years.

A few of the successful startups in the last few years.

Thanks to John Larase and the team at Staff.com for the production.

In a day and age where the business world seems even more competitive, how would you describe your ability to manage your small business?

With 2013 off and running, hopefully you have already set aside goals to better manage your company over the next 12 months. If so, where do things like social media, checking your online reputation, and cozying up more to technology figure into the mix

According to research from the Harvard Business Review Analytics Services, nearly 80 percent of the 2,100 business surveyed stated they are either using or intend to utilize social media channels moving forward

That being said, only a mere 12 percent of those companies believe that they are properly using them. Lastly, a large percentage of businesses indicate they are still taking their time to seriously focus in on social media. Some two-thirds of users noted not having any formalized social media strategy, with only 7 percent having integrated social media into their overall marketing plans.

So, where should some of your business management focus be this year? Keep an eye on:

  • Social media – First and foremost, get more social with the public. Given the fact that more consumers are using social platforms to shop for and buy goods and services, you need to be there awaiting their visits. If you have company Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest pages, how active are you on them? Do you share, tweet, post and pin regularly, or are you one of those business owners who does it just because the competition does? Make sure you have a sound strategy going forward over these next 12 months to put yourself above and beyond the competition;
  • Online reputation – One of the biggest obstacles to running a successful small business can be if your online reputation is called into question. Instead of focusing in on your customers, growing your business and keeping your employees productive and happy, a bad online reputation can have you scrambling to put out fires. How you get a bad online rap can occur in a number of ways, including if a customer or employee has written something bad about you online in a review or blog, spoken negatively about you or your business in an online forum, or posted a YouTube video or other imagery that casts you and/or your company in a bad light. One of the reasons you should periodically monitor your name and that of your company is just this, avoiding a bad online persona. Google your name and the company’s name from time to time to make sure the news is good
  • Technology – Lastly, what emphasis will you be placing on technology during these next 12 months? From mobile payments to videos and podcasts touting your business, be prepared to give everything a try if you are not already doing so. As more and more of your customers want their goods and services purchased and delivered yesterday and not today, you need to stay up to speed on consumer demands. While having a company blog is great and all, have you dabbled in videos and podcasts? These can be great tools to educate and inform the buying public as to what you offer. If you do not have the time or expertise to do such materials in-house, consider outsourcing the work to professionals who can make your company stand out from the rest.

With a new year oftentimes come resolutions. What will be your business resolutions for 2013?

Original question posed on SEJ

Content Marketing, Your Secret Weapon.

December 28, 2012 @ 7:30 AM posted by Joshua Carnes

I get contacted frequently by local companies wanting a quick fix for ranking in the search engines. In many cases, they discover that local SEO doesn’t equate with a cheap shortcut to high rankings. Increasingly, local SEO is about ongoing, consistent online promotion activities. That’s where Content Marketing comes in.

A good Content Marketing program doesn’t have to be a back-breaking enterprise. It will require some effort and/or some cost, depending upon if you outsource it or if you do it completely yourself.

Why Content Marketing is Your Secret Weapon

The good thing is, a great many local businesses still are not doing Content Marketing, so use of it as a search engine optimization tactic is still something of a secret weapon. Here’s how.

Many local businesses in highly competitive categories have already done the straightforward things for optimizing their businesses to rank for local. They may have optimized their sites, obtained local citations and links, optimized their business profiles, finessed their Google+ Local (a.k.a. Google Places) listings, encouraged customer reviews, and more.

Since all these businesses are doing essentially the same activities, they end up barely trumping the listings just below them in Google Local search results, and they may be frequently jostling, month after month, for the same slots.

But, if one of them begins Content Marketing consistently, that business may rapidly become top dog, accruing advantages that the non-Content Marketing businesses lose out on. It gives some distinct advantages, and can become a secret weapon that may allow the first company using it to develop a lead that the others might not quickly imitate.

Advantages Of Content Marketing For Local SEO

  • Lends your site some ongoing, timely stuff to seduce parts of Google’s algorithms that feature content based on freshness.

  • Attracts an audience that may interact with you. User interaction signals can give your site a higher prominence score in Google local algorithms. Blogs can develop subscribers and frequent readers, and generally make a site/business appear more friendly and open to humans.
  • Provides your site with an often unique link profile!
  • Enables you to rank in Blog Search as well as in regular keyword search results and Local (Maps) search result which equal more exposure and greater distribution of your promotional efforts.
  • Enables you to engage with other bloggers by posting commentary pieces and opinions on your blog.
  • Enables you to have a forum for jumping on media feeding frenzies when there’s something related to your industry in the news.
  • Provides you with a voice that is your own if anyone ever attacks your company online. Content Marketing is a linchpin of proactive online reputation management.
  • Provides a solid bedrock for developing your social media presence! A blog is a perfect tool for feeding content out onto Twitter, Facebook and Google+ as well as other social media sites. As a feed source, you can use it to actually reduce your workload by simply adding content in one place and having it show up in your various social media pages if that’s what you want. (Although, there are things that work more effectively on some social media platforms better than others, so it’s good to still customize these things for different places/audiences. And, you’ll still need to respond to people who engage with each of your social media accounts, too.)

There are a great many details to configuring a blog to be optimal for you, but here are a few suggestions.

How To Set Up An Optimal Blog For Local SEO & Social Media

  • Use WordPress. It already has a lot of search engine optimization basics built-in. Although, it’s still helpful to get a pro to help you make decisions about the various installation options.
  • Avoid themes that you can’t customize to remove or no-follow links to the designer’s site.
  • Integrate your blog as part of your existing site. It could be in a dedicated sub-directory or it could be set as a sub-domain.
  • Avoid menu navigation systems that do not use SEO-friendly links.
  • Incorporate author pages. I’ve written previously about benefits to incorporating employee pages on your business site. You could use our staff pages to double as author pages, or set them up especially for the blog. Having author pages can work hand-in-hand with authorship markup.
  • Incorporate authorship markup. Setting up real, human authors to acknowledge with by-lines on the blog posts will make them reassuring and more trustworthy for readers, and this is one reason why Google treats such blog posts a bit more preferentially. Using the author tag markup can help your pages’ listings have greater visibility in the search results — and more eye-catching listings typically equate with higher click-through rates.
  • Perform your SEO research and target future blog posts to your ideal keyword combinations over time. Engineer your page titles and matching keyword URLs to help highlight these terms.
  • Include tag pages and related post links. These help enhance the topical keyword associations with your pages and can provide readers with navigation features which help them find more similar content on your blog.
  • Post frequently. Once a day is fantastic, if you can keep it up! However, once a week might be best, depending on your industry and comfort/familiarity with Content Marketing.
  • Mix it up! If you’re a plumbing site, it’s going to grow terribly dull to write (and for your readers to read) article after article on types of pipe fittings you do, or how fast you drive to their place. Instead, mix it up by mentioning interesting and outrageous things that happen in the news which are related to your business type — when some giant water main has blasted open in a city somewhere, or an amazing story of a wedding ring found in a drain ten years after being lost and then reunited with its owner. Get the idea?
  • Start a conversation with the blogosphere. Write a blog piece giving your thoughts on another person’s blog from your industry. Link to their piece if you do this, of course — often they’ll link back to you to respond so their readers can follow the thread, or their blog may automatically post trackback links. Engaging with other blogs can help you enter into the overall conversation, get your blog/business more interest, and further reassure search engine algorithms that your company is on-the-level as more humans interact with you online.
  • Make it part of the local community. Even when trying to mix it up and engaging with other blogs, if you only post on topics about your industry, it may still be pretty dry for the average reader. Consider also posting on things of particular interest to the people in your community — local happenings, local economic news, recommendations for other partner businesses in the area, etc. By doing this you can make yours a hyper-local blog, and the additional buzz around local topics will help improve your site for locational relevancy with the local search engines.
  • Plan a content calendar. Consider posting seasonal items related to your business and area: seasonal tips, special offers, how the changing season or holidays affect your business or products, and more.
  • Keep posts brief! It’s not necessary to write a lengthy essay with each post, and Internet users typically prefer succinct content that’s easily-digestible. Also, if you write too long, you’ll burn yourself out and be unable to blog consistently enough to sustain ongoing publishing.

Installing a blog and writing on it consistently are not going to be shortcuts to achieving higher rankings fast — these things take some work. However, this investment in engaging with online consumers will give you an advantage that won’t disappear overnight. And, if you do it right, it could help you get ahead of your competitors in terms of SEO and social media.

 

Social Media Stats and Facts for 2012

November 2, 2012 @ 9:19 AM posted by Joshua Carnes

Thanks to MediaBistro for sharing!

An Interesting Election Choice

October 17, 2012 @ 8:16 PM posted by Joshua Carnes

I would like to start out by stating that this is an opinion piece. That means that this is my opinion and you have every right to agree or disagree with it, that is one of the beautiful things about this country.

So this election year we have a choice between two men who have very different views on where we should go as a county. On one side you have a man who believes that you should tax the rich to make them pay for less fortunate and he calls himself a Christian, yet does not really show the fruit of being true Christian. He is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and believes that “all” roads lead to heaven. On the other side you have a man who believes that you should let the rich keep their money in hopes that they will use that money to hire more people and he also calls himself a Christian yet is part of a religion that until recently was considered a cult. He is pro-marriage, pro-life sort of, and believes that he will one day become a god and rule his own planet.

I am left asking, what does this election mean for our country? I believe that as for our country we have a clear choice between the two men and  two financial world views, Socialism or Capitalism and this year our country will decide what path it will take. I am also left asking, what does this election mean for the Gospel? Do either one of the financial world views help or hurt the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I think that a socialist U.S. would be harder on the daily life of Christian at least it is in the rest of the world. In fact Christians are being heavily persecuted in the rest of the world . (Voice of the Martyrs) But the question remains has capitalism in the freest country in the world helped or hurt the Gospel? I would like to suggest both! There is no doubt that it is easier to be a Christian in the U.S. than it is in any other country in the world today. But is that a good thing?

Today we have more false converts, false preachers and false religions than in any other country. Yet according to CNN “America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago” with 60% of the nation calling themselves Christian (CNN). If that is true and Christianity is flourishing under in the U.S. then why is it only 35% of Christians believe that Satan and hell are real (Christian Post) and only 30% believe that the bible is the true.(CP Poll) I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you don’t believe that he bible is the infallible word of God, you are NOT a Christian… Don’t believe me, read the Bible.

That brings me back to the question, what does this election mean for Christians and more importantly the Gospel? A Vote for the current president Obama would essentially be a vote to support to move our country towards socialism and support for someone who is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-universalism and a representative of the democratic party that openly Boo’s God. So that would mean that the obvious choice would be Romney right? Wrong… Let’s take a look at what a vote for Romney really means. It would be a vote for capitalism, traditional marriage (sort of) pro-life (sort of) and pro god.

Let’s dive in to the social issues a little more. President Obama obviously losses if you are a social conservative and a Christian, once again this is an opinion piece and if you don’t agree, go read your bible (2nd Corinthians 13:6-5) But that doesn’t mean that Romney automatically wins… Let’s look at some of the major issues. First the abortion issue, he is pro-life except in the cases of rape and incest. As horrible as those acts are you are still punishing the child with a death sentence for the crimes of the farther. Second is the marriage issue, while he is for the biblical definition of marriage the problem is that we believe in a different bible and if you don’t believe that polygamy that is alive and well please visit Shield and Refuge and listen to the testimonies in their “lifting the Veil” documentary. The third and most important issue is God. At least Romney is pro God right… Well let’s take a quick look at Mormonism (for an in-depth look visit CARM) Mormons believe in a different Jesus, believe God used to be a man on another planet, God resides near a star called Kolob, God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children and after you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god. Unfortunately none of that is in the Bible.

So if you are a Christian that means that the obvious vote is for… I don’t know… The only thing I can tell you for certain is that this election is a very important election for our country but as a Christian I feel both choices are extremely lacking. If we really want true change, if we really want the Gospel to win the only thing we can do is stand up and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ which says for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) That means that if you have ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain, you have sinned. Jesus said, “Whoever looks with lust has already committed adultery in his heart.” Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous adulterer at heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell. God, who the Bible says is “rich in mercy” sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for guilty sinners. We broke God’s Law, but Jesus paid our fine. That means He can legally dismiss our case. He can commute our death sentence: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please, repent (turn from sin) today and God will grant everlasting life to all who trust in Jesus. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.

 

Resources: Living Waters  - Wretched RadioCARMShield & Refuge - Bible Gateway - Christian PostCNN- Voice of the Martyrs – image Politics R Funny

Long-Term Benefits of Content Marketing

September 7, 2012 @ 6:44 PM posted by Joshua Carnes

Content marketing has the power to produce more than just links – it can enhance your brand image and build relationships with key brand advocates who are sure to get you even more links and exposure than you ever could without a content-based strategy.

It may sound counter-productive, but focusing less on link building can actually gain more links.

The four content marketing benefits below can all come with the additional side effect of natural links. Craft your content strategy with these core benefits in mind, and you can spend less (or even zero) time on link acquisition.

1. Generate High Volumes of Targeted Traffic

When you produce amazing content that gets syndicated on major sites, you can gain massive exposure through visitors and unique page views. Creating content that is relevant to your audience and then placing it on a high authority site with an audience that matches your target, the greater chance you’ll see a surge of traffic – and from the right people.

Post-Penguin, links with long-term value are those that drive targeted traffic to your site and/or increase your exposure to your target audience.

How to do this:

  • First, you need to understand what an authority site looks like these days.
  • When evaluating a site, consider their audience. Pay close attention to metrics like Alexa score, RSS subscribers, and social proof. If people are consistently sharing and commenting on their content, it’s a good sign they’re a trusted authority.
  • Begin the outreach process before you begin creating content. Working collaboratively with publishers is key to creating content specifically for their audience, and increases the likelihood of that content being successful with their audience.
  • To really increase your content’s chances of success, aim to work with the most influential writers on a site (they will often have their own loyal audience within the site’s audience).

2. Engage Social Audiences

One of the fastest (and easiest) ways to connect and convert is through social media. Social networks not only help share your content widely, but also have the ability to filter and change it to meet the needs of many sub communities you may not have even thought to target. If your content achieves repeated sharing, it can also help solidify the trustworthiness and perceived potential value of your business.

How to do this:

  • Optimize your content for social sharing by doing the following:
    • Always place the proper social buttons on your content. But don’t overdo it – only give a few options (focus on social networks where your target demographic hangs out).
    • Think of how content will appear in users’ social streams. Craft enticing titles and meta descriptions to yield the highest possible click-through rates.
    • In line with the above, include attention-grabbing visuals, since most social networks also pull in an image.
  • Consider buying social ads to get your content in front of targeted social users.

3. Initiate Immediate Conversion Events

Content can help deliver a positive message about your brand or your business and result in immediate conversions. Therefore, a content marketing strategy can increase lead flow, sales, email sign ups, social media followers, and RSS subscribers.

How to do this:

  • With every piece of content, always present an opportunity to connect closer with your brand:
    • On your blog, be sure you make it easy to sign up for your email and/or subscribe to your RSS feed.
    • Collect email addresses as the barrier to entry for more exclusive content (or anything downloadable).
    • You can even include calls-to-action within your visual content. Place a call-to-action at the end of your infographics. With videos, include one in the last few frames.

4. Encourage Brand Advocacy

Each piece of content you create is an opportunity to hook new people and grow your long-term audience. As this audience grows, you’ll have an even bigger base of people willing to share your content.

When someone repeatedly shares and engages with your content, they’re not only vouching for your content, but your brand as well. This opens up more and more potential customers to your company.

How to do this:

  • Do more than just listen. Always respond to comments and feedback from your community, even if it’s just to say “thanks.”
  • Make it easy to participate. Don’t require people to fill out long forms to leave comments on your blog or sign up for your email list.
  • Get your community involved as much as possible in content creation. If they feel invested in your content, they’ll be more eager to help spread it. Are they not outright saying what type of content they’d like? Ask them.
  • Highlight customer-generated content (product reviews, testimonials, etc.) as often as possible across a range of content mediums.

Sustainable Marketing for the Long Term

Instead of launching reactionary linking campaigns that may fall out of favor after a few months or possibly be detrimental to the value of your site, build a sustainable marketing strategy that is built to last. If you want a digital marketing strategy that produces more than just links; consider content marketing. The main goal of marketing that will never change is making yourself stand out to your customers (and differentiate your company from your competitors).

Creating highly unique and valuable content can create widespread brand awareness and really set one brand apart from the next. The potential leads and opportunities for your brand are vast and can be extremely beneficial to the long-term success of any business.

To read this article from it’s original source please {click here.}