Old Websites Are Bad for SEO. Here’s How to Fix Yours

Search engine optimization is constantly changing. What worked last year (or even last month) may no longer be an effective strategy.

Just look at the way SEO has changed in the last decade.

Ten years ago, keyword-dense pages were viewed as the surest path to the top of search results. In response, marketers started stuffing keywords everywhere — on the home page, in half-baked blog posts, even on the background of pages in white (read: hidden) text.

After that it was backlinks. Google no longer trusted marketers to be honest about their sites, so it turned to external sources as a form of social proof. The more links pointing back to a website, the more relevance and value Google assigned it.

Of course, enterprising marketers quickly found a way around this as well. Websites full of spoofed content sprang up overnight, providing hundreds (if not thousands) of fake backlinks to companies.

Today, Google is taking a new approach to SEO. Instead of relying solely on content to determine results, the search giant is also looking at user experience.

The logic behind this is fairly simple — a search engine’s primary function is to serve people the best results. If a page is slow to load, riddled with pop-up ads or hard to read on mobile devices, it negatively impacts the user experience. Google views these pages as “poor” results and penalizes them in its search algorithm.

Making sense of the latest trends

Right now, the prevailing thought among SEO experts is that the following issues negatively impact a website’s ranking:

  • Pages that are slow to load
  • Pages that are “top heavy” with too many advertisements above the fold
  • Pages that are not mobile friendly
  • Pages with duplicate content
  • Pages with outdated content
  • Pages with low-quality content, e.g., spun articles or pages with 1-2 paragraphs of text

As a content marketer or web designer, this presents a unique challenge. How do you optimize your website for the future if the rules are constantly shifting?

Fortunately, everyone has to play by the same rulebook. The brands that find success are the ones that:

  1. Pay attention to the latest SEO trends and best practices.
  2. Are willing (and able) to quickly implement content and design updates, based on the latest best practices.
  3. Understand the needs and motivations of their target audience.

That last bullet point is especially important. It doesn’t matter if you rank highly for keywords your audience is no longer searching for — you need to meet them where they are already located.

If you want to rank higher in search results, your website needs to be optimized for the current best practices. That means a responsive design that works on all devices. It means pages that load quickly and aren’t bogged down by too many ads. It means informative content that’s easy to access and gives people a reason to stay.

Why does my bounce rate matter?

Imagine opening a report on your website’s traffic and discovering that your home page has a bounce rate of 50 percent.

In simple terms, this means that every other person who visits your home page leaves without clicking anywhere else on the site.

Are alarm bells ringing in your head?

They really shouldn’t be. As a general rule of thumb, a bounce rate below 40 percent is considered excellent. Anything between 40 and 60 percent is considered average. It isn’t until you hit rates of 70 percent and higher that there is real cause for concern.

Of course, no marketer worth their salt is going to be happy losing half of their potential customers. If 40 percent is considered excellent, why not push for 30 percent?

Lowering your bounce rate is one of the most effective ways to improve your website’s ranking in search results. If your rate is too high, Google assumes that you were a poor result for that search query.

How do I lower my bounce rate?

There are three things you can tweak to lower your bounce rate — your content marketing, your demand generation strategy and your website’s design:

  • Content Marketing: Content marketing is great for driving traffic to your site and giving people a reason to stay. For SEO purposes, try to display recent content or updates near the top of your page. Not only will this give visitors something to click on, but it will make your site appear fresh to Google’s search crawlers.
  • Demand Generation: Are your paid ads and outreach efforts attracting the right audience? If the wrong people view your website, it doesn’t matter how strong your positioning is or how modern your site looks — your conversion rate will suffer. It’s also important to point people to the right place. If you are targeting a particular segment of your audience, you may want to create a dedicated landing page that addresses their unique needs and pain points. You can point your paid ads, marketing collateral and social links to this page, saving your visitors the effort of finding it themselves.
  • Design: The way your content is presented has a huge impact on its ability to capture attention. Make sure your positioning statements are prominently displayed and visible as soon as someone visits your page, on any device. Don’t ask your visitors to scroll too far down to see relevant information. Whenever possible, avoid nesting content on sub-pages — people have a hard time navigating multi-level menus on mobile devices.

If all three of these elements are working in lockstep, your brand should have a content marketing program that is targeted, easily accessible and front of mind for any website visitors.

At Karbo Communications, we specialize in content marketing programs that increase visibility and drives sales. Our team of marketers and search engine experts can help your brand cut through the confusion around SEO and deliver lasting results.

Hyper-Personalized Marketing That Won’t Land You in Front of Congress

Oh, to be an ad man in the 1960s.

If you believe everything you see on TV, marketing back then was a simpler game. Successful ad campaigns looked something like this: one perfect slogan, jotted on the back of a cocktail napkin and delivered en masse to a single audience.

Marketing segmentation? Not needed when your “ideas guy” was equal parts intuition, good looks and whiskey. Hyper-personalization? Heck, they hadn’t even gotten to personalization yet.

Halcyon times, indeed.

Fast forward to today’s marketers, who understand that effective messaging requires a more personal touch. Modern consumers want to be recognized – and treated – as individuals. The success of most campaigns is determined by a company’s ability to interpret consumer data and predict future behavior.

Getting up close and hyper-personal

A big trend in content marketing is hyper-personalization, or campaigns tailored to an individual’s past behavior. Modern consumers expect companies to get them on a personal level, and they prefer nuanced, relevant messaging that speaks to their interests.

In fact, Marketo found that 79% of consumers will reject an offer from a company if it isn’t tailored to their previous brand experience.

Today’s personalization goes far beyond yesterday’s tricks of inserting a subscriber’s name into the body of an email or sending a reminder about the toaster sitting in their shopping cart.

Hyper-personalized campaigns can predict when a person is most likely to open a message, whether they respond better to emails or push notifications, and even where in the customer journey to send a discount code or BOGO offer.

Target the right people… the right way

Few things are more frustrating to consumers than the kind of “spray and pray” marketing that led to the creation of junk folders.

According to a recent Accenture survey, 75% of people are more likely to buy from brands that provide recommendations based on their unique wants and needs.

Data-driven marketing that drives hyper-personalization campaigns can help brands reach consumers more effectively by answering these questions:

  • Who should I target?
  • Where in the customer journey should I target them?
  • Who should I filter out of a message?
  • How often should I contact each consumer?
  • Which channel should I use?

To answer these questions, marketers are collecting data at every touchpoint — and using artificial intelligence to help make sense of it all.

There and back again: Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

In March 2018, The New York Times and other newspapers reported that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that counted former Trump aide Steve Bannon among its board members, improperly used Facebook data to build voter profiles before the 2016 presidential election.

The scandal – and resulting fallout – landed Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress and brought “big data” into the national zeitgeist. This event triggered millions of people to start to realize just how often their private information was being used by businesses.

By May 2018, a number of companies and public figures had paused their Facebook marketing campaigns or deleted their profiles outright. Additionally, Facebook suspended 200 apps amid an ongoing investigation into whether services on the site had improperly used or collected personal data.

The long-term effects of the scandal are still unknown, but it has forced companies to re-evaluate their data collection practices — and how they communicate these policies to consumers.

What’s next for data-driven marketing?

The age of big data and personalization is upon us.

A recent study by Frost & Sullivan concluded that customer experience would overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator within three years.

Unfortunately, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has cast a pallor over the industry and raised questions about data-mining practices going forward.

How do companies deal with privacy in a world of readily available personal data? How should they collect information that will help them make better business decisions, without betraying customers? Most importantly, how do they communicate this to consumers in a way that builds trust?

Getting people excited about hyper-personalization

While it would be a stretch to draw too close a parallel between most hyper-personalized campaigns and Cambridge Analytica stealing private data, there’s little doubt that people want to know when, where, how and why their information is being used.

As a brand, how do you build trust and communicate the value of your data-driven marketing efforts? Try some of these best practice guidelines from your peers:

  • Be transparent: Being honest and upfront about how you collect – and act on – user data is a great starting point. You don’t have to share your marketing team’s secret blend of metrics and personas with the world, but you also shouldn’t act like you have something to hide. Whenever possible, use clear, simple terms to describe your brand’s data mining and use policies.
  • Avoid marketing fatigue: No one likes to waste time deleting unread, barely relevant messages from their inbox. Knowing who to filter out of a message can be the difference between a successful campaign and a lost subscriber.
  • Be engaging: If your brand is able to turn user data into content that is engaging and personalized, you’ll have a much easier time convincing people to share their personal information. Just make sure they understand that hyper-personalization can only happen when you know what they like — and why.
  • Follow the rules: The topic of data rights has been a hotly contested issue for years. With the May 2018 implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the conversations surrounding data protection and privacy will continue to evolve. Even if your company does not do business within the EU, you still need to be aware of the rules surrounding your website and online presence.

The ability to send more relevant, better perceived messages is changing the way brands and consumers interact.

As companies gain new insights into the way people think and behave, they have a growing responsibility to use this information in an open, honest manner. Failure to do so – as demonstrated by the Cambridge Analytica scandal – can have disastrous effects.

So how should you communicate your brand’s data-mining practices?

Like all the best marketing campaigns, the right strategy will be uniquely tailored to your brand and audience. As long as you pay attention and listen to the data, you’ll be able to share this information in a way that builds trust.

How to Prove the Value of Twitter for the Enterprise to Leaders and Clients

Originally published in the PR News Social Media Guidebook. Buy it here.

Major business-to-business (B2B) brands established their presence on Twitter years ago and are continually recognized for successful campaigns, such as Raytheon’s Poland Patriot campaign or Baylor Scott & White Health’s #HeartTXLive event. While these larger brands are reaping the rewards of these programs, many smaller enterprises are lagging behind, not always convinced of Twitter’s ROI.

If you work for a B2B company or have B2B clients, particularly in technology, you’ve likely faced the challenge of convincing the executive team (or your client contact) that they need to invest time, money and resources on Twitter. You’ve probably heard, “our target market doesn’t use Twitter” or, “social media can’t help drive sales for B2B companies” or, “we don’t have enough content to post.” All of these reasons demonstrate a lack of understanding of the benefits of a strong Twitter presence.

Educating your client contact or leadership team is an important first step in creating and executing a social media program, as company buy-in will be crucial to your success. Here are four key points to make in proving the value of Twitter for the enterprise.

Your B2B Audience is There

According to a recent Brandwatch report, which analyzed the top 200 B2B brands on social media, Twitter is the leading platform for B2B brand mentions with more than 3.8 M mentions in just two months. To put that in perspective, the same brands are only mentioned by news sites 1.8 M times per year, by forums 1 M times per year and by blogs 960 K times per year.

Twitter was not designed as a one-way communication platform, and should not be used as such. B2B customers are mentioning the top B2B companies more than 3.8 M times in two months for a reason and on the other side of the conversation, leading B2B brands publish more than 3.6 K posts across social media every hour. If you’re not on Twitter, your customers are consuming your competitions’ content and engaging with their brands on a platform that is void of your voice. By dismissing a presence on Twitter, you’re ignoring an opportunity to increase company awareness, harvest actionable business insights, and most importantly, you’re leaving money on the table.

Overlooking a Source of Sales

Twitter presents an invaluable opportunity for B2B companies to not only generate sales leads, but to engage with customers directly and glean insights from customer behavior, concerns and requests.

On average, B2B brands receive one sales lead per day on Twitter alone, 23 percent of which come from executives at other B2B companies. These leads typically surface in the form of intent to purchase conversations, meaning a buyer has communicated a challenge they are facing, or a need they have that your product or service can help remedy. The first step in capitalizing on these leads is to monitor and identify these conversations. To do this, start by ensuring you are following active accounts within your target demographic (i.e., potential customers) that are likely to participate in such conversations. How do you find them? Launch a targeted follower campaign and reciprocate the relevant follows you earn. Win, win. Make sure you’re also tracking relevant industry hashtags. Take it a step further and consider investing in a robust social listening tool.

Twitter can also be an incredible customer service tool, allowing you to identify potential problems, build brand loyalty, nurture existing customer relationships and ultimately, increase sales. In the past two years, there has been a 2.5X increase in customer service conversations on Twitter. Your customers who are active on Twitter not only want reciprocal engagement, but expect it. Twitter is an important medium for customer feedback and presents an opportunity to leverage negative feedback to improve current offerings. Fostering positive feedback and customer relationships is just as important. Help promote wins and news from your company’s partners and customers, or invite consistent brand “champions” to contribute a quote in your next press release.

If there is any point to emphasize when convincing the leadership team or your client contact of the value of Twitter for the enterprise, this is it. Money talks (and tweets).

Twitter is Key for Thought Leadership

We’ve already discussed why Twitter should not be used as a one-way communication platform. It also should not be used as a billboard. Many B2B companies make the mistake of publishing strictly promotional content, ignoring the opportunity to establish thought leadership and participate in engaging conversations. Here are a few simple ways to remedy this and start diversifying your content:

  • Post industry articles or reports from key journalists and analysts that discuss the state of the market, rather than a specific company.
  • Encourage company executives to participate in “Twitter takeovers” or retweet content from executives’ personal accounts to give a face to the company.
  • Comment on newsworthy or trending topics related to your industry where you have a valuable point of view.
  • Conduct research and surveys, and showcase the resulting data to share insights on the market.

Take it a step further by live streaming webinars on Twitter via Periscope or invite a notable journalist or industry analyst to co-host a Twitter chat with your CEO. When executed successfully, these programs can lead to interview requests or invitations to comment in industry round up articles. Your followers will start to look at your Twitter account as a source of intellectual authority, rather than a stream of ads for your company.

Key Influencers Are Watching

Still not convinced your audience or target market is on Twitter? Reporters are on Twitter (journalists account for 24.6% of verified accounts). Analysts are on Twitter. C-level executives from competing companies and partners are on Twitter. Venture capitalists, investors and other industry “celebrities” are on Twitter. Influencers that are reaching your customer base are not only using Twitter as an outlet to do so, but are observing and engaging with content from other brands.

Ensure you are following important journalists, analysts and bloggers to prompt a reciprocal follow. This is an excellent way to supplement PR efforts, leveraging Twitter as another venue to share important company news.

Take it a step further and begin tagging these journalists/analysts when you share their articles/reports, as recommended above. This is an easy way to engage them and make your presence known. Increasing your company’s awareness among those that influence your customers is just as important, if not more important, than influencing your customers directly. These key influencers already have their attention; you still need to earn it.

You now have the ammunition needed to prove the value of Twitter for the enterprise. Delivering on the benefits outlined above will prove the value that you, or your agency, can deliver for the company.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Quick Dos and Don’ts in B2B Twitter Usage

  • Do incorporate industry hashtags, such as #IoT or #FinTech. While creating unique company hashtags is ideal for branding purposes, hashtaging general industry terms will help increase both engagement and exposure among those following these more general topics.
  • Do not make subjective claims or comments from your corporate account. Instead, work with company executives to state opinions that support the company’s messaging.
  • Do implement creative programs. Instead of regurgitating information, make your Twitter account stand out with unique images or infographics, by live tweeting an executive’s keynote or by offering expert tips and tricks.
  • Do not send sales pitches from your corporate account. Immediate customer service responses are fine, but connecting the customer with a specific individual is recommended. The customer then has a person, not a company, to engage with and your customer service tactics are not exposed to the public eye.
  • Do be careful when scheduling Tweets in advance. While this practice can be helpful for managing large volumes of content, it can be disastrous in the event of a national tragedy or a time of expected sensitivity, so it is crucial to manage this process carefully.
  • Do establish a regular cadence of Tweets (about 4-5/business day). Do not disappear or flood your followers’ Twitter feeds with too many Tweets.

PR’s New Moving Target: Developing Effective Content in a Mobile-First Society

First appeared in O’Dwyer’s Magazine, Nov. 2015.

From the moment we get up in the morning until we fall asleep, a majority of the world’s citizens are connected to others via a mobile device. The growth of mobile phone and tablet use continues to skyrocket.  By the end of 2015 there will be 4.88 billion worldwide mobile users and 5.09 billion by the end of 2016. (Footnote 1)

Every smart company– whether a Fortune 50 company or a neighborhood small business—is evaluating better ways to move applications, tasks and sales to mobile devices.  As PR professionals, we must also adopt this “mobile-first” mentality if we are to keep pace with those we are trying to influence.  It’s not just using mobile as a way to respond to email when we aren’t at our desk or make a call from any location.  It’s crucial to design communications according to the mobility of the audience and the boundaries of the device.

Not only can we get better results when dealing with reporters and other influencers, but we can also use the mobile channel as a direct, real-time connection to the consumer.

How can we implement a mobile-first PR strategy?  As is true in any planning exercise, we must ask ourselves: What’s our objective?  What motivates our audience? What media do they consume? When do they do it, how and why?

Let’s start at the beginning of the day.  How does our target consumer or reporter get their information and news?  Many have their mobile devices—either phone or tablet—by the bed.   If you’re like me, the minute my feet hit the floor—or sometimes before—I’m reading critical email and looking for breaking news.  Consumption of the information we need to do our jobs or simply to follow what interests us—continues throughout the day.  Once we are in the work environment, we may switch to a laptop or desktop.  The minute we leave this real or informal “desk” we’re back to mobile. Most people use their mobile device between 4.7-5.6 hours a day, and usage has been growing at a rate of approximately 10 percent annually. (Footnote 2)

I’ve identified six areas that should be factored into the development of a mobile-first communications strategy:

Choose the channel according to your target’s mobile lifestyle. 

Most technology, business and consumer press are sophisticated when it comes to using mobile and popular social apps.  Depending on individual preferences, Karbo Com will pitch reporters via email, text messages, video, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  When attempting to reach current or prospective clients, we use email, video, text, instant messaging (e.g., Gchat or Slack), Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram. When developing a direct-to-consumer strategy, the task is more complex.  Device and app use varies greatly by age group and content. For example, if you’re trying to reach someone between the ages of 18-34, social channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Vine and Periscope are popular.  But not all social is equal.  According to comScore, the most popular mobile based apps for this age group (with the exception of music apps) are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat. (Footnote 3).  My agency was one of the first to target social media for B2B enterprises.  For B2B today we tend to focus on email, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.

Design content for a mobile-first channel.

More and more frequently, pitches, posts and content will be read on a smart phone and less so on a tablet.  It’s critical that correspondence, website and any other content be designed to properly display on the most popular mobile platforms—iOS and Android.

Of course, laptops afford the luxury of a larger screen and more consumption time, allowing added levels of detail and nuance for the more focused mind.  On the other hand, mobile phones are designed for short attention spans, so a pitch, ad, video or post must have immediate impact and fit within the constraints of the platform (e.g., a two-line text, a 15-second video, or Twitter’s current 140 character limit).

Up the creativity game.

There are also different expectations in terms of creativity according to the device and the applications on that device.  Many tech reporters get hundreds of pitches a day, so using a medium such as Snapchat gives the freedom to do something different.  When trying to reach consumers, bear in mind the high volume of social media feed posts to compete against.  Again, take advantage of the opportunity for creativity the mobile platform gives.

Consider where the content will be consumed. 

Develop content for the time of day during which it will be consumed as well as the location.  Think in terms of the attention span that tends to accompany the device.  While mobile devices have eliminated the boundaries of the work environment, there are still factors to consider depending on where and when content will be consumed.  Will it be viewed in a relatively quiet environment—at a desk at the office, on the couch at home, or on public transportation or in a crowded cafe?  Where it is consumed will affect how distracted readers will be and how they react to its delivery.  This can be a tougher call because some reporters, for example, don’t mind if you DM them while they’re on a bus, whereas your content may miss the mark completely if a consumer has to concentrate on a subtle post or Instagram video in a crowded restaurant.

Take advantage of community and viral factors. 

Evaluate whether or not content should reach one person or influence an entire community.  If content is customized for the individual, use one-on-one methods such as Twitter’s DM, Facebook Messaging, email, text or a phone call.  Will readers want to share it?  Should they be sharing?  If there’s an opportunity to inform a larger community, do so.  Keep the messages appropriate, and never make the initial recipient feel like they’re a personal pipeline without benefit to themselves.  Better yet, design content that influencers will want to share.

Constantly adjust strategy based on efficacy.

Like any other PR program or tactic, mobile-first PR’s worth must be evaluated and when necessary, adjusted.  This is even more critical given the speed and innovation inherent in mobile communications.

Mobile-first PR presents a wealth of opportunities for the experienced PR pro.  It can deliver tremendous results when implemented with an understanding of the unique characteristics of the medium.

 

Footnote 1: www.statista.com

Footnote 2: www.telecompetitor.com

Footnote 3: comScore Mobile Metrics, U.S., June 2015.

The New Age of Brand Storytelling: Cashing in on Social Channels

In today’s multi-screen world, brand storytelling can be difficult. It is especially challenging for brands targeting Generation Z and millennials, who have been dubbed the most elusive demographics for marketers in recent history.  Marketers are constantly working multiple social media platforms and tweaking digital strategies because a solid brand story can bring reader engagement, a connection with the audience and a flux of revenue.

Influencer marketing is a coveted tactic for brands in order to connect with millennials and Gen Z. Brands are increasingly aware of the value of aligning with contemporary celebrities–social media stars–to help shape their story and image. Because content creators are known for their personalities as much as what they create, the brand can mirror the qualities of the star. For example, Michelle Phan “shouting out” Jane Ireland’s natural beauty products in her content adds a chapter into the brand’s story: Jane Ireland cosmetics cater to trendy fashionistas in addition to au naturale consumers. A single post from the right influencer not only adds to a brand’s image but can also drive thousands of dollars in revenue for the brand.

At Karbo Com, we recognize the importance of placing our clients in this arena. For example, we work with VigLink, a leading content-driven commerce company, to ensure we work with publishers/influencers as collaborators.  Whether it be exchanging friendly tweets or speaking at conference panels together, VigLink and social media publishers such as Tyler Blake and PurseBlog, work together for creative opportunities and build symbiotic relationships.  With due diligence, we align our clients with the appropriate influencers in the digital space in order to enhance their online presence and public image.

What differentiates a social media star from the traditional celebrity? Transparency.  Social media stars have become famous for their authentic selves rather than characters from fictitious worlds. Therefore, followers have a friend-like experience each time they engage with content created by these influencers. Brands attempt to tap into this dynamic in order to interact with followers implicitly and convert them to consumers. An “implicit” interaction is imperative because millennials and Gen Z immediately recognize (and are offput by) traditional modes of marketing and advertising. Social media stars offer brands a unique chance to seamlessly plug into the world of millennials. By speaking to them in their own “language”, brands directly engage with these highly sought-after demographics without abrasively advertising to them.

 

Acing the Test: What it Takes to Influence College Students

College campuses are constantly buzzing with classes, group meetings, Greek Life functions, street fairs, clubs, concerts and other social gatherings. College towns never sleep and students are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest.

The college environment can be a gold mine of eager, trend-starting consumers, but getting their attention is not a trivial task. If you can capture it, brand awareness on a college campus can have a huge impact. That’s where public relations comes in. Here are a few tactics to help successfully leverage the college audience:

  • Social Media: If you’re not promoting your brand on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram already, get started. Social media is the simplest and most cost-effective way to reach and engage with the college demographic. But one-size-fits-all content won’t work here. It’s critical that you know which platforms are relevant for your campaign and you speak the language of today’s student. Every platform is different and you should have a customized execution strategy.
  • Brand Ambassadors: Leaders and influencers are abundant on college campuses. They’re the fraternity and sorority presidents, the club managers, and the star athletes, to name a few. These “campus celebrities,” as they are often referred to, have already earned the attention of their fellow students and anything they say or do will not go unnoticed. Hire them. Train them. Give them “swag.” It doesn’t take a lot to capitalize on their highly visible role and your PR team can help you identify them and come up with the most effective strategy.
  • Contests, Giveaways and Other Creative Programs: This is where all the other outlined tactics come together. Create a syllabus for your brand ambassadors outlining objectives and a few recommended ideas. For example, work with your PR team to organize a competition that leverages Greek chapters’ philanthropic efforts.

A college campaign can be an extremely effective PR program, but volume and execution are crucial. At Karbo Com, we have a college marketing team experienced in effectively reaching and influencing the college market.  We work with clients to develop a customized implementation strategy that will garner the audience you need to be successful, without over committing yourself to the point where you’ll need to focus more on troubleshooting than growth. Once you’ve planned, trained and launched successfully, you’ll soon have the Blue Devils, Jayhawks, Ducks, Spartans, Bears and Gators backing your brand.

Emily Carey, Account Coordinator, @emclaca

The Startup’s Guide to Twitter in 3 Easy Steps

As a startup, there are so many important business processes that go into making your great idea successful. Social media can often get pushed to back of the line, but it should be a key part of your outbound PR and marketing plan.

The most important first step is to determine which social media channels are appropriate for your business and will most directly reach your target audience. Between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn and more, there are a lot of options and it can be overwhelming. Let’s use Twitter as an example. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re getting off to a good start and using this popular platform in the most effective way.

  1. Create your profiles— First, if you’re in stealth mode, consult with your PR advisor about how to build and engage with your audience, while preserving your launch.  For companies that are launched, the first step is to determine how many Twitter accounts you should establish for your startup. The most obvious one should be one for your company with a recognizable username such as @companyname or @companyapp.After that, decide if it makes sense to create a separate Twitter account for different divisions or functional areas such as customer support. It’s best to keep the company Twitter account separate from support/customer questions so your Twitter stream isn’t filled with technical questions, problems and responses.Lastly, it’s important that the E-Team have separate, individual Twitter accounts. Customers, partners and the press like to associate a “face” with a brand; it humanizes the company and reminds customers that they are dealing with real people, not a cold entity. Pete Cashmore (@petecashmore) of Mashable has done an excellent job of this.
  1. Build Followers— You need to build your audience before you can engage in conversations. This should include following your customers, employees, partners, investors and most of all, your key influencers. Be sure to follow all of your target publications, reporters and market analysts.If you want your company to be in TechCrunch, you should be following all of the TechCrunch reporters who cover your space on Twitter.  If you want your customers to support your PR activities, you should be following them on Twitter.   Following anyone on Twitter also gives you valuable insight into their personality and what’s important to them.
  1. Engage—While it’s important to tweet on a regular basis, you want to make sure you maintain a good balance between discussing important trends, industry news and company news. It’s easy to get caught up in talking about what you’re doing internally, but your Twitter followers also want to see what your thoughts are on the latest business, industry trends and news. Many companies also inject humor and discussions of interest to their followers, but not necessarily directly related to their business.You’re already following your most important publications and reporters so monitor their conversations, share their articles, add your perspective, and ask your followers questions.  And if a tragedy occurs you shouldn’t be tweeting what could appear to be promotional or insensitive remarks.  Some companies chose to remain silent during these times, but many express what many others are feeling, e.g. Toyota Racing after the Napa Earthquake last month.Remember, Twitter is about conversations and relationships, it’s not a one-way broadcast platform.

Now you have the foundation set for Twitter and you can continue to build your audience and your company’s exposure. You are well on your way to hosting joint social media chats with market analysts, community hours, webinars with customers and advertising your account for more leads.

Cameron Smead, Account Director @cameronsmead

Top 4 SEO Tips for PR

As we move toward an increasingly digital world, the line between online marketing and public relations is blurring. Today, you cannot have a successful PR campaign without taking SEO (search engine optimization) into account, and successful SEO plans are beginning to include aspects of traditional PR campaigns.

At K/F, we implement SEO best practices to optimize client initiatives. Following are four SEO tips we have found to be especially helpful in amplifying PR programs:

1) Always include images. It has been shown that multimedia press releases (containing an image, video, etc.) are shared over three times more often than plain text releases. Similarly, adding images to contributed articles also enhances their virality.  With the vast amount of content and limited attention of readers, an image can quickly crystalize the topic of the content in milliseconds and draw a reader in. This strategy also holds for blog posts and social media posts (hello Instagram), as links that become viral usually have a visual element to them. Just be sure to include original photos to avoid copyright infringement.

2) Know the company keywords. Every brand should know their company keywords which are essentially the words and phrases they would like to be known for and rank for in search engines. PR professionals should know these keywords and incorporate them into all pitches, blog posts, social media profiles and press releases.

3) Don’t forget about social media. Google’s updated algorithm now takes social media into account, meaning that a social media presence is more important than ever for a brand’s SEO. A strong social presence that builds following and exposure, shares industry and company news and engages in important ongoing conversations will now help a company in both PR efforts and to rank organically in search engines.

For example, when you Google “K/F Communications” you’ll see that the search results include not only our website, but our Yelp, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles as well.

It’s also important to include all of the tips above such as sharing photos and videos, company keywords, etc. in all social media content.

4) Promote organic link building. Link building is the act of naturally acquiring links to a brand’s website to increase brand credibility and promote them as a resource.  With SEO link building in mind we always include links to our client’s website(s) in all pitches, contributed article bylines and press releases. At K/F we have also implemented partnerships with several top tier bloggers that influence our clients’ target audiences. These partnerships have helped to form a steady stream of guest blog posts, social media mentions as well as contests, all of which have resulted in additional links, social media followers, website visits and app downloads.

Keep in mind that it is supposed to be a gradual, organic build. Too many links up front from low quality sites will be seen as link spam and could result in a blacklist from Google and other search engines. Over time these efforts build up high quality links back to your website and will play an integral role in SEO and SEM (search engine marketing) which will in turn, support all marketing efforts.

At K/F, we believe that public relations campaigns are not one-size-fits-all and it’s vital to our clients’ success to integrate all aspects of PR, social media and online marketing. Have you found that incorporating SEO into your PR plans has been successful? What other actions have moved the needle for your business? Let us know in the comments section!

Case Study for Penguin Computing

Background 

 

While the film was originally conceived in the ‘90s, Ang Lee’s Gemini Man wouldn’t hit theaters until October 2019. Lee’s vision for the film was ambitious: Gemini Man would feature the first convincingly human CGI character. According to Lee, “The story has been around for 20 years, but technology wouldn’t allow the story to be told.”

Lee was after unprecedented levels of cinematic realism, not only in the film’s digitally rendered effects, but in the complete experience of viewing Gemini Man. While movies are typically shot in 2K, 24 frames per second (FPS) 2D, Lee planned to shoot Gemini Man in 4K, 120 FPS stereoscopic 3D. The result would be a groundbreakingly immersive film, but would require processing and storing massive volumes of high fidelity data, a technological feat previously thought impossible. Adding to the technical complexity, that data would need to be available on multiple sets as Lee and his team moved to several locations in the U.S. and Europe. 

Characterized by high resolution data utilized at high data rates, the Gemini Man workload presented a difficult challenge requiring a unique, custom-curated solution that standard proprietary solutions offered by most infrastructure providers couldn’t match.

Gemini Man’s I/O performance requirements far surpassed existing industry standards. Consider that the required 120 FPS not only exceeds industry standards, it also is greater than what the human eye is capable of perceiving, and the magnitude of the task at hand starts to become clear. Shooting 120 FPS requires the equivalent of 6.7 gigabytes of data per eye, but the physical limits of technology at the time (12.5 gigabytes) fell short of realizing Lee’s vision. Stereoscopic 3D adds to the complexity by requiring multiple and simultaneous viewing angles to be processed in parallel. To produce Gemini Man as Lee imagined required a tech partner capable of exceeding industry standards, as well as operating at the theoretical limits of HPC possibility to meet the film’s rigorous and unique compute and storage requirements.

To meet these challenges, Gemini Man’s Technical Supervisor, Ben Gervais, engaged Penguin Computing to design, deliver and support a custom solution, relying on the company’s expertise in understanding HPC workloads. 

Leveraging over 20 years of experience driving open HPC advancements, Penguin Computing curated the market’s most innovative technologies available to develop a differentiated approach: a customer-defined architecture which consisted of design, consulting, and professional services coupled with FrostByteTM, Penguin Computing’s customizable software defined storage (SDS) solution. 

To support the environment throughout the entire project as it moved from Georgia, in the U.S. to Budapest, Hungary and back to New York, Penguin Computing created high-performance storage hardware that was uniquely mobile. This enabled Ang Lee to record takes and review footage on location to determine if retakes were necessary without requiring the use of remotely located data centers with HPC capabilities. 

Operating at the outer limit of technological possibility, Penguin Computing’s custom HPC solution enabled Lee’s 4K, 120 FPS stereoscopic 3D vision, thus redefining what is possible in HPC, and in film.

To tell this story, Penguin Computing enlisted the help of Karbo Communications to produce a case study video which visually communicated the technology innovation that was provided to Ang Lee to make Gemini Man possible.

Case Study for Subtext

Background 

 

Consumers are inundated with messages on and offline and consume hours of content each day across social, video, news, entertainment, eCommerce, ads, and more. The online world is a treasure trove of information, but can also be cluttered, noisy and algorithm-driven, preventing important material from reaching its intended audience. The way consumers interact with and share content is also changing. The pendulum is swinging away from public posting to favoring more intimate social sharing, either one-on-one or with smaller community groups.

Subtext was founded in 2019 to cut through the clutter of social media, din of email newsletters and distraction of online advertising, to help subscribers to connect with the personalities and subject matter they care most about in the same intimate way they would with friends or family: through text messaging. By creating a text chat experience, Subtext content creators and subscribers can forge deeper and more fruitful connections, and benefit from direct access to the insights and information they want to share with one another. Subtext is the fourth product from Alpha Group, the in-house tech and media incubator for Advance Local. 

Subtext hired Karbo Communications in 2019 to launch the company and platform from stealth, educate the market and drive high impact brand communications that accelerated business growth.