Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chairs and Tables Photos

Some great new photos from the Chairs and Tables Breakfast have arrived. It was a great success for us and the rest involved, and we look forward to continuing CBI spread their message throughout Charlotte in the years to come.

                                         Almost three hundred people were in attendance.

                                            Dianne English, the Executive Director of CBI, 
                                                    spoke on the differences in diversity.

Julio Colmenares(Center)  is the chair of the
    Latin American Chamber of Commerce here in Charlotte.

                                      Charlotte's mayor Anthony Foxx gave a great talk on 
                                                 diversity and its importance to our area.

Chairs and Tables Photos

Some great new photos from the Chairs and Tables Breakfast have arrived. It was a great success for us and the all the rest involved and we look forward to continuing CBI spread their message throughout Charlotte in the years to come.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CGR on Fox News

CGR's very own Julio Colmenares was interviewed for Reboot Charlotte on Fox news. It was a piece about leaders in the hispanic community that are making an impact in the Charlotte area. Check it out!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chairs and Tables

By Embra King

This Friday CGR Creative helped put together and deliver the Community Building Initiative’s annual stakeholders breakfast. The title for this year’s event, Chairs and Tables, is a play on the idea that, despite our differences, we are stronger together than apart. The event was a huge success, drawing in almost 300 people to the Mint Museum on a crisp December morning.

Among the many speakers at the event was Charlotte’s own mayor Anthony Foxx, who spoke on the need for us to move beyond just talking about equality and the importance of connecting within our community. It was a great experience for all who attended and a lot of great stories and perspectives were presented.

We here at CGR are very grateful to be a part of such an important organization. If you want to learn more about CBI, please visit their website listed below. We at CGR look forward to moving forward with CBI in spreading ideas of equality and community across the Charlotte area.

To add to the conversation on the topics discussed during the stakeholders breakfast, simply use the hash tag #CandT to add your opinion on the ideas of equality and community in Charlotte.

Get connected to the Community Building Initiative:
Twitter: @CommBldgInit
Facebook: communitybuildinginitiative

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Facebook Swallows Another Company Whole

By Embra King

This week Facebook has announced the purchase of the location-based company Gowalla for an undisclosed amount. This comes right around the time that Foursquare (The largest LBA provider) announced that they have just recently exceeded a user base of fifteen million.

Location-based apps are only a year or so old and are growing thanks to the explosion of smart phone owners. With the purchase of the Texas based company, it appears that Facebook has big plans for what these types of apps can bring to networking, marketing and social reviews.

Facebook's biggest challenge is to increase the usage of these apps. While Foursquare boasted about their fifteen million subscribers, triple that of what they had at this time last year, a recent study has found that only about 2% of the subscribers actually use the product at least once a week.

It will be interesting to see if this most recent purchase is more of an acquisition of Gowalla's talent, or if they have plans for integrating this new app into Facebook’s already large social networking toolbox.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Commercial Art

By Embra King

Call me crazy, but I love commercials.

I love them between shows, on billboards and in magazines. When I was young, I used to go over to my friends' houses and spend hours looking through their magazines, no matter what the subject. Sure I would read the articles sometimes, but mostly I was admiring their layouts and ads that filled up most of their thin pages. When I go to the movies, I always make sure I get to the theater early, as to avoid missing the previews. If it wasn’t for those wonderfully crafted teasers before every show, I could hardly justify spending the twelve-dollar ticket price.

No, you didn’t read any of that wrong, I enjoy something that most Americans seem to openly grumble about. I just think it is because we are looking at things all wrong.

Advertising, when done well, is a wonderful art form that folds creative design, language, and economics into this beautiful, multi-layered piece of work. Companies and organizations of all sizes hire artists and writers to create powerful messages and a visual presence for their cause or product. Advertisers create beauty where there would only be grey. Ad agency’s are taking problems and solving them with art.

Not only do I find commercials and advertising to be an ongoing work of art, but I also enjoy them for chopping up TV shows. To me, most shows need commercials. A killer slowly opens the door to find the hero asleep and helpless in bed when suddenly, a commercial break. We are left on the edge of our seats. We cry, “No not now!” Our bodies tense up in anticipation for what lies at the end of the commercial block. Sure, if you have seen the commercials a hundred times before this time might be better spent using the restroom or grabbing a bowl of ice cream, but for me there is something special about seeing what others created in the spaces that companies have created for them.

Imagine a world without advertising, commercials, or branding. Sure, it is awesome to get out into nature and be surrounded by nothing but mountains and trees, but I can’t imagine a world in which cities aren’t filled with commercials, filled art. I think we all should take a closer look at the next commercial you see and just reflect on how many artists, writers, and salesmen it took to create the piece.

Check out the documentary Art & Copy to get a glimpse into the crazy world of advertising. It can be found on Netflix.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Attack or Defend?

By Embra King

The common phrase heard in football locker rooms and military camps "the best defense is a good offense” seems to be well respected in their respected fields. But does this ideology work when it comes to advertising, is it really better to attack another's product than to promote your own? Samsung seems to think so and without naming any names challenges the iPhone and its apparent dim, Starbucks drinking, following.

The commercial, which aired last week, depicts long lines of bohemian Apple phone users standing in line waiting for the iPhone 4s. As they grumble about the “sketchy battery” and lack of physical changes to the phone, they catch a glimpse of preppy people not waiting in line using the already released Samsung Galaxy S II.

Near the end, Samsung tries to pitch that they have a bigger screen, and it runs on 4g network. However, the only feeling I come away from my multiple viewings was how silly it is that Samsung has narrowed down the iPhone user into this arty hipster, apparently blind to the fact that other phones are out there.

Attacking the completion is nothing new in the wild world of advertising. Audi and BMW have always taken stabs at each other resulting in things such as this billboard campaign. Apple also ran its own attacking campaign, the famous “I am a Mac, and I am a PC” stint. It is a tactic that politicians utilize many times over: “Vote for me because the other person is awful.”

As a consumer, I am more drawn to seeing why I should buy a product, not why I shouldn’t buy the other guy's. To me, it seems to take away from your product. If what you're selling is worth talking about, than talk about it. Sure, it makes for some fun, witty advertising, but does it really help move your product?

The fact is, Samsung is jealous; no one is waiting hours and hours to buy their phones, a fact that they poke fun of in their commercial. Apple has a huge share in the phone market thanks to their branding power and creation of beautiful easy to use products. With all this being said, I do like that Samsung has tried to take on the giant that Apple has become.

I just wish they had shown a little more backbone and mentioned the phone by name.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Logo Issues

One of these logos is for a headphone company, the other a blog for moms. A little tricky to decide which is which when they are next to each other; imagine trying to do so if they weren’t side by side.

A company’s logo, once established, is much more than a picture or set of text; it is layers of brand recognition that are available to a consumer with a single glance. When you see two golden arches you, immediately know it is McDonald's with their Big Mac’s, golden French fries, and that McRib sandwich that seems to not want to die. We have thousands of memories, experiences, and opinions that are all linked to this single logo.

It is like this for thousands of brands across the world; they build a huge brand that can be fit into one single image. It makes advertising much more compact. We do not need McDonald’s mission statement stamped on any of their ads, or the side of their building; we just need to see those golden arches, and we all know exactly what is being offered.

But what happens when your logo looks almost identical to that of another company's? Well, for hip hop artist Dr. Dre’s headphone company (Beats by Dre), and Disney’s newly acquired mommy blog (Babble), this has seemed to happen. I came across this by chance; when I thought that the ad banner on my computer was for a new set of headphones and not a blog that features articles about vegan Thanksgiving meal ideas.

The point I am trying to make is that, when you're designing a logo, you want to make sure there is nothing out there that can easily be mistaken for yours. Maybe these two companies have such different markets that this will not be an branding issue, but for me it was. I was not able to see the Babble logo and instantly think, “That’s a website for women to go and learn about healthy foods for their children” or even, “What logo is that?” I was thinking about over-sized headphones and west coast hip-hop.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Power of Community

Last week AT&T released a new commercial entitled “Responsibilities”, a thirty second piece that plays on the idea that everyone in a typical office uses their smart phone for everything but actual work. It has received an explosion of views, about 700,000 YouTube views in just the first four days of being online. Now while this commercial is funny, its popularity doesn’t stem from its humor, or the quality of the product it is selling, but rather it is all the attention it has received on

Nate Dern was making his commercial debut after three years of auditioning and decided to share his success with the community of Reddit. He posted his video on the site last Monday and to his surprise gained an explosion of views over the course of that first day as hundreds of people “up voted” the video promoting it the front page for all to see. People seem to have fallen in love with the idea that one of their own, a fellow Redditor, had made it into a TV spot, and all he says is a simple “Huh?” As this blog post was being written, Nate Dern’s commercial debut has 2882 total “up votes” on Reddit and was at one point the number one link on the websites front page.

What this phenomena is demonstrating is the marketing power that third party post sites are capable of producing. The AT&T commercial is not the first company to benefit from being posted on Reddit, however.

The spread of Chuck Testa’s taxidermy commercial and the video of Judge Williams beating his daughter exploded into the homes of millions, thanks to the community voting system of Reddit. The site has become a powerful tool for spreading news, images, videos, and complaints about companies or services. According to, Reddit had 1.8 billion viewers in the month of October alone. With this kind of viewership, companies would love for their products or services to get some percentage of this attention.

One reason that Reddit is a powerful tool for spreading information in such a rapid manner is the fact that it does not create exclusive social circles like Facebook or Twitter, but instead lets anyone post and everyone view these posts. Once something is posted, anyone can view it, and those who have created a free account can vote for or against the post. The more positive votes a link receives, the closer the post will move towards the front page.

The problem with all of this, however, is that the products in the commercials are not the ones benefiting from all the publicity; it is the actors themselves. Sure, thousands of people have viewed the commercial, but at the end of it, are people thinking I want that phone, or “Man, well executed, huh?" The millions of views that Chuck Testa’s first commercial received has not translated into increased sales. It has, however, spawned many spin-off videos and started a small demand for Chuck Testa t-shirts. The brand loyalty in this case is to the Mr. Testa and Mr. Dern, not the product they are selling. People online are pushing for Dern to be featured in a second commercial with AT&T and maybe this time with a couple more lines.

What advertisers need to learn is how to harness the communal benefits of sites such as Reddit or Digg, to create attention around a product much like it has for people. The static advertising word that Don Draper lived in is dying, and we are move into a marketing world run by the consumer. It is becoming apparent that companies need to figure out the best way to harness this communal power. It has shown its ability to create an almost cult following for people such as Nate Dern and Chuck Testa, but its potential for creating such a buzz around a product is yet to be tapped.

Monday, October 31, 2011

12 Critical Technology Mistakes Small Businesses Make

By Brian Roach

Have you ever had that ominous hunch that something bad is going to happen – and then it does? Unfortunately, this gut-wrenching feeling is far-too-familiar for small businesses facing the complexity of information technology.

By its nature, IT is a confusing, expensive, and forever-changing animal. Hardware and software sometimes become obsolete within months, let alone a few years. And thanks to budget restraints, many small businesses fall into lethal traps like hiring inexperienced personnel to handle their IT. But it only takes a single mistake to lead to a catastrophic loss of company data, and starting over can be heartbreaking.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be this way. There are many ways small business owners can learn from the mistakes of others. As a veteran IT professional on the front lines each day, I've listed the top 12 most common errors that small businesses make with IT.

Mistake #1: Using non-functional backup software

Many small business owners assume that just because hardware or software is present, data itself is protected. This is a terrible assumption. Just because a server has an appendage that looks like a tape spooler attached doesn't mean that tape spooler is actually working. At a bare minimum, small businesses should perform testing on backup software every two months. It is far more costly to recover lost data than to perform the proper testing of backup systems.

Mistake #2: Using mass-market equipment to run business-class tasks

Using mass market equipment to run business operations is a fatal error in judgment. That $49 router from Best Buy will simply not perform like a commercial-level one will. The products created for business are expensive because they're designed to keep a company up and running at all times. Many small business owners cut corners just to keep their budgets down, but using inappropriate equipment can cause an extraordinary loss of manpower and resources.

Mistake #3: Overextending the technology life-cycle

That five-year-old PC your receptionist is using probably won't hurt your business when it dies. But if the 10-year-old server under her desk does, it can cripple your entire company. All technology has a set life-cycle. Manufacturers call this life cycle MTBF, or mean time between failures. Any IT person worth their salt can see how many errors hardware is making and judge when it needs to be replaced. Servers and PC hardware, in general, have a lifespan of about 3-5 years. This lifespan depends on how much this equipment is used, but if you're not backing up your IT elements or replacing them often enough, you should start by doing it now.

Mistake #4: Having a "set it and forget it" mentality

This is perhaps the most common error small businesses make when building their technology infrastructure. Make no mistake: IT hardware and software requires routine, regular maintenance and adjustment. Think of your IT infrastructure as you would an automobile. If you forget to put oil in your car, your engine will die. Servers and software need continual care so they can perform at optimal levels. As a small business, you should hire someone who can see the Big Picture. If you don't, the question becomes not if you'll have a problem, but when.

Mistake #5: Buying new software while skipping hardware upgrades

This problem stems from the over-marketing of new upgrades from software manufactures. Each company wants you to upgrade to the latest version of software--some even make it impossible for you to function without these upgrades. But many of the newer software platforms require you to upgrade your hardware simultaneously. Many small business owners upgrade their software without even thinking about the hardware, which not only could impact other systems but cause catastrophic performance problems for your overall IT ecosystem.

Mistake #6: Going cheap, regardless of the consequences

Everyone knows that IT--from new software to hardware implementation--is expensive. But not too many small business owners know why. IT elements often cost more because they require a migration from another system or the completion of complex tasks to work optimally. Unfortunately, this is why small businesses, time and again, find themselves in an untenable situation: they choose the cheapest software only to find that some extraordinarily important piece is not included in the purchase. So conduct your due diligence. Buying IT equipment is just like buying a house--and you should only be comfortable when quality workmanship is involved.

Mistake #7: Forgoing user training

This is a problem that's less about equipment and more about human nature. Training is an absolute must for small businesses. Without the proper training on software or hardware, well-intentioned equipment purchases are useless. Small business owners should train their employees on all IT elements whenever possible. A well-trained staff and a solid set of IT equipment will save your company time, money, and plenty of headaches. Preserve your investment by keeping staffers up to speed.

Mistake #8: Working without a plan

Planning out IT initiatives or upgrades is a task that should be done, at the bare minimum, once a year. Many companies do this annually just to line up their equipment with pending corporate initiatives. This is a great practice. Mapping out your technology path can impact your entire business. Each small business should not only budget for new hardware, software upgrades, or other technological elements, but for additional manpower and technical support. If you plan ahead, that software upgrade or mandatory hardware migration will no longer jump out from nowhere.

Mistake #9: Skimping on security

If you do one thing after reading this article, it should be this: take your security seriously. Many small businesses find it inconceivable that someone would target their business or try to steal their valuable data. Unfortunately, this is the furthest from the truth. Security has become the number one issue for IT environments in the past few years, thanks to online scams, vulnerability in software, and networks using improper architecture. As an IT expert, I've come across small business systems that are so vulnerable, their accounting data is readily available on the Internet. Other systems have no anti-virus software or no malware protection, but plenty of insidious spy ware working overtime, capturing everything from login names to passwords. At some small businesses, I've seen criminals use open ports to hack into security camera footage--just to plan a robbery. Spam, malware, and viruses pave the way for a devastating security breach. Don't let it happen to you.

Mistake # 10: Using under-qualified people for IT support

On its face, leaving a friend, neighbor, or relative in charge of your IT is not necessarily a bad move. But assuming they're capable of such responsibility just because they can download and install software is a bad move. An under-qualified person can never give you good IT advice. Because they've fallen into this trap, many small businesses actually end up spending more money just to correct the mistakes of an under-qualified IT person. If you need outside support for your IT environment, always ask for certification and credentials. A good IT person is always trained and certified to work within the complexities of an IT environment.

Mistake #11: Not knowing what you have?

Ever wonder what's in your IT room? Well, you should. Sometimes small business owners are so busy running their shops that they forget to count their software licenses or keep inventory of how many PCs they have. While countless businesses played it fast and loose years ago, one can't afford to do that now. Strict asset management requirements--straight from the U.S. government--demand that you keep tabs of what you own. The companies of today that wave off asset management may find themselves unable to get a loan or other financing. Asset management is critical. Conducting your first inventory, especially if you've been in business for some time, may be an expensive task. But it will save you much heartache in the long run.

Mistake #12: Using pirated software

Software licensing rules can seem quite unfair. Many small business owners wonder why they should purchase more copies of software when they can simply use one for all of their machines. With older software, you could probably get away with this. But with today's ultra-sophisticated software, it's simply a losing bet. Some software companies are cracking down so hard that when you download updates, it alerts them when the software has been used more than once. A company can disable your software completely at just the click of a mouse. Even worse, you could end up facing fines of upwards of $100,000 from the Business Software Alliance. Keep your software licenses up to date, and you'll never find yourself in this situation.

Many of the problems tackled here can easily be remedied by using a qualified IT professional. Many IT companies now provide flexible, affordable packages that cover maintenance, support, and the overall health of your IT environment. So take your time and do your homework. Plan ahead, spend wisely, and hire qualified personnel. The money you spend on IT in the short run may feel like an incredible investment at the time, but it most certainly will pay off in the end.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Google Shows Circle Counts for People In Search Results

By: Chris Crum

Lately, Google has been placing a lot of emphasis on the importance of who you are on the web. That’s why they want you to use your real name on Google+ (or more broadly, your Google Profile).

This thinking certainly applies to search. This year, Google introduced authorship markup, which helps Google associate various content from a person with that person in search results, and ultimately gets that person’s profile prominence in Google search results. If you ever see a little image of a person off to the side of a search result, which is clickable (leading to that person’s profile), this is likely what you’re seeing.

It’s good for authors to gain exposure, and it helps readers establish some level of trust by simply knowing where a result is coming from (regardless of whether or not they actually trust any specific author). In fact, Google is so concerned about this, it doesn’t even want authors to have profile pictures that are the least bit unprofessional. For example, I know a guy who was using a picture of himself in his Halloween costume for his profile picture, and a Googler actually contacted him and asked him to change it. There was nothing bad about the picture, they just wanted a regular picture of him for his profile pic, presumably so people wouldn’t see anything goofy in the search results, and hurt the perception of Google’s rankings, even if the content it showed up next to was perfectly legitimate.

Google recently posted a pair of videos explaining how to implement authorship markup, if you need a bit of guidance:
It would appear that Google considers how many people you have in Circles on Google+ to be some indication of who you are now.

The Next Web says an unnamed source confirmed that the next step of Authorship Markup is to show the number of Circles you’re in on the search results pages. You can already see it in action for some people.

This actually makes the whole Circle limit thing a little more interesting. If you can only have so many people in your Circles on Google+, you’re not going to want to add just anybody right? In an article this week, we called for Google to get rid of Circle limits because it limits our access to information through Google+, but is this the mindset Google has here?

The bigger names on the web are going to have more connections, so if they can’t put every one of them into a Circle, they’re only going to want to put their top connections in there. I don’t know if this is the way Google is looking at things, but it raises an interesting point, especially with the attention that Klout has been getting (and now its new competitor Kred).

While we don’t know that the number of Circles you are in is a search ranking signal, it seems very likely. Remember, when Google was talking about authorship markup, they said they want to “get information on credibility of authors from all kinds of sources, and eventually use it in ranking.” It seems pretty logical that circle count could play a role.
If I’m wanting to get more Google search respect, I’m trying to get in more Circles.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why You Can’t Game Google and Bing with +1s and Likes

By: Chris Crum

Social is more important to search rankings than ever. There’s no doubt about that.
Should +1s and Facebook “likes” be used as significant ranking signals by search engines? Share your thoughts here.

In a recent article, we asked if Google’s +1 button is the new PageRank. As Google uses the data from the button as a ranking signal, +1′s will no doubt be coveted more and more by any site owner looking for increased search visibility and traffic.

As discussed in that article, just as you’ve seen plenty trying to boost their PageRank through black hat tactics, it seems highly likely that these same people will try to exploit the +1 button. Google’s main weapon against this appears to be tying the +1s to your actual identity, by using a strict profile naming policy.

Google wants to know who is doing this +1ing, which should help cut down on abuse.

Bing’s Duane Forrester wrote a blog post this week talking about a similar topic in the realm of abusing the social signals that search engines use to try and determine what results to show users. Forrester’s focus was on the concept of the “like” farm – basically the social equivalent of the link farm.

"Amazingly, though, people think this approach works,” says Forrester. ”The rationale being that social signals matter to search, they can ramp up the volume of the ‘like’ signal in Facebook, causing a related boost in rankings. The logic may seem fine, but when you recall that we can see sudden explosions of links as spammy, it’s easy to understand how we can see sudden explosions of likes as spammy as well. To be fair, there’s more to it than that.”

“Anyone could suddenly ‘go viral’ and accumulate a lot of likes very quickly, so we look beyond just like/time to find patterns,” he explains. “And if there is one thing a search engine is good at, it’s seeing patterns online. Like farms tend to be built around a core network of accounts. You pay someone to like your site, content or whatever, and they go out across their network and like you. It’s artificial and we know it. Organic likes rarely follow obvious patterns. In fact, if there’s a pattern to organic liking, it’s one built around chaos. Like farms, however, no matter their size, end up looking obvious by comparison. In the image below, you can see what an accumulation of likes look like to us when graphed.”

He shares the following graph depicting like activity with the red dots representing a like’s origin and the blue dots representing friends liking the same item. He says the differences between like farm activity and organic activity are “very obvious”.

“In most cases, if we spot like farm activity, we simply ignore the signal,” says Forrester. “Again, you may have paid for a service which is bringing you no value in boosting your search results. This also points out why it is so important that you manage your social media program. At the very least, if you are outsourcing the management of your social program, you need to keep an eye on things. Short cuts can add up eroding any value you were trying to achieve.”

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it is impossible to game the search engines using social media. Black hatters will always look for (and probably find) new ways to exploit the system for their gain, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

Interestingly, a report out from BrightEdge finds that about half of the largest 10,000 sites on the web don’t even display any kind of social sharing link or buttons at all. This is very surprising. As one WebProNews reader commented, “I find that unbelievable! The search engines have flat out admitted that social signals are a ranking factors. Why would a site owner not want to include social share buttons? Let your readers do some of the heavy lifting and get your content promoted in their social networks!”

I would strongly advise making the buttons accessible. Just have the content to give users a reason to click them. Then maybe you won’t have to worry about trying to game the system.

Do you think Google and Bing can keep social button abuse at bay? Tell us what you think.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Facebook Advertising Tips For Brilliant Marketers

10 Facebook Advertising Tips For Brilliant Marketers
Posted by Nick O'Neill

Your current Facebook ads don’t suck, it’s just that they could be better. When spending money on Facebook advertising, you must monitor your ad spend closely, as the expense can skyrocket and suddenly kill your campaign’s effectiveness. Too many Facebook advertisers are making beginner mistakes that end up making Facebook rich and the marketer broke.

Stop making those mistakes! Use these tips below and dramatically increase your Facebook advertising skills.

Split Test Your Ads
One of the most important things for any advertiser to do is to ensure that the advertisements you are running are the best that they can be. Too often advertisers/marketers will launch a Facebook ad campaign and see that they just spent $100 and got little results and generalize that this must be the case for all campaigns on Facebook. The reality is that your ad campaign probably wasn’t performing well because your ad wasn’t great. The best marketers know that performance comes from testing things out.

In the image below there are two sample ads. In this case we are testing against two interest groups: those that like tuna fish and those who enjoy base jumping. I would guess that base jumpers tend to be more passionate and as such they are more likely to respond to an advertisement. I haven’t actually run these ads so I don’t know. However you should test numerous variations. Switch one component of your advertisement at a time and then compare it to another and see which works better.

There are a limited number of variables that you can change, but here are the four primary groups that you should be testing ads against:

•Ad copy – What does the text of your advertisement say? Asking the user to click “Like” below tends to work relatively well.
•Ad image – Test different images to see which ones perform the best. You can get extremely granular and test images within various demographic groups. You may find things such as that pink images work better for females.
•Interest groups – Another thing you should be testing is which interest groups are more passionate (and hence more likely to click). It’s frequently too expensive to target less passionate and less responsive markets as they click on ads much less frequently.
•Demographics within interest groups – Once you find a passionate group, try splitting the ads by gender or age group. You may find that some groups perform better than others. Narrowing this down will help you increase your ads performance and reduce the effective cost per click and cost per action.

Create A Click Through Rate Threshold
While some ads will perform better than others, the last thing you want to do is throw money away at under-performing advertisements. As such, you should develop a click through rate threshold that is acceptable for your campaign. In the image below, we were testing a campaign to drive more fans to a page. Our target was to generate new fans at less than $0.25 per fan. Unfortunately, this advertisement generated 3 fans at a minimum and 21 at a maximum (if all of the clicks to our page converted into fans).

This means our effective cost per fan would have been between $0.65 and $4.60, most likely further toward the high end. The result is that this advertisement was killed for under-performance. We probably let this ad run too long, ultimately hurting our overall campaign performance, however this happens to be a long-term campaign, so the $13.80 we spent on this ad probably won’t end up damaging things too much. The main lesson here is to figure out what sort of click-through rate is acceptable to you and immediately kill those ads which are performing up to your standards.

Become a fan of "AllFacebook", and stay up to date on the latest Facebook marketing techniques.
Use CPM To Test Your Ads
The bottom line is this: CPC (cost per click) is for lazy marketers. Cost per click drives you to perform all of your tests on the landing page (or landing tab of your Facebook Page). This is not the way to do things. Test your ads on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis and find those which drive the lowest CPC. You may end up finding that you’ll get lower CPCs than you would have had you used a CPC bidding model. Using a CPM model will enable you to find which ads perform the best and potentially provide you with the greatest opportunity to minimize the cost of your campaign.

While Facebook previously stated that they were going to position CPC ads in those spots which get the most clicks, we’ve run a number of CPM-based campaigns which perform insanely well. Using CPM you can determine what the real CPC rate should be (based on performance) and you can test which ads perform the best. If you want to let your ad campaigns run on their own without monitoring them, you can switch to CPC, but at least you’ll have discovered which advertisements perform the best.

Monitor Your Campaigns Closely
One thing that you’ll notice when you first begin running advertising campaigns on Facebook is that the performance will degrade over time. That’s because the cost of reaching each subsequent user on Facebook increases incrementally. In other words, the first people who click on an ad tend to be the most responsive to advertisements in general. Once you get through this first wave of people, the cost of reaching the next group will increase.

As such, you need to monitor your daily CTR. Watch how your click-through rate performs over time. If you begin to see decreases, you may want to consider either targeting a different target group or switching your advertisement. At a certain point, all advertisements lose their effectiveness. Not monitoring your ad campaigns on a regular basis is for lazy people and those who want to spend more on their ad campaigns.

Test Performance At Different Times
Oftentimes you’ll find that an advertisement will perform better at a different time of day. While Facebook doesn’t let advertisers/marketers select which time of day their ads run, you can turn your ads on and off manually and see which times perform the best. This requires extremely close monitoring, however. While Facebook may eventually (and will most likely) ad this type of granular control in the future, no advertiser has control of this right now. If you are spending large amounts on advertising, you may want to test a third-part Facebook advertising partner who will be able to automate the time of day your ads are displayed.

Use A Cost Per Fan Model
I’m personally a huge fan of run advertising campaigns on a cost per fan model. This is because Facebook provides Page administrators with a great re-engagement channel: the feed. While email is often one of the best marketing channels, Facebook performs well because quality content gets re-shared by users. That means increasing your fan base increases the likelihood that your content will “go viral” on Facebook. While many email marketing companies, such as MailChimp, are looking at way to make email marketing more social, Facebook Page continue to be one of the best marketing channels.

As such, investing in Facebook advertising on a cost per fan basis is smart because once you get a fan, you can reengage them in the feed. When running cost per fan campaigns, we’ve found that running ads on a CPM basis and optimizing ads on “Cost per action” basis is the best model.

How To Calculate Cost Per Fan
Let’s say that you’ve decided to run an advertising campaign as we’ve described. In order to calculate the cost per fan, run campaigns on a CPM basis. Once you run them, you will see a report like the one pictured below. In order to calculate the cost per fan, simply divide the total campaign amount by the number of “actions” (which is the people who clicked on “Like” in your ad). This will be your estimated cost per fan. The reality is that the people who clicked on the ad (under the column “Clicks”) may have also eventually become a fan, however determining that requires using third party tools or creating your own custom software (which most people don’t want to do).

Even by using the estimated cost per fan model, you should be able to drive fans to a Facebook page for not too much. As you see above, we were able to drive fans at an estimated cost of $0.05 per fan, a rate most people would kill for!

Develop A Creative Reveal Tab
As I mentioned in the last tip, tracking how well those “Clicks” convert to fans is a little more complex. However you should be doing as much as you can to increase the conversion of those clicks into actual fans. One of the best techniques for accomplishing this is by adding a reveal tab. As we previously described, a reveal tab is a simple tool to drive users to click on “Like” to become a fan by rewarding them for their action. The image below depicts a sample reveal tab which promises the “latest breaking terrifying news”, which in all honesty isn’t that big of a promise.

If you wanted to take things one step further you would offer them a free product that they can download as a way to convince the user to click “Like”. We’ll cover this more in depth in a future article.

Bid High To Get Ads Approved Faster
I’m not sure that this is a trick that Facebook wants to be made public, however all frequent Facebook advertisers know that by bidding more, Facebook will respond to your ad submission quicker. Simply put, you can change your bid rate after your advertisements has been approved. However if it’s taking a long time for your ads to get approved, you are losing time that could have been used testing ads. Keep in mind that this trick doesn’t work forever though.

Facebook has a system which prioritizes advertisers based on how much they are spending on a regular basis. If it turns out that you are bidding $1.00 CPMs but always switch it back to $0.03, Facebook will catch on. In other words, don’t use this trick for too long. This is simply an effective technique for new advertisers in the system.

Use Facebook’s Conversion Tracking Tools
While I know I’ve been pushing the cost per fan advertising model on this site for a while, the reality is that not all advertisers/marketers are interested in driving fans. Instead, they’d prefer to drive actions on their own website. Fortunately for those individuals, Facebook has their own tracking tools (which can be found here. While Facebook is still testing this system, it’s an effective technique for determining how well your ads are performing, including how much revenue is being generated from each ad.

Using these tools you can determine if the ads you are running are generating a profit or are instead making you bleed money slowly. Facebook has provided advertisers with the following tracking guide to help them get started. If you aren’t looking to run a cost per fan campaign, then this is probably a tool you should be testing out immediately.

Remember The “Passion Factor”
One thing that many advertisers and marketers frequently don’t consider is that some groups are simply more passionate than others. Base jumpers are probably much more passionate about their recreational activity than basket weavers (although I don’t want to discriminate against my fellow basket weavers). The main thing is this: passionate fans click on ads more often. Your job as the advertiser is to invoke an emotional response to your advertisement and one of the best ways to do this is to target passionate individuals and expose that passion through your ad.

I’ve seen so many boring ads on Facebook, but you don’t need to be one of those individuals who creates the boring ads! Figure out what will generate an emotional response and target those individuals who are most passionate about their interests. Find which interest groups are the most passionate. The more passion, the cheaper your advertising cost.

Use these Facebook advertising tips and you will surely boost the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns. While you can go out and purchase fans directly from companies, the reality is that Facebook’s advertising platform is the single best source of attracting new fans. No matter the size of your Facebook advertising budget, these tips will save you precious dollars which could otherwise be thrown away on low performing ads. If there’s one thing you should take away from this article, this is it: don’t throw your money away at low performing ads, run tests to find the best performing ones. In upcoming articles we will be highlighting additional advertising techniques which will help boost your Facebook advertising campaign performance.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Why Your Link Requests Are Failing

by Kristi Hines, July 26, 2011

Picture this: You walk up to a local business, walk through the door, up to the first person you see, and say "Hi, I'd like you to put this sticker on your window because I sell products that people who come to your establishment might like, too." (Said sticker is an address to your business.)

Think it will be successful? Probably not.

Now let's try this scenario: Instead of asking for them to put a sticker on their window, you pick up one of their mailers to customers and ask them to put your address in the middle of one of their articles, again because readers of the mailer might be interested in your products.

Again, this probably won't be successful. Your only chance in either scenario is going to be if said local business accepts advertising, in which case you're going to have to pay them to get your business advertised on their window or in their mailer.

Now let's think about quality. Sure the Joe Schmo business next door might take you up on your offer. But what if you tried to walk up to the biggest retail chain in your area and asked them to do the same thing? Would your request be granted? Doubtful.

This is, essentially, what clients want link builders to do for them. They don't want to offer anything of value content-wise, but they want people who have probably never heard of them before to just magically place their name and website address on their website. And it's just about as absurd as the above described scenarios.

So the next time clients are complaining about the fact that the links they get are only paid or only high quality, it's time to turn the tables on them.

It's not you, the link builder, who is to blame because I'm sure you've been successful with clients who have good content on their site, or at least a good reputation.

It's the client that needs work. You need to stop link building and start content development. And not just one piece of content that might not appeal to everyone, but several pieces. Think about developing the kind of content that Wikipedia would find as a suitable resource for one of their pages.

How-to guides, tutorials, detailed histories, facts about the industry, current trends, videos, and so forth. These are the types of content that people will want to link to. No one wants to just link to sales pages and product pages unless the page you're targeting specifically says, "Here are some great resources to buy __."

What if your client refuses to add any link-worthy content to their site? Then tell them that, realistically, the only opportunities you'll be able to get for them are directories, paid advertising links, or other lower hanging fruit.

Why? Because authority sites link to valuable resources - not just products or sales pages, especially if it's you competing against thousands of other stores that offer the same items or services.

In short, your client needs to ensure that their site offers value. If it does, then it will gain links. If not, then they will have to settle for whatever they can get, and that may not be what they optimally are looking for.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

71% of Online Americans Visit Video-Sharing Sites by Greg Jarboe, July 27, 2011

Kathleen Moore of the Pew Internet Project has just written a report that says 71 percent of online Americans now use video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, up from 33 percent 4.5 years ago. The use of video-sharing sites on any given day has also jumped, from 8 percent of online Americans in December 2006 to 28 percent in May 2011.

Pew also found that Internet users in rural areas are now just as likely as users in urban and suburban areas to have used these sites, and online African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than Internet-using whites to visit video-sharing sites. In addition, 81 percent of parents in the survey reported visiting video‐sharing sites, compared with 61 percent of the non-parents.

According to Moore, “The rise of broadband and better mobile networks and devices has meant that video has become an increasingly popular part of users’ online experiences.” She added, “People use these sites for every imaginable reason – to laugh and learn, to watch the best and worst of popular culture and to check out news. And video-sharing sites are very social spaces as people vote on, comment on, and share these videos with others.”

In her report, Moore also said, “The rise in use of video‐sharing sites is at least partly being driven by the growth in content on sites like YouTube and by user contributions, which then possibly encourage site visits by contributors’ friends and others who pass around links about popular amateur videos.”

According to the latest statistics from YouTube, 48 hours of content are uploaded every minute to the site, and the range of contributions is striking. YouTube lists 28 different categories for channels of video.

YouTube viewership has grown from 8 million views a day by the end of 2005, to over 3 billion views a day in 2011, according to the company’s data. And the company receives over 200 million views a day via mobile connections.

And, as I mentioned on July 17, comScore and YouTube are partnering to launch YouTube Partner Reporting this summer. This new enhanced online video measurement feature will break out individual audiences and demographic data for partners and their channels for the first time.

Finally, if you’re going to SES San Francisco 2011 next month, check out these sessions, which will cover YouTube or video marketing:

Social Media Solutions on a Budget
•Next Gen YouTube Marketing
•SEW Labs - The Use of Video in Social Media
•The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Local Online Business Listing Hijacking: Protecting Your Identity

Jeff Beard, July 15, 2011

Many businesses, local search platforms, and social networks suffer from listings hijackers. Usually, listings hijackers are individuals that attempt to tamper with local business listings, repurposing those online identities for their own benefit. Many of their dubious hijacking methods can be compared to black hat SEO techniques.

Some of these hijackers claim other local business’ organic listings that haven’t been claimed and authorized by a representative of the business itself, because they don't have physical locations, but could benefit from having one due to the business they generate from local markets. Others might hijack listings merely for the competitive advantage of replacing a competitor's online information with their own business name, address, and phone number (NAP) details.

These hijackers and spammers are creating havoc for legitimate local businesses, as well as the local search industry as a whole, because they negatively impact the sanctity of local business listing NAPs (and often categories).

Unfortunately, many local search platforms don't yet offer adequate solutions to stop listings hijackers because a solid verification and authorization process has not been put in place. Most sites aren’t able to verify that the individual claiming or modifying a listing is a true representative of that business.

How Big is the Problem?

To shed some light, here are some statistics from the past 12 months:

In the Localeze database, unauthorized individuals have made more than 11,000 failed attempts to claim listings by changing the business name, phone number, and category within a listing (but not the address).
Nearly 25 percent of unauthorized attempts originated from IP addresses outside the U.S.
Most of these individuals were trying to hijack listings by claiming the listing’s address and changing the category to a service-to-home category. This indicates that the hijackers were likely representatives of a business with no fixed location and/or with a network of mobile workers.

The categories most prone to listings hijackers are largely service-based businesses and include:

Locksmiths (a category which just received mainstream attention in The New York Times)
Plumbing Contractors
Automobile Glass
Computer Service & Repair
Garage Doors & Openers Service and Repair

A Real Life Example of Local Search Business Hijacking

Some hijackers try to take advantage of local business listings outside of these categories by claiming listings from other categories and repurposing them as their own, to generate leads, for sale, for local businesses like plumbers or locksmiths. These individuals are essentially stealing listings illicitly, aggregating leads to build traffic and passing them on to local business customers.

To illustrate the problem, we reviewed a case where an individual attempted to hijack a business listing in Dallas listed as a dental office. The would-be claimer tried to change the business name to “Royal Locksmiths” and replace the local phone number with a toll-free number. They also tried to change the business category from “Dental Offices” to “Locksmiths.”

It was clear the individual trying to claim the listing was questionable. To confirm there was a dental office at the listed address, we called the local phone number in the organic listing and determined the office had been there for more than seven years.

We called the toll-free number submitted for “Royal Locksmiths” and asked when we could stop in to have a key made. Their reply: “We don’t have an office you can come to.”

This is just one example highlighting the chaos that hijackers are creating across the local search business listings ecosystem.

What Should Businesses do to Protect Their Online Identities?

The majority of organic local business listings remain unclaimed and unprotected by an authorized business representative. This leaves those listing identities highly vulnerable to hijacking by spammers, squatters, and even competitors.

To closely guard their online presence and protect their identities, businesses should always verify and claim listings on as many local search platforms and social sites as possible and/or partner with business listing management providers to ensure consistency, governance, and reach. This includes managing listings over time and routinely checking to make sure local online NAP information is appearing correctly. Otherwise, online business listings could be tampered with and disseminated across the local search ecosystem, making it a major challenge for customers to find a local business in online or mobile search results.

Monday, July 18, 2011

5 Reasons Google+ Is Not A Facebook Killer by Dave Davies

For the past couple weeks, a select gathering of us (likely including many Search Engine Watch readers) have been playing with Google+. It's an interesting social media experiment by Google, but it is likely to remain that. Another "almost ran" in the social media game; another Google property that just won't quite make it. Here are five reasons why.
1. Usability
A huge problem Google will face here is that we all know how we use our social media tools and why.
Let's look back to May 2010, when Facebook had the "audacity" to force a layout change on its users – a change that garnered 1.7 million protests and many more complaints (including one from yours truly). If people are this opposed to simply adjusting how they use a single social media site (and let's be honest, the changes really weren't that significant; no manual required), who's going to want to learn an entirely new layout and way to communicate to do... the same things you can do on Facebook.
The overall layout of Google+ is similar to that of Facebook (coincidence?) but the subtle differences are going to be problematic in a world where you have the user's attention for a whopping five seconds. If they can't find what they're looking for, they're gone.
2. Verbiage
Let's say I tell you I "beige" something... what does that mean to you? Not a whole lot I'd imagine, because you don't have a base of reference for the word "beige" as a vote of support or opposition. 
Now let's say I tell you I "like" something... what does that mean to you? Fortunately, we've all gone through our lives "liking" things so we have an easy reference.
I'm pretty sure by now you all see where this is going. None of us has a pre-exposed reference to "+1" as any type of support point. I've never listened to a band in a pub and shouted to the guy next to me, "I really plus one this song... it's awesome!"
People like what they know and from the outset, the idea of +1 as a rating of support has been a point of head scratching and mild snickering. This additional lack of intuitive use is another point against Google in the battle for users' hearts and minds.
3. Usefulness
Google+ has some awesome features. My personal favorite is Circles.  That one may want to share something publicly but differently is a concept well grasped by Google.
The friends I went to the pub with and listened to the song I completely "plus one" are different than my co-workers. And goodness knows my SEO friends are different than anyone else I know.
Google created Circles to allow the easy filtering of messages by grouping friends and the easy sharing of images, status updates, etc. to and from these same groups. It's a great idea.
Unfortunately, my dad doesn't have this problem, nor does my sister, nor does my grandmother; in fact, about 80 percent of the people I know are OK with one level of sharing. And if it is a bit of a bother to them, it's less of a bother to put on the personal filter every now and then than to try to adopt yet another communications medium.
Sure, we geeks love new toys and we like to try new things, so we were happy to create a new account, figure out how to use it, play around in the settings, upload our photos again, etc. But how many of your relatives would?
4. Purpose
Sometimes the simple question needs to be asked (and every 2-year-old knows it): Why?
We know why Google wants the project to be successful. If Google+ became even half as successful as Facebook, the information on relationships they could collect and what that could mean to them as far as feeding advertising in our direction more accurately would be incredible. But we're not Google.
Oh sure, we'll play around with Google+, but if your non-tech friends and family don't adopt it, it'll likely become that thing you check every blue moon when you remember it's there.
The problem Google is up against is that Facebook really isn't bad. Plus, it's already got virtually everyone you likely know signed up, connected, profiles built, comments, and history. Why would anyone give that up when there isn't a problem? So you can drop people in Circles as you attempt to rebuild your full friends list and convince your parents to join Google+?
And for those of you thinking, why not use both, I would ask ... why? Do we really want to waste more time updating our statuses – now on multiple websites? Tagging photos, chatting with friends, etc.? I think not.
5. Convenience
I touched on it before, but it's a core issue with Google+ that's worth discussing on its own. Using Google+ is not convenient.
I, like many, am busy. The number of draws on my time increases almost daily, many of these draws from the online world. I've got Facebook, Twitter, Skype, AIM, MSN, forums, a blog, email, the phone and (here comes the shocker) live human interaction. Why on Earth would I want another?
The single biggest problem that Google may be up against right now is that they're fighting a battle from behind. While I anticipate very solid growth early on, once users realize that many of their friends haven't moved over, rather than have to access yet another social media resource to communicate, they'll slowly move back to just the one. The one where all their friends and contacts already are, where they can communicate in one location: Facebook.
Will Google+ die? Maybe not. It's possible the folks at Google will adapt and focus it more against LinkedIn than Facebook; that battle they could win, as it's the same audience.
But Google+ is not set to become the Facebook killer it's hyped to be. It just doesn't solve any problems worth solving for the majority of people.
And now, back to check my Facebook messages – and maybe Google+, if there's time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

TOP 25 - July 2011 Edition - Charlotte Twitterati™

This month’s Top 25 is brought to you by   
Veranda® ArmorGuard™ Composite Decking

CGR Creative is bringing you the 3rd Edition of our Charlotte Twitterati. The Charlotte Twitterati is our monthly index of the Queen City’s most influential citizens. Each month we present an updated list of the top 25.

Top 25

  1. Jeff Elder - @jeffelder - 128
  2. Donna Maria Coles Johnson - @indiebusiness - 120
  3. Quote Of the Day - @quotetheday - 119
  4. Uncle Bob Martin - @unclebobmartin - 119 
  5. Brandon Uttley - @brandonuttley - 115
  6. Mommywords - @mommywords - 114
  7. Jeff Gluck - @jeff_gluck - 114
  8. TweetMyJOBS- @tweetmyjobs - 114
  9. Osfoora - @osfoora - 114
  10. Brad Williams - @chrisharrisnfl - 108
  11. Charlotte Observer - @theobserver - 107
  12. Genevieve Jooste - @GenevieveJooste - 105
  13. Denny Hamlin - @dennyhamlin -104
  14. Robert Enriquez - @roberte - 102
  15. Mysty Wuori - @mysticle - 103
  16. Jenna Fryer -@jennafryer - 100 
  17. The Android Site - @theandroidsite -99
  18. Lauriana Zukowski - @laurianaz -99
  19. Sandy Salle - @hillsofafrica -98
  20. Marc DeCaria - @MarcDecaria - 98
  21. SPEED - @speed - 97 
  22. Discovery Place - @discoveryplace - 91
  23. Scott Speed - @scottspeed - 90
  24. Brandon Kirkley - @brandonkirkley - 89
  25. Jeff Gordon - @jeffgordonweb - 87

How We Calculate It
The Top 25 is determined by combining individual scores from and We get the initial list from the top 50 listed on and We create a list of all the names and then look at their Klout and PeerIndex scores. The composite totals give us the monthly Charlotte Twitterati.

Charlotte, NC
According to, Charlotte is the 27th most active city in the United States and 41st in the World. This is based on number of users listing Charlotte, NC on their Twitter profile.

Follow the Twitterati!/cgrcreative/charlotte-twitterati
Keep up with the Joneses by subscribing to our list on Twitter which tracks every member of the Twitterati in one group.

About CGR Creative
CGR Creative is a full-service advertising agency located in Charlotte's historic Southend area. We offer web design, graphic design, search engine optimization, printing

Who Did We Miss?
Do you have any recommendations for a highly influential, Charlotte-based user we missed? Please send us an email with your nomination, and we will add them to the index. Send your message to

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter as well - twitter@cgrcreative.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Office Style: Suits

Maintaining stylish looks during summer-time heat can be quite tricky, but not impossible. The bar is raised when trying to sustain your fashion appeal in a more business conscience setting, such as the corporate office. When dress-codes are a factor, or an event requires you to dress more formally, do not worry; there’s a way to continue to be stylish without dying from heat exhaustion.

Two fabric’s you’ll want to have, hold, and cherish: linen and light cotton.  They’ll never forsake you in the hot and sticky months, and did I mention how well they breathe? May I suggest investing in a few light-cotton and linen suits?  They’ll have you looking as though you’re ready for a productive day at the office, while you feel like you're casual and ready for a night out. This season is meant for bright colors and laid back comfort, so why not do both? Don’t be afraid to add some summer time flair to your ensembles; it is “SUMMER” after all. Try putting on some accessories with your suits (Beaded bracelet, colored strap watch,  etc. ), lose the laces on the foot wear, and let your ankles breathe like the rest of your body. Try on some loafers or some casual sneakers; its summer time, act like it.

Fit: The materials linen and light cotton are designed to be a little loose fitted and flowing for comfort, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about fit; it’s still very important. Look for shirts and jackets with a slim flattering fit, high armhole, slim sleeve, and pants that are more of a straight leg fit. I would also recommend looking for a jacket with a more natural shoulder. A soft shoulder (jacket with a small shoulder pad) is more appropriate when worn casually. GAP and J.CREW are two brands that consistently design jackets of this caliber every Spring/Summer season.

Color Tips: Allow your style to talk through your accessories and shoes, keep your suit on the classy side. You want to look good in the office, not appear as if you’re trying to break the dress-code. With that said, try putting your stamp on a few colors like dark British khaki, deep olive, navy blue or, even, the mostly overlooked,  brown; they’ll be some great colors to own.

After a day at the office, unbutton the shirt, and remove the tie. Take it casual with a t-shirt and some sneakers for a quick summer weekend or night out.

Friday, July 1, 2011

When is the Best Time to Start a PPC Campaign?

Pay-Per-Click, or PPC Search Engine Marekting, is quite lucrative for Google and the other tier one search engines. The online market dictates competition which yields higher Cost-Per-Clicks. Some keywords could cost anywhere from $2.00 to an upwards of $82.00 per keyword phrase. It's pretty insane.  It does work to increase new acquisitions though.

What are the benefits to PPC? You can get your ad rotated right on page one of Google, Bing or Yahoo/MSN. If you run through your budget, your ad will find its way off the Search Engine Results page as quickly as it got there. If you are strategic in your efforts to market your NEW product or service, even remarket it, then you might find PPC is well worth the money. If you are a highly competitive business, you may want to consider running a small PPC campaign. The great thing about Adwords is you can target any geo location to rotate your advertisements. You will also see where every dollar is going as long as your tracking is set up correctly. Then you can decide if the Return on your Investment is there or not. If you don't have a decent budget to invest in PPC, then don't waste your time.  Try another marketing strategy that benefits your budget.

Once you set up your Adwords campaign, be sure to link it to Google Analytics for more robust metrics. You will be able to measure page views, unique visitors, bounce rate, and more. It gives you a great gauge for your performance and helps you optimize accordingly. If you are not too savvy with managing and optimizing online campaigns, definitely hire an agency to do it for you.  You will find it's worth a few extra bucks to pay an expert in the grand scheme of things.

After you get your name out on the web via PPC, it's best to work on a simultaneous SEO and social media/PR campaign to continue the legacy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

SEO -Too Fast or Too Slow?

It's always a challenge getting top placement on Google.  Many like to think their sites magically make it to page one without any hard work.  There is a secret sauce we like to use for our clients in order to get them page 1 ranked.  Typically we provide a competitive keyword analysis to get you started, and let you know which keywords you should be targeting for your business.  Then we do our thing and Voila! Your site will start to make its way up the ranks.  Part of the success is attributed to the hundreds of SEO tools offered online.  It's definitely finding the right combination of tools and implementation to make things happen.

Let's be real, how long should you expect until you start to see results and moving up the ranks? Depending on how competitive your keywords are will determine how much work needs to go into the back-end.  Sometimes you can go from page 2 to page 1 in Google in a few short weeks; sometimes it's days.  If you are targeting a bunch of highly competitive keywords, it might take a few months before strategy lends itself to Rockstar placement.

Also pay attention to your sitemap; as you make updates to your site, your sitemap will change, and it's important to update it with Google.  There are a plethora of Google webmaster tools to aid in getting things done when it comes to sitemaps, blogs, tracking, and more. When designing a new website, you must implement SEO tactics from the get-go. Don't wait because it's that much harder when you have to implement after you launch.  The web design is everything as long as it's SEO friendly.

If you are employing all possible SEO efforts and you don't see any viable results, it might be time to contact a professional.  SEO is more than fixing some onsite metadata.  Keep that in mind and know that the value of good placement means everything as new visitors to your site equate to conversions.

Friday, June 10, 2011

TOP 25 - June 2011 Edition - Charlotte Twitterati™

This month’s Top 25 is brought to you by Pro GFE Calculator™ - title insurance rate calculator

CGR Creative is excited to bring you the second posting of our Charlotte Twitterati. The Charlotte Twitterati is our monthly index of the Queen City’s most influential citizens. Each month we present an updated list of the top 25.

Last month we had over 8,000 page views from all over, coming to check out Charlotte's TOP 25. So keep up the great work, and we'll continue to recognize those individuals who are spreading positive influence to the masses.

Top 25

  1.  Jeff Elder - @jeffelder - 123
  2.  Donna Maria Coles Johnson - @indiebusiness - 122
  3. Quote Of the Day - @quotetheday - 119
  4. mommywords - @mommywords - 116
  5. Uncle Bob Martin - @unclebobmartin - 116
  6. Chris Harrington - @chrisharrington
  7. Jeff Gluck - @jeff_gluck - 114
  8. TweetMyJOBS- @tweetmyjobs - 114
  9. Brandon Uttley - @brandonuttley - 110
  10.  Robert Enriquez - @roberte - 108
  11. Mysty Wuori - @mysticle - 107
  12. Osfoora - @osfoora - 107
  13. Charlotte Observer - @theobserver - 104
  14. Brad Williams - @chrisharrisnfl - 103
  15. The Android Site - @theandroidsite - 101
  16. Genevieve Jooste - @GenevieveJooste - 100
  17. Lauriana Zukowski - @laurianaz -99
  18. Sandy Salle - @hillsofafrica -99
  19. Discovery Place - @discoveryplace - 94
  20. Marc DeCaria - @MarcDecaria - 93
  21. SPEED - @speed - 93
  22. Denny Hamlin - @dennyhamlin - 92
  23. Scott Speed - @scottspeed - 91
  24. Bite of Charlotte - @biteofcharlotte - 89
  25. Jeff Gordon - @jeffgordonweb - 89

How We Calculate It
The Top 25 is determined by combining individual scores from and We get the initial list from the top 50 listed on and We create a list of all the names and then look at their Klout and PeerIndex scores. The composite totals give us the monthly Charlotte Twitterati.

Charlotte, NC
According to, Charlotte is the 27th most active city in the United States and 41st in the World. This is based on number of users listing Charlotte, NC on their Twitter profile.

Follow the Twitterati!/cgrcreative/charlotte-twitterati
Keep up with the Joneses by subscribing to our list on Twitter which tracks every member of the Twitterati in one group.

About CGR Creative
CGR Creative is a full-service advertising agency located in Charlotte's historic Southend area. We offer web design, graphic design, search engine optimization, printing

Who Did We Miss?
Do you have any recommendations for a highly influential, Charlotte-based user we missed? Please send us an email with your nomination and we will add them to the index. Send your message to

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter as well - twitter@cgrcreative.

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