2016 is shaping up to be a big year in the life cycle of Apoxe. After letting some competing technologies battle for supremacy its time to re-evaluate the winners, methods, and techniques and vet them against core fundamentals of what Apoxe is so that it can move to the next level.
Taking Apoxe down to the studs so to speak has me excited and anxious to get in there and get geeky. This reminded me of an article I read a few years ago by Joel Lee that I feel is still relevant and at least for me – reaffirms that I’ve chosen the right profession. If any aspiring programmers are reading this, I highly recommend you take the time to let the following points sink in. Its ok, I’ll wait… http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-signs-meant-programmer/
Each point made in his article about why you shouldn’t be a programmer rings true for me on some level. For example, the first point “You Lack Experimental Creativity” made me chuckle because I can think of a few times that I spent hours coding, only to scrap it later because some revolutionary thought came to me later in the day. I wasn’t that sad to scrap it, instead I was excited to try a different approach. Or, You Want Normal Work Hours. Just this past holiday season I was on the couch programming away ideas for Apoxe while kids were watching TV, and I found it very relaxing. Even in church I may have wondered from the sermon thinking about a lingering problem I wanted to solve. Programming challenges are with me everywhere I go, and most of the time, I’m OK with that.
As I approach 16 years with TKG, and 20 years (holy crap) since building my first websites – I feel lucky that challenges that got me hooked on programming and web development have been replaced with new challenges to continue to grow – and that the thought of getting in there to solve them continues to motivate me.
When it comes to effective content marketing, it’s important to establish your brand as a trusted resource for content that is relevant to your industry. Instead of creating content that is just trying to make a sale, try creating relevant content your audience actually wants to seek out. Whether your content is educational, helpful, entertaining or persuasive, you need to make sure it resonates with your audience and stands out from the competition.
Ways to own the space you’re in:
Brand Journalism By writing your own authoritative content or curating articles from reputable third party sources, you are able to establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry. If there are no editorial authorities in your area of expertise, start your own conversation – possibly through a blog, podcast or video series.
Social Media Consistent and compelling social media is one of the best ways to gain exposure to your editorial brand content. Effective social media is visual, interactive and draws users in with headlines that make them curious to learn more. Don’t expect these messages to lead directly to sales; this content adds value in a different way. It helps tell your brand’s story and explains how that story fits into your audience’s interests and lifestyle.
Audience Focus When you set your content strategy, don’t just think about ways your content will help you sell products or generate leads. Think about the types of information your customers will actually find useful. If you are a razor company, try creating content about men’s heath and grooming (Dollar Shave Club does this really well). If you are a clothing retailer, try creating fashion and lifestyle content (Modcloth is a leader in this space). By creating content that your audience actually wants to interact with, you will make huge strides in establishing brand recognition and customer loyalty.
To sum it up, we recommend content that meets your audience where they are. Your audience wants you to speak to them in a way that is informative, engaging and not overtly promotional. Trust us, when you give them the content they want, your audience will return the favor with likes, comments, shares and repeat purchases.
Want to own the space you’re in? Contact TKG and discover new ways to elevate your digital presence.
I joined The Karcher Group as a Web Marketing Specialist on September 1st and as I look back over the last 3 months, in ways the time has felt like it has flown by and yet it feels like I have been here for years.
When I interviewed here at The Karcher Group I was very skeptical if they were who they said they were. I was told in the interview that working at TKG is an absolute blast and that TKG is a huge family that is very tight nit. They also told me that they value their employees and their families. They claimed that one of their values were to respect their employees time with their families. Needless to say, I left the interview thinking “I have to get this job. This is the career that I have been looking for. However, at some point on my drive home I felt the pessimistic side of my personality come out. I remember thinking, I have been told these things before. I have been told I would have fun. I have been told by employers that they value my family.
I was offered the position and when I came on board I was very nervous. A lot of that nervousness was because I expected it to not be fun. Some would call me a pessimist, I would argue a realist.
The first couple weeks were pretty rough trying to get to know everyone while learning a new position, but after awhile I began to really connect with some of my fellow TKG-ers. After some pool tournaments and a few company outings, I realized I had in fact found the place I was meant to be at.
Those early games of pool opened up the flood gates. It loosened up my corporate understanding of what working hard was. It forced me to UN-tuck my dress shirt and relax a little bit. As I was gaining perspective on the phrase “WORK HARD, PLAY HARD” I started and continue to gain perspective on the group at TKG. This group is tight nit. They are a team. They are a team that gets results, a team that cares about each other. This truly is a family. They are in it together. I am very excited about to be a part of this group and I look forward to working with these people for years to come.
As we all know technology, and with it the digital world, changes on a regular basis. Social media and social business are no different. There is a constant ebb and flow to everything web related, even while so many trends are just that – trends. Knowing where the hotspots are is an essential part of planning your marketing campaign for that month, and that year. Digital Insights has come up with an infographic that details some amazing facts that will impact your outlook on social business, and may have you tweaking your social business approach for 2014:
The most telling facts on this infographic?
“Social Media generates almost double the marketing leads of trade show, telemarking, daily mail or PPC.”
“Women check out a brands social page more often than men.”
“About 46% of web users turn to social media for making a purchase.”
If you aren’t already utilizing social media in your marketing efforts, you might want to reconsider. As the next several years roll out, we will start to see that more and more aspects of any given business will have some reliance on social media, and social business practices. Many, if not most consumers are using the web, and more specifically, social media to find bargains, advice, coupons, trust worthy brands and recommendations and will not settle for less than the best possible deal.
In response to the wide adoption of social media, many businesses have begun using different aspects of social within their business, to run the business. Here at TKG we have several different strategies in place to streamline communication, file storage and information sharing. Presently known as “social business“, it won’t be long before all of these systems will just be business as usual.
If you need some help or insights to making your business more “social”, we’d be glad to help. When it comes to communication, task completion, and just general relaying of information in a quick and discernible way, there are many applications available to help you streamline your business.
If you’re an online marketing professional, data services whiz, or have awesome project management skills, you’re in luck. Right now is the very best time to live in Northeast Ohio.
Depending on what the weather is in the precise moment you’re reading this post, you might be wondering why I would say that? After all, it’s probably raining, snowing or just not hot enough for you! Or, maybe it’s too hot… Who knows. We always complain about the weather here. No, the reason that now is the very best time to live here has absolutely nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with the job opportunities, specifically the opportunity to work at TKG.
As I celebrate my one-year anniversary here, I thought it might be helpful for prospective candidates to have some insight into why working for TKG is such a great opportunity. After all, changing jobs can be scary and it’s hard to know just what you’ll find once you make the leap. As an online marketing strategist, you’ll find that many of my insights relate directly to this department, but be assured that TKG culture is pretty uniform — so, you can safely assume that things will be similar in other departments as well.
And, I don’t mean challenging as in difficult, although sometimes their challenges are difficult! TKG serves a wide range of clients, from small business owners to online-only retailers to publicly traded business-to-business manufacturers. Our clients are diverse and the strategies and tools we use to serve them are equally as diverse.
What this means for you: An opportunity to flex your creative muscles, to use cutting edge techniques to help your clients grow their businesses, and an in-house team to lean on. (For real! If you’re a marketing person, you won’t have to code websites anymore. And our IT staff does not create marketing strategies!)
It also means a fast-paced (but friendly) environment, sometimes with tight deadlines.
Opportunities to Grow
Is there something related to your job that you’ve always wanted to learn? Go learn it. Is there a course that you want to take that would really help you with xyz? If it fits the budget (time or dollars), you’ll get the chance. Does one of your clients have a challenge and no one knows the answer? We’ll challenge you to grow that way too. TKG strives to be a partner with all of our clients. Collectively TKG has a lot of experience to bring to the table, and with 15+ years helping clients do business online, we’ve seen a lot of the same challenges before. But, if no one knows the answer, you might just be the person who gets to figure it out. And that’s pretty awesome.
The Chance to be a Leader
Raise your hand if you feel like you have no voice where you are. Ahh, yes, isn’t that one of the biggest complaints you hear about other people’s jobs? I know it was one of mine. I honestly didn’t expect it to be different here. After all, doesn’t everyone say that their employees’ ideas matter? Yawn….
Well, let me be the first to tell you that when TKG says it, they mean it. No, it doesn’t mean that every idea will be implemented and that we’ll do everything your way, but if you have a great idea, bring it to the table. We want to hear it. From one-on-one meetings with your team lead/strategist to QA lunches with Geoff, there are plenty of ways to make your voice heard. And, if you’re really passionate about something, sell it to us… Chances are, we’ll give it a try! And, if it works, we’ll give you credit for it (and if it doesn’t, we’ll never let you live it down! strategize together for a better solution!)
Work hard, play hard. It’s cliche, but at TKG it’s true. If you only know us from Facebook, you might think that fun is all we do, but it’s not true. (It’s just that fun engages better for us on Facebook 🙂 )
TKG values a work-life balance, so we try to stick to regular business hours, but every now and then it’s necessary to put in some extra hours (this has happened only a handful of times for me in the last year). And while a brain war often breaks out in the middle of the afternoon (even though I have tried really hard to institute a “Don’t throw brains at me!” policy), it’s short-lived. TKG’ers are dedicated professionals…. who happen to know how to have a good time! If you are a dedicated professional, you’ll fit in! If you’re just here for the fun…. well, why don’t you just like us on Facebook? 🙂
Seriously – Part of the culture here does include things like “First Thursday” (a couple of drinks at the end of the day) or the annual Camping Trip, but it also includes fun in the form of hitting a deadline, solving a client’s problem or seeing a client achieve a particular goal. I know it sounds kind of nerdy… but, well, we are kind of nerds.
And, if you’re a nerd like we are nerds, then TKG is the right place for you.
As I celebrate my first year here, I am grateful for all of the challenges I’ve had, the opportunities to grow, and mostly for the fact that I had the courage to make the move. Changing jobs is scary, but if I’d known then what I know now (and what I’ve tried to share here), well, I’d probably be celebrating two years instead of one! Thanks for all of the opportunities this year, TKG & TKG clients! Here’s to many more years!
This week’s social business news wrap starts with Klout’s Monday announcement on it’s official blog that they have joined forces with Bing, making it possible to connect your Klout account to Bing. That means Bing searches will impact Klout’s algorithm and results eventually will impact your Klout score. In addition, Bing is displaying the Klout score of socially active professionals and celebrities right in their search results. Interesting way to quickly grasp the influence of a brand or celeb.
Instagram has also been added to Klout, giving Instagram users a small measure of “influence” in the Klout world.
Not into Klout yet? Wondering what it is all about? From the pages of the Klout site,
Klout measures your influence based on your ability to drive action on social networks. We crunch your social data to give you insight into how influential you are and what you are influential about.Inspiring your friends to talk about and try a new sushi bar down the street after you post a photo of the incredible sushi you had is an example of influence.We believe everyone has influence. The more engagement and action you inspire with the content you create, the greater your influence.
Changes In Store For Pinterest
In other social business news, Pinterest is changing, and in my opinion, for the better. They are making it easier to pin, harder to spam, and much more efficient. Their homepage is changing, getting bigger, clearer images and easier navigation.
One major change is that urls will no longer be hyperlinked in pin descriptions. You can still include them, but they will show as plain text. Pinterest is also taking hashtags out of pin descriptions, basically, cleaning up the place. Instead of links and hashtags, they have added a “Go to Website” button to make it easy to pop over to the original content.
This new button is a magical thing for marketers, and if you are using Pinterest to market your brand, you will need to step up your game, making sure that you have cool, interesting, relevant content on your site for your Pinterest traffic. Once inside a board or when looking at your pin, you can share it, go to the website, or embed the pin using newly provided buttons.
Along with these various changes comes the new, shorter profile bio, now just 160 characters, down from 200. And if you like to “Like” from Facebook? You are out of luck, as you will no longer be able to “Like” a board from Facebook, you’ll have to go to the source, which as a blogger, I can appreciate. It is frustrating to not be able to go to your actual site to see interaction. It makes sense, once you are established, to
sort of push people back to your site for likes and follows.
Marketers will be happy to learn that Pinterest has finally added analytics! Kim Garst from Boom Social has the low down:
“You can now track things like, how many pins have been generated from your website, the number of repins, impression, and clicks those pins have gotten, which pins from your website are getting the most repins and clicks, how many pins that have come from your site over time, and how many impressions and clicks they’ve gotten. And if you want to take it a step further and really analyze the data, you can even export the data to a spreadsheet in Excel.”
A lot of changes are happening over at Pinterest, but for the most part they seem to be positive, house cleaning type changes. Pinterest should be cleaner, easier to use and best of all, you should be able to get a clear picture of how Pinterest is working for you from a marketing standpoint.
Are you a pinner? Do you do it for fun, or business or both? I love Pinterest, though I honestly try to avoid it – such a huge time consumer, but boy, it is honestly the most fun social media platform out there, and obviously, a lot of people agree with me! Now, if only Klout would add Pinterest, right?
We’re thrilled to announce that our very own Aaron Geh has been named one of ystark!’s Twenty Under 40 class for 2013.
He joins TKG’s exclusive club of previous winners: Geoff Karcher and Patrick Willoughby. OK, so they would laugh at that, but we’re pretty proud to have our third winner from TKG in six years.
It’s old news to us that Aaron is pretty great; he was one of TKG’s very first hires. He’s been essential to building TKG from the ground up, or should we say the “basement up.” Aaron’s tenure at TKG goes back to the days of working out of Geoff’s parents’ basement. Today, Aaron leads our sales and marketing efforts, keeping new clients coming through the door and existing clients happy.
When he’s not at work, you can find Aaron serving on local boards (Green Chamber, Leadership Stark County) and volunteering his time with several local organizations. He and his wife Jen also stay busy with their son, Evan, and daughter on the way!
Each year, the Twenty Under 40! award recognizes local leaders who display both leadership and social responsibility. Winners must be between the ages of 21 and 40, and can come from any career path. Criteria for winners is based on career acumen, community service, and personal/professional achievements.
You can register now for this year’s gala on Tuesday, June 4th at “The Barn” in Richville (just south of Perry). This is an awesome opportunity to not only celebrate this year’s winning class, but spend the evening in a spectacular 1800s 8-sided barn on private property. This venue will simply blow you away! Plus, there will be heavy apps, live music, an open bar, and gorgeous covered outdoor area. Don’t miss it!
Something we are getting more and more used to seeing: brands using their power to push the political ideology of owners, presidents or CEOs. Social media is a big player, perhaps the biggest player in this political and commercial game. Brands are using social media as a way to promote the political causes they believe in. If you recall last fall, Chick-Fil-A was a somewhat unwilling pawn in a political/social media/media firestorm over gay marriage. This lead to conservative forces using social media to promote “Chick-Fil-A Day”, a day where customers turned out in record numbers to show their support of the Traditional Marriage beliefs of owner and founder Truett Cathy.
Now, with the Supreme Court hearing cases on gay marriage rights, many other brands have been heard from this week, most notably: Starbucks (a company which has never made any bones about being supporters of gay marriage), and the Martha Stewart brand.
Starbucks CEO went on record this week with a shareholder, telling him that if he didn’t like the company’s stance on gay marriage, he was free to sell his shares and invest in a company that held beliefs closer to his own. Martha Stewart was a little more subtle, posting pics on Facebook and Pinterest of a piece of cake that resembles the red marriage equality symbol.
The big name companies can afford to do this, smaller brands to much lesser extent. Either way, you never know whom you are going to offend. Even though it has become commonplace to use social media to further a cause or political agenda, is it really a good idea? I think most experts would say that unless you can afford to lose some revenue to folks who don’t agree with whatever stance you have taken, keep your politics to yourself. Making enemies and burning bridges over something unrelated to your product is bad business. If you are using social media to promote your business, keep it light, keep it fun, and keep it about YOUR BRAND.
How is Your Social Media Customer Care?
If so, good for you. Apparently an amazing 71% of companies with mobile sites have no mobile customer service plan in place. Social Business News is reporting this week that most companies simply have not yet implemented customer care plans that work on a social media basis.
As our world changes with social media being one of, if not the #1 way we communicate with one another, customer care that can be accessed and administrated through social media needs to be a priority for any business that plans to use social media and mobile sites.
A study done by Execs in the Know called The 2012 Customer Experience Management Benchmark Study details how many companies are being left behind when it comes to social business strategies, and most specifically social business customer care. If you would like to read the report, it can be downloaded, but here are some highlights:
ultra connectivity has resulted in a shift in expectations
must reshape and rethink customer care
only 48% have social media customer care response team in place
over 50% have only created social media customer care response team in the last 6 months
Ready to get in the game? Reach out to our Web Marketing team, we’ll set you up!
Twitter announced this week via the Twitter blog that is has acquired Bluefin Labs, which is a company that connects social media and television advertising. You know, when you are watching TV and are annoyed at the suggested #hashtags popping up on the screen? Yeah – those guys. Anyway, Bluefin has been purchased by Twitter, which actually makes a great deal of sense – these two will go hand in hand, as most of Bluefin’s social media (a whopping 95%) on behalf of it’s clients is with Twitter.
Twitter and Bluefin each released statements about the purchase. Twitter saying that while they will continue to honor the contracts Bluefin already has, they will not be taking on any new clients.
“We intend to honor existing Bluefin customer contracts, but we will not continue to sell Bluefin’s product suite beyond the existing contracts.”
“While our products have always included data from multiple social media services, the reality is that Twitter is the platform where the overwhelming majority – about 95% – of public real-time engagement with TV happens. So we couldn’t be more excited to join Twitter.”
Social TV – you’ve noticed it, perhaps you’ve even participated in it. Do you go check out Twitter when you see a hashtag on the screen? Do you join discussions on Twitter about a favorite show or perhaps even a product? Let us know in the comments how you feel about “Social TV” – do you use the suggested hashtags to see what everyone else is saying or do you see what is trending?
Technorati releases it’s 2013 Digital Influence Report
Technorati, one of the largest social media ad networks released it’s annual report on “Digital Influence”. This report replaces their “State of the Blogosphere” which had been a social media staple for the last 10 years.
This year’s report is more of a culmination of all things social media. It was compiled with the findings of 1,200 consumers, 150 brand marketers, and 6,000 influencers. Influencers meaning bloggers and other top social media users.
The Technorati study finds that “Sixty percent of brand marketers predict an average increase of 40 percent in social spend for 2013.” While not entirely surprising, this data tells us that social media is important, and growing even though the consumers tend to rely more on blogs and influencers of that nature before Twitter and Facebook ads.
“Currently, the bulk of brands’ overall digital spend goes to display advertising, search and video, with spending on social, including influencer outreach, making up only 10 percent of their total digital spend. Within their social budget, more than half goes to Facebook, followed by YouTube and Twitter, with the remaining 11 percent of their social spend going to blogs and influencers….
…Though blogs and influencers don’t get a large portion of brands’ digital spend, they rank high with consumers for trust, popularity and influence. When making overall
purchase decisions, for consumers, blogs trail only behind retail and
So while spending a good portion of your 2013 marketing budget on social media advertising and other efforts, be mindful that the blog is still a very powerful tool for selling your brand.
You can click he link above to read the 34 page report yourself, or just get the lowdown. Either way, it’s news you need to stay ahead in the social media game.
What percentage of your marketing budget are you targeting for social media this year? Is a blog part of your overall marketing effort?
TKG has grown by leaps and bounds this winter –we’ve introduced you to many new faces and now we’d like to introduce you to Hilary Stephens.
Hilary Stephens is our new receptionist and resident smart aleck, which we mean in the best possible way. She has been a breath of fresh air around here during these cold winter months! She’s the cheerful voice on the phone and the beautiful smile behind the desk when you come through the door. Hilary will be working with Stacy and Hannah on the “Essentials” team to make sure TKG is running smoothly.
Hilary comes to TKG from Federal Express, where she was a “White Glove Agent” – Customer Service specializing in Government, Hazmat, Animal, Temp Controlled, and Art Shipments. In her spare time, you can find her hanging with her identical twin, Heather, on the softball fields (indoor and outdoor) all over North East Ohio. Her goal for this year is to condition and train for tryouts with the WFA (Women’s Football Alliance) and the Cleveland Fusion. Aside from her crazy love of full contact sports, Hilary enjoys shopping, spending time with her 2 year old nephew Easton, and playing in the snow with her gorgeous one eyed Siberian Husky, Katiya.
We asked Hilary for a funny story from her past, just to get to know her a little better. As twins,Hilary and Heather got in plenty of trouble swapping places in school, even at the tender age of 5! Though they plotted and planned the whole way to school, they still got busted by Hilary’s teacher, who figured out the switch when Heather didn’t know how to dress the classroom weather man. She just couldn’t be cool! Hilary’s pretty sure that’s why she and her sister were never placed in the same classroom for the rest of their school days – and we think she’s probably right!
It sounds as though Hilary will fit right in with the crazy around here! How about a shout out to welcome Hilary in the comments, she can’t wait to meet you!