Social Media Shopping and New Opportunities for Your Business

This blog post was written by social media intern Ali Flowers. Ali is a Senior at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studies Public Relations. Ali enjoys good food, good friends, and spending time with her family.

With the boom in social media marketing over the past few years, it was only a matter of time before e-commerce made its way into your social outlets. And who else would be the first to do it if not Facebook? And when I say that e-commerce is moving into the realm of social media, I’m not talking about ads with a link that takes you to a product page. I literally mean you can now shop on Facebook.

How Does Social Media Shopping Work?

Shopping on Facebook is done largely thanks to the development of chatbots. I realize that the name ‘chatbot’ sounds a little sci-fi and kind of far-fetched, but try not to get hung up on the name. Chatbots provide an automated way for retailers to communicate with consumers. These bots are computer programs, or conversational agents if you will, that can immediately answer product questions and lead to faster conversions. Say goodbye to the FAQ page: now every customer can ask personalized questions, avoid waiting on email responses, and get customer service without going into a brick and mortar location. It will make online shopping that much faster and more convenient.

How Does Facebook Use Social Media Shopping?


Let’s say you’re scrolling through your Facebook Newsfeed. You see a product, you’re intrigued, and you might consider making a purchase. Rather than you having to look up the product online, consult your friends, or ask around for product details, there will now be a chat window available. The window can open in your Facebook application or in the separate messenger app. You can ask the chatbot any questions you might have, and then (here it is folks) you can actually make a purchase in the chat window. You never have to go to the retailer’s website, click a link, or even open a different window.

What’s the Catch for E-commerce Businesses?

We’re realists here, so we’ll be honest: with more opportunity comes more responsibility. Yes, your business can now utilize an amazing new facet in social media, but new developments like this make the playing field that much more specialized. Social marketing has transformed from a marketing afterthought to a vital component for sales and your overall profit. It has also evolved from something that was largely free for early adopters to a “pay-to-play” models, where businesses need to invest marketing dollars if they want their target audience to see them. Simply put, your Facebook advertising is now worth a lot more, and you’ve got a lot more to lose. Social media marketing is evolving quickly, and you need to have a specialist running your various social media platforms. As far as Facebook e-commerce goes, it would be wise to have an experienced social media marketing team solidified before moving forward.

Why Should You Care?

If you’re an e-commerce retailer or social media manager running Facebook ads, doing remarketing on Facebook, your social efforts just got that much more valuable with the introduction of in-app shopping. Previously, even if you were placing ads on Facebook, people still had to visit another page to make a  purchase, find product details, or even just to ask a simple question. Not anymore. You can now go from impression to conversion in minutes. E-commerce sales are now poised to happen at a rate unseen before now. Tracking your social media marketing efforts should also get easier, since you will know exactly where your sales are coming from. Attribution modeling? No need– your paid social ad and sales transaction will happen in the same window, on the same page, in the same app.

So what are you waiting for? Talk to your social media manager: it’s time to start using Facebook for e-commerce.

Keep Your New Year’s Fitness Resolutions with Local Austin Gyms & Shops

With every New Year that rolls around comes a long list of ways to improve ourselves. What typically tops most of everyone’s list is a commitment to health and a better lifestyle. “I want to lost X amount of pounds…I’m going to exercise at least 3 -4 times a week…I’m cutting out sugar” etc.


We all start off doing well, but as jobs, family, and friends make it challenging to fit that 30 minute work-out in the morning, we start forgetting our resolutions and fall back into skipping work-outs. Let 2015 be different by making realistic goals — don’t focus on the short-term and take a look at the bigger picture. And most importantly, what makes you happy. Instead of targeting a weight, trying focusing on a specific behavior. I.e. “I want to be able to run for 30 minutes straight.”


Austin has the reputation of being one of the fittest cities in the United States. What helps is that fortunately for us, we have unlimited resources that can help us achieve a healthier lifestyle. Not only do we have access to amazing facilities, nutritional stores, but even our restaurants have adapted to the gluten-intolerant, vegans, and dedicated to serving minimally processed and organic foods.


Here are our favorite Austin shops that will help bring in the New (and healthier) Year:



1. Austin Simply Fit

Austin Simply Fit isn’t just another gym in town. Their team is made up of dedicated trainers who help people achieve their fitness goals. Unlike conventional gyms, Austin Simply Fit is designed for one-on-one training — meaning everyone is working out with their trainer – no big crowds and where they focus on you and your goals.
Want to give it a try? Schedule a free consultation and the first work-out is free. Or try their Kickstarter program where you get weekly education on nutrition, weekly food log review with personalized tips, before and after body measurements, and a t-shirt.


2. Eastside Austin Elite Crossfit

Also another unconventional gym where they offer a variety of classes and training from mixed martial arts to Crossfit and yoga. Located on the east side, (and a new location opening up on Lamar) their gym is completely designed and fully equipped for the classes they offer. Sign-up on their website for a free week.


3. Rogue Running

Cardio, cardio, and cardio. Running clubs can be intimidating, but Rogue Running offers training for both beginners and marathon runners in addition to a shop that sells running shoes and gear. They also offer various events for education, public runs, and scavenger hunts.


4. Dance Austin Studio

Dane Austin Studio offers a unique dancing experience with a variety of classes that range from hip hop, the ever popular Zumba, and even learning how to dance in stilettos. They will be participating on free day of dance on January 3 where they invite the public to try out their adult classes (you have to register online to secure your spot).


5. Bicycle Sport Shop

Austin is a bike-friendly city with a huge cyclist community. With bike shops all over town, Bicycle Sport is definitely on the top of our list because of their customer service. They been serving the Austin cycling community since 1983, they offer tune-ups, events, gear, accessories, clothing, and of course every type of bike you can imagine. Not sure which bike you want? They also offer rentals.

Food & Nutrition

It’s no brainer that nutrition plays an important role in achieving a healthier lifestyle. Instead of temporarily eliminating something from your diet, focus on learning what and what not to eat.


1. Snap Kitchen

Snap Kitchen has grown with multiple locations now in Austin, Houston, and Dallas. At Snap Kitchen, you will find mostly organic, locally-sourced, and minimally processed food. They serve ready to go food and juices with now featuring a winter menu.


The most important thing to remember is to focus on you and what makes you happy. You’re going to have bad days but equally will have amazing days. Keep your head up and have an amazing 2015.

6 Of The Coolest New Things You Know You Don’t Need

Everyone says technology is racing forward at lightning speed, so it sometimes seems impossible to keep track of what gadgets are available. Every week it seems there are amazing things that no one’s ever heard of, and Leverage Marketing wants you to know the best gadgets available today.

Magic Wand Remote

So maybe “coolest” isn’t the right word for this gadget, but it’s pretty great nonetheless. Rather than using buttons, you can change the channel with a flick of the wrist. You can program up to 13 commands to whatever wrist movements you want, and even record shows with a swish of the arm. For Harry Potter fans or just the mystically inclined, this remote is a must-have.


This device is a simple bracelet that is tied to your smart phone. When you get a text, call, email, or social media alert, the bracelet will light up. Each different alert will manifest as a different color, so you know exactly what your network is doing. Whether your phone is buried in the bottom of your purse or hidden away in your pockets, you will immediately know that someone is trying to contact you and you can be sure you won’t miss any more calls.

Google Glass

Taking instant communication one step further, Google Glass puts your smart phone screen literally right in front of your face. The screen is held by an eyeglass-like set up so that the tiny screen is directly in front of the user’s eye. This project has been in the works for the past two years, and it looks like it will be launched toward the end of this year.

“I’m Here” GPS Tracker

With a GPS in almost every car and every pocket, it seems like the next logical step is to pack one in all those items we value the most. The “I’m Here” GPS Tracker is a small tracker that can be attached to anything – a piece of luggage, a dog’s collar, even a child’s shoe. In an emergency, your phone can show exactly where the tracker is and help you locate what’s been lost.

Vibrating Fork

Amazingly, this may be the newest weight loss sensation. Scientists and dieters alike are well aware that it takes 20 minutes for your body to realize it’s full. The vibrating fork will be able to tell you when you’re eating too fast, letting you slow down and give your body a chance to process the food.

If all this fails to amaze you, it may be time to use your brand new iPhone case to open a bottle of your favorite beverage. Showing Apple’s priorities are squarely in line with college men across the country, the newest case has a built in bottle opener. Keep checking Leverage Marketing to find more on the most exciting in tech, advertising, internet, and everything else that’s changing the world.

The 3 Apps That Will Make You Want To Lose Your Wallet

As odd as it sounds, the age of the wallet may be coming to an end.  That’s not to say that we’re entering a world where we no longer need to pay for things (though if wishing made it so…), but soon our phone may be the only payment method we need.  Downloading a few fantastic apps can let us throw away our wallets and use our phones to get us through the day.

Square Wallet

One of the most ubiquitous and useful apps is square wallet.  This app links to any credit or debit card, then helps you find retailers that allow you to pay with the square.  Using your location, it provides a list of nearby stores where you can pay simply by using this app.  The amazing thing about square is that this is not a simple scan set up.  Instead, you put your name and a picture of yourself on the app, which will appear on the retailer’s screen.  At check out, you give your name, the retailer checks your identity by glancing at the photo you’ve uploaded, and the payment is automatically deducted.  You don’t have to dig your phone out of your bag or even open this app.  Simply saying your name is enough.

Google Wallet

For those with Android phones, Google Wallet provides a method to store all your credit and debit cards in the cloud.  At retailers, you can pay with a single click and choose which card you’d like to use.  One incredible benefit to this is that the cards are stored online regardless of what interface you’re using.  This means you can go to a store and use your Android phone, then log onto your work computer and buy some much needed business supplies, and at home, use your tablet to plan and pay for your upcoming vacation.  You don’t have to re-enter all your information on every device.  Instead, Google Wallet maintains your information wherever you go.


This application works with Apple Phones and is most useful for reward memberships rather than virtual payments.  Rather than carrying around a huge keychain filled with the various reward memberships you use nearly every day, you can tie the member numbers to passbook.  Once you scan your reward card onto this app, you can throw away the physical card, and instead store everything in one convenient location.  Even better, the Passbook will automatically downloaded coupons to those stores you frequent the most, so you never have to worry about having the right coupon on hand.  Some stores, like Starbucks, even tie their cards to Passbook so you can pay directly from the app.

To be sure, there is a lifestyle change that is quickly occurring in this country.  Smart phones are becoming easier to use than credit cards, and businesses are becoming part of the mobile revolution.  Soon, all you’ll need to face the day is a set of keys and your phone.

Offer Extensions and Communication Extensions

Offer Extensions and Communication Extensions are two of Google’s latest beta products to roll out this year. Google hopes to simplify the search experience for users as well as the advertisers that currently use Google AdWords.

Let’s go over what these extensions are and how they could potentially boost your business.

Offer Extensions

Offer Extensions is the latest feature which allows current advertisers to expand their existing ads in AdWords. In addition to the standard four line ads, Offer Extensions allow an additional line (60 characters) of text to advertise redeemable offers such as, coupons, discounts, rebates and more.  Google monitors the quality of your offer by requiring an expiration date and exclusivity. The offer must have a limited availability by having a set number of offers available or requiring redemption codes or coupons.

Example of Offer Extension:example of offer extension in Google AdWords

There are two types of Offer Extensions:

  1. Online redemption: If a user clicks the “View offer” link in an ad, they’re taken to an advertiser’s offer page (with offer redemption details) on their website. For example, if a user clicks an offer extension promoting 20% off green lava lamps, they’ll be taken to a page of the advertiser’s website featuring a redemption code or redemption option for 20% off green lava lamps.
  2. In-store redemption: Once a user has clicked the “View offer” link in an ad, they’ll be taken to a Google hosted landing page where they can view the offer and either print it or save it online (to their “My Offers” page at for in-store use.

Offers Extensions allow advertisers to engage their customers during their search process and provide relevant promotions targeted to the right customers. This feature is great for ecommerce clients that want to increase their sales and want to see direct results. Furthermore, the extension grants advertisers a way to track the performance of their promotions and their ROI by providing metrics such as the number of clicks, coupons downloaded and printed, etc.

Communication Extensions

The other extension that Google is offering is the Communication Extensions, which allows advertisers to gain information about potential leads. The extension provides an extra line where customers can input their telephone numbers or e-mail addresses to notify the business that they are interested. The business is able to customize the text ad and action message.

Examples of these action messages are: be contacted by this business, make an appointment, request a quote, request consultation, or get more info. Since the extension is still in the beta phase, advertisers have the opportunity to gain leads, raise ROI and enhance existing ads for free. If advertisers are unsatisfied or choose to end this feature they may contact their account manager and easily opt-out.

Google requires that advertisers link to their privacy policies so that the user’s private information collected through the Communication Extension will be protected. Google hopes to remain a credible source of information by protecting their users and providing the most relevant information.

Examples of Communication Extensions:example communication extensions in AdWords

Interested in any of these extensions? Contact your Leverage Marketing Account Rep. and get started today!

Google Getting Serious About Mobile

Google has finally released what many users have desired for years; an official Google Analytics mobile app. Additionally, Google Analytics has unleashed Mobile App Analytics beta reports which provide in depth statistics on mobile application activity.

With mobile usage continuing to grow and alter the way that people retrieve information, Google has finally found it expedient to join the mobile app party. Google has been reticent in releasing an official Google Analytics app, but following popular demand the official app hit mobile stores just last week. Google’s objective here is to transfer all the sophistication and thoroughness of the familiar Analytics desktop interface seamlessly into a mobile optimized display. However the space is certainly not untapped, as there are already plenty of apps in the Google Play store that show reports using the Analytics API. In fact, a few of these apps have grown quite popular and boast 4 and 5 star ratings. In the few days that it has been available the official Analytics app currently holds an average rating of 3.8, with much of the criticism regarding dearth of information, unfriendly interface, and a general notion that it is just “not there yet.”

The unimpressive initial reviews are not that surprising; Google has a history of hastily releasing products that are not at full potential. They also have a tendency to make rapid updates and improvements to products, so I would expect the reviews to become more positive over time. Nevertheless, this release underscores the increasing prevalence of mobile across the world.

The app release is also concomitant with Mobile App Analytics beta, which leaves one thinking that maybe this was the actual impetus for the Analytics app. Again highlighting the ubiquity of mobile, mobile app developers and marketers alike can now view in depth reports on visitor activity within mobile applications via the Google Analytics interface. The reports come packed with data goodies such as downloads, new users, retention, crashes, conversions, app sales, and in-app purchases. These reports can really assist developers in gaining a robust understanding of the consumer journey within their apps, and applying data-driven actions to ameliorate both the user’s experience and the app’s productivity. Discover where new users are coming from, which sources and devices tend to drive the most in-app conversions, how users navigate throughout their app usage, if and when your app is crashing, and priority areas for troubleshooting.

You can fill out a beta signup form to request whitelist access for the Mobile App Analytics beta for now, and Google anticipates the reports being available to all users by the end of summer.

Perhaps in the near future we’ll have the ability to interpret mobile app data while using the official Google Analytics mobile app on our mobile devices. Now that’s mobile meta.

Introducing Google’s Knowledge Graph

Do you find yourself staring blankly at the Google Search results not wanting to waste precious time by clicking on the wrong result? Do you find yourself praying that Google will magically pick a link and provide the right information for you? You’re on Google after all; anything should be possible for the search giant. Google should be able to understand each query and deliver the most relevant results, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if Google could identify the actual context of your query? Take the Taj Mahal, for example. When conducting a search for Taj Mahal, are we looking for Trump Taj Mal Casino & Resort, the awesome blues musician or the famed mausoleum? Google should be able to anticipate the most relevant results and now, Google can.

Welcome to the Knowledge Graph

In an effort to make Google Search even more convenient for users, Google has recently debuted Knowledge Graph, a small sidebar to the right of the search results. Knowledge Graph supplies users with a quick snapshot of popular information related to queries based on relevant information provided by the vast and ever growing Google knowledgebase. A majority of information is delivered by popular websites such as Wikipedia & CIA World Factbook – some Knowledge Graph results should be taken with a grain of salt.

What Do We Learn With Knowledge Graph?

With Knowledge Graph, Google users now have the ability to find information related to their search query in one easy location. Information such as facts, maps, song lists and events are readily available depending on the nature of the query. One fun aspect of the Knowledge Graph can keep users on Google for an extended period of time, however. Similar to Amazon’s “people who bought this also bought” section, Knowledge Graph also makes recommendations. Recommendations on information pertaining to celebrities, movies, books and event artists are provided based on common searches performed after the initial search.

Google: The Next Generation

As Google’s new Knowledge Graph feature continues to roll out across the US, Google Engineers are hoping this advancement will move Google closer to building a “Star Trek computer.” Although it appears the Star Trek computer is a few years away, we’re glad to reap the benefits of Knowledge Graph as it exists today.

Has Knowledge Graph rolled out to your area? Do you think a Star Trek computer is a possibility? Let us know in the comments below!

Bing Being Minimalist

There was once a boy named Bing who was rich. However, there was a more popular boy named Google who was notably richer. Bing strived to reach the opulence that Google had attained and became known for, but all of the new toys Bing bought did little to bring him closer to the eminence of the beloved Google. Bing eventually got weary of being unsatisfied with the return on his investments, and took the bravely modest step of becoming a minimalist.

You’ve heard the maxims: less is more, money can’t buy happiness, the best things in life aren’t things, get rich or die trying. Well that last one is a bit different than the others, and one that Bing has rescinded from its favorite quotes section on Facebook. The Microsoft owned search engine is moving away from the feature heavy, everything-you-could-ever-need-in-your-face approach, and embracing a cleaner, less cluttered version of its search engine results pages. This is a drastic change in direction, evidently with the purpose of completely differentiating from the highly decorated Google SERP.

The most salient changes are concerning the evisceration of the left sidebar, which previously hosted related searches and search history, as well as a simplified and more subtle logo and top navigation.  The related searches have been relocated and now reside beneath the ads on the right sidebar.

Compare that against the old Bing results page:

The new Bing embraces widespread white space, and places actual search results center stage with zero distractions.

What kind of impact will this have on paid search ads? Ads could potentially benefit from this change, as there is really nothing else to look at other than search ads and organic search results. The previous Bing design, and the current Google design, included various options above the fold that essentially competed with search results for the eye’s attention. I could see Bing ad click through rates improving due to less overall click options.

Perhaps Bing is coming to terms with the stark realization that their algorithm will never be as technologically advanced as Google’s, so the logical strategy is to now rely on display aesthetics to win over searchers. Interestingly Bing is not providing the option to revert to the old format, but is instead fully embracing the uncluttered cleanliness of the new design. There is backfire potential here, as some Bing loyalists that may have been in love with the old display are now feeling forced into this new design that they didn’t ask for.

Time will tell if the minimalist spirit will manifest and amplify Bing’s market share to lofty new heights. It will also be interesting to see how Google reacts, if at all. Bing has claimed that they are not yet finished with the design, so we will likely see more alterations soon. It is now the time for us searchers to choose what we prefer, more or less.

Facebook Ads: Super Social Solicitation

The most recent development in Facebook Advertising is the controversial inclusion of Ads in the news feed. Facebook has been planning this for quite some time and it is now coming to fruition. This update allows for paid communication to appear directly in users’ main source of social information. These ads will be equivocally designated by a small notice in the bottom right corner reading ‘Featured.’ The format will be equivalent to Sponsored Stories (covered below), simply repositioned to a more visible, and probably more engaging, position. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Facebook, as there is already a surging clamor concerning the most intrusive placement by the social network as of yet coupled with invariable privacy issues that have plagued Facebook from the start.




The first step is creating a Facebook Page for your brand to interact with fans and customers. Ensure all pertinent information about your business is present and post regularly to entertain and galvanize both current and potential fans. Maintain an amiable and professional voice while monitoring your page closely, responding promptly and earnestly when users post on your Wall.


Page Insights


Evaluate the success and engagement of your page with the Insights data Facebook provides. You will be privy to user insights, including page likes, number of fans, active users, like sources, demographics, and page views, as well as interactions insights, including user feedback on activity and general daily page activity.  Monitor your daily and monthly fan volume growth, average number of likes and comments, and number of total page views. Refine your customer persona using extensive demographic data, reviewing what types of people are interacting with your brand and in what ways. Facebook recently updated data on Likes and Reach to improve the accuracy regarding audience location, which is important and useful information to marry with your location based strategies. Finally, the insights discovered will assist you in determining the efficacy of your Facebook advertising efforts, which go as follows.




Once your Page is set up and optimized, start playing around with Facebook’s simple ad creation platform. Consider your business objectives and goals for your campaign; are you primarily concerned with sending traffic to your website, amplifying volume of ‘likes’ to your Facebook page, or both? Whatever strategy you decide to pursue, design your ad to reflect it. Formulate an appealing title, useful body, and compelling image – imagery can make or break a campaign. You only have a very brief window of visibility and interest from the user, so make the most of it by being humorous, emotionally invoking, or aesthetically pleasing with your image.


You can then move along to targeting, which Facebook does as well as anyone given its immense trove of user demographic and interest information. Select your desired audience, exploring the vast amount of categories and classification options that Facebook allows. You can target millions or thousands of people depending on your respective awareness, sales, and fan base goals.


Similar to most paid search platforms, Facebook permits the setting of your own budget, so you’ll never spend more than you dictate. Of course, having a sizable budget will ensure that your ads are receiving plenty of exposure, and as your campaign progresses, you can evaluate and adjust budgets based on what is working. Valid billing information is requisite for your campaigns to begin running. Your ads manager will allow you to view comprehensive data, providing reports easily filtered by campaign, time summary, date range, and format. It will also display a host of metrics, including impressions, clicks, connections (likes), click-through rate, spend, and cost-per-connection.


Sponsored Stories


These are perhaps the most personal Ads on the internet. Sponsored Stories generates a ‘story’ about users’ activity with brand pages that surfaces on the right side of Facebook pages (and now in the news feed as well, as explained above). Eligible activity includes page likes, page comments, check-ins, event RSVPs, page question votes, app usage or game play, and website likes or shares. For example, if my Facebook friend Mark checks in at Subway, I very well may see an Ad notifying me that Mark visited Subway and that I should too (assuming Subway is running Sponsored Stories). This format is contingent on the organic activity that users have with your page, so utilize your resources deftly to encourage interesting story material.


Now you are infallibly equipped with incisive Facebook Advertising acumen. Never again will you have a shortage of friends.

Not Quite the Final Frontier

One of my favorite games to play in my youth was Oregon Trail. Loosely based on the experiences of frontiersmen, this game taught me the meaning of chasing the American dream and the importance of rationing! In a recent article, a columnist pointed how there is no longer a frontier and this has a lot to do with the stalemate in business growth in modern America.

While we can no longer easily exploit natural resources, shear ingenuity has created a new frontier–the web. More recently, millions of savvy net users have been able to access the web at any point using their smart phones. According to the Pew Research Center, over one third (35%) of American adults own a smart phone.  

Smartphone owners use their device in a variety of ways, from searching for the nearest food deals to shopping for a pair of rain boots after stepping into a giant puddle (personal experience). The question is, “Is your mobile site optimized to capitalize on the resources of this new frontier?”

Adhere to traditional SEO practices. For example, optimize your meta description, title tags, content, and alt tags.

Let Google know that you have a mobile site. Create a mobile sitemap and submit it using Google webmaster tools, just like a standard sitemap.

Verify that Google can recognize your mobile URLs.  If it is determined that your web page is not viewable on mobile devices it will not be included in Google’s mobile site index. Check that your URLs are mobile-friendly.

These few steps can ensure that your business is on the frontlines of this new frontier. While this is a great place to begin, there is still much more an advertiser can do to increase the results of mobile SEO. For more information visit Google’s starter guide