3 Great Ideas for 2011 Business Blog Posts

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It’s the beginning of 2011 and many businesses now have blogs that have not been updated since the middle of December. For the new year, here are three post ideas to give your business blog a head start in 2011.

List the top 3 to 5 blog posts that generated the most traffic or discussion

Lists attract traffic. And writing about your top posts of 2010 is an easy and effective way to engage new and returning visitors. I always find myself drawn to reading this type of pos. It appeals to me for two reasons: I want to know what other people find important,  how that relates to what I believe is important,  and I want to make sure I didn’t miss any big events. I’m invariably surprised at how many things I have missed when I read “Top 10 news stories” type posts. They can give a successful post a second life from new visitors who have yet to read it.

Write predictions for 2011 for your product, service, or industry

An easy way to create credibility for your company and industry is to create a well-written, authoritative blog post that analyzes trends and makes predictions for industry performance in 2011. Prediction posts always generate discussion.  And discussion can generate links, not to mention visits, from potential customers who may consider prediction posts when making a decision.

Prediction and trend posts can benefit your business by indirectly generating press for your blog. Imagine if a reporter who is searching for housing market predictions lands on your real estate or financial blog and then uses it as a source for an article they write.

Reflect on 2010 and compare expectations with reality

If your industry was forecast to have a great or dismal year, what actually happened? Look back at news articles in early 2010 and late 2009 that made predictions about your industry and see whether those predictions came true. It’s always interesting to look back and compare forecasts with actual outcome.

If you critique a specific blogger, you might want to send an email to them letting them know about your post because they may link to it as an update to the original post or a mini-post along the lines of “Remember last year when I said that … well here’s a post that discusses what actually happened.”

Top 10 Austin Experiences

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Austin can easily be described as one of the most entertaining, eccentric hot spots around. But when out-of-town friends and family come to visit, the mind goes blank – where can you take them to best show off your fair city? Here are a few suggestions to help you and yours enjoy the Austin landscape.

10. Kerbey Lane Café. A classic Austin restaurant, Kerbey stays open 24/7, specializing in house pancakes and seasonal dishes. Their menu includes extensive vegetarian fare as well as meat-heavy cuisine, such as the Cuban sandwich, La Habana, toasted and stuffed with various meats. Their success has led them to become an Austin chain, springing up multiple Kerbey’s around town, including one on the Drag.

9. Festivals. Check The Austin Chronicle before your guests arrive; Austin hosts continuous festivals, no matter what time of year it is. Film festivals, such as the recent Fantastic Fest, take second place only to music festivals like Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. Some of the more unique festivals include Pecan Street Festival, with not only live music but various vendors and local crafts. The Hot Sauce Festival lets Texas spice take center stage. Eeyore’s Birthday Party offers a full day of costumes, people-watching and kids’ amusements. The Out-of-Bounds Comedy Festival attracts local and global improv, sketch and stand-up comedians.

8. 6th Street. This stretch of road hosts teems of bars and clubs, making it a 5-star destination to pass a weekend evening, particularly for UT students. However, not everyone’s a bar-hopper. To enjoy 6th Street without drinking your liver away, consider Iron Cactus Mexican Grill & Margarita Bar for a Sunday brunch. For some laughs, check out Esther’s Follies, an equally famous comedy club.

7. South Congress Avenue. Lined with oddball shops, South Congress meanderings can easily take up a full day. Some gems include the costume store Lucy in Disguise and the old-timey Big Top Candy Shop. For music and people-watching while you peruse, go on a weekend or enjoy a festival-feel at First Thursday; during the first Thursday of every month, South Congress gathers vendors, musicians and extra-late hours starting around 5pm. If you’re feeling political, just keep walking down to the Capitol building to soak in the governmental glow.

6. The Drag. Located on a specific section of Guadalupe Street, the Drag caters to UT students since it borders the UT campus on the westward side. For architectural enthusiasts, strolling through the UT campus can be quite rewarding. To simply enjoy the Drag, come with an appetite. Some hot spots include Cornucopia for unique popcorn flavors (think Cajun, Birthday Cake and Pesto), Coco’s Café II for bubble tea and The Hole in the Wall for music and drinks. Toy Joy, a toy store at the end of the Drag, is worthwhile for kids and adults alike, filled with childhood nostalgia and gag gifts galore.

5. Lady Bird Lake. A day on the lake can involve any number of activities. Canoe rental is available, letting singles or pairs get a unique perspective of the Austin skyline. For a brisk walk with the family pet, Lady Bird Lake (previously called Town Lake) is lined with a jogging path. For more exquisite tastes and a unique Austin experience, consider renting a houseboat like Relax’n with full amenities. For the truly adventurous, Hippie’s Hollow is designated as a nudist section of the lake, harboring Austin’s free spirits.

4. The Greenbelt. This huge expanse of greenery is great for hikers, bikers and trekkers alike. It provides a nice getaway for your furry friends. It’s also a popular locale for photographers, taking pictures of nature or models.

3. Barton Springs. A huge, freezing, spring-fed pool – where else would someone want to be on a Texas summer day? Right next to Zilker Park, it’s a convenient hop from a child’s dreamscape. After an afternoon of heat, recuperate by walking down the street to a stretch of renowned restaurants. For a sweet refreshment, consider Yum Yum Frozen Yogurt where you can make your own creation. For a full meal, Chuy’s Restaurant remains an Austin tex-mex classic.

2. The Bats. Austin’s South Congress bridge houses North America’s largest urban bat colony, counting approximately 1.5 million bats. If your guests come between March and November, claim a spot early and enjoy the sunset as you wait for the swooshing of mini wings.

1. Music. Austin is both self-proclaimed and generally hailed as the Live Music Capital of the World. If you visit Austin without seeing any live music, no matter how fabulous your experience, the time’s been wasted. The Chronicle can provide a complete listing of all the bands playing around town. Many restaurants have bands play during peak dining hours. For pure country, hop on down to The Broken Spoke on South Lamar. For salsa, consider Ruta Maya. For folksy, rocky, local tunes, enjoy a late night at The Continental Club on South Congress. And, of course, there’s always ACL and SXSW.

The Social Network Raises the Question: Am I a Good Person?

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A movie about computer programming starring a curly-haired anti-socialite and a Disney pop star. Would you believe this is a Greek play?

Not in point of fact, of course, but The Social Network manages to give this contemporary plot the same evocative, disquieting and altogether empathetic human portrayal that you’d find in Euripides, Plato or Aristophanes. A slew of conscientious quandaries sets the edge-of-the-seat pace; when the lights finally come up, the audience blinks, breathless, like an ex seeing a change in Relationship Status.

With David Fincher behind the scenes, who can claim to be surprised? The director of Fight Club, Se7en and mid-production, world-renowned The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher uses his immaculate timing in The Social Network not to cover up a hidden ending, but to highlight each character’s principles and resulting decisions. Fincher’s musical background makes itself known through the soundtrack’s intimate relationship with the plot, manipulating the audience’s emotions even further (you’ll understand when you fall headfirst into the canoe race scene).

This emotional entanglement is the film’s Ace in the pocket. Don’t expect to leave the theater with any sense of justice. You probably won’t even know which character you’re rooting for, if you command enough willpower to objectively analyze yourself in the middle of this cranium carnival ride. If Inception didn’t give you enough post-film digestion, make this your next movie-then-dinner evening.

A startlingly good cast plays puppet-master to the morality questions, letting ethical dilemmas jump and dance across their faces. Jesse Eisenberg (playing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg) vividly brings apathy to life. He resembles a robotic dog, with his head half-cocked in that “I don’t understand you” way while all the information from throughout the ages stays tightly sealed inside his head. Without social skills, his genius has no outlet; he’s a contemporary Alice with a slew of 500 million imaginary Wonderland friends.

Andrew Garfield plays Eduardo Saverin, the original Facebook CFO and the Zuckerberg character’s only friend. He guides the audience through the film’s emotional stages, showing us in our most fragile, vulnerable role: loyal best friend. We’ve all put that level of trust in someone at some point – a sibling, a partner, a peer – and the choice inevitably arises: to take care of ourselves, or to take care of each other?

Justin Timberlake unexpectedly shines as Sean Parker, the defamed creator of Napster. You know that friend who’s successful, arrogant and absolutely happy with their life, until you get them behind a closed door and their eyes start to twitch? It’s worth watching The Social Network on the big screen just to get the full effect Timberlake’s slowly deepening crow’s feet.

The Social Network isn’t historically factual, but it is currently accurate; it’s a documentary of a state of mind, not a documentary of Facebook’s real-life origins. It spotlights the personal repercussions any one online action can cause, from social adjustments to legal claims. It illustrates the statements people contemplate, discard and eventually publish when they divine a new Status update in the middle of a normal day. It displays the social relevance of the “Relationship Status” feature.

Just like the classic Greek productions, The Social Network shows us our own humanity. Even if you can’t dictate Helen of Troy’s lineage, you still share in her betrayal. The personalization isn’t in the details; it’s in the commonality.

Facebook may crumble some day, just like Napster, MySpace and Rome, but its cultural effect on society has been forever captured by The Social Network. And that makes this film an instant, timeless classic.

The Top Weekday Films at the Austin Film Festival

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The weekend’s passed. But don’t put up your Austin Film Festival pass just yet; some more gems are still making appearances across Austin. In fact, if you don’t have a badge, it may be easier to get a ticket one of the following evenings than it was the last three days. Take a look at these options for a bit of mid-week fun.

127 Hours
Tues. Oct. 26, 7pm
Paramount Theatre

It’s hard to pull off a based-on-a-true-story movie without making audience members mumble excuses and leave the theater. These films easily become cheesy, boring or melodramatic. But this year’s selections, including 127 Hours and Conviction, seem to do justice to their real life counterparts. Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours details the 127 hours mountain climber Aron Ralston spent with his arm pinioned under a boulder in Utah. Starring James Franco, this is not a popcorn film. Unless your stomach’s hardy enough to ingest a bag of cotton candy then go on a roller coaster without revolting, pass on the concessions.


What Not to Miss at the Texas Book Festival

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Even if you’re not a reader, you want to attend the Texas Book Festival this weekend. If you are a reader, you absolutely must.

Created by First Lady Laura Bush in 1995, the Texas Book Festival draws about 40,000 visitors every year, according to their website. With a book signing tent, live music, author readings and panel discussion, all occurring right downtown, it’s no wonder. The website’s colossal listing of events makes it hard to decide which ones to choose over the others. Here are a few you should star on your calendar.

Austin City Limits: 35 Years in Photographs

Since 1979, Scott Nelson has been photographing the Austin City Limits television show. Going on 36 seasons, it’s currently the longest running rock-‘n’-roll music show in history. Seeing the greats pass before your eyes in still-frame is bound to be a showcase to remember. Be at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday, from 11:15 to 12pm.

Jeff Lindsay

If the author’s name doesn’t ring a bell, his work certainly will: Dexter, the popular Showtime TV show, is based on his first Dexter novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter. However, he’s written five so far. Although the first season stays relatively close to the first book, the rest of the series goes in a completely different direction than the novels. If you love Dexter on screen and need another fix, consider picking up the books; the most recent, Dexter Is Delicious, just came out. To indulge in your dark side, be at the Paramount Theatre at 2pm on Saturday.

The Living Waters of Texas

Before wandering around the capital’s concrete all day getting heatstroke, ground yourself in the aqua beauty of Texas. Charles Kruvand presents landscape photography at the Capital Extension Room, E2.010 at 10am Saturday.

The Onion’s Jean Teasdale

The Onion is second in popularity only to The Austin Chronicle on the streets of Austin, TX. Maria Schneider, the human behind the text, writes humor columns for the paper, and now she’s written A Book Of Jean’s Own! Stop passively reading The Onion and throw yourself into the laughter headfirst at First United Methodist Church on Saturday, 12:30pm.

Awkward Family Photos

We all think our own family is the weirdest. After attending this reading, you’ll wonder if that’s true. Based on AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, the book by the same name shows pictures and tells tales of the most unrefined, genuine family moments. To gain faith in your own family’s normality, be at the First United Methodist Church at 1:30pm on Saturday.

The Cartoon Introduction to Economics

With the words “stand-up economist” describing Yoram Bauman, PhD, this will either be an extremely pathetic attempt at humor, or a fantastically ridiculous (yet accurate and extensive) interpretation of microeconomics. With Bauman’s prestige and the history of the Book Festival, my money’s on the latter. To find out, visit the Capitol Extension Room E2.010 at 3pm on Saturday.

If none of these appeal to you, no worries; there’ll be a couple dozen more options floating around. Children’s activities will also be in full swing, from The Cat in the Hat fun to a “Zombies v. Unicorns” event. For a full listing of all the event options, visit http://www.texasbookfestival.org.