A Beginner’s Guide to Working with Social Media Influencers

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Working with social media influencers has become arguably one of the most effective and organic methods of reaching one’s audience in recent years. It is, however, a trend many have yet to adopt. Smaller businesses in particular either don’t have the budget or knowledge to use influencers to their advantage. 

So what exactly is a social media influencer?

According to Pixlee:

  • A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.

Think of them like a celebrity endorser only they appear more relatable and more genuine because they are everyday people. Influencers can range in age from children to the elderly and they span across every industry imaginable.

Why work with them?

The following infographic by MediaKix gives a pretty clear idea why:

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Where can you find influencers?

  • A great place to start is on social platforms themselves such as Instagram and Twitter. You will want to search trending hashtags within  your industry and look for people who are involved in the conversations. Do you have a an engaged following? Are people replying to their comments and reposting their content? All important things to consider.

 

  • Another place to start is on Google, simply type in “nutrition social media influencers” and Google will do the rest. You will of course want to take the time to go through each profile you find to make sure they are actually credible enough to partner with.

 

  • If you are working with a larger budget paying for a third party tool can be the most effective way. Tools like Upfluence  and Experticity  can partner you with influencers directly through their site. These influencers have already signed off on being contacted and are actively seeking partnerships.

What are your partnership options?

  • Collaborative post: Work with an influencer to create content together that can be posted both on their platforms and your own. This works like brand sponsored content.

 

  • Long Term Ambassador Roles: This is like a long term partnership in which you would create multiple posts or content opportunities with this person. It is not a “one off”, this method requires a larger budget but can be more effective long term because it makes the influencers involvement with the brand more authentic.

 

  •  Event Activation: This requires you to put on an event with one or multiple influencers. It is an opportunity to bring multiple influencers together and their audience outside of the digital space. This builds a stronger relationship with consumers because it allows them to interact with your brand offline.

 

  •  Influencer Takeover: This can span from 24 hours to a week long, during this time you would allow an influencer to take over your social media as the name suggests. Popular tactics can include Q & A sessions, posting to your platforms directly, live streaming, and exclusive behind the scenes content with your brand and the influencer.

 

  • The PR Approach: reach out for an interview or full profile piece on the influencer.

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 3.42.40 PMSephora sponsored YouTube video by online vlogger and social influencer Summer Mckeen

How should you reach out?

Email

The easiest and most effective way to reach out to an influencer is to email them directly. Most if not all will have an email listed on their website or in their Instagram/Twitter bio. It is best to use their business email if specified.


Sample Email 

Hi _____,

I’m [name] I work at [name of business] and we are looking to get involved with influencers in the [industry name] industry. Our goal is to promote [name of product/business] and raise overall awareness.

We would love to partner with you to create content for our social channels in order to tap into new audiences. As it stands we are open to working in collaboration with you to share your voice on our platforms. 

Let me know if this is something you may be interested in and we can discuss further details.

Thank you for your time.

Best,

[Your Name]


Phone

If they list their phone number it is fair game to reach out with a phone call. However, there may be a lot of back and forth via the phone so if you are on deadline email may serve as a better option.

What are the next steps?

Meet with your team and go over your current marketing budget and plan. Think of areas where influencers could add value to your business and decide if they can be incorporated into your new campaigns. Once a decision has been made spend time doing research looking for relevant and successful influencers. With the right research and planning, using social media influencers to market your business could add real value and set you apart from the competition.

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Comment and let us know what your experiences have been working with influencers!

Facebook Video Gets a Makeover

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Exciting news came down the pipeline from Facebook this week in regards to video advertising. We will be seeing a number of changes to this feature including – fading sound while scrolling, Vertical videos, watch and scroll, and a video/TV App. All of these improvements will allow for increased engagement with video ads and allow for a more user friendly experience.

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For the Digital Marketing Team at Burlington Bytes, Vertical videos are soon to be a big part of our advertising recommendations. Vertical videos, although widely categorized by creatives as being of lower quality, are surprisingly popular amongst consumers. Similar to Snapchat and Instagram, this view is appearing to become the “norm” for avid social users. Another obvious reason that this view is favored by consumers is the fact that we hold our phones vertically a vast majority of the time. Not to mention research found in a  Future in Focus study showed that nearly 80% of social media use now occurs on mobile devices – 61% on smartphones alone. Having been in beta since last August, Facebook is confident this new format will see favor from consumers.

As we move more towards video dominated platforms, Facebooks switch to vertical video is a clear step in that direction.  In recent months, Facebook has been pushing its live video feature, as well as incorporating video-sharing into both the Facebook mobile apps and Instagram. We expect to continue to see new features rolling out over the next several months.

 

 

 

Make Your Website Seen in 2017

Make Your Website Seen in 2017

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In a fast paced world of digital advertising, businesses often overlook a major piece of the online marketing puzzle: SEO. Search engine optimization isn’t just about making sure your website is easily interpreted and indexed by Google and other search engines, but it’s also about making sure your visitors can interpret the information you put in front of them.

No matter how much search engine algorithms change over time, websites are always going to compete for the coveted “above the fold” positions. Let’s take a look at how now more than ever, SEO is crucial for crafting a successful online presence for your business.

1- New Technology Evolves, so Does the Way We Optimize

With voice search assistants like Siri and Alexa gaining traction, you’ll want to be sure a conversational tone is used to create easily digestible content that jives with the evolving ways people search for information. When adding content to your site, don’t force it. Sound natural and make it easy for costumers to find what they’re looking for. What kinds of questions would a consumer be asking to find your business or learn more about your service? This is what we need to be asking as we optimize for the different ways people search both textually and verbally.

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2- Keep Content Fresh and Consistent

Search engines love to see fresh content appearing on websites. Updating content on a regular basis and keeping it relevant to your business will boost the potential of it being seen by potential customers. Relevant keyword rich blogs posted a few times a month on your site can have a strong impact. Think about the goal of a search engine: to put the most relevant content in front of a user based on their inquiry. With this in mind as content is crafted, you’ll strengthen your organic search traffic.

3- Social Media is Your Friend

Your website isn’t the only place customers are visiting to learn about your business. For optimal visibility, don’t forget to promote your brand on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and others. They provide outlets for engaging with customers through promotions and eye-catching content or videos, giving them a larger insight into what your products or services are all about.

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4- Stick to the Basics

All hale header tags! They will always be beneficial when optimized with relevant keywords that help search engines crawl your site. The same goes for meta titles and meta descriptions. We can never rule out natural link building either, getting other reputable and related websites to link back to your site. This helps to boost its overall domain authority. The stronger it is, the more likely it is to show above the fold when relevant queries are typed into a search engine. A great tactic to do so is to craft a link building strategy that reaches out to possible vendors, contractors or directories that would list or mention your website and business.

5.-Mobile Matters

With mobile traffic increasing on a daily basis, search engines are now putting more emphasis on indexing mobile-friendly websites. Don’t forget to take into consideration how potential clients will be engaging with your website from various devices. The more responsive your site is, the more efficient it is at providing the best possible experience for customers.

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Keep these tips in mind as you craft your organic search strategies for the New Year. If you want your website seen in 2017, these tactics should be on your radar.

 

Written by: Sarah Cootey

Founder Pete Jewett takes on the 2016 Audi FIS Ski World Cup

Founder Pete Jewett takes on the 2016 Audi FIS Ski World Cup

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Killington ski resort near Rutland, VT hosted the International Ski Federation’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup for the first time in 25 years this past weekend.  With 30,000 spectators over two days, this event was one of the biggest in alpine World Cup tour history.  Lucky for us, we got a first hand look at this event from our founder Pete Jewett who volunteered at the mountain all weekend.

Pete, pictured above amongst the crowd, volunteered from Friday-Sunday spending 10 hours a day on the mountain making sure the courses were ready to go at race time. He even managed to capture the races on film using Facebook Livestream! Check them out:

The event itself was part of a long-term initiative by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to raise awareness of alpine ski racing in America. Based on the audience turnout alone it is safe to say the association is one step closer to their goal.

Learn more about this event here.

 

2016 eCommerce Holiday Marketing Guide

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Billions are up for grabs, want a piece?

The holidays obviously mean bigger spending for consumers, but just how much does it mean for eCommerce business owners? The short answer is, a lot.

Take a look at our new infographic on how much money is being spent during the holidays and to get an idea of how you can maximize your marketing efforts.

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The Vermont Robot League: Recap from the 2016 Champlain Mini Maker Faire

The Vermont Robot League: Recap from the 2016 Champlain Mini Maker Faire

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The Champlain Mini Maker Faire, which took place last month was a huge success, we were honored to be one of the sponsors to this great event.  We especially want to give a “shout out” to Three Burlington Bytes employees – Greg Schoppe, Aaron Silber, and Casey Morrison,  who are current members of maker spaces Laboratory B and  The Foundry Workshop, as well as their involvement with The Vermont Robot Combat League.

Here’s a recap of the events from this year’s Mini Maker Battle Bot: 

As part of our donation, the Vermont Robot Combat League was able to complete all intended modifications and upgrades to their Hexapod Robots, Yuri the Destroyer and Fluffy the Spenguin. Both robots are remote controlled hexapods (six legged robots) which are each armed with a targeting laser and a high-powered burning laser.

This year they increased the power of the burning lasers significantly, by stabilizing their power source, making Yuri’s a solid 2 Watt 450nm Blue Laser, and Fluffy’s a 1.2 Watt 650nm Red Laser.  Each Laser has more than enough power to pop balloons, light matches, ignite flash paper and gun powder, melt plastic, and scorch wood.

In addition, this year they were able to give each robot a First-Person Video interface, so that the pilots were able to control the robots from the viewpoint of the robot itself, using video goggles.

Each robot received a “laser target”, so that they could directly attack and disable each other, with three well-placed shots.

Over the course of the two days that the faire ran, the Robot League ran 16 battles, 8 with the hexapods, competing to pop balloons and light flash paper, and 8 with our traditional, wheeled battle bots, attempting to score goals and disable each other.  The battles drew hundreds of onlookers, and made them the second most popular event, according to visitor voting. (second only to Pin Box 3000, which we’re kinda ok with… they’re pretty cool)

The goal to inspire kids to pursue STEM careers, and to show them that no matter what they choose for a career, anyone can be a mad scientist (aka innovator) in their spare time.

Over the course of the weekend, Laboratory B won 7 of the 8 hexapod battles, and The Foundry won 7 of the 8 wheeled battlebots battles.  As such, the event was declared a tie, with the winner decided by a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.  The Foundry made a bold gambit, by throwing scissors, but, in an incredible upset, Laboratory B threw Rock, and captured the championship from the former victors!

Check out some of the action from the Battle Bots…

 

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Common Google Analytics Pitfalls – Getting It Right the First Time

Common Google Analytics Pitfalls – Getting It Right the First Time

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When implemented and interpreted properly, Google Analytics can be an extremely useful tool in digital marketing. Since 2005 when Google acquired Urchin and began re-branding it as Google Analytics, the web statistics analysis tool has given site operators immense insight into their traffic. It is widely used, partly because of the full-featured free version, and partly due to ease of use compared to other analytics suites. This ease of use can be deceptive, however. Even Google makes it sound like getting their tracking code on every page of your site is the only thing you need to do to get meaningful data. While it is true this gets you most of the way, there are several things you should do for every Analytics installation to get the most meaningful data.

The Impact of Misconfiguration

An improperly configured Google Analytics installation may contain wildly skewed numbers or no data at all. In many instances, this is irrecoverable due to the way hits are aggregated. All data coming in from your tag is tallied for each of your views with the current configuration. If, say, you made a mistake and unintentionally filtered out most of your traffic, you would not be able to recover that data since it was never really recorded at all. This is the reason getting your configuration right the first time around is so important.

Without further delay, we present the top symptoms of bad data in Analytics, and how to avoid them.

  1. No data or extremely low hit counts: most of the time this is caused by the tag not firing at all, or a configuration causing the data to be filtered out. Google provides a Chrome Extension, Tag Assistant, that can tell you if your tag is firing, if it’s inserted in the wrong place, or other tag issues. Make sure the tag is added exactly as specified, right before the closing </head> tag.
  2. Data includes non-human visitors: Analytics excludes some obviously non-human traffic by default, but you may still see spam in your Referral reports or visitors supposedly from completely unrelated organic search keywords. The first step to preventing this is to check “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders” in the View Settings. To filter remaining referral or organic search keyword spam from your report, create an “excluding spam” segment and use regular expressions to exclude spam you’ve received before. When this segment is used in report views, historic data will be filtered, so this is particularly useful for cleaning up misconfigured data. This LunaMetrics article goes more in-depth about blocking known bots before delving into satire after Step 3.
  3. Session doubling: your site’s session count can end up completely doubled for several reasons. If your site spans multiple subdomains or permits access to both www-prefixed and non-www versions, a new session may be started when the visitor crosses subdomains. Google Analytics is often able to identify this automatically. If you haven’t already done so, you should decide on a canonical domain, whether it’s www.yourdomain.com or just yourdomain.com, then redirect all requests to the canonical domain. Google’s Search Console help docs discuss this further.
  4. Hit doubling: almost always this is because your tag is firing twice. Tag Assistant can identify this and help you find where the duplicate tag is so you can remove it. If multiple Tag Manager containers are on your site, only one should be sending pageviews to Analytics. Google Analytics should be only added once per page, to every page, in the same spot.
  5. No data in Conversion reports: GA does not set up any goals by default. Goals are used to create the Conversion reports and help you understand the behavior of your various demographics. Goals should be significant marketing events, like selling a product or capturing a lead form. If possible you should set a Goal Value. For example, if you know the average lead makes your company $200, use that as the Goal Value, and you’ll be better prepared to visualize ROI for advertising spend or media campaigns.
  6. Sparse data on organic search: Analytics’ data on visitors from search engines has gradually become less detailed over the years. One way Google has come up with to improve this data source is to connect your Analytics Account to a verified Search Console profile. Most likely, you’re primarily getting search traffic from Google and this link can fill in some gap in your data there. Search Console contains several other useful tools so this is a must for any site you want good data on, and extra control and insight into your SEO.
  7. No eCommerce data: additional setup is required to track purchases and product interest in a way Analytics can parse it properly. Most popular eCommerce platforms will have plugins to automatically send this special data. More information about eCommerce tracking is available in Google’s help docs.

When you sign up to have a site built or maintained by Burlington Bytes, you’re signing up for the expertise of Analytics professionals at your fingertips. As a Google Partner, we have demonstrated our proficiency with all variants of Analytics configurations and extracting actionable Business Intelligence from the resulting data. Whether you need a new site built, or just some fixes to your Analytics profile, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help you out.

The Hosts File

The Hosts File

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The host is somebody that most people simply think of as the person they need to thank for a great party when they head out.  But in our offices, we talk to many hosts on a daily basis, and with no cause for celebration.  A Web Host, or “Hosting Provider” is the name we give to the entities that actually provide the servers for hosting our websites.  The web site is the party, and each month, on behalf of our clients, we send thousands of notes of thanks to our most trusted and utilized hosts, like WPEngine, Nexcess and Rackspace.  

These three hosting providers also somewhat reflect the several kinds of hosting providers you might find in the wild these days.  Generally speaking, hosting is going to be identified by the level of involvement you’re going to want to have in keeping things running.  And, necessarily, with less involvement, the offerings will become more specific and tailored to specific niches and customer needs.

WPEngine, on one extreme of this scale (like Nexcess), is a Managed Hosting Provider.  The “Managed” here means that they have a layer of customer service agents and software sitting between the customer and the hosting service they’re purchasing.  While the support agents at WPEngine are some of the best we’ve seen in the industry, they probably can only accomplish that by having such a narrow focus of hosting services: they only host WordPress websites.  As in most endeavors, simplicity can yield better control.

On the other end of the spectrum you might find a company like Rackspace, which also offers fully managed services, but at an hourly rate, will also provide you with “unmanaged” servers, essentially machines that you pay for by the hour.  Paying for your web servers by the hour may seem like it’s far more precise than it needs to be when you want your website online 24/7/365, but for prices ranging from ~1/2 cent per hour to $1/hr, or ~$4 to more than $700 , the power you get for those prices also ranges by quite a lot.  One of Google’s more powerful offerings, the n1-highcpu-32, is a 32-processor beast with nearly 30GB of RAM, for the bargain rate of $0.85/hr and they’ll refund half your cost if they can’t keep it online more than 95% of that time, ie, it’s down for more than a cumulative day and a half over that month.  It’s a bargain, and it’s turnkey for the basic commodity, but somebody has to put software on that server to host a website.

Another concept you may encounter when trying to find a hosting provider is the difference between Shared and Dedicated hosting.  A shared host, like that often sold by GoDaddy, MediaTemple and other “low-cost” providers, typically means that the resources you’re using to serve your site are shared with other customers.  You’ll have a directory on a server running a single operating system, you and all the other sites on that host will be competing for that power.  If one site has a large spike in traffic, your site may slow down or stall until the server can recover its stride.  On a dedicated host you may only only end up causing your own slow-downs, which is something you can control, and can also fix.

Blurring the lines between shared and dedicated hosting, there siits the concepts of the server being “Bare Metal” vs a “Virtual Machine”, aka a “VM”.  A “bare metal” server sounds really cool (and it is often cold to the touch), but it just means that it’s not a virtual machine.  Virtual machines are a relative newcomer to the hosting landscape, but have been a fixture on the hosting scene for at least a decade now.  A virtual machine is exactly what the name implies that it is, it’s a machine provided by software.  At some point you need some bare metal to actually act as a machine that runs software, but you could install a VM layer, aka a hypervisor, on a powerful machine and spin up as many less powerful “virtual” machines as you wanted.

The difference between a virtual machine, and shared hosting may only seem semantic, but they are really very different.  To put it simply, a shared host is like living in a dorm, where you have shared facilities like bathrooms and kitchens, and a virtual machine is like living in a condo, where you have all your own rooms, but you may still hear the neighbors making a ruckus from time to time.  The only way to live without being disturbed would be to run your own bare metal servers, and you’ll then need a place to put them where they will stay cool, have continuous power (with a backup generator) and always connected networks with good bandwidth.

Because all these things are needed by anyone who needs hosting, the industry has organized itself so these common needs are simply commodities.  Computers, these days, live in data centers, they’re close to bodies of water they can use for cooling, and near large power plants where they can purchase cheap electricity at bulk rates.  That data center is probably close to a network hub too, for fast and cheap connection rates, because what good is a server farm that can’t push things out to users and other farms?  As you might expect with somewhat narrow requirements like this, data centers are beginning to collect in certain areas of the world.  In the US, often our major urban areas fit this bill nicely, and you might not be surprised to learn that many of them have been crammed into massively populated area along the east coast, stretching from Boston to Richmond, VA.  With moderate temperatures throughout the year, plenty of affordable power, and low risk of catastrophic natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis, it’s a perfect place to keep the folded nests of wire that we now use to run our economy.

Competing with these ideal locations and practiced professionals, on either cost or quality of service, is pretty much a non-starter in this commoditized environment.  So if you’re not currently renting your computing power, and instead you’re trying to run the full stack yourself, there’s probably a more cost-effective solution out there, even (actually, especially) for those with unusually specific requirements or certain high-security needs.  Keeping computers on and constantly functioning isn’t easy, but if that’s all you have to be concerned about, and not the many layers of software above, it makes it less difficult.

Branding & Color Psychology

Branding & Color Psychology

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Have you ever read the headlines: “Colors That Make Consumers Buy!”, “Why Blue Makes You Successful!”, or “16 Ways Color Influences Our Behavior?”

If so, do you believe that’s true in any way? Can color really affect us that dramatically? Yes, it can, but not universally. Someone in North America will most likely not have the same reaction to color as someone in Japan. Our cultural differences, experiences, and a variety of other factors help form our opinions on color.

When thinking of color, one attribute to consider is traits. Colors and traits directly influence one another and brands are a big part of this equation. Take a moment to look at our infographic displayed below, and see how colors, traits, and brands align.

Which color resonates with you?

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Employee Spotlight: Meet Jeff Simonds – Our New Digital Marketing Specialist

Employee Spotlight: Meet Jeff Simonds – Our New Digital Marketing Specialist

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The Burlington Bytes team just keeps on growing!

We are thrilled to share with you that we’ve recently hired Jeff Simonds, as our new Digital Marketing Specialist. Formerly a Senior Web Analytics Specialist at Terakeet out of Syracuse, NY, Simonds’ experience and skill set will bring a new, complementary perspective to the team.

Simonds has been noted for his success in SEO optimization and analysis, and more broadly in digital marketing branding and strategy. Simonds holds a Bachelor’s from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he studied Electronic Media, Arts & Communications. “Burlington Bytes is an awesome opportunity and fit for me on both professional and cultural levels”, remarked Simonds, “while the role is a part of a growing and increasingly important team and initiative for Burlington Bytes, I ultimately decided to join the company after experiencing the culture and cohesiveness of the team”.

“We couldn’t be more excited to add Jeff Simonds to our team ” added Burlington Bytes founder Peter Jewett, “our digital marketing team has been growing primarily due to the outcomes we’ve generated for clients, and Jeff will be an asset as we continue to grow the team”.

Here at Burlington Bytes, we like to get to know our new hires on a deeper level and want you to as well, so that’s why we do an “Employee Spotlight” interview, where we ask professional work questions and sprinkle in some silly & fun questions to mix it up!

So let’s get started…

Q: Where did you grow up? 

Jeff: Syracuse, NY

Q: Where do you currently reside?

Jeff: Winooski, VT

Q: How did you first learn about Burlington Bytes?

Jeff: I traveled to Vermont a lot over the last two years, and really liked the Burlington area, so I decided to look for some potential jobs. After searching for SEO companies in Vermont, I found Burlington Bytes at the top of the SERPs, which is always a good sign for a company that does SEO!

Q: What part of your job are you most excited about doing?

Jeff: My previous role was focused solely on organic search, so I’m really looking forward to broadening my skills and gaining more experience with paid search and other digital marketing channels.

Q: How would you describe the work environment?

Jeff: The office strikes a perfect balance between work and play. It’s clear that everyone knows when it’s time to get work done, but every day you can count on someone saying (or chatting) something that gives us all chance to laugh and relax for a few minutes.

Q: What are your interests & hobbies?

Jeff: I love golfing and try to get out fishing as much as I can. I’ve also been a homebrewer for about 6 years, and have been known to make a pretty solid batch of beer or cider from time to time.

Q: Have you ever sang karaoke? What’s your “go-to” song? 

Jeff: Nope, but if I was ever forced into doing it the only song I would sing is Here I Go Again, by Whitesnake.

Q: What would a perfect day look like for you?

Jeff: An 8am tee time to play a round of golf with my dad (and friends if they manage to wake up on time), followed by a late afternoon BBQ featuring Liehs & Steigerwald brats on the grill, and some craft beer in the cooler.

Q: If you could close your eyes and be anywhere on earth when they opened, where would you be?

Jeff: Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon, in Anderlecht, Brussels.

Q: If you won $20 million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with the money?

Jeff: Pay off those pesky student loans, travel the world for a while, attend brewing school and finally open my own brewery.

Q: Being the newest hire, what are you contributing to your department?

Jeff: I definitely have a lot to learn from Mitch (our digital marketing manager), but early on I’ve been able to leverage my past experience with analysis and reporting for large e-commerce websites to bring a new perspective to the team.

Q: Last question, what was your all-time best Halloween costume?

Jeff: That’s tough, because my mom made some amazing costumes for me and my brother when we we younger (imagine a 6th grader dressed as Uncle Fester from the Addams Family), but I’m partial to that Halloween a few years ago, when I let the dogs out as Alan from The Hangover.

 

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If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching the Hangover, do yourself a favor and check it out. Jeff could literally be a stunt double for Alan, he nailed it!

We are glad Jeff has joined the Burlington Bytes team, and we look forward to have him involved with all things digital marketing! Welcome Jeff!