Keep Austin Dog Friendly

Through Responsible Dog Ownership.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rise Austin Session: Hacking online Communities - Yelp for Business Owners

I usually post my social media articles on, but since there are so many businesses in the dog community, I'm posting it here as well. 

We've heard all about the website Yelp.  Some people love it, and some people hate it.  Some people feel that their policies are unfair to business owners and that business owners are powerless to reviews.  Don't fret.  Don't get angry.  Do get proactive, and do learn how to manage your business owner's account to turn sour reviewers into happy customers.  On Tuesday, March 3rd, I'll be giving a presentation on Rise Austin to show you how to navigate and understand the ins and outs of Yelp policies and how to understand the Yelp community.  I'll also show you several small Austin businesses that used Yelp to drum up business (without paying $300 per month).   Click here to register

And the biggest question on your mind now: Since Yelp is being sued, will it go away?  My personal opinion is "No, Yelp is not going away."  The amount of traffic on Yelp is staggering compared to other similar websites.   Yelp was offered $500 million dollars by Google.  Yelp has spurred many angry articles in the past about their policies.  None of those things have made any impact on Yelp as they are continuing to grow bigger and bigger.  Yelp isn't going away, in fact business pages on Yelp are often very close to the top when searching for a business on Google.  If a business doesn't have a website and adequate SEO skills, you can guarantee that their Yelp page will be the first link up on Google. 

What can you do?  You can ignore Yelp.  Some businesses thrive regardless what reviewers write about them.  On the other hand, you can use Yelp, a website with roughly 8.5 million visitors daily, as a marketing tool.  For Free.  If you can't make it to the session, here's a sneak peak into one of the topics I'll be covering.  I'm also available at or 512-981-7627.

Rule 1: Do NOT ask for reviews.  This is in fine print on the Yelp for Business Owners page here.  It really should be in bold and in all caps.  Do not ask customers for reviews.  Do not ask friends to review.  Do not ask family to review.  Anytime a business starts to get many positive reviews from people who aren't obviously part of the community, things look suspicious.  These newbies are often referred to as 0/1 as in zero friends and only one review.  There's nothing against newbies as everyone starts somewhere, but it does look suspicious when as business gets nothing but newbie reviews.  There an entire thread on Yelp dedicated to outing suspsicous looking activity on reviews also called shill reviews.  This type of behavior only creates anger and distrust in the community, and even casual Yelp users recognize the behavior easily.  Urban, an American Grill took it to a new level by having employees write shill reviews even before the restaurant opened.  Yep, it is pretty easy to see that they have literally shot themselves in the foot.  I'll be displaying the reviews written by the employees and of the Yelp community at the Rise presentation.  They have been taken down by Yelp Admin for the time being. 

You might ask, "But I'm referring users to Yelp when I ask people to write reviews for my business."  Yelp gets about 8.5 million visits a day.  They probably don't care if you referred 100 users a day to their website; they don't really need word of mouth advertising.  However, the community does care that your reviews (even though your friends and customers have good intentions) look like shill reviews.  If your friends and family do review you, it should be disclosed within the review.  With social media being a huge part of our lives, you can't hide your friends and family anymore.  It is better to be upfront rather than the being outed on the master debater business flogging thread

Also, here's a few other interesting characteristics about the Yelp community.  They love dogs and support almost every single event or cause for dogs.  If you have a dog business, you are pretty much welcomed with open arms.  They love supporting local businesses.  Most are internet savvy and educated.  While there are always a few angry and unsocial-able people in every community, Yelp users are generally very friendly and outgoing.  Many business owners are also have individual accounts on Yelp, and they are also active in the community. 

To register for the full presentation on March 3rd, click here:   For more information: or 512-981-7627.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Austin Pets Alive! Sweet Barks

Valentine's Day is around the corner, and Austin Pets Alive! has an event for you.

Come hang out on Saturday, February 13, 12pm-4pm, S. Congress @ Gibson (LAZ pkg. lot).
for Live music, photo opportunities, food & drink and romantic raffles to bid on for both animals and their owners. FREE Admission!

Confirmed Musicians:
Neil Nasset
JJ Usher
Alon Bernstein

Confirmed Beverage Sponsors:
Lone Star Beer
Waialua Soda Works
Saint Arnold's

Confirmed Vendors:
APA! Merchandise
Lofty Dog
Grand Dog Bakery
Scentsy Candles

Family Activities:
Face Painting
Paw Print painting...bring your pups!
Photo opps with your pooch

Romantic Raffles "For the Love of":
....and more!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Last Weight Pull of the 2009-2010

The last IWPA Weight pull of the 2009-2010 season will be on Feb. 6-7th at SouthPaws Playschool, 2324 South Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX. 

If you are interested in the IWPA sanctioned weight pull competition (Saturday and Sunday), weigh in will be at 9:00am. Pulling starts at 10:00am.  Weigh in NOT required for novice rounds. You may enter any of the novice rounds up to the time it begins.  Please see for specific rules in the competitive rounds.  Novice teams should be treated like training rounds.

Weight pull general info:

Any dog can participate and earn a title through IWPA for weight pulling.

What's the fee? Free for spectators. $10 for novice rounds - enter when you get there. Consider novice rounds a training session and a chance to see if your dog enjoys it. I will have harnesses for you to use. Most dogs take to a harness quickly. $25 for competition rounds.

What can my dog get out of weight pulling? Physical activity, confidence building, socializing, and improving their relationship with you.

What do I need to train my dog to do before then for weight pull? The come or recall command. Your dog should have basic control.

What's the most weight a dog has ever pulled? The most I've seen is 50000 lbs.  Most dogs in healthy condition can pull 10x their body weight without any additional physical training.

When do I enter? On the day of the event. Novice can enter any time before the round begins. Professional/competition rounds must be entered and weighed in before the start of the pull.

Who can participate? Anyone and any breed. No registry or club membership required.

What should I bring? Your dog on leash and yourself. Camping chair and crate if desired. I will have harnesses available for dogs 20 lbs to 160 lbs.

My dog is small. Is there anything for us to do? Yes! Even the "little" ones can weight pull. There have been Jack Russells and Italian Greyhounds that pull with success!