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Happy Thanksgiving! Oh My God, They’re Turkeys!

23 Nov

Les WKRP 2


Theatre of the Mind

In 1978, television give a big Hat Tip to radio’s “theatre of the mind.” On WKRP in Cincinnati, you “saw” the whole horrific turkey drop, but you never actually saw a single turkey! 

Arthur Carlson WKRP

Art Carlson: “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”


The art and science of radio allows for intriguing storytelling due to the need to describe in detail the events and subjects.


I recently listened to a fascinating interview with President Ronald Reagan from the mid-1980s discussing his early stint broadcasting University of Iowa football games on WHO-AM Des Moines. When asked if he would have moved into TV sports broadcasting if he hadn’t gotten into film and eventually politics, he surprisingly said no. He felt that his strength was verbally telling the story and painting a picture of the action. Radio needed that, but Television didn’t.

Podcast Storytelling

In 2015, all marketers talk about storytelling, but most have bypassed content marketing in audio form. Podcasting may be the simplest and most cost effective way to reach a targeted (and potentially large) group of customers. You share industry news, discuss relevant topics to your customers, and tell your brand’s story. And you don’t need studios in Cincinnati, Des Moines, or anywhere else to get the word out.

Mass versus Niche

One of the issues with terrestrial radio that lead to today’s listenership challenges was the race to appeal to too broad of an audience. The strategy of least offensive programming where stations and groups played content that neither turned off nor inspired listeners created a universal blandness up and down the dial.  

With podcasts, no niche is too small and no subject is too inside. Podcasters aren’t aiming for mass audiences; they’re connecting with smaller, specific audiences.  

For more on content marketing and social media, please join me on the Social Geek Radio podcast, produced by Manalto Social Media Management and Deb Evans Consulting. The show airs Wednesday evenings, and is free via download here or on iTunes




Curated Content Is Like a Holiday Rerun

18 Nov


Just a few months ago, I was much more of an advocate for aggregating and curating content on social media channels. I saw the need for sharing content created by others as an important part of your digital marketing strategy.

However, it now may be time for many brands to tell their story more, and share others’ stories less.

Curated content is a rerun

When I speak with marketers about social channels and how content works with audiences, I frequently draw comparisons and analogies to television programming. Curated content is a rerun. As the holidays approach, TV networks will start relying more on reruns. What are they saying? That they’ve given up on having much of an audience at this time.

By running too much non-original content on your social channels, you’re saying the same thing.

Reruns aren’t all bad

Look at the huge ratings for constant reruns of The Big Bang Theory on TBS, and Seinfeld running in syndication for nearly 20 years. And every year networks trot out Rudolph, Frosty, Heat Miser, and the rest of the 40-year-old animated shows.

But it’s a rerun. It’s not original. When you share a lot of aggregated stories, your audience has probably seen it or something similar already. Worst of all, you may get a bit of credit for sharing the nugget, but your brand is not the star. You’re telling someone else’s story.

As mentioned earlier, I used to be much more of a proponent of posting content created by others, especially popular content. My aim was to promote the idea of just getting something on those empty pages – and with any luck, something popular. But now no one is paying attention to your Facebook page anyway; they’re focused on their Facebook feed. And hopefully you get a little portion of that feed where you’ll have the opportunity to get their attention.

Be the TV Programmer

So think of your page as your own TV network, and use curated content only to fill those holes when you don’t have a new blog post or original video or podcast to share. And when you do share others’ stuff, it may make sense to get share the work of business partners, channel partners, friends in the industry, and other marketers you know. Perhaps they will reciprocate on days when their programming is running dry too!


Facebook Custom Audience Targeting with Your Emails

11 Nov


It’s been said over and over that Content Is King. Sure. But if the content is never read, viewed, or heard by anyone, then it’s not very royal.

If content drops but no one sees it, does it make any impact?

You must spend some dollars on advertising to promote your content or no one will ever see it.  But what’s the best way to throw some money at this problem? Advertise to only to targeted demographics or geography? No.

Take one step back – do you have email addresses of your current or recent clients? Let’s start there. Facebook’s Custom Audience Targeting allows you to serve up that ad to a specific group of people for whom you already have an email address.

Facebook won’t let you pick and choose specific people by name to whom an ad will be served but we can serve up ads to people whose email addresses match! In Facebook’s view, if you’ve already got an email address, then there’s a reason to speak to these people in specific voices.


Here’s for whom it works:

Business to Consumer – Create targets ads for:

  • Your current customers
  • Specific customers part of your loyalty program
  • Potential customers who have signed up for specials or info

Business to Business – Create targeted ads for:

  • Prospects and candidates


Here’s how it works:

FB1 cat

1. Go to Manage Ads on Facebook and click Create Audience button (far left)


FB2 cat

2. Choose Customer List


3. Click Upload File and select your spreadsheet with your email database


One issue to watch is the percentage of your email database that matches with Facebook users. One large franchise system with whom I spoke at FranTech 2015 has seen a match of between 60 – 70%. And an even larger global brand client of mine saw only about 50% match. Why the discrepancy? Consumers are signing up for your offerings with a different email address than what they used to sign up for Facebook.

But still, specifically targeting half or more of the people in your email database is a fantastic and economical way to reach your customers.



Is Facebook Replacing the Internet?

3 Nov


Facebook. It’s where your customers are.

Just a couple of years ago, many digital marketers frequently forecasted the end of Facebook:

It surely won’t dominate for long. There must be some Facebook killer out there. Be platform agnostic – don’t build your business only on Facebook.

But now, unless your customers are a small niche group, they are on Facebook and spending more time on Facebook than ever!

Sure, there’s also still great value in Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and … well, I guess just Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Snapchat, Pinterest, and the rest all have their place, and are great for some brands and audiences, but not all.

Play the numbers. Your customers are on Facebook and spending less time on the non-Facebook portion of the Internet. And that portion may be replaced or eaten by Facebook. Here are some parts of your digital world that may soon be replaced by Facebook and a next step for each to help you prepare.

1. Facebook Replacing Your Company Website

Some consumers already won’t leave the “Friendly Confines” of Facebook. In the months and years ahead, fewer of them will be likely to leave and go to some corporate website.

If your digital marketing strategy only focuses on driving people from Facebook to your website, consider skipping this step and engaging that audience while they have given you some attention.

What activity can customers do on your website that grows your business? Ordering product / eCommerce? Making appointments? Downloading videos? Do that same thing on your Facebook page.

Next Step: Look at your website and replicate the business-driving activity.

2. Facebook Video Replacing of YouTube As a Social Video Channel

Facebook is taking a big bite out of YouTube’s video ad business. At the same time, we should look at the current state of using these platforms to share organic video content.

YouTube is amazing, but it’s a repository, not a social channel. Sure, continue to upload all of your videos there for consumers to find through YouTube / Google searches, but don’t drive your Facebook fans there. Where would you prefer customers spend a few extra minutes? On your Facebook page where they can engage and communicate with you or on your YouTube channel, which lends itself more to snark from trolls than genuine customer engagement?

Next Step: Start posting your original video content direct to Facebook, not links from YouTube.

3. Facebook Ads Replacing Online Ads

The Ad Blocking trend is a HUGE opportunity for your brand on Facebook.

Ad blocking tools block nearly all types of mobile ads. But what’s not stopped? Facebook boosted posts (as well as Twitter promoted Tweets and other social ads).

Steve Rubel of Edelman recently wrote that this situation will make earned media more valuable and I absolutely agree. The way to best draw new customers to your brand is with interesting and relevant content. And the best way to attract consumers to that content in the first place is by paid ads on social channels.

Next Step: Jump into Facebook ads, particularly boosted posts now.

What other parts of the Internet do you think may soon be eaten by Facebook?

Please share in the comments section below. We’ll continue this discussion on this week’s episode of Social Geek Radio with my guest digital strategist and author, Chris Adams!

Pumpkin Spice Marketing

19 Oct



Add one of these phrases or adjectives to any post about your product or service and I will bet that you’ll increase interest and attention by 50%:


  1. Pumpkin Spice
  2. Big Data
  3. Content Marketing
  4. Cage-free
  5. Craft
  6. Organic
  7. Sea Salt
  8. Engagement
  9. Sriracha

Okay, I’m half kidding, but it seems to work. Where you take it after getting that attention is another story!

Franchise Sales Using Facebook

5 Oct


How much of your brand’s Facebook activity should be devoted to franchise sales efforts versus consumer marketing and engagement?
Many franchise systems with whom I’ve spoken in the past several years have struggled with balancing their social media communication for consumers and their engagement with potential franchisees. Some designate a certain amount of content on the page for consumer marketing and an amount for franchise development. Others create completely separate Facebook pages for their franchise sales messages.

I don’t recommend either of these practices; all goals of marketing a franchise on Facebook can be achieved in a more holistic approach.


Your Page Versus Their Feed

First, let’s stop thinking of Facebook pages like websites with certain amount of real estate devoted to various parts of your organization. A Facebook page is really just your starting point.

The true power of Facebook communication lies in users seeing your brand and your news on his or her news feed, not on your Facebook page.

It doesn’t really matter what’s on your page. Very few people are ever going to seek out your page and view it the way people once did with websites. Typical consumers won’t be confused by your franchise sales messages because they don’t see them.


Organic Versus Paid Target

Your messages may be seen as organic (free) posts, which will reach 2% to 20% of your fans, depending on your fanbase size. But more likely, your messages will be seen in the form of boosted posts or other types of paid advertising. The reach or size of audience depends how many dollars you want to spend.

Target your paid content by the demographics of your franchise sales candidates. This goes beyond just age and gender; target according to your typical candidates’ interests, industries, and more.

Even within your group of franchise sales posts, you may want to change up content or demographics based on location. Messages promoted to Texas candidates might need to be different than those promoted to Florida candidates.

Your brand’s fans and your franchisees’ customers won’t see that content. With a few exceptions, I typically don’t see anything wrong with showing consumers some franchise sales-specific social media content. But when paying to boost and target Facebook posts, it is cost prohibitive to show all messages to all people.



Stop Targeting Millennials Like Zombies

30 Sep


Is there anything more ridiculous to Millennials than the phrase “Marketing to Millennials?”

It seems the entire consumer marketing machine in the US has done the math, and has targeted Millennials as the key to selling anything. Marketers struggle with how to easily reach this massive crowd. I’m still struggling with spelling Millennials without the use of auto-correct.


But, Just who is “They?”

We see many criticisms of Millennials saying, “They are… “ or “They don’t…”

There are 80 million people in the US that fall into this age group. A cookie-cutter approach to marketing to or communicating with any group of 80 million people is doomed! I’m not sure how you stereotype 80 million people as having the same characteristics, nature, and experiences.

“Advertisers say, ‘we want Millennial Moms!’ Well, which Millennial Moms do you want?”
– Bob Pittman, CEO of iHeartMedia, and broadcasting legend, at Media Tech Summit 2015.

Why does this happen? It’s just easier

Aging Baby Boomers and some still-clueless Gen X’ers may find it easier to just paint all 80 million Millennials with the same brush. We talk about them like they are interchangeable zombies in an old film. “Yeah, one rifle bullet will get ‘er done.”

If we paint all of the Millennials with the same bush, we will sell them short, as well as our own businesses and services.

Don’t be lazy

Millennials are now up to 33 years old. They’re not all young kids any more. John Bonham, Keith Moon, and Jesus were all younger than many Millennials are now. Within those 33 years, it’s likely 80 Million people developed more than one style, taste, or preference for communications. Drill down to find multiple ways to communicate with a large group of people with diverse interests, preferences, and lifestyles.




Small Businesses, Mega-Brands, and Hope.

15 Sep


Defending Small Businesses on Capitol Hill

This month will end with members of the International Franchise Association once again gathering in Washington DC and meeting with legislators. We will discuss several issues affecting all franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers as well as lobby for less regulatory impediments as usual.

The key issue this year will be the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to completely ignore the basis of the franchise business model. The NLRB recently ruled that some businesses are now responsible for the employment actions of other businesses.

Unless you’re blissfully ignorant or work for a service union, you will agree that employees of a locally owned business are NOT actually employed by a corporation that had nothing to do with hiring those employees. (Without setting foot on Capitol Hill, I can tell you right now how the two senators from my home state of Illinois will respond.)

If the work of the IFA in past years is any indication, the IFA members and the IFA team will do a fantastic job of communicating the needs for running a business, growing that business, creating jobs, and ultimately growing the economy.

Mega-Brands and “Hope”

But how much of this effort pays off for those who do most of the heavy lifting – small to medium sized franchise systems – versus the huge brands? Will McDonalds and the other mega-sized franchises join this fight? If we’re successful, these large brands have the most to gain. Will they support this activity and join us on Capitol Hill? I hope so.

A great deal of pro-business promotion, communication, and lobbying is done by franchise industry suppliers. Are the mega-brands supporting these suppliers? I hope so.

When they select a PR firm, software vendor, ad agency, insurance provider, or other business service, do they ask if that supplier supports franchising and the IFA? I hope so.

Continuing to educate legislators and voters about how businesses operate is important for the IFA this year. Perhaps in 2016, we can also educate some large brands about how businesses operate.

Is Twitter a Place to Engage Anymore?

18 Aug

Twitter woman

Search or Social?

Google’s inclusion of Twitter in search results continues to expand. Last week Tweets began appearing in the Google search results for desktop users in the UK.

The reality is that Twitter is already primarily a search engine. It searches a massive link library that also happens to be called Twitter. This library now also holds images and videos. Faster access to this library will eventually be available to everyone via Google.

This will lead to an increase of importance of your Tweets, and a decrease in the need to ever go to Twitter.


tweetsearchshot copy



Social Engagement (or Lack of…)

What about engagement with your loyal followers? And those who you follow? Let’s face it – no one is really following those they follow. People and brands pay attention to mentions of their own name or brand.

Outside self-monitoring, content on Twitter is only consumed when a user runs a search, either by using the search box or clicking on a hashtag. Tweets will soon be consumed mostly by those who are no longer even on Twitter, but Google instead.


Who you follow: does not matter at all

Who follows you: does not matter at all

Your Tweets being seen in search results: ALL THAT MATTERS


There is something genuine and sensible about this. It doesn’t matter how many followers you acquire. If you don’t post anything of interest, no one will see it! If your brand is not Tweeting a constant cadence of quality content, you’re going to miss out on opportunities to be found via Google.

What’s next? If Google is replacing as the place to see Tweets, could Twitter replace Google+ as Google’s real-time publishing area?



Why You Don’t Want 1 Million Likes on Facebook

10 Aug



You DON’T want 1 Million Likes on Facebook.

You want 100 pages with 10,000 likes. Or 1,000 pages with 1,000 likes!


Many digital marketers have spent the past year spreading the news that Facebook posts are organically reaching a mere 1% or 2% of their fans’ newsfeeds.

While this may be the case for huge brands with millions of fans, there’s good news for midsize brands. Earlier this year Locowise reported the following average organic post reach for Facebook pages of these sizes:

1 Million+ Likes                     2.27%

500,000 Likes                       7.47%

50,000 Likes                         9.62%

Under 1,000 Likes              14.21%


Sure, you would rather reach 2% of One Million people than 14% of One Thousand people. But what if you could repeat that 14% over another 1,000 pages? 

Who has that potential and could benefit in this current situation? Franchises!  Why? Because they don’t just have one small page with 1,000 likes, but multiple.


It isn’t the number of Likes you have that matters; it’s the number of pages you have and the number of Likes on all those pages.


This has been the case for the past couple of years. In 2013, franchise and restaurant chain brands I consulted reported higher reach levels than brands with a single page. This local page gap is widening and those who have all Facebook eggs in one basket are losing out.

Example using the current organic reach rates – 
Brand A: company with 1 Million Likes on one page reaches 2,270 people.
Brand B: a Franchise brand with 1,000 Likes on 1,000 pages reaches 142,100 people.

Both brands have a total of 1 Million fans, but the Franchise system reaches far more fans with every post shared on all pages. Franchises are indeed greater than the sum of their franchisees.

Act now while the window is open! Fortune 500 companies should be looking for a way to divide their giant page into 1,000 pages. Their organic reach would skyrocket.





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