10 Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Stop me if you have heard this one: You are scrolling through your social media feed when you see a post from a local business page. It’s too promotional, dry, and has no real focus–much like every other post you see from them. Disinterested, you unlike the page and continue.

Social media can be a double edge sword for small businesses–on one hand, it allows them to compete with big business and get their name out to more people in their community, on the other hand, if done wrong they are left with a lot of work and very little return. This conundrum was the core of my talk at a recent keynote I gave for a Seattle chamber of commerce meeting. While the talk was a little over an hour and a half long, just for you, I summarized my points below (aren’t I nice?):

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Utilizing Paid Media to Perfect Your Marketing Triforce

Any Legend of Zelda fan knows of the legendary Triforce; golden sacred triangles left behind on Hyrule after the Golden Goddesses left. The Triforce of wisdom, courage and power when combined have the power to grant the wish of anyone who has an equal balance of the three in their heart. If someone does not have that balance however, the Triforce breaks apart, leaving the piece that best suits the person with them.  I believe this is a perfect parallel to explain the current imbalance of marketing today. Trends have been popping up for marketers to bandwagon on and take advantage of for their own strategies. The latest one just so happens to be inbound marketing. While it is very important to be engaging with your customers, a talk on Thursday from Content Harmony’s Kane Jamison had me pondering something: With everyone jumping on the social media and content marketing wagon, how are we now to differentiate ourselves in an over saturated trend? The answer is in our roots; Paid Media.

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What Zillow Taught Me About Data Driven Content

I had the great pleasure of attending this year’s PSAMA Marketing Mix. Needless to say, it was very interesting. With every workshop and speaker who I heard from, the topic was overall the same: Data drives sales.


WHAT? I thought it was all about Content?!

Now don’t be freaking out just yet. Storytelling is still the driving force for getting people to your business. If the content isn’t good, you aren’t going to get any customers. However, if that content doesn’t have data to support it, then it’s all a bunch of baloney. People like to feel smart–if they are armed with knowledge, they can make an informed decision and not be swayed by all the advertising. If you give the people what they seek, they will come to you. People are emotional shoppers, but data driven buyers.


That is what Zillow did. Our keynote speaker, Zillow’s CMO Amy Bohutinsky told us how her team got 5 million users in Zillow’s first month without spending any money. How did they do that, you ask? With data driven content. Zillow has tons of data on house values, neighborhoods, schools, etc, and all they had to do was turn those numbers into a story.  With social media, blogs, and connections with journalists, they managed to get on Jeopardy, a reality TV show, and hundreds of blogs and magazine mentions. Zillow’s goal was to inform, and with that promise, they managed to attract millions of users (literally).  They are even the leading experts on celebrity housing! Want to know who has the most expensive homes on the market? Zillow’s blog could tell you.

With that, here are the top 3 tips I received while at the conference:

1. Data is an asset, not a solution

Data isn’t going to be your Superman to help save your business–it’s more of a sidekick. In the seminar “Big Data, Smart Data”, one speaker talked about how businesses should sell solutions, not tools to make big data work. What he was talking about was selling the story, not so much the data. Data is useless if it can’t be turned into information. Don’t make the mistake of thinking data is the solution, it’s an asset to help you find it.

 2. Why so Serious?


One of my favorite things Amy said during her presentation was that they weren’t always so serious when building up their brand. If you haven’t notice with my blog, while I do speak a lot about marketing trends and being up a lot of statistics, I usually wrap it up in a fun article about something nerdy (See my Uncle Ben, Zelda, and Justice League posts). Just because you have data, doesn’t mean you have to be so stoic in presenting it. Zillow created a trick or treat housing index where they show parents the safest (and richest) neighborhoods near them so that their kids can get the most candy. They also started reporting on the White House’s value, and would see how it fluctuates during each President’s term. The content wasn’t focused on pushing the product, but instead a nicely packaged story that promoted the product naturally. That’s what consumers want. Be serious only when you need to be.

3. Start Small

I know with all this talk of “big data” it can seem that you need to go big or go home when conducting your marketing campaigns. Don’t let that idea seduce you. You always want to be sure that the data you are using is proven worth to both your customers and you. I’m not the only one who thinks this. Bill Franks from Teradata released this article talking about how to get your firm started with big data, and it starts with beginning small. The idea of using “big data” is still new, so you want to start small to see exactly what data benefits your business the best.

Now as I have mentioned before, you can’t just rely on content to get you thousands of sales; the content just gets you started. With Zillow, Amy mentioned that while they were doing well, 60% of American households had no idea who Zillow was. In order to grow their brand, they needed an accelerant; they needed advertising. This is when you start to use paid media to help with your earned media. be cautious You don’t want to start with advertising when trying to build your business. Amy used the following metaphor to explain it best, “You can’t start with the accelerant to build a fire. You first need to build a small fire that has room to grow.”

I strongly suggest that if you have never been to a marketing conference, to sign up with a nearby AMA chapter and get to one quick. Being able to learn and network with other marketers is an invaluable experience.

Do you use data to drive your content? Let me know in the comments below!

The Digital Game of Thrones


I love articles that reference Game of Thrones. That show is so complex and really shows the politics, delicateness and finesse that comes with war and trying to be on top. So when Mark sent us this article to read on the major tech moguls being compared to my favorite tv show, I already knew it was going to be a good read.I highly suggest listening to the theme song as you read it.

Before I even finished this article, I already had mapped out who was who in GoT terms:

Microsoft: Targaryen family

Google: Stark family

Amazon: Tyrell family

Apple: Baratheon/Lannister family

Facebook: Dothraki (hey I thought it was funny…)

But in all seriousness, the battle of digital dominance has been raging for many years, especially after Steve Jobs (our iron king) died.

The article lays out a world at war, where land is replaced with market share, and battles are fought with advertising.

Turf Wars

The article mentions that just like R.R. Martin’s novel, these top companies have there own corner of the market that they are desperately defending while venturing out to conquer more. Google has been doing well, protecting their search engine market share , being the largest search engine provider in the world. But that isn’t stopping  Apple from trying to create their own type of search engine in order to become “Google-independent”. It’s hard to believe that these two used to be best buddies…kind of reminds you of a certain two.


The Iron Phone

I think the most visible part of the war that we have seen is over the phone market. Everyone wants to have the perfect phone, the strongest rivalry being Google’s Android over Apple’s iOS system. Microsoft has been desperately trying to join in on this game by means of the Windows phone, but currently it is no where near the capacity of fans the first two have. Facebook and Amazon both are cruising along with these two, having apps on both systems, but that may change with the rumors floating around about Amazon creating it’s own phone. I don’t think Amazon would do well in that market; why try to establish yourself in an over-saturated market?  Especially when they are being pretty successful with their e-reader, the Kindle.

Content Wars

There are a couple parts of this war that need to be addressed.

The article mentions that the biggest competitors in the content war has been e-books. Amazon and Apple both have separate ways of getting content out to it’s customers thanks to cloud services, but Amazon, being known as an electronic marketplace, is dominating the industry, with Apple only taking in 5% of the market share. Apple has been trying to coax publishers over to their side however, by making fees smaller, and giving more freedom to rights as opposed to Amazon.

Next there is content-sharing. Here I believe Google has a bit of an advantage, since they own Youtube, the biggest provider of video content in America. Thanks to their YouTube partnership program, and various advertisement affiliates, they were projected to make $4 billion in revenue in 2012, and grow 20% each year from there.  However there difficulties in monetizing their users has been Apple’s strength, with their I-tunes.

Now you are probably thinking, “Why is Facebook included in this war?” Dothraki guys. They are the largest social network in the world, so once they find a stable way to monetize their users, they will be one of the biggest threats to these companies. They have been doing pretty well too, coming back from a disappointing 3rd quarter and monetizing their users in 2012 with $64 million revenue. My Dothraki comparison doesn’t seem that far off now, does it?



It seems as if this battle’s main issue is finding the best way to monetize audiences and pulling them to their side. It feels a bit like high school elections actually, only with a lot more advertisements in your face. So will we see an end to this war, and finally have a new King? The article doesn’t believe it will have an end soon, and I agree. There are too many factors that play into pulling ahead as the leader, and with so many ‘third party’ options, people will stay divided on who they want to do their business with for a long time.

As the battle for the iron throne continues, I will be sitting back, waiting for Khaleesi to come riding in on her dragons to take everybody out. Who that is has yet to be seen, however I feel that it may be Yahoo, they just acquired Tumblr, and we all know how massive that army is.


So, do you agree with my family assignments? Have a different idea on the tech wars? Do me a favor; read the full article here, and comment back here on what you think.

NFO: News Feed Optimization with EdgeRank

So I was scrolling through my News Feed when I saw something rather interesting:


As you can see, while I am seeing a post from my friend, I also am seeing a link from College Fashion about Thor 2 inspired fashion. So why am I seeing this? That would be EdgeRank doing it’s thing.

What the heck is EdgeRank?

Edgerank is a fancy algorithm by Facebook that determines what posts are shown on each user’s News Feed. It’s all a part of News Feed Optimization(NFO); a way to make sure that your business’s content is being seen by your fans without having to pay for an ad. Posts are ranked via 3 variables:

Affinity: Your relationship to your users. Now what does this mean as far as rating posts? It means that our posts are based on both personal interactions and network interactions. Depending on how much you interact with a certain user (or page), the more their statuses will show up on your News Feed. Additionally, the more times people ‘like’, share, or comment on your posts, the more likely they will continue to show up on people’s news feeds.

Weight: how important EdgeRank assigns your post based on the post type(text, image, video, etc). If you are posting pictures and videos, those are usually ranked the highest. Things with links are second, and text is dead last. Remember though, it’s all about relevance; if the post has no relevance to a user, it won’t show first thing on their News Feed.

Time Decay: How old your post is. The longer the post is on Facebook, the lesser the chance it will show up in someone’s News Feed. However, this isn’t a black and white type of deal; some users don’t spend every waking moment on Facebook, and only check in every once and a while, so to them, it’s new and relevant information. 

The graphic below shows the nifty equation(brought to you by Batman):

Facebook Edgerank

Since 40% of users spend their time on the Facebook News Feed alone, it’s important that businesses get that coveted spot on a user’s News Feed. Because of this, companies like Post Rocket, are were offering NFO services to businesses, so that they can rank higher on Facebook (granted they closed down August 2013).

Do I Need EdgeRank?

It depends a lot on what your social media strategy is. People have said that EdgeRank is dead, but I think of it like online advertising, it’s simply evolving.  I would like to point out that as the algorithm changes, so does the factors. These three are still included, but there are over 100,000 factors that play into what users sees. But it’s not like Facebook ever changes right?

EdgeRank essentially is protecting it’s users. Users hate spam. So posts about liking pages or checking out companies that show up in our News Feed that aren’t related to us? Yea, that’s spam. And Facebook will make you pay for that (Sorry Mark Cuban). If you want to stay relevant on Facebook, and gain a bigger audience, EdgeRank will be beneficial. The more relevant you are, the more users will like and engage your page, the more viewers who engage, the higher you rank with EdgeRank. In addition to that however, every user  has a unique affinity; so their is no secret hack to get to every possible user you want. So it goes back to strategy. What do you want out of your social media?


You Want A Burger With That? The Fries King Troll

So, there I am, minding my own business going through my Twitter feed, when I see this:

Needless to say, I had to investigate.

Woah! What the heck is going on?

Let me fill you in: On September 24th, Burger King unveiled their new low calorie fries (Satisfries) in order to appeal to the health conscious crowd. No one batted an eyelash. Fast food restaurant trying to be healthy? We have already seen those types of campaigns before right? So Burger King decided to step up their game: they changed their name. You can now go get your whopper from “Fries King” in select locations in Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles. They have completely changed all branding both online and at the store front level, including:

Their website:


Their products:


Even their trashcans:


Their official Twitter and Facebook handles have also been changed to reflect the new name. This is all a part of the #Satisfried campaign, set off by Burger–well Fries’ King’s new fries. Burger King’s angle was to set off enough hype for people to want to check out the newly recrowned company.

Well….they got a response alright. People took to twitter faster than the official press releases could be published.

Sounds like people aren’t too happy with Burger King changing their name…but hey, despite the bashing, Burger King is getting what it wants: publicity.

This is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my name change post. No one would have been paying attention to the newest menu item from Burger King, if it wasn’t for this drastic name change. Burger King has shot up in the rankings with their bold move.


I just had to type in fries, and the suggestions bring up Fries King first. Also according to YouGov brand Index, Burger King has a positive feedback brand score of 25, reaching an all time high of 28 the day of the campaign (scores are measured from -100 to 100). Another review from Topsy mentions that twitter mentions for burger King have tripled since Wednesday, when the name change hit the social media channels.

But why the name change at all?

I would like to redirect your attention to the bottom of Burger King’s webpage.


There’s your reason. McDonald’s, while still a fast food joint, has managed to claim a little bit of the healthy America pie with their menu of calorie conscious items. Burger King has been developing a fry that still tastes good, but has lower calories for years, and they wanted to make sure it overshadowed McDonald’s fries by a longshot. Look what came up when I put in McDonald’s Low cal fries:


All about Burger King. And what have we learned about search engine users? They rarely look past the first page. So yea, Burger King is getting what they want.

So, they are trolling us?

Hardcore trolling. I actually found an article that mentioned “trolling the masses”. Burger King has always had a playful marketing strategy, so this seemed to fit right along with their past promotions (May I remind of the great McDonald Heist?). However, I found this gimmick to be a bit confusing. Burger King kept this under wraps for the shock value and to receive a lot more attention; but it might have actually worked too well. No one really noticed, nor knew much about the Satisfried campaign, so when the Fries King promo hit the market, people weren’t prepared at all. People are focusing more on the name change, than the actual product is was done for. That is my only problem with the name change gimmick; you never want the product to be forgotten. Business Article  and Adweek both share my sentiment.

For the record: the name change isn’t permanent. It will only be going on as long as the #Satisfried campaign goes for. I am not entirely sure if this is the boost Burger King needs in order to get actual sales, but it definitely has people talking. When I mentioned it to my former Integrated Marketing Professor, @dannpurdy, he had this to say,

Kudos to you Burger King. I applaud you.


9 Ways to go from Intern to Fully Employed

So you are a superstar. Instead of wasting another summer (or weekend, or life) dating your couch and Skyrim, you have decided to get a leg up on the competition and get an internship. So here you are typing away at your cubicle in some snazzy office, and you start to realize you wouldn’t mind sticking around full time after your temporary contract expires after 12 weeks. However, you aren’t entirely sure how to communicate this revelation to your bosses. What’s an intern to do?

1.  Be visible

Your coworkers and supervisors won’t lock you in a dark room forever if you are seen; in fact they want to know you are alive! Don’t hide out in your corner, hallway, basement, etc—be sure people see you! Did you know that one of the number one sources of hiring is via familiarity? Go hang out in the lunch room, go to meetings, and say “Good morning!” Let full time employees see you, so that they can associate a face with a name when it comes to your evaluation at the end of your internship.

2.  Ask Questions

Did Ursula steal your voice? Yea, I didn’t think so. Meaning there is no reason to be mute while working. Your boss isn’t going to steal your precious vocals if you ask a question; I am 90% sure of that fact. Speak up, and ask about the company you are hoping to be a part of. Meet with your boss and ask to have an informational interview about his job. Ask your coworkers how they like the place. You are the student here, and all the full time employees will be more than happy to help you out. Plus, who doesn’t like talking to themselves? If you ask someone about their job, they will more than likely answer you. A quick tip though: quantity doesn’t always equal quality; don’t ask just for the sake of asking.

3.  Take Initiative

Words mean nothing however if you can’t back it up with action. Have an idea to make a product better? Write up a proposal and present it. You have a cool new way to layout your company’s website? Create a mock up (and maybe a live demo if you know how to code). Basically, don’t be idle and just talk about how much you want the job; show them how much you want it. Employers are always looking for creative employees who aren’t afraid to think and execute outside the box. Imagine how excited they’ll get when you are doing all of this for them as an intern?

4.  Get to Know People

Make new friends! The more people that know you, the more people can vouch for you when you “apply” to be full time. People want to work with their friends, and if you were a non-social college kid in the back of the office who is just pushing papers, your chances of being hired are slim. Ask your bosses out to coffee, go to lunch with a group of co-workers, and go out for drinks with your fellow interns. Despite the popular saying, it really isn’t about who you know, it’s about who knows you!

5.  Stalk Your Supervisors

I don’t mean follow them home and stake out their gym, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind gaining another follower on Twitter. Connect with all your supervisors via Internet, and let them in on your online presence. You have a new blog post that highlights your company? Tag them in it! The internet plays such a huge role in the hiring process now days, it’s best to be plugged into your bosses’ accounts so that you are able to connect early. Also, see who they are following! If they are following someone they see as influential, take that as a hint to follow them as well. You could learn something new, expand your network, AND have a conversation starter next time you pass each other in the hallway,

“Hey Mr. Gates, did you see that link Nathan Drake put up last night? How awesome would it be to make a game where all of our favorite videogame heroes fought to the death in our next Xbox game?” –Microsoft Xbox Intern

It could happen.

6.  Be Uncomfortable

This was advice specifically from Bob Pritchett, the owner of Logos Bible Software, and what he means is to not be so complacent in your job. Your best work becomes slumped in the familiarity of work. Always be learning something, constantly trying to improve yourself, and getting better. Just because you got the internship doesn’t guarantee you a job.

7.  Be Frank

Alright, so you have been asking the right questions, been so uncomfortable that you are squirming in your seat, and have come up with the idea that brings your company to the top of its industry. However, there is nothing quite like the direct approach to get a point across. Tell them that you want this position. Be straight with your supervisors when they ask what you want out of this internship. They don’t want the cookie cutter answer,

“I just want to learn everything I can about this industry so that one day I can utilize the skills obtained here to have world peace, end world hunger, and rule Disney World!”—said Undecided Intern.

Don’t be Undecided Intern. Say you want to ultimately have a full time job there; they aren’t going to make fun of you for wanting to work there. Heck, they probably hired you as an intern because they already could see you working there in the near future.

8.  Be An Eavesdropper

This does not translate into being a creeper. Don’t be looming over your boss’s shoulder as they are talking to someone. However, don’t be chilling with your headphones in the whole day and miss very important information being passed around in the office. My mother always told me to be aware of my surroundings, so having an open ear to company talk has been natural. I would not have known that the owner of my project was hoping to have new ideas introduced in the proposals by interns. So what did I do? I added new ideas, and was asked to talk with him about the idea. Had he told us interns that? Nope. So always be aware, and always be listening; you never know what you will hear.

9.  Act Like a Full Time Employee Now

Don’t wait until you sign a fancy contract to start working as a full time employee; do so now! The goal is to be so acclimated to the environment, that when you say it’s time to leave, everyone is confused to what you mean. You don’t want to be labeled as “the intern,” you want people to associate you with your name and your work. Once you lose that stigma of intern, you are in the home stretch.

Well what do you think?

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